K-5 STEM at Boren

A request was made for a thread about issues at the new K-5 STEM school at Boren.  Among the issues:

- Parents signed their children up for STEM before they knew it was requiring uniforms. They gave up their spots at their neighborhood schools and are now forced to go to a school requiring uniforms.
- Is there a name for this school yet?  (Not that it matters)
- Did anyone talk to McDonald or Viewlands or the other schools that reopened to ask their advice about forming a community?



Anonymous said…
Neighbor- In the Friday what's on your mind thread you posted, "Well, if I remember right, the new "transformative" principal had uniforms in her old school. So 'natch it's a good fit..."
Are you saying that the new principal at K-5 STEM had uniforms at her previous school?

Future STEM Parent
Anonymous said…
The new principal is from a "turnaround" middle school in AZ. Thus uniforms may have been likely.

Bottom line was that in terms of test scores ... nothing turned around.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
5/30/12 WS Blog:

"And Tuesday night’s agenda at Madison Middle School (now the team’s regular meeting site) brought not only more discussions, but also the start of a dialogue – uniforms, or no uniforms?

That topic didn’t come up till close to the end of the meeting, but it certainly woke up anyone and everyone who might have been starting to suffer from droopy-eye syndrome in the second hour of earnest, detailed discussion of the Design Team’s biggest task – designing a curriculum. So we’ll write about it before the other meaty parts of the meeting.

Dr. McKinney stressed repeatedly she wasn’t bringing up the uniform/dress code idea as a means of “behavior control.”

Primarily, she said, she saw it, potentially, “as a way to elevate the expectations at our school … so far as, kids come to school, dressing for success. … I (would) want them to be proud of the fact they are coming to school dressed for success, ‘we’re here to learn and this is an awesome opportunity’.”

And in the next breath, she declared it would be a “community decision.”"

Anonymous said…
from same:

"Regarding dressing for success, a parent likened the concept to a professional athlete putting on her/his uniform – “they belong to something bigger” – while another opinion that uniforms seemed more suited to occasional “spirit wear” than daily wear. Other concerns included availability of uniforms after the start of school, so that a late-entering student would be able to buy one, and how to handle “cultural differences” that might require a child to wear something specific. And when the public-comment portion of the meeting ensued, one parent observer acknowledged her initial reaction was “No,” but added, “I could be persuaded.”

Dr. McKinney concluded the round of discussion saying, “Well, I opened up THAT can of worms!” and saying the topic would be on the next Design Team agenda (June 6th): “We’ll continue the dialogue.”"

Anonymous said…
This is an option school, and no one is forced to attend. Uniforms are in other Seattle schools including neighborhood schools. At K5STEM informational meetings, parents were told that there were many unknowns and if they were uncomfortable with that and the associated risks they should not apply.

The design team makes recommendations and the district makes the final decisions. Community input informs the process, but is not the only factor. There's been discussion about selecting uniform options friendly to all genders, cultures, special needs, Seattle weather, and the active play and lab/field work students will be doing at K5STEM. Providing comfortable, affordable uniforms to all students (free to some) was a stated goal. It was made clear that students will not be punished for not wearing uniforms, because children should not be held responsible for the actions or inaction of their parents.

The principal will talk about her vision at a meet and greet next week that is open to everyone. That would be a good place to raise concerns and explore how to make this work best for your family at K5STEM. If this is potentially a deal-breaker, get accurate information about it and work constructively with the school leadership to alter it. If it is still unacceptable, so be it. There are currently waiting lists for every grade.

-Neutral on Uniforms but supporting the Principal
Anonymous said…
My daughter was at Aki which had uniforms and it was a pretty loose code-ANY brand or style of blue or black pants, ANY brand of white collared shirts and ANY brand or style of sweatshirts or sweaters, I forget the color, it's been a few years. Any shoes. Every Friday they could wear what they pleased or on special days like Spirit Day.

The Muslim girls were allowed to alter their uniforms to follow religious dictates, so they wore long skirts and head scarves. The low-income kids (and there were many) were not punished for not conforming.

But we never bought a thing that didn't come from a thrift store and it didn't cost much, which is good because I didn't have much to spend. It doesn't HAVE to be costly and it doesn't have to be all that restrictive. Those were my very concerns going in. I've a victim, er, product of Catholic school and abhorred the very idea of unforms-too restrictive, too expensive, lacking individuality, etc. But it just wasn't like that.

Just the other day my daughter was saying it was very convenient because she never had to worry what to wear. Now that she's an adult buying her own clothes she said she wishes she had to wear a uniform to work on those "hard to decide" days!

Just my 2 cents.

Uniform Convert
"free to some"- Where's the money coming for that? Because the district doesn't have the money to give over to this and it's not important enough to divert funding to.

Neutral, it's a little unfair to say go elsewhere. Many people have already lost their place at another school. This should have been decided before Open Enrollment because of the varying reactions of parents.
Floor Pie said…
Someone in the other thread raised the question about Aspergers/autism and school uniforms. As an Aspergers parent, I could see it going either way. I'll bet my son would do okay with a school uniform, but he doesn't have the clothing-sensory-integration challenges that many kids on the spectrum do.

How did Thurgood Marshall's Peace Academy kids do with uniforms when they had them? Are uniforms something you can opt out of through the IEP/504?
Anonymous said…
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Jet City mom said…
Floor pie, I was just going to say that.
By requiring uniforms, you possibly weed out some of the kids who are going to need extra support, including some kids on the spectrum who may gravitate towards a math/science curriculum, but can't handle wearing the same clothes everyday/ the same clothes everyone else is wearing.
Let me take that back.
d was fine wearing the same clothes everyday. In fact in 4th gd., she wore the same tank top, fleece vest, boys drawstring shorts & tevas everyday. And head scarf.
I only could wash it while she slept, & if it was warm from the dryer the next morning she would go outside and rub dirt on it.

I don't mind uniforms if students are given a choice whether they want to wear them.
Anonymous said…
Uniforms? Not fair and should be off the table for year one if families enrolled - before - this part of the principal's vision was announced. Dialogue isn't necessarily a two way street unless you do the road work.

The greater question for a STEM? Math? Which materials and methods? Who pays if they're not EDM?

Mr White
Anonymous said…
emeraldkitty: This brought back memories of son 3, down to "wash it while they slept...rub dirt on it." His protective coating.

Mr White
I deleted an anonymous comment about this blog "sensationalizing" this issue.

Just to note, it was a reader driven request. Charlie and I try to honor most of those requests. Don't like the topic? Don't read it. It a discussion blog
Anonymous said…
All I know is that I once spent a day in the coatroom at school (banished there by Sr. Consolata) because my mother had not had time to wash me a white shirt to wear with my blazer and wool skirt that day, and my light blue shirt was not acceptable. I have hated the idea of uniforms every since.

Solvay Girl
mirmac1 said…
Thank you Solvay. As a good catholic girl from decades ago, I ask what is more important: a child's readiness to learn; or her wish to conform to a uniform, official or otherwise?
Eileen said…
Solvay Girl,

That name, Mother Consolata, brought back memories!!! SHV right? I had her too, as a kindergartner. Not the most sensitive person in the world. I wore uniforms from K - 12. Some "enforcers" were stricter than others, that's for sure. However, the times really have changed. Uniforms today are really more like a specific "dress code" than a traditional uniform. Way more flexibility. My daughter wore one from 4th - 8th grade. Didn't mind it a bit. Mornings were simplified by the "limited choice" and that was a definite benefit. Uniform "exchanges" provided opportunities to donate and/or pick up uniform "pieces" for free.

SHV and FRC uniform wearer
Anonymous said…
Eileen...not the same Consolata, but it sounds like the name goes with the attitude. Mine had a frog "clicker" and tended to rap knuckles with a wooden ruler. I was at St. Cecilia's in Central NY.

I do realize that the new uniforms are more like a unified dress code, but my point was that there are down sides to uniforms as well. I don't mind the simple color schemes, etc. But it can still be a hardship on families that don't have a lot of, or any, extra income. I would hope that in those schools, there might still be a Family Support Worker that could assist them in getting enough changes of clothes. It would be a great PTA project too—but not every school has an active PTA.

Solvay Girl
I just want to point out a couple of things.

As has been said,making this decision AFTER open enrollment is wrong. No matter what your opinion, it is an issue that might have influenced parents and their choices.

Second, this is a decidedly mini-version of the issue at McDonald but it's the same thing. Making a decision that then (mostly) lays it at the feet of parents to pick up the slack.

I suspect the STEM at Boren school will need plenty of fundraising for truly important needs for their school. If I were a parent there I would be annoying raising funds for uniforms for others. Not because I would expect other parents to provide them but because a district made a decision that not only costs families more money but makes the school responsible for figuring out how to pay for uniforms for those who can't afford them.

The district, if this is a school policy, should pay for any uniforms. That we don't have money for this should tell us that the district has no business creating yet another situation around money.
Anonymous said…
I admit that I'm baffled about why uniforms create so much angst. It's NOT a problem for a low-income family to buy them when they are just regular clothes and not special brands like the Catholic schools force on their kids. I've BEEN low-income-so low that the only source for my kids' clothes was Goodwill or Value Village. I've BOUGHT them uniforms of this sort, and I can assure you that used khakis tend to be CHEAPER than used jeans, and every Monday you can find them for $1.29 or 99 cents at those stores. Such uniforms SAVED me money. Also, I needed fewer "play clothes" so I saved money there too. While there was no formal uniform exchange, parents did exchange informally and the office always had extras on hand. Also, no kid was ever ostracized or punished for being out of uniform, but they usually reward good behavior with extra "free dress" days.

I may be wrong, but any uniform school I have familiarity with has not adopted them because of district mandate but based on parent interest. Why should the district have to pay for uniforms when the individual schools chose them by majority?

Frankly, when my kids were younger my concerns were about the quality of their educations and not what they wore. I wonder if the parents freaking out about this are those with the luxury of worrying about clothes when the real issues are things like the math curriculum and testing.

Baffled Betty
Anonymous said…
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Charlie Mas said…
Is this a data-based decision?

Should it be?
Anonymous said…
I agree with Melissa. The decision was made AFTER open enrollment. Wait a year and make the final call BEFORE next year's open enrollment.

Many people have strong opinions about uniforms—pro and con. No one should have it forced on them. This is an option school and if it's the desired policy, then so be it. But don't spring it on people AFTER they made their choice.

I agree that there's going to be enough fundraising needed for materials, etc. without having to add uniforms into the mix.

Solvay Girl
Anonymous said…
Really? We are concerned about uniforms when there was so little to planning involved with the creation of this school? Shouldn't the public be more concerned about the content of the curriculum, the balance of art and humanities in a math and science program, a real PLAYGROUND on which the kids can play, diversity in the program... If anyone should be wearing uniforms, it should be the teaches. Children respect authority a lot more when their authority figures don't dress like the homeless. this is a smokescreen, people. Hold the District accountable for academic excellence, not fashion sense... Nick Esparza

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