Vote on Ideas for Seattle Public Schools

Like many of you, I check this blog daily and am thankful for all of the great information that gets posted, primarily due to the efforts of Melissa & Charlie. We can judge which subjects are the hot issues from the number of comments a post generates. But, unfortunately, we don't have a great way to measure and track which suggested solutions are the most popular. And the only way to participate is by typing a comment.

I've been playing around with some web technology I think can help:

The idea is simple: There's a list of suggested solutions for Seattle Public Schools. Anyone can add additional suggestions, and everyone gets to vote on which solutions they like most. To prime the pump, I entered a couple of ideas and Charlie added a bunch of his. Now it's ready for all of you to jump in. We'll forward the link around with upcoming CPPS communications. Please forward to your friends.

If the experiment works, it will be like a bunch of online petitions that form automatically based on what parents and communities want. We've seen that messages to the district are most effective when we can demonstrate broad, city-wide support for ideas.

Big changes are afoot with the new student assignment plan, so now more than ever we need a unified parent & community voice. The district is holding lots of meetings, but we know from experience there's a big different between attending meetings and being heard. I encourage all of you to visit the site and make your opinion heard.


Wow, nice use of technology! Thanks, Charlie!
Shannon said…
Its a good idea. My problem - much as with many petitions - is that there is no way to record vehement opposition to the idea.

If many feel strongly against a concept that may factor into the strength of support I, the Board, the district or others give to an idea. It raises the question of WHY rather than WHAT.

I would like some No votes to show too.
No votes is a good suggestion that I'll pass on to the folks who provide the underlying technology. None of us will be surprised if mutually exclusive ideas get lots of votes, but hopefully the ideas that bubble up to the very top will represent the ideas that have the broadest support. We'll see...
NE Parent said…
Rather than giving a "no" vote, you could log a comment. Not quite the same, but it does allow you to communicate your viewpoint.
Charlie Mas said…
Andrew found it and set it up. I just took advantage of it to throw out some ideas. I strongly encourage you to do the same and to freely comment on the ideas you find there.
ParentofThree said…
Great start....but...this really needs "NO" vote capabilities to be taken seriously, otherwise groups will load up votes on their pet projects. And if the point is to use this as a tool to communicate with the disctrict it really needs to be fair and balanced from the onset.
Gouda said…
What are your plans for creating representation? Are you logging users geographically or by school? Without any user tracking, the data doesn't seem reliable. How do you plan on ensuring that it is representational? The District already sees certain groups of parents as obnoxious and overbearing; to me, this could easily be seen as an extension of that, catering to a particular type of parent.

Likewise, I'm not sure how you'd really gauge what the average SPS parent is thinking, as they are not likely to wade through all of the suggestions. I'm an active parent who heads the PTA and reads this blog every day, but I didn't have the energy to read through them all.

I like the idea, but the methodology and implementation are lacking. I'd like to see more thought going into that before investing in it.
BullDogger said…
just a mom...

"The District already sees certain groups of parents as obnoxious and overbearing"

It would be a lot easier for SPS if those pesky, uninformed parents stayed compliant and disinterested. I don't believe though any district can provide a great education without the community involved. The education industry does not hold all the answers.

Andrew... this is great work. I understand you can't solve everything (such as regional issues) but I appreciate your effort.
Shannon said…
I don't think it need to attempt to be representative. This form of feedback is more like a lobby or a petition than a survey. If there are enough parents who feel a certain way their view is significant by itself. The success of the project lies in getting significant numbers to vote.

With only a few votes the issue of representation IS important because it could be a little clique. This is especially the case where multiple votes are allowed PER ISSUE.

What is the thinking behind that?

It dilutes my sense of the issue if I suspect that only 5 people have ascribed all their votes to it - much more significant if 50 people have endorsed the view once. It makes it hard to compare apples to apples.

I can see an argument that allows people to feel very strongly on ONE issue only, but still, it makes me want to know the number of voters rather than votes.
SolvayGirl said…
I voted twice on the issues I support representing both myself and my husband (who is rarely online outside of work and does not use his work computer for personal web browsing).
I assumed that's what this option was for.
adhoc said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
adhoc said…
I think SPS needs to do surveys like these.

They could have done one to find out what specialty focus would have attracted families to Jane Addams?

They could do one to ask families what RBHS or Cleveland would need to offer to attract them to the school.

There are so many things they can utilize a poll/survey for.

If Andrew can create a survey like this and get it out there, surely SPS could do the same if they wanted to.
This won't be scientific and it is certainly an experiment, but the goal is to collaborate on solutions. Despite the flaws with the site (there are many), if we got lots of people going to the web site, it can raise awareness and represent a general view of what ideas seem to have broad support and the concerns (via comments) that people have. Then we can follow up on those ideas. Thanks to everyone who has participated.
Sahila said…

something to think about...

assuming you agree that this is the purpose of education, what is your child learning in the current system?

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