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Monday, January 11, 2010

Odds and Ends

Dr. Enfield visits Olympic View Elementary PTA on Thursday, the 14th at 6:30 p.m. if you've been wanting to hear her speak or ask a question.

From an SPS press release:

"Green Lake Elementary Principal Cheryl Grinager will become principal at McDonald Elementary; Coe Elementary Principal David Elliott will be the new principal at Old Hay School, and John Hay Principal Dan Warren will become principal at Sand Point Elementary.

Grinager, Elliott and Warren will continue as principals at their current schools while working with members of their respective new school communities in preparation for the 2010 school openings."

"Families and staff at Coe, Green Lake and John Hay elementary schools and The Center School will be notified when a hiring timeline for a new principal has been developed. The first step will be for instructional directors to meet with the school community to identify the desired qualities and characteristics for their school leader."

I literally know nothing about these principals except that they are all at pretty well-functioning schools. Anyone?

Also:

"Changes have also been announced for principals at the high school level, with Center School Principal Lisa Escobar named as co-principal at Rainier Beach High School along with current Rainier Beach Principal Dr. Robert Gary. Judy Peterson will serve as interim principal at the Center School."

Why would Rainier Beach need a co-principal? Hmmm.

78 comments:

Michael Rice said...

Melissa writes:

Why would Rainier Beach need a co-principal? Hmmm.

Interestingly enough that is the same question I am asking.

Gouda said...

Please, oh please, let this be the beginning of the end of Robert Gary at RB.

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Mother of MS and HS students said...

David Elliott is a fabulous principal. he has DEEP passion for children and really knows how to build community. In 10 years, he turned Coe from the clear 2nd choice on Queen Anne to the top choice in the neighborhood and drew many parents back from private schools into Coe.

He is a great pick to start up the new Queen Anne Elementary. He will add immediate credibility and confidence to the new school. I would not be surprised to see some Coe parents follow him to the new school.

dan dempsey said...

"Why would Rainier Beach need a co-principal? Hmmm.

Well the SE Initiative is clearly a complete failure so the answer is clear. More Administration is needed at RBHS.

SolvayGirl said...

Though I thought The Center School was pretty incredible when we looked at it for my daughter last year, I was most impressed with Lisa Escobar as the driving force behind the school. Since I had first-hand knowledge with how the District can screw up a school by yanking an integral principal, I did not want to take the chance. Boy am I glad I followed by hunch.

I hope for the sake of TCS they replace her with someone equally as incredible. The school and the students there deserve nothing less.

Jet City mom said...

Why would they assign an interim principal to center school? Is that requested by the community?
Should we be anticipating the move of the center school to rb, since queen anne and magnolia are now in the Ballard high school neighborhood?

dan dempsey said...

RBHS co-principal makes the Seattle Times.

Check it out here

justamom said...

wow. last year principals were just handed out. no school involvement. why the change this year. schools actually get to be involved. we were given a principal last year who happens to be not very good. pass the problem ones off to a good school because they can do less damage. Is this really the best SPS can do? If yes, how sad. this is very frustrating. now i know why people go to private schools. take what we give you and be happy with it. great approach.

ParentofThree said...

It sounds like the Center principal is leaving now? Pulling a principal mid-year. Horrible for staff and students.

The school has sure suffered a lot of stress under MGJ, first threat of closure, now suddenly pulling the principal.

That women just doesn't get that these are our children and the adults who teach them.

And this kind of stuff gets to them.

Also, we have money to pay have two principals at a small high school, really? My understanding was MGJ said that the schools/PTAs best be looking hard at their budgets cause cuts are coming.

Well, which is yet?

TechyMom said...

Just speculating... Could they be trying to build a performing arts program at RB, to use that nice theater? TCS on the resume would make sense. With stem at Cleveland, I can see putting some sort of liberal arts focus at the other school nearby for the kids who don't want STEM. Bad news for TCS, but not a totally crazy idea.

SolvayGirl said...

Some info: Lisa Escobar is not a "performing arts" principal. TCS doesn't really have a program or a performing arts teacher. They have partnerships with Seattle Rep and other performing arts groups based in Seattle Center. That's why the performing arts focus of the school is NOT portable.

The school DOES have a focus on visual art, with a terrific teacher. Visual art i incorporated into the curriculum of many of the other classes, including science. You should see the students' botanical drawings of their own "flower."

Escobar is a great principal and one of the elements that make TCS such a great environment. But, her experience is with alternative-type schools (she is a past principal of NOVA). She also lives way out in the country (with horses and everything). She may not be eager to commute to RBHS (though I can't remember if she lives north or south; it may end up being a better commute for her).

I would certainly like to hear more from Michael on this. Do you think move by the District has the chance of creating warring factions in the school? I am sure there are many families and teachers who love Dr. Gary.

seattle said...

"Grinager, Elliott and Warren will continue as principals at their current schools while working with members of their respective new school communities in preparation for the 2010 school openings."

This is unfair to the principals. They are expected to work full time at their respective schools, and OPEN a new school at the same time?? What??

Opening a new school is more than a full time job in and of itself (ask Debbie Nelson who just opened Jane Addams). The principals must create a school from the ground up which means hiring all staff, purchasing furniture (yes the principal actually has to pick it out and order each piece of furniture), begin to create a school culture, organize before/after school programs, choose curriculum (where there is still some flexibility IE SS, spelling), and thousands of other "details". It's more than a full time job to open a new school, and it's not fair to expect a principal to both open a school and be principal at their current school at the same time. It's not fair to either community, and not fair for the principal either.

Charlie Mas said...

Naming a "co-principal" at Rainier Beach is clearly the first step in replacing Dr. Gary. Despite all of the happy talk about what a marvelous job he has done, the simple facts are that Rainier Beach has not come close to meeting any of the accountability benchmarks for the Southeast Initiative. The consequence of failure was supposed to be closure - that was the talk two or three years ago. By removing Cleveland as an attendance area school, Rainier Beach's closure is no longer an option. That means that the consequence will be "re-structuring". There is no set definition for re-structuring, but it always means replacing the principal.

Judy Peterson has previously served as the principal at the Center School and is therefore an excellent choice as interim.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Per Center, I have no idea what this is about except that they may be easing Mr. Gary out and needed a strong principal. That they picked Center School's principal is interesting. I will note that as I was looking through the Meng report (the outside consultant report on Facilities), they listed RBHS's Performing Arts hall as the finest in the district. Maybe the Superintendent wants it used. Whether Center School is what it is because of its location doesn't preclude it moving to RBHS and reinventing itself to some level. We're reinventing Cleveland. (This is all musing; I don't think they will move Center School.)

I knew they would have to pick strong principals for the reopening schools (but we'll see for Viewlands and Rainier View - they might offer them to their old principals). I do think it very difficult for principals to serve at two schools for 6 months (the Green Lake principal says, in her letter to parents, that that is what she will be doing).

And, of course, now there's the yang of Coe, Green Lake, John Hay and Center being able to give input on their new principals. Input doesn't mean being on the committee but if I were at one of those schools, I'd push for it.

seattle said...

It seems to me that Lisa Escobar would be a great fit for RBHS if the district is moving toward growing RBHS into a performing arts themed school. Not great news for center, but fantastic news for RBHS.

Jet City mom said...

Charlie explanation makes sense to me, while we had toured the center school several times and knew one of the teachers there, they have gone through admin changes as much as many of the schools have in Sps. I'm glad they are at least getting an interim principal from within the community.

But I wish they would put a lot more thought and support into hiring principals/ administrators, because barring actual prison time, we seem to be stuck with those who aren't a good fit for any building, and either have to pay them off to leave or move them into other admin positions.

Sue said...

They are also pulling Ballard High School's Assistant Principal, Sarah Morningstar, and moving her to Ranier Beach as Assistant Principal as well. Effective Immediately.

What is going on down there?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well Keepin' On, with your report, I would say something is definitely afoot.

Chris said...

I'm a Green Lake parent, and I will be curious to see if we get the short end of the stick. Ms. Grinager isn't a warm and fuzzy kind of principal, but she is known for being excellent with the budget and standing behind her teachers. Prospective parents are usually a little taken aback when they tour. ;) It will certainly be interesting come year-end when it's time to plan for next year as we are in flux in some areas.

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to me that the RBHS admin changes are being made NOW because school selections are being made soon. The district knows full well that SE Seattle is full of middle and upper class parents who have in the past or are saying now, "No way, no how" will THEIR kids go to such a bad school, no matter how much it costs them to go with a private option.

The student demographic is about to change mightily at RB and they are pulling in popular, successful admin from North end (mostly) white schools to try and appease the (mostly) white middle and upper class parents of these newly assigned students.

It's got nothing to do with how effective Dr. Gary might be-he is the principal NOW, of "those kids" that scare away the parents the district wants to attract.

This isnt't based on any inside information, just a reading of the blogs and hearing the comments of such people. Will it work? Not likely. People with resources go elsewhere rather than try to make it work, or wait it out to see if there's success. An there you end up with a chicken and egg problem.

It won't improve unless people TRY it, and if they won't try going there, it won't improve. The thing is, kids below the college-bound, high achieving family "standards" need to go SOMEWHERE, it's just that there's a whole contingent of families that will do anything in their power to make sure it's just not with THEIR kids.

Am I anywhere close in my guess, Michael Rice? It's nothing anyone will ever prove, on the record, but these moves are the only hope the district has of getting the SE families of privilege even thinking of signing onto the new SAP.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There's that many white, middle/upper class kids that will be assigned to RBHS? I'm surprised because that isn't exactly what I would think would be their largest demographic. I think the issue is that RBHS will be the SE comprehensive choice and they want to beef it up now.

However, it is just one more in the huge pile of initiatives that Dr. G-J is sending into motion. But I still say effort isn't result.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

S. Seattle is the most diverse part of the city, bar none. It's becoming increasingly white, as more and more people take advantage of the lower housing prices and move down here. The newer residents are thrilled with diverse restaurants (Thai! Vietnamese! Taco Trucks!), and saying they LIVE in such a diverse area, but they don't actually like the PEOPLE here.

There are bloggers lobbying to "just send them all to Kent and Auburn", others who won't set foot outside after dark, others who do not, and have no itention of EVER letting their kids go to a public school down here.

These are loud voices, and they are the ones who are being asked for a buy-in to the new SAP, at a school that none of these people want. In fact, there are some who've rejected RB out of hand, without ever setting foot inside-Franklin too, for that mater.

At this point you can't say "result" because nothing has happened yet. And there won't be a result fast enough for a good buy-in. The thing is, you can't have instant results anywhere, and that seems to be what EVERYONE wants about EVERYTHING the district is doing. How many comments are there across this blog along the lines of "It may work, but I can't risk MY kid, so I'll sit this one out, or I'll go private, or I'll move before I get stuck with this..."

Back to the catch-22.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wouldn't think of it as a Catch 22 if I thought we had a well-thought out plan and not just "what can we do". That's precisely why I worry about STEM. I support it but I think it is rushed, it is taking funding from every which way and I'm not sure I believe it will have the supports in place it needs.

This district has always been about hurry up and rush.

It is sad that people don't consider other schools. RBHS has a great performing arts hall and already has had community support (Broadway Bound) to put on higher quality performances.

Anonymous said...

But Melissa,

It's NOT hurry up and rush. The new SAP is the result of YEARS AND YEARS of parents demanding neighborhood schools, and the result in part, of a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court about the use of the racial tie-breaker and forced assignments to NON-neighborhood schools. This has been coming for YEARS. They looked at neighborhood school options for years before creating this one, and we're STILL whining about it being "too fast".

How many years exactly should it take? Whether it will work or not, whether the principals can do it or not is beside the point of whether it makes sense to start making changes NOW, a good 9 months before the new assignment plan will fill RB with an entirely different set of students. You've seen the posts on your own blog, and I'm sure Charlie can point to others on the South Seattle area blogs, by people who won't send their kids to RB as it is. So now they're trying to change things.

Would that they'd been able to make it "attractive" with the EXISTING population, but this is clearly one of many steps being taken to minimize the complaints about the SAP and "how fast" the changes are being made.

I remember the many quotes when the lawsuit was brought about "predictability" and neighborhood assignments. That was in the early 2000's. "Rushed"? Are you kidding me?

Unknown said...

Here here agibean. One might argue that it has all happened at a glacial pace.

dan dempsey said...

When an action is put into play based on the idea that every school will become a quality school and there is no evidence of a mechanism to make that happen, it is rushed.

When the prerequisites are not in place, things were rushed no matter how long it took.

If a sequential plan can not be completed with the required sequential steps, it is either rushed or a stupid plan.

The SE Initiative's failure hardly makes the district's claim of every school a quality school seem likely.

Start looking at all the schools in Southeast and Southwest (every single one) and try to imagine that each will be a quality school, because that is where families will have to attend if they don't have private school tuition.

Once again the cart is in front of the horse.

dj said...

Agibean, the district projects that with the new SAP, the white population at RBHS is going to rise from 6% to 9% of the school. What is this "completely new population" of students you think the district expects?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Agibean, were we talking about the SAP? I wasn't. And, if you go back through the threads on the SAP, I told people who said "Where did this come from?" exactly what you said - it's been in the works for years.

I am (and we were) talking about new programs. And developing a new program with funding in less than 9 months is not how you provide good programming. That's rushed.

southmom said...

Agibean,

And you know what's going on in my mind re South Seattle schools and my kid's education exactly...how? Have we met? Have you had a conversation with me? Because right now, my kid goes to just about the most diverse school in the district and I'm thrilled with it. Not so thrilled that only 20-something kids took the SAT at RB last year, or that they don't offer a comprehensive slate of classes, or IB, or world languages or that district, or as our last school board member Cheryl Chow personally told me last fall, has neglected South Seattle Schools for 20 years. I know Rainier Beach can be a lot better. How? Because I went there. So really, rather than impunging the motives of people you do not, use your energies to seek equity in education.

Unknown said...

Today's blog post by Rep. Reuven Carlyle of the 36th is about the importance of quality principals and the issue of principal tenure in Seattle.
http://reuvencarlyle36.com/

Gouda said...

I'm not sure I've seen any schools in Seattle take more than 1 year of planning time. All in all, the STEM program still has another 8 months before any students step foot in a STEM classroom; seems like a solid amount of time.

South end parents have every right to feel neglected and angry. Their schools, particularly in the middle and school areas, have been neglected for far too long. Part of that, though, comes from within the community - the pull of particular groups who advocate for the status quo v the groups who want change.

SE Seattle is roughly 1/3 black, 1/3 white, 1/3 Asian. And let's not forget that the nearest residential properties closest to the school are multi-million dollar waterfront properties. It's high time the District create a school that can appeal to all families.

I'm excited to hear more about what's being cooked up.

me said...

I love the people on the south end. There are more of us down here then you think. Nice view, not such nice schools.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Just to be clear, I am tying the principal changes/additions to RB to the SAP. They are interconnected. I don't recall reading anything about a new program going in there-did I miss it? I think the timing is exactly on point for an expected change and influx of new students. If they'd waited until the end of the school year, there would be screaming about how they waited until the end of the year and how the poor incoming people had only 3 months to pull it all together.

Southmom-I don't know you. I DO know that there are people who won't even try a south school without setting foot in any of them, when I've had two of my three kids GO to south-end schools. I DO know people who have kids at both of the most reviled of those schools-Aki and RB-by choice.

My point isn't that the schools are wonderful and everyone should choose them and/or be happy when they get assigned to them next year. What I'm saying is that they DO work for some people and that if more people chose them who were willing to work to improve them, maybe they'd improve. But it's a chicken-egg thing-if people reject them, they don't improve. If there is low enrollment, there's less district incentive to improve them, and fewer people choose them so they don't improve, and so on and so forth.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just got back from a meeting of Successful Schools (the umbrella group for QA/Magnolia). Boy, those people are just reeling from the news of the principal shifts (especially at Hay). A couple of moms said their children were very upset and worried that it might be difficult to rally their parents when they feel somewhat betrayed. The answer was this is for the greater good so that's the way it goes.

Has anyone else heard any feedback?

reader said...

Hasn't the district just played principal musical chairs? What's so wrong with this idea... "new school gets new principal... old school stay the same"? Why should we move a whole bunch of principals out of their schools... and into new ones... so that they are unavailable to their current schools, and so their current school endures a lot of change, along with the new school.

We can talk all we want about the supposed importance of a principal... but the reality is, principal tenure in a building is so short that they hardly matter at all. I've outlived 'em all.

Charlie Mas said...

There are a couple of topics running concurrently on this thread.

First, the game of musical chairs with the principals. It happens every year and every year the communities at the schools that are directly impacted are indignent and the everyone else is indifferent. It's a great lesson in why you should take an interest in the suffering of others. Some day it will be your suffering.

Also, every year the vast majority of the new principal assignments work out just fine. There are exceptions, of course. The more central concern, beyond the personal one that you feel when YOUR school's beloved principal is forced to change schools, is the question of the overall cost/benefit for the District and the long term net benefits for the schools resulting from the changes.

On the one hand, we cannot overstate the impact that a principal has on a school. To a significant degree, the principal sets the school's culture. While there are not as many great principals as we would like to think, there are very few incompetent ones. Some of principal quality is a matter of having a good match. A great principal at one school (with its staff, population, and history) may not be as great at another (and vice versa). So, setting aside the principal quality factor, the question becomes when we trade the benefits of stable leadership for the benefits of new leadership.

To my mind, the benefits of stable leadership are so great that the need for new leadership must be pretty bad for it to outweigh those benefits.

According to the superintendent, improvement takes time. She told the public and the Board that it takes three to five years and that sustained improvement takes more like eight. So shouldn't she allow principals that much time at a school before she expects to see improvement? Has she been allowing them that kind of time? I don't think so.

Additionally, we don't know which principals are being moved because they are requesting it, which are being moved because the District wants them to take on a certain assignment and which ones are being moved because the District wants to get them away from their current assignment.

I think I would like to see a stated policy or procedure from the Superintendent on the legitimate rationale for principal moves and some statement of procedure for matching a principal to a school. A little transparency would go a long way. It would be nice if they would share their thinking.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a second theme to this thread, which is around the District's plans for Rainier Beach.

I live in the South End. There are lots of middle class families here. Many of us have not been drawn to the public schools in our neighborhood, but I see a lot of improvement - at least in the elementary schools north of Graham. The South cluster has a lot of strong schools including Maple, Kimball, Beacon Hill International School, and Dearborn Park. I see Muir as improving and only Hawthorne as searching for a path. As a consequence of the sustained quality of these elementary schools, I'm seeing a lot of promise and improvement at Mercer Middle School. Mercer has added more challenging classes. Students there can now take advanced math. Mercer, you will note, was not included in the Southeast Initiative. This improvement, in turn, will soon be reflected at Franklin and has contributed to confidence in sustained local interest in STEM at Cleveland.

The lesson here is that the key to sustained improvement in student outcomes at middle schools and high schools is to first improve the outcomes for students in elementary schools. Middle schools and high schools cannot graduate high performing students if the students come to the school working below grade level. With students who are not ready to do grade level work, the best the school can hope to do is bring them up to grade level. Three years isn't much time for that task when the students and their families are already de-motivated and the kids have all of the distractions of adolesence. High schools really only have two years to do it (before the 10th grade WASL) and often have even more to overcome.

The effort required to bring low performing students up to grade level is so great that it becomes the central focus for the school and the students working at (or beyond) grade level get the message that this is not the school for them. They and their families seek out other schools that offer the academic opportunities they need.

That leads to the chicken-egg problem. There are no programs for high performing students at these schools, so the schools do not attract high performing students, so there is no demand for those programs at the schools, so the schools do not create the programs.

The Southeast Initiative was supposed to break that cycle and retain these students by creating those academic opportunities - even if the demand for them would not support them.

It hasn't worked. It hasn't worked, in part, because it was so poorly executed. Yes, Rainier Beach added some AP classes, but look how they spent the rest of their Southeast Initiative money - not to round out their academic offerings to provide programming for high performing students. They used it on home visits and supporting the performing arts program. Students and families were not leaving the neighborhood for high school in search of home visits and performing arts programs. They were looking for a full slate of rigorous courses, a safe campus, and a motivated peer group.

And they still are.

Short of creating some sort of school within a school, a College Prep Academy, at Rainier Beach - AN IDEA I DO NOT SUPPORT - there is nothing that the District can do now that would attract these families next year.

Of course, one interpretation is that the District did EXACTLY that by creating the STEM program at Cleveland. It is as if they were saying: here is the school for the high performing, motivated students in the South End. In that case, they are surrendering Rainier Beach to the low performing, unmotivated students.

mkd said...

My kids attend RBHS and I can attest to the fact that Dr. Gary does the best he can. Perhaps his biggest problem is to admit that, despite his efforts, he needs help. How about more teachers? Other ideas: bring in a new math program, provide history books that reflect current history, not the world in 1993 as well as science books. Two overworked and tired counselors are responsible for semester schedules as well as the myriad of problems outside of school that cause good kids to act out. Provide more security so kids feel safer (i.e., the bus stop). How about books for real AP classes? The money spent on transferring principals is better spent on improving current school, curriculum and security. SPS is rushing these bandaid fixes with little thought or research. Has anyone, for example, visited RBHS, gone into classes, talked with teachers and students (good and bad) to implement changes targeted toward this school's particular needs. Even Betty Patu, District 7's board choice, is rarely seen at RBHS (and she used to work there). Cosmetic changes are not going to lure good students from middle class families whereas solid core subjects taught by great teachers in small classes will.

Anonymous said...

mkd-I was hoping you'd respond to this thread, but I thought 1)you put your kids into Blanchett or 2)you were planning on moving back to Cali? What made you decide to stick it out at RB, where you seem so unhappy? I'm genuinely interested, because most of the posts on this blog are from people who have never set foot in the building.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie has it correct. Improvement takes time. When k-4 improves then there is a chance for middle and high school improvement. Remember Gates plan to improve high schools, it was a big flop. Without attention to k-4 high schools will not get much of a fix.

The district refused to fix k-8 math so they adopted a vertical alignment of poor materials k-12. STEM will NOT fix that.

The biggest problem with math at SE High schools is Connected Math at middle schools and the percentage of unstable families.

National Math Advisory Panel. March 2008. A panel of experts assembled by the Department of Education was charged with investigating our American children's poor math scores. The Panel reviewed over 16,000 research studies and concluded: "[a] focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided." (Pg. 22)

So the district places its bets on materials that continually revisit topics year after year without closure. Hiring academic coaches to push a failed plan is insane. Does the board hold anyone responsible? of course not because they approve the selection of these defective materials.

If you wish to see improvement in Seattle schools then start demanding decision making based on relevant data.

Education decision making is about as far away from relevant data as possible at this point in time in Seattle.
Politics rules all.

Most RBHS faculty and staff are valiantly attempting to do the job but the district leadership hampers their job in a huge variety of ways.

seattle said...

"I live in the South End. There are lots of middle class families here. Many of us have not been drawn to the public schools in our neighborhood, but I see a lot of improvement"

As much as we all like to bash MGJ (myself included) you have to give her some credit here. It is under her watch that most of this improvement has taken place. It is under her watch that we have the STEM school, which will serve high performing students in the south end. It is under her watch that something is currently going on at RBHS, no doubt an improvement/restructuring plan.

Does MGJ have faults. Yes, indeed. Her PR is dispicable, her personality is as cold as a fish, and she doesn't always follow through (SE initiative), or listen to community input (Denny/Sealth). But overall this district has moved in a forward direction, at lease in my opinion, under her watch. And she got a new SAP under way to boot.

Charlie Mas said...

Ann, I think you gave the superintendent more credit than she deserves.

I think the improvement at the South cluster elementary schools is entirely attributable to the administration, staff and communities at those schools. Most of the changes that improved them were instituted long before the current superintendent started work.

I think the improvement at Mercer is due largely to the improvement at the elementary schools and the willingness of the administration, staff and community at Mercer to respond to the changing needs of their students.

The superintendent has, however, been here from the beginning of the Southeast Initiative, which was bungled horribly and has been an abject failure. That goes on her plate.

As for the student assignment plan, it is over two years late. Go back and look at the original timeframe for it. That delay is hers to own as well.

The STEM school - which we do not yet have - represents a surrender. The District has acknowledged that they cannot improve the outcomes for Cleveland's students so they are bringing in a more promising group of students instead. By the way, her role for the STEM school, as the leader of the Steering Committee, is to attract private donations to pay for the school. Did you see any private money in the budget for STEM? I didn't.

So far, the superintendent has mostly made plans instead of taking action. Most of her plans are a year or more overdue. Everything is always going to happen "next year". Performance management is coming next year. Curriculum alignment is coming next year. A rational, well considered transportation plan is coming next year. A new teacher contract will be signed next year. The APP curriculum will be ready next year. The SBOC will change next year. The Meany building will be ready next year. The science curriculum will be aligned next year. The Southeast Initiative will show results next year. All elementary schools will have ALOs next year.

Unknown said...

@ Charlie

Yes, RBHS did add AP Human Geo and AP Stats. We have AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Pysch, and AP World just waiting in the wings for funding. I did the purchasing for the AP courses and we were given $25,000 to create a robust system. We had to backfill the purchasing for AP Lit, AP US History, Calculus, and we significantly prepped for AP Physics. I also purchased support material such as pocket Oxford English dictionaries and syn/ant guides. We created the opportunity for robust advanced learned experiences. We are providing strong and varied AP options for students. We have (with no money) started a Shakespeare Academy which is cross-curricular, intesely rigorous, and ground breaking. Shakespeare also happens to be a drama program but that doesn't stop it from being an advanced course.

We have added honors sections of courses and continue to do so within the confines of a small building and the six period day. In fact we just yesterday added a pre-AP section of World History to prep students for Human Geography.

Your comment insinuates that the departments had a large bucket of cash that we wasted but that is not the case. I personally and aggressively negotiated discounts both bulk and special on every item we purchased for advanced learning to maximize the dollars that were spent.

Jennifer said...

Off topic but... Dose anyone have the stats for schools who have pay for k and schools who dont? Im wondering how this will be handled now that school choice is not an option. Can parents be forced into a school and then be expected to also pay up too 300 dollors a month?

h2o girl said...

It's been a long time since my kid was in K, but I believe that schools have to let you in half-day K for free, even if all they have is full day pay for K. You can pull your kid out halfway through the day without paying. Certainly not ideal, but an option. I also recall that K is usually free for free lunch eligible kids.

teresah said...

This is indeed an odd and end. I have only recently gotten involved in the schools on the district level. I've been interested because of the school assignment plan, my son is entering 9th grade next year.
I have given up on all of my upset regarding the SAP but am glad that I found this blog, lots of great info and comments.
I do have one question for you more experienced folks and that involves the superintendent.
Is it just me or is she incredibly rude and uninterested in the people she addresses at these meeting? I saw her last Monday at a PTA meeting at Ingraham and once again she consistently answered questions with a rushed recitation of the district policies as written, very little spontaneous speech. The only time she strayed from this canned presentation was to be hostile towards the math teacher and counselor who voiced their concerns about the new math textbook and the fact that so many kids are entering 9th grade math at Ingraham being totally unprepared to do that level of work. She basically said if you're an adequate teacher you can teach kids who are way behind and when I asked if the district could do some remediation like they will do at Cleveland for other high schools she said that the district plan is for excellence in every school.
I have never encountered such a high profile public servant who so consistently exposes their arrogance. I kept thinking that she has some kind of personality disorder. It is so difficult to believe that she has the children's interests at heart or in mind when she is so unsympathetic to any views but her own.
I realize that I have only been to meetings in the north end, and therefore always wonder if she is thinking "middle class whiners", but I am amazed at her total lack of warmth and ability to really listen to concerns. Defensive, I'd say.
She did call on a student, who had just won the (I think) state debate meet. She got quite an articulate earful from this young woman about both the math textbooks and the excellent quality of math teachers at Ingraham.
It is hard for me to think that a person who behaves in this way can be an adequate administrator, boss or leader. Clearly she has made little headway in her plans to "make every school an excellent school" and so perhaps she's incompetent as well.
Thanks for letting me vent and I'd love to hear a different perspective/insghts about Goodloe-Johnson, she just pushes my buttons.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teresah, I was just asked today about Dr. G-J. My reply is that she has a great skill set to do the work of a superintendent but is not good at the public relations part. Really not good. I think it might have been the Broad Superintendent Charm School she went to. I'm sure listening to parents is pretty low on the list of skills they think could be important.

She has a plan and she doesn't need us to implement it. We need to send our kids to her programs (which may be the fatal flaw in her plan but who knows?)but otherwise, just raise money for the PTA.

What is also interesting is if you ever hear Dr. Enfield speak. They are kind of the good cop/bad cop of the district. Dr. Enfield is enthused and seems glad to be here and wants to interact.

Jennifer said...

Yes families can only send their child for 1/2 the school day and not pay. But the district will not provide transportation. I feel that this is putting low-middle, middle middle class families at a disadvantage. A working parent cant have their child in free public education for only half the day, what do they do for the other half the day? I find it upsetting that anyone should have to pay for public education!

Maureen said...

Abby G, these are from 2008-2009. Sorry about the formatting:

School- Pay for K $/month- FRL Rate

Bagley $215.00 14.4
Broadview/Thomson $0.00 49.9
Greenwood $175.00 47.5
Northgate $0.00 84.9
Olympic Hills $0.00 70
Olympic View $210.00 26.1

Addams $225.00 NA
Bryant $170.00 8.8
Laurelhurst $0.00 10.5
Rogers $165.00 40.8
Sacajawea $215.00 26.6
View Ridge $250.00 2
Wedgwood $200.00 10.6

Adams $0.00 26.3
Day, B.F. $150.00 43.2
Green Lake $230.00 22
Loyal Heights $180.00 8.1
North Beach $160.00 8.2
John Stanford Intl. $170.00 15
West Woodland $220.00 7.4
Whittier $200.00 7.9


Blaine (K-8) $225.00 16.5
Coe $205.00 12.1
Hay, John $220.00 9.3
Lawton $225.00 16.7


Gatzert $0.00 93.6
Leschi $0.00 70.4
Lowell $0.00 42.35
Madrona $0.00 70.8
Marshall, Thurgood C $0.00 44.7
McGilvra $0.00 7.6
Montlake $200.00 8.4
Stevens $150.00 30.7


Beacon Hill $0.00 65.7
Dearborn Park $0.00 76.7
Hawthorne $0.00 75.8
Kimball $0.00 55.8
Maple $0.00 63.1
Muir $0.00 60.8


Brighton $0.00 84
Dunlap $0.00 81
Emerson $0.00 75
Graham Hill Montessori $320.00 48.8
Graham Hill General $0.00 48.8
Wing Luke $0.00 80.2
The New School $0.00 41.9
Van Asselt $0.00 82.3


Alki $175.00 28.8
West Seattle $0.00 78.9
Lafayette $175.00 8.9
Schmitz Park $175.00 7.8


Arbor Heights $0.00 33
Concord $0.00 80.5
Gatewood $0.00 26.6
Highland Park $0.00 73.3
Roxhill $0.00 77.8
Sanislo $0.00 49.5


AS #1 $0.00 38.2
Orca $0.00 29.8
Pathfinder $0.00 34.5
Salmon Bay $0.00 6.4
Thornton Creek $200.00 6.2
TOPSAlternative $75.00 23.5

Several schools started charging in 09-10 (In 08-09 TOPS was $75 to hire a 3rd teacher/aide to reduce effective class size, it's now $275/month for 'pay for K + 3rd teacher).

I don't know if they throw you out if you don't pay. The school does have to pay the District though-so if you don't pay, someone else in your school has to cover the cost.

SolvayGirl said...

I'm not sure how it works at Graham Hill now, but when we were there 11+ years ago, the then principal elected to have the Montessori K essentially be the only for pay program. They had money to fund two free all-day Ks and one 1/2-day. The tuition covered the morning portion of the class (which included 3 and 4-yr-olds for a multi-age class). Admittedly, it was also a smaller afternoon K class (only 16 students).

Joan NE said...

Teresah - The District's official position on math is that the curricular materials don't affect student performance in math assessments. What matters is "instructional quality." This is how the math program manager put it to me on the phone a few weeks ago. Essentially, the district says don't blame the curriculum, blame the teacher. It's unfair to teachers.


MGJ and the leadership she is providing, and the compliance of the Board is much easier to understand if you understand what the Broad Foundation is about, and all the ways in which they are influencing our District. In my view, the Broad Foundation has hijacked the district. Look at what has happened in other Broad Foundation-hijacked districts, and then you will have a good idea of where MGJ is taking SPS.

gavroche said...

Levy question for Melissa and Charlie (and anyone else in the know):

What happens if the BTA levy fails and the District doesn't get the $48 million it's requesting to (re)open those 5 school buildings?

Will the District still be able to (re)open those 5 schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Boy, I'll have to write just one thread about this (just a headline). The district is already borrowing funds from BEX to start (it was on the agenda at the last Board meeting). It is unclear to me for all 5 schools how much has been moved but it has.

In terms of the immediate, if the BTA levy failed, the 5 schools would be the priority. (Nearly every other building project is something that has been deferred so I can't see that there is much immediate cause for alarm.) What the district could do is NOT do the addition at Ingraham under the BEX III money and move that money to get those buildings done. (It is very much in the air whether the Ingraham addition will get done as the district is still awaiting a court ruling from a challenge from neighbors over the grove of trees issue. If they lose, they have said they might shelve the project anyway. I am not advocating this for Ingraham; I'm saying they are already thinking it.)

As I have said, they can bring the levy back anytime this calendar year. (Interesting, I said this at a recent parent meeting and most parents were very surprised but it's true.)

Again, I'll do a separate thread soon, I promise.

Joan NE said...

Texas is opting out of RTT, as is Florida. Why?

TEXAS TELLS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” — BY DONNA GARNER — 1.13.10
http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ metropolitan/ 6813774.html

The Miami Herald (1/13) Florida’s Broward County school board won’t join Race to the Top bid http://www.miamiherald.com/news/5min/story/1421972.html

Houston Chronicle Perry won’t let Texas compete for federal school money By ERICKA MELLON Copyright 2010 Jan. 13, 2010, 2:32PM

Based on its size, Texas could have qualified for about $350 million to $700 million — or $75 to $150 per student.

“Everybody can use money,” said state Rep. Rob Eissler, a Republican from The Woodlands who chairs of the House Public Education Committee. “But if you look at a one-time infusion of $80 per child and then having to change your laws permanently – I think we’re better off doing what we’re doing.”

[...]Bridges said the grant encouraged “draconian” measures to fix struggling schools, such as closing them. She also disagreed with its call to link student test scores to high-stakes personnel decisions — a move the Houston school board plans to make this week.
ericka.mellon@ chron.com

Charlie Mas said...

Theo, thank you for the report on the efforts to provide advanced classes at Rainier Beach High School. It is always good to hear.

Theo also wrote: "Your comment insinuates that the departments had a large bucket of cash that we wasted but that is not the case."

Ah, and that is EXACTLY the point. Rather than spending the money on academics and the departments, the Southeast Initiative money was spent on a lot of other things. Most of it was spent on a stipend for the teachers.

Southeast Education Initiative money went into home visits and professional development, not into providing the academic opportunities that southeast Seattle families want.

No one - no one at the District or at the schools - ever asked the community what would have to change for them to choose Aki Kurose, Rainier Beach or Cleveland. Instead, the District arrogantly assumed that they knew what the community wanted. They were wrong.

I don't doubt anyone's sincerity, but the Southeast Education Initiative has utterly failed to achieve its purpose. No matter what you think you have at Rainier Beach, the objective fact is that less than 13% of the freshmen assigned to Rainier Beach High School this year named it as their first choice, and that percentage is DOWN from previous years.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie always brings up this point of why the district never asks communities with struggling schools what they want or how they view the situation. I pointed this out yesterday when I sat down with a couple of editorial board members of the Times.

We were talking about STEM and I said look, I think STEM sounds great but is it what that community said would draw them back? No one asked. STEM is being developed as an OPTION draw for students throughout the city. I guess the idea is that students/parents who want a comprehensive high school will choose either RBHS or Franklin or any other school that has room (I suspect Ingraham will be full from the new SAP. Just a guess but I think so.).

It's a simple two-part question. Why don't you attend your local high school? What would draw you in?

suep. said...


1/14/10 12:55 AM
Blogger Melissa Westbrook said...

Boy, I'll have to write just one thread about this (just a headline). The district is already borrowing funds from BEX to start (it was on the agenda at the last Board meeting). It is unclear to me for all 5 schools how much has been moved but it has.


Thanks for the info, Melissa. But what does that mean? Is the District borrowing against money it doesn't yet have (the BTA levy we haven't yet voted on)?

Or has it moved existing BTA funds from one project to this new project of reopening 5 schools?

If the former, isn't that fiscally risky?

If the latter, isn't that yet another example of the District reneging on promises and ignoring its maintenance backlog?

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Why do you not like the idea of home visits? Honestly, if there are students performing below average at RB (or anyplace else), chances are some insight to their home life might help improve things? I would think home visits might be very helpful!

FWIW, when we were at the New School, they did home visits. The home visit from the teacher that first year was very valuable, as it gave my daughter and the teacher a chance to get to know each other a bit, and for the teacher to get a sense beyond the records, of what our daughter could do academically.

I'm think if you have a teacher go to the home of say, a failing highschooler, or a immigrant high schooler, or a kid with his 3rd or 4th foster family-you're going to learn things you simply can't from a kid's school transcripts and records.

Whether or not the SE Initiative is working or not, I think this portion of it is a good idea.

suep. said...

Speaking of broken promises, word on QA hill is that the District has already broken two to the QA/Magnolia school community.

The Supt. said Old Hay would be an international school. In a survey of parents in the cluster, 70 percent of respondents said they would prefer an international school (the rest preferred Montessori). Apparently the Supt/District has now reversed itself and is now saying it'll be Montessori.

This echoes what Melissa has been saying about STEM at Cleveland: If the District wants buy-in from the community to make these neighborhood schools work, why doesn't the District listen to what the communities want?

Especially when it's an utterly reasonable request like an international school.

Also, Principal David Elliott was promised an assistant principal at Coe immediately to help him out, since MGJ is asking him to work on reopening Old Hay AND running Coe at the same time and right now.

Apparently MGJ has reneged on that promise too.

Here's what I don't understand about all this: Does the District want these new schools to succeed or not?

If it does, it needs to give people like Mr. Elliott -- who is a huge asset to the District -- all the support and help he needs to make this new school strong and desirable, or no one will choose it (especially when it won't even be located in the cluster for its first year), and it'll be a bust.

mkd said...

I know that I told all we were leaving mid-year, legal issues with my ex have delayed us until July or August. We have also chosen to forgo California because has become, like Seattle, too expensive. We're moving to either Hillsborough, NC or Chapel Hill, NC. My kids will be enrolled at Cedar Ridge or East Chapel Hill, both excellent schools, comparable to Garfield.

Another reason, my older son was recently diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Though he will finish the year at RBHS, the school is just too far for him to journey to.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gavroche, they "borrowed" the money from BEX and will repay it from BTA III. Look, they haven't lost a levy in decades so they obviously feel very secure in movement of money.

(To their credit the South Shore project came in under budget and I suspect that's where the money is coming from. So it's not coming from a project. Also, there is a roof failure at Bailey-Gatzert that will cost $1M to replace and that money is coming from there as well. Our district paid Meng for a facilities report but required them to only look at blueprints and a from-the-ground visual of the roof. So, naturally, they missed this huge problem at Bailey-Gatzert which is now at the critical stage.)

Please understand: levy and bond money, once voted for, can be spent on any project they choose whether it was on the list presented to the public or not. Now, it's in their best interests to do what is on the list but they have diverged in the past either when they needed one project's money or if they changed their minds.

As to whether the district wants these reopened schools to work, well, they do but they believe (and I see this more and more) that people believe they have no real choice anymore and will just show up. (I saw this at a recent parent meeting where one mom was convinced you "had" to go to your attendance high school.)

Also, STEM is Dr. G-J's main focus for the new SAP. The dollars and a lot of energy are going there. (This is not to say that people in the district like Pat Sander aren't working very hard but she's one person working on, what? 3 schools?) So as Dr. G-J told the Board, "there are priorities". The reopening schools and their programs will have to wait a year or two for real district attention. The principals are left with the Ed Directors to try to put together a good basic school. This is my perception.

mkd said...

Glad I was missed . . .
AGBEAM, I missed you too.
Staying in Seattle was the better choice for my boys. Moreover, the pressure from family and friends down there as well as up here made us reconsider what seemed like a rash and unwise decision the closer January came. We, my kids and I, decided it is better to finish the school year. Come summer, we are moving out-of-state to a place where life is a bit cheaper, going back to small town life. One other perk about North Carolina, they have some of the most cutting edge research being conducted regarding MS and JVA. We can also get a place and bring home our big "puppy" farmed out when we moved.

As for RBHS, it is evident that RBHS has improved this year. In fact, if you discounted the "rowdy" element, I believe test scores would rapidly improve as well. It is hard to learn when half of the room is talking, taunting or texting. as well as those misbehaving simply for the sake of bothering the class. Most teachers have abandoned text books altogether and copy lessons from a variety of sources. My kids often meet with teachers on their own time to ask questions or for extra work. Mr. Dyson, the music director, managed to talk my kids into learning flute. I thought they would hate it. instead, they sounded pretty good in the little winter show, poorly attended. Mr. Dyson managed to corral and teach kids to play together on different instruments in a matter of three months.

For my boys, Mr. Dyson has also taught them to read music. Though they were very talented, one plays piano, fiddle and guitar and the other plays Irish and rock guitar and piano, they have always played by ear. They now read music, which has expanded their personal practice and public performances. And they will play in the band next semester.

RBHS is far from perfect. Some classes are being taught by teachers who are not fluent a subject, or even aware how long regular schoolwork takes, not to mention teachers who assign papers (3-5 pages to be completed overnight. It is no wonder that students choose not to do the assignment, especially when they have never been taught to write a paragraph or the basic five paragraph essay.

Finally, RBHS turned out to be the best choice for two home schooled kids to learn in a group where the dynamic was often unpredictable. This year they have learned how to make friends, how to deal with bullies, accountability to someone other than a parent and how to work with a team to find the best answer. Much of what they are doing this year is busywork, covering subjects they already know. Still not a bad thing, this year has been more about learning how to go to school.

mkd said...

Sprucing the high school up and adding more admin to make RBHS more palatable to prospective neighborhood students will not change public perception.

Maggie Hooks said...

a new addition to the list of principal changes -- Kaaren Andrews is moving from Madrona to Interagency Academy: http://madronapantherpartners.org/Downloads/2010013_Principal_Change_Madrona.doc.pdf

Joan NE said...

After consulting with many people and getting some very good advice, especially from Chris S., as well as from Dora T., Sue P., and others, I have decided to go through with preparing a Voters' Pledge for the BTA III Levy. The pledge will be disseminated online, if not also via personal solicitations door-to-door and in public venues. The pledge encourages the District to create a BTA III oversight Committee "with teeth."

By signing the pledge, the voter is saying two things 1. I will vote in favor of the BTA III levy proposal if the Board will agree to the provisions of this petition. 2. I feel that the levy has more chance of passing if the District will agree to the provisions of this petition.

The provisions describe the charge, membership, and powers of the Committee, and ask the Board to declare itself legally bound to abide by the provisions of the petition.

I am very interested in feedback (positive or negative) on the final draft of the petition. If someone can give me a very good reason to NOT go through with this, I sure want to hear it! The provisions are set up so that Dora Taylor's concerns are addressed nicely.

Lori said...

gavroche said "Especially when it's an utterly reasonable request like an international school."

this is an honest question here, but is it really utterly reasonable to expect an international school to open in just 6-8 months and be fully functional and successful in the long term? Are there enough teachers available who are native speakers of another language or at least fully fluent? Is there a critical mass of QA/magnolia neighborhood children who are bilingual and can serve as peer support in the classroom? There's a very concerning post on Harium's blog about making JSIS a neighborhood school and having it essentially lose some of these bilingual children in the future because they live outside the new boundaries.

I really don't know the answer, but it seems to me that starting an international school would require much much more effort than starting a Montessori or traditional program. Sure, maybe the neighborhood asked for it, but that doesn't make it feasible.

Central Mom said...

Wow. That's big news for Madrona.

It sounds as though the District may have listened to the discontent over last year's principal hiring that did not have community input. This is from the pdf of the Madrona announcement:

We will ensure
time for a smooth transition of leadership from Ms. Andrews to your new principal.
As a first step, Ruth Medsker, your instructional director, will arrange to meet with you
to gather information about the qualities and characteristics that you desire in a leader
for your school. We will let you know about the timeline and other steps in the process
as soon as that is determined.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That letter from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is the friendliest I've ever heard her. And, according to the letter, parents will be able to be part of the principal selection process. Good idea.

Maureen said...

I wonder if it would be possible for Madrona neighborhood people with preschoolers to be involved in defining what they want in a principal--after all, they are the future of the school community.

TechyMom said...

Wow. That is big for Madrona. Replacing Ms. Andrews is the most effective thing I can think of to get neighborhood families interested in this school. Interagency is a good match for her strengths with at-risk kids.

I think that leaves Gazert as the only underperforming school in Central/Washington with no recent intervention. Gazert, with the elementary BOC, would be an ideal location for a language immersion program.

SolvayGirl said...

Starting a Montessori school from scratch is no easy task either. There is not an overabundance of teachers certified to teach Montessori AND to teach in Washington state above the pre-school level. There's not even many schools that offer the Montessori training/certification for elementary level. Then there's the cost of Montessori materials to consider.We always had a difficult time finding teachers at Graham Hill. Once we got one, we did all we could to keep them.

Maggie Hooks said...

Re: Madrona principal selection -- I'm the mom of a pre-kindergartener and have been organizing in the neighborhood for a few months. Our group has been in contact with Susan Enfield over that time. She previously offered us a community meeting but has put it off (I'm assuming because of this). I've now asked for neighborhood families to also have an opportunity to speak with Ruth Medsker during the principal selection process and I feel pretty confident we will be included. For the record, I should say I wasn't advocating for KA to move on, but this will be a positive turn of events for some families who viewed her as a deal breaker.

Maggie Hooks said...

I should add that anyone in the Madrona neighborhood interested in being involved, particularly folks with preschoolers, should contact me at maggiehooks@hotmail.com

mkd said...

Colleges often routinely have new class offerings up every semester to add variety to curriculum to attract new students.High school like RBHS can also do so, if teachers were given time away from the drudge of policing problem children and/or babysitting kids who need more help than one teacher with a class of 30-40 students can provide. Counselors could, but two cannot fulfill that need. They are too busy straightening out and/or planning schedules.

Charlie Mas said...

agibean wrote:

"Charlie,

Why do you not like the idea of home visits? Honestly, if there are students performing below average at RB (or anyplace else), chances are some insight to their home life might help improve things? I would think home visits might be very helpful!
"

First, I have nothing against home visits. It's just that home visits were part of the Flight School grant and should not have been paid for from Southeast Initiative money. The home visits, whatever their virtue, does not advance the purpose of the Southeast Initiative and therefore should not be funded by it.

Charlie Mas said...

How much attention will STEM get from Susan Derse now that she is the interim principal of Interagency Academy?

Maureen said...

Dr. Enfield visits Olympic View Elementary PTA on Thursday, the 14th at 6:30 p.m. if you've been wanting to hear her speak or ask a question.

Can someone report on this meeting? Was there an agenda?