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Monday, May 10, 2010

Board Work Session: Community Schools and Math

I'm not sure what they are going to try to accomplish or how they think they can do it in three hours, but the Board has scheduled a Work Session on both Community Schools and Math for 4:00pm - 7:00pm.

I'm not sure what the Board has to discuss about Community Schools. The best answer would be that the District intends to make Hawthorne and West Seattle Elementary Schools into Community Schools as part of their federal grant funded and required Transformations. The most like answer is that this will be an open-ended go-nowhere discussion of the idea of Community Schools in general. Let's remember that they ended their Work Session on International Schools by agreeing in principal to discuss making an update to the timetable for the plan.

As for Math, once again, I can't imagine what they think they have to discuss. There's no one on the District staff who has allowed any heresy to the current path. Given their true-believer status, there's nothing they could say that would be worth listening to. If the staff isn't going to say anything worth hearing and won't hear anything worth saying, then there isn't much work that can be done.

22 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think some staff went on a trip to look at Community Schools and I would expect the discussion to be broader than just a couple of schools. That said, is this what staff should be working on?

I was having a discussion with a journalist about the Strategic Plan and afterwards I went back and review the plan. Their "theory of action" on page 12 states that there are 3 actions:

- high quality instruction
- high quality leadership
- first things first

Now the last ones states, "We have many needs. However, we must focus our attention first on those things that will strengthen our foundation and directly improve student learning."

So if it's first things first, how are Community Schools part of this? How much can this district get done? How many ongoing projects and initiatives can we handle? I don't get it.

Sahila said...

Melissa, this is a push/manipulation via the Alliance for Education...

see here:
http://alliance4ed.blogspot.com/2010/04/community-schools-update.html

Charlie Mas said...

I wonder if Community Schools became a priority for the District because Community Schools is a priority for the Alliance.

seattle citizen said...

or if Community Schools, a nice concept on its face, is now a term that has been co-opted to replace the word "charter"

dan dempsey said...

Perhaps the Board can address what will be done after they lose the Appeal of the Spector decision.

How much do they plan to spend in Federal Court on the SPS defense of an ongoing Civil Rights violation related to math program. They should also calculate the pay-out for legal fees for the winning attorney.

Sahila said...

Please Charlie and SC... you are both freaking and grossing me out with these avatars...

I'm wondering if you two are really MGJ and Bill in disguise - you know, like those reptiles in V????

Chris S. said...

Sahila, they left Eli for you! How thoughtful.

Sahila said...

I like Trump's hair better! (not)... OMG... imagine what the world would be like if it was TRUMP who was trying to complete the privatisation of public education... guess we ought to be grateful for small mercies and go join hands with MGJ, Bill, Milton, Mike and Eli...

StepJ said...

I was at a Director DeBell community meeting a few months ago and he talked a bit about Community Schools.

Per his description the community component came into play outside of school hours. The school would operate as per normal during school hours. After hours perhaps space would be rented to a local community college for extension courses, helping folks taking the Master Gardening course to gain hours by volunteering time to work on the school grounds, offer health clinics on the weekend to provide flu shots or take blood pressure.

Per his description it was nothing sinister or game changing for the school itself during school hours. It was a means to fully utilize the school building by making the school and the services it offered more community wide. The benefits would be building more positive association of the community with the school, as well as a means to bring in additional revenue. Sort of a school/community center all rolled into one.

Makes me wonder which definition of Community School is in play for the workshop?

SolvayGirl said...

I would hope that after-hours (esp. weekends) use of schools could get out from under the prohibitive cost of the janitorial staff. We always found that anytime the neighborhood wanted to use the school it was very expensive. If they really want to build community, they need to make it affordable.

Jet City mom said...

THe maintenance costs don't bug me for after hours events- at least that is transparent- but for example- when the parent group rented Jane Addams one weekend evening- to run a SILENT auction to benefit the school programs ( which was needed to continue arts/drama for the school year), we ( the cochairs) were not told until after the fact that we had to pay for security staff for that event.

While we did notice that security staff had made an appearance ( as did many teachers & janitorial staff who actually made some large purchases), we had no idea that " security person" was actually on the clock- particularly since some jewelry and other items had been stolen from the silent auction tables.

I find it quite ironic that now this security person is on staff at the Stanford Center.
Typical.

seattle citizen said...

StepJ, the description you give from DeBell's meeting sounds like an interesting development. I've always thought buildings should be hubs of learning and activity.

A community school concept floated around during the John Marshall closure, imagining (and with a 100 page business plan developed around it) a building in use by multiple arts and education and social entities, 6:00am to 11:00pm, serving a variety of community needs and interests. That document, developed by some Marshall staff in a last-ditch effort to keep the building open, we called the Ravenna Blvd Academy.

Currently, the building is occupied, I believe, but a senior education group called LifelongLearning, and by Seattle Girls Choir, so perhaps that's a good start back to using the building in its full capacity as a community center and maybe even a school. Someone needs to propose, via the correct channels through Board Policy, that the tenants in Marshall be the pioneers a wave of community that re-occupies the building to teach and assist everyone in the nieghborhood.

ParentofThree said...

Ironic that they are now starting this discussion of community schools as (hopefully) hubs of off-hour activity after closing Cooper, which happens to be DIRECTLY across the street from a community center.

If you district people are reading - that was a great example of a school that has total access to community services (READ: Community School Opportunity)

And you closed it.

And then put portables on playgrounds at other schools.

Really, what is the plan?

The fly by seat of pants ain't working for the people in the West Seattle....community.

Michael said...

Is that a new hair-do Charlie? Looks good! /sarc

Charlie Mas said...

SakuraCon was over a month ago, so I felt it was time to change the avatar that I was using for it.

I don't like to have my picture there because, although I am open about who I am here, and I have my email address in my profile, I enjoy anonymity in real life.

I guess I could go back to using images from Japanese cartoons - if you all think that is less creepy.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. Is this better? It's Miroku from the Japanese comic book series (and TV series, and film series) Inuyasha.

Sahila said...

thanks, Charlie - appreciated... hey, didnt you have your photo there before?

Sahila said...

Please note that the Community Schools thingy is being pushed by the Alliance for Education... I wish the SPS Board was a little more discriminating in deciding who to get into bed with...

The Alliance, like the League of Education Voters, have "unfriended" me and stripped all of my contributions from its Facebook page...

I am heartbroken - not because the Alliance doesnt love me any anymore... but because here's another example that proves free speech only operates in certain quarters as long as the people doing the speaking are saying what you want to hear...

Very depressing...

dan dempsey said...

So did anyone attend this work session?

seattle citizen said...

Sahila, the Community School concept is pretty old, many of the original alternative schools around the country were versions of this. I think, given Director De Bell's comments about them at the Board meeting a month ago, that there is opportunity to actually build some interesting community schools here in Seattle. But you're right that we would do well to be suspicious of outside agendas. IF this is an Alliance initiative, I'd be mighty suspicious, too. But if the community raises its voice and demands that it be a truly community supported program with all the accountability and safeguards that programs and staff currently enjoy, it might be an opportunity to really rally the citizenry around its schools.

Sahila said...

SC....

I dont mind the idea of using the buildings outside school hours for community activities... BUT... the part of me that doesnt think anything coming out of A4E doesnt have some sort of hidden motivation, was thinking about what has happened in other cities - New York for example - where charter schools were co-housed with public schools and gradually took over the building and all the resources, pushing out the kids...

http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/5077

I can just see an argument being put forward that it would be a good thing to do to allow some sort of 'community school' to use one of the empty buildings or to co-house with say Jane Addams (all that lovely empty space) and before you know it, we're subsidising private education...

Charlie Mas said...

The presentations from this workshop are now available online.