Tuesday Open Thread

Better late than never.

What's on your mind?


So many thoughts, so little time. said…
What's on my mind?

Why my 1st grader only gets 15 minutes for lunch including the time it take to get to the cafeteria, why the district was looking at transportation costs for places like Bellingham and Olympia when they needed to compare to large urban areas with waterways, and I'm also wondering what the heck is going on with the ALTF and why we haven't seen any updates. Those are just current thoughts.
Benjamin Leis said…
That seems broken. Which school are you talking about and have you talked with the principal about allocating more time for lunch? What was their response?

Anonymous said…
A poster asked on another thread why school times differ. Some school do provide twenty minutes and they add five (or ten) minutes onto the day.

Most kids eat fast. I've been in several schools and it is the gifted principal who can monitor a calm lunchroom where kids finish. If you get a chance, visit the lunchroom then make some suggestions if you have any. :)

Not sure people saw Charlie's comments on The Wire so am linking: The Wire

I wish it would warm up.

SPSLeaks said…
Is SPS a little like Lake Woebegone? Where all principals are "above average" but the teachers...eh, not so much?

Of course if you only need to meet eight performance goals, instead of 73 (in the Danielson Framework), then subjectivity is less of an issue...
Anonymous said…
"Imagine being a student knowing that every other teacher you encounter is becoming less and less satisfied, and close to one in three would rather be somewhere else."

Ed Week


very sad poster
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Readers, I am getting tired of waiting for the Taskforce recommendations to be announced as well. I let Wendy London know this two weeks ago. I just let the Superintendent and Bob Vaughn and the Board know this as well.

I feel hog-tied because of being on the Taskforce and wanting to respect the other Committee members and our work and yet knowing that parents deserve answers. (And just because it was a public meeting doesn't mean I can report out on it. Anyone could have attended and heard what was said and didn't.)

I will wait for a reply from senior leadership but I will wait only so long. This is getting ridiculous.
"Mr. Ashton" replies in yet another column. I had to laugh because of the number of times he complains people didn't understand what he was saying. If you have to explain yourself multiple times, then maybe you don't know how to write.

He also goes off on yet another incoherent tangent. Frankly, he's just not worth linking to nor quoting.
Anonymous said…
Here is a link for the ALTF work:

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/advanced%20 learning/tf_TaskForceFrontPage.pdf?sessionid=ce506c2ceff2770dc8007fd32b6c0234

The last update was at the end of April. They were supposed to vote on APP recommendations by the 1st of May (the SNAPP PTA document has a pros/cons list for elementary APP at John Marshall), then discuss ALO and Spectum.

Anonymous said…
FYI, my student's MAP scores are on the Source.
Floor Pie said…
Melissa, did you ever talk with Sherry Carr about the McDonald IA funding situation? I'm curious to hear what her response was.
Anonymous said…
Agreed on the Taskforce results. I've already heard the rumor about the result, and I think waiting will make it worse. Bob Vaughan will NEVER move on something like this - it's June, and the hope will be that this "goes away" in 3 weeks when school ends and it is not fair. Frustration is mounting, rumors are swirling and they are foolish to wait. IMHO, it's really time for Bob to move on from this role. We need a leader!

ABB (Anyone But Bob)
Anonymous said…
Ack!!! What was the result? As an incoming new APP family, we're growing more alarmed with each day of waiting.

- Wondering if we made the right choice . . . UGH!
Floor Pie said…
APP families, I don't think there's any real need to freak out. I'm on the ALTF too, and I don't want to spill any beans but do I think we can definitely say that there are no big unpleasant immeidate surprises headed your way, certainly nothing like what got dropped on you last year at this time. Hang in there.
So many thoughts... said…
Hey ABB - I am jealous. I haven't heard any rumors. Please spill the dirt. If the ALTF didn't want rumors spread, they would have released some information by now. L@L parents were all rallied to send letters, e-mails, make phone calls, but there's been no info since the rallying cry. Time to tell us the rumors...they usually end-up being true.

As far as lunch, I haven't talked to the Principal. My MO is assuming other parents have since all the little darlings are famished at the end of the day.

I wish it would warm up, too!

Wondering - you didn't make the wrong choice if your kid was miserable at their old school.
Eric B said…
Our elementary school just went to having the older kids out at recess before lunch, then bringing them in to scarf down the food. As of Day 2 of this arrangement, we seem to be doing better with having all of the food eaten at the end of lunch.
So little time said…
I just want it to be said if L@L is staying at Lincoln so we can rally the troops to get some sort of playground and some reasonable equipment. Last night I heard, gasp, the hula hoops are all gone now, too! First it was the balls, now the hoops. I feel for those kids having nothing more than playing Pokemon at recess. If we knew we were staying 5+/- years, the district could give us $125k for a playground - they obviously have money lying around - look at what McDonald is getting.

Is it Friday? I think I've lost my mind.
Someone said…
Wow - that Mr. Ashton likes words doesn't he - the good news is at least someone there is reading this blog - they post a link to it on the Wa. Wire facebook page with these comments

We are chuckling hard over the scuttlebutt of a debate provoked by Melvin G. Ashton's piece on charter schools....

... For the record, the usage of the term 'feeling the urge to kill' is something known as a 'figure of speech,' and does not necessarily mean Melvin plans to kill anyone.
Anonymous said…
Didn't mean to freak out folks. Seems more of a whimper than a bang of news. But they shouldn't drag it out. And no, you didn't make the wrong choice "Wondering". It's a great community of kids and parents. You should have heard the concert last night. But parents were talking for sure about the delayed report...
Jamie said…
The Wire (please note i am rather disappointed with them claiming the same name as one of my very favorite television shows) is discussing the "vicious attacks" on Mr. Ashton by this blog. It's pretty amusing, actually.
Anonymous said…
If you go to the main page of The Wire, you'll read this: ...Ashton defends himself against vicious attacks...

Oh my goodness!

Eric, I always thought that would be a better thing - recess, then lunch. They are then tired and hungry/thirsty and likely to eat more (rather than bolt down two bites in a rush to get outside).
Anonymous said…
The skinny I've heard from both parents and district staff in public places (not telling tales out of turn) is that the group had a hard time coming to any recommendation because of differing opinions on the way forward.

Like every other major program in this district say ELL or Language Immersion, SPS continues to have a lack of program placement planning at the top level. I don't expect a task force to solve what the district hasn't. And with a new super, no matter what the recommendation, there will be uncertainty because his vision may or may not match the task force's.

Not Expecting A Divine Answer from Taskforce
SeattleSped said…
Not Expecting, perhaps the district is hoping we all "forget", what they did shortly before the ICS Task Force staffing ratios "recommendations" came out in 2010, directly contradicting what the TF itself had been discussing for months. Convenient that the "recommendations" has no resemblance to what the "experts" had been discussing for months. In the ethically-challenged environment of our district, where public disclosures are preceded by all-hands meetings for damage control, this is not a stretch of the imagination.

I figure this is demonstrated by the number of people deserting the sinking Enfield ship.
Anonymous said…
Expect APP cohorters to flame me, but I'm done with the program as is. As one group it was good for APP kids, but left others deserving of access behind, or at least feeling unwelcome.

Two groups haven't strengthened the program. It's weaker. It's weaker because placement has become more important than program content. Don't expect that to change. Anyone seen curriculum for both locations coming out of central office as promised. Ahhh, NOPE.

And it's costly to transport kids. And Spectrum is still going to be a mess. And ALOs are still going to be a mess.

Ready to move to having all schools commit to advanced learning. Want to work 2 grades ahead? Great. Every school should offer it to every kid who should do the work.

Would rather spend time fighting that battle than the battle we're in.

Some call it dismantling the program. I'd call it insisting on meeting the needs of all kids at their neighborhood school. After all, that's the promise of public ed, isn't it?

Watching said…
Wow. Personnel Report shows Mark Teoh and Patricia Sanders have been riffed.

I'm not a fan of the dollars spent on research, but Mark was a nice guy.
Anonymous said…
SavvyVoter, I won't flame you. That's the battle I'd prefer to fight as well.
--APP in ALO
Anonymous said…
Savvyvoter, imagine how difficult (impossible) it will be to guarantee quality advanced learning options at every school when it's this hard to do it at one (or two) elementary or middle schools? I'd rather fight the big fight too, but the district is really good at dividing and conquering, and when you only have a small subset of parents whose kids need this kind of education at an individual school, and perhaps no support from the principal or staff, what's going to happen? The kids who need to do more advanced work won't get it, and they won't have any options. Keeping APP, even in its somewhat reduced form, is the only thing keeping advanced learning as a concept alive in the district. Maybe things will change, maybe Banda will support the idea of advanced learning everywhere...but there is little in the history of the district to suggest that this will be so.

- Keep Fighting
mirmac1 said…
Watching, Teoh may have been a "nice guy" but he was in WAY over his head. The only reason he got that job was because Bernatek was shown the door.
Anonymous said…
Eric & Melissa, regarding recess before lunch, there have been quite a few news articles these past few years citing research and anecdotal evidence to support this idea. Kids eat more of their lunch and transition back to classroom activity much faster. Just Google/Bing 'lunch before recess' and a slew of articles will pop up in support. My daughter has recess before lunch, and fellow parents have seen the same results. Kids who used to never finish their lunch, finish all the time now

Anonymous said…
Okay. I need my afternoon coffee.
Just Google/Bing "recess before lunch" to view news articles regarding recess/lunch schedule changes and the positive results.

K...who is in need of coffee
I won't flame either.

Look, I support APP but I think the bar should be very high because it is supposed to be for a very small group of kids.

I said this elsewhere but I think for all others, we do it in every school. Of course, the only way that works is:

- district backs it up. There is NO choice at ANY school about doing it.

- allows kids with ability in one area (math or reading) to work ahead as fast and as far as they can go

- PD for teachers on differentiation

Would this happen? No.
Anonymous said…
Look, we NEED someone crunching data downtown. For all kinds of government reporting as well as for working more smartly. That position needs to be filled and filled by someone with skills. That will cost us money and it is a fulltime job.

(But if MAP gets dropped because we can't afford the additional headcount to support it/crunch the data, then 'oh well'. Time to drop the contract.)

Anonymous said…
Melissa, did the task force discuss modifying APP entrance requirements?
--APP in ALO
Lori said…
I agree that I'd like there to be appropriate advanced learning options for all kids and that our neighborhood schools could be doing a better job in this respect. I'd love to see kids working ahead if they are ready for it, regardless of whether they've tested into Spectrum or APP. Who wouldn't agree with that? I for one was really hopeful that the ALTF would work on exactly this issue.

However, bringing this goal to fruition cannot mean dismantling APP. Remember, there are kids in APP who are there as much, perhaps even more, for the social and emotional benefits than the academics. It is critical to children's development that they be in an environment where they can relate to other kids, make friends, and practice social skills that they will use their entire lives. If you're a parent whose child was unable to do those things in a neighborhood school, acceleration alone will never be enough. And this why some of us react so strongly to threats to the APP cohort. There's so much more to it than the academics for some of these kids. Please remember that when talking about how to improve advanced learning. It's not an either/or proposition; we don't have dismantle APP to improve neighborhood schools.
Anonymous said…
Are there additional support staff at ALO or Spectrum schools? I have the impression that there is not. There is support staff for special ed, and usually reading specialists to help kids who aren't performing at grade level. Why not have support staff for Advanced Learning?

Every school should have a math specialist who works with kids of all levels, including teaching advanced math to kids who are working one-two levels above grade level.

As far as I can tell, "Walk to Math" works pretty well for most kids, up to the point where they are in 4th or 5th grade, and there is nowhere left to walk.

Do I think this will happen? Nope, but it should.

North End Mom
Anonymous said…
SPED mom says...

I'd argue that just as the special ed mantra is kids are general education students first with necessary supports in classrooms or pullouts, the same is the case for social/emotional issues of the 'quirky' highly intelligent kids.

Self contained rooms of quirky kids doesn't answer their issues. Their needs should also be served in local schools and parents should insist that it happens.

I don't think the APP cohort social/emotional reasons is a valid one though of course those parents with quirky kids will no doubt differ out of concern for their kids and I understand that.
Floor Pie said…
"There is support staff for special ed, and usually reading specialists to help kids who aren't performing at grade level. Why not have support staff for Advanced Learning?"

Ha, yeah those special ed kids get all the breaks. Actually, what little support they do get is spread incredibly thin and constantly under threat of further cuts.

But you're right, it would be amazing if every school had access to IAs to facilitate differentiation on all sides of the bell curve.
Eileen said…
Floor Pie is so right. Sped IAs are spread way too thin. Sped staff are constantly having to justify the need for IAs. While it would be nice to have more IAs to support kids on "both sides of the bell curve", my wish is that there would be enough to support kids needing access to basic curriculum first.
Eileen said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watching said…

Who will take Teoh's place?
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but does anyone know if having 6th graders do weightlifting on a regular basis in PE class is authorized by the district?

My 6th grader at Madison is required to do weightlifting weekly, but I've always heard that weightlifting shouldn't start until age 14 at the earliest.

Then, today, he injured himself in weightlifting, even lifting the light weights recommended by his teacher.

Is this a part of the required 6th grade PE curriculum in all SPS middle schools?

-just wondering

Look, if you don't like APP, fine. Do not call other people's kids names. The "quirky" label is not useful. No one has their child in APP because he/she is quirky.
Jet City mom said…
However if you are looking at colleges that are suitable for students who are in the top %, "quirky" is often used as a descriptor.
Just not for k-12.
Love to hear more about the support for sped teachers though. & the reading specialist? You mean the position paid through title 1? I don't believe you
Need to have an IEP to access that.
Anonymous said…
The mind of my intelligent but learning disabled child was not just "two years behind," and he needed a SPED learning environment that permitted him to learn at his pace, while having access to similarly challenged and equally intelligent kids. Didn't quite happen, but the District made enough of a stab at it that we were able to get through.

The mind of my APP kid, and her friends, was never just "two years ahead." These kids learn faster. They need different, and differently paced materials. Just like my LD child, my APP child needed the social, emotional, and academic company of other similar minds. Putting a child with a 145 IQ in a regular 4th grade math class (as opposed to a regular 2nd grade math class) is not a recipe for success for most of those kids. The ONLY child I know whose giftedness was handled that way, years ago, sat at the age of 9 and 10, in a room full of 12 and 13 year olds, and was unbearably lonely and unhappy. She was a child. She wanted friends to "play" with. Her new "peers" wanted to talk about make up, and what french kissing was, and who held hands with who, and slumber parties to which she was never going to be invited. Despite actually quite good social skills, she was utterly friendless -- and mostly miserable.

Blending APP kids back into regular schools, where our experience with Spectrum tells us plainly that they will meet with educational neglect, if not outright antipathy, by teachers, administrators, and parents of non-gifted kids, will fail these children. Some of them may just sit, quietly bored and disillusioned, and "get by." Others won't. They will quit school, or act out in frustration. And yet one more "good Seattle Public School program," one that has served its population well for years, will fold. Nice.

Why don't the voices of these children and their families count for anything? NONE of them that I know of are advocating that the program be disbanded and the kids distributed back to neighborhood schools. If APP parents suddenly got together one day and started advocating for the disbanding of the Ballard and Franklin academies, and the return of those kids to regular classes within a regular program, wouldn't people rightly challenge the basis on which they got to decide what was going to happen to other people's (but not their) kids?

--Keep APP self contained.
Anonymous said…
How's it going in the schools that undid Spectrum this year?

Jet City mom said…
My kids are "twice" gifted.
Not a suitable place in SPS for either of them as far as I could tell except for Summit k-12.
Although at the time my oldest was in grade school, admission was through a lottery. Hardly the way to run a program that serves students with needs that can't be met elsewhere in the district.

She wasn't admitted, but we found that attending UCDS with a full scholarship was easier to accomplish than getting into a popular program in public school.

We were able to get the youngest into Summit in time for third grade, and she stayed through middle school.

Then of course the district determined that the needs of twice gifted students can be met anywhere, and that the building was more valuable than the program so Summit K -12 was closed a few years ago.

I wonder what happened to those kids?
Anonymous said…
Not that great, Wondering. The families that enrolled their kids in Spectrum for the challenge were mainly left feeling that their kids were not challenged this year. Those that enrolled their kids in Spectrum because they could, but felt ambivalent about it, are faring a little better, but that is not a surprise, either. I have heard some of those parents say things like they are glad that their Spectrum-enrolled child is getting a general education after all (which just leaves me shaking my head in disbelief).

The sad thing is, just grouping small clusters of kids within one or two classrooms (those that REALLY want or need the grouping, regardless of Spectrum label) would be hugely beneficial to those kids, while getting rid of the dreaded self-contained classroom and its horrible, terrible, no-good label. Instead, all the kids were deliberately and evenly dispersed and separated from each other, making it harder for the advanced learners. Everyone lost, except those that wanted the program dismantled in the first place.

I just wish everyone would be straightforward and honest about all this, and officially end the Spectrum program at the school. Because that is essentially what happened in the grades that blended their kids, especially in this school where the principal and some of the staff are so anti-Spectrum. This might work with a group of adults who are behind advanced learning in a blended classroom, and want to make it work. But it is not this group of people. The lack of honesty about what is actually happening is frustrating, to say the least.

Anonymous said…
I heard the Advanced Learning Task Force punted and will come out with "guiding principles" (as opposed to actual recommendations) because they were divided. I'd love to hear how exactly they were divided. It's pretty disappointing.

My kid will be starting 2nd grade at APP - and it looks like he will be in some type of interim facility through middle school (I'm assuming the Hamilton kids will get booted out in 2013 and will go to John Marshall). I'm ok with him being in interim facilities as long as there's a real plan to provide a long-term stable home for APP. It sure would be nice to have some stability and predictability.

And while I'm wishing - it would be great to have some open discussions about what the future of APP at Hamilton is - and to have the planning start now (and do so openly) if the writing is on the wall that there won't be room for them at Hamilton in 2913-14.

Anonymous said…
oops - that should be "2013-14"

Anonymous said…
There is access to Reading Specialists without having an IEP.

The Specialist could be funded by the PTA (which I don't agree with, but is the reality), so that any struggling child has access. The District also provides LAP funds to help cover the gap.

-You don't need an IEP for support
Dolphin said…
Lawton had two years of real self contained Spectrum and went to blended this year. We have a robust walk to math which was expanded to include additional non-Spectrum students and that has worked well. The big difference is writing ang literature. The range of ability in any one classroom is staggering and it doesn't serve any of the students particularly well. There may be grouping for writing next year as wel as math, I hope so. Socially, I think it's for the better to have the kids together in a blend. In so many areas like art, computers, multi media projects, music and just eating together, it has been great see the kids mixed again. It seems more like one school this year. Spectrum parents are not all pleased and we are really hoping for more grouping in the core subjects. IVe heard that multi grade grouping might be an option.
The problem is that kids know who goes to advanced math and who doesn't and it still can create problems in self-esteem and with the parents. I don't think that can ever be entirely fixed, but the kids themselves seem very aware of the issue and play it pretty cool, but it's always going to be strange when classmates and friends have harder or easier homework and when society says smarter is better. Some would say the better looking or more sociable kids might get better treatment as well. Many studies show that is true with adults. Even among staf the younger more vivacious are seen in a better light by parents. I think some stereotype recognition work for the staff, students and parents might be in order and then we could get down to the business of educating our kids.
Anyways, my feeling is Lawton is moving in the right direction.
mirmac1 said…
My money is on Eric Anderson who is an actual number guy. Because he's a numbers type like me who may actually blurt out truths? In that case, would be a breath of fresh air.
Anonymous said…
Completely disagee dolphin.. We have been very disappointed with this year, can't point to what our child has learned that hasn't been from supplementing at home.. Walk to math enforces day after day after day who's going to which math and many days they just don't have math b.c one or another class is in MAP or on a field trip or whatnot. It's a joke. Writing.. Ha. Some kids in class can't even get a few sentences down while some of the AL from the cluster are on a second or third writing project. ( self initiated and voluntarily done b.c they ar bored)

There has been NO PD on differentiation, as was promised.

And at 3rd grade over half the cohort is bailing for APP or other schools.

Not sure what you mean about two years self contained b.c it was always that the spectrum cluster was in the same room, except for one year. So not self contained but w all the cluster together. Grade bands always ate and had recess together, not sure what you meant there? (except maybe on the few years on split classrooms)

Spectrum is shot, I'd be surprised if they are even getting a year ahead.

And the librarian teaching PE for .5, plus horrible class placements, our child has had a bad year.

(outta here)
Floor Pie said…
@ emeraldkity - B.F. Day has been a terrific school for my twice exceptional ("twice gifted") son. I've heard great things about Thurgood Marshall, too.

It is my hope that Advanced Learning and Special Ed can work together to make north end APP more inclusive of 2E students as well (not just for SM1/resource room, but for APP-qualified kids with more intensive service models). I get the sense that this is not a huge priority for either department, but I keep being The Lorax about it anyway.
Anonymous said…
Diane Ravitch PBS Newshour


Public School Parent
Eric B said…
Just wondering,

I don't think that my middle school kid did weightlifting in PE on a regular basis in 6th or 8th grade.
StopTFA said…
Glad that Renton saw the light:

Renton School District won't seek applicants from Teach for America

I find these statements particularly galling:

Renton Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel was the product of a similar alternative teaching certification herself.

"This is 'my' profession," Heuschel said in an email when the district was still considering the program. "I am a fierce supporter and advocate of our teachers. I have an unwavering commitment to supporting the teaching profession, specifically with the Renton School District team of caring, dedicated professionals."

Heuschel noted that the district already has teachers in its career and technical education program who earned their certification through other state-approved alternative routes like the Teach for America program

Ms Heuschel, I have no problem with TFA providing automotive shop teachers. But they don't do that, do they? They place inexperienced, untrained temp teachers in high poverty/high minority schools, and their co-conspirators wink and call them highly-qualified to teach for Title 1 funds.
Anonymous said…
@outta here,
It seems you are teaching your kid(s) that the best way to deal with something is to diss it and scram! They don't teach that at Lawton. It's public school for goddess's sake - it''s your right, perhaps duty, to make a stink if you feel things could be better, but compromise is always the key concept.
Good luck, however, to you and your student(s).

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
You forgot to sign and we will lose your post.please redo.

Your points are well taken, however you point out the paradox. You help your kids at home or get extra help freeing up resources for the others. That's how it works. There just ain't enough money for everybody.

Smell the coffee
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…

I feel it's harsh to tell outta here s/he he is teaching his/her child to "dis and scram". You don't know that person's experience.

There is nothing more frustrating than watching your child's needs be totally unmet. If you have ideals, that's great. But how many years of your kid's education do you sacrifice to those ideals? For example, the ideal of staying and working things out.

In the 5 years I've had kids in SPS, I've lost all idealism and have come to believe that even in schools others think are great public schools, the parent needs to know what is happening and what is not, and needs to take up the slack at home. This is why the gap will not be narrowed...the kids at the top are more likely to come from parents who are able to pick up that slack, while the kids at the bottom are disproportionately (not by any means exclusively) from families who for economic, language barrier or cultural reasons do not pick up the slack.

Back to my point, "scramming" may simply be moving your child to a school that will better meet his/her needs. Obligation is to the child, not loyalty to the school.

Forgot to sign original post, so

Terry G. said…
anonymous you forgot again
I applaud anyone who tries to make things better for their kid as long as they see the big picture of public education. I think folks who try to fix problems at a school and then go to another to do the same are the best. They have insights and perspectives others do not. It seems a one way street to Lowell and Hamilton and they are the better for it. Id like to see some of those folks come back and help ramp up AL in the locals.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Terry G,

Most of the parents in APP came from their local elementary schools. My child was at an "ALO" school (as though that means anything) with an APP friendly teacher and a helpful principal. Both told us that our child's needs could not be met at the school at strongly recommended that we move our child to Lowell. My kid's teacher even signed our kid up for the testing in case we didn't do it. It woud be a diservice to my child to move them back to the neighborhood school for the "greater good."

I have lots of issues with what Dolphin wrote, but this really stood out to me: "The problem is that kids know who goes to advanced math and who doesn't and it still can create problems in self-esteem and with the parents" I will leave the parents feelings out of this because if their self-esteem is based on their children, they have lots of other issues. I will say that my child also gets to feel "normal." Dolphin is talking about the kids who aren't advanced and how being around kids who are advanced makes them feel bad. What about my kid? All the kids knew my kid was advanced and would always say things like "that is too hard, only K... would be able to do that." Every child should feel comfortable in their environment, not just the "normal" kids.

I always wonder why being educationally advanced it so hard for people to see. I don't see these same people trying to dismantle the varsity sports programs at high school. What about the self-esteem of those kids who don't make varsity? What about the kids who don't make the special band programs? Should we get rid of these programs? Everyone does not have the same strengths and I don't know how it serves kids to try and pretend that we do.

L@L parent
Dolphin said…
Dear l@l
I'm no fan of elite sports and high school football should not be glorified in any way. The point is that all kids should be recognized for who they are but not judged better or worse. It's called win-win in American.
SBBR said…
Anyone else hear the rumor that SPS is putting out big money in a personal services contract for failed former Tacoma Sup Charlie Milligan? For leadership development? Huh? Assuming this is an idea from former Tacoma employee Paul Apostle. Have the guy who needed a padded office for yelling at people teach leadership? Ya. Okay.
Anonymous said…
You can't really expect APP kids and their families to return to neighborhood schools to fix things. Some of us have tried to stay and work within our neighborhood schools. We got burnt out after all the years of fundraisings, volunteering in the classroom, tutoring reading and math, etc. to teaching our kids afterschool between work shifts and paying for online coursework. As the kids got older, their needs are greater and supplementing at home and on-line for more than 2 subjects just aren't practical as kids have afterschool activities and need for some downtime. APP is uneven so it isn't a panacea either.

-we're outta of here too
Anonymous said…
Ok anonymous, you do need to go to s hool if you cantbremembervto sign!!!

And if you read and write on this blog you probably do feel it is your duty to help fix the schools!!!

Thanks for caring
Anonymous said…
Whenever this discussion of meeting kids needs comes up, it always makes me think of a Kurt Vonnegut short story called Harrison Bergeron. Everyone should read it. Here is a short description from Wikipedia: "It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments 211, 212, and 213 to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is stupider, uglier, weaker, or slower than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced."

This discussion is ridiculous. The goal of education should be to meet every kids' need, on both ends of the spectrum and in the middle. Advanced kids' parents should not be pressured to keep their kids in the neighborhood schools for the "greater good" or to preserve the self-esteem of other kids. It is not "win-win" to not meet kids' need. This is true even if you speak in "American."

L@L parent
Anonymous said…
The principal at our neighborhood school told us APP kids weren't normal and they would rather stand on the playground reading a book. Would you stay when the principal, the supposed instructional leader, holds such views? And yes, the long time SPS principal is still at said neighborhood school.

we left
Floor Pie said…
Anonymous said "Is it a parent's job to go school to school and 'fix' things? Really?"

No, not really. But it's incredibly satisfying to have a role in making schools better, even if our own kids no longer attend them.

And it IS possible to have the best of both worlds -- to get your kid out of a bad situation but still stick around and work on a solution. Meetings are public, and the schools are always happy to have volunteer tutors and classroom help.

I "cut and run" and pulled my kid out of a bad school situation last year. He's doing great at his new school, but I will continue to show up at meetings and advocate for other special ed students in the district who aren't as fortunate. In fact, now that things are going well for my own kid, I actually have the time and energy to finally give back to the school community. It doesn't have to be an either/or thing.
Charlie Mas said…
Dolphin wrote: "The point is that all kids should be recognized for who they are but not judged better or worse. It's called win-win in American."

The only person who is applying the "better or worse" label here is you. For APP and Spectrum families, it's just different - not better or worse, just different. There's no judgement applied.
Terry G said…
Here here FP,
That is a good point. The parent of course must make the decision of what is best for their child. Now if my principal ridiculed my student or any student for reading at recess I would demand an apology and an assembly to explain the meanness of such comments to the entire student body. I would go the District and I would go to the press if need be. But if I felt at any time my child was going to suffer, I too would look elsewhere.
In the case of FP, her new school,is lucky to have her and I am sure she has left her previous school better for her presence.
Anonymous said…
Re: BEX IV vote for $700 million dollars

Hey SPS, you want my vote? You want my money? Then, be a straight-shooter. Tell me now, right NOW, NOT after-the-fact, what elementary school boundaries are going to change. Tell me now, not later, what middle school feeder patterns are going to change, before I have to go to the polls. Tell me your prospective program placements. Don’t burn me with silence. You must manage people’s expectations in this levy cycle, so that we all vote with blinders off. Otherwise, there will be a backlash you simply will not be able to control.

We know you have done the scenarios already, you have developed different options to address capacity concerns. We realize these are hypothetical, and subject to refinement, but you have plans drawn up. Should SPS Leaks liberate the documents, or, are you going to ‘fess up now and not look like you are hiding something? It is called full disclosure. It is called good faith. It is called smart politics. It is called avoiding the bait-and-switch.

How do you think the voters will vote in all future education levies if the ‘morning after’ the BEX IV vote you come out with the new maps? You have to know that you are treading on thin ice. Look at Mercer Island and a crashed levy.

Do not make a colossal mistake and obscure the pain that is coming with boundary redraws and sibling splits (remember your NSAP – no guaranteed for siblings split apart by boundary re-drawn maps??). The faith is already flagging, don’t keeping kicking it. There is far more at stake than just the $700 million. It is in the next 3 years of operating levies that will feel the wrath of angry parents. And even more substantial than that, I’m afraid you will alienate so many if you don’t start disclosing now that Charters will be welcomed with open arms. Then what are you going to do? Don’t kid yourself: the two are related. Make people that angry, and you will get a revolt. Charters are the remedy that the dissatisfied/traumatized public will turn to to fight back. Don’t think they won’t go there. The paperwork for the Creative Approach Schools can readily be cut-and-paste into Charter documents. It is not that I think Seattleites are craving charters, but, they may be cowed into being desperate enough to do what it takes to ditch you. The ‘won’t of the people, rather than the ‘will of the people’. Just saying… don’t take the chance.

“Oops, sorry school X, you now are pulled away from Washington Middle School and will be the lesser part of the new Meany middle school/high school/World school conglomeration”. “Sorry, school Y, your kids won’t get Eckstein Middle school”. “Sorry, West Seattle, we know you all wanted part of the STEM school, but, we are limiting seats to 300 because we don’t want to have to pay for transportation costs”. “Sorry, folks looking forward to Whittier, we’ve gerrymandered your kids into Viewlands”.

Similarly, it is understood that the Transportation department is a mess. Hopefully, the audits have kept the accounting clean, in the minimum, but whatever the problems are, daylight those too. Now. Not later. Not after we give you a billion dollars.

You pay your communication and policy folks enough to have them explain this to you, or, is this all a case of ‘the emperor’s clothes’ and you are all too overwhelmed? Are you all fixated on the mantra “BEX IV is too critical to fail” so it must not fail, regardless of the costs? Actually, some costs are too steep.

-signed, no more bait-and-switch
Anonymous said…
As they say in the Pemco ad: Do you live under a rock?
Mr Mas, you remind me of Stephen Colbert when he says " I don't see color, people tell me I'm white and I believe them"
I really don't think I am the only person who classifies smart as better. Are you so Zen that you don't even judge the weather "hot" or "cold" but merely high temperature and low? And maybe Geoge Clooney is no more handsome than Richard Simmons. You probably can't tell.

Charlie Mas said…
Incredulous, it is a Geico ad, not a PEMCO ad. PEMCO does ads with the Northwest characters like 50-degrees-shirt-off-guy, Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman, and ponytailed software geek.

Whatever math a 5th grade Spectrum student is doing will be done by all of the other students soon enough.

If third grader's families aren't jealous of the instruction that the fifth grader's are getting then they have no reason to be jealous of the instruction that the Spectrum students are getting.

Every student should get lessons that are developmentally appropriate and at the frontier of the student's knowledge and skills. Any expectation that all students would have the same frontier or should get the same lesson is absurd and will make me the incredulous one.
Anonymous said…
When I think of what characteristics will make my child do well in the world, I don't think of the ability to do differential calculus without a calculator. I think of her being able to approach any kind of challenge or problem and have confidence in her ability to, ultimately, address it.

This means patience when faced with something that seems overwhelming, analytical ability to take a problem apart and figure out what the problem actually is and what a solution might look like, and the ability to bring the resources needed to the problem--whether her personal resources or knowing where and what kind of help to find. Anyone in any kind of job who has these skills will do fine.

Kids in the middle of the pack get a lot of this in school, because they are challenged by grade-level work. I know a lot of successful adults (meaning, they have lives that work for them; jobs they like and are good at, relationships that work,etc.) who were at-grade-level kids. They know how to work, not get flustered, and roll with the punches.

I also know adults who were "smart", and some do well but some never learned to work hard, or what it feels like to be overwhelmed and how to handle that.

So while we have goals of getting kids to grade-level OSPI standards we have only soft goals of "challenging all kids". In reality, kids above grade level are hard to challenge but they meet the hard goals of OSPI standards so their true needs are ignored.

Having self esteem that comes from walking to harder math doesn't do a kid any good if they aren't challenged. One grade level ahead isn't enough for many. That self esteem will evaporate when they they hit the wall for the first time.

The self esteem each kid, no matter ability, could benefit from is the confidence gained from attacking a hard problem and winning.

Mixing classes doesn't do any good...a kid knows that they are the last one to finish and that they can't throw their hand in the air and answer a question because they have no idea. So the goal of protecting their self esteem is not met. The other kids know who's high and who's low, too.

The only way to help those kids is intense work and encouragement to give them that experience of mastery. I don't know how you do it, but I don't see the answer in a grade-level class of mixed ability when they can't keep up. I also don't see it in social promotion, where year after year they just learn to hate school more and more as they fall further and further behind.

Jan said…
Musing concluded: "The only way to help those kids is intense work and encouragement to give them that experience of mastery. I don't know how you do it, but I don't see the answer in a grade-level class of mixed ability when they can't keep up. I also don't see it in social promotion, where year after year they just learn to hate school more and more as they fall further and further behind."

The answer, I think, you have already provided. You treat each brain, each kid, as unique, and you give each one the right level of rigor and complexity so that they are challenged, and yet can succeed. You are correct that mixed level classes are no panacea. They are a waste of time (either a lot or a little, depending on the kid) for all but the narrow band of kids whose level is the one actually addressed. And the "fix" for social promotion is to stop "lumping" learning in big, 9-month globs called first grade, second grade, etc. You start where kids are, you pace them at a level that deals with both mastery and boredom, and you don't stop. If we stopped sorting them into 12 month "bands" and simply engaged them in continuing to rise -- we wouldn't have "social promotion" issues. We would also stop creating in kids the idea that if you can't do X at grade 2, you are dumb, or if you can do Y before grade 4, you are really smart. It is all so artificial. And we could start cultivating a better sense in kids of multiple intelligences and skills. Maybe Virginia can't add and subtract fractions in 3rd grade, like Viola can -- but she may have great physical coordination, be a terrific (and funny) class speaker, and be a natural team leader, while Viola continues to work hard at gaining any proficiency in those areas. Charlie is right -- Virginia will get there soon enough! No reason to hold Viola back if she is motoring through 5th and 6th grade math and getting ready for pre-algebra, but not a big deal, either. One of the great things about having a 2E kid, and about homeschooling, is that you start seeing kids' as learners, as walking minds -- and not as Spectrum 3rd graders, or "regular" third graders, or any "graders" at all. All the "classifications" that we group kids by to make things "easier" for the adults to "teach" them -- and which then become (wrongly) ingrained in the kids as measuring sticks of their intelligence or talent -- are so flimsy. I get how this "sorting and grouping" stuff starts -- but it soon takes on a life of its own that is totally add odds with any intrinsic "truth value" it may have ever had.

And all the ed reform stuff is making it worse. It's like watching someone pour plaster of paris over a really bad form. Listening to Melinda Gates chat happily about how the common standards would make it so we all know exactly what Virginia and Viola should know in each year of their school lives -- aaaggh. I wanted to run screaming from the room!

We are wasting kids lives, squandering their talents and abilities, and blighting their futures, when we make them go faster (or slower) than their minds learn, when we either give them no challenge, or insurmountable challenges, and when we teach them that only a very narrow band of abilities and intelligences have value -- to the exclusion of all others.
SPSLeaks said…
no more bait-and-switch,

Thank you. I'm flattered (even though I have no right to be!)

SeattleSped said…
"Every student should get lessons that are developmentally appropriate and at the frontier of the student's knowledge and skills."

Sorry Charlie, but reading your comment brings Allan Bakke to mind. You have to be old like me and remember him as a thirty-something "disadvantaged white male" who, in the 80's, sought to have the protections afforded classes who were faced systemic discrimination.

As someone in the 70's who somehow managed to overcome those systemic barriers, I say phooey! Brains and involved parents can easily overcome brains, involved parents, disability and racial status any day.

I hate these threads. Seriously, as a brainy immigrant girl, I would beat up the kids making fun of the brainy white boy at recess. That's okay. It was my pleasure.
Anonymous said…

Public School Parent
seattle citizen said…
@L@L Parent - before the the full film version of Harrison Bergeron was made in...1985? in...1972 or so Boston PBS made a one-hour TV movie called Between Time and Timbuktu, based on the stories of Voonegut. It used astronaut Stoney Stevenson's journey through the Chrono-Synclastic-Infindibulum (?) to "land" him in various Vonnegut stories. There is a clip on YOutube of the Harrison Bergeron story as seen in Between Time and Timbuktu, nine minutes, grainy...But it's to your point: Let's handicap every skill, every art, until we're all the same...low...level.
The problem with Reform, frankly.
Jan said…
seattle citizen: I followed you (at least I think I did) until: "The problem with Reform, frankly." Could you expound? I see huge problems trying to lower all bars until all kids can get over them at exactly the same time (or maybe at all), but I hadn't seen it as having anything to do with reform, per se.
seattle citizen said…
Jan, the way I see Reform is as a mechanization, a standardization, of public education. The free market "values" evident in Reform point to this sort of brave new world of smoothing out processes, making it all "data driven" (and the pieces, therefore, have to be assigned "data" of some sort.
It's automation, it's streamlining...
The brave new world of education wants a product that's easy to make. Designing individualized educations for individuals is time consuming, labor intensive, expensive. So what better than to package it all up into a neat, measurable process, one size fits all?
In doing this, Reformers cut out all the nuance, all the extras, all the quirky (oops! There's that word!) nuances that make people individuals (and, in a business-driven model the conspiracists among us might believe that anything that challenges business as usual, anything that looks at, say, social justice, is just not to be taught: Another piece of "fluff" discarded in the rush to streamline.
That's why you see me using Read Write Matt Science: These words have become, de facto, descriptors of what we want students to learn. Note that they don't say, Poetry, Drama, Literature...Cretive Writing, Essay, Critique...Algebra, Trig, Statistics....Earth Sciences, physical geography....No, no, no, can't have that nuance, we just want kids to Read. And Write.
("Everyone college ready and ready for work.")
So, what do you do? You make 10th grade standards the standard students have to reach in order to get a CAA, Certificate of Academic Achievement (accompanies HS diploma to put state sanction on said diplomoa) - So according to the state, 11th and 12th grade don't matter, test wise.
You make digital data systems that ONLY measure Read Write Math Science, and to a limited degree. As people complain, and inquire why, say, civics and art aren't test, heck: Get going making tests for THOSE. These will be called "Government Art Music. No tested standards on civil disobedience, none on graffiti, none on jazz...Just Government Art Music. I can see them now: "Student uses brush with defined strokes. Student's improv is wihtin defined parameters. Student gets 214 on the RIT."
(to be continued)
seattle citizen said…
Continued from last post:
Then, once you have testing in place, you design curriculum to go with it, then you constrain educators to teach the curriculum to the test, make the tests high-stakes for student and teacher....Voila! Nothing is taught except what is tested, nothing is on the test except some median amount of some skill that someone decided was just high enough...10th grade, say...to be....passable...
Then you can turn teaching itself into the streamlined, candy-flake monster: If teacher is only teaching to strict curriculum tied to test, then anyone can do it, eh? It's EASY! Follow along as the screen prompts you. Don't stray. Don't innovate. Don't stray. BAD teacher, you strayed, as we can see with 22 percentile of factor "X" being triangulated against your time-on-task with lesson "Y"....You're on a PIP, Personal Improvement Plan, and if you can't do more with less, if you can't teacher more and more diverse students in your more and more crowded classroom to these baser and baser standards....well, you're not efficient and we will replace you with TFA (because, as you know, the district has already told teachers that TFA brings a certain je ne sais quoi to teaching, mainly have to do with "closing the achievement gap" (a gap defined by test scores in Read Write Math Science.)
TFA is more efficient, teachers are told, because they "backward plan" to the standard: THAT is the entire lesson. Oh, and hey, they're cheaper! IN this economy, every freakin' college grad in the world would be more than happy to do two years before the class to earn money before they get that job in, you know, leadership.
Yes, EQUALITY, cries the Inspector general in charge of humans. They tell us it's so we don't feel bad when someone does better, but methinks it's because it's easier and cheaper, and perhaps more lucrative, than actually teaching and learning. Base standards are what we should all attain, right?

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