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Friday, October 23, 2009

Capacity Management Policy

There are two grave problems with the draft Capacity Management Policy.

First, the direction from the Board is for the Superintendent to match capacity with enrollment. This is a bad idea. Capacity should not be matched to enrollment; it should be matched to demand. The difference becomes clear when the capacity is inadequate for certain programs. For example, if there are only 180 Spectrum seats at Washington Middle School and they are all full, but there are another 40 students who want to participate in the program, then capacity is perfectly matched to enrollment (180:180) but is poorly matched to demand (180:220). Similarly, if there are 450 seats in an alternative program and it is full with 200 students on the waitlist, then the capacity perfectly matches the enrollment (450:450), but it is poorly matched to demand (450:650). In each of these cases, good capacity managment would have the capacity of that program expanded to meet the demand rather than be limited to the current enrollment.

Capacity should be matched to DEMAND, not enrollment.

Second, I am deeply concerned that the proposed Capacity Management Policy gives the superintendent guidance from the Board to use program placement as a tool to manage capacity. This provides Board guidance to determine locations for programs based on space available. This is in direct contradiction to the intent and guidance given to the superintendent in the program placement policy, C56.00, which was intended to stop the practice of determining program placement based on space available. The Board should revise the draft policy either to remove the reference to program placement or add language to make it clear that capacity management factors should not drive program placement decisions.

66 comments:

kellie said...

I completely agree about the Demand vs Enrollment insight. By focusing on demand, this would create a policy to re-create very popular programs (Lang immer, Tops, Salmon Bay, Montessori, etc) that have more demand than capacity.

The Capacity Management policy should also include or reference a policy about opening buildings to match demand. The board has a policy on how to close buildings but there is no policy on how to open them. Opening buildings needs to be part of a capacity management policy.

Right now there is zero community engagement for the new buildings and the stated reason is that they can't do engagement until the boundaries are set. That is completely wrong. Opening building impacts the entire system and therefore community engagement on this topic needs to be system wide.

Charlie Mas said...

The demand works in the other direction as well.

Let's suppose that there is a school with a capacity of 320 and an enrollment is 300. That sounds like a pretty good match (320:300). But is it really? What if 180 of the students at the school didn't choose it but are there as a result of a mandatory assignment? Then we see that the capacity is poorly matched to the demand (320:120) and a change is in order.

ParentofThree said...

I think the STEM program is a great example. Here you have this super successful program at BHS - Bio-Tech that you must lottery into. So makes perfect sense to replicate it.

Nope, gotta go with something new, that takes a few years to get up and running.....

From a marketing/PR point. Bio-Tech has name recognition and even if a family has never heard of it, the name alone gives you a clue as to what the program is about.

STEM, not so much.

How many PR/marketing people are working downtown? How much are they getting paid. I want one of those jobs!

dj said...

Charlie, amen.

anonymous said...

"Let's suppose that there is a school with a capacity of 320 and an enrollment is 300. That sounds like a pretty good match (320:300). But is it really? What if 180 of the students at the school didn't choose it but are there as a result of a mandatory assignment? Then we see that the capacity is poorly matched to the demand (320:120) and a change is in order"

This is huge and should not be ignored. Here is an example. Nathan Hale High School took 312 freshman this year, and had a 7 kid waitlist. It appears to be very popular school, unless you know that of the 312 kids assigned to Hale, only 200 listed Hale as their first choice school. Now, it's a very different picture.

Jane Addams, a brand new school, opened with 59 kids assigned to K. They have 3 K classes. You'd think it was a huge success, unless you knew that only 6 of those 59 families listed JA as their first choice school.

That's the problem with statistics. They can be misleading if you do not look at everything.

anonymous said...

Oops 9 families listed JA as their first choice for K

Unknown said...

Adhoc and Charlie -- you are both right on; but this seems REALLY tricky to me. Take adhoc's example of Nathan Hale. Only 200 of 312 listed it as first choice -- BUT there is still a waitlist of 7 -- so there are at least 7 kids who would rather be there than wherever they are -- and I guess 112 who would rather be somewhere else, instead of at Hale. How, exactly, do you determine demand (I assume there are OTHER compilations of data at the district that will do this -- but I am not sure I know exactly what they are -- probably everyone's true, first choice schools?).

I assume in the case of Hale, that there are 112 kids who would rather have been somewhere like Roosevelt, Ballard, Garfield, and maybe The Center School (I am guessing here where the OTHER big waitlists may have been). And there are 7 who are now languishing somewhere else (RBHS, Cleveland, etc.) who would rather be at Hale.
It seems to me to be pretty easy to "figure out" demand for Option schools (or programs, if we are so lucky as to get the District to make language immersion and montessori as options), as they will either fill up -- or not. (even here though, there is "misinformation imbedded in the data -- for example, distance to school/transportation, etc. issues may make it look like families are not selecting a program, where they are really just not selecting its location -- especially for elementary schools).

Also, the difference between first and second choice may be slight, for families that think that either of two schools is a good fit -- but mandatory assignment to something that wasn't listed at all may be totally different. So, for example, there may be northend families who listed other schools (maybe Eckstein) as their first choice but who were happy getting JA (their second) but who would be very unhappy being assigned to Aki.

It will take some time and effort to figure out what the numbers are truly saying. Maybe it would be easier if the district really ASKED people, as opposed to trying to rely solely on interpreting the chicken entrails of the enrollment data, but I am not sure that will happen.

kellie said...

Adhoc, you have to be careful about the whole first vs second choice in assessing demand. For a lot of families there was little or no difference between their first and second choices.

In our current choice system, there is no penalty for listing as many choices as you like. Therefore, first choice does not give completely accurate demand information. For example, I have a friend that got into her 7th choice elementary school and she was THRILLED. She listed every single long shot in the district. She listed each langage immersion, montessori as well as Tops, Thornton Creek and Salmon Bay. Choices 1-8 were virtually indistinguishable to her.

The only real information on lack of demand is mandatory assignments and Hale has none of those. Also Jane Addams is not a good example here either as it was their first year and there was little to no information about the program there at the time of application. The lack of first choices more accurately reflected the lack of information. If those numbers are the same next year, then you have a different story.

anonymous said...
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kellie said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

I think Jan and Kellie are right about not always being able to look at "1st choice" statistics at face value.

Many NE families list Roosevelt as their first choice and Hale as their second choice. Roosevelt is their "pie in the sky" choice but they are absolutely fine if they get Hale. My guess is that this may account for the majority of the 112 families that were assigned to Hale but didn't list it as their first choice (we personally know many families for whom this was the case).

Still, this shows that more families want what Roosevelt has to offer (even if they will go happily to Hale). And that begs the question, should Hale be more like Roosevelt?

Hale was my sons first choice, and we love it, so I would hate to see it change in any way, but I realize that this is self serving. A neighborhood school should serve it's community and if the community overwhelmingly requests Roosevelt over Hale then perhaps that needs to be addressed.

anonymous said...
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seattle citizen said...

Off topic, but there's an opinion piece in today's Times by Micheal Sotelo (WA state Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) about efforts afoot to rally 'round students by the Hispanic community and others. A big point is that businesses need to step up in the community to support the community, rather than support the schools, per se: Business is integral to community health, so healthy communities rely on business, which makes for better students. But of course.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2010119515_guest23sotelo.html

anonymous said...

Also, Kellie, I know that for some families there is not a huge difference between their first, second or third choice, but for many other families there is. Especially at middle school when a families choices are far fewer. We live in the NE where there are only two comprehensive middle schools (Eckstein and Hamilton) and one K-8 (Jane Addmas). We listed Eckstein as our first choice and we would have been very happy with it. We listed Jane Addams as our second choice, and Hamilton as our third choice, neither of which we would be happy with. Our son was assigned to Jane Addams, and as a result we pulled him out of SPS, and enrolled him in a Shoreline school. And we know many other families that did the same exact thing. In fact the Shoreline School my son is in added a 6th grade class this year to accommodate all of the Seattle defectors. So for us there was a HUGE difference between our 1st and 2nd choice, but yes, I realize this isn't the case for everyone.

kellie said...

My only point was to follow up to Charlie's comment about demand. First choice data definitely shows demand. Other choices show other things. Wait lists show other things. However, none of that takes away from the fact that a large number of first choices over a number of years, shows the district that families want more of those programs.

There are many, many programs in this district that have high first choice numbers, year after year.

I am sorry for what you family went through with Jane Addams, but that story is not relevant to an overall demand curve. To compare Eckstein a long standing successful program against a brand new program that was not only brand new but was then re-announced to be re-purposed before it even started is not a fair comparison.

Jane Addams first year data shows that the district waffled, which they did. However, the large number of first choices for Eckstein does show the district that families want more Eckstein like programming.

SolvayGirl said...

Unfortunately, under the new assignment plan, families will no longer be able to list their "pie in the sky" first choice if their attendance school is unacceptable as they will be putting there chances of being assigned to an acceptable school at risk.

Now it's going to take a ton of data and strategy for students who are looking to escape their attendance school. First choice will need to be calculated to be most acceptable/most attainable. Families will be settling for less and the District will have less accurate data about what Seattle families really want.

anonymous said...

"To compare Eckstein a long standing successful program against a brand new program that was not only brand new but was then re-announced to be re-purposed before it even started is not a fair comparison."

Well you are certainly right about that Kellie. Eckstein and JA are not a fair comparison - so you can imagine how we felt when our son didn't get into Eckstein and we were assigned to JA. As you described it is not a comprehensive MS, it is brand new and unproven, and the district attempted to repurpose the building before it even opened. Um, no thanks. Of course we had a second choice, Hamilton, a school that would require my son to ride a bus for two hour roundtrip every day. And this was before APP was moved into the building, it was before the school had any music program, and before it had advanced math, and before it's FRE rate dropped from 53% to 12%. Um, no thanks to that option too.

But that was it. Those were our only choices.

When you have a mass exodus of SPS families leaving the NE for Shoreline Schools there is a problem. When Eckstein gets a 160 kid waitlist and JA gets a large number of mandatory assignments there is a problem. When many more families list Roosevelt over Hale there is a problem. The disparity between these schools may not be a "fair" but it is all to real for all of the families who have to choose between them. And it needs to be addressed.

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Charlie, you are right on.

dan dempsey said...

E.D. Hirsch style Core-Knowledge schools..... there likely would be a demand.

Many parents would like to see content emphasized. Now that would be an alternative school.

How pathetic is it when an emphasis on learning content is an alternative?

Meanwhile the board mentions the amount of effort staff put into the 1.0 GPA for graduation proposal.

Perhaps the staff could come up with a plan to meet demand. Not just Capacity matching demand but actual education programs matching demand.

The public is increasingly tired of smoke and mirrors.

Elizabeth W said...

(Note: I've changed my Blogger account from "Elizabeth" to "Elizabeth W" to distinguish myself from the other Elizabeth I recently observed commenting on this blog.)

One must be very careful when defining demand if one is to avoid the "tyranny of the majority." It may be more appropriate to compare unmet demand than total demand.

Suppose you have a district containing four high schools, three of which are all Roosevelt clones and one of which is a Hale clone. Each of the four schools serves the same number of students.

Suppose further that 80% of families strongly prefer the Roosevelt-type schools (and make no distinctions among them) and 20% strongly prefer the Hale-type school.

If assignments are made completely at random, 20% of those assigned to the Roosevelt-type schools will be unhappy and 80% of those assigned to the Hale-type school will be unhappy, for a grand total of 35% of the population unhappy. If this fictitious district is committed to absolute random assignment, they will reduce the unhappiness to 20% by converting the Hale-type school into a Roosevelt-type school.

If assignments are based on preference (with students assigned to their disfavored school type only when there's not enough space), everyone who gets a Roosevelt-type assignment will be happy, everyone who prefers a Hale-type assignment will get one, but that 5% of the total population preferring the Roosevelt-type but getting the Hale-type will be unhappy.

(Although the proposed SAP is not a pure choice system, the ability of families to move to a new reference area or utilize option seats makes the choice model above a reasonable approximation for this exercise.)


Now, in a society of selfless, mathematically literate people, everyone would quickly realize that that 5% unhappy is the best the community as a whole can do, unless there are resources to create more capacity at the Roosevelt-type schools without closing the Hale-type school. Converting the Hale-type school to a Roosevelt-type school becomes the happiest choice only if the Hale-type-preferring population drops low enough to fill only half the school. This happens when 12.5% or less of the entire community prefers the Hale-type school.


And this is where things can get ugly, because, this is an arena where individuals tend to consider their own good well above that of the community as a whole. In this example, the demand for the Roosevelt-type program is several times that of the Hale-type. Were you to put the matter to a vote, those preferring the Roosevelt-type schools have the muscle to override those who prefer the Hale-type school. Even though most families will get what they want, those in the majority are all at risk of getting what they don't want. Should the majority make the decision selfishly, the Hale-type school will be converted to a Roosevelt-type school and 20% of the total population will be unhappy, when it could have been only 5%.

In short: if most people want things a particular way, making it that way for everybody is not necessarily the happiest solution.

dan dempsey said...

If capacity was matched to demand, would Cleveland as a STEM school be in existence?

It seems that a lot of the demand comes from Staff and then the rubber-stamp directors.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Great analysis Elizabeth.

Here is some data:

Roosevelt had 642 9th grade families list it as their 1st choice school. They enrolled 437 of those students. They turned away 205 students.

Hale had 200 9th grade families list it as their first choice. They enrolled all 200 of those students, plus an additional 112 more students that didn't list it as their first choice for a total of 312.

This year, under the current and very liberal "choice" plan about 30% of Hale families did not list the school as their first choice. With the new SAP I would expect it to get worse, not better. Many families that used to get into Roosevelt now find themselves in the Hale boundary and that will push the number of families that prefer Roosevelt but go to Hale up even higher next year. And, really, most families don't have the means to "move to the Roosevelt assignment area". As for lottery there will only be about 40 lottery seats available. Those lottery seats are not limited to families that prefer Roosevelt over Hale. They are made available city wide to all families with no geographic tie breaker (and you better believe that families in the RBHS, Franklin, West Seattle, Cleveland, Ingraham assignment areas will also prefer Roosevelt) so maybe only 2 or 3 Hale families would get in with the lottery. That doesn't help much.

So, in the end I doubt we're going to get anywhere near the 5% utopia that Elizabeth thought we might. I think it will be much more like 40% of families assigned to Hale would prefer an assignment to Roosevelt - though as I mentioned earlier many will take their Hale assignment happily, even though it wasn't their first choice.

Dorothy Neville said...

Lol, I didn't see Elizabeth suggesting the new system is utopia, just that you have to be more careful in thinking of consequences. Anyway, Adhoc you aren't considering the kids who are not currently able to get into RHS who are now guaranteed in. They will be happier. Will it mitigate the decreased satisfaction elsewhere? That's missing in your calculations. And as others have said, given the old algorithm, we really can't guess the levels of satisfaction.

And those lottery seats. Well, I doubt there will be any available except for siblings who now find themselves outside the boundaries.

ParentofThree said...

"If capacity was matched to demand, would Cleveland as a STEM school be in existence?"

No they would have a Bio-Tech program and it most likely would be up and running this year.

But STEM looks better on MGJ CV.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Based on the district saying that under the choice plan, 90% (sometimes higher) of people got their first choice, it worked out well. (And there are those who would argue over whether their 1st choice was their real choice; they wrote it down you can only assume that was their intent.)

As I've said, with this plan you are likely trading one unhappy 10% of people with a different 10% of unhappy people.

Dorothy Neville said...

What I have always wanted to see was a disaggregation of the 90% who got first choice. I want to know entry grade, sibling status, cluster, and other pertinent information to really understand this.

And the trading one set of 10% unhappy for a different 10%. The problem is, we really don't know if the percent unhappy will be higher or lower. It will be different folks, but the point of Elizabeth's example is that you really can't tell much more than that without further analysis.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

The gist of this post was that demand VS enrollment should be considered. If many families prefer what Roosevelt and Garfield have to offer, but these schools cannot accommodate all of them (both schools have a 200+ kid waitlists) then the district should either expand Roosevelt and Garfield (not realistic), or replicate their programs (realistic) elsewhere.

That doesn't mean that less popular schools shouldn't exist. Take Hale for example, it is less popular, but it is a successful, high achieving school that serves it's community very well. But if only 200 9th grade kids each year truly want what Hale has to offer then why wouldn't we put Hale in a right sized building that accommodates 800 kids? Wouldn't that be better than sending 112 students per year there who would prefer to be somewhere else?

goeagles said...

Adhoc wrote: "The gist of this post was that demand VS enrollment should be considered. If many families prefer what Roosevelt and Garfield have to offer, but these schools cannot accommodate all of them (both schools have a 200+ kid waitlists) then the district should either expand Roosevelt and Garfield (not realistic), or replicate their programs (realistic) elsewhere."

What I do not see acknowledged yet in this thread is that "demand" for schools such as Roosevelt and Garfield is not merely for the instructional program that they offer. Though many who post on this blog are pretty knowledgeable about curriculum, I'm sure we all can acknowledge that many families want these schools not because they are passionate advocates for algorithmic math instruction, but because they believe the school has high social status, a belief which includes perceptions about race and class. This may be troubling to acknowledge, but we must do so. Cleveland and RBHS could easily replicate the instructional program of Garfield and Roosevelt, but it would not be so easy to replicate the demographics of the school.

Even though other issues exist in a discussion of the differences in these schools' quality, I would argue that we are kidding ourselves if we discount the lingering racism and classism that will convince many parents (including working-class parents of color) that their children will be better served in a school where the majority of students are white and middle-class.

dj said...

You can make arguments about what #1 vs. #2 preferences mean, how strong they are, etc., etc. But certainly at the poles we know the schools that have incredibly long waitlists and the schools that have as enrollees mostly people who either didn't get it together for the choice process, didn't preference the school at all, or preferenced the school low on the list. It's not rocket science that schools with lengthy waitlists are highly desirable to parents and schools that few choose are not. We shouldn't lose sight of that in discussing whether #1 vs. #2 preferences are meaningful.

kellie said...

You can find historical choice information here
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/OntimeAnalysis_2009-10_Short.pdf

The spreadsheet used to have more years but It has been a long time since 90% of families got either their first or second choice. As enrollment has increased and capacity has been taken out of the system through three rounds of school closures, the percentage of folks getting their first choice has declined considerably each year.

So to go back to the point of the thread, IMO, the district desperately needs a capacity management policy because right now all capacity issues are managed as after thoughts.

So essentially, the capacity policy has been whenever there are extra students of any sort, you just stick them in the left over space. Surprise - we have more special ed students, lets stick them here. Surprise - we have more K students, let's stick them here.

seattle citizen said...

goeagles,
Thanks for the reminder that the reasons parent/guardians and children include the social issues, economic issues and race.

No secret that the city still has fewer poor and fewer people of color north of the ship canal. Redlining in Seattle only ended a generation or two ago, and capital accumulated more in the north, mainly in the hands of non-minority.

So it partly is that Roosevelt, Ballard, and Hale are often considered "good" schools, without too much attention on their programs; so it partly is that Garfield and Franlin are considered good schools while people often in the same sentence acknowledge the "split" between floors, programs and advanced classes; so it partly is that West Seattle is also considered a "good" school, in its north-western redoubt south of Alki; and so it partly is that Ingraham, Sealth, Rainier Beach and Cleveland, further into the poorer and more colorful communities, do not often come up in discussion...

So it partly is that people sometimes want their child to go to a school that has built its reputation on, among other things, being "classier" and whiter.

anonymous said...

Race and class are always interesting issues to explore.

Do schools build their reputation on being classier, and whiter as SC says? Or is is the quality of instruction and offerings and school culture that attract families?

Lets look at Garfield, one of the most popular high schools in the district with a 200+ kid waitlist. It is also one of the most diverse high schools in the district both ethnically and socio economically.

If folks were looking for a whiter, classier school would they choose Garfield?

Garfield is:
27% black
24% Asian
42% White
06% Hispanic
30% FRE

Most families would agree that Garfield's offerings (which are very similar to Roosevelt's) are top notch. However the school is in no way a "white and classy" school.

This would tell me that families are not seeking white, classy schools, but they are seeking top notch instruction and offerings for their kids.

And by the way App is not segregated, nor is it contained on one floor. The cohort gets preference to the school but there are no APP "classes".

dan dempsey said...

Garfield Stats:

Garfield WASL 2009

White
reading 100%
math 93.70%
writing 100%
science 85.50%

Black

reading 80.90%
math 29.80%

writing 86.70%
science 17.60%

Asian/Pac.Is

reading 94%
math 76.70%
writing 95.80%
science 66.10%

LowIncome

reading 82.90%
math 41.00%

writing 84.80%
science 35.60%

All

reading 90.40%
math 67.70%
writing 93.10%
science 60.50%

Limited English

reading 37.50%
math 16.70%
writing 50%
science 5%

dan dempsey said...

SPSMom said:

Cleveland would have a Bio-Tech program and it most likely would be up and running this year.

But STEM looks better on MGJ CV.


AMEN....

It is all about the appearance and next to nothing of substance in this decision making.

As Cheryl Chow says: Better PR is the answer. ... I guess that is what Cheryl thinks is demand.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, my comment about the "split" between floors, classes, etc reflects a popular perception.

I'm not sure if this is true. Can anyone give us the demographics of AP, Honors and Gen Ed classes at GHS?

Regardless, there's perception...And as I noted, Garfield is, I think, considered a good school by all sorts of people, yet perhaps some see it as still, after all these years, segregated in some ways. I wonder if a low income Black family would expect to have the same degree of access, acceptance, and support as a non-Black, wealthier family...Not to say they would or wouldn't get support, but that the perception might be they wouldn't. This is what I was talking about when commenting off of goeagles' comment. People percieve different things, based on who they are, where they come from, what they want...School choice is impacted by these things, just as it is by the desire for a "good" program, "good" being also subjective.

I think, adhoc, that some families DO seek "white"(er) classier schools, and by classier I mean schools that have a high proportion of wealthier students in them. Wealth is a signifier of "success" and access (hence the term "classier" I used: Not "nicer" but the idea that people are living the life of a higher class, are part of the culture of power...)

anonymous said...

"I wonder if a low income Black family would expect to have the same degree of access, acceptance, and support as a non-Black, wealthier family.."

Well since Garfield is 27% African American, and 30% FRE, it would appear that many African American and low income families do feel that the school meets their needs.

Dorothy Neville said...

I have one anecdote. I volunteered to proctor an AP test couple years ago (Bob Vaughan's office often asks parents to help). I was assigned GHS AP American History. There were close to 200 students in the room (the gym at Lincoln). Most of the students were from Garfield, but also a few from Hale, and other schools. Based on visual appearance alone, I counted approximately 5 or 6 girls of color (non-Asian). I saw NO boys of color (non-Asian). Perhaps I missed one or two, but when it struck me to look, there was still about an hour of essay time left, so I was able to do my proctoring job and walk around the room looking.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Dorothy why do you think kids of color aren't taking the AP tests? They have access to "good" schools like Garfield if they live in the CD. Hale if they list is as their first choice no matter where they live in the city, same for Ingraham (IB program). NOVA and Center School are great options too.

This always baffles me because the access is there for African Americans, so why aren't they taking advantage of it?

My husband is African American, my kids are bi-racial. I expect that both of my kids will be in that room of kids taking AP tests. Why aren't more kids of color in that room? Why aren't they taking advantage of their options? Because options do exist for those that seek them.

reader said...

If you look at the first choice data, and you graph it against "whiteness"... it is pretty obvious, that people choose schools that are as white as possible. Schools that are whiter, are also wealthier, so that relationship exists too.

SolvayGirl said...

Ad Hoc
If you go to Garfield's website and click on their academics, you'll find Garfield's formulas for course scheduling. They offer 3 Plans: Plan I for access to a 4-yr state college, Plan II for access to a more elite, 4-yr college and Plan III for access to a community college or technical school. They end up being "tracks" so to speak with suggested course schedules to meet the requirements for the desired institute of higher learning. The AP classes are stressed for the kids working toward an elite 4-yr college.

The school only has so many spaces in each class. A few years ago, a friend's daughter, a senior at Garfield (who had not been in APP), was dismayed because instead of the AP Statistics and Advanced Calculus she was given Auto Shop and Home Ec. There was not room in the honors classes (she was qualified to be in the class).

So, just because a student goes to Garfield, it does not mean they are always getting the best the school has to offer.

WV is not "fuhlen" and neither am I.

Dorothy Neville said...

"Dorothy why do you think kids of color aren't taking the AP tests? "

Don't ask me, I am just reporting what I saw. One class, one year. Others will have more data and perhaps information and can draw some conclusions.

SolvayGirl said...

A friend was having a hard time posting for some reason and asked me to post this for her...

"The "elephant in the room" is equity. Speaking of capacity issues, whatever happened to MKD who posted on the "KUOW Discussing Boundaries at 10 AM" blog? I wanted to go back to her posts to
review what she said about RBHS, but every single post was removed! What happened? I hope that she and her kids are okay.

seattle citizen said...

adhoc, you write
"This (students of color not taking APP tests, etc) always baffles me because the access is there for African Americans, so why aren't they taking advantage of it?"

I'm not Black, so I can't say, exaclty, but I have my suspicions.

I'd blame Willie Lynch - the systematic "programming" of Africans, as they became slaves, and then their children, the first African Americans, down through the ages...a system of making Blacks believe they are somehow not worthy...it's in European literature throughout modern history ("While the I can't raise the Indian up to our level," says the Episcopal priest on his way to the mission,"I will do my best to make him a good farmer." (1877) That's an example. Whites had come to believe Blacks, and Native Americans, and Hispanics and others were "sub-human." Blacks, particularly, suffered this onus. They (and others) also suffered under law for many, many years. Additionally, Blacks were actually "trained" to believe that the men were weak and the women more available to whites...

My point is that many people, I believe, grow up in situations that continue their historical belief pattern that they are going to be cut out of the system, one way or another.
If I were a Black child, looking towards Garfield's advanced classes, I'd see disproportionate amounts of wealthier whites and wonder what chance I had. Yes there is hope and a good chance these days, but history is deep and powerful.

Why ARE the advanced classes still disproportionate, here in 2009? I'd posit that part of it is due to a hestitancy on the parts of traditionally oppressed people to accept that there might be hope.

Unless the "opressors" (those whose history was one of oppressing...my great-grand-parents benefited from slavery, if not directly then from the capital accumulated in this country by slaves, taken from them by slave masters and put into the capital pool of whites) open more doors, well, we've got a few more years of disproportionality ahead of us, eh?

Maureen said...

From what I hear, Garfield has a very strong Urban Scholars program to support underserved students. "Urban Scholars recruits bright, hard-working middle-school students and helps them — and their families — navigate through honors classes, college applications and financial aid. Most of the students in the program are African American, most don't have parents who went to college, and many are in poverty. Urban Scholars seeks to fill the gaps left by overtaxed school counselors and underinformed parents."

This program may exist at other HSs too, but I have only heard about it at GHS.

Maureen said...

Maybe Urban Scholars is limited to GHS? The Urban League Education Dept says that.

But the PI article I cited last post had a photo of an Ingraham student (with a Garfield Student), so maybe I'm wrong?

Does anyone know if the Urban League Scholars program is available to non-GHS students??

anonymous said...

There are so many programs like Urban Scholars out there....LEEP, Upward Bound, Summer Search, AVID, NELA, Rainier Scholars. And that's just a few that I can think of off of the top of my head....there are many many more.

The help and support is out there for those who need it. The opportunity is there, good schools are accessible. But you have to want it. You have to go get it. And that is what baffles me. Why do so many low income and minority kids not want it???

CCM said...

I am currently tutoring at WMS a few times a week, and I can tell you that what I see in the regular classes are many students who are smart and capable of success.

The issue I also see are kids who are distracted. One girl in the class came to school with a bandaged hand - when I asked her what happened she told me that a high school girl "jumped her" at a convenience store and they got into a fight. I talked to her about the importance of avoiding that type of situation- the possibility of someone having a gun - the possibility of a permanent consequence.

She looked at me like I was ridiculous - that adult that didn't have a clue. I left that day wondering how my daughter would ever be in a situation like that - there are so many reasons that she wouldn't be, not the least of which that she would never be at a convenience store at 1am on a weeknight in middle school.

These kids are dealing with many distractions due to their socio-economic status that it is no wonder that school work is a distance second, third or fourth on their priority list.

How do we change that?

seattle citizen said...

Central Cluster Mom,
Yes, there are pervasive "distractions" that impact (for the most part) poor urban youth. They come together in a larger package which might be thought of as a "culture of hopelessness."
My understanding:
hundreds of years ago, Willie Lynch - the "programming" of Blacks to believe they were inferior. This serves two purposes: it "trained" blacks to accept their status as chattel, and it allowed "good christians" to rationalize enslaving human beings by dehumanizing them. This second "benefit" of dehumanization carried forward (carries forward?) in the way Europeans (or should I say NW Europeans) came to believe that they were the civilized ones, they were the beneficient bringers of all good to the "savages".

This dehumanization, as we know, is still in evidence in all sorts of places around the world, and where racism (prejudice plus power) is still practiced here, it still impacts communities.

If you grow up in the 'hood, and are Black, particularly, but also maybe "just" poor, your grandparents grew up with overt racist policies such as segregation (redlining, for instance, which kept minorities in the hood by denying them bank loans or access to valuable capital in the form of real estate, or discrimination in jobs, etc.)

This sort of racism is still fresh in the minds of many.

A possible result? Lack of hope, lack of a belief that one can do anything, that one can be equal to everyone else in opporunity.

A possible result of THAT? Since one can't make it in the larger world, one makes it in the hood. Since there is not much opportunity in the larger culture, the smaller venue becomes the streets, the neighborhoods.

Everyone wants to feel "powerful." Not necessarily "bad" power, like keeping someone under their thumb, but power to effect change. Where one can't change the bigger world, maybe the smaller world can be changed, maybe someone can have status in the 'hood.

Hence, the insular attraction of gangs, of "drama," of the distractions that keep young women fighting in front of convenience stores and young men swaggering in groups in their territories ("CD!" "Southend!")

It must be difficult to make the unknown step into the larger arena when the smaller stage allows one to hold a certain perceived power and teh larger stage still contains real and imagined roadblocks to power and the ability to become a change agent.

(And since the draw of the "game" is so strong, there are those who want to keep everyone playing - it is often difficult for someone who wants to get out to walk safely down the street.)

The "distractions," in my opinion, are merely small scenes in the larger play, the society of thug life.

Of course, some aspects of this "life" manifest amongst larger populations: our capitalist media loves "outsiders", both in the news and in music and film - Gangsta rap was commodifed by white business people long ago to sell to young whites in Bellevue...and there are outsied forces that, conversely, infiltrate into the thug life: cocaine becomes crack, 40s are sold in every convenience store...

seattle citizen said...

The startling aspect to me is that poor people are kept busy fighting amongst themselves, busy focusing on each other (por black boys shooting poor black boys), instead of looking up the ladder to see why, in fact, they are poor...

Maybe it's part of the plan: Keep the lower classes looking at each other instead of up. Racism serves this purpose rather well, as does the thug life.

Heaven forbid we have a bunch of poor and oppressed people actually organizing together to reconfigure society so they are no longer so poor...Instead, keep them busy scrabbling to pay bills, keep them paycheck to paycheck, maintain a steady supply of drugs and cheap booze (while glorifying it in song and dance), keep themj balming each other, killing each other, blaming OTHER minorities... and whatever you do, don't educate them...

WV says that if the poor discover their status, they might look up to wealth accumulated up top and mobit.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Garfield isn't a "classy" school? There's a stretch. I think most people would look at the building, the student body achievements and the parental involvement and consider that excellent. You'd have to define "classy" for me.

Just as some people pick Lakeside for its "name" brand, some people will pick Roosevelt, Garfield or Ballard. Is everything perfect at those schools? I'm pretty sure it isn't. Are those schools necessarily a good fit for all students? Absolutely not.

"The school only has so many spaces in each class. A few years ago, a friend's daughter, a senior at Garfield (who had not been in APP), was dismayed because instead of the AP Statistics and Advanced Calculus she was given Auto Shop and Home Ec. There was not room in the honors classes (she was qualified to be in the class)."

I know this happened to a LOT of kids over a couple of years because we heard about it at our soccer games. Garfield simply did not have enough spaces in wanted classes. I have no idea if this continues to this day but it was an issue for all kids for a couple of years.

I agree with Dan: STEM is just pride on Dr. G-J's side. I'm hoping that her "if the district builds it, they will come" belief holds up. It could if she put a great principal into the building. It could if she was teaming up with people like Fred Hutch, UW Computer Science and Engineering, Microsoft, etc. (In fact, it would be great if Bill Gates invested in a hometown school that is trying to do the things he wants.) Maybe all of these things are in motion and will be presented to us as a dynamic package.

I have never seen the district roll out a new school on their own successfully. (I don't count Center School as it did not become what it was advertised to be).

seattle citizen said...

Melissa,
I threw in the term "classy" to suggest the derivation of the word, and to suggest that people look to for students to be with "classier" as in "higher class" as in "wealthier" other students.

People look not just for "program" or advanced opportunities, but for their children to be around higher SES cohorts, in orded for their child to maximize the chances that their child, too, will be able to step into the "culture of power" (the "ins")
Attendant on this culture of power is not just knowledge of content, but knowledge of cultural cues and behavior, and the ability to network.

That's how got started on this "classier" thing (and maybe I shouldn't have used the term) after goeagles reminded us to look for other factors besides program excellence, advanced classes, etc.

WV suggests I parph my terms before using them..

SP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SP said...

Seattle Parent said...
I have serious doubts that the district's stated "assumptions" for high schools are even close to realistic, and these assumptions are driving over 5% of the high school capacity.
Specifically, the assumptions that at least 5% of each comprehensive area high school population will sign up voluntarily for Cleveland's STEM program. Where did they get that 5%+ from? Did they even think of polling families?

This comes from the SAP homepage, under the "maps" section (appendix C "Assumptions" for high schools):

Cleveland S.T.E.M
• Students will be assumed to attend Cleveland based on the following
percentages of attendance area students:
o Ballard, Ingraham, Nathan Hale, Roosevelt, Sealth, and West Seattle –
5%
o Garfield – 6.5%
o Franklin and Rainier Beach – 13%

So far, I have not met any families who will send their student next year to the STEM program. Do any of you know of any takers? If the district's assumptions are wrong, the 10% Choice seats will be an assumed fiction also!

(note also, in Appendix D for high schools, at the end are projected demographics for each school, with the 3rd entry including these same "assumptions")

Unknown said...

Seattle parent, I have been wondering the same thing. The STEM program is being developed. How can the district make assumptions regarding enrollment? In a few years they can see trends and make assumptions but not today.
Also how can the district vote on the boundries and plan on implement it next year when the plan is based on the levy passing in Feb 2010. Wouldn't it make sense to wait a year to make sure you have the 48 million needed to open the five schools. I understand the districts desire to have the plan start asap but it needs to be done right.

Unknown said...

As the days of public comment on the new SAP go by, it seems like an increasingly good idea to me to postpone its implementation for a year, as Cecelia suggests. This would have a number of advantages:
First, it would give District staff time to roll out more "pieces of the puzzle" that didn't come with the initial roll out.
It would also give the District time to go back and redraw the boundaries using different "option" definitions (ones that make all language immersion and Montessori programs optional, and make South Shore an attendance area school, for example). (There may be other changes as well, but these came immediately to mind).

It might also solve two other problems (at least, they are problems to me) with the current timing. As happened with the school closings last year and the high school math text adoption, it seems as though historically the timing of bringing things to the Board is too rushed. By the time it is presented, it is debated by the Board in the context of "well, time has run out. We have to say yes to this, or . . .." Very "cart before the horse," and it consistently lets the District "off" with toothless promises. There was supposed to be a written, tested APP curriculum by this fall. They "promised." So, elementary and middle school APP split, and there is still no curriculum (thouh I don't doubt Dr. Vaughn is working hard -- but when he listed what was on his plate, it seems pretty clear that the District never really meant to keep that promise -- because they sure didn't give Dr. Vaughn the resources for it. The same with "differentiated instruction" for the math programs. My recollection is that promises were made to SBOC and NOVA families that Meany would be "high school ready" for them BEFORE they moved in. It didn't happen. IF the implementation of SAP was delayed for a year, the District staff could not only rework the boundaries for "option" schools -- they could perform a portion of THEIR part of the deal before they demand action from the Board and families on ITS part (approval of, and participation in, the SAP). They could roll out the new Cleveland STEM program (staffing, curriculum, materials, etc.) AND they could actually make the improvements to RBHS that are implied in their "equity" promises. I don't think most RBHS families believe that they can turn RBHS into Roosevelt in a year -- but the District could sure as heck put a set of changes and new programs in place that could start to convince its attendance area that there is a "there" there -- that this is not just an instance where the fix will be to try to force a bunch of families into the school, and then hope that somehow the numbers will produce change. AND -- they could actually start to implement the International Program at Mercer and fixes to Aki, for the same reasons.
(cont'd)

Unknown said...

Finally, this would also give everyone time to see if the levy that is "implied" in the SAP passes. And, if the levy is imperiled by things like too many downtown District folks, and not enough resources actually in schools, it gives the Board and the Superindendant time to make some changes to fix those problems.

The only reason I know of to rush the process this year had to do with migrating off the old VAX system (if that is the right name) to the new computer, and somehow, I don't think that is all necessarily happening this year anyway. So -- I say, if the SAP and "predictability rather than choice" is the way we are going -- why don't we at least put in another 6 to 8 months to get it right and roll it out for the 2011-12 year.
And (I know, I said "finally" above), waiting a year would give the District a "one time" chance to run an experiment -- asking parents (when they make next year's enrollment decisions for kids under the current system), where they would "choose" to go IF they were enrolling under the new SAP. I realize that if most SAP decisions are being made only for entering grades (K, 6, and 9) so each year will involve a different "set" of kids, but it might give the District a great deal of information about how many kids will choose Cleveland, what happens to choice seats for things like language immersion, Montessori, etc., how many kids will want the option seats at each school-- and find it out in time to make changes in the SAP a whole year before the real SAP rolls out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, you outline some very good reasons to postpone. But the mantra in this district "need to have it done yesterday". I do realize that staff has been working on this far longer than we have seen the plan.

First, I have been told that work at Sand Point has begun. Not sure it that's true. If so, they are using capital reserves that have come about by - and let's give credit here - actual BEX savings from Hamilton and South Shore. However, they are nowhere finished with Denny/Sealth nor Ingraham. So they may have the money for Sand Point but not the other projects.

So if the levy fails, then they might take the money from the Ingraham addition and use that (but I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near $48M). So you lop off McDonald which is the highest price reopen (and seemingly the least necessary) and maybe you might have enough.

That's a possible way to get it done without the levy but I know Facilities would hate that (and rightly so). It would also be terrible for Meany.

BUT, if, like Jan, you do not like the way things get done in this district, we need to fight back with our votes. As I said, I'm going to try to reach out to different people and groups to see if they will put pressure on the district BEFORE the levy so no one has to vote no.

It is the only weapon we have to say, "Pay attention to parents."

Chris S. said...

I had this crazy thought over the weekend, and since we're sort of discussing it here, here goes:

We know standardized test scores are largely a proxy for SES. We know testing is developmentally inappropriate for much of elementary school. I head lots of parents saying "Well, I'm not going to send my kid to that school with the low test scores." Why not STOP publishing elementary school test scores? I know it's probably illegal in this day and age, but let's recognize that this basically allows people to justify what is really just classism and racism. Furthermore, most people who say these things don't even realize what they mean!

I know it's not the way to really fix anything, but if people had to actually visit a school to find our how they are doing, or now that we have MAP, present "% making progress" rather % meeting standard...who knows.

As we consider school report cards though, wouldn't it be nice to have measures of quality independent of demographics? Can anyone think of any?

Charlie Mas said...

Chris, publishing the test scores is a legal requirement and the OSPI (and the newspapers) will do it even if the District does not.

The School Scorecard is supposed to have measures of quality on it, but I haven't seen what they will be. I certainly gave a lot of input on what statistics would be meaningful, but I don't think they are going to follow any of that advice.

Moreover, I think they are really stumped for measures of quality outside of test scores, which means highly correlated to SES.

I would, however, encourage you to consider WHY test scores are highly correlated to SES and consider what schools like Maple are doing to deliver high test scores with a challenging population. It's not complicated.

Set and maintain high expectations. Do not lower the bar to the level of the students' current achievement, but raise the students' achievement to get over the bar. With some populations that's going to take a lot of work. Do the work. Don't compromise the Standards.

mkd said...

Several candidates, who are running as well as those already sitting on the board, told me it is not feasible to compare Rainier Beach to other high schools in the district, for instance, against Garfield. I disagree. School size should not matter when we examine basic benchmarks that apply to all students, not those only at one school. Hard and measurable data indicates a great disparity between schools. A comparison of some fairly disturbing trends: Rainier Beach dropout rates @ 13%, Garfield dropout rates @ 3%; Rainier Beach graduation rates @ 48%, Garfield graduation rates @ 86%; of Rainier Beach 10th grade students who met the state standard, math @ 9% and science @ 17%, Garfield math @ 67% and science @ 60%. My inquiries were, according to some already on the board, racist and not worth addressing. In fact, whenever I questioned anything too closely, it was convenient to use the “racist” label to avert any concrete answer.

Rainier Beach High School Demographics (2008)

Enrollment & Assignment
Total Enrollment 453
Returning Students 68.6%
First Choice 13.3%

Ethnicity
Asian 23.6%
African American 56.3%
Hispanic 12.4%
Native American 2.2%
White 5.5%

Special Groups & Programs
Free or Reduced Lunch 64.5%
Not Living with Both Parents 63.6%
Non-English Speaker 27.8%
Bilingual Eligible & Served 14.1%
Bilingual Eligible 17.0%

Other Relevant Information:
Total Enrollment During Year 497
Average Monthly Enrollment 374
Attendance 76.4%
Total Transfers 200
Transfers In 121
Transfers Out 118

Notice that more than 1/3 of last year’s class transferred out. At semester (hopefully sooner), we too are transferring out, that is, the entire public school system. My boys have been accepted at Bishop Blanchette.

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