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Friday, June 22, 2012

Policy 2200 - What Should It Be?

Director McLaren chairs the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee. This Committee will discuss the revised Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs and Services, at their next meeting, scheduled for Monday, June 25, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in the Board Conference Room at the JSCEE.
Director McLaren has a number of specific goals for the revised policy:
  1. It states an unequivocal value of equity in decision making regarding the siting of programs and services.
  2. It states an unequivocal value of transparency in decision making regarding the siting of programs and services.
  3. It sets out clear expectations of evidence to be provided by the Superintendent that the above criteria have been met.
  4. It states an unequivocal value for clear, efficient parameters for community input.
  5. It has had the benefit of community vetting via email or conversation with Board members.
I, myself share these goals and I have my own areas that I would like the Board to consider:

From a governance perspective, what does the Board need this policy to accomplish?
  • Transparency in the program placement process
    • In the absence of a rule requiring transparency, we cannot be assured of it
    • Transparency is needed when addressing issues of equity to build trust
    • Consider how secrecy has created space for a corrupt process
  • Performance report on program placement effectiveness
    • Accountability demands that all work be measured
    • How will we know if we have a problem if we don’t measure for it?
    • Consider how the absence of any measurement has facilitated inequity
    • What would such a report show?
  • Govern the relocation of existing programs
    • This is an area of deep concern to our communities and it should have rules
    • Equity and trust demand clear rules that apply in every case
    • Does the Board have no interest in this?
    • Consider how un-governed program relocations have caused distress
    • Shouldn’t communities be empowered to propose their program’s relocation?
    • Why should we believe that any group of people contains all of the innovators?
  • Govern the creation of new programs
    • This is an area of deep concern to our communities and it should have rules
    • Equity and trust demand clear rules that apply in every case
    • Does the Board have no interest in this?
    • If only staff could propose new programs, would we have any alternative programs?
    • Why should we believe that any group of people contains all of the innovators?
  • Govern the closure of programs
    • This is an area of deep concern to our communities and it should have rules
    • Equity and trust demand clear rules that apply in every case
    • Does the Board have no interest in this? Only school closures are subject to a Board vote, not program closures.

Should this policy require assurance or assessment of the quality and efficacy of programs?

  • Is that work required in other policies?
  • Where is the measure of the quality and efficacy of our academic programs?
Should this policy include definitions of “program” and “services”?
  • Apparently there is some confusion about what is a “program”
  • “Over time, the term ‘program placement’ has come to include what the curricular focus is of the school, regardless of whether there is a facility, fiscal or human resources impact."
    • Is an ALO a program? It has no facility, fiscal, or human resources impact
    • Is Spectrum a program? It has no facility, fiscal, or human resources impact
    • Is Montessori a program? It has no facility, fiscal, or human resources impact
Should the policy preclude program proposals from the public?
  • Would we have any of our most successful alternative programs if not for proposals from the public?
  • Would we have Southshore K-8 without a proposal from the public for a new program?
  • Why would we presume that the district staff has a monopoly on good innovative ideas?
  • Shouldn't we have a policy on program proposals from the public?
    • Would we accept a proposal for a Tech program from TAF?
    • Would we accept a proposal for Aviation High from Boeing?
    • Would we accept a proposal to re-open Van Asselt as a KIPP-style program?
    • Would we accept a proposal for Hamburger High from McDonalds?
Other issues raised in the Board Action Report should be addressed
  • “In a neighborhood plan, services and programs are based on where students live,”
    • Then why hasn’t the District placed elementary APP in the northeast where so many of those students live?
    • Why is the elementary Spectrum program for the Washington service area located at Muir, at the extreme south-end of the service area, when the bulk of the Spectrum-eligible students in the service area live in the northern half of it?
    • Why aren’t the elementary Spectrum programs in the northeast made large enough to meet the demand for them?
    • Why are so many special education students required to travel long distances to their schools?
  • “Regardless of that, staff were spending time and resources to evaluate the proposals.”
    • There is no evidence that staff ever spent any time evaluating program placement proposals from the public
    • There is an abundance of evidence that the proposals from the public were rejected without review.
      • Proposals to relocate Spectrum programs were not reviewed
      • Proposals to duplicate alternative programs were not reviewed
      • Proposals to relocate north-end elementary APP north of the Ship Canal were not reviewed.
    • There is an abundance of evidence that proposals from the staff were not reviewed either
      • ALO programs were created without any thought to how they would work
      • Special education programs were created without much thought to how they would work
      • Special education programs were relocated without much thought to the impact on families
  • “proposals coming in from parents or students… simply didn’t make sense”
    • The proposal to move a Spectrum program from West Seattle Elementary to Arbor Heights “simply didn’t make sense” one year but was done the next year.
    • The proposal to move north-end elementary APP to Lincoln “simply didn’t make sense in March, but was done in June.
    • The proposal to re-open McDonald “simply didn’t make sense” one year but was done the next year.
    • The proposal to make student assignment to language immersion programs as Option programs “simply didn’t make sense” when made by members of the community, but is taken seriously when made by members of the Board.
  • “the original meaning behind the policy, and that curricular focuses can remain community driven, rather than imposed by the district”
    • The original meaning behind the policy was to provide transparency for the program placement process.
    • The policy is not about curricular focus
    • The District imposes curricular focus on schools all the time
      • The District dictates curricular focus through instructional materials adoptions
      • The District dictates the creation of ALOs
      • The District dictates the creation of language immersion programs
    • How can decisions be “community-driven” if the community is not allowed to submit proposals?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charlie, ditto nearly all your points as they relate to special education programs as well. All parent-proposed programs are dismissed out of hand unless we bring lawyers.

Sped parent

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you, sped parent.

While the advanced learning programs are larger and get more press, the greatest number of "programs" are special education programs. These students and families are shipped around like boxes in a warehouse. They are often placed in ill-fitting situations, unsupported, and without any real preparation.