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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Directors' Community Meetings on Saturday

Anybody go?

6 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I went to two of them. They could not have been more different.

First, I went to Director Carr's meeting in Greenwood. There were seven people there. They were VERY concerned about the state of International Education and the language immersion programs.

There was a lot of agreement that the attendance area for JSIS was completely messed up. Director Carr expressed confidence that it will be fixed in the regular, annual capacity management process. The people at the meeting, however, unanimously believed that JSIS should be an option school (and didn't understand why it wasn't from the start). There is PLENTY of room at the surrounding schools.

The long-term solution, of course, is for the District to create additional language immersion programs. Director Carr suggested that McDonald could be one. I noted that this would put both north-end language immersion programs literally adjacent to each other - not exactly equitable distribution around the District as required by Board Policy. Of course, if they were Option schools that would be less of an issue.

Additional elementary language immersion programs are needed to support the middle school language immersion program at Hamiltion - and to provide sufficient feeders for the other middle school language immersion programs when they come online.

Director Carr said that starting a language immersion program was a three-year process with an exploratory year and a planning year before the first implementation year. Apparently McDonald and Sand Point are in their exploratory year. She noted that tight resources might necessitate delays.

The language immersion program at Hamilton is also suffering because some students leave the language immersion program at middle school. They were enrolled at JSIS because it was their neighborhood school, not for the program. This dilutes the strength of the program at the elementary school level also and also argues for it to be an Option program.

There are other issues with international education - no high school program, diluted international focus at Hamilton, no effort by APP or Spectrum to embrace international curriculum at Hamilton, and a lot of competing interests at Hamilton with so many programs in the school.

Another woman came to say that ICS Special Education model IS NOT WORKING. The Special Education students need more support and they are drawing inordinate amounts of teacher time and attention. If the Special Education students were adequately supported then the program would be a net positive for everyone in the class and for the community, but as it is, it is a negative for everyone in the class and could prove harmful to the community.

Director Carr heard that a second time from another person at the meeting.

I noted that the elementary schools in the north end of West Seattle are more over-crowded than Garfield and said that I wanted the Director to know that my budget priorities, and the budget priorities of everyone I knew were all about spending in the classrooms - restoring cut services, spending to make ICS work, and support for struggling students. No one outside the JSCEE regarded ANY of the central administration projects as a budget priority. I told her that we saw how, over the past two years, while classrooms and schools were cut there was not a single Strategic Plan project that was slowed, postponed, or reduced due to budget constraints.

Charlie Mas said...

Leaving Director Carr's meeting it was a quick, easy drive to Director Maier's meeting.

There were only two people there, myself and one other, which was a bit awkward.

We started by talking about budget priorities. I said that I wanted to see the cuts to schools restored, support for struggling students and more resources to ICS. Director Maier appears to continue to be committed to pushing forward with Strategic Plan stuff. Hmmm.

We had an odd, scattered conversation that touched on a number of topics. Director Maier denied all responsibility for the Southeast Initiative. He regards it as a project of the previous Board and he had no interest in it. He acknowledged that it was a failure - but it was a failure that he seemed to want to blame on the previous Board, not the superintendent or the current board.

He thought that the audit wasn't that bad. He interpreted it as saying that there were some small technical mistakes but that the financial statements were clear and correct. No kidding.

There really wasn't much for us to talk about.

Anonymous said...

How could ICS ever possibly work? What is ICS, anyway? Let's think about that. ICS is actually nothing. Well, it's a powerpoint slideshow. It's "here's a bunch of disabled kids, seeya". Those students used to be in inclusion programs that worked well. To save money, the district decided to drop the inclusion programs. The students, however, are still there, and there are new ones starting kindergarden every year. The story goes like this. "If we drop the inclusion programs, we'll include more kids." Huh? What kind of double-talk is that?

Kids who are already in inclusion programs are the "lucky" ones. New kids, not so much. You see, the new kids' parents don't know that there used to be inclusion programs available that worked. They just figure, this is school, this is how it works, oh yeah, did it always suck this bad for disabled people? Not being disabled themselves, the parents don't realize that in SPS, it was way better only 2 years ago. And, that their kids actually could be successful in regular school with inclusion program support.

Was ICS ever about including more students in anything? No. That's why we've got more self-containment than ever. Check out Eckstein. It was forced to take on a new self-contained program when it had always served EVERYONE inclusively before, with high quality for all. And everyone included autistic kids, behaviorally disabled kids, deaf and hard of hearing kids. In short, "everyone" at Eckstein had always included a pretty tough crowd. Now that we've got ICS, self-containment moved in there and these kids don't get any "integrated", or any "comprehensive" or any "service".

--ICS, no thank you

dan dempsey said...

Last time I checked Director Maier took office in November of 2007. The Southeast Education Initiative was a three year program that ended on August 31, 2010.

Current Superintendent took control in July 2007.

Yet Charlie states that:

"Director Maier denied all responsibility for the Southeast Initiative. He regards it as a project of the previous Board and he had no interest in it. He acknowledged that it was a failure - but it was a failure that he seemed to want to blame on the previous Board, not the superintendent or the current board."

Director Maier apparently suffers from a reality gap. He needs to be recalled.

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) I'll be seeing Director Maier at the Audit and Finance meeting tomorrow. I just know that the auditor from the State office will be there as well. I'll just ask Mr. Maier to explain to us how the audit isn't that bad. I'm sure it will be a short conversation.

2) Look, if anyone knows someone - a PTA president, community leader, someone from the region Maier represents, could you ask them to e-mail me? We need someone to run against him. It's

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Maureen said...

Here's the map of the District Peter Maier represents.