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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Voices from the SE Region

From the blog, "The Adventures of the Kidde Woodward Family", a SE family's view of the School Reports. It's long but filled with great examples, musings and anguish for what can be done.

A few excerpts:

First of all: I feel like your relentless reliance on quantifiable data is obscuring some of the things that really matter to me. Now, I know it's important to have specific goals and to track measurable results. But in order to get data tell you anything useful, you have to understand its context. You have to know where the numbers came from, and what their limitations are. You have to ask yourself how (and if) what they're measuring relates to what you think is important. You have to put the data in the service of human connections, experience, and judgment -- instead of the other way around. (bold mine)

About South Shore's low scores last year:

Do I sound like I'm making excuses? I'm not making excuses. Nor do I mean to imply that test scores at South Shore -- or anywhere else -- are predestined by the kids who walk in the door, or that schools with lots of poor kids and kids of color are doomed to failure. Not at all. Demography is not destiny. It is absolutely the responsibility of Seattle Public Schools (and the rest of us too, if we know what’s good for us) to make sure every child gets a fabulous education, no matter what the color of their skin, the size of their parents’ bank account, or which end of town their school happens to be located in. There are schools out there that do a great job teaching all kinds of kids -- and South Shore is one of them. I'm just pointing out that sometimes factors outside the classroom get in the way of that happening. I had something of a front row seat to a lot of South Shore’s trauma last year, and I just can't stand to see those smug little numbers sitting there on that school report, totally failing to acknowledge any of it.

About outcomes and accountability:

At about this point, a woman in the back stood up and said, "You know, every PowerPoint slide you've shown us has that blue banner across the bottom, 'Every student achieving, everyone accountable.' Given what you're telling us, I actually find that very offensive." Fionnuala, sitting behind me, was also frustrated by the lack of both achievement and accountability: "I want to see a plan, step by step: here's what we're going to do to fix this, and here's are the consequences if it doesn’t get better.”

I would even forgo some accountability if I thought that if there was a plan that said "We try A to B. If B doesn't work for some kids, we go to step C." I want to see the intervention plan for kids who struggle. There may be some of that going on but where is the systemic change? Where is the chart for that for the district to show parents?

On despair and hope:

I don't know about you, Seattle Public Schools, but I find those consequences unacceptable. I got the sense they were unacceptable to pretty much everyone in that room last Monday, including Michael Tolley. If that's true, then all of us -- parents and teachers, principals and bureaucrats, legislators, business leaders, and students too -- we're all going to have to put our despair and cynicism aside, roll up our sleeves, and get our asses in gear. We owe it to Princess Shareef, who told Fionnuala, "I wouldn't be here if I thought it was hopeless." We owe it to Bryan and Jeff and all the other teachers who are out there using data and planning and imagination and compassion to teach our children the things we've decided they should know. Most importantly, we owe it to the kids who are getting up every morning and walking into class at Rainier Beach High and Hawthorne Elementary.

Thank you to LG for the heads-up and link.

4 comments:

Maureen said...

Melissa, thank you for linking to this. It is a thoughtful and illuminating piece (and very well written!).

Anonymous said...

Amen from another south end parent.

Veronica said...

As someone who has had the misfortune of working at South Shore I can say the word NEVER with certainity when it comes to returning to that school.

I believe its on its third Principal in as many years and many of the Teachers there are well unique to say the least.

When it was in Columbia City one of the 6th grade teachers used to send his students to the Starbucks across the street ALONE to get coffee. There were other rumors and issues I heard surrounding pocketing field trip money etc.

This school I am sure rivals Aki Kurose as one of the most chaotic in the district.

There is such a disdain for anyone really trying to do anything of significance in many of the south end schools that many people like myself will no longer return to them. Its just not worth it. The irony is that I live in the area.

ParentofThree said...

Can we get a link to this blog on the sidebar here. Also, it would be great to get a link to the Seattle Eduation 2010 blog.

Both are great resources.