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Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Principal Move

According to the Central District News, there was a rally held in support of Kaaren Andrews, the principal at Madrona K-8.

The Central District News reports that Ms Andrews will be re-assigned to be the new principal of the Interagency Academy.

46 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yikes! A lot of conflict in that report and it's summed up in this paragraph:

"Madrona PTSA president Rita Sheckler stressed that parents have seen clear educational progress during Principal Andrews' 6-year tenure at the school, and they want to make sure that any staff changes are done carefully, transparently, and in a way that doesn't discourage or disenfranchise existing students within the school. Another parent told me that she has seen a historic lack of support for the school from the wealthier area around it, and is concerned that the strict new student assignment plan may be driving parents outside the school to seek disruptive changes to the way the school is run."

My recollection is that Principal Andrews stood firm on how the school was going to be despite some parents' efforts at dialog. If there are parents who live in that neighborhood who don't feel included in the school and yet want a neighborhood school, what are they to do? There is no middle ground for anyone?

And read the comments link from the day before. Very interesting.

It's interesting because many parents seem very happy with Principal Andrews leadership. But they are have been and are still in AYP. I walked through the school with her when I was on Closure and Consolidation and I have very mixed feelings. (I started to write about them but it was one visit so maybe that's not enough. Suffice to say, I found Principal Andrews had a good rapport with students and cared deeply but something seemed very off about the tone at the school.)

I thought it interesting that the PTA president thought the letter was cold and I said previously I thought it actually sounded warm (for Dr. G-J). I guess the question is how should a community be notified about a principal change? Is there a better way than a letter or e-mail? What should you tell your child? Would your child care a lot?

Charlie Mas said...

Over one-third of Madrona students leave the school every year. So there's at least a third of them who won't care if the principal doesn't return.

Jennifer said...

But you don’t know why 1/3 are leaving. Traditionally that area has have a very transient population with many kids coming and going during the school year.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, fine. Whatever the reason, one third of the school community won't care about the principal re-assignment. The reason they change schools doesn't change the situation.

dj said...

Abby G., it depends on what you mean by "that area." The majority of Madrona students aren't in the Madrona reference area (or new assignment area), and, conversely, the majority of families who live in the Madrona reference/assignment area do not send their kids to Madrona.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Madrona for 15 years and I started attending meetings about making Madrona a true neighborhood school in 2002, when my oldest daughter was still a toddler. In 2005, a group of more than 20 families from the neighborhood - not wealthy families, but middle class people in the reference area who could not afford private school and wanted to make their neighborhood school work - sent their kids to Madrona for kindergarten. They were a liberal, hard-working group that TRULY wanted their kids at a diverse school. They wanted their efforts to result in an educational tide that raised all boats and was good for every child at the school. They volunteered, raised money put their hearts into that school.

But Ms. Andrews did not want them there. She told white and Asian parents from the neighborhood in private conversations that that they would be better off at other schools. She was passionate about helping struggling kids, but she was devious in her efforts to rid herself of neighborhood families. There was an email message circulated that referred to these families as the "Mayflower" group. There was front page story in the Seattle Times about the tensions at the school.

Today, Madrona has one of the lowest percentages of reference area families of any school in the entire city. There are some admirable neighborhood families that have stayed and made their peace with her leadership and admire her for her commitment to kids many other educators give up on.

But for the most part, reference area families have gotten the message loud and clear that their kids would not be well served at Madrona. And it is not because "wealthy" families don't want to be there with poor minority kids!!!!! It's because Ms. Andrews really did not want them in her hair, pushing for music, asking questions about the decision to eliminate recesses for academics, questioning about how she was using the school budget, generally getting in her way.

This subject has become almost completely taboo in this neighborhood. There are tons of elementary age kids in public school in Madrona but they have never had the chance to be together. You'll find them at Montlake, Stevens, Leschi, Orca, McGilvra, TOPS, Beacon Hill - anywhere they could get in and be welcomed. When we see each other at the playground and remember those years when our kids were toddlers and we really hoped that we would all go the neighborhood school together, we still feel sad about that missed opportunity. Our neighborhood lacks the cohesion of others because we haven't been welcomed at our neighborhood school.

The ironic thing about the new student assignment plan is that many of these families have younger siblings that may not get into the other public schools where they have invested because Madrona was not a good option.

But there is new group of of hopeful families in the neighborhood that want to try again. They HAVE to be included in the conversation about who will lead Madrona K-8 next, or Madrona will never become a neighborhood school. I hope this opportunity to build a diverse, academically strong neighborhood school is not missed again.

Unknown said...

There are some dedicated families and wonderful things going on at Madrona. For example, in the past couple of years middle school parents have started an Ultimate program and a soccer program. Our kids played those kids and their parents were an unbelievable fan base -- strong and supportive -- and man, they turned out in droves!!!!!. So that tells me that some families were willing to stick it out, and hopefully now, a thousand flowers will bloom. And hopefully, also, the gains that have been made with the more challenged populations will continue.

reader said...

Good riddance. Yadda Yadda... she amounted to nothing. She can go where the parents truly don't care... since that is what she prefers anyway. Funny how these self-serving types always take the lowest accountability road.

Maureen said...

Funny how these self-serving types always take the lowest accountability road.

? So (correct me if I'm wrong) You are saying that Kaaren Andrews only cares about herself? And so she will go to work at a school where the kids parents are challenged so can't hold her to accountability??

I have never met the woman, but I think your comment is total BS.

katweb said...

Normally I would be taken aback by what Reader said, but in this case Reader is not that off. In all the years I dealt with Kaaren and other parents at MK8, she has never liked to meet with parents. She does not return emails, refuses to meet with parents and cancelled meetings that the parents set up and were waiting in the office for. Your kid has a problem here? Oh well, go somewhere else! I have meet up with dozens of kids that my daughters went to school with at MK8 - at other schools.

Maggie Hooks said...

I am part of that new group of families who really want MK8 to be a neighborhood school. I had one very positive meeting with KA and found her to be open and responsive. She has since not responded to phone messages or emails... We have been in contact with Susan Enfield for the last several months and we have not asked, or advocated in any way, for KA to be moved. This is not a coup orchestrated by the surrounding neighborhood. Would that we have any clout at all -- the school would have started becoming a neighborhood school in 2005, as detailed by seattleopen.

KA is said to have been notified of the change by a phone call from MGJ and directed to tell her staff the same day the letter came out. So this isn't her choice,and that's a terrible way to treat an employee. Because of the shoddy execution, it isn't clear MGJ has done the neighborhood any favors at all.

seattle citizen said...

Reader, your comment that KA can go where the parents "truly don't care" (Interagency) is grossly disrespectful of the children (and parents) at Interagency.
Get a grip. Have some tact. These are children you're so cavalierly disrespecting.

uxolo said...

"Cindy Nash, principal of the Interagency Academy, has been appointed to serve as principal at Middle College, replacing Dr. John German, who retired at the end of December. Susan Derse will serve as interim Interagency Academy principal until a permanent appointment is announced."

this from 1/13 SPS School Beat - not quite the same info

Central Mom said...

the new transition plan is posted under the board agenda. the big bomb: transportation grandfathering now down to 2 years, not 5.

this will affect every Madrona student not in the new reference area.

this also severely affects TOPS and Salmon Bay.

reader said...

OK Seattle Citizen, I'll amend my comment.

KA can go where she likes it best... where nobody else gives a total rip, where there is not one shred of accountability. Obviously, accountability is not something she wants. I know her type and see them all the time, the teacher/charity worker. They are the worst.... those who think they are doing charity work nobody else wants to do, therefore they aren't accountable and should never be questioned.

reader said...

What does transportation grandfathering mean? Are McClure students (for example) from the south end going to get transportation for 2 more years? Or, is it something for non-local all non-local siblings at all schools who receive transportation now.

SolvayGirl said...

My hairdresser just moved to 18th & Jackson from Federal Way. Both her boys (4th and 7th graders) were assigned to Madrona because her neighborhood schools were full. Her youngest (an over-achiever) complains that the work is too easy, but he's the type who won't do more than is expected. She is frustrated because she knows he's not being challenged. The older one (less academic) likes having the math tutoring. Both complain about lack of recess. And the older one is very artistic and misses art classes. She's complaining because they are both using language they had not before and have much more attitude. She's considering a move back to Federal Way, though her work commute is much better now.

I told her to reapply to her neighborhood schools during open enrollment and, if possible, to have her younger one privately tested for AP and bring the results when she applies. Was that good advice?Neither will be at entry level for a school and won't technically be new to the District.

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

Solvay, at this point it's a crap shoot for your neighbors. Their kids are not entry level grades, and not new to the district, so they will have no guarantees to their neighborhood school, no guarantees to any option school. No guarantees at all....

Maybe Madrona, under new leadership, will be better next year? Maybe they will add art and recess as neighborhood families have lobbied for for years? Maybe they will offer a true ALO? Maybe, maybe, maybe?? To many maybes and question marks if you ask me. And what happened to predictability?

SolvayGirl said...

What about the AP? If her younger son privately tested at AP level, would he qualify for AP elementary next year? He scored very high on the WASL, so he might test AP. She's more worried about him being challenged at Madrona—especially if it means he has to stay there for middle school as well.

reader said...

I thought Madrona was an "option" middle school because it was K8. If so, he can go to Washington instead. Not bad.

SolvayGirl said...

There was no room in Washington for the middle-schooler, and the younger son is just a 4th grader. My friend was really flummoxed by the whole process having come from Federal Way.

I'm trying to find out if anyone knows if her younger son would be eligible for APP placement next year (5th grade) if she had him privately tested now and brought the results with her during open enrollment. They told her he would have had to have tested in October, but I don't know if that counts with private testing too. I'm trying to help her navigate the system.

seattle said...

Yes, if either one of the kids tests into APP they will be served in APP. The elementary child would attend Lowell or Marshall (I'm not sure where the boundaries are), and the middle school child would attend Washington. I'm not sure when testing is happening? Is it coming up soon, or did it already happen? I seem to remember it coinciding with open enrollment

SolvayGirl said...

The free school testing is in October; she missed that boat. That's why I suggested she spring for private testing before open enrollment. She doesn't expect the older child to qualify, but the younger might.

TechyMom said...

I think there would be room in the Lowell ALO program for her 4th grader. There's art, music, recess, and an array of after school classes, and he should be eligible for bus service from 18th and Jackson. For the 7th grader, she might want to contact St Therese about a scholarship.

TechyMom said...

She might even be able to transfer the younger one to Lowell now. Have her call the school.

seattle said...

No transfers for any students in SPS after September 30th. Wherever you are on Sept 30th is where you will remain until the end of the year.

Charlie Mas said...

ann, please. Students transfer all the time. Some schools have literally hundreds of students coming and going all year.

seattle said...

Respectfully, Charlie, you are wrong on this.

From the enrollment guide

"June 15 - Sept 30th Parents may change student’s assignment to any
school with space available, put the
student on the waiting list for a school, or change to a different waiting list."

And

" Sept 30th, Waiting lists are dissolved and reassignments for 2009-10 end."

I found this out because my child attends an out of district school but applied for an SPS school this year. He didn't get in and was placed on that schools waitlist. The waitlist wasn't moving and I called the registrar to find out my options. She told me to call her back on Sept 30th as the waitlist dissolves on that date, and SPS kids are then restricted from changing schools. If a spot opened up she could not give it to an SPS kid, but she could give it to me as I was "new to the district".

I didn't believe her so I called enrollment who confirmed it. Here is what they told me:

SPS students may not transfer from one SPS school to another SPS school, except by a granted appeal, after Sept 30th. The only students who can transfer into a school after Sept 30th are students that are new to the district (re-entry student that had dropped out, a student who is transferring in from another district or from out of state, a homeschooled student who wishes to transfer in to and SPS school, or a private school student who wants to transfer to an SPS school).

Double check with enrollment if you like. I assure you this is correct. Not sure if this will change with the new SAP, but it is in effect now, this year.

seattle said...

And Charlie, in low income neighborhoods, the communities are much more transient. So of course some school have a lot of transfers in/out. They are all before Sept 30th though if they are current SPS students, after Sept 30th they are families moving in/out of the district.

seattle said...

Ahh... I found transfer info on the Enrollmnent services FAQ page

Here is the link:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/faqs_secondary.html

"Can my child transfer to another school during the school year if I request it?"

"Between May 1 and the end of September, we can reassign your child to any school you request that has space available. Effective October 1, 2009 all other transfer requests are handled as a transfer appeal"

And FYI fokls, a transfer appeal is only granted if you can prove that enrollment made a mistake, or for a child's safety, or some other extenuating circumstance.

seattle said...

Oh my gosh, the link above didn't copy right. Here it is again

http://www.seattleschools.org/area
/eso/faqs_secondary.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

Solvay, I don't think your friend could use private testing to get into APP for the fall. Otherwise, a lot of people would do that (and, of course, it might be unfair to those who can't afford it). She can certainly ask but I think the answer will be no.

Now, her kids are not coming in at entry which in some ways works for her. The biggest numbers ARE in the entry grades and there tends to be a bit of movement in every grade. I think she has a good chance to get her oldest into Washington. The youngest? I might leave him at Madrona which might be a very different school in the coming years. If not, she could change schools when he goes to middle school.

Tell your friend that she is not alone with having a bright son who is not particularly motivated. There are many of us out here that have the same issue.

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you, Ann, for the correction.

So all of those hundreds of transfers we see in and out of schools take place between the start of school and October 1st?

Wow.

Dorothy Neville said...

Anecdote. A friend with a child in high school A (HSA) and child is very unhappy with HSA. Lack of advanced classes, too much emphasis on group work and penalizing child for doing more than child's share of work on group project -- even though the other kids couldn't give a care and weren't doing any. Wanted to transfer at semester break to HSB.

There is room in child's grade at HSB. The principal at HSB signed to agree to transfer, the principal at HSA also signed the transfer request. After an extremely frustrating experience through the labyrinth of SPS enrollment, the district denied the appeal.

I do know of a student who transfered to Nova at semester break. If I remember correctly, that student's mom was sweating a bit during the process as well. ie, although both principals agreed, it wasn't a sure thing. I could be misremembering that though.

SolvayGirl said...

Is it really written somewhere that a child who tests privately (or perhaps from another District, locale) before open enrollment can try to secure an APP spot for the following Fall?

SO a kid new to the District has to wait up to two years (if they enrolled after October and the official school testing time) to be able to get into APP? That hardly seems fair, and is probably just one more reason a family new to the District might opt for private school.

SolvayGirl said...

And Melissa, from an affordability factor, how is it less fair for someone who moves into the District mid-year than for the existing SPS student who's parent pays for private testing because the kid was borderline on the School sponsored test? I know a lot of kids in Spectrum and APP who are there because of private test results.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You can only use private testing for appeals. (And I note that the district charges $90 for non-SPS students to apply to these programs. Didn't know that.)

I double-checked because I thought that the district had decided that if a student came into the district from another school where he/she was in a gifted program, those test results could be used. I didn't find that at the website so you'd have to check with Advanced Learning.

For the appeals process, free/reduced lunch students can have free private testing.

I think the Advanced Learning department is always loathe to put kids in mid-year as (1) there are waitlists to get in so these are kids already tested in and (2) there is generally no open spaces anyway.

So yes, if you come in late, you don't get to get into Spectrum or APP until the next round of testing. It would help to make more space for Spectrum students. I know they seat all APP students who test in and want a seat.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Geez, I need to proofread:

"...there is generally no spaces"

I meant

"there are generally no spaces"

SolvayGirl said...

Thanks Melissa. That explains a lot. But it does seem to me that it is definitely a way to push people with a high-performing child who are new to the District to look to other options. My friend's child might have to languish at Madrona until middle school. And, in the process, lose what edge or study habits he may have had. She said he gets very little homework in 4th grade and is seriously considering a move back to Federal Way where she believes the school to be better (than Madrona).

lendlees said...

Solvay--

What Melissa said is true. We were one of those families who entered SPS in January and tried to get our child into APP (we switched from a private school where we weren't happy).

I had called the AP office in November and was told, 'sorry you missed the deadline, you have to wait another year to test'. Even though we had private testing results, they would not let us even apply to the APP program.

So, unfortunately your friend will have to wait another year to test her kids.

reader said...

As to midyear transfers, a kid transfered into one of my childrens' classroom midyear. (from Madrona). I asked the parent how she accomplished it. She said that she had moved and the district would no longer bus her child to Madrona. So, she was allowed to transfer to another school that could provide bus service. She couldn't believe the difference in schools. Sooo, it looks like school transfers are possible midyear... at least if you move. Mighty generous of them.

uxolo said...

SolvayGirl- Mercer Island was taking out of district students. Avg kid there is above average (Spectrum-like) - the climate of each elem schools differs, so find one where there's less competition (and cheating) between kids.

SolvayGirl said...

Mercer Island is taking less kids now, but besides that, my friend—a hairdresser—would not have a way to pick her child up from school on Mercer Island (though her schedule would allow her to drive him there). And the point is, she moved from Federal Way to have an easier commute to her job. Trading that commute for a commute to Mercer Island would be moot.

Once again, the only people who can easily escape the worst of SPS are those with the financial ability and/or time to do so.

She moved to the right neighborhood, to get decent schools and that wasn't good enough. She ended up with one of the most questionable schools in the district—at least in so far as serving the needs of her children.

hschinske said...

Nova's in many respects a special case, as always. I don't know whether their unofficial policy of accepting a number of students midyear without much fuss will survive/has survived the move to Meany and the greater scrutiny they find themselves under.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

Can students request transfer out of Madrona because it is a school under NCLB sanctions?