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Thursday, January 14, 2010

School Tours: So Now You Know

From the article in this week's Seattle Weekly's by Nina Shapiro:

"The district, which first denied to SW that it is scaling back tours, later conceded that it is doing so after being told about principal remarks like Carter's. "We believe that as the new assignment plan is implemented, the need that families feel to visit multiple schools will probably decrease," said spokesperson Patti Spencer-Watkins."

The ink on the plan is barely dry. The Board hasn't voted on the transition plan. So I'm thinking the district is just a little ahead of itself except, of course, if they want to give parents the impression that they have NO choice in schools. That, of course, is wrong.

"Some tours will still happen, although they have been confusingly renamed "visits." But many schools will only offer one or two, instead of four or five or more, as used to be the case. The district has made this change quietly and without explanation."

It's interesting because this month's Schoolbeat reports:

"Daytime school visits will also be offered and a schedule will be published soon."

So what I was told was that the principals met with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and she either said no tours or maybe tours but only after Open Houses. No matter what she said, her message was to minimize tours. Unfortunately for her, some principals either:
  • didn't get the message and have scheduled the regular 3-4 tours plus the Open House
  • realized what NOT having tours would mean to them and the school secretaries i.e. lots of confused and upset parents calling them daily
But really, here's the crux of the matter:

"which first denied to SW that it is scaling back tours, later conceded it is doing so..."

There have been tours in this district as far back as I can remember. Not all schools had them but usually only because they had no PTA or parents to do them.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is certainly within her rights as Superintendent to say "no tours or just one". However, she is being disrespectful to both staff and parents by NOT announcing this outright. If it's so important to the SAP and yet it is totally different from what has been done in the past, wouldn't you think it would be announced?

No, she wants this SAP to roll out her way. To me, this is a throwdown to the Board. They should tell her, in no uncertain words, that again, she has the right to decide how the plan rolls out AND they don't want to micromanage every detail but she has to do it with transparency and in consideration to what has gone on in the past.

If they do not let her know this (and I would prefer in public so that we all know it happens), then she will take this as a sign of weakness from the Board. I know I will because that means that she will treat parents with disrespect and a lack of consideration. I plan on mentioning this at the Board community meetings this weekend (Carr, DeBell and Sundquist).

You better believe she walked through several schools looking for a place for her own child. Everyone deserves that option and if not, at least the notification about any change.

(Update: one odd thing. I've done a little spot-checking of Open Houses at various schools. What is odd is that some schools are advertising them as open houses for current families while others as open houses for visitors. It could be one busy night if both groups show up.)

12 comments:

Chris S. said...
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Chris S. said...

We parents have been providing the resources for tours for so long that it's absurd for MGJ to think she has any authority whatsoever over whether they happen. She ain't MY boss.

Shannon said...

I wondered about this comment from Principal King in the Lowell Note today:

"Finally, I have been so excited about the progress we have made that I prematurely set tour dates that were way too early. We have changed the dates in an effort to allow district student assignment letters to reach incoming parents. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. The updated tour dates are listed below.

SUMMARY OF LOWELL TOURS
Tours are held from 9:45am-11:15am:
Tuesday 2/2, Tuesday 2/23, Tuesday 3/23 and Thursday 3/25.
Evening Open House for prospective families: Thur. Feb. 11 6:30 – 8:00pm"

I presume this is because tours are aimed at students who may attend? I couldn't really understand it myself.

Anonymous said...

I have a son entering kindergarten next year. I will be touring our reference school and a few others. I can't imagine walking my child into a new school next year without having experienced the school for myself.

SE Mom said...

I have noticed that quite a few high schools have both open house and tour dates posted on their websites. Some of the school make it clear they are expecting 8th graders to be the main audience.
Seem to be one open house per school and two different tour dates.

Also wanted to say that I have heard some positive comments recently about the Franklin community - several adults who work as consultants in the district say they look forward to being at Franklin in particular. Their observation is that there is more mixing of different ethnic groups at Franklin than at other high schools.

gavroche said...

Wrote Melissa: "Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is certainly within her rights as Superintendent to say "no tours or just one".


Really? Why is that? What gives her so much unilateral power to limit our information about one of the most important choices we can make in our children's lives -- the schools we choose for them?

Who the heck does she think she is?

Moreover, what is she trying to hide? Mightn't this also mean there may be some schools she doesn't want parents to see too much of for fear they won't choose them at all?

Seattle Public Schools -- "public" means the people. That's us. These are our schools and we have a right to see them.

Have we had enough yet of this imperial superintendency?

lendlees said...

Shannon--

The Lowell tours have been historically for kids who have tested into APP and their parents are trying to decide whether to send them or keep them at their current school.

The dates originally set were probably based on the dates used last year and come after letters are sent to parents.

This year the tours are for prospective APP families as well as the ALO population, so some of the dates had to get moved out to accommodate the NSAP.

At least he put a nice positive spin on the change.

Central Mom said...

I heard Bryant said "forget that" and is actively leading (not open house) tours. True?

Unknown said...
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Charlie Mas said...

We got a letter with a flyer mailed to our home today inviting our 8th grade daughter to visit Chief Sealth High School at an open house on the 21st or for a tour on February 4th or 23rd.

Maureen said...

Just out from the TOPS 'Go Home':

Tours are scheduled:

Kindergarten Feb. 24

Grades 1-5 March 2

Middle School March 4

Kindergarten March 9

All of the tours will be from 9:30 - 11 am.

BL said...

I noticed yesterday that a list of school tour dates is now up on the SPS website.