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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming Meetings

Quarterly meetings with the public on Excellence for All are scheduled for March and May. The dates for these meetings are listed below. Locations for May meetings will be determined at a later date.

Topics: Student Assignment and Math Update
Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to noon
John Stanford Center, Auditorium
2445 3rd Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98134

Tuesday, March 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Urban Impact, Main Office
7728 Rainier Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118

Thursday, March 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Ballard High School, Library
1418 N.W. 65th St.
Seattle, WA 98117

º Tuesday, May 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
º Thursday, May 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
º Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to noon

(=I was wondering about the location for the meeting next Tuesday, Urban Impact. Why not a school? I don't know. Here's what Urban Impact's website says:

"The mission of Urban Impact is to strengthen families and raise servant leaders by building life-changing relationships that encourage good health, quality education, economic opportunity, and a Christ-centered faith."

Interesting. I'm sure it'll all be a separation of church and State.

From Beth's previous post: "DeBell says we have "some challenges in having a fully-developed model" in time for the vote in June".

Question for Tracy Libros: where are you in this model and what are your thoughts?

19 comments:

whittier07 said...

I think that both Beth & Melissa had indicated in another post that they thought the district might do away with "sibling" as the first assignment tiebreaker?

The most recent outline of the new assignment plan still shows "sibling" as the number one tiebreaker, followed by attendance school. Do you still have a feeling that the district might not honor sibling assignments at non-attendance schools in the future? I have a child that is registered to start K next year, but he's not really ready and I was thinking of waiting until 2010 but I'd really hate to end up with kids at two different schools. ARGH!

Do you know (or have a feeling) as to when the plan will be ready and when they will announce the "right-sized" school attendance areas?

anonymous said...

Melissa, way off topic but I didn't know where else to post. Would you be willing to start a thread on Writers Workshop. It is apparantly now the official middle school LA curriculum. We didn't have a great experience with it when our son used it, but perhaps it was just his school, or just his teachers implementation. I'd love to hear from other parents whose kids have completed WW in middle school and how they viewed it, and how their kids are doing in high school.
Thanks!

TechyMom said...

The recent outline also lists a "cohort" tiebreaker. I couldn't figure out what that meant. Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Despite your snarky comment, Urban Impact has partnered with the district to offer after-school tutoring and enrichment programs to south Seattle elementary kids(regardless of religion). They've also recently begun another program at the district's request to assist students at Rainier Beach High School.

The place I work is also a partner, though not for those specific programs. Although "Christ-centered", they are quite capable of offering secular programs: in addition to the scholastic programs, it runs Rainier Health and Fitness which has 1,000 members which offers "women's only" times so that Musliim women, for example, can exercise and still meet the tenets of THEIR religion. It's also working on building some affordable housing.

The organization is highly thought of in south Seattle and has space for a good-size meeting in addition to being partnered with the district. So that would be why a meeting is scheduled there.

ParentofThree said...

"Urban Impact"

Thanks for the info on this, sounds like they are offering some great programs in our schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One, I do think they will keep the sibling tiebreaker. Sorry if I led anyone to think otherwise. However, I think that they will not offer transportation after the new assignment plan so while your first and second children may be at the same school, the district won't be providing transportation even if they did in the first year for your first child. But I'll ask Tracy Libros.

Cohort tiebreaker? Again, I'll ask Tracy. I think it may mean keeping groups (APP, Spectrum, Special Ed, etc.) together. Why they need a tiebreaker for that I haven't worked out in my head.

Snarky? I said "interesting". Look, the district owns lots of buildings and I have virtually never seen any of these types of meetings in any other buildings. It seems out of place to me in my experience and I commented on it.

The programs they have sound great. But I personally would feel uncomfortable sitting in a room if there were literature or signage asking me to believe in a certain religion. Sorry, but I'd feel that way in any building that had religion as a basis for its existence. I know I'll get flamed but I am saying - outloud - what I feel.

But it certainly makes me want to check it out and find out why the district chose it.

seattle citizen said...

agibean,
Nothing against this organization, but me, personally, I'm very hesitant about ANY "Christ-centered" or otherwise religiously oriented group providing services in public organizations, such as schools.
While it IS possible (barely?) to separate the "faith" from te "service," it has often not been the case. There was a report in the paper, just the other day, of an organization in..Bothell? that volunteered to help on the playground, adult monitors, but it seems they were inviting children to some sort of after-school religious activities...

There is a huge danger, no matter the good intentions: If an organization is religiouly affiliated, its members might inadvertantly lapse into a religiously themed version of their service: "Here, we'll help with that...oh, btw, [insert diety here] has helped me with [insert service or need here]..."

My feeling is that it is impossible to separate the faith-based aspect of the organization from its service.

Would we invite a church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious body into the school during the day if they said that they were merely there to serve lunch?

SolvayGirl said...

Melissa
I had heard...can't remember where...that there was a possibility that the sibling preference would be dropped as a tiebreaker at the high school level. It makes sense since high schoolers don't need to "ride the bus together." The only benefit would be to parents. I could, for example see them dropping it as a tie-breaker for out-of-cluster students.

And, if they go to "mandatory" high school assignment as was hinted at in a past newspaper article, it would increase the need to eliminate preference for kids to travel far out of their neighborhoods.

Unknown said...

I believe cohort would mean that if you attended a feeder elementary you had some priority (after sibling and area) to the middle school, even if you didn't live in the middle school service area anymore.

Rose M said...

One change in the assignment plan that puzzles me is discontinuation of...

"Current processing of applications which re-processes lower choices as higher choices (“Barnhardt-Waldman”)"

Does that send us back to the game where you must evaluate your chances of getting into each school as your rank your choices? Why is that change happening?

Anonymous said...

Seattle citizen, you said

"Would we invite a church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious body into the school during the day if they said that they were merely there to serve lunch?"

Well, yes, we do pretty much that. At Dunlap, there was a regular cadre of volunteers from a Jewish organization. AND, they taught the kids (pretty much none of them Jewish) about Hannukah. Horrors!

And there are signs at every church (along with community centers, libraries, etc.) that I've been in in South Seattle inviting people to volunteer in the schools. Many churches encourage this as part of their faith's requirement to help others.

Did you really not know this? I'm not the most religious person, but I don't think we need to bar the doors of schools when qualified volunteers want to help. And in the south end, they could really use that help.

And Melissa-I've never seen a single piece of religious literature at Rainier Health and Fitness. I assume it's ok by the Muslim women who are members-too bad it's not good enough for some people just as a meeting site.

anonymous said...

Our family is not religious, and I have no problem letting volunteers affiliated with a religious organization into my child's school. Of course, volunteers have to understand that they are there to volunteer and not recruit new little Christians.

I, honestly, have no fears of brain washing Christians kidnapping my child and taking him to church or converting him against his will. Nor do I fear army recruiters, sport team scouts, sex/drug/alcohol counseling, availability of contraception in schools, etc.

And BTW do we ask every teacher and volunteer their religious background? Some of your kids teachers are Christian! Or Muslim! Or Jewish! How do you feel about that? How about political views? I was at Summit the other day and a teacher had a big Obama/Biden poster in her window? I'm a huge Obama supporter, but should a teacher be able to put political posters up in their rooms? What if it were McCain/Palin poster?

seattle citizen said...

I don't have a problem with individuals volunteering, and I don't have a problem with a church or a mosque exhorting their flock to volunteer. I'm just hesitant to have it be a church project. Then there's a connection to the organization, rather than the individual.

Of COURSE individuals, including teachers, can step over the same line. But when it's an event or whatever that is actually sanctioned by the religious organization or the school, then it's getting, I worry, too close to that line; the chances of it going over are good.

To each his/her own; if you're comfortable with a religious group working closely with your children, that's your thing. I believe church and state should remain clearly separated.

Adhoc, here's a funny story for you, taken from the paper years ago:
Church group advertises a family-friendly, non-denominational fun fair, a carnival, in the neighborhood. Everybody goes. Kids are running around, going on rides...Kids get home , and start telling their parents: "mommy, daddy, guess what?! I got BAPTIZED today!"
Most religious groups and people know when to keep their religion to themselves. Some don't. I feel inviting a group in to help, or accepting one's help, is too much.

Jet City mom said...

Instead of the school district holding a meeting in a church- count your "blessings", it could be the other way around


Pastor Ken Hutcherson is a man who makes the most of his controversial sound bites.

Take the reasoning behind his threat to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products if the company didn't withdraw its support of state legislation banning discrimination against gays and lesbians: "They tried to make their policy my policy," he said. "(I told them) that gave me the right to step out of my world into theirs and they wouldn't like it."

Or, last year, on his plans to organize a national rally against gay marriage in Washington, D.C., shortly before the November elections: "My idea here is to drop a spiritual bomb on D.C., like Spain, where they had the terrorist bomb," he said, referring to the March 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191.

Or this, on why he got into football, before becoming a Christian: "It was the only sport where I could hurt white guys legally."

It's this outspokenness that has some lauding Hutcherson as a speaker of clear truths in a murky world, and others calling him an intolerant bully.
...
It's that certainty — the church motto is "black and white in a gray world" — that attracts many to Antioch, which holds Sunday services at a rented gymnasium at Kirkland's Lake Washington High School.

Sahila said...

Re the comment about Obama/Biden political posters hanging up at Summit...

I'm really asking for it here, but I'm not sure there are many republicans at alternative schools!

Charlie Mas said...

Before the event I only wonder if the District is paying rent.

I'll worry about proselytizing if it happens. If it does, then it is one strike and you're out. There are first amendment issues here that make it a zero tolerance situation. But I won't presume guilt - let alone anticipate it.

I attended a school district sponsored meeting held by Caprice Hollins in which, at the end of the meeting, she invited everyone to stay after and give thanks to Jesus. That was creepy and inappropriate, but, so far as I know, there were no consequences for her as a result.

anonymous said...

Sahila I'm sure you are right, there are probably not many (if any) Republican teachers at Summit, but that wasn't my point. My point was should a teacher be able to express their political preference in a classroom setting?

During the election, the children in my sons class were very curious and wanted to know who their teacher supported. Was their teacher a Democrat or Republican? Did he support Hillary or Obama? What did he think about Palin? The teacher was a huge Obama supporter, but he never revealed this to the children. The kids did a lot of research, projects and writing about the election, and the teacher wanted to allow all of the kids to come to their own views without any influence from him.

An authority figure sharing his/her political views seems harmless when the views are similar to yours. But what about when they are different? What if the teacher were a McCain/Palin supporter. What if he thought Cheney was a rock star?

TechyMom said...

It depends. I had teachers in middle school, high school, and college who had political views, and used them to encourage kids to debate. There was one teacher in HS who was a rabid libertarian. To this day, I'm still not sure if he really believed it, or if he was playing devil's advocate. But it was very effective in getting kids thinking. This was in an American History and Government class, so was relevant to the topic at hand. I had an economics professor who taught Marx and Keynes, and nothing else. It was a great class, though I'll admit that I ended up a little fuzzy on the ideas of the Chicago School, and it probably shouldn't have been called Econ 101. In an elementary setting, though, it's probably not appropriate. I'd say it's iffy in middle school, where, some kids could take it as an intellectual challenge, others as persecution, and others might be 'converted'. In high school and college, though, it can be an educational tool.

I do think it's fine to have kids write to the President, have pictures of sitting elected officials, etc. I know there are a lot more pictures of President Obama in Seattle schools than there were of President Bush, and I'm ok with that. I didn't start touring schools till after the election, so I can't say whether there were campaign posters.

Josh Hayes said...

I'll chime in here with adhoc on this one. I too was, and am, an Obama supporter, but AS1 is literally wall-papered with Obama stuff. I have to think that would be a pretty hostile environment for anyone who - gasp! - supported McCain, or a libertarian, or whatever. Maybe AS1 folk believe they have some sort of basis for this, what with the earlier efforts to rename the school after Obama, but it still strikes me as discomfort-making.