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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Open Choice Seats? What the District isn't Saying

If you live in West Seattle, go see Steve today and tell him this issue that Charlie raised and now this e-mail below confirms. Steve's community meeting is TODAY from 2-3:30 p.m. at the High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond Street. As well, we should all be e-mailing the School Board about this issue.

The issue is that students enrolled from Open Enrollment into middle and high school are highly likely (as evidenced by Sealth) to get processed differently at those schools than students who are attendance area. Meaning, fewer class choices. It should NOT be this way.

From Charlie's post:

AAARGGHHHH!

What do you know. It is EXACTLY as I had feared.

From an email from a friend:

"I also called and talked to 9th grade counselor Krista Rillo at Sealth this morning about how this process will affect kids that are hoping to get assigned at Sealth through Open Enrollment.

It's likely this process will be slightly different at each school, but there will be some similar issues.

Sealth will handle it just like they handled kids in previous years who come off the waitlist. Once the school is notified, they will individually contact all students who get assigned from Open Enrollment. Students are welcome to contact the school and complete the registration as soon as they get notice from the district. The timing of when the school district does actually notify both those students and the impacted schools will have some impact on class availability.

Right around the end of May is when Sealth, like most high schools, will be running all the student registration data they've entered in order to prepare the master class schedule. If registrations come after this process is substantially completed, those kids will be added in to the scheduled classes where there is room. Students will get all their core classes, but some elective class choice may be more limited at that point. Sealth is adding more honors sections of core classes next year, so they don't expect that this delayed registration timing will limit that option for any freshman registering at Sealth.
"

54 comments:

Maureen said...

You left out Charlie's last line!
WV SHOULD read: "bowdlerizer"
:)

One thought, so what happens to the kids who just show up at all of these schools on the first day? Some schools are very used to this, but over half of the schools have not had to make space for those kids in the past. I hope it has occured to them to plan for that -- Open Enrollment kids aren't necessarily at the VERY bottom of the list for courses.

Also, how do schools determine who gets limited spaces now? Garfield seems to run out of space in many classes on a regular basis and it isn't clear to me how they determine who gets the spots (I know one mom who spent days with the counseling office to get her kid a workable 9th grade schedule so he wouldn't have to skip class to do it himself--she felt sort of guilty for having that advantage but took it anyway. And they had registered on time through the standard (though non-APP/WMS) system.)

zb said...

Ugh. They're planning on officially creating second class citizens in the school? and they think that's not an issue.

I'm guessing this will also affect students who "show up."

Completely unacceptable. And, something that could happen without people realizing it's happening, because you wouldn't know *why* a class was filled for you.

I would be wild with frustration if this was affecting my kids, and I'm a big supporter of the new SAP. I think this means, at the very least, that kids have to fill their schedules at the school they're not 2nd place citizens in (i.e. their default assignments, assuming that they're not absolutely certain that they'll reject that assignment, in which case they should convey to the school that they're rejecting it).

Charlie Mas said...

I went to Steve Sunquist's community meeting today and he agreed that students who gain access to a school through Open Enrollment should have an equal opportunity to gain access to classes. He also acknowledged that as a member of the Board there wasn't a lot he could do about it. The Board, after all, doesn't get involved in the day-to-day operation or administration of the District or the schools.

He did, however, acknowledge that "equal access to programs" was a stated goal of the New Student Assignment plan and that this would be counter to that stated goal.

He also acknowledged that the practice of determining the capacity of classes and programs before determining the demand for those classes or programs, thus creating artificial caps on enrollment was strange and senseless. Not that noting the fact that a practice is stupid will necessarily get it changed.

Here's the pisser: let's say that the high schools get a lot of heat for this so they say that they don't do it (or won't do it). That doesn't mean a thing. They could still go ahead and do it and no one could prove anything.

ParentofThree said...

I appreciate Steve's honesty, but disagree when he says he doesn't get involved in the day-to-day issues. This is exactly the kind of thing the board needs to get invloved in so that the issue is resolved and not continued as a unintended consequence of the SAP.

dan dempsey said...

This is all extremely interesting....
..
when Steve Sundquist says he doesn't get involved in the day-to-day issues. This is exactly the kind of thing ........ Steve was involved in with the (late identification) closing of Cooper School in West Seattle.

Just another reason why there is a string of lawsuits involving appeals of Seattle School Board decisions .... and once again RCW 28A.645.020 is tossed aside. This wad of legal actions rolls on May 27, 2010 at the WA Supreme Court in Olympia.

Decisions made by whim .... why would open choice seats be any different?

Sue said...

I do have a question. Is this really going to be a huge problem? I mean, not every student is going to take their assigned seat, so that leaves room after the first round of registration. Then they will register open choice students.
Schools have as many seats as before - they are just filling them differently.

And it seems that the Sealth Counselor said students MAY be impacted, in their electives only. Not that "we are deliberately creating second class citizens". All freshman will get their core classes, as they do now, - it is just the electives that they may not get. And they NEVER have had a guarantee of electives - each year when you fill out your schedule, they clearly ask you to list multiple electives, in case the ones you want fill up. This has been happening all along, and is not a consequence of the new plan.

For those of us who have already had kids in high school, I can tell you that freshman are the low priority for electives anyways. 10th, 11th and 12th graders usually get priority for the electives.

So I can see why people, with their distrust of the district may be calling for emails, and stop the enrollment now, and etc., but I really don't see the need for it. The high schools do try to accomodate students, they do it every year. And again, how many students per school are we talking about here - 40? It seems that is a fairly small number to deal with.

I would imagine enrollment would probably turn out fine.

BUT, I do think making people wait til June for their letter is BS.

Maureen said...

Keepin On makes a good point- the Sealth Counselor said students MAY be impacted, in their electives only.

Those of us who are upset about this may be compounding what Charlie's friend said with what we saw a few threads back about the "Seattle Math Pathway." If what the Sealth counselor said about access to core classes being assured is true at all HSs, then the impact could be minimal. The one exception I would make is access to an appropriate level language class. If you want to go to college, being closed out of a language class can really mess you up. Whether you take photography or web design as a Freahman is not such a big deal.

SE Mom said...

To me, even though the impact may turn out to be minimal, it just adds more anxiety and uncertainty to the process. And whether it impacts 40 kids or 200, the registration process should be the same for all 9th graders starting high school with on time enrollment. Especially since to enroll the kids all at once would
not be difficult, it would just take some foresight and planning.

It is helpful to know that the Sealth counselor thinks that there will be enough honor sections. What about kids who will start school with Geometry or Algebra II or will skip 9th grade science? Those kids (at least at schools like Sealth) would be placed in classes with upperclass students and those classes may be full by the time open choice students register.

Again, not alot of kids will be impacted by the above example, but that does not mean that their academic needs are less important.

The transition to high school is a big one. All ninth graders should get similar info from all high schools at the same time (not a big packet from Garfield in April and something but I'm not sure what or when from Franklin), all
9th graders should register for classes at the same time, the district should not be throwing a monkey wrench into the open choice seat process.

What gets my goat is that the district makes this big push for standardization and that high schools will all be equitable, ect, etc, etc. And then there is absolutely no attention paid to making sure that all 9th graders have the same access to school information and registration. Crazy beyond words!

SolvayGirl said...

This doesn't affect my child (as it does Charlie's), but I think it's unfair and more importantly a waste of time and resources to have students register for classes at two tiers.

This is wrong on a lot of levels, the first of which is that it is taking so long to assign students under the 10% Choice Option (we're talking just the high schools here). There is no logical or technical reason why it should take 8 weeks to input the data, run the algorithms and notify the students. This should have been figured out when they were developing the NSAP.

The long timeframe creates anxiety for students and the schools. Who will end up where? What classes will be necessary to accommodate these kids? What teachers will be needed?

It definitely does create a second-class student if the Choice kids will get less of a chance of getting the electives they want—including languages. Why should they be penalized for following the rules? It's as if the District is saying, "Go ahead, sign up for a high school other than your assignment school, but don't expect to get the same treatment as the kids who ARE accepting their assignment."

As Maureen points out, losing the chance to take the language you may want or need is a negative for the college-bound. But I see it even deeper. A student may be planning on a career in digital media, so being shafted out of the photography or web design class could be critical. And yes, no one is guaranteed any elective, but it would be much fairer to have all incoming students who registered on time start on an even playing field when the electives are doled out.

I think too many people are going easy on the District about this. This is not a BroGa conspiracy theory. This is just another bit of evidence that illustrates how poorly thought out the District's plans are. And, it's just another nail in the District's coffin as there will be families who end up choosing another option (out-of-district, private school or homeschool) because of this inequity.

ParentofThree said...

I also don't think there is any issue other than they have a big mess on their hands in terms of trying to figure out the 10% Choice seating as well as the families who opted for a different elementary or middle school. I think many more students opted for open enrollment the district anticipated. I know that they got very backlogged in entering the applications during open enrollment.

Under the old plan, they just seated students based on the priority seating, when the school was full they were done. Now they really have no idea who wants to go where.

For example, I know families assigned to Middle School A, but want Middle school B. Other families are assigned Middle school C but want middle school A.
How do they figure that out w/o overenrolling Middle School A or B?

I think there is a big seat swap they need to figure out and they simply did not plan for it.

SolvayGirl said...

Agreed Parent of Three...it's a mess. But considering our Super is making much much more money than the GOVERNOR makes, I don't expect to see such ill-conceived plans This is MY biggest beef. We're spending a fortune on Central Administration and getting results that equate to a Three Stooges movie.

Charlie Mas said...

Keepin' On asks if this is a big deal. After all, it only speaks to the principles of equity and fairness.

Here's the deal. Let's say that there are two sections of a class, a total of 60 seats. Now let's say that 40 of the seats are taken by students in grades 10, 11, and 12. That leaves 20 seats for incoming 9th graders. Let's say that among the 300 incoming freshmen from the attendance area there are 25 who want the class. 20 of them (80%) will get it. Let's say that there are 3 incoming freshmen from outside the attendance area who want the class. 0 of them (0%) will get it.

So it's the difference between having an 80% chance of getting the class and having a 0% chance of getting the class.

The thing about fairness and equality is that it is a principle and not a matter of degrees. it's kind of an all or nothing thing. You can't be unfair to 10% of the people and tout how you were fair to 90% of them. And, in fact, you weren't fair to them either as they had an unfair advantage. There can unfair advantages just as there can be unfair DISadvantages; people just tend complain less about them.

The fact that jews account for only about 2% of the U.S. population does not make it okay to be anti-semetic. The fact that this practice only puts 10% of the students at a disadvantage does not make it okay.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And can I just say, as a former PTSA president, that if it is YOUR kid, it's a big deal. And if it's more than one kid, it's a REALLY big deal. That it is 5 kids or 40 kids, it doesn't matter. There has to be fairness in class assignment.

zb said...

Yes, it's a principle, and a pretty deep one. Frankly, it wouldn't matter even if *no* students were affected, as long as they could have been.

As others have pointed out, it'll be difficult to tell whether schools are doing this, if they don't straight out admit it. But, I hope it's being watched carefully.

Josh Hayes said...

SolvayGirl is right; it's bewildering that the process takes so long. Any competent IT person, working ALONE, could take the enrollment forms, and the data for children who did not file formal enrollments, and then TURN THE FRICKIN' CRANK to get the results. In about a day.

I could do it, and I'm an unemployed stay-home father. It's literally unbelievable that SPS central can't do this. Maybe they're trying to support the illusory "projections" of enrollments: the longer they wait, the more real the big lie becomes?

It's either incompetence or something worse. I guess on the whole I'd rather it was just incompetence. Hey, SPS, I could do with a job! Hire me on - I even speak VAXen, although I must admit, since it's been obsolete for over 20 years, I'm a little rusty.

Maureen said...

I understand that it is the principal of the thing, but my question stands: How do they do it now?

Do the first 20 applications that come across the head counselor's desk get the available spots in the class (even if they are there first because the counselor scheduled a visit to that comprehensive MS first) or are all on time applicants put into a pool and drawn at random? Can a parent move their kid up a list by hand delivering a registration form? Does this vary from school to school? I have no idea. Does anyone out there know? (Maybe this new system is a huge improvement?)

Jellyfish said...

HELP!

This is off topic, but don't know where else to post.

I just called the enrollment line, and my child has been assigned to my 6th choice -- Queen Anne Elementary. My first 5 choices were all option schools, too. I am VERY UPSET. I am wondering if they just placed us at Queen Anne in order to reach their enrollment goals. I don't want this assignment. Do you think the SPS cheated somehow, and did not truly run a fair lottery for my child??? Any advice or calming words appreciated.

SE Mom said...

HOLY COW!!!

After reading the post by Jellyfish, I decided to try and call the enrollment services automated waitlist and transportation line. And, it gave me information for my kid for next year! "Your student has been assigned to...Sealth". (our first option seat choice - assigned school had been Franklin)

So, the info is available via phone but the letters won't be mailed out for another month???

Couldn't believe it, called twice.

206-252-0410

zb said...

Ah yes, Maureen. You're pointing out that the process might already be unfair, advantaging some students over others.

It's still a problem if you officially define a class who is disadvantaged, as opposed to the myriad and disparate advantages other students will come with (i.e. the student who talked to the teachers about what will be available next year, the student who has the mom who's willing to hang out in the office until she finds out everything she needs to know, . . . ).

Defining the class makes a difference.

owlhouse said...

Yep, my student's info is availalbe too. And by phone, Nova is still "Nova Alternative"- not "Option". ;)
I had to call the other enrollment #
252-0760.

In some ways I'm glad to learn they can process registrations more quickly than previously believed. On the other hand... what gives? Is not everyone done? Maybe options are, but not open choice seats at the others? That's the only reason I can see for the hold up on announcing assignments. Meanwhile, every student planning to attend (and already assigned to) an Option HS will be given info for their reference area HS. Waste of time, resource and energy.

Jellyfish, I'm so sorry about your assignment. Is QA your reference area option school? I find it hard to believe that every other option is full...

Sue said...

Maureen-

That was my point. We already have a system in place where people do not get what they want. They can perhaps get access to it, but no guarentee that they will then get everything they want once in the program/school. Attendance area kids don't have access to everything now as it is. We don't know how those electives are filled.

I was simply saying, is it really going to be a problem since they only have to accomodate a limited number of open choice students? The counselor said It MAY be a problem, not it WILL be a problem.

And to follow up on principles of equity and fairness - here's a few:

Spectrum. You can get assigned to to the program, but not get in because of space limitations, unless you have a sibling. How is that fair or equal?
APP - you can't get in after 8th grade. Why is that fair or equal?
High School: APP students get guaranteed spots at Garfield AND their neighborhood high schools, right? Why is that fair /equal?

Special Ed - Lots of inequality there.

If we are going to stand on one principle, we need to apply it to everything within SPS, not just open choice high school seats. But I don't know how we even begin, I can tell you that.

I know this sounds really combative, but I am still waiting for my assignment letter, and am cranky.

SolvayGirl said...

Again...it could be construed that the District is purposefully holding back choice/option assignments to make it less desirable (paranoia strikes deep).

Sue said...

Oh Wait - I was responding in the first part of my post to Maureen, but in the "equality " part to Mr. Mas.

Sorry!

Sue said...

And now I am reading people are getting their assignments if they call in - is this true?

I guess I will call, but will not count on anything til I see the letter.

As SolvayGirl says - paranoia does run deep.

SolvayGirl said...

Keepin' On. You are absolutely correct. There already is much about the SPS assignment process that is unfair and/or inequitable. However, that does not excuse the creation of a system that is automatically unfair to a specific group of kids. We all know that everyone will not get their choice electives, but as Charlie noted it's a lot fairer if everyone had an 80% chance, rather than some having an 80% chance and others having a 0% chance.

Apparently assignments have been made (read the above posts where people found out their child's assignment via phone). So why have they started the registration process only for assignment area kids? Why hasn't the District mailed letters (if they have it available via phone)? Why aren't they holding registration for a week or so to get the letters out?

SE Mom said...

Talk about paranoia...wonder if the phone line will get pulled after the district finds out parents know about it.

Outrageous that they could allow students to delay registration while assignments from open choice have been made. How complicated is it to print and mail those letters?

Charlie Mas said...

Keepin' On, I assure you that no one is simply accepting the other examples of inequity that you referenced. We have been fighting them as well.

As to access to Spectrum for Spectrum-eligible students, at least all of the non-sibling students have the same chance using the same tie-breakers. They are not taken in two groups.

Charlie Mas said...

The District has drafted a FAQ on high school registration that contradicts the information provided by the high school counselor.

Between the two, I find the high school counselor the more credible source.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay.

Now nothing makes sense.

I called the number and used the automated system to get my daughter's school assignment for the 9th grade.

Since the decision has been made, what's the point of deferring her registration?

Since the decision has been made, what's the point of deferring the official letter announcing her assignment?

What's with these people?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jellyfish, first I'm sorry that you put down 5 Option schools and didn't get one. Clearly, you had something other than an attendance area school in mind to best serve your child. Does this seem odd to anyone that she put down 5 Option Schools and didn't get one?

Second, no I don't think they cheated. Was QA Elem your attendance area school?

Three, I believe you are now on a waitlist for your first choice. Maybe you will be able to find out which school and where your child is on that list.

Four, it may not have been what you wanted but QA Elem does have a good principal and clearly there are interested parents so you are not going into a bad situation. (Not that it makes it all better but you could be in a worse spot.)

After the fact, you may be able to find out how many students applied for each school and see what the odds were. I know it won't help but maybe the numbers were huge for Option Schools (which would be good given that Dr. G-J doesn't seem to appreciate them much).

Lori said...

Jellyfish, I understand your disappointment and frustration with getting your 6th choice assignment. I can only add that something similar did happen last year when Jane Addams K-8 opened in the NE. Families got mandatory assignment there who hadn't even listed the school on their application. In years prior to that, families would get mandatory assignments to schools like John Rogers, when they'd neither toured nor listed the school on their application. That was of course under the old system, of course, but the point is similar: there is a long history of people getting their 5th, 6th, 7th, choice, or in some cases, schools they didn't even list at all.

Melissa is correct that you should be on a waiting list for one of your higher choice schools, and I'd get in touch with staff there ASAP to find out more.

Sue said...

They just took the number and automated information down. You can no longer access it to find out your assignment. I always hate it when paranoia is proved correct.

Yo, District person reading this blog, "WTH?"

Nice.

Lori said...

Yup, I just called the number (206-252-0760) to ensure that they processed our application for Lowell, and the assignment system is now down. I got a recording that simply set "The student assignment system is down. Letters will be mailed in May. If you have a transportation question, please call 206-252-0900."

Hmmmm.

Phernie said...

I called about forty-five minutes ago, and got all the way through the automated system (past student ID, past birthdate even), then the line clicked (after I pressed 1 to verify the birthdate)and then....nothing. I think they took it down right in the middle of the transaction. ARGH!

What I wouldn't give to get a sneak peek at our assignment. We've been sitting on pins and needles for months waiting to see if our kids are going to be split up between two different elementary schools. Furthermore, we have a private school deposit due THIS WEEK to hold my kindergartner's place. Knowing this info today--even if it was preliminary data--would have saved us money and a LOT of worry. Hear that, district employees? A month is a long time to wait.

I'm sorry you're disappointed, Jellyfish. I feel your pain. But at least you have information now. Good for you for trying the automated information line early.

Maureen said...

Re Jellyfish, QA Elementary can't be their attendance area school. It is an Option school and even living in the QA/Magnolia area wouldn't give Jellyfish an advantage there. TOPS, Salmon Bay, Orca, Pathfinder and Thornton Creek (and now South Shore) all have historically run wait lists (p.5), but it is surprising that Jellyfish would have drawn a bad lottery number for every one of those schools (if that is Jellyfish's list). I wonder if they are now just giving you one (good or bad) lottery number and you either sink or rise depending on that? As far as I can see, all the New Assignment Plan says about is
Lottery Tiebreaker
The last tiebreaker is always lottery. A computer-generated random number rank orders students for assignment, or for placement on the ordered waiting list. This is used after other tiebreakers if applicable.
(p.19).

Jellyfish, were you applying for Kindergarten?

Snoop said...

People selecting a different HS get last choice for classes at the new school? Big friggin deal! That was the point of the SAP. Stay at your local school, sorry you don't like those kids. Get the bennies offered there, you'll be first in line there. That's your carrot. Somebody has to get last choice, and it might has well be those who don't like their own school. What would people do if they had a real problem?

SolvayGirl said...

Snoop. I am sick to death of people saying that parents don't want particular schools because of the kids there. For most people it's the variety and quality of curriculum offerings (specific languages, biotech, IB, AP classes). For others it might be arts programs (an orchestra vs. a marching band because their kid plays violin). There's a ton of reasons people don't want their assignment area school. PLEASE stop making this about the kids in the schools.

Parents want their children in the school that will best serve their needs. Take Charlie's daughter as a prime example of this. She has an APP golden ticket to Garfield–her assignment school and an extremely popular school. But for reasons known to only her and her family, she'd prefer to be at Sealth. She is obviously not trying to get away from an undesirable demographic of kids. She's looking for the high school experience that will serve her needs best.

As long as Seattle's high schools offer such a huge variety of programs (and I believe this is a good thing in some respects), there needs to be a mechanism for students who need/want something their assignment school doesn't offer (especially something like IB) to have access in a fair and equitable manner.

Charlie Mas said...

Following the instructions I got from that FAQs document, I contacted the counslor at the middle school. I'll let you know how that conversation goes when I get a call back.

Charlie Mas said...

So.

I have taken (or will take) three actions today on this matter. Others are free to do the same.

1. In accordance with the FAQ, I will contact the middle school counselor and try to get clarification and assurance that incoming 9th grade students using the Open Enrollment process will have an equal opportunity for electives along with the incoming 9th grade attendance area students who are registering now.

2. Since I don't think the middle school counselors have any idea about what the high schools do, and I don't think they should have to explain what the high schools do, I will also contact the registrar at our high school of choice and request a registration packet for my daughter.

3. I have written to Tracy Libros, the author of the FAQ, and advised her that it doesn't make sense to the intended audience. I told her that the answer to the third question doesn't have meaning for those unfamiliar with the process or the technical language of high school registration. I told her that the second question actually confirms my fears. I also told her that the instruction to contact middle school staff for clarification about the practices of high schools is simply mystifying.

I have already contacted the Board about this. While they are sympathetic, they don't have a role in fixing the problem.

I will report back with any results.

Snoop said...

Right Solvay. You're so sick of people complaining about people not liking to go to school with others.... why? Because maybe the shoe fits?

Charlie's kid has first choice at Garfield, first choice at Ranier Beach (presumably), and now... we're all supposed to cry a river because she doesn't also get first choice at Sealth? And she might, theoretically speaking, just once, have to wait in line? Life just doesn't have that many first choices. People living near Sealth, should have first choice at Sealth.... if there's even a line at all. I'm perfectly fine with giving people first choice at offerings in their local schools. Local schools was the point of the NSAP.

hschinske said...

Why would she have first choice at Rainier Beach? That would be an Open Enrollment choice like any other.

There is no reason I can see to distinguish between Open Enrollment students and automatic assignment students as far as class scheduling goes. That's not giving them "first choice" -- it's just not putting them last in line. They have to take their chance with all the rest.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

Snoop, no one here minds that you're a troll. Go ahead. Troll away. After a while people will refuse to give you the satisfaction of rising to your taunts and you'll go away seeking greener pastures. Go in peace.

For the record, my daughter is assured of access to three schools (not two): Garfield because she is in Washington APP, NOVA because she has a sibling there, and Franklin (not Rainier Beach) because it is our attendance area school. She is not assured access to Chief Sealth and no will cry at all, let alone cry rivers (Snoop, you sensitive soul), if she doesn't get that assignment. STEM was her second choice and it is unlikely to be over-subscribed, so she would get that if she doesn't get Sealth. STEM would be fine.

For the record, neighborhood schools was not and is not one of the stated purposes of the NSAP. The stated purposes were to "enable stronger family engagement with schools, provide equitable access to programs, continue to offer opportunities for school choice, and foster diversity". If anything, the Board took an unprecedented step to set aside 10% of all high school seats for students from outside the area, which makes for LESS of a neighborhood school than the old distance tie-breaker.

I don't mind the emotional ploys or the bleating tone, but it's always best to get the facts straight - even for trolls.

Maureen said...

I'm still wondering about Jellyfish. Are you willing to share your list in order of preference?

Jellyfish said...

Hi, Maureen. I applied for Pathfinder, Salmon Bay, Thornton Creek, TOPS, and then a few non-option schools. I applied for Queen Anne Elem under the mistaken impression that it was to be a Montessori program; I'm not interested in the new tech focus.

I've spoken w/ SPS and don't doubt this is my correct assignment. There wasn't any waitlist info for my first choice (Pathfinder), so I don't think the waitlist info was yet processed.

Anyway, we've just decided to move to another assignment area (a non-option school, of course). Problem solved, though it will be an expensive and time-consuming fix.

Jellyfish said...

.... and just fyi, I asked a neighbor of mine to check the phone system soon after I did that night, and her child received their 1st choice.

I have a hunch that the computer system "assigned" me to Queen Anne b/c they are expecting low enrollment numbers. Maybe after they did all of the assignments, there were so many open slots left for QA that anyone who applied for the school (at any position on their Open Choice form) was knocked into that space. It will be interesting to see what happens to others....

I FINALLY understand all of the discontent for SPS.

Charlie Mas said...

Nature hates a vacuum. In the absence of information, people will invent a plausible story to fill the void.

Since the school assignment process is completely opaque, and since jellyfish has no solid knowlege of how the student assignment process REALLY worked, a story was invented to fill the void. And, since it is human nature to presume the worst when faced with uncertainty, the invented story is a horror story.

I'm not trying to scold jellyfish. On the contrary. The response from jellyfish was a perfectly normal, human, and predictable response. Rather, this is a perfect example of why it is so wrong for the District to deny information. It never works in your favor to deny information. In the absence of information people will invent a story and the story will not be flattering to the person who is denying information.

Denying information is a fast ticket to ill-will.

gavroche said...

Hi Charlie -- I don't understand what you are saying here:
Since the school assignment process is completely opaque, and since jellyfish has no solid knowlege of how the student assignment process REALLY worked, a story was invented to fill the void.

What invented story are you referring to?

It sounds like Jellyfish got a last choice for an unclear reason.

Her/his hunch that QA Elem. was designated because the District is having a hard time filling it jibes with what I've heard from someone on the QA Elem Design Team.

No one knows what the final enrollment choice numbers are yet for QAE -- the District isn't saying -- but the last number that some in the community heard was 8. That's right, 8 takers for QAE.

Now I'm sure that will change, and yes, the school will have a strong and well-liked principal in David Elliott (at the loss of Coe Elem., which btw, is still principal-less for next year, along with John Hay Elem.). But the tech focus is not what the community wanted. They wanted language immersion or Montessori.

I think Jellyfish's reaction and interpretation sound pretty accurate. Pity s/he has to resort to the somewhat drastic measure of moving to another assignment area.

Charlie Mas said...

gavroche, are you saying that we know, for sure, that jellyfish's child was assigned to Queen Anne Elementary because the District is having a hard time filling it?

Did you really hear that from someone on the Queen Anne Elementary Design Team?

Do we have any actual, documented reason to believe this?

gavroche said...

Oh, OK, so you're saying that even the assignment info Jellyfish got from the short-lived automated phone line can't be trusted for accuracy.

I have no info on that one way or another. But I have heard that QAE may be having under-enrollment problems, and the District has not done a great job advertising the school.

If your premise is right, Charlie, and that enrollment info was wrong, then it would be maddening for Jellyfish's sake to move to another part of town unnecessarily.

I'm not sure the District realizes the extent to which its decisions and indecision affect our lives. I had a job opportunity last year I was not able to commit to in part because I didn't know what my kids' belltimes were going to be.

Maddening.

Phernie said...

The district explains the automated assignment information line snafu:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/letters.pdf

Snoop said...

Charlie, we aren't being asked to cry a river about your daughter's assignment. We're being asked to cry a river because ... maybe, just once, and only maybe, she won't get an elective she wanted. Pass the kleenex. Because, maybe, just once, those kids in the Sealth neighborhood will have a priority at Sealth, including a priority for the electives. To that I say, big deal.

She sounds like she's got enough good choices. And, for the next 3 years she'll get everything Sealth has to offer, assuming she goes to Sealth.


And Charlie, you can scoff all you want, and pretend all you want... but the obvious and key reason for the NSAP is a return to local schools and a reduction in "choice". Duh. There just is no way around that one. If siblings are the second tie breaker (or less), that pretty much kills choice, as we all know.

Snoop said...

Are you people kidding? Of course QA Elem is going to be a loser choicewise. When every other school in the cluster is popular and successful, and when every other school is already up and running, and when every person has an existing assignment to one of those schools... why would anybody choose QA Elem? ???? QA is not a very accessible neighborhood. This would only be popular for people out of cluster.

Isn't it all obvious? Yes. If there's a really unpopular school, and somebody puts it on their list... guess what? They're going there. That's what happened at Addams. On Queen Anne, there will be no hands up for that dog... QA Elementary. So, if you put QA Elem anywhere on your list, you're getting it. "So sorry, but we've got to fill it up somehow. Glad you put it on your list."

Charlie Mas said...

Snoop makes an excellent point about Queen Anne Elementary's chances to attract students. The guaranteed access to the other schools in the cluster - um, Service Area - virtually negates the desirability of Queen Anne Elementary from the start.

Families needed an Option School in the neighborhood when there was a risk that their children wouldn't get into Hay, Coe or Blaine. With those guaranteed, they have no need for Queen Anne.

It makes me wonder what impact guaranteed access to Ballard will have on the enrollment at The Center School.

Perhaps Queen Anne Elementary should be an attendance area school and Blaine's attendance area should shrink to allow more access to the K-8 from outside the attendance area.

Charlie Mas said...

Maybe Queen Anne Elementary could include some of Belltown and South Lake Union in its attendance area.