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Monday, April 06, 2009

PI (yes, the PI) on Assignment Plan

This article appeared in today's on-line PI. It's a good basic article with a quote from Charlie. I thought some of the parent comments from the community meetings were interesting:

"I like the idea of being simple and streamlined, so that parents can understand and bring equity," one parent noted. But another disagreed with "an assumption that simpler is better" because of the complexity inherent in the process.

A parent liked the emphasis on "economic diversity at the high school level, but perhaps it should be at every level." Another called the tiebreaker "patronizing" and said that "allowing people to flee prevents people from investing in their schools."

Still another questioned the legality of using economic diversity as a tiebreaker and asked if the proposed plan would "foster diversity in schools or ... increase segregation?" Courts have shot down the use of a racial tiebreaker and the district has not used it since 2001.

Longer term, parents at the meetings wondered what would happen as neighborhood profiles shift.

"How agile will the district be to adjust as demographics change?" a parent asked, while another wanted to know if the district would have "flexibility for midcourse correction if there are problems."

The most telling comment was this one that ended the article and seems a summation of many comments here:

"As a parent of two elementary school kids, I like the feeder concept as long as both middle schools and both high schools in West Seattle offer similar programs for advanced learning opportunities, foreign language and other electives," she said. "If the middle schools and high schools on each end of West Seattle do not offer similar and balanced programs, there will be trouble."

Here's dates for the upcoming meetings (sans locations except for the one at the headquarters):

Seattle Public Schools will hold community meetings on the new student assignment plan on the following dates:

May 5 -- 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., site to be determined.

May 7 -- 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., site to be determined.

May 9 -- 10 a.m. to noon, auditorium at district headquarters, 2445 Third Ave. S., Seattle.

6 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

There was an article in the Times today about the assignment plan. And I got a call from a reporter at KOMO radio about it.

I don't get it. There's no news here. There's nothing to report.

The upcoming Board vote is little different from the Framework that was adopted two years ago. The news, if there were any, is the grotesque lack of progress over the intervening two years.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I did find one line interesting:

"They also have talked about reserving 10 to 15 percent of seats at each high school for students who don't live nearby, with those from low-income families possibly getting first shot."

We have now heard three different things:

1) from Michael De Bell at an early assignment meeting that perhaps 10% of seats at each high school would be set aside for lottery for students not living near a high school

2) from the last assignment plan meeting I attended, an economic tie-breaker for low-income students

3) and from Linda Shaw's piece in the Times, 10-15% of seats set aside (with maybe low-income kids getting the first shot)

I also talked with an administrator today who said, "Look, how is this much different for high schools? For the popular high schools, they will still fill with nearby students and then, if they use a 10% figure (or low-income tiebreaker), we'll get students who don't want to be at their area school." Meaning, you'll still have students leaving their area schools so are we really solving anything in terms of transportation?

Then, you have this continuing issue of where QA/Magnolia kids will go if, indeed, there is no high school for them. I am dumbfounded that Lincoln is not going to be turned into a school for them (plus Wallingford/Fremont). That would seem to solve the problem but the district has other plans apparently. (I would see no shame in opening another high school where it is needed in an existing building.)

But, that means Lincoln is to be used for....Eckstein to be housed for the next BEX? That's a ways off. Ingraham isn't going to be remodeled. What else could they use it for? It's a good building in a good location - what's the mystery use?

To divy QA/Magnolia students up to Ballard, Ingraham and Franklin (those would be my guesses) seems kind of sad. You'll go to School X for high school based on your address because QA/Magnolia will never have their own high school?
Sad.

Which then brings up the Center School. I had heard from a parent who is concerned over it. I know that the issue of high school capacity is still real and wasn't addressed in the last closures. And Center has a big red bull's eye on it. And, they don't have a big constiuency to fight for them. So I continue to hear that they may move to Rainier Beach. Will they go and survive? That's a good question. Will their presence shore up RB? Hard to say. But the district would be hard-pressed to close a long-time high school like Beach while continuing a tiny program that costs the district money (and may cost more money if Seattle Center ever gets rebuilt).

I wish I had some good news for Center parents but I am hearing more chatter on it from multiple directions (both Board and administration).

Sue said...

I was at a Ballard HS meeting where Michael DeBell and the Superintendant were both asked the Lincoln Question, and their answer was a pretty firm "No. We will not turn it into a high school. There are not enough students to fill it."

(needless to say, the folks in the crowd seemed to disagree, but there you have it.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting, Keeping On. It may be true that there aren't enough QA/Magnolia/Wallingford/Fremont kids to fill it. On the other hand, why couldn't programs co-share the building? I'll have to ask about this one.

Charlie Mas said...

They could fill Lincoln if they put high school APP there.

old salt said...

There have been some details in the new assignment plan about how economic diversity will be addressed (attendance area boundaries & high school tie-breaker). There have been some details about increasing access to high quality schools by making seats available through lottery.

But I have not heard any detail about how transportation costs will be decreased. These goals can be contradictory. Does one have priority over the other?

How much will the economic diversity goal & the increasing access goal cost in transportation?