Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Local Coverage of SPS

The Weekly's Nina Shapiro did two stories on SPS this week. One was about the Native American funding audit issue that I mentioned in the story on the Audit and Finance Committee meeting. The only thing here I feel like she missed was saying it was discovered by an "internal audit". That's true but it was by the State Auditor and not by the district itself. The district's explanation?

District spokesperson Patti Spencer-Watkins says the district, in many cases, simply failed to keep accurate records on students who had left Seattle schools. In a few other cases, she says, students may have been Native American, but weren't enrolled members of federally-recognized tribes.

Some context was provided by a comment by "Indian Educator"

I run a similar program using funds from the same source. The program guidelines are quite clear: A "qualified" student is one who is enrolled in a state or federally recognized tribe or whose parent or grandparent is enrolled. I'd imagine that the "inflated" number is a result of self-identified students who may or may not have American Indian ancestry and who have checked the American Indian box on school registration forms. Not all of these students though are "qualified" - some might be First Nations from Canada, some might not have a history of tribal enrollment, some might be East Indian, who knows about the rest.

Important in this is to state that this program is not "race based." If it were then the "self identifiers" would count. Instead, it's politically based: A student must have a political relationship with a tribe that has a political relationship with the state or US government. The US Government, the funder of this program, owes nothing to those who haven't maintained ties (unrecognized tribes, unenrolled students, etc.) or never had them to begin with (First Nations Canadians, indigenous South Americans, etc.).

That's good information to know. But the issue seems to be not that they counted students wrongly. There were never that many students to begin with to be counted (at least from my understanding of what was said at the Committee meeting).

Nina also wrote about the issue of the Title One funding at Thurgood Marshall. From the story:

The district distributes federal "Title I" funding, earmarked for poor kids, to schools that have more than 55 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches. This year, Thurgood Marshall easily qualified for the funding. The district looks at the preceding year's demographics, and poor kids represented 83 percent of the population.

With the APP kids, however, only 42 percent of students qualify for free or discounted lunches (see pdf)--and the district in recent weeks has told parents and staff that they would receive no Title I funding at all next year. (The school also went from 6 percent to 37 percent white.)

Apparently the differences between the groups at Thurgood Marshall is felt by both sides as evidenced by these two quotes (one from Meg Diaz):

"The APP parents are the primary focus," says Wallace-Croone, adding that the two programs constitute "segregation in the truest form."

Diaz says that parents from both communities have been trying hard to work together but acknowledges that "it's been a rough year."

And hello? This kind of divide is precisely what happened at Madrona before and John Stanford himself said it was an experiment that shouldn't be tried again.

Also Dori Monson over at 97.3 KIRO FM saw the Weekly article about the Native American funding and has ran a story on his blog. Apparently he may discuss it on his show this week. His show runs at noon. He's over the top in his opinion of what should be done (and claims that WA state has one of the worst graduation rates in the country - we don't).

As soon as the Legislature gets done with its session, I can do a round-up of the education bills passed there and the general tone of how we pay for education in this state given the recent ruling on the State's paramount duty.


ArchStanton said...

"The APP parents are the primary focus,"

Funny, the APP parents that I talk to feel that the ALO is the primary focus and that APP is made to feel like guests or interlopers in their own school.

The grass is always greener... I guess.

wseadawg said...

And, don't forget, the Board at the time adopted a written policy prohibiting it from ever happening again, because it was so bad. But no matter, with a snap of their fingers, this Board rescinded it.

See, John Stanford was an intelligent person, capable of reason, intellectual thought, compassion, and empathy, who earned his stripes in the U.S. Military. MGJ? A Broad Grad who's mastered Edu-speak and PowerPoint. As for the rest of her abilities? I'm still waiting. She seems to prefer the Hail Mary approach, as does this Board. Promises, promises, and more promises, but where is the evidence anything is being done right, well, or even getting better. I'm not seeing any of it.

The more I think about this Board and this Superintendant, the dumber, more naive, more arrogant, and ridiculous their antics seem. We once had neighborhood schools, and it didn't work, so we had choice, which people in Seattle liked, for the most part. But noooooooo! This "business-like" board told its customers "you like it this way? To bad. We're changing everything and going back to the old way." Gee, just what we asked for!

All I've seen, heard, or witnessed is angry "customers" who cannot for the life of them figure out why this administration is doing what its doing. And for community buy-in? Where? From whom? The Board seems to deliberately alienate people in every school and cluster.

For any history buffs, this cluster-f@#$ reminds me of the British Army's WWII "Market Garden" disaster in Europe, or maybe the WWI British repeated disasters of getting lost in the deserts of the Middle East, running out of ammo, dying of dehydration and disease. But God Almighty, Respect Rank and do what you're told!

Insanity. Complete insanity.
Excellence for all? I'm waiting.

bf said...

You know what kills me about the Seattle Weekly blog is that the implication is that APP families are to blame for this situation -- most of whom didn't even want to go to TM in the first place. Now those families have to take the brunt of the anger of the rest of the community because SPS ignored its history. I think that it's time to do the right thing, find an APP site north of the ship canal, move the kids that are currently at Lowell there and then move the TM APP kids back to Lowell. This is what should have been done in the first place. As a parent with kids in APP at Lowell, I know that this would be disruptive, and not solve all the problems, but I think that it would overall benefit the program and the vast majority of the kids involved, both ALO and APP.

wseadawg said...

I'd simply prefer that the local press get off it's collective-giant-lazy arse and do some factual reporting instead of reading and parroting district press releases.

Nina Shapiro takes her cheap, but all-too-common swipe at APP's supposed "affluence" but barely scratches the surface of the real scandal that is the Board and MGJ. So typical. So sad. So worthless. Same old, same old.

seattle citizen said...

Here's more local coverage of STATE stuff from those reform fans, the Seattle Times (editorial today)

lendlees said...


While we advocated loudly for your plan last year, moving the APP students out of TM wouldn't serve MGJ's agenda: transforming a school's with low scores by changing the student population.


So, both schools lose funding, lose counselors that were promised by the district for two years, and won't be eligible for waivers because of the disparity in the student population. Way to go SPS.

Maureen said...

Meg Diaz has a new Crappy Chart up on her blog. This one questions what the District has been doing with all of the Title 1 and LAP money it has been redirecting away from poor schools. It also functions as a very clear tutorial on federal and state education funding for poor kids.

How does she manage to be so technically able and FUNNY at the same time?!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think of Meg as our Tina Fey; smart, funny and pretty!