Disqus

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cleveland, Failing Schools, and STEM

Hello

According to an article in the Seattle Times, Cleveland is on the list of the state's lowest performing schools, making them eligible for up to $2 million per year in grants. I am wondering if this grant money could be used to fund STEM or NTN or whatever is happening to Cleveland, and the $800,000 that is planned on being spent could be used at the other SE schools to mitigate staff losses and to add programs at ALL levels to increase student achievement?

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011233526_seattlelist03m.html

30 comments:

psf said...

Isn't it more plausible that schools staff has known that Cleveland would be in the failed schools category for months?
There has been considerable speculation that STEM either cost too much or needed more money.
This would appear to be the solution they've been working on for some time.

It also seems like good planning in that bringing in a new program, and new, highly motivated students will ensure that Cleveland won't be in the failed schools category for long.

If this is the directors signature program, I'd be a little surprised if budgeted money got for it was moved elsewhere.

steve in west seattle said...

I find it unconscionable that West Seattle Elementary is being restructured for poor academic performance less than a year after the district closed Cooper Elementary without considering WS for closure.

One of the guidelines for the closure process was supposedly academic performance and specifically performance with under-served populations like ELL and FRL.

Just one more shortsighted decision by SPS.

hschinske said...

If this is how they were planning to pay for STEM, then why did they never say so?

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

It does seem plausible that the staff and board were quietly working under this assumption. But who knows. If they were, I bet they weren't allowed to say anything, maybe that would jinx it.

On Harium's blog thread on STEM, he gets a little touchy and says:

"We are trying to transform Cleveland and we believe that this is the way to do this."

The formality of that language seemed odd, but a week later it no longer seems odd. And sure, the Feds only care about transforming the building, not the kids, so STEM will work. Kinda like having a shovel-ready project for stimulus bucks.

Funny thing is, what I've been reading in environmental and other watchdog sites is that the reason a project is "shovel-ready" but not yet underway is most likely because it is controversial and being held up due to EIS or other legitimate concerns. So a fast track stimulation is more likely to push though projects that ought not be pushed through.

Seems a bit like Cleveland and STEM. It's a great idea to have such a magnet school in Seattle, but the fast track timing, the location which is not ideal for commuting, the lack of thoughtful buy-in from STEM professionals... all points to a rush to have something shovel ready for federal bucks, but does not point to creating a high quality program.

Another aspect I haven't thought about or dug into. From all of Dan's research, it seems like the NTN schools often have a high proportion of FRL students. Now if the program really helped such at-risk kids, that'd be great, but his research also shows they do not perform as well as similar populations in the same district.

What I want to know is: are these schools magnet schools? Are they designed for at-risk kids in particular? Cleveland STEM is not so designed. Sure, they expect to have extra resources for kids who are behind, but they expect an influx of middle class kids who are already achieving well to choose the school. To choose it over Ballard or Roosevelt or Garfield.

Do other NTN schools attract the kinds of kids CHS STEM is hoping to attract?

h2o girl said...

Danny Westneat's column today has an interesting take on this funding. I heard the woman he mentions, Diane Ravitch, on NPR yesterday. What a breath of fresh air she is. Finally, someone at the national level (and from the Bush administration, no less) who is saying that high stakes testing and privatizing and corporatizing the public schools is the wrong idea.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Diane Ravitch is an education hero to me. I would recommend her books. She also writes opinion pieces everywhere so you can Google her name and find her writing.

So if Cleveland is getting fed money plus BTA funds ($2.6M) plus funding from the district, how much is this all costing us in the end?

ParentofThree said...

What if they don't get the grant money?

Dorothy Neville said...

There's an article about Diane Ravich in today's New York Times as well. Reading it I found a book title I have been looking for for years!

I read The Language Police years ago, I think Jay Mathews of The Washington Post recommended it. But I forgot the title and author and my seaching lead nowhere. An excellent book that goes into lots of detail about how special interest groups water down the curriculum and more. I had no idea how much politics went into the literary selections of the reading portions of standardized tests. This book explained how that works, and the upshot is that the sample passages tend to be very dull, which can affect the scores. Ditto with the reading passages of language arts textbook literary passages.

wsnorth said...

Re: West Seattle Elementary.

When I first saw the new boundaries for West Seattle Elementary my immediate thought was "they are purposefully overloading this school with lower income kids" - it would have been so easy to draw that area to include more mixed incomes. But no, I thought, that would be evil, cynical self, why would they do that???

wsnorth said...

That said, it would be great if the money would help. Whether the situation is a setup or not, the kids deserve a fair choice... or at least a fair chance.

Anonymous said...

Part 1:

I'm just going to say here that Diane Ravitch is awesome.

I bought her book yesterday, hot off the presses, and plan to give a copy to each of our school board directors. It will balance out the readings that they have received during their retreats from the Broad Foundation by way of Tom Payzant.

On another note, I gave testimony tonight about the Performance Management Policy 2.0 that is being put forward by our superintendent and is to be voted on by the school board in mid-March. It is regarding school closures and/or restructuring of a school.

My sources of information are listed under the heading of "Arne Duncan" at:
http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

Of particular note is the article at:
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/23_03/arne233.shtml

(See Below)

Anonymous said...

(Continued from above)

The testimony went as follows:

Because of the time limitation, I will speak to one item on the Performance Management Policy 2.0. The wording in the policy goes as follows:

“Schools that have three years of low growth and sustain low absolute performance will be subject to one or more of the following actions taken by the Superintendent:” (The one that I will be referring to is…)
“Close and/or reconstitute the school”

First of all we know that there are no quick fixes or “bumper-sticker solutions” as one blogger stated, for what has been created over the years by social inequity and schools impoverished by lack of funding from the Federal and State governments.

Closing a school can devastate a community and there is no data at present that proves that these drastic measures even work.
But first let’s see where these ideas originated.

Up until 1991, Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, played pro basketball in Australia. In 1992, Duncan became director of the Ariel Education Initiative in Chicago, he moved up to Deputy Chief of Staff for the former Chicago Public Schools CEO. Then in 2001, Mayor Daley appointed Duncan to serve as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. During his tenure there he also became basketball buddies with the now President Obama. Secretary Duncan has no experience teaching a class or managing a school.

Under Duncan’s control of the Chicago school district, the Chicago Public School system endured a relentless wave of school closings, privatization, militarization, union busting and blaming teachers for the problems of urban schools.

Between 2001 and 2008 Chicago's public schools, under Arne Duncan’s leadership, closed 75 schools and eliminated the jobs of approximately 2,000 teachers and principals, the majority of them being African American.

The only people who seem to benefit from this were the charter school franchises, testing companies and the developers who needed to restructure a large portion of the Southside of Chicago referred to as the Mid-South which was an historic African American community. This community ran parallel to the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation which required the dismantling of public housing and which Arne Duncan referred to as his Renaissance 2010 plan which was actually the Mid-South plan.

Mr. Duncan has stated on several occasions that his Renaissance 2010 plan was a success but in reality it was just a little fizzle. During his time as CEO, Chicago public schools’ 4th-grade math NAEP scores rose from 214 to 222 (out of 500 points), or 8 points. In Washington, they went from 205 to 220, a rise of 15 points. The average large city math score went from 224 to 231, a 7-point gain.

Also during that time, Chicago’s 8th-grade math NAEP scores rose by 10 points, Washington DC’s 8th-grade scores rose by 8 points, and the average for large US cities rose by 9 points.

That was a lot of pain for very little gain.

We have already seen what happened in this scheme called “school transformation” or “turnaround”. It didn’t work then and there is no reason to consider it here in Seattle.

“When all else fails” as a education reformer stated, “You have to take drastic measures”

The problem is that we have not tried “all else”.

“All else” is funding schools adequately by the State and Federal Government, smaller class sizes, retaining teachers not riffing them particularly when enrollment is increasing and taking a more thoughtful and respectful approach by including our communities, our students, parents and educators in the process of transforming our schools.

(As an additional note, during Duncan's time as CEO with the Chicago Public Schools, he developed a close relationship with the Broad Foundation. According to the Broad Foundations website in February of 2009, the "Districts with largest foundation investments: Chicago; Oakland, Calif.")

dan dempsey said...

Hey Gang,

Very nice job with the speculating.

Race to the Top ... RttT who knew what and when???

I have no idea but KnowledgeWorksFoundation acquired New Technology Network about a year and a half ago. I believe ....They plan to take this network of 41 schools to 500 with in the next 5 years.

RttT is big on requiring failing schools to be restructured ... seemingly just like Cleveland.

Remember that MGJ sits on the Broad board. This STEM option plan did not come from the traditional Cleveland community. Not even Princess Shareef had a hand in this decision. It came straight from the top. ...... but ... but ..

What about community engagement and shared decision making???

So what about them?

.... Was that new Cleveland just stolen from the community so that the students could be replaced?

dan dempsey said...

RttT = Current Reality Bites!!

as written in EdNews.org

by Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Charlie Mas said...

I will say that it wasn't until I researched Hawthorne as the District's selection as the site for elementary Spectrum for the Mercer Service Area that I discovered the depth of the failure there. That school is either at the bottom or next to the bottom of all elementary schools in the district on just about every meaningful measure.

The school is an abject failure - and therefore the ideal location for Spectrum... NOT!

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the post with the outcomes for Hawthorne.

seattle said...

Totally off topic, and sorry to post this in this thread, but it's good information.

The Shoreline School district which adopted the Prentice Hall math texts last year (traditional math) are now in the process of choosing a new set of K-5 math materials/texts to align with their HS materials!

The materials that they are considering are Math Connects, Math Expressions, and enVisionMath. Thirty Shoreline teachers on the Math review teams will field test and evaluate lessons from the three sets of materials and report back to the math achievement team (MAT) . Parents and community members are invited to view and evaluate the math materials during the month of March at the Instruction Department at the Shoreline Center.

You rock Shoreline!

beansa said...

dr. gj is on 97.3 fm right now, fyi. they are talking about the performance review, collaborative process, talking point, blah blah blah.

Unknown said...

Who do I contct about submitting en entry for possible posting?

Laurelhurst Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Laurelhurst Parent Alli,

Any of the contributors listed on the right side of the home page can create a post to the blog. Many of them, myself included, have their email address shown in their profile.

You can send an email to a contributor and ask them to create post or to post something for you.

Stu said...

That school is either at the bottom or next to the bottom of all elementary schools in the district on just about every meaningful measure.

That's exactly why they originally planned to put APP there; they could raise the building test scores, and piggyback some extras, without actually helping any of the students there.

stu

gavroche said...

re: Hawthorne Elem.
Blogger Stu said...

That school is either at the bottom or next to the bottom of all elementary schools in the district on just about every meaningful measure.

That's exactly why they originally planned to put APP there; they could raise the building test scores, and piggyback some extras, without actually helping any of the students there.


Yep. And similar reasons for putting half of elementary APP in Thurgood Marshall, a cohousing situation which, btw, isn't working out so well from what I've heard.

(Some history: http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2008/11/school_closure_bombshells.php)

But then, the District has drawn the NSAP boundaries around Thurgood so tight that very few neighborhood kids will be able to attend anyway, leaving the school to become almost or entirely APP. (This was the plan all along confessed Michael DeBell way back in 2008.)

And there you have it -- Alakazam! Thurgood has been "turned around"!

Same for T.T. Minor. Essentially merged into Lowell -- though a large number of TTM families chose to go elsewhere because the District provided no transportation for their displaced kids to get to their assigned school (Lowell) and then childcare was not legally permitted in the building because it doesn't meet safety code (no sprinklers). As many as 60 TTM kids opted not to go to Lowell at the last minute this year for this reason.

Where did all the T.T. Minor kids end up?

Did anyone catch the poignant testimony at Weds. night's School Board meeting of the little girl from Cooper who is now being bused to Lafayette? Evicted from her own school (Cooper), her community disbursed, she's now in an overcrowded school where she feels unwelcome.

What is the status of all the Cooper kids the District evicted with its "Capacity Management" fiasco (close 5 schools just to open 5 schools one year later!)?

How about the T.T. Minor kids? And the AAA and Summit kids?
And how are the APP splits and co-housing working out?

Does the District know? Does it even care?

Many of the kids displaced by the closures ("Capacity Management Plan") were less privileged kids of color -- the very kids the District claims to care about when it wrings its hands over the "achievement gap."

But as Stu points out, what has it done to help these students?

Cleveland STEM may be yet another example of this district shell-game. The struggling kids who need help will most likely not be in the STEM program. They will likely leave Cleveland altogether. Will the District track these kids, see where they go, how they are doing? Or will the District merely declare that it has "turned around" Cleveland HS, when in fact all it really did was squeeze out the kids who were there and replace them with other kids?

Looking back at all the turmoil in this District in these past few years, I think it's fair to ask: Have all the endless changes imposed on our schools and kids under Supt. G-J's management made our schools better or worse than they were before?

Or to ask this another way: Are our schools and kids better off now than they were three years ago?

I think the answer, for most in SPS, is clearly: No.

At what point do we say the "Strategic Plan for Excellence" is failing?

In fact, it is destroying positive elements of our school district that we used to have and replacing them with turmoil and mediocrity.

Charlie Mas said...

Yea gavroche!

Here's that link.

Charlie Mas said...

There is an unmistakable pattern of improving school test scores by importing high performing students rather than improving the test scores by improving the quality of education provided to the students already in the school.

The District had already selected Hawthorne as the Spectrum site for the Mercer Service Area - against all logic, data, recommendations, and policy - as an effort to bring high performing students into the building.

The Board's inability or unwillingness to see this pattern is disturbing.

seattle citizen said...

Here's the root of the problem, still:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/education/03ravitch.html

Diane Ravitch has called BS on the national trend of "reform," noting that charters don't help, standards are dumbed down...

SAYING things will, or have, changed for struggling students merely by shuffling them around, or into uniforms, is NOT the same as actually addressing their needs, which are many and complicated.

"Transformation" (closing a school, reopening it with a whole new population) does nothing to identify individual needs of students and assist them.

"Standards" (percentages, groupings, a bunch of numbers now, with little attention to breadth or the knowledge and skills schools REALLY teach, or used to) are easily manipulated to show "progress" along with these "transformations."

Couple this with the relentless attack on educators, now broadened to include EVERY educator, good or bad, and we see a) the destruction of true education, and b) the destruction of teaching as an honored and respected avocation - really, in a "standards-based transformed school," who needs dedicated, flexible, broadly knowledgeable educators with large took-kits, ready to identify and act on a myraid of issues that present every day, every hour? Just give a warm body the test-prep script. Students that don't meekly follow instruction are removed. What DID happen to the students at Cooper, the students at TT Minor, MLK, Marshall, Summit...

seattle citizen said...

Yes, I saw the woman and her child testify about having to move from Cooper to Lafayette...One of the post poignant and moving testimonies I've seen.

I wonder what action was taken after her testimony?

Anonymous said...

The final move that does not happen here but has happened in most of the other states is that charter schools replace the schools that are either closed or "transformed". It has become an industry. Because DGJ is not able to do that here, yet, she has no alternative for now but to move the pieces around on the chess board.

This is the reform movement in a nutshell.

Bash the unions, make the teachers appear to be "ineffective" to the general public, close schools that are "failing" (although it's society that has failed the schools)and establish charter schools.

I suppose because we don't allow charters here, we're getting some configuration of a magnet school.

And yes, the national trend has been that the students who were struggling at the schools that were closed do not get into or stay in the charter schools (usually because of low test scores)and end up back in another public school. But...Arne Duncan, the Broad and Bill Gates don't keep those sorts of stats. That would reflect a failure on their part to deal with the problem in a substantive manner.

Anonymous said...

About this plan for excellence that DGJ brought with her, when will we be able to see how the district, basically our superintendent, has measured up to its' own standards?

This is actually not a rhetorical question.

Is there a process in place when these milestones are formally reviewed by the board?

Anonymous said...

I should add to my previous post that the reason for the union bashing is because charter schools do not hire union teachers. They do not allow union teachers. The charter schools, to keep their cost down and profits up, hire young, inexperienced teachers right out of school (Teach for America is a prime example of inexperienced, non-union teachers that have not graduated from a certified program but are hired by charter schools)and require them to work longer hours, including Saturday's, for less pay.

The term "ineffective teachers" or "performance pay" or "evaluating a teachers effectiveness based on the students' performance" is in regards to merit pay or termination of that teacher or the principal responsible for that teacher based on a student's test scores. And that is where MAP comes in.

The management policy that the superintendent has introduced to the board (to be voted on March 17th) see:

http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/performance-management-policy-2-0

relates to a teacher's performance based on test scores and according to the supe's interview with Dave Ross yesterday,

http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=112&cmsid=90

we already have that evaluation system in place thanks to the generosity of the Gates' Foundation who helped develop the MAP test. (A test that students have already learned how to "game").

Now, the superintendent will say that there are several different factors that will be involved in rating a teacher but looking at how this has played out in other states and how the Broad Foundation, who considers our superintendent a "Broad Superintendent" rather than a superintendent of Seattle, (see their published report for 2009), has handled this, the teacher is evaluated on student testing and little else. That is key to the Broad and Gates' agenda. Everything is determined by test scores and nothing else.

Why is this? Because for now, a charter school's success is based on test scores. If a charter school can prove to a district that they are "successful" which is determined by these scores, they can remain in place and continue to be funded. That is why charter schools do not accept special ed students or students who they don't think will "succeed". If a student's test score does not meet their standard, they are expelled and sent back into the public school population.

That's where the notion of "student assessment" (testing) comes into play and is so critical to this formula. A formula that was set into place between the synergy of Arne Duncan and the Broad Foundation while Duncan was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

If you want to see support for all of these statements, you can Google this information yourself or check out the articles and information that I and others have accumulated over the last year and a half at:

http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

wsnorth said...

Closing neighborhood schools and THEN coming up with a "neighborhood" assignment plan is insane, or at least shows a serious lack of strategic planning. The district practically tortured those Cooper kids and left the entire Cooper and Fairmount Park ares without a "neighborhood school". THEN to make matters worse, the district originally dispersed the Cooper kids "South" but the new assignment plan sends their younger siblings "North"! In West Seattle our schools seem to get reopened in portables in the the playgrounds of our existing, already overcrowded schools!