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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, Jan. 17th
Region 6 PTSA Forum on charter schools at Washington Middle School from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

I want to note a couple of things here.  One, this is not sponsored by the Seattle Council PTSA so please take note of that.  President Lauren McGuire stated to me that they would be taking no stance on charter schools until legislation was offered (she and I spoke before legislation came out) and that the PTSA Board would read it and then consider their stance.  Seems like a good way to go.

Second, while this is billed as a forum, to my mind, if you present a pro side and a con side, it's a debate.  Keep in mind that Region 6 is not trying to educate parents as to what charters are (and are not); this is going to be two sides basically explaining why we should or should not have them.  It's a little hard to follow that kind of debate if you don't even clearly understand the subject matter but that's what they are doing.  

Lastly, what's interesting is that Ramona Hattendorf, the state PTSA governmental person has stated that the PTSA has 6 top issues this legislative session.  None of them are about charters.  That subject falls on their "supported" issues.  And yet, there seems to be a remarkable amount of energy on charters.   Hmm.

I look forward to forums on their top issues of improving basic education, math and science instruction, phonological awareness screening/reading instruction, changing layoff polices to include more than just seniority, funding education first in the state budget and research-based model for teacher compensation rewarding teacher effectiveness.  

(Also, reading what the national PTA says about charters, it would seem they would NOT support them but that's another thread.) 

Wednesday, Jan. 18th 
Board Work Session on the Budget from 4-5:30 p.m. - yes, where to find the money to close up that budget gap? 

School Board Meeting from 6-9 p.m.  Agenda.

Thursday, Jan. 19th
Curriculum & Instruction/Operations Meeting of the Whole from 4-7 p.m.

Community Conversation with ELL and Special Education Directors from 6-7:30 p.m. at Broadview-Thompson K-8

Friday, Jan. 20th
BEX Oversight Committee meeting (which I mistakenly put down for last week) from 8:30-10:30 am

Saturday, Jan. 21st
Director DeBell Community meeting from 9-11 am at Cafe Appasionato
Director Peaslee Community meeting from 10:30 am - noon, Lake City Library

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The preconceived agenda is trolling for support. Nothing new here. WSDWG

dan dempsey said...

Speaking of preconceived agenda .....
Check the MOU.

So what good is a collective Bargaining agreement when the SEA leadership decide to just change it without adequate consultation with membership?

Anonymous said...

This from Melissa:
Brian is a smart guy and he's running rings around the other media. They are doing sloppy work and they should be ashamed of it. Either that or leave the education reporting to people who know the issue.

Melissa, the most recent article in the Seattle Times is using a scant amount of data to further the charter agenda. Who is quoted? Robin Lake, of course. To Brian's credit, he mentions the sample sizes are small. How small, you ask?

Out of the 400 people in the "community survey," 46% had no direct relationship with SPS (not a graduate, no kids in SPS). Of the 400, 48% identified as Northwest or Northeast, and 23% as Southwest(13%) or Southeast (10%). If we extrapolate that data, assume 54% of respondents in the Southend had a relationship with SPS (ie, parent of past or student student, SPS graduate), then only 12.4%, or 50 people (0.23 x 0.54 x 400) in the Southend were the basis of the opinion survey.

If 29% of Southeast residents in the Elway poll gave an "unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" rating, that extrapolates to 0.29 x 0.10 x 0.54x 400, or 6, yes 6 people in the Southeast with some connection to SPS, that gave the schools an unfavorable rating.

If 18% of Southwest residents in the Elway poll gave an "unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" rating, that extrapolates to 0.18 x 0.13 x 0.54x 400, or 5, yes 5 people in the Southeast with some connection to SPS, that gave the schools an unfavorable rating.

Is it safe to make a sweeping generalization based on this data? Discuss.

Seattle parent

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

Seattle parent:

You're not far off on the numbers. In fact, the survey only questioned 38 people in the southeast (nine expressed unfavorable opinions) and 52 people in the southwest (again, nine expressed unfavorable opinions).

So yes, absolutely small sample size - as noted - although I don't see why people without a current student in the system, or people with favorable opinions, don't count.

That all said, I'm not following on the furthering "the charter agenda" point. Do you assume that anybody who notes that some schools are worse than others automatically supports charter schools?

-Brian M. Rosenthal
http://www.twitter.com/brianmrosenthal

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

Correction: 11 in the southeast expressed unfavorable opinions. Sorry about that.

Another Seattle Parent said...

Yes, Brian, you will find on this blog that any reporter who doesn't trash any and all possible education reform stance is furthering the agenda of the oligarchs. And anyone who dares support any reform position is questioned about who they really are, called names, and trashed for thinking otherwise. Melissa and Charlie don't do it-usually, but there are plenty who do.

As for your article, 11 people is nothing. And I would guess that those 11 people do not represent the vast majority of S. Seattle families-because the survey was online and information about it generally spread via online readers, and many S. Seattle lower income and ESL families aren't online much if at all. As well, many minority families take with a huge grain of salt anything that comes from benevolent white folks trying to "help". Many are actually pretty happy with the schools their kids attend and resent the image that they're unsafe, terrible places for kids. It's the gentrifiers moving in that largely hold that perception.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm a little confused as to how we got to the Times article.

I think Brian did point out the small sample size and hopefully it registered.

I am hoping to talk to Director Patu and others soon to get their read on these issues.

I can only say that there is blame to go around. That might make some people mad but it is true.

But the district could have done some things different, at different points, and chose not to. And that region suffered.

But you also have a fairly divided community on "what to do." And, of course, it's a diverse community so there's no reason why they necessarily would speak with one voice.

If I had the power, I would give each school one "ask" - what would really help and then go find the money/resources/knowledge base to get it.

Would the Mercer model help? Is it more discipline? Is it tutoring every single day?

Then, you tell the community that they need to back that commitment with everything they've got in them as parents.

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

Another Seattle parent:

The survey was actually conducted via telephone, not online. It was 400 randomly-selected registered voters in the city (the registered voter stipulation, more than anything else, may have skewed results).

For what it's worth, the south end parents I talked to said they think the dissatisfaction is actually much higher than the survey reflects.

Anonymous said...

The deeper story here is why so few south Seattle parents were polled. The fact that the survey was online clearly indicates the answer. But the deeper question is why the survey was not conducted in alternative ways.

The Rainier Beach parent quoted in the article stated that the parents in this community are tired of not being asked. The survey itself proves her point.

Instead, the article opened up a barrage of racist comments (on MLK Holiday). Brian, welcome to the great northwest...where the south is put down as backward and racist.
This area has its own peculiar form of racism--I love you as long as you stay away from me.

Please be aware that such open ended articles spew hatred in the comments...as did your article about the so-called achievement gap between Africans and African-Americans. This data was painfully skewed, as careful readers on this blog pointed out--how can this data be valid when ELL students have been removed
from the statistics.

Sure, Brian, you are just reporting. But look at who is providing the information that you are reporting. Is it fair? Does it have its own agenda? Did it include all community groups fairly?

This is the real education news that is waiting to be tapped in Seattle.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding the means of the survey.
However, the question remains? Why were so few parents asked.

I am not surprised at parent dissatisfication. I spent many years teaching in this area. Despite what Charlie said in the comments section, these schools are vastly inferior to most schools in Seattle. The fact that desegregation is in full force in
Seattle demonstrates that charters do not hold a monopoly on this trend.

--enough already

Another Seattle Parent said...

Well, Brian, all I can tell you is that I live in S. Seattle, have sent my kids to S. Seattle schools, know dozens of S. Seattle parents with kinds IN these schools and they aren't unhappy overall. Maybe I just don't know the right parents.

The ones I know have had issues with specific teachers or principals. They have issues with low expectations. They have issues with the district paying attention to them-as well they should. But they do have their kids in the schools and aren't trying to escape or send their kids elsewhere. They DO want good schools, wouldn't anyone?

No matter where the survey came from, even if it was completely random, 11 people is still nothing. I know more parents than that in my kid's one dance class-all black parents, all with kids in the schools here.

By the way, I forgot to mention that it's really only a matter of time before you're accused of being paid off to write complementary articles for the "other side". They don't really want you to write OBJECTIVELY. They want you to write their point of view, and nothing else. They won't say that, of course, but tear you apart when you talk to the "wrong" people.

Anonymous said...

the word (of course) is resegregation, not desegregation--a very tough pill to swallow, especially in 2012.

I don't think Brian Rosenthal is going to care about accusations, since he has already demonstrated that facts are the trump card for him.

--enough already

Pallas said...

Just a point on including or excluding folks who don't have children in the district.

The issue is when almost half of your respondents have no 'skin in the game' you need to discount much of the results.

Getting a pulse on this segment is totally valid, but there should have been a quota of 10% tops. And, there should have been quotas for each region as well--then they would have had a representative sample of the population.

Randomly selecting people to answer a survey isn't always representative.

Anonymous said...

I would think that having experience with schools might alter one's opinion significantly either pro or con. Perhaps controlling for that would have made it a better survey? Having or having had kids in the system makes one a stakeholder in a different way. Not saying exclude anyone. But, carve out the data and see what it shows.

Having said that, when I started teaching, I was a substitute. I was at Leschi one day and refused to go back. So had three teachers before me. Fifth grade class. Unruly kids. A boy sneaked out and told the office I had physically pushed him. Up comes office staff and calls me outside with the boy. She tells me his accusation. Wanting to be truthful, I thought for a minute sort of hemming and hawing and suddenly had the realization that I never touched him. I looked at him and said that. He started to smile at which time office staff took his arm and they marched back to the office. That was the end of it.

I'm no shrinking violet. I was called often to a fifth grade class at Sanislo and a fourth grade at Concord. I was considered a strong manager and one who related well to at-risk kids. This was more than a decade ago, but there are schools out there which can be unmanageable and where kids will not get taught. There has to be some investment on the part of the students. Even if they come from families that really care, students can deprive themselves of a decent education. It isn't the income that determines success in education; it is the value one places on getting it. All three schools served very poor children. But each school was ethnically quite different. I came to the conclusion as a beginning teacher that culture matters.

I'm not saying that unruly kids who use physicality to make a classroom unsafe (which was the case in that Leschi classroom) can't be taught but class size was obviously too big and administration out of the picture when it came to supporting teachers.

Remember, this is a long time ago. But that was one teacher's experience.

northender

Kathy said...

"I don't see why people without a current student in the system, or people with favorable opinions, don't count."

There is an enormous difference between parents with children in the district-and others. We've spent years interacting with principals, teachers, curriculum and administrative policies.

We're in the midst of historic cuts to education..and it shows.

seattle citizen said...

One similarity between parents with kids in the public schools and citizens without is that both support PUBLIC schools.
Additionally, non-parents are still uncles, friends, and otherwise attached to the young-uns!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible fewer southend residents are registered voters, and therefore fewer southend residents were polled?

When an article like this is posted a day before the public forum on charters, well, conspiracy theorists might have reason to question whether or not it was pure coincidence.

When the sets of data are that small, it's hard to know what to make of the results.

-registered voter

SolvayGirl said...

Weighing in...

A SE resident, I HAD a child in public schools for 8 years and have many friends with children in SPS, so I do have a lot of the necessary info to make an informed opinion. Gosh, even Melissa no longer has a child in SPS—does that automatically mean she can't have an educated opinion?

Second, I AM a taxpayer and I AM concerned about the direction in which public education is headed—not only in Seattle, but across the country. A 400-person, random survey is near meaningless. Surveys are near meaningless as a good surveyor knows how to write questions to elicit the desired response.

I believe that the RBHS low enrollment is a good indicator of how unhappy area residents are with the school—whether this lack of happiness is justified or not.

Anonymous said...

The breakdown of the 400 respondents, as reported by Elway research:

12% Graduate
5% Other Adult in House is Graduate
22% Child Currently Enrolled
23% Child Graduated
46% No Direct Relationship

According to numbers posted by Brian, which presumably include those with and without direct relationships to SPS, only 20 people from the Southeast and Southwest combined expressed unfavorable opinions.

In the survey, Melissa would be included with those that have a direct relationship with SPS (child graduated).

-registered voter

Lori said...

I have a few problems with how the Times' article draws conclusions from the Elway survey.

First, the title itself is misleading. The title says, "Survey data show South Seattle parents less happy with schools." What is *should* say, based on what's in the article, is "Survey data suggest South Seattle voters less happy with schools." I changed "show" to "suggest" because I don't see any valid statistical analyses in the article. Were the differences between respondents in different geographies statistically significant? Elway could have calculated some confidence intervals around each proportion to help with interpretation. Better yet, they could have done a Chi-square test of responses versus geographies to test the hypothesis that answers differed by region. Otherwise, if we are all just "eyeballing" the numbers, we certainly can't conclude that the data "show" anything. (the other minor point is that the survey was of voters, not just parents; hence, you cannot conclude that the results reflect parents' beliefs.)

My other concern is that the survey was not designed for this purpose. If they had intended a priori to do this sort of subgroup analysis, they may have also wanted to get better representation from each geography and designed a statistical plan for it. It looks to me like a post hoc analysis (some might call it data dredging), which in my field we are cautious to use only for generating new hypotheses, not for making firm conclusions. When it comes to post hoc subgroup analyses, they saying goes, "if you torture your data enough, they will confess to anything" so you always have to be careful about over-interpreting these sorts of things.

Dorothy Neville said...

If tomorrow is a snow day, WMS will be closed for evening events, yes? So good bye, charter school forum, perhaps.

What I am more concerned with is Wednesday and the budget discussion and board meeting. Does school board meeting automatically get cancelled when schools have snow day?

Josh Hayes said...

And our friend Cliff Mass is warning that we could see a wowzer of a snow event on Wednesday:


Check it out.

Teacher and Parent said...

"...changing layoff polices to include more than just seniority, funding education first in the state budget and research-based model for teacher compensation rewarding teacher effectiveness."

YES, Melissa. THANK YOU.

I just wanted it to be in print twice. Or, whatever the blog equivalent of print is. "On screen?"

Lori said...

Remembering the year that the district called at 5AM with a snow closure announcement, we have opted to turn off the phone's ringer tonight. You may want to do the same if you have the ability to check the closure reports yourself at a more reasonable hour!

Charlie Mas said...

I like what enough already wrote:

"The deeper story here is why so few south Seattle parents were polled."

The sample is too small to be meaningful - either one way or the other.

I also like what Solvay Girl wrote: "I believe that the RBHS low enrollment is a good indicator of how unhappy area residents are with the school—whether this lack of happiness is justified or not."

That's the survey that counts.

The Elway poll may not tell a clear story, but the enrollment numbers do. It's a story that clearly states the community's dissatisfaction with the school in no uncertain terms.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MAPsucks said...

As much as our intrepid ST reporter is a vast improvement over the last one, why does BrianMRosenthal tweet this, in support of his last report?

"Good map by the @CRPE_UW illustrating the phenomenon I discuss in my article today about the north-south school divide http://bit.ly/x4vurW

There it is; CRPE again. Just because a school's a 2 or 3 doesn't necessarily mean parents are unhappy or that teachers are "ineffective". Recall that school rankings are based on, among other things, MAP data based on some magical algorithm.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This area has its own peculiar form of racism--I love you as long as you stay away from me.

Or: I love my "diverse" neighborhood, but sure don't want to go to school with any of it. (In the same building might be OK, not in the same class though.) That's RBHS. That's IB. That's GH montessori.

-reader

anonymous said...

Yup, Charlie is absolutely right about the enrollment numbers telling a clear story.

Check out the SPS maps. You can view them here.

The maps show that of the 1413 students that live in the RBHS attendance area only 244 attended the school last year. That means that 1169 families chose to sent their kids to a different SPS high school. And the data only looks at kids attending SPS schools -it doesn't include all of the families that live in the area that chose private schools.

Same grim numbers for AKI. Of the 1010 students that live closest to the school only 367 attend the school.

That says a lot.

FBF

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.