Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Board Meeting Part One

Looks like another long one. I was at home and I got worn out at 2.5 hours. There were a few laughs (thanks Chris Jackins - he made a joke about the Superintendent's bonus being a math lesson because it's $5,280 which is a mile in feet. ) We finally heard from our two new Board members - interesting.

So the community speakers spoke on several topics including the MLK,Jr bldg as a community meeting site for Madison Valley, several different speakers on the need for Career Center counselors in our high schools, grandfathering siblings, the Superintendent's bonus and several student speakers. (Those kids from Nova always make me smile. So committed, articulate and wonderful. There was also a young man from Ingraham, in a sport jacket and tie, saying how they need their Career Counselor.)

There was a really long report from the Family Engagment team. This is a wonderful diverse group of people working hard on outreach as well as figuring out ways to do new and better outreach. Their goals over the next 6 months are to help parents learn to use The Source, help parents understand the Partnership plan and Strategic Plan and how to advocate for their children. (What I think would be nice is to tell parents about what to expect when they do advocate for their child. It's all good and well to say, "go here for this, etc." but to tell parents what they face in the room with teacher/administrator/counselor might also be a good idea. I'll have to write Bernardo Ruiz about this.)

Betty Patu asked her first question which was about having a Family Support Worker versus a Family engagement person (which each school is eventually going to have - sort of a parent ombudsman is how I think it will be). The answer was that they will have both (not at all schools because the Family Support Worker is funded through the City's Families and Education levy).

Then there was a long presentation on STEM (Charlie, you might want to look at the PowerPoint used). Quite a lot of information and well, the presentation made clear the priorities going forward. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was in fine form. A little more smiley than usual but she sure sticks to her script.

In overview, STEM is much, much bigger than I thought. This is going to be Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's jewel in the crown and there's isn't much she won't throw out elsewhere or at it to make it work.

I think much of the STEM presentation was from the Saturday presentation but likely with some notation exceptions (that I can't believe Charlie would have left out). Dr. G-J discussed something called the New Technology Network (NTN), a group that helps schools/entities with expertise and training that will help guide the process for STEM. Their role, explained in answer to a later question, will only be for 3 years but they are still working out the cost.

She put up a draft budget that was fairly unreadable. What I did see was that Cleveland is going to be the beneficiary of a lot of money over three years. The starting budget is $1.3M (and I think that's just for the STEM program, not actual school budget), with a 3-year total of about $4M+ with annual on-going costs of around $715,000. The district is working on a more detailed budget (Harium asked about this and Dr. G-J said it was coming). Since I already have confirmed that the engineering part of it doesn't require any special lab AND the science labs are good to go (according to the principal), then you have to wonder what the capital money is being used for.

She stated that they hope to find money from state LAP, "existing providers and technical resources" (whatever that means), potential money from grants, both fed and private. She said the district had identified one-sixth of the funding already. She said that outside funding needs to cover between 25-30% of the 1-3 year costs and the rest will come from the district. And that would be under what mattress?

Also, interesting list of community partners but I did stop short at UW...Bothell? Really? Does the district know that UW Seattle has one of the top 10 computer science and engineering departments in the country? And they are more than willing to help if asked? And yet the district went to Bothell?

Next Steps
  • Open House Jan. 23rd
  • 7th period support courses added to Spring 2010 for current CHS students
Sherry Carr expressed concern over the amount of work this project will take and how burdened staff is. She asked about possible risks. Dr. G-J said they were on-track and referenced an unknown "STEM professional" who is helping them with the NTN contract. (Yes, I know. Who is this person and how are they being paid?) She ignored the query about risks.

She also said that the Cleveland building could support the academy approach. Yes, we know that. Cleveland has/had academies and yet we are changing that program to a STEM program.

Peter Maier asked about the 8-period day. Dr. Enfield said it was a embedded professional development/planning period for teachers to keep them going in the program. Peter also asked if the SE Intiative money for Cleveland was now being directed for STEM and the answer was yes.

Peter asked about needed building changes like lab upgrades and the answer was yes. Again, this is not what I was told by Project Lead the Way OR the principal.

Kay asked her first question which was if every student gets a laptop (there is a 1:1 computer requirement for STEM) and the answer was there will be a computer for each student but not necessarily a laptop. She was also pleased to see music and art in the school but Dr. G-J said it was there to meet graduation requirements and Steve Sundquist said it would not be the same kind of program as the comprehensives would have.

Harium pointed out that Cleveland students will naturally graduate with more credits than the other high schools and Dr. Enfield said it follows from Core 24 that the state is talking about enacting.

Betty asked about funding and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson gave her a little schooling on budget (she said something like "one of the best learning curves for new Board Directors is how our budget process works"). It actually didn't need to be said, especially in public, but Dr. G-J said it anyway. I'm pretty sure Betty and Kay didn't miss it.

Betty Patu came back in about the funding (she's going to be feisty). She pointed at that when the district needs funding for one thing, they generally take it from another. She said the district has to be responsible for how they move money around.

Then Kay asked about where they had contacts. Technology Alliance? Yes. TAF (Technology Access Foundation where Trish Dziko does her good work). Yes. I think after Dr. G-J gave both answers as one word it occurred to her how terse that sounded so she added on a bit more. It came off a bit curt to me.

Okay, so why did I say as an overview that STEM is bigger than I thought? Well, because Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will take the money from some place. So:
  • There goes ANY thought I had of basic maintenance spending increasing, at least for now.
    So it becomes more important than ever to tell the Board that we cannot keeping growing that maintenance backlog. There is no "levying", either BTA and/or BEX, to get us out of it. And now we are going to find money, both in capital and operations, for one school.
  • Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is making is quite clear that she was directed to do this both from the public and the Board who said they expect better schools for the new SAP to work. Problem is, no one said "open a STEM school and pour all the money and effort into that". This effort, to me, is her interpretation of that desire.
  • Another HUGE piece to this is that the new schools coming online will have to wait for STEM to get its footing. This got discussed during the portion about the Transition Plan (also interesting and I'll write that up tomorrow morning). By wait, I mean, she said that "all the programs like Montessori and foreign language immersion cost money" and after all kids, there is a "priority list". Guess what is #1 with a bullet? STEM. She made it clear there will not be any real focus for any of these new schools coming on-line in the first year at least (with Viewlands and Rainier View seeming to get the biggest shaft despite the efforts of Peter Maier to remind her not to forget them). She said people have to be "realistic".
Make no mistake - this is a train leaving the station except it's going about 60 miles an hour. It will take tremendous courage on the part of Directors to put the brakes on it but really, I suspect when the reopening schools open without a focus and our backlog of maintenance continues to grow that a lot more people might complain than our Superintendent wants to think will.

What I have put forth is what I understand Dr. G-J wants and frankly, expects the Board to sign off on and what a great argument - do you want this to succeed or not? Sure, but at what cost to this district and ALL the other schools including the new ones?

(Please, if anyone else attended or watched, tell me, did I misinterpret what I heard?)


dan dempsey said...

STEM seems to be a case of the board buying a pig in a poke. The original STEM vote had very little information about much of anything. Now as you have stated the train is leaving the station at 60 mph.

The state has huge budget problems. SPS buildings are crumbling from neglected maintenance and huge money is going to be shoveled into a STEM high school by a district that has a horrible k-12 math program .... and $10 million for academic coaches.

Priorities ... Realistic ...
What does MGJ mean using these words?

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

"In overview, STEM is much, much bigger than I thought. This is going to be Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's jewel in the crown and there's isn't much she won't throw out elsewhere or at it to make it work."

Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased to have a strong math/science magnet in our district, and am glad that STEM is getting the support it needs to be a succesful and attractive school. But I am puzzled as to why the district is spending such a large amount of money, and putting so much effort into STEM when they are doing almost nothing to promote or support their other brand new science and math magnet, Jane Addams. Jane Addams Environmental science and math k-8 has nothing more than any other school in the district, with the exception of one environmental science elective only available to 6th graders that don't take band, and 15 extra minutes in math every day. That's it folks.

And, now to hear that the 2 other schools slated to open this year will have very little support and no real vision from the district is just not fair, and it's sad.

seattle citizen said...

New Technology Network is an organization that is in cahoots, uh, partners with the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Gates' baby.

NTN has some 44 schools in about 10 states (five in LA, a bunch in Ohio because of a state partnership...

I haven't researched the 44 schools yet, but my guess is that most of them are charters.

Both of these organizations are "reformers": Ooh, look how badly public districts perform! They should contact/pay us and we'll come in and give them our "expertise" and guidance.

Both have reform agendas way, way beyond merely helping schools learn technological pedagogy.

See more at these two places:


Along with that mass mailing from the Alliance 4 Education yesterday (every teacher got, in their school mailboxes, the "Human Capital in Seattle Public Schools" report, that agenda-laden document from the National Council on Teacher Quality) this is a full-court press to "reform" the district. THIS is why STEM is so important to the Superintendent: It's not just her baby, her personal priority, it's an attempt to wedge open the door (further) to outside businesses to take over our public schools.

"partnerships" my foot: the whole shebang is up for sale to:
Gates, Broad, A4E, NCTQ, NTN/KW, NCLB, R2T, KIPP, ARIEL, Blackwater

seattle citizen said...

About that mailing of the "Human Capital" report to teachers: What a brilliant move! If educators say, "this is crap, we won't have anything to do with it..." (a logical response) they will be painted as "against quality." If they agree to look at the NCTQ "recommendations" (demands) then they will have authenticated the standing of NCTQ (and A4E) as some sort of "experts" entitled to comment on and direct policy.

Danged if you do, danged if you don't.

Wait for the press release: Seattle teachers, the laggards, won't even read our finely researched document on quality! Fire them all!

dan dempsey said...

The really sad part is that....

We are off to the next big thing
while neglecting to take care of the rest of neglected business.

WASL math score declined at 12 of 13 high schools from 2008 to 2009. The k-8 math program is a total joke. It flies in the face of what works (internationally competitive math materials). SPS refuses to use proven successful practices. Instead math relies on large increases in instructional time to make very modest gains if any. The EDM goals (4th grade WASL) for achievement gap reduction as put forth by Ms. Santorno in Spring 2007 have not been achieved ....the gaps are all larger now.

The motto of the current SPS seems to be "On to the NEXT big thing" while neglecting core responsibilities.

The SAP was based on the premise that every school would be a quality school. This is clearly old business and we are onto pouring money into STEM.

No one is accountable for much of anything:
1. Building maintenance
2. Strategic plan goals (4 out of 20) and now all the emphasis is onto STEM instead of investigating if much of anything about the SAP holds water. "Excellence for All" looks like a leaky defective PR sieve from my vantage point.
3. k-12 math
4. Denny-Sealth planning debacle .. It seems when things come to a vote either:
A.. It is too far along to stop now
B.. So vague an undefined that a yes vote seems OK (until the finance shoe drops).

I must say Melissa's idea of voting down BEX makes a lot of sense as this crew is now running away from reality to the Next Big thing STEM spending. I go for the Crown Jewel analogy as MGJ can hold up this jewel to seek her next "Big Job" elsewhere. Meanwhile the SPS is left with crumbling buildings and a Strategic Plan filled with unfulfilled goals and unmet responsibilities in a largely racially segregated district with many economically disadvantaged students locked into "Non-Quality" schools with uniform instructional materials that are substandard.

I am with Director Kay Smith-Blum.
It is time for the board to direct the Superintendent.

Direct MGJ to have priorities (read the Strategic Plan) and be realistic. Spell it out. 4 for 20 on the Strategic Plan is not adequate. This is a 5 year plan and it is a joke. Take care of business. Sweeping the realities under the rug and off to the "Next Big Thing" just will not cut it for all the non-Cleveland STEM kids in the district.

Vote against .... until these folks visit reality.

dan dempsey said...

If we wish to follow NCTQ ... how about their recommendation to have experts outside the state review math instructional materials and standards.
They named W. Steven Wilson as an expert. He is the mathematician who found "Discovering Math" unsound.

The SPS central admin carefully picks what they wish to do from selected reports and audits. They liked nothing about the highly critical Phi Delta Kappa "Curriculum Audit" because it was about the "nuts & bolts" of academic achievement and Central Admin are visionaries that cannot be bothered with such trivia.

TechyMom said...

Whatever else you may think about Bill Gates, he has a pretty good grasp of what is required to be successful in the technology field. He may not be qualified to talk about how to teach reading, but he is more than qualified to say what an engineer needs to know, and how an engineer needs to think, to get a job and be successful in it. Having our local, large, rich, technology company, which hires thousands of people a year in the Seattle area, as a partner in a STEM school makes perfect sense.

anne said...

Sometimes I can get frustrated with this blog. Back in discussions about the SE initiative all the talk was about how the district wasn't putting enough money into it, and always did projects in a half-assed way, and the south end really needed to close failing schools and reinvent them.

Then there was speculation and criticism that they weren't really doing anything with STEM and it will fail.

As we now see it is getting the attention a project of this scope needs. Yes they are poorly communicating, but for the most part I think it's a well thought out program and has a good chance of succeeding. There were a lot of immigrant families at the meeting who would jump at such a rigorous program. Like Charlie, I would consider sending my child there over GHS. The only reason that is true is because of the amount of resources they are putting into it and the quality of the program they are proposing. The southend deserves it and it should be looked at as funding that is past due.

Please try to not look for the negative in everything. It drives people away from this blog.

wseadawg said...

The only problem I have with your analogy TechyMom, is that for every successs Gates and MS have had, they've had as many or more failures. Remember Bob? Remember Windows ME? Ever get the Red Ring of Death on your XBOX? With all their cash, MS can afford those losses. SPS CANNOT. Gates is a fantastic card player too, but in poker or bridge, one's winnings come at the expense of another; no new wealth is created from growing the pie.

The business success analogy is therefore superficial at best. I would concede that Gates is headstrong, committed and driven, but education is not just job training, and technology is not the be all and end all of our lives. Gates's huge ego is a perfect fit for his industry full of egomaniacs, but ultimately technology is a tool, not a life. His dreamworld is certainly not mine, nor what I want for my kids.

I share others concerns here that in a budget crunch, a successful STEM launch will suck resources from other places that need it as bad or worse.

Regardless of its merits in theory, I don't believe this SI and Board care as much about substance as they do about appearances and perceptions they can use as temporary linch pins or launching pads for future higher offices. Its all about marketing to them, hence the huge amount of marketing and PR folks hired on at SPS since MGJ came aboard.

seattle citizen said...


Yes, if Gates merely wanted to help offer tech ed that would be wonderful! (tho' as Hong Zhao pointed out when he was in Seattle, engineering is easily outsourced in a global economy...a company can hire engineers located anywhere in the world, it might not be the best career choice as we become more global)

But Gates and others have a much bigger agenda: they have portrayed themselves as "change agents" with just the things to fix those bad ol' public schools, and the "reform" proposed is privatization and a competitive model.

If Gates wants to help STEM with tech, great, But if he wants to change the entire structure of US public education....I say no.

wseadawg said...

Sorry to be negative Anne, and your point is well taken. But folks here have heard it all before, over and over and over again.

The district has a distant and recent history of broken promises, one after another, and we have seen almost zero concern about that from SPS.

STEM is great in theory, and drawing community support is awesome. Don't get me wrong.

But to be blunt: This district cannot seem to muster anything that isn't half-assed, one way or another, and after being on the receiving end of so many dropped balls, one gets jaded after awhile.

seattle citizen said...

Anne, I think there was some hesitancy to see progress on STEM in this blog, but that's based on past experience. Recently, however, you'll note much positive discussion about it, as the district shows more of its thinking.

It's true that I have concerns about larger agendas, but if it were a "clean" program, one not tainted by the bigger agendas of Gates and Broad et al, I'd be very happy about it: It seems good, pedagogically (except LA and HIS seem to get short shrift)

I'm also concerned about the budget: We can't defund other programs to pay for STEM....and why IS it so expensive? Who are we paying for this?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anne, could you let me know where you read here that it was said that not enough money was being put into the SE initiative? I missed that and I'd like to know where you read it.

I am not being negative. I am pointing out what our leadership - both elected and hired - are saying about the direction of this District and what they will be spending money on. We have very little money and as Director Patu pointed out, if it's not new money, it will be taken from some other program.

STEM is great and I support it. But there are 5 new schools opening that need support and it seems like they will have to wait. There is a backlog maintenance of $500M and more capital money now going into Cleveland, a brand-new building. It seems like quite a laser focus for one school.

anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Techymom, in that if we are opening a technology school it seems completely appropriate to partner with local high tech companies, including MS, TAF, etc. And, no, SC, partnering with TAF and/or Gates doesn't mean that we roll out the red carpet for them to take over our district, it means that we accept their support with the STEM project.

And, Anne, I agree with you too. I think the SE deserves this STEM school, and I am very glad to see the district pouring resources into STEM, and that it is getting the support that it will need to be succesful. No complaints here, in fact I give them a standing ovation for making it come to life!

At the same time I am sad to hear that two new schools will be opening this year without much fan fare and little support, and that Jane Addams will continue as a science and math magnet without any real or meaningful science or math curriculum or focus. I am also frustrated to hear that the backlog of building maintenence may yet again get neglected. That doesn't mean that I don't support STEM. It means that I think there are other projects that are equally as important as STEM that I would like to see supported as well.

anonymous said...

Exucse me, there will be 3 new schools opening this year, not 2, I forgot about Old Hay!

seattle citizen said...


Excellence for All is largely funded by Gates and Broad.
Do you really think that they are merely throwing money into SPS endeavors without any expectations?

"Support for Excellence for All
On March 10, 2009, Seattle Public Schools and the Alliance for Education announced more than $9 million in grants from local and national foundations to support implementation of the school district’s five-year strategic plan.

The plan, called Excellence for All, focuses on improving achievement for all students by providing students and teachers with the resources they need to succeed, expanding college-ready coursework for students, improving access to student data, and strengthening professional development opportunities for teachers, school leaders, and district officials.

The grant awards focus on the following areas:

College Readiness – Learn More
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Boeing Company

Community Engagement –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Data, Assessment, and Performance Management –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

School Board Development – Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Staff Development -
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation, and
The Stuart Foundation"

anonymous said...

Re-read my post. I am specifically talking about MS, TAF, etc., partnering with STEM. I think that is appropriate and I am entitled to my opinion.

seattle citizen said...

You suggest, adhoc, that there is no ulterior motive for Gates, TAF, NTN to partner with STEM. I disagree, which is MY opinion.

You write:
it's "completely appropriate to partner with local high tech companies, including MS, TAF, etc. And, no, SC, partnering with TAF and/or Gates doesn't mean that we roll out the red carpet for them to take over our district, it means that we accept their support with the STEM project."

But we're not partnering with MS, we're "partnering" with MS Foundation, which, as we all know, has designs much greater than just helping li'l ol' Cleveland learn how to teach tech.

MS funded the "Human Capital" report all teachers found in their school mailboxes recently.

I disagree that taking money and "partnership" doesn't mean some sort of quid pro quo; that's just not realistic.

NTN "helps" a bunch of schools, about 42, most of which are charters, or WILL be charters.

My guess? Lacking SPS funds to fully fund it, due to reasonable complaints about money being cut elsewhere, more concessions are made to outside "partners" in order to secure more funding. Look for these "partners" to step up with more money - "investment," A4E calls it, in "human capital" (education) and you can be sure they want to manage their investment.

Thenk yew. Thenk yew very much.

gavroche said...

seattle citizen said...


Excellence for All is largely funded by Gates and Broad.
Do you really think that they are merely throwing money into SPS endeavors without any expectations?

Good point. And by heavily funding only specific schools or programs with a specific curricular agenda or target demographic, like New School/South Shore or STEM at Cleveland, it sure seems like Gates, Broad & Co. are trying to do an end-run around WA state's charter laws.

gavroche said...

So is it a coincidence that at the same time that Goodloe-Johnson is pushing the opening of STEM at Cleveland -- an idea that seemed to come out of nowhere -- the B&M Gates Foundation announces that it is going to open something called "The Washington STEM Center" next spring, for which they are currently hiring a CEO? (Thanks to Seattle Parent for discovering this the other day.)

From the job posting:


Washington STEM Center


The Washington STEM Center – a new, independent, nonprofit organization scheduled to open in the spring of 2010 in Seattle – seeks nominations and applications for the position of founding Chief Executive Officer. The first CEO of the Center will lead and formally launch an organization designed to become a powerful advocate for improving student achievement and opportunity in areas critical to Washington state's economic prosperity: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The Center aims to catalyze innovation in the state's K-12 education system, increase teacher effectiveness and student learning, and dramatically raise the number of Washington students graduating ready for college and work and succeeding in STEM degree programs. These efforts are intended to benefit every student in the state, with a particular emphasis on accelerating the achievement of low-income and minority students.

A formidable array of leaders reflecting many of the State's most influential corporate, educational, and philanthropic organizations have formed a planning and steering committee which has laid the foundation for the Center. Specifically, a dedicated group of professionals interested in transforming math and science education and representing Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Battelle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Washington Roundtable, and Partnership For Learning have committed to focusing the collective resources – both human and financial – of its members toward supporting this comprehensive, statewide initiative. With this in mind, the steering committee seeks a transformational and experienced leader who will take the reins and implement the next exciting phase of the Center's evolution – one in which s/he will leverage the initial funding and groundbreaking foundation laid by the coalition of founding organizations and build a Center poised to accomplish complex but critical goals toward dramatically altering the STEM landscape in Washington.

The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of STEM education; relationships with national stakeholders (e.g. the NSF); strategic and tactical planning experience on behalf of an organization or major division; proven and significant organizational, team-management, and team-building experience at a senior level; extensive legislative, communications and/or advocacy experience with complex public policy issues in a political environment; experience in an organization or initiative which must influence its constituents in the absence of any formal authority over them; experience working directly with a high-level Board of Directors or comparable supervisory entity; and the capacity to identify new sources of funding from various sources. For a full list of required qualifications, please contact the executive recruiter managing the search below.

The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, applications should be submitted electronically prior to Friday, January 29th, 2010. Applications should include a letter of interest and a current resume. Nominations, applications, or inquiries about the position and/or the search process should be directed to: Monisha Lozier, President & Founder, Cobbe Place Consulting, traci@cobbeplaceconsulting.com.

The STEM Center seeks and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

zb said...

I'm with Anne -- I want to see how this turns out, and I'm willing to pour money into it to make it happen. I'd like to see some ideas of what success would look like: a fully enrolled school? successful outcomes for disadvantaged populations? successful outcomes for others? attracting kids away from over-enrolled schools? all potential markers, but I'd like someone to think about them now, to avoid pouring money (which I want to do) into a black hole.

The SE high school situation (as well as the problems with some SE elementary/middle schools) is deplorable. It can't be solved by permitting all the children in SE who have savvy parents to enroll in schools elsewhere. This plan seems concrete enough that it has potential, and I want to see them try it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

At the same time I am sad to hear that two new schools will be opening this year without much fan fare and little support, and that "Jane Addams will continue as a science and math magnet without any real or meaningful science or math curriculum or focus. I am also frustrated to hear that the backlog of building maintenence may yet again get neglected. That doesn't mean that I don't support STEM. It means that I think there are other projects that are equally as important as STEM that I would like to see supported as well."

And this is okay as long as one program, STEM, is well-supported? How will opening schools that have no focus from the first day support the SAP? You can sigh and look the other way but you may later regret not speaking out.

zb said...


Do you have personal knowledge of CSE faculty at UW who have time and energy to commit to Seattle Public Schools? If so, the faculty should contact the school and offer their help, rather than waiting to be asked. I find that the kind of help the schools might need -- for example, regular participation in a weekly classroom, or mentoring of teachers who are not interested in analyzing new algorithms for image search (for example) isn't compatible with the reserach oriented work required of UW faculty.

Bothell, on the other hand, with its teaching focus, might have a natural fit with a high school technology program. I quite frequently encounter people who work at the UW, but choose to take their math/computer/science classes elsewhere because they say that the UW classes are too research oriented for them (cutting edge is great, but isn't necessarily what high school students need).

They should have access, when they're ready to contribute at that level, but it isn't necessarily the right partnership.

gavroche said...

Why should the Gates-STEM connection raise red flags?

Because outside influences like Gates and Broad are determining the direction and focus of our kids' schools and curricula without any say or input from us.

With a weak School Board that has seemed unwilling to think and vote independently or heed the concerns of the community, and a superintendent who is on the board of directors of one of these foundations (http://www.broadcenter.org/about/board.html) and is financially backed by both Broad and Gates, the voice and will of Seattle public school parents and community is being overridden.

Who asked for STEM at Cleveland?

Harium Martin-Morris said even he didn't know when he was asked where this idea came from at meeting with parents this past summer. He indicated that it came from some outside source.

It is not an idea that Seattle Public School parents have been clamoring for.

Whose agenda is driving this district?

The other problem with the outside influence of these wealthy interests is that they do not apply their largesse equitably across the district, but tend to focus on creating a "crown jewel" as Melissa aptly puts it.

That may be helpful for the select kids in that particular school, but how does that help the other 44,600 or so kids in the district?

And what happens to these schools and the kids they are supposedly helping when the foundation money runs out, or Mr. Gates or Mr. Broad lose interest and move onto some other cause, "reform" du jour or fancy?

Take a look at their history.

What happened at Mountlake Terrace High School and Gates' "small schools" initiative?

(see: Mountlake Terrace High School announces plans to return to traditional educational model, abandoning experimental "small schools" program, on March 29, 2008. http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8580)

What happened to Gates' "School of the Future"?

(see: School of the Future: Lessons in failure
How Microsoft's and Philadelphia's innovative school became an example of what not to do

If Gates and Broad are so hellbent on reinventing education in their own image, why don't they start their own affordable private schools? Why must they infiltrate and arguably, corrupt, the public school system?

Seriously. Why?

Meanwhile, Seattle has a lot of schools in addition to Cleveland H.S. that could use a bit of investment for less flashy but fundamental things like new textbooks, new heaters, lead-free drinking water, seismically safe buildings, more teachers so our kids can get more individual attention.

Imagine a grant from some wealthy benefactor spent on those needs.

Better yet, imagine a school district that funded those needs itself, instead of spending taxpayer money on "teaching coaches," superintendent bonuses and computerized tests for kindergarteners.

Maureen said...

You know, in some strange way, I find the the Gates STEM Center thing as well as all of these backdoor links from Gates to Cleveland's STEM program sort of reassuring. Maybe there will be enough money and focus and expertise to actually get the thing running and make it successful--we won't have to depend on SPS with their inconsistent to bad record to support the thing.

I do worry about charters and the obsession with data (tho probaly not as much as many of you do), but it would be so great for the south end kids to have access to a world class school.

I mean, really, what else would we want Gates to be doing with his money? Would it really be in our interest to have him write a big fat no strings attached check and hand it to Dr. G-J?

Maureen said...

It looks like gavroche and I were typing at the same time!

So what if Gates put his money behind pushing the legislature to fully fund education; income tax anyone? Would we be happy then?

TechyMom said...

I'm not making an analogy. I'm sure that teaching is very different than running a company. I don't think school is only about testable results or job skills.

However, I do think a STEM high school, specifically a STEM high school not all schools, is about job skills. Students will choose to go there to study a particular set of job-related subjects. That's very different than a general high school program where students are assigned by address. It's very different than an elementary school.

Mr. Gates actually knows a fair bit about some of these subjects and the jobs related to them. He has supervised the hiring, training, and promotion of several hundred thousand people of exactly the sort who would be interested in a STEM high school. He knows what employers in those fields value. This is true for both engineering and the medical field. Whatever you can say about the B&M Gates foundation on education, they've been spot-on in their medical efforts. If this were a B&M Gates foundation effort to build a performaing arts school, I would be much more skeptical.

And, if Cleveland STEM is tied into a statewide foundation supported STEM effort, and is getting a huge influx of cash and effort from the district, it might actually succeed. It's about time something did. Personally, I think that would a fabulous.

seattle citizen said...

Maureen, what would be in our interest would be to fully fund schools ourselves, design unique and interesting schools (tech, yes, but also arts, language, CTE etc etc) that attract students, and not give up control of our democratically elected board and its school system to whoever waves a bigger check.

Imagine if this STEM school proves to be immensely popular. Equity (similar good programs around the district) would require similalry funded and designed programs. Maybe ALL programs. Since 30% or so is coming from outside interests, then we'd need either
a) 30% more public funding for district-wide change; or
b) 30% more district-wide "donations" from private interests; or
c) cut costs by 30%...hmmm...how best to cut costs 30%? Cut the cost of teachers. How to do that? Fund "reports" that say that teachers aren't "quality," then turn it into a competitive model where you can give the ol' heave-ho to any teacher who either gets too expensive or "fails" to perform to the given metric (WASL scores; MAP)

If STEM works out well, who will fund a similar thing district wide and how will it be enacted?

seattle citizen said...

TechyMom, would you trade board/citizen control for these "fabulous" things?

Would you weaken the public nature of public schools in order to attain this job training model?

gavroche said...

Maureen said... I mean, really, what else would we want Gates to be doing with his money? Would it really be in our interest to have him write a big fat no strings attached check and hand it to Dr. G-J?

Maureen, are you trying to be funny? He did hand a big fat check to MGJ, and the problem is that Gates and Goodloe-Johnson/Broad share the same (not very upfront I might add) agenda. The next problem is, this agenda is not shared by the rest of us.

Let me ask you this: Who should decide how Seattle Public School resources, however they are acquired, are allocated:

a) Bill Gates
b) Maria Goodloe-Johnson
c) Eli Broad
d) Seattle Public School parents whose will is then represented by the school board.

Currently a,b, and c is what is happening.

d is not.

I for one have a problem with this.

After all, didn't we the parents ask for:

Smaller class sizes?
A good school at Jane Addams?
High school ready safe building for Nova and SBOC at Meany?
Two equal strong APP programs at Lowell, Thurgood Marshall, Washington, Hamilton (actually, we asked not to split them at all)
Continued freshly cooked meals for middle school and high schoolers?
Solid math textbooks?
No new student assignment plan unless all schools are equally desirable?
No teacher layoffs?
No school closures, splits or relocations?
Community input on SPS issues?

Instead we get grand promises of STEM at Cleveland. Why? Because Bill Gates and Maria Goodloe-Johnson want it.

Bird said...

At the same time I am sad to hear that two new schools will be opening this year without much fan fare and little support

You know these new schools will just be Kindergartens to start. How much money could some providing high demand programming really cost at this point?

I find it hard to believe adding a Montessori or language immersion is impossible when there will only be a couple of grades for the first couple of years.

Seriously, I'd like to know some actual figures.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, yes, I do have personal knowledge that the CS&Engineering Dept. would want to help. But I'm sorry, should they call and say "I heard through the grapevine you might need help." That's not their job; that's the job of district staff. Secondly, every single professor teaches. They are a research university but every single one of them teaches and knows how to help other educators. The people at Bothell teach no better than those in Seattle.

The interesting thing is that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson can't control whether it attracts students. She can't assign kids there. This district virtually never markets so they don't know much about marketing. Much of the success is going to depend on getting a good, solid core group of students (with matching parents) in that door AND hoping that most of the Cleveland students who remain don't exit shortly after it opens.

I think a big marketing plan and a big rollout in the fall are going to be needed to make this work beyond all the money being poured in to start it up.

And, is everyone here sending their kid to Cleveland? No? Because that $715,000 extra that Cleveland gets on top of their regular budget? That's money that the other high schools won't get.

Maureen said...

gavroche The problem , as I see it, is if the Gates money is ON TOP OF SPS funding. If instead it paid for things that SPS would have to cover anyway, then it would free up money for all of the other needs we have. So if SPS was going to try and fund a STEM school out of existing revenue, then we come out ahead with outside funding. I doubt that is 100% the case, but maybe we can split the difference and end up with some more money from the SE initiative to funnel to RB and Aki.

Of course, if the price we pay is to lose control over our public school system then it is too expensive.

(When I taught Econ 101, we called this "The United Way Problem." Earmarked donations can help the other grantees if they allow the United Way to redirect general funds.)

gavroche said...

TechyMom said...
Whatever you can say about the B&M Gates foundation on education, they've been spot-on in their medical efforts.

Actually, not everyone would agree with that... The medical journal Lancet doesn't, and in fact says Gates directs money to not always the correct solution, he tends to favor high-tech solutions over low-tech, more organic ones, even if the cheaper simpler solution works as well or better; his infusions of cash impact what is studied and developed sometimes to the detriment of other good ideas.

(See: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thebusinessofgiving/2009193675__heres_how_the_article.html

Sound familiar? An argument can be made that he is bringing the same set of biases to his approach to "education reform."

And frankly, after the Windows Vista debacle I'm not sure his techy credentials are that impeccable either!

anne said...

I don't have time to pour through old posts to back up my claim. Perhap I am in error about it, but my general issue still holds. I have been a daily reader of this blog since its inception and I have an 8th grader who has been in SPS all the way through. I have plenty of complaints with SPS. Math and Science are my hot spots. We chose to home school with EPGY over school math and I just got my son out of WMS science for the rest of the year to do Advanced Physical Science through WAVA.

I just feel like this blog has the potential to get people excited about STEM and most of what has been posted is negative and suspicious. It seems like for once we are getting what we asked for, enough money, focus, partnerships to make this succeed. That would be terrific for the south end, and if push came to shove and I had to chose between funding this and a north end project, I would choose this. Not because I want my son to go there, we can always go to GHS, but because I think it has the potential to be very succeessful and addresses what I see as THE biggest problem with the SAP, no place for capable students to go in the south end.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...what I see as THE biggest problem with the SAP, no place for capable students to go in the south end."

Really? (Maybe you'd have to define "capable students".) I'd say that the biggest issue is the one it has always been; equity of quality throughout the district in every level of schooling.

The district seems to think that both Rainier Beach and Cleveland will fill. I'm not sure that will happen. I think Ingraham will fill and Hale will fill (or have to fill their new 1400 seat capacity), ditto Franklin. Do I think that Rainier Beach and Cleveland will fill in their first couple of years? No and so we will have to make the hard call of sustaining two schools when it might have been better to save money closing one and pour support into the other.

TechyMom said...

"TechyMom, would you trade board/citizen control for these "fabulous" things?

Would you weaken the public nature of public schools in order to attain this job training model?"

Honestly, I think that's a false dichotomy. I know you see it as either or, but I don't. I think it's perfectly possible to have donor funds supplement public funds, and to do that in a way that isn't a take-over. I think that's possible even if we allow donors to target funds at the things they are interested in.

I also don't think the board has ever been all that responsive to parents. My guess is that part of the reason for that is that an aweful lot (most?) voters in Seattle aren't parents.

Would I prefer that the legislature fund these things? Yes. Do I expect them to do so? No. Do I think I have any chance of voting in a legislature that will? No. We usually get candidates running from the right of our current reps, not the left. And, by the way, I'm very much in favor of a state income tax. Do I ever expect to see one? No.

anne said...

"Really? (Maybe you'd have to define "capable students".) I'd say that the biggest issue is the one it has always been; equity of quality throughout the district in every level of schooling."

I agree that's an overarching goal but if I had to pick who will be most underserved after the new SAP it's the south end.

My son is in Spectrum, so I'm no stranger to the problems there.

I know APP has it's issues.

I know there are inequities across schools, especially HS with band, AP classes. My vote is for much higher choice seat percentage.

But I don't see anything quite as bad as forcing a kid to be in classes I've heard described at RBHS. This situation needs a full court press and I believe the other ones are very important, but if they have to be sequenced due to money or staff availibility, then I'm saying I would put this at the head of the list.

I'd vote for closing RBHS if there was room elsewhere, but I don't know enough to make a judgement.

SolvayGirl said...

The idea of a STEM school is great. SPS could probably use something like that to serve those students who at the tender age of 14 already know that they want to become engineers, scientists and doctors and have the mindset to accomplish it.

Unfortunately, that isn't going to help all of the capable southend students who DON'T want to be engineers, scientists or doctors. In a perfect world, I'd say heck yes...create a STEM school. But what the southend really needs is a QUALITY comprehensive high shool—or at least something closer than what we have.

Now I realize it's much harder to garner support for a comprehensive HS. It's not sexy like STEM. It doesn't have the support of pro-charter types, and it's certainly not going to be a great addition to MGJ's resume. Technically RBHS IS a comprehensive HS. But it is still a school with serious problems and a focus on the areas at-risk students rather than the capable ones.

Until every southend student has comprehensive assignment HS as good as those in the northend (RHS certainly, but Hale, Ballard and Ingram are all far superior) I cannot see investing so much time, money and energy in a program that may serve only a small portion of southend students. And, I suspect RBHS will be one of the pots that the district will have to rob from to enhance Cleveland.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Solvay, I think that's it in a nutshell. I just looked up Delta High, a new STEM over in the Tri-Cities. They are starting, by lottery, with 100 kids per grade level with, obviously, 400 kids in the whole school.

The district is trying to start a program that is just STEM (not an academy of STEM at Cleveland which would be a better idea and they could grow it from there if it was popular). Cleveland can seat something like 1400 students. It is a massive undertaking to believe that you can get 1,000 or even 800 kids to sign up for this program? Can the school exist long enough to get that kind of capacity in it? That's my concern.

And maybe that might be something to advocate. Make STEM an academy within Cleveland to keep it small and simple and let it grow.

SolvayGirl said...

I could go for that...maybe even have two academies at Cleveland (one with more of a humanities bent). But haven't they already tried that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

They did but I have no idea how hard they went at it. If they are willing to go full out and get community partners, etc., then it might work. I never heard much at all about the academies.

anonymous said...

"Maureen, what would be in our interest would be to fully fund schools ourselves,"

I agee, but right now that's a pipe dream. At this point we have to work with what we have.

anonymous said...

Solvay, isn't Franklin a quality comprehensive high school? And how about the other nearby option schools like Center and NOVA? These schools along with STEM, seem like a nice range of choice for the south end.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, Center school is NOT a southend school (and NOVA is barely)

"Going with what we have" (outside monies) instead of fully funding ourselves means surrendering something to those outside interests.

You might be right, but it means public education is not really public anymore.

Teaching IS dead.

SolvayGirl said...

Frankiln, from the accounts of friends with children there, is okay. That's it...ok, not quality. Most plan to switch to running start as soon as they can. They don't consider the school very rigorous. And it has "academies"—not the traditional broad offering found in a traditional comprehensive like the aforementioned northend schools, or even Sealth.

Neither NOVA nor Center School are fully comprehensive high schools. NOVA is definitely an alternative and The Center School as a lot to offer the right students, but can no way be compared to Garfield or Roosevelt.

And, even if Franklin were fabulous, it will be out of reach for the majority of kids in the RBHS assignment area as it will be taking all of the kids who would have been assigned to Cleveland.

Cleveland really had the best chance of becoming a comprehensive high school, but now it will be a specialty school.

anonymous said...

Solvay, Did you know those north end schools that you keep referencing have academies just like Franklin does? Ballard HS has 5 academies: Bio-tech, finance, maritime, video production, and project lead the way. Ingraham has two, the travel and hospitality academy and an IT academy. And Hale has a 9th grade academy.

According to the Seattle Times 2009 school guide: Franklin offers 8 AP courses, Hale offers 7 AP courses.

According to the Seattle Times 2009 school guide: 83% of Franklin graduates go to college, and 77% of Hale graduates go to college, 78% of Ingraham graduates go to college, and 89% of Ballard graduates go to college.

So why isn't Franklin considered as good a school as Ballard, Hale and Ingraham? It seems to compare statistically to those schools. What specifically is it about Franklin that makes you snub it? Or is it that Roosevelt and Garfield are the only two schools that would meet your child's needs?

Charlie Mas said...

I like the STEM school the district is talking about creating at Cleveland and I expect we will choose it for our daughter. I certainly hope that they will actually create the school that they have been talking about - with the project-based lessons and such. I don't know if they will.

I'm curious about the funding for the project.

I'll tell you this: the STEM school will have nothing to do with the Cleveland High School which has been there to date. We're talking about a nearly 100% turnover in student population. The District may try to show a big improvement in test scores at Cleveland after the STEM gets going and they may try to attribute the "improvement" to STEM, but that would be false.

Renee said...

We already pretty much have a STEM school in Seattle (Garfield) but its not funded as such and hasn't been since the FIRST STEM initiative - it was only funded the first few years. Then talented TEACHERS took it over with LOTS of hard work, dedication, and a desire to improve. Without extra funding. They need to find good teachers who will keep this going, and I hope the teachers choose the school rather than are moved there.

SolvayGirl said...

Adhoc: I'm going by what friends who have children there are saying--the rigor can be low. Anecdotally, an A in many of the Southend schools does not often compare with an A in other schools.

Are students required to choose an academy at Ballard, Ingraham and Hale? Or can they just take a college prep track? I am fairly certain the Franklin academies are more like tracks and the student must choose one in the 10th grade.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The curious thing about Franklin is how low it flies under the radar. You almost never hear anything good or bad about it. I'm not sure they get the push from the district that low-achieving schools get but they may not have the district's attention and/or parent push that Roosevelt and Garfield have.

What I recall is that Franklin, before the Ballard rebuild, was one of the schools of choice for Magnolia/QA (along with Garfield). It had (and still has) a very strong, nationally-ranked Mock Trial group. They have a fairly newish building - I think it had a renovation that finished in 1990.

I'd have to go back and look at both the demographics and scores but I think Franklin now skews a larger percentage of minority population. They may have more challenges since many of the QA/Magnolia students/parents left the school.

And again, since students will now have an assigned high school (with the choice not to go if there is room somewhere else), this might strengthen Franklin as a decent choice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I found a reference for the QA/Magnolia going to Franklin (from the district archives):

"Fall 1981 saw a bulging enrollment of 1,850 students following the
closure of Queen Anne High School, as Franklin became the high
school destination for students from McClure and Blaine."

Ballard was rebuilt by 1997.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said...

"The district is trying to start a program that is just STEM (not an academy of STEM at Cleveland which would be a better idea and they could grow it from there if it was popular). Cleveland can seat something like 1400 students. It is a massive undertaking to believe that you can get 1,000 or even 800 kids to sign up for this program? Can the school exist long enough to get that kind of capacity in it? That's my concern.

And maybe that might be something to advocate. Make STEM an academy within Cleveland to keep it small and simple and let it grow."

I am only considering STEM because it is NOT a school within Cleveland as it exist today. It's the rigorous entry requirement that I am counting on to change the demographics to a group of students that are serious about learning. The fact that the current 10th and 11th graders have to agree to an extended day will weed out the other students that are causing the high suspension rates. At least that's my hope and I think it will be key to it's chances of succeeding.

anonymous said...

Solvay said " Anecdotally, an A in many of the Southend schools does not often compare with an A in other schools."

Grade inflation does happen, and it is certainly a consideration. But WASL scores can't be inflated, and college bound rates don't lie.

You listed Ingraham as being a much better school than Franklin, when in fact Ingraham's reading and writing WASL scores, even with their top rated IB program, are lower than Franklin's, and Ingraham's college bound rates are also lower.

The drop out rate at Franklin is 19%, the same as it is for Ingraham.

The suspention rate at Franklin is 8%, Hale's is 8.9%

And Franklin has a lower expulsion rate than Hale, Ballard and Ingraham.

I've never checked Franklin out because I live in the north, so I'm not speaking from personal experience. I can only base my opinion on what I can garner from statistics. To me it just doesn't look like Franklin is all that bad. I'd certainly check it out if I lived nearby, as I'd check out STEM, NOVA, and Center.

It sounds to me like Roosevelt and Garfield are the only two schools that would really work for your child. What is it about those two schools that makes them so appealing to you? Is your child a gifted musician who would not be served well in a typical high school band/orchestra? Does your child need more AP classes than the average high school offers? If so which ones? What is it about Roosevelt and Garfield that make all other schools look grim in comparision to you?

anonymous said...

Yes, I agree Ann. I don't live down south, but if I did I would never have consider Cleveland for my son with their high suspension rates, and low low test scores. Nor would I consider a STEM academy within that environment. I think you are right, in that the only chance STEM has at suceeding is to do what the district is doing, which is to close down Cleveland HS, and start the STEM school from scratch. The 7 period day and 4 years of math and science requirement will weed out the slackers. Further, making it a choice school will make it so only families who choose the school will go there, no more mandatory assignments/dumping of kids into the building.

SolvayGirl said...

I don't pay a lot of attention to WASL rates, etc. I go by what troops on the ground tell me, and the friends I have who have sent their kids to Franklin are not thrilled.

Why do you have such a problem with southenders wanting a school that compares more to Garfield or Roosevelt? Don't we deserve it? The majority of people in Seattle want schools like Garfield and Roosevelt (Ballard too). That's obvious by the large wait lists, so why is it a problem that people in the southend want that too?

Personally, I'd like my child in a school that offers her a wide range of quality classes in the academic disciplines and the arts. She's just 14! I don't want her to have to specialize quite yet. And, BTW, she IS very talented in all of the arts, so I'd like her to get tastes of them as well on the HS level. So for her, the best fit would be a quality comprehensive school that will help her find her strengths and get a clue about what she might want to major in once he goes to college.

anonymous said...

Solvay, I don't have any problem with South end families wanting access to high quality high schools - even the notion of that is absurd. I never said that, and I never would.

Lack of access to Roosevelt and Garfield is not limited to the south end. You have no less access to those schools than I do and I live in the north. The only people who have access to Roosevelt and Garfield are those families that live within a mile or so of those schools, and the APP community. So it's certainly not a south end thing. You have to get over that.

My point was that the South end does have some good choices, in my opinion. Sure, RBHS isn't great, but it sounds like STEM will be. And it sounds like Franklin is as good as some of the north end comprehensive high schools. And then there is NOVA and Center close by too. It just doesn't seem so dismal to me.

If you want a Roosevelt or Garfield type HS in the south end then advocate for that, but it's not fair to use the south end has nothing and the north end gets everyting line. It's just not true.

TechyMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Also Solvey, when people talk about the "north end" they typically refer to all schools north of the ship canal, which is a huge geographical area that includes all North, Northeast, and Northwest schools. When people refer to South Seattle schools they are generally only refering to S/SE Seattle and do not include QA/Magnolia or the Central area. SO your region is much smaller.

I live in NE Seattle. The only nearby comprehensive HS that I have access to is Nathan Hale. I live 2 miles from Roosevelt, but I can't get in. My other choices are very far away from my home. If I were to send my son to Ballard it would be like you sending your daughter to Hale. It's far away. And, that's forgetting the new SAP which will limit my choices even further.

I'm just trying to point out that we don't have it much better up here in the north than you do in the south.

TechyMom said...

If we say that Franklin compares to Hale, Sealth compares to Ingrahm, and Garfield compares to Roosevelt, we still see disparities between north and south. The area north of the ship canal and the area south of I-90 are not that different in size, and they have the same number of high schools.

Here's the breakdown (Reputation in parens)

North of the ship canal
Hale (Good)
Ingraham (Good)
Ballard (Very Good)
Roosevelt (Excellent)

South of I-90
RBHS (Poor)
Sealth (Good)
Cleveland (was Poor, now Unknown)
Franklin (Good)

In between
Garfield (Excellent)
NOVA (Excellent for the right kid, Poor for others)
Center School (Excellent for the right kid, Good for others)

There aren't any Excellent or Very Good schools south of I-90, and there aren't any Poor schools north of the ship canal. That's the inequity. The area between the ship canal and I-90 seems to have the best choices. The option schools are open to everyone, but the commute time will have an impact on who will sign up.

STEM looks like it might be Very Good or Excellent in the future, but it's a big unknown. It's also not going to be a good fit for all kids, just like Center and NOVA aren't good fits for all kids.

seattle citizen said...

Geographically, the schools are mainly balanced:
North of Ship Canal, south of, say, Jackson -
Ballard approximates location of Cleveland;
Ingraham > RB;
Roosevelt > Franklin;

SW (west of I-5) has its two schools

Central (south of Canal/north of Jackson) has Garfield

The only "outliers" are Magnolia and Queen Anne, which are orphaned by the closure of QAHS in 1980s

With the closure of Cleveland (and reconfiguration to STEM) there is now an inbalance: South end (east of I-5) has lost its "Ballard"

There are many ways to consider a school "good," but the general feeling, in the media, at SPS, here...is that the north three are at least okay, Frankin is at least okay, RB is not okay, Cleveland was not okay...(no disrespect to those programs: I've heard many positive things about both, I'm talking about perceptions)

So with Cleveland "closing" and becoming an option (like NOVA and Center), the Southend has lost a school the only remaining school that is perceived to be "okay" is Franklin, so how will this work out? What will happen to Cleveland draw-area students? Do they get to choose where they go? Will RB be closed and all non-option school students go to Franklin?

It seems the task ahead, if we want to build a new option school (Cleveland) is to put a lot of effort into a) making RB bigger, so it has more offerings, and b) changing the perceptions about RB so people want to go there.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hey kids, don't forget about West SEattle High.

TechyMom said...

Doh. I knew I was missing one.

I've heard very little about WSH, other than that they had to change their schedule. What's their reputation like? Is the school considered OK like Franklin, or not-OK like RBHS?

seattle citizen said...

I remembered WS, mom:
"SW (west of I-5) has its two schools"

I find it interesting that Techymom and I both wrote basically the same thing at the same time. I think all of us look at the district in a similar fashion, in these sectors (and why not? it makes sense from a neighborhood perspective: what are the closest schools children can attend?) and it seems many of us have similar perspectives about what should be in each of them, and accessible to each student.

Both Techymom and I came up with relatively similar "ratings", and I'm sure this is common, and that our assessments are close to what people believe to be true, which is critical.

While I applaud STEM, and the Cleveland building is well suited for it (new, new labs et al) it seems like it's removing a neighborhood school, throwing off the balance...Unless perceptions change about RB (and I wish they would) then Franklin is the only game in town down in SE.

Are there fewer students in that quadrant?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I should start a thread on high schools so everyone can exchange info. West Seattle is in a new building, has a very supportive community (West Seattle is like its own little village, very nice). I think academically it's in the middle. It's interesting because I had the impression that many more SW/WS parents chose West Seattle over Sealth but now with Sealth's IB and a sort of newish building, it may become stronger. And that's to the good. I think many SW/West Seattle middle/high school parents are not happy with the new SAP because of the way it funnels kids to high schools. (Several of them testified at a Board meeting a couple of meetings back.) I've met a couple of PTSA presidents from WSHS - very committed people.

There are, in fact, quite a few high school kids in the SE (Charlie would know the numbers right off hand). However, most of them go elsewhere. Because so many go elsewhere, it will be hard to gauge how the SAP is playing out for that area except for freshman. (I think the top contenders for where they go are Ingraham, Hale and Sealth, maybe Franklin. Again, I should ask Charlie.) It's interesting that kids all the way to the SE would go all the way north to the nearly the city line to go to high school but part of that is parents wanting their kid on a long bus ride so they aren't spending extra time fooling around at home.

anonymous said...

"There aren't any Excellent or Very Good schools south of I-90, and there aren't any Poor schools north of the ship canal."

Things are changing and they are changing fast Techymom. In the SE Cleveland has historically been a terrible school, but I think we will see STEM become an excellent school. And, just a couple of years ago Ingraham was considered a terrible school in North Seattle. It wasn't until the IB program came along that it started looking somewhat attractive.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm still mystified at what will happen at Cleveland (the building). It's a brand new building that seats about 1400. I looked at the PowerPoint presentation about enrollment and it is certainly ambitious. They really think they'll have 400-500 9th and 10th grader by next fall enrolled in STEM? Well, maybe if the open houses are REALLY well-presented and they have some very good community/university groups lined up with commitments to the program. But that's an awful lot of parents to commit to an unknown when it is the last school before college.

They also project, by 2012-2013, that they'll have 800 kids in the program. I find that hard to believe mainly because many of the kids that live in that area have not been exposed to this level of rigor and if they don't have the support at home, may opt out. So that means probably 500 of those kids will have to come from around the city. It will have to be some stellar program to get that acceptance in such a short time. I'm not sure it's realistic.

But, in the end, I do always come back to capital issues. It is very sad to have a great building and have it so underenrolled (and on purpose). I can see underenrolling it a bit but by 400+ seats?

I also have to wonder what it will mean to Rainier Beach. On the one hand, students who either don't think they can handle STEM or just plain aren't interested or just want a comprehensive high school will likely go to Rainier Beach (or continue going up to Ingraham or Hale as long as there are seats). Rainier Beach could maybe do slightly better because of a larger enrollment but is the district really going to support them as they are Cleveland? Very doubtful.

One huge plus (and I mean this) is...Charlie. If he and his wife and his daughter agree to enroll her at Cleveland, Charlie will keep them honest. Charlie will be the squeaky wheel that keeping driving them to create this great program. He will likely help the parents really band together and, because of his knowledge of the district, can probably help the entire group to make sure the district does the best job possible.

That said, this district has never been good at marketing.

BL said...

According to the functional capacity analysis conducted during the closures and shuffling earlier this year, Cleveland's capacity is 928.

seattle citizen said...

STEM in Cleveland might turn out to be a good program, but it's not comparable to Ingraham because Ingraham is a comprehensive cluster draw but Cleveland is now an "option" all-city draw, not a neighborhood school at all.

I'd imagine that the SAP draws boundries that reflect this: ALL students in SE must be assigned to either Franklin or RBHS (and maybe Garfield, those north of I-90), because Cleveland is no in play: it's option-only

To compare Cleveland to Ingraham, Ingraham would need to become an option school.

Imagine if the District removed Ballard from the SAP and made it an all-cty draw option school. All students north of downtown would be assigned to Ingraham, Hale and Roosevelt (dang, I just realized that while I remembered the two WS schools in my last post, I forgot about Hale! D'oh!)

Hmmm...so there IS an imbalance that is made WORSE by Cleveland's removal to option status: SE now only has TWO high schools as opposed to the northend's four...

They should make Hale and option school - it's closest to being "non-traditional," it's already experienced with the "small-school" model...So Hale would be the north end's Cleveland Academies

anonymous said...

Well, first, let me say that unless Hale begins to offer self contained honors classes, a few more AP classes, and an orchestra, I 100% agree that it should be an option school. It's a comprehensive school, but not a traditional school. The problem is that if Hale became an option school the district would have to guarantee every north end kid a seat at Roosevelt, Ballard, or Ingraham and there just isn't enough space at those schools to accomodate them all. They need the additional capacity that Hale provides. So Hale can't be an option school.

As for STEM, it will not be a comprehensive HS, but hopefully, it will turn out to be a highly desireable, excellent school for the south end. It should not matter whether STEM is a neighborhood or option school as long as it provides a high quality high school option to S/SE families, which hopefully it will.

seattle citizen said...

adhoc, if STEM works out, it will be an ALL-CYT draw, not just a school for the south end, and that's part of my stated concern, that the south-end lost a neighborhood school. It's possible that all the south end students could fit into RB and Franklin, but by "closing" Cleveland as a nieghborhood school we have a situation where a student who lives east of I-5 and south of I-90 has to go to one of the other two schools if they choose not to go to Cleveland.

Maybe the numbers work out, maybe Franklin and RB can contain all south end students, I just don't know.

Melissa Westbrook said...

BL, that's functional capacity, not building size. Personally, I rarely believe the functional capacity because the number goes up and down like a yo-yo. Especially for new buildings, I look at the size they say they are building to on the BEX reports. To have rebuilt Cleveland for less than a 1,000 would be quite strange but then stranger things have happened.

The functional capacity number does become important when considering, as Seattle Citizen has, whether a school is comprehensive or option and if the district has enough seats for students who choose comprehensive.

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny. The statements made about STEM on this blog have been mixed. We are not cheerleaders, but neither are we naysayers. Whatever the talk about STEM here, it has been more talk about STEM than the District has done. This blog may have done as much (or more) to promote the program as the District has done. At least so far.

We will see in January how many students and families come to the Open House event. Then we will get some idea of the program's ability to draw 200 freshmen for the fall of 2010.

anonymous said...

Yes, Charlie, you are right about this blog doing the PR work of the district, especially regarding STEM.

I recognized Melissa's work on this and thanked her for it a few posts back. And thanks to you too, Charlie!

Without you and Melissa I don't think I would have ever even heard about the STEM school at all. It's not on our radar up here in the north end, and the district has done absolutely nothing to advertise it or engage us in any way......yet they expect 5% of us to choose the school??XX??!!!