Alternative School Article

There is a nice story in the Times today about Ida B. Wells School, part of the Middle College, by Jerry Large.

It's very clear that this school, which is an Alternative Learning Experience, is not part of the Curricular Alignment effort. That bodes well for the NOVA Project, another ALE that cannot standardize texts and course titles.


seattle citizen said…
That was a nice thing to see, Mr Large's piece. Good to see a story about success in all it's varied pathways.

There was also in today's Times a long editorial on "the rise" of Seattle Public Schools. Just in time for the Supe's evaluation, this cheer from the rah-rah section:

Sahila said…
"Community No Confidence" signatures just hit 264.... climbing at a rate of 50/day... not bad, considering the wonderful weather we've had this weekend when people have had other things on their mind and other things to do... shows just how strongly people want rid of MGJ...

if you havent read and signed the Declaration yet, please go here and think about adding your voice...

And please - spread the word - copy and paste the link into all your social networking sources eg:
*Compassionate Action Network,
*other listservs,
*your local community phone trees,
*blogs you read and write
*at work
*your neighbours, friends, relatives
*your local politicians and their affiliations etc, etc...

This Declaration is for all Seattle residents - we're all stakeholders in this...

Let's show the Times just how ridiculous their pro-MGJ stance is and how much of a fantasy they're putting out there as the truth...

I'd love to get us to 500 signatures by Wednesday's rally/presentation to the Board...

And the Declaration will stay live until the Board vote on July 7th...
Charlie Mas said…
It's funny how Mr. Large writes about the need for multiple paths to learning and lauds the curriculum designed by the Middle College staff of two on the same day that the Times editorializes on the "efficiency" of having a single standardized curriculum.
seattle citizen said…
I agree, Charlie. It points to the lack of understanding over at the Times editorial board about what curriculum is (skills and knowledge) and how it is taught.
Sahila said…
And for those people sitting on the fence, thinking maybe its better the devil you know than the one you dont, or wondering how we are going to manage to get a more suitable person, without string and ties that bind... here's what the Seattle Shadow School Board have been talking about:

We put forward our own candidates... as so many people have suggested to me via phone and email - there are well qualified candidates here in the District... people who are trusted, who have a track record, who are sound in both education and management skills, who know the district and have shown they care about our kids... we ask them to come forward...

We vet whoever is brought to the interview stage.... we are much more adept at research than the District is and we publicise the results of our digging... we lobby to have community involvement in the selection, as they have just done with the search for a new police commissioner, for example...

And then to get rid of the rest of the corporatist privateering influence in the District, we replace the "bought and paid for" members of the board when we can at each election cycle... considering the amount of work involved, much as I'd like to get rid of them all in one bunch ASAP, I dont think we can manage that...

A Board member told me last week that he/she thought the District would manage fine for a year or so without a Superintendent... we can take our time in this process, and not make the same mistakes they did last time round...
My one complaint with the article is the use of the term "alternative". What are alternative schools? We had our children at AS#1, for it's alternative curriculum. And Salmon Bay is alternative. But I believe parents at both those schools would argue that AS#1 and Salmon Bay are both distinctive and yet share a similarity that they don't share with the program Mr. Large wrote about.

Yes, it's semantics. But I think using consistent terminology and descriptive terminology are key to clarifying the goals of non-traditional programs in a public school system.
Josh Hayes said…
Couldn't agree more, Clean Clutterfree. There seems to be the idea at Stanford Central that, just as traditional schools are, and OUGHT to be, all alike, so should alternative schools be different from traditional ones - but all alike each other.

This is, of course, idiotic. But it does provide comfort to the idea that each cluster need only have one "alternative" school, because, hey, every alternative school is the same as all the others, right?

And this is entirely separate from the reality that the existence of a school in one's cluster doesn't mean one can get one's kids in there (e.g. I live, supposedly, in the Salmon Bay catchment, although I'm four miles from there - and my kids will NEVER get in).

But it's good to see someone at the ST giving some love to anything non-traditional. I wonder how he got that by the editorial board?
Sahila said…
Interesting that Ida Wells voted no confidence today...

And Community No Confidence signatures have hit 300... thank you Josh for signing.... and Charlie and Melissa and everyone else...

Think we can get to 500 by Wednesday afternoon?
dan dempsey said…
I find it very interesting that Seattle somehow cannot manage to fund more alternative schools.

Seattle is among the highest around when it comes to total funding per student for districts above 5,000 (and spends more on central admin 9% than any except for Clover Park at 10%).

So why the alternative school bias? Guess it just does NOT fit HER model.

From OSPI web page for Seattle
Financial Data

Per Student Amounts Percent

Total Revenues $11101 100%

State 6730 61%
Federal 1078 10%
Local Tax 3120 28%
Other Sources 173 2%

Total Expenditures $11062 100%
Central Administration 991 9%
Building Administration 677 6%
Maintenance and Operations 972 9%
Food Services 255 2%
Transportation Services 594 5%

Teaching 7337 66%
Other 235 2%

Compare with Bellevue – Financial Data
Per Student Amounts Percent

Total Revenues $9790 100%

State 6025 62%
Federal 543 6%
Local Tax 2977 30%
Other Sources 244 2%

Total Expenditures $9923 100%

Central Administration 567 6%
Building Administration 526 5%
Maintenance and Operations 887 9%
Food Services 257 3%
Transportation Services 225 2%

Teaching 7137 72%
Other 324 3%

MGJ needs RIFing
seattle citizen said…
I'm still guilty of using the term "alternative" loosely. For a more exact definition, the district could look to it's own Alternative School Committee's Report of June 2007, which contains a "checklist" of indicators of "alternativeness" - the idea wasn't that a school should be at 100% of each of the twelve items, but that it be used as a measure, a guide, to how far along the path of alternativeness the school is. Such things as democratic governance, alternative assessments and the like.

It's a pity that ten or twelve students, parent/guardians, and staff spent a year on this committee to produce this report, which was accepted by CAO Santorno (who was the convener of the Committee), and the report basically hasn't been seen since. It's good reading and I recommend it to anybody looking to see and interesting framework illuminating some darn good pedagogy.
hschinske said…
I don't think anyone's ever argued that re-entry schools have to do things the same way everyone else does. Not sure there's much of a precedent here for alternative schools that are option schools rather than re-entry.

Helen Schinske
seattle citizen said…
Helen, the (ongoing) argument has been about how to differentiate Alts from, say, Language Immersion or STEM. The last couple years has seen the "option" designation for any school that is not the cluster, neighborhood school. The term "alternative" often thrown around to cover all sorts of non-comp schools.

There is certainly precendent here for alternative schools that are option and not reentry: Many of the first true alternative schools (AS1, Summit, Nova, NOMS...Marshall...) were NOT reentry programs at all, but rather true alternatives (in some iteration, depending on how they look using today's alt checklist.

This is part of the confusion: Alternative schools are NOT inherently reentry schools. Two different animals (tho' I've maintained for some time that they share one thing: Picture two students, exactly the same. Neither does well with a traditional school, wants something different. One has engaged and savvy parents, the other does not. Engaged parents/student CHOOSE to find an alternative; non-engaged parent/students don't, student struggles against pegagogy that doesn't work for him or her, gets into trouble, is kicked out and becomes a reentry student.
hschinske said…
Oops, I wasn't clear. I meant that I didn't think the curriculum flexibility allowed to alts that are re-entry was necessarily a precedent for the district allowing the same flexibility to alts that are option schools, so I wasn't as hopeful as Charlie that this would bode well for Nova.

Helen Schinske

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