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Friday, September 17, 2010

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson Guest Column in the Times

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wrote a guest column for the Seattle Times about the new teacher contract.

Much of it is disturbing. It is disturbing because it is inaccurate. It is disturbing because it is misleading. It is disturbing because it reflects a deep misunderstanding of the people in the organization she leads.

57 comments:

Eric M said...

It's disturbing because she's still here in Seattle.

We WILL change that.

ParentofThree said...

Wow, such nonsense. My favorite line was how she unerstands that there is "some concern." when really nearly every teacher in the district voted no-confidence.

That is a bit beyond, the "some concern" level.

wsnorth said...

OMG. That article is terrible! This is perhaps the worst line, then to go on and imply teachers really never provided quality teaching because they weren't rewarded for it$$$

"The research is unequivocal: Quality teaching trumps all other factors in determining student success."

Parents (and perhaps the parents' socio-economic situation) are the #1 "success" factor.

And, please tell, what is "success"?

And so much more...oh, that paper is so lame....

wseadawg said...

Despite our Superintendant, and because we have so many quality teachers, and parents, and students, in our schools already, I am confident that we, the SPS families and kids, will survive whatever they throw at us. I already use alternative sources to teach my kids math, since the adopted "how do you feel about your answer(?)" curriculum is so pathetic, and once again, this year, my kids have great union teachers who understand democracy and the importance of union membership as a bulwark against further tyranny and experimentation, despite its fleas and flaws.

I know when all the smoke clears and MGJ is long gone, my kids and the rest of the kids in my community will be well educated, critical thinkers, who can spot snake oil and frauds when they see them, having spent so many years dealing with it in SPS.

It's the old "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" principle that will bear out in our favor in the end.

It is unfortunate that our children must suffer under the weight of incompetence and indifference, but those who believe SPS cares more about the kids they are responsible for than grandiose plans to make them all look like administrative superstars, will soon find themselves out in the cold.

Like Clifford Stoll, noted critic of high tech gadgetry in the classroom said many years ago, "In the future, all the the kids in the good schools will be reading the classics, writing with a pen, playing musical instruments, and acting out Shakespeare plays, while the poor kids in bad schools will be sitting in front of computers all day." Sounds like that's well under way in SPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wseadawg, I admire your spirit and your fortitude. But it really shouldn't be a slog and a trial to send your child to public school. I think most, if not all, parents would love to leave all the details to the staff at headquarters and just work for their child's school.

ParentofThree said...

My children do well in SPS in spite of MGJ not because of MGJ.

wseadawg said...

MW - I only have that fortitude because people like you and me maintain enough watch-dog concern and involvement with our schools to ensure, ultimately, that our kids get what they can despite the insanity. You're right that it shouldn't be a slog, but nothing has ever come easy for me, and I tell my kids, it it comes easy, it ain't worth sh@#! (Think WalMart: Cheap and Easy. (No thanks)). It's like an old saying from a friend's grandpa from the midwest: "I ain't rich enough to buy cheap tools."

In other words, if the quality investment of time and resources isn't made up front, quick-fixes and slogans ultimately wind up where cheap tools do: In the garbage, then the landfill.

We know, as parents, what works, and it is incredibly sad that the resource that is US, is not better appreciated or harnessed by the central admin, but instead lied to, misled, and toyed with like lab rats, particularly by the Board, some of whom CLEARLY have higher office ambitions. But our history is full of charlatans and wannabes who cannot reason, nor listen to reason, but instead think they already know better about everything.

On some things, ours is not to reason why. Some lyrics from the old Eagles song the Last Resort comes to mind: "Somebody laid the mountains low, while the town got high."

That's about how I feel about what's going on in SPS. Someday the carnival will be over and move on, and the folks who really make a difference and care will still be here. So, long term, I'm still confident.

hschinske said...

MGJ says she's for good teaching; well, who wouldn't be? But the real point she's dog-whistling is the research showing that a good teacher can make up for the class size being too large, which people like her naturally seized on as a way to justify not spending any money to bring class sizes down.

If admin types would ever even honestly say "It would be great to bring class sizes down, but we can't realistically do that," I'd have a lot more respect for them.

Helen Schinske

suep. said...

Here's my take on that editorial:

“Special to the Times” — Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson

Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has an op-ed in yesterday’s Seattle Times about the new teacher’s contract, “Much work needed to build on Seattle’s groundbreaking contract.” What a surprise! There has been such a parade of fawning and blinkered (and downright inaccurate) editorials and articles coming out of the Times this year in support of the superintendent and her unmandated, often underhanded, Broad/Gates ed reform agenda that some of us suspect the school district PR office has its own cubicle inside the newspaper’s building.

Here are my Friday morning thoughts on this latest effort at SPS spin.

First off, the superintendent has got a better writer crafting her texts for her these days. She sounds more human in this one. Nice appeal to fellow parents with the last paragraph about her own child. (Of course her own child attends the most highly funded school in the district in a new — if problematic — building, so she’s not exactly feeling all our pain.)

Secondly, glad to see she’s finally dropped the redundant and kind of regal “Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D” title from her every byline.

Thirdly, the SPS or MGJ spin machine is at work here. I’m not sure how “groundbreaking” the contract actually is. The superintendent didn’t get “SERVE,” her radical and unacceptable last-minute Molatov of a deal she threw at the teachers, so she’s got to spin this compromised contract into gold somehow, perhaps to save face.

And maybe shore up some support for the upcoming levy, because various elements of this contract depend on the levy passing this November. (The third education levy in a year for Seattle voters. Levy fatigue anyone?)

Next, she is wrong about this: “The research is unequivocal: Quality teaching trumps all other factors in determining student success.”

(more here.)

--sue p.

John said...

Helen said:
If admin types would ever even honestly say "It would be great to bring class sizes down, but we can't realistically do that," I'd have a lot more respect for them.

Agreed. I don't know why they think all this weaselly spin-speak is a good idea. It's insulting to the intelligence. (And stylistically makes me want to puke.)

I overheard a conversation yesterday by a parent talking about her high-school child's new year. (Basically, no APP at their high school, no room at the school with APP. They can waste a year retaking a subject, or go to private school.) And then she mentioned that parents have to be a constant advocate for their children in the SPS system from the beginning. It's an exhausting struggle. For the amount of money that goes downtown, you'd think it wouldn't have to be like this.

wseadawg said...

Helen & John: I'll tell you exactly why they won't just be honest and level with folks: Because they truly have ulterior motives that they know parents would not agree with, appreciate, nor embrace, which is to remake the district in the image of what Gates, Walton and Broad really believe a modern, technologically hip and most importantly - technologically DEPENDANT - school district should look like and run like, despite no tried and true formula or methods. That's why they can't level with folks.

If they came right out and told folks that our kids were all subjects in somebody's grand experiment - which they are - they know the majority of parents would go nuts. Thus, they lie, deceive, posture and spin. Politics 101.

suep. said...

Well said, Wseadawg. I think you are right and this is a key element of their plan:

"technologically DEPENDANT"

For example, Bill Gates' (failed) "School of the Future" in Philadelphia was(is?) paperless, pencil-less, and possibly even book-less. Kids were all given a laptop and a Microsoft portal from which to get their assignments.

That may be Gates' vision of education Utopia.

It is my vision of hell.

--sp.

WenD said...

@hschinske: "If admin types would ever even honestly say 'It would be great to bring class sizes down, but we can't realistically do that,' I'd have a lot more respect for them."

True. I look at what the teachers' union is facing here, and what the nursing unions are dealing with. Similar situations. Admins/boosters/legislature know the money won't be spent to make classrooms smaller. Teachers, like nurses, increasingly work in hostile environments because doing their jobs cuts into profits.

Wseadawg: Exactly. The reformers are exploiting a political vacuum, made easy because it’s politically “awkward” to admit that our monies weren’t spent as intended.

Teachers have become competition for scarce funds. Reformers refuse to treat them as peers or even essential assets. They speak about them while they’re in the room as if they’re a problem to be fixed. This is the first red flag that their intentions are dishonest and self-serving.

Hospital admins are known for cutting care past the edge of legally acceptable. Nursing unions hold the line to protect the integrity of their profession and the people they serve. Teachers must do the same.

The leg and city hall see what’s going on and do nothing. Notice how Mary Jean Ryan, yet another revolving door political fixture, has joined the club?

If boosters came to the table to support educators, instead of thinking up ways to replace them, you’d see real work commencing, the next steps in the life of an institution. MG-J’s pointless byline is an example of why this drive to take over is turning ugly.

disturbed said...

I am not sure of the right place to post my questions/comments. My daughter just started kindergarten and there are 27 kids in the class with no help for the teacher other than a special needs child's aid a few hours/week. This is disturbing to me. It is unfair to the teacher and the students. I've observed the class and can say class size DOES matter since kids don't get any individual help or recognition. And, we have a great teacher.

My question is, I hear some schools are underenrolled. Is kindergarten class size for 2010-2011 posted anywhere so I could make an informed decision about possibly transferring my child to a school with smaller classes?

I appreciate the education I am receiving through this blog. As I said, it is disturbing!

StepJ said...

disturbed,

I don't know of a location it is posted, but you can call the Enrollment office to find out. They do have that information available.

If you do decide to switch you will need to do so before September 30.

seattle citizen said...

Does anyone know if a list of the available, vacant seats by grade/class at each school is available at Seattle Public Schools Main Index?

If there isn't, I would suggest one. Where to put it on the district website, hmmm. Do they have an "Opening Weeks Resources, FAQs and Contact People" page?

I'm gonna look for that info at SPS, brb..

Found School Summary Reports on Enrollment page, here's the placeholder under "School Summary Reports": "Enrollment Services SCHOOL SUMMARY REPORTS - The data that was previously posted here was the first draft look at Open Enrollment data. That information is now obsolete. We are now at the point in the process where we have started making waiting list calls, so the information can change moment by moment.

To check your child's waiting list status, you can call our automated phone line at (206) 252-0212."

What this tells us is that yes, "the information can change moment by moment" and thus might not be readily available (they couldn't tell us if there are vacanies because they might be being filled) Makes sense.

But I wonder if, with all this modern technology, some benefactor....the Gates Foundation?...could supply the system with one nof those instanteous-speed-of-light gizmos, "programs, I think they're called, to allow a speedier posting of vacancies in real time, and as it adjusts. Seems like it would be nice to more directly offer people an early chance to see what's available, and it would help the district distribute more evenly if they were active in the process.

Jan said...

seattle citizen (and disturbed said): that information should not have been permanently removed. I understand that SOME of it gets out of date -- but not all of it, and there was much there that was useful.
How hard is it to just post a warning -- in red if they want -- at the top of the table saying that the lists are moving, sometimes daily, and that the information is only current as of X date -- and then update it once a week or so?

speducator said...

You should see the level 4 (self-contained) special ed classes at Sealth. The autism classroom has 13, which is 5 over the contractual load. The room is tiny and has no window. The other two level 4 programs have 13 and 12 respectively, with a contractual limit of 9. The room with 13 is the smallest classroom in the school. We have turned in DSU forms to the District, and we've gotten absolutely no feedback. I guess this is the "new" special education program MGJ had in mind for Seattle.

Douzp said...

speducator: Unfortunately, I suspect that someone from the special ed community is going to have to bring a large lawsuit to get changes that help this population. My child will have "timed out" of the system (by graduating) -- and his autism study skills class at his high school is the same size as it was last year (5) -- so I am not sure how to help. But through one of the special ed groups around Seattle, I think someone is going to have to put together a lawsuit on the many detrimental changes that are occuring in special education, or this district will simply throw (or maybe already has thrown) these kids under the bus.

Tim said...

Someone asked for honesty about the cost of reducing class sizes. It is out there...you may have to do a little division. The cost of a new teacher is what - 60k? (including all costs). But don't forget a classroom...figure a portable? I know I have seen those costs on this site. Then texts and materials...at middle school it would be math, ss and science texts as well as large lab kits - then overhead for the building etc. The cost is huge. And figure it only accounts for one set of kids - lowering the class size maybe 2 kids for 15 classrooms, for example. Multiply that across the district...
While I, and most teachers I know bemoan class size, we know it isn't practical to hope for much. A much better bang for the buck would be better services for IEP kids etc, better social services, breakfasts etc. Kids physically and emotionally ready to learn would improve learning overall much faster and cheaper. And it is within the districts ability to provide it. They'd have to hire back family support workers and counselors, and then hire a few more extra, but they wouldn't have to add classrooms, materials etc.

Research tends to point to significant gains in achievenment due to class size lowering only after the size drops to something like 18 per room. Not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

wsnorth: Your comments are excellent. But still...It is so weird that the highest performing schools in the district are actually ignored when they achieve test results well above other schools year after year. Never (ever) do district wonks show up at the top performing MSP (or MAP) schools and ask the teachers..."How are you doing so well with so many SpEd., low income, and inclusion kids." This year Lowell was trounced by multiple schools, but the district is mum on that little embarrassment.

Perhaps there is a formula so unique to student success that the district might benefit from studying it. But, not this Superintendent. She'll take a top performing school and overload it well beyond capacity to kill its successful program so she has no competing data to challenge her odious ideas. I heard one West Seattle elementary school is so overloaded that they daily violate the Uniform Building Code for Occupancy, Toilets, Hand Washing Stations, and Classroom Capacities. Every assembly is so crowded it actually poses safety hazards. Who would want to do that to a school that is performing well unless it was the intent to kill its successful program.

By: West Seattle Concerned Parent

Sahila said...

West Seatle Concerned Parent - if you have those facts, why dont you take them to the city authorities? Seriously... its criminal that SPS is endangering our kids and the staff in this way... I know Nova has some really big issues with safety (at least it did last year) and the commnunity wouldnt take it further in case they got punished by having the programme closed down... But businesses and production plants would be closed, fined, taken to court over these Occupational Health & Safety issues...

Dont we owe it to our kids to make sure they are safe while they're at school?

SPS thinks its above the law... time to show it it isnt....

Bluf-No-Mor said...

I agree with Sahila on this one, West Seattle Concerned Parent. Send a letter to the fire marshal, the building code department, the Public Health Department (or whoever is in charge of toilets and hand washing) -- and copy the Superindendent, each school board member, the Seattle Times, the TV/radio news stations, and the state education commissioner. And do it this weekend (if you are sure of your facts).

If the SAP isn't working -- because (a) the boundaries were drawn too wide and (b) no effort was made (or allowed to be made -- because I suspect some staff might have gotten this right, if allowed to) to account for people moving to attendance areas with better schools, coming from private schools in areas with guaranteed good schools, etc. -- the implementers of the plan need to be held accountable. It has to get daylighted. Please, do it. None of the teachers at the school can get in trouble -- it isn't their fault. The board APPROVED this plan -- and FAILED to ask the questions ("Gee, how did you account, in your data, for the possibility of families moving to areas with stronger schools, or opting for public rather than private schools, now that the process incorporates more certainty?" (The answer would have been -- "We didn't. We have made all schools excellent!" And, then, I guess, it would have been up to the board to decide whether they wanted to approve a plan, with no "ceilings" on enrollment, that contained such an outrageous falsehood. But -- the question was never asked, and so -- here we are.
What will happen at that school next week if there is a fire during an assembly?

wsnorth said...

wseadawg, right on!

West Seattle Concerned parent, carry on (send those letters)!

Sahila, keep on keepin' on!

Mao Goodloe Johnson, bug off!

(Can't take credit for the last, saw it on the Stranger blog or somewhere).

peonypower said...

I agree with the other posters on West Seattle Parent alerting all parties about the severe overcrowding at her kid's school. Why the board didn't have a plan for over enrolled schools mystifies me.

As for MGJ's statements- the one that kills me is that underperforming teachers will get help to improve. This help is in the form of a whopping 500.00 towards professional development. I find this laughable because my first year teaching the district had decided to mainstream all special education students into regular ed classes, and as a result 23 of my 76 freshman students had IEPs. 500.00 will not buy an IA for the classroom, or a support teacher. So really that "support" is a way to cover their ass when they fire you- because well, "they tried to help you improve."

Josh Hayes said...

Several posters ask about information regarding under-enrolled classrooms. It's a great question, but I would be astonished if SPS central would provide that information before October 1, when the official school enrollment figures are taken (right? That's what it was last year, anyway).

I know, for instance, that at my school, AS1, we have, I think 18 or so kids in the kindergarten class, with several middle-schoolers serving as assistants during the day. So we've got room for at least another half a dozen kids.

But I don't think the district wants people to combine two pieces of information: the schools they (parents) like, and the schools that have seats. I think the lack of movement on waitlists is a deliberate policy designed to make parents give up and try the "local" school. Once that happens, then maybe waitlists will move, but right now they're standing pat in the hope that parents will give in and fill, at least to some extent, those empty seats at non-preferred schools.

I know I cheerlead for AS1 here, but I don't think we have room for more 7/8 grade kids at this time; maybe one or two. Any other grade, especially the mid-elementary grades, we've got room, and great teachers and families! If you're in the north end, check us out.

Josh Hayes said...

That came out kind of wrong -- I didn't mean to say families not in the north end need not apply! Rather, the district provides yellow-bus transportation from much of the north end to AS1 at this time. South of the cut, or in Ballard for that matter, nope. That's all I meant.

suep. said...

West Seattle Concerned Parent said...

"This year Lowell was trounced by multiple schools, but the district is mum on that little embarrassment."

I'm curious -- what did you mean by this?

-- sue p.

SP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PurpleWhite said...

I was wondering if anybody here knew where MGJ got her PhD from and where her dissertation is published. It has been my experience that people who earn their PhDs (at least in the academic fields that I am familiar with) do not like to remind everyone all the time about their Doctorates, and have it written about every time their name is written. Maybe this has been written about in this blog before, and I haven't heard.

Oh, and the way things are going - Garfield's Science Program (which by the way was started by enthusiastic TEACHERS who kept it going without getting funding from the District, with the help of dedicated parents - grassroots at its best) may be going the way of Roosevelt's English program with the Standardization.

Anonymous said...

My question is, how do you recall, vote out, kick out, tar and feather and run out of town a superintendent?

Anonymous said...

Purple and White,

Good question. Out of all the information that many of us have been through, I cannot find out where our supe received her PhD.

Does someone else have that information?

Wayne said...

According to biographical information on the Seattle district's website, her PhD was received from the University of Colorado at Denver in the area of Educational Administration, Supervision, Curriculum and Instruction. This is consistent with her early career positions as a teacher and then administrator in several Colorado districts.

I said...

From an old P.I. article, "New superintendent steps into school fray":

Education: Ph.D in philosophy, University of Colorado at Denver, 1996; master's, University of Northern Colorado; bachelor's, University of Nebraska at Lincoln [degree in special education]

Charlie Mas said...

The full text of dissertations produced at any campus of the University of Colorado system from 1997 to the present are available from ProQuest as free PDF downloads.

Many libraries subscribe to ProQuest including the Seattle Public Library. It is accessible through the Seattle Library web site for members with a library card and PIN.

In short, you can download her dissertation online if you like.

hschinske said...

I think there are significant *degradations* in learning that happen once class sizes get over a certain point, though. It's not as if it was 18 or under versus any amount over that. In any case, the teacher can get nervy, frazzled, burned out, etc., without necessarily making any immediate impact on anything measurable -- still, it's not good for the teacher or students.

My daughter was in a regular class of 16 or 17 one year ("regular" as in not Spectrum or APP), and as far as I could see the teacher didn't take advantage of the small class size to do anything different -- she just coasted having a more peaceful than average year. The highest reading group was doing a simplified version of a book my daughter had read in the original the year before, for instance (and I don't think she was necessarily the strongest reader in the class). It was a more *pleasant* learning experience, which probably helped, but I think it would have been a lot better with a bit more differentiation.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Charlie, where did you see that SPL has access to dissertations through ProQuest? They subscribe to a number of ProQuest databases, but I don't see the dissertation one. In any case, Goodloe-Johnson's dissertation is from 1996, so if the database has University of Colorado dissertations only from 1997 and later, one might be out of luck.

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

Raise your hand if you're super-curious about our superintendent's dissertation, submitted for a Doctorate in Philosophy at the the University of Colorado, Denver.

Ooh, I wish I had access to Proquest!

hschinske said...

The University of Washington library system has access to the ProQuest dissertations and theses database, but you have to be in one of the libraries (I have a UW alumni account, but can't get to their databases from home).

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

the dissertation is called "The influence of assimilation and retention practices within school organizational culture on African-American certified employees in public education." Hard copy available at the U of Colorado library. 200+ pages.

seattle citizen said...

Here is a link to the Aurari Library, where one can call up the dissertation. It is authored by Maria Louise Goodloe, 1995, which I assume is our own MG-J.

INtersting title: "The influence of assimilation and retention practices within school organizational culture on African-American certified employees in public education."

Let's break that out - It sounds to me like it's a study of how organizational practices effect African American teachers: how some sort of expected assimilation effects them, and how their retention might be adversely effected by these practices?

A look at institutional racism relating to employees in the org structure of districts?

hmmm...anyhoo, I hope somebody finds a copy somewhere, I'm dying for a peek.

LD1190.E3 1995d .G66
Description xiii, 229 leaves : ill., forms ; 28 cm.
Note Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Philosophy, Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision.
Thesis (Ph.D)--University of Colorado at Denver, 1995.
Bibliog. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 151-156).
Subject Diversity in the workplace.
Minorities -- Employment -- Colorado.
School environment -- Colorado.
Thesis: Education
OCLC # 36455680

ballardmom said...

Regarding Lowell getting "trounced" by many schools on the MSP/MAP...

Until last year, Lowell housed only APP and Special Education programs. (I'm not sure if many/any Special Education students at Lowell take those types of tests). So the test scores have been based in the past on the 450-500 APP students.

Last year was the first year that Lowell housed Special Education, APP and ALO students. Half of Lowell's APP students were moved to Thurgood Marshall for 2009-2010. Students from TT Minor and students from the neighborhood became part of the new Lowell community last year. Lowell's demographics are different now. So Lowell's test scores reflect the achievement of the APP and ALO students. The test scores are different because you're testing a different group of kids.

We have two kids at Lowell and we are very happy with the teachers, the principal and general school environment. I believe our school is doing well in spite of our Sup.

Charlie Mas said...

Not quite half of the elementary APP students are at Thurgood Marshall. The last count I saw had about 3 at Lowell for every 2 at Thurgood Marshall.

This is actually something of a problem. When the District made the split they promised that the two programs would be of comparable size. They aren't. Lowell is half again the size of Thurgood Marshall.

ballardmom said...

I know I should have said "half" of APP students were moved to Thurgood Marshall. The district's version of splitting something in "half" really isn't half.

And this year Lowell has 542 students, as of last week. It's a very full building.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

If APP elementary school assignments are based on where the children reside, it's really not on the district if the two locations have unequal numbers of APP kids. To make the numbers EXACTLY equal isn't possible short of moving kids from one to the other school for that reason only.

It all comes down to where the kids who enter and remain in APP at the elementary program in each location. This is dependent on the PARENTS who choose this for their kids, not the district.

Whether the district should have promised they'd be of equal size is another matter. But I don't see how that's possible to know, because kids enter and leave the program at all grade levels every year, from all across the city.

What would you have them do, Charlie? Take some kids from Lowell and put them in TM just to make the APP populations exactly equal? THAT would go over real well!

seattle citizen said...

"What would you have them do, Charlie? Take some kids from Lowell and put them in TM just to make the APP populations exactly equal? THAT would go over real well!"

I shudder to think about the ramifications of this if there is an odd number of APP students....Yikes!

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you for asking, Seattle Citizen.

I would have them find a north-end location for north-end elementary APP. I proposed McDonald two years ago but they told me that there was no way that they could re-open McDonald. There are other locations available including John Marshall and Wilson-Pacific just to name two. Of course, the District also needs to increase capacity for alternative programs in the north-end as Salmon Bay and Thornton Creek have such long waitlists.

Moving the north-end students to a north-end location would, first of all, put future students living in the Lowell walk zone in the south-end school instead of the north-end school, as it should.

They might also consider shifting the McClure service area students to Thurgood Marshall instead of whatever north-end location they use.

That's what I would have them do.

I would have them keep their commitments.

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the response, Charlie, but actually I quoted agibean1958's question, asking if you would divide the two cohorts equally (numbers-wise) and balance them by moving students out of their grographical areas.

I was merely making a joke from agibean's question, wondering if there were an odd number of total APP students you might be sharpening your knives....

Ha ha. Ha. ahem.

Charlie Mas said...

Oops! Sorry for the mistake.

As for Agibean's question, no ever said that the two programs would be the exact same size. The commitment was that they would be of comparable size. I think I was pretty clear about that.

They were not of comparable size last year.

Moreover, one of the District's stated purposes in making the split was that to relieve the overcrowding at Lowell. What a bust!

Anonymous said...

But Charlie, you still haven't answered the question, because WHEREVER you put "north" and "south" APP you are STILL bound by the fact that since ALL kids who qualify get a seat, you can't possibly guarantee ANY size in ANY APP school!

You can shift BUILDINGS and rearrange KIDS, but really, if that huge population boom in the north grows an equally huge number of APP-eleigible kids, then you might have a larger "north" APP cohort for years to come. Or maybe the south/west Seattle parents all start having tons of kids and more of THEM qualify for APP, you'd have more at THAT school.

I get that you think the district should have a "true north" APP for elementary. But there really isn't a way to enforce "comparable size" APP's. You just have no idea what outside factors will come into play.

Look at the split or added APP classes WITHIN these buildings. These vary year by year because of the variation in the number of kids who do or don't take/pass APP tests and enroll in APP at all.

Of all the things you ding the district on, this is one of your weakest.

Charlie Mas said...

The District actually can influence these numbers. They set the attendance areas and can put the McClure service area in either the north or the south. Also, moving the north-end program north of the Ship Canal will put the students living in the Lowell walk zone into the south school - not an insignificant shift.

Also, if the District is incapable of managing this split, then the District shouldn't make commitments to manage this shift. Whether their failure lies in their failure to manage the split (which they have) or in their deception in making a commitment they can't keep, the District has been a bad actor either way.

Jan said...

Agibean: I agree with Charlie here, and I don't think his argument is weak. I didn't read the District's commitment as a promise that in X tens of future years, something couldn't happen to cause a size imbalance (though they DO have a lot of ways of correcting it). But at the time the split was discussed, there was a lot of concern among parents that the southern split would be a smaller, weaker, less robust program -- and that most kids would try to stay at Lowell. The district committed that the program would be split into two programs of comparable size -- and then they backed down. He is also correct that they could have, and arguably should have, immediately moved the "north" APP site to . . . the NORTH, rather than leaving it in central Seattle. They clearly had the ability to keep their commitment (AND, in ways that would have been better for north end kids). They just don't bother to, because keeping commitments is not important to them. It really bugs me.

Charlie Mas said...

At the time that the Board voted for an amendment that would allow APP students in the Lowell walk zone to enroll at Lowell instead of Thurgood Marshall, the staff had told the Board that there were only two such students.

However, as we now know, the Lowell walk zone at that time was absurdly small and not in compliance with the District's stated policy on walk zones. When the Lowell walk zone was re-drawn correctly it encompassed dozens of APP students. Bearing in mind that each student represents a two-student shift (minus one for Thurgood Marshall and plus one for Lowell), those Lowell walk zone students are a significant contributor to the imbalance in the prgrams' sizes.

wsnorth said...

RE: Lowell walk zone.

Charlie, I don't get this. If a student is within the walk zone to a school that provides the program they need, of course they should go there, not be bussed or driven across town.

Why should any student who could walk to Lowell go to Thurgood Marshall instead?

hschinske said...

Yes, Lowell walk-zone kids should go to Lowell; no problem there. The thing is that they didn't then redo the Thurgood Marshall boundaries to take account of the different numbers at Lowell, as should have been done. The district did only half of what needed to be done to fix the situation.

Helen Schinske

Jan said...

wsnorth and Helen: I think the problem (once they split the school) is that they mis-sited the "north" APP site. When you think about it, if there are two sites (one north, one south), how is it credible that you should be in a position where children assigned (by logical geographical split -- which I am assuming here) to the south zone are ACTUALLY within the logical walk zone for the NORTH school? My answer is -- it is not credible. If they wanted one school with a central location, Lowell answered pretty well. If they wanted two -- they needed to suck it up and do the right thing by north families and move the north site -- to the north. Then, this whole issue would never have arisen.

hschinske said...

Jan, of course that's also true and would be an even better fix. I was talking about the situation where Lowell was a given.

I can't remember how it worked out on the map, though -- maybe it wasn't possible to put the TM boundary far enough north without impinging on the logical walk zone for Lowell to some extent.

Helen Schinske