Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feedback from Alt Meeting?

Anyone attend?

This was from Gavroche on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson on the subject of blogs:

"Btw, about 70 people showed up for the meeting last night. And Supt. Goodloe-Johnson says she doesn't read the blogs.

"No, I don't. There's no way."

Ha ha ha.

Maybe she doesn't, but someone in the District does and you can bet that G-J knows what the unwashed masses (that would be us) are talking and concerned about.

Actually, I found it pretty disdainful and dismissive of her to say that (multiple times and emphatically, I might add). There is a lot of valuable, genuine and informed discussion that goes on in the blogs -- that the District would be better for if it acknowledged and heeded."

I'm interested in why blogs would come up multiple times and not because I'd care if she read them or not. Rather, if the district is challenging any information put out here, I'd like to know. Charlie and I take pains to try to get it right and if we are not accurate, I'd like to know.

But yes, I'm sure a couple of someones from the district check in here a couple of times a day.

But to the subject of the meeting - what was said?


Charlie Mas said...

Also - did anyone make it to the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting? Traffic on 99 kept me from it, but I want to know about it.

ParentofThree said...

She sounds a lot like that President who never read a newspaper, what was his name again?

Unknown said...

Does anyone know what is supposed to be unveiled tonight at the Board Work Session –Transition Planning meeting?

Chris S. said...

Let's see, I didn't take notes but: the common concerns that were voiced were as follows:

Does the term alternative still mean something in this district-YES. Does the work the community did in formulating an operational definition of alternatives still apply? (i.e. C54 and quality indicators) - YES.

Does site-based governance include input into principal selection - YES, UNLESS there were "other constraints" as there were last spring.

What about grandfathering of transportations for current students drawn out of transportation area by SAP? - it's part of transition plan. (side note that while there is equitable access to option programs, there is inequity in access to alternative programs - I don't remember if we discuss that with MGJ et. al. or later)

Where do alts stand in regard to curriculum alignment? I can't really say that we got an answer, which is not surprising because the district cannot yet describe clearly what curriculum alignment IS. There was the implication of some flexibility, but not beyond what I've heard elsewhere.

I know some people took notes, Please add/correct me.

Unknown said...

I thought the meeting was okay. The CAO was pretty impressive. She struck me as open, forthright and willing to listen. She also acknowledged her own limits - -especially that she's new to her role, that the system faces massive budget issues, that she firmly believes alignment and consistency are important, etc. So I'm feeling "wait and see," but definitely cautiously optimistic on that front.

I wish there was a willingness to be open on issue of transportation to alternative schools, but I didn't hear any sense of openness which is too bad. That said, if I were in leadership at the District, I'm not sure I'd want to be carving out exceptions right now. Between the horrendous budget issues and the need to try this new plan out and get it running, holding tight probably does make good sense. Maybe in a year or two that will become more realistic.

Sup. GJ did have a good answer on her openness to getting community input in principal assignments in the future, and why that just wasn't possible this past year, given the school closures and the need to reassign so many, etc. I found her quite reasonable on that front.

Once the Sup. and CAO left, the meeting turned into something of a camp revival, and I felt it was hard to state anything other than the party line. Frankly, I was a little discouraged at the fervor that I think we were supposed to be feeling as "fellow alternative parents." For example, I was pretty surprised when one of the meeting's organizers expressed outrage that a Board Member supported an oversight committee for the BTA levy, but did not support such a committee for the alternative school audit. She (the alternative school organizer) didn't acknowledge any difference between the potential need for oversight for spending a multi-year, multi-million dollar levy that impacts dozens of schools, and what might be, at best, a hundred thousand dollar, one time project. It seemed a little out of proportion to me, and made me wonder whether there a lack of a sense of scale at some fundamental level. We need to fight hard on big issues, but not every mole hill should be turned into a mountain.

So anyway, I think dialogue is always good, and I'm glad the meeting happened. I just hope that the Alternative Schools Coalition can be a big tent, and that those of us who are committed alternative school parents, but who don't always immediately agree with whatever the organizers say they want to do, have a chance to have some influence.

Jet City mom said...

I am highly frustrated that I gave this meeting high priority, even though I no longer have children in SPS, because I think alternative programs that do not have " aligned curriculum" to standards that we should be ashamed of, are something that need to remain options for all students.

As an example of what a high priority it was- in the past 24 hours I have driven to Overlake hospital 5 times from Seattle- to see my 75 year old mother- who Monday( after being relatively healthy) was placed on a respirator after not having a pulse- & whom later on today undoubtably, we will be removing the machines.

The meeting lasted exactly one hour- not much time- for so many people ( and considering it takes a while to get there and find parking)to be heard and to get an idea if there is anyone in administration who has an idea of what alternative education is.

Not that anyone in administration apparently cares- but teachers are free to supplement with what ever materials they want- as long as they use the directed material.
Isn't that special?

Gouda said...

what the unwashed masses (that would be us)


How many people do you have posting comments in a given week? I see the same names over and over and over again. I'm sure you have more who read, but that doesn't make this blog representative.

I'm sure this is the point where you'll accuse me of working for the District or for Gates or whatever.

Chris S. said...

The Alt. School Coalition is a big tent, and to prove it here is a link where you can request membership http://groups.google.com/group/seattle-alternative-schools-coalition/topics. We (the group owners) reserve the right to be somewhat slow in responding and to maybe have a short email conversion with you if we don't know you, depending on the volume we get.

Rosie, the person who spoke about an Audit AOC was not an organizer, but a first-time ASC meeting attendee like yourself. Yes, we are faily tolerant of passion and enthusiasm. I was formally the organizer, so you can blame me; however, the actual meeting bore zero resemblance to the one I planned. I'm not going to complain about ANYTHING that got that many people to show up, either!

I will say a lesson learned is be specific about your meeting length. I have never been to an hour-long meeting in this district, but that seems to be the default if you don't specify...I don't think I specified, but they could very well have shortened it when they saw it posted here, or when the walked in the room.

Megan Mc said...

Unfortunately, I was so disappointed by the change in format and the vapidness of the responses from Enfield and Goodloe-Johnson that I did not take detailed notes. Here is what I did take:

QUESTION: How does shared governance work.
MGJ – I am commited to shared governance and BLTs will continue at all schools.
Comment: BLT is not the same as Site council. The alternative community understanding of shared governance is that of a Site Council model rather than a BLT model.
Question: Can we have an Alt education director who is focused on the unique needs of alt schools?
ENFIELD – we won’t have the money for a new position but we are looking at doing some restructuring and there are conversations ongoing about that.
Question: Will Alts be allowed to participate in the hiring of principals in the future?
MGJ - Last year’s principals placements were an anomaly. MGJ is committed to sharing the process when its possible.
ENFIELD - Goal is to provide an excellent education in the system. There are lots of measures we use to show success. The measures would be the same for alts and others. What are some of those measures that can’t be measured by a test. Commitment to alts, art, finding programs that meet various needs and interests of all kids.
Enfield - There will be conversations around graduation levels. The question is what should an SPS diploma mean and that includes NOVA
Alternative or not all schools have to follow the board accepted core-curriculum. How you supplement or implement that is up to the individual school.
Earned autonomy –
QUESTION: If we are addressing the state standards do we have academic curriculum choice and freedom.
ENFIELD: All students have to have access to the core curriculum and all schools are expected to teach to it.
Audit – it is still postponed. The audit will be set up so that parents are involved in the process and all the schools will be visited.

Question: How will Nova be impacted by the curriculum alignment?

Dr. Enfield - I understand that Nova does things differently and I am having conversations with the principal about that. The bottom line is that all students whether they go to an alternative school or not, need to benefit from curriculum alignment.

There was a lot more but I stopped taking notes.

Jet City mom said...

I found it naive- for G-J to state that Seattle schools have proven to serve the students well- as evidenced of the numbers at the TOPS meeting.
She would compare us to a town like Detroit , instead of other districts in our state and neighboring states as evidence of the excellence in Seattle.

Evidence that the suburbs have greater diversity, attract more children ( Seattle has fewer than other major cities- except S.F.) and noticable drop out rate and private school enrollment are not points of importance apparently.

Even if the curriculum that the district chose to distribute throughout the grades and disciplines was Excellent beyond Reproach, it still would not serve the needs of every single student from K-12 in Seattle.

I haven't quite figured out-why I get such a sense of " no there- there" when I hear administration speak.

But then I am allergic to Kool-aid

Megan Mc said...

Other random things I was thinking:

I should have kept count of the number of times Dr Enfield and Dr G-J said "all students, whether they go to alternative schools or not" or “all schools, alternative or not, are expected to ...”

Synonyms for alternative include: choice, option, unconventional, substitute, different,

It’s clear that the term Alternative escapes them. When asked to define alternative education in her own words, Dr. Enfield said it means different things to different people and all schools are different so she wouldn't impose her interpretation on it.

NEWS FLASH - People select these schools because they don't want what all schools are doing. It's clear the district has no desire to allow any outliers in their system. Alts will need to be lock-step with the rest of the district under their vision. We can call ourselves anything we want but that doesn't mean we get to do things differently.

ParentofThree said...

"need to benefit from curriculum alignment."

My students are not benefiting from the math curriculum.

Laura said...

was there any talk about "geographic zones", where they'll be, and when the information will be released to the public? Any talk about how "geographic zones" and the admission preference (i.e. "tie breaker") they will provide might change the option schools into neighborhood schools? I am VERY interested in learning what Salmon Bay's geographic zone will be.

Caleb Reborn-Child said...

I was wondering whether I could contact you, Melissa Westbrook, via email. I couldn't find an email anywhere on the website. It would be great if you could email me at ccraibleclark@gmail.com

Jet City mom said...

someone did bring up- what about students who are currently enrolled at an alternative school- and receive transportation, but are not in the " geographic area" for this school.
They wanted to know if their child would be able to be grandfathered in until they left the school.

" it will be part of future discussion"
my guess- is that no- because they will decide that " all schools are homogenized enough so that children in every neighborhood will achieve those district standards to which we will limit ourselves and while every general area of the city will have an alternative school of some type- because they don't understand what " alternative" means, one is just the same as another.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just left (before it was over) the Work Session on the budget and the Transition Plan. More on that in another thread. However, three factors bear stating re: alternatives.

1) we are now - again - in a terrible budget crunch. There will be no Alt school Director and, in fact, people may double up on jobs. Or get furloughed (non-school jobs). Frankly, it sounds like a huge mess with many moving parts and I kind of despair that the Board can do it any justice. (But they did ask some good questions.) There is money for nothing really. I'm not sure what the 5 new schools will have or not have.

2) BIG NEWS for Alts: For 2010-2011 ONLY, NO GEOGRAPHIC ZONES FOR OPTION SCHOOLS. Yes, page 12 of the PowerPoint, slide 34. And Tracy said it was because they couldn't get the boundaries done in time. (Likely they couldn't get it done by tour time.) So this is a huge opportunity for anyone who (1) wants choice in Alts and (2) doesn't like their attendance area school. Now, I left before the discussion over transportation came up but since this is NOT grandfathering in this case but a straight up assignment, it seems likely transportation will follow. (This also opens the door for sibs.)
3) there is a proposal (that the staff is pushing) for both TOPS and Salmon Bay to go to the same Tier one start time as the other K-8s. Now oddly, it says in the SAP Power point it would be temporary but not in the budget presentation. That's a huge discrepancy but nonetheless, they want it for at least 2 years.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, thank you so much for
a) attending...four hours? You are a trooper;
b) writing up the notes on the thread about the budget;
c) taking the time to write a separate report from Budget specifically for this Alt thread. Thank you thank you thank you!
As usual, you rock.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the alt meeting, the point of the alt meeting was to introduce ourselves, our schools, to Dr. Enfield and begin a dialogue with her.

If nothing else, I believe that we were successful in beginning that dialogue.

I want to thank Chris for taking the reins of this event and coordinating the time and place with our superintendent and CAO. That was no easy feat. Chris and others also tried very hard to make sure that all of the alt schools were aware of the meeting and encouraged everyone to attend.

When the superintendent and CAO arrived, they announced to us that they only had an hour. That was not our understanding before this meeting.

It was announced after the meeting that there was a Google group and everyone was encouraged to sign up and become part of this very critical conversation regarding our alt programs. If you want to join, please e-mail me directly at dora.taylor@gmail.com, and I will sign you up.

I was heartened by this first step. One of the long time members of the coalition said that this was the largest gathering that he had seen and was thrilled by that. After the CAO and the superintendent left we did have a conversation. Action items came out of it that were very constructive.

First, there was a conversation regarding having an alt ed director and we began to discuss who that could be. Then another member suggested having an open house where all of the schools could introduce themselves to the general public and we could also get to know each others' programs more in-depth.

In that sense I think that it was a great first step. Seeing that all of the alt programs had the same concerns and interests showed a potential for a very strong unity. A unity that alt schools had in the past and could have again.

Maureen said...

I have some notes on the meeting that I may get around to typing up, but I wanted to point out something else of importance to the alt community:

The Address Lookup Page still only lists one Option School per address. I pointed out this error on the day it went into operation (at the Board Work Session in the fall) and I know that Tracy spoke with Bridgett Chandler about it and it was acknowledged to be an error. I had expected it to be fixed when the final boundaries were voted in. I emailed the assignment plan address to point out the error a few days after the 'seal' turned from gold to pink and it still hasn't changed.

Today I emailed Tracy and Ms. Chandler to let them know that it is VERY important that families realize that they can apply to ANY Option school in the District. The page should list them all and indicate the one Option school that they would get transportation to given their address.

I have spoken to a number of, otherwise well informed, parents who believe, because of this error on the website, that they can only apply to attend one Option school.

Hopefully Ms. Chandler will fix the website soon--we need people to be properly informed about their 'Options.'

Syd said...

From School Beat:

Garfield, Roosevelt included in 'America's Best High Schools'

Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School were included in U.S. News & World Report's rankings of America's Best High Schools. Garfield and Roosevelt were recognized as Silver Medal schools. The Silver Medal is given to schools that register a college readiness index of at least 20 but are not ranked in the top 100 nationally. U.S. News analyzed more than 21,000 public high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

In a separate article last June, Newsweek magazine named Ingraham and Garfield high schools to the magazine's top 1,500 public U.S. high schools in academics. Ingraham High made the magazine's 2009 listing for the first time, placing 940th, while Garfield made the list for the fifth straight year, placing 497th.

Maybe it is just my competitive nature and I know test scores are not all that, but geeze, I am not satisfied with our school district's competitiveness in the national market.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, the education market demands stingencies and efficiencies in the race to the top of the sales chart. Educational units must be produced with maximum streamlining where available, designs should include interchangable parts using the "platform" model so consumers can be provided the illusion of choice while the edufacturer reduces complexity through standardization of parts. On the sales side, consumers must be convinced that the product is innovative, "cool" [note: look up "cool"] and desirable. Flash, bling, the "gotta have it" factor...Competitors should be painted as out-dated, dinosaurs in the new paridgim whose products are old-fashioned, strangely quirky and unreliable. Flow charts, spread sheets and other data metrics should be sent to the advertising department to be turned into convincing propaganda, uh, product descriptions to convince the consumer that our product is quality, produced by quality assembly-line workers in quality plants with quality tools [note: measure tools, workers, plant for future data use]

This is the path to competitiveness, and as we step into a brave new future we will embrace these new models and the consumers WILL embrace them also. We will be the top producers, and our product will sell like hot cakes.

Stu said...

Garfield, Roosevelt included in 'America's Best High Schools'

What's depressing about the 2009 US News and World Report of the top 100 schools isn't that only two Seattle schools were on the list, both receiving Silver Medals, it's that these were the only two schools on the list of 51 Washington State High Schools.

Four schools from Washington State earned Gold Medals: International School, Bellevue High School, and Newport Senior High School, all from the Bellevue School District, and the International Community School, from the Lake Washington School District.

Seattle has no "gold medal" or "bronze medal" schools; just the two Silver Medals. And, while I don't mean to downplay this achievement, it shows we have a long way to go.

Here's the list:

Aviation High School (King County) Silver
Bainbridge High School (Kitsap County) Silver
Bellevue High School (King County)
Blaine High School (Whatcom County) Silver
Brewster High School (Okanogan County) Bronze
Camas High School (Clark County) Silver
Cam Junior Senior High School (Clark County) Bronze
Cascade High School (Chelan County) Bronze
Centralia High School (Lewis County) Bronze
Chelan High School (Chelan County) Bronze
Cheney High School (Spokane County) Bronze
Colton School (Whitman County) Bronze
Columbia High and Elementary (Stevens County) Bronze
Colville Senior High School (Stevens County) Bronze
Eagle Harbor High School (Kitsap County) Bronze
Garfield High School (King County) Silver
Health Sciences & Human Services (King County) Bronze
Inglemoor High School (King County) Silver
Interlake High School (King County) Silver
International Community School (King County) Gold
International School (King County) Gold
Issaquah High School (King County) Silver
Liberty Bell Junior-Senior High School (Okanogan County) Silver
Lyle High School (Klickitat County) Bronze
Manson Junior Senior High School (Chelan County) Bronze
Mead High School (Spokane County) Silver
Mercer Island High School (King County) Silver
Mount Baker Senior High School (Whatcom County) Bronze
Naselle-Grays River Valley Junior Senior High Schools (Pacific County) Bronze
Newport High School (King County) Gold
Ocosta Junior - Senior High School (Grays Harbor County) Bronze
Odessa High School (Lincoln County) Bronze
Orcas Island High School (San Juan County) Bronze
Pateros High School (Okanogan County) Bronze
Pe Ell School (Lewis County) Bronze
Pullman High School (Whitman County) Silver
Quincy High School (Grant County) Bronze
Raymond Junior Senior High School (Pacific County) Bronze
Redmond High School (King County) Silver
Republic Senior High School (Ferry County) Bronze
Roosevelt High School (King County) Silver
Rosalia Elementary & High School (Whitman County) Bronze
Royal High School (Grant County) Bronze
Sehome High School (Whatcom County) Silver
Selkirk Junior-Senior High School (Pend Oreille County) Bronze
Skyline High School (King County) Bronze
Soap Lake Middle & High School (Grant County) Bronze
Tekoa High School (Whitman County) Bronze
Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (Clark County) Silver
Vashon Island High School (King County) Bronze
Woodinville High School (King County) Silver


seattle citizen said...

Does this mean all the other high schools in the state, the ones without gold, silver or bronze, just aren't very good?

Bah. That's a crock, the metrics are flawed. Whatever they are.

Stu said...

Does this mean all the other high schools just aren't very good?

Nope . . . I don't think it says that at all. It does however say that, with the specific metrics they used for this particular ranking, the Seattle school district doesn't rank as high as others in the state.

It's just information . . .


Charlie Mas said...

seattle citizen writes: "Bah. That's a crock, the metrics are flawed. Whatever they are."

This is their metric:

Number of AP/IB classes taken divided by number of students enrolled.

That's it.

Jet City mom said...

oh lordy
I have a child who attended a school that didn't offer any AP or IB classes- she went on to get a biology degree from Reed college including defending and publishing the thesis required of all graduates.
SHe is now applying to grad school.

I have another child, who attended Garfield which does have AP classes, however, while my daughter did take at least four APs, she also had classes that were not AP but contained at least as much depth and breadth as any AP class.

THe number of students taking AP tests, ( Which is the Newsweek criterion) doesn't say anything about the number of students passing the tests or the other ways that these students are exemplary ( or not)

ParentofThree said...

Stu there is an excellent book called "Over Achievers: The Secret Life of Driven Kids" that you may be interested in reading. The author reveals the truth about the US News and Report College Rankings. They adjust the formula to ensure the same top five schools remain at the top and if a school refuses to participate (like Reed College) they rank them on the bottom.

She interviews college admissions officers all across the country and they all say the same thing,

There is no formula to get into their school. They are looking to create a well rounded student body and they are looking for students whose application shows their passion, not a laundry basket filled with activities.

In terms of AP classes. They create two piles, applications with AP classes and ones without AP classes. One or two AP classes ends up in the same pile as those with 4-6.

So, the number of AP classes offered, (and taken) will not necessarily translate to an admission into your students top choice. A application that clearly illustrates that your student is passionate and has an aptitude to learn, will get the thick envelope.

In addition to learning some of the behind the scenes in college admissions, the book also follows four students from a Bethesda High School . The results are fascinating!

After reading this book I realized that the US News high school rankings are so simplistic it's not even worth paying the news stand price. And I am really not worried about if my school has been deemed worthy of the Gold or not.
Really a great read.....

Dorothy Neville said...

Stu, the drive to qualify for this particular metric is what leads to the demise of AP Euro (too hard!) and the replacement of that with a watered down social science course that also happens to be AP and now Everybody Can Take AP! Roosevelt did better this year on the ranking, surprise? See what's happening? now Garfield is losing AP Euro.

So while SPSmom is spot on, unfortunately some in power pay attention to the ranking.

Stu said...

I didn't mean to be making a judgement about the need to be on this list; what I found interesting is that there are 51 Washington State schools on their list and only 2 are from our district.

No matter how you look at it, I feel our district is failing the majority of our students. There's little chance of getting into the "better" schools, if you don't live in the neighborhood; the "option/alternative/magnet" schools are constantly being threatened with changes or closures; they're pouring money into Cleveland (again) at the expense of other new programs. (This isn't to say STEM isn't a great idea; I just think that announcing in advance that other schools have to wait a couple years for direction . . . it's just wrong.)

Most importantly, I don't understand why a district that keeps preaching equal access and quality for all doesn't copy successful programs. IF (see, I'm saying "if" here) Roosevelt and Garfield are so popular, why aren't other high schools offering comparable programs? IF people are moving and/or lying to get into JSIS, and it's a school that was names best elementary in the country, why isn't that program being replicated throughout the district?

Is the US World and News Report list of high schools flawed? Of course it is. But it's another tool, another way to look at data and, when added to all the other things, I think it shines a light on the OTHER schools that seem to be able to offer more.


Joan NE said...

Rosie, you wrote "Once the Sup. and CAO left, the meeting turned into something of a camp revival, and I felt it was hard to state anything other than the party line."

I wonder what the "party line" is? I don't know what it is. I am the gal who advocated for an ad hoc Advisory and Oversight Committee (AOC) be formed for the Alt Schools audit. This isn't party line. In my mind, the unplanned community meeting at TOPS was my best chance to find out if there was community support for my idea. That is why I asked for a show of hands of those who support the idea. (As Chris mentioned, I am not one of the organizers of the TOPS meeting.)

I am sorry if I somehow contributed to the feeling that dissent was unwelcome.

The show of hands (it seemed to me that most everyone in the room raised a hand), and the fact that two people came forward offering to help me work on the proposal strongly encouraged me to
go ahead with the idea. Furthermore, Thornton Creek Principal John Miner expressed support for the idea when I shared it with him the day before the TOPS meeting.

If anyone wants to argue against this idea, please do so! For now, I am moving ahead on this front, as I don't anticipate any harm coming from this, and I do see this idea as being potentially helpful to the cause of preserving alternative schools.

Is the Alt-Audit a mere molehill? I fear that the District's goal with the Audit is to give it cover for ridding the District of Alt Schools. Sound farfetched? I have a variety of reasons for my opinions. I can share my list, if you like.

What astonished me about Harium's lack of support for my proposal was that he claims to be Alt-Ed's best friend on the Board right now. If he is our best friend, why would he not support this proposal? Maybe he has very good reasons. If he does have good reasons, he failed to communicate them to me at his coffee hour on Nov 28. He didn't mention budget scale as a factor. As far as I know, budget is not a criteria for whether an AOC will be formed or not. I hope Harium reconsiders his answer.