Monday, December 14, 2009

Meeting Tomorrow Night for Alternative Schools

Alternative Schools Coalition Meeting with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Chief Academic Officer Susan Enfield.

This will be an informational meeting explaining the unique challenges alternative schools face and a moderated questions and answer session. If you have concerns about the role of Alternative Schools in Seattle Public Schools is here is your chance to show your support.

Seattle, WA 98102
7:00 p.m.

(I can't attend but I hope those who do will please let us know how it goes. I'll be interested to hear if it is a real Q&A or you all write questions and they pick which ones to answer.)


Anonymous said...

Will this be at all about Thornton Creek keeping it's feeder status to Salmon Bay Middle School?

owlhouse said...

This meeting is not specifically to address the feeder pattern, though access is clearly an issue facing alt schools.

Back in October Mary Bass suggested that the ASC arrange a meeting with Dr. Enfield, our new CAO. The idea was to introduce ourselves, learn of her experience with alt schools and collaborate in strengthening alt and all schools in SPS. Dr. GJ was cc'd on the invite and took us up on the opportunity. We expect Holly Ferguson to attend as well.

While the meeting was intended as an introduction all the way around, we expect a number of issues to be addressed through sharing historical context, dialogue, and question and answer time. Discussion will likely include the SAP, transportation, feeder patterns, board policy, curriculum alignment and more.

Gouda said...


An alternative schools meeting at TOPS.

:double snort:

Anonymous said...

One question I would love to hear them discuss is evidence, from polling, that parents currently sending their children to private school in Seattle would be attracted back to public school if more alternative schools were offered. I suspect this is the case, but have seen no hard data to establish that.

Seattle Public Schools has one of the lowest participation rates of any major city in the country (68% compared to the norm of 80-90%). Without attracting the middle class back to our public schools and improving market share, Seattle Public Schools will have only partial support from parents, communities, and government and limited success passing measures to increase funding. The school board and superintendent should be doing everything they can to attract more parents and children to Seattle Public Schools.

Jet City mom said...


An alternative schools meeting at TOPS.

:double snort:

Thanks for contributing.

I will try and attend. No current kids in SPS, but I have been an advocate for alternative schools since Cathy Hayes was principal at Summit & while TOPS is academically successful and popular, that is no reason to criticize them for being so.

TOPS is similar ( or it was at the time when I visited) to UCDS, IMO, however, we decided to stay with UCDS.

Just because other schools have now ventured into experiential and child directed learning, doesn't mean that someone like MGJ doesn't view them as " alternative".

Now Salmon Bay on the other hand, didn't strike me as being particulary alternative, but I do see " alternative" schools in general being more responsive to their communities- as they should be.

Central Mom said...

Tonight, I'd like MGJ to speak about what shared governance and earned autonomy mean to her, how those terms will (won't?) be supported in alt schools, and a timeline. That would be a great meeting. We've been hearing about earned autonomy for 3 years now and I still haven't got the slightest idea what it entails in her administration's mind.

Unknown said...

I think the last thing alternative education in Seattle needs is bickering among ourselves about which school is more alternative than the next. What's nice about alternative education is that there can be a wide amount of diversity within the category. In some ways, I think that any school that wants the label is entitled to use it. For those who insist on greater clarity, a few years ago a lot of thought and time went into defining and developing definitions for what "alternative educaiton" meants in the SSD. Too bad that work has sat on a shelf for the past 4 or 5 years.

For what it's worth, from the perspective of a person who'se inside Salmon Bay, it strikes me as quite alternative. First there's classroom makeup -- at the elem ages some classes have two years with one teacher and others have multi-age classrooms. 7th and 8th graders share homerooms and electives, etc. There's a strong reliance on a variety of curricular materials, and very little of it is traditional "textbook," except for math, where that was district-mandated. There's very little homework, at either the elementary or MS level. The educators seem to have a much higher tolerance for "flow," and "looseness" than I've seen pretty much anywhere else. Sometimes that translates into noise and energy, sure, but also into passion and intensity. The extra curriculars are very "home grown" in look and feel, and there's an emphasis on everyone trying everything, rather than "who's the best at X, Y or Z." Overall I suppose some would say the school is "less rigorous," and in some ways I suppose it is, but all the high school educators I know love the kids that come from Salmon Bay - - they're open and engaged learners. That certainly describes my kids, one of whom is now in 9th, and the other in 7th, both of whom are products of Salmon Bay.

Jet City mom said...

I would guess "earned autonomy" is if your school has a strong PTA that raises money for books & activities, has strong leadership that supports strong teachers and this is shown with grad rates & test scores- then perhaps the district will more or less leave the community alone.

timeline would be great & since it is very difficult to enter the successful & popular alts- is there a procedure to duplicate?

I have been looking at running an inhome child care in Seattle- as the need is so great my younger friends tell me that for a good center, the wait list is 400+ families.

My daughter who teaches in Portland, tells me that all schools have child care-
I would like to see child care reintroduced to the Jane Adams building.
It has plenty of space for such, and would be a no brain way to attract families to the building.

Why do schools in Seattle have a haphazard approach to before and after school childrens time and needs?

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's a good question, Emeraldkity. Why does something that means so much to parents not rank high for the district? Well, it probably costs them some resources and room at schools. Maybe they make some money, I don't know.

But from my own experience, what would work for parents, even what would help parents, if it isn't helping the school and/or district directly, well, they just don't care.

I don't want to sound bitter (I hope) but parents and their concerns and wants are really last on the list.

anonymous said...

Jane Addams does have before/after school child care provided by Pinehurst Child Care Center for babies age 1 month through 5th grade elementary students.

Stu said...

That's a good question, Emeraldkity. Why does something that means so much to parents not rank high for the district? Well, it probably costs them some resources and room at schools. Maybe they make some money, I don't know.

But from my own experience, what would work for parents, even what would help parents, if it isn't helping the school and/or district directly, well, they just don't care.

I think this is probably the most perturbing part of all the conversations over the years. I'm sure the board and administration and staff wouldn't agree but they have always appeared to be incredibly indifferent to family needs and opinions. As has been brought up many times, we're in the trenches every day and see what's going on at all levels.Why they refuse to use us as a resource, I'll never know.

What's particularly upsetting is that, as a community, we've shown time and again that we're willing to spend money and time to make this a great district. Yet they still refuse to really engage the community

Many of the decisions/changes made over the past year could have been much better planned, and implemented, if input had been sought. This district, however, actually goes out of the way to keep the public in the dark until "it's too late" to stop the cart. When Mary Bass voted no on many of the changes, it wasn't because she was always against the plan; it was usually that she was against implementing something without the details in place. Change of the sake of change isn't always a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, it appears that, for whatever reason, this district has a real contempt for the very people it serves and I can't believe it's ever going to get better without real community engagement.

Winter break starts this Friday; would you like to bet that by next Friday there are some "exciting new changes" announced?


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

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.

Also, as journalism continues through its identity crisis, the blogs have become respected and legitimate sources of information on innumerable topics.

George W. Bush also boasted that he never read or watched the newsmedia.

Point of pride, or disdain for democracy and reality? You decide.

A few more lines from the Supt.:

(encouraging parents to communicate with her):

"Ask me. I'll communicate. I'm happy to communicate."


"I'm a collaborative person; I always have been."

(There's a joke to be made here about Vichy-style collaboration and how the Supt. does indeed appear be a collabo of the Broad Foundation & edu reformers...

Whether she's truly interested in collaborating with us, the parents and community of SPS, is another question entirely.)

Megan Mc said...

another quote from the meeting:

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson - earned autonomy was never about materials. All students have to have access to the board adopted core-curriculum which includes materials adoption. How you implement or supplement the curriculum is up to individual schools and teachers.

Joan NE said...

Stu- you wrote "One question I would love to hear them discuss is evidence, from polling...I suspect this is the case, but have seen no hard data to establish that."

I made a similar comment to Harium at his last coffee hour. Harium was very clear that he was absolutely against a poll being taken on the SAP. It wouldn't do any good, he said.

It seems to me that poor community engagement is one of the fundamental problems with the district.

I am thinking that if the board would adopt a genuine model of supt. accountability, (in which the supt. evaulations are based mostly on how well she succeeded in fulfilling Board goals, as stated in policy, and within limitations - as stated in Board policy and law), and provided that the Board adopts a policy that places a very high priority on genuine meaningful community engagement at both the District and Board levels, and provided that the Board places a high priority on having policies and District action that reflect the values and priorities of the community,

then we might have a school district that is responsive and that we can be proud of, and that will draw families out of private school, and that will geniunely close the achievement gap (without bringing down the top).

Does this sound like a plausible scenario, like a valid formula to anyone? What else is necessary (needs to be added to the formula) in order to have a formula that is sufficient (has all that is required to achieve success)?

If this is a valid formula for success, then the challenge is to figure out how to induce the Board to adopt this formula.

Any ideas out there as to how we can bring this about?