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Friday, October 12, 2012

Lowell and Lincoln APP still one school

From David Garrick, President of the Lowell PTA, in a message to Superintendent Banda, board directors, and others:

I am the president of Lowell Elementary School's PTA and a parent of a student who has attended Lowell for the past four years. I am contacting you to inquire about a situation that has come to my attention, which affects the quality of education Lowell is able to design for its students. As I hope you are aware, parents at Lowell and Lincoln APP spent much of last year trying to convince the school district that separating the two schools was in the best interest of both parties. Thanks to their enormous efforts, last spring Susan Enfield announced that both schools would be separated in the interest of offering students the best possible educational experience. It has come to my attention that this has not happened. Due to this oversight, Lowell now must contend with a number of issues related to designing a high-quality experience to our students; two of which have been brought to my immediate attention:
First, academic goals for both schools are aggregated as a single entity. This leads the state, district, and individual campuses to set academic goals based of skewed populations. Considering that the APP population is specifically generated based on academic achievement, it is logical to determine that academic goals for students at both campuses will not accurately represent their actual populations. In reference to Lowell - our enrollment is much smaller than that at Lincoln and so our goals will be affected to a greater degree.
Second - and of immediate importance - is that this lack of separation affects state and federal funding of Lowell. Our student population qualifies for from 50 to 55 percent (depending on which district employee communicates this information) for free and reduced lunches. As I understand it, this threshold qualifies students at Lowell for funding under Title One funding from the US Department of Education. When the two campuses are linked as a single entity, Lowell no longer qualifies for this funding - directly affecting the services Lowell is able to offer students. In short - our children are not receiving the quality education they deserve due to a paperwork connection that links our two schools.
My request is this. Please rectify this situation. Families and faculty at Lowell are committed to design a high-quality experience for our students and only seek a fair chance to do so. We seek your help in getting to the bottom of this matter.
Please reply to me so that I can help inform our parent community about the progress being made to our parents as Seattle Schools lives up to its commitments to our students and families.
Mr. Garrick is gracious in referring to this failure to keep a commitment as an "oversight". The simple truth is that Seattle Public Schools has never kept a single promise that they have ever made to students and communities. Such a perfect record cannot be the result of series of simple oversights; it must be deliberate. Want to know why the District doesn't have the public's trust? It's because the District isn't trustworthy.

Mr. Garrick also fails to mention that Lowell is trying to become a Creative Approach School, and, if the two schools are still regarded as one school, then they will need the support of the Lowell at Lincoln teachers  and staff to reach the 80% buy-in requirement. Such an approval would create a lot of risk for the Lincoln staff without offering them any benefit. There is good reason to doubt it.

38 comments:

Johnny Calcagno said...

Can someone remind me why at this point they are still connected in any way? Seriously, I can't remember...

Anonymous said...

In Banda's letter to the "APP at Lincoln community," stating that Lincoln will be their interim site for the near future, not once did it refer to the population as a school. It talked about a finding a location for "students," not a school.

erik tanen said...

The reason that the two schools are still connected is that the district does not give school status to App north. After constantly lobbying by staff and parents last year the district told us that our schools would be split. We received a letter from Susan Enfield on June telling us that we would be split. What a surprise to find out that according to the state we are considered one school, because the 500 kids don't have a school of their own. According to the state, App is just a program still attached to Lowell. As David said, this artificially brings our Free and Reduced numbers down from 55% to 18%, thereby denying the 223 students at Lowell what the deserve, because the district will not do its job and decide what they are going to do with the 500 North end gifted students.
Another consequence of this is we received the recent data for test scores and the district would not divide the data between the two schools. We have to do the CSIP ( continue student improvement plan) which each school must do. We are supposed to come up with a plan with flawed information. Again, we are not able to help the students at Lowell because the district will nor do their job.
If the district employees can not do there jobs, maybe Banda should clean house and find people who can.

peter p said...

It sounds like semantics to me. Why do the students at Lowell have to be impacted by not just saying Lincoln us the home of APP and then move them later. Everyone wins

Anonymous said...

I'll repeat here what I stated on another thread previously.

Watch out, because before long there will be no such thing as "schools". There will only be "programs" located in "buildings" - throughout the district. Your child will not attend a school. Your child will attend the "neighborhood school name" PROGRAM located at the "neighborhood school name" BUILDING. All bets will be off. No "program" will be safe from the lackadaisical and unprofessional meddling of SPS staff in orchestrating their "plates spinning on sticks" approach to management.

Oompah

Anonymous said...

And watch out even more. Look at special education. After there were "programs", they changed that to "services" - meaning there won't be a program, there won't be a teacher or IAs, and there isn't a "service". How can you have "service" if there aren't any people delivering it?

-sped parent

Benjamin Leis said...

Are they still reporting test scores as an aggregate for both buildings?
If so that would be another reason the district would want to continue to hedge this issue.
Ben

Lori said...

For a district whose latest goals include ensuring equity, the fact that they keep Lowell and Lincoln connected on paper only, which in turns robs the Lowell children of the Title 1 funds that they would otherwise get, should make parents throughout the district angry.

It is wrong to manipulate the data to deny federal money to the Lowell children.

The Board cannot grant Lincoln school status until a formal proposal is presented to them by the district. I hope families from both schools, plus many others, will write to the district and demand an immediate end to this unfair situation.

Anonymous said...

As an alternative, couldn't the Lincoln APP program be "transferred" to some other school that would want to have the high-scoring APP population on their books? A middle of the road school that would not qualify for Title I or other special funding any way so there's no financial penalty.

If test scores are so important, you'd think there would be takers for that offer.

- Just Asking

Anonymous said...

This is so frustrating to read about. SPS should be ashamed to be playing these games with these children/families.

How quickly could something like this be rectified, should SPS / Banda decide that they want to do something about it? Could this be taken care of quickly in theory?

--FedMomof2

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how the APP community responds to this. I think they already know the district will not give them school status. That would basically create an elite all-APP academy in the North End. Other APP programs are co-located with regular education programs, so this immediately creates questions of equity.

Right now, North APP seems to have a pretty good situation: for all practical purposes, they have their own, self-contained school with its own budget, principal and staff. They have not been split up into pieces again, have a stable home for the next few years, and at least the possibility of moving intact into a new elementary at the Wilson Pacific site.

Can someone explain what APP might actually gain from a truly formal split from Lowell?

Very Curious

Lori said...

Well, I can think of a few things that Lincoln would gain. Last year, when we pointed out that we didn't have sufficient equipment to conduct PE at Lincoln, we were told, "Yes you do. Your equipment just happens to be stored on Capitol Hill." Same thing with musical instruments for the lower grades. The district said that the "school" had enough; too bad the physical distance between locations prevented the Lincoln kids from being able to access things.

It's also been challenging to get equipment, like computers and overhead projectors and library books, and I heard that it took months longer than it should have to be able to actually hire a Vice Principal. Day in and day out, these issues create an extra burden and more hoops for school staff to jump through.

All of these things, however, pale in comparison to the fact that Lowell appears to be eligible for Title 1 funding that it cannot currently get.

The thing I don't understand is what the concern is over giving Lincoln school status in the short-term. The Board is in charge of "creating" schools but also closing schools. Should APP be too large to fit into a 650-kid school in 2017, the Board can "close" the school and divide the populations in two. Heck, even if it isn't and the Board wants to follow through with its nascent plan to create "equity" by placing elementary APP in 5 geographic regions throughout the district, they will still have the authority to "close" Lincoln in the future to make that happen.

Am I missing something here? Doesn't that make sense? Grant school status, which gets us through the next 5 years. Make changes when and if circumstances demand in the future.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lori. APP@Lincoln often gets overlooked/left out when the District is giving computers to staff and other basic school resources because it's not a school. Parents have to run and maintain a school website because the District hasn't provided one. It keeps falling through the cracks. APP@Lincoln needs to have official school status as does Lowell.

Jane

Charlie Mas said...

There are two questions here:

1) Why doesn't the District acknowledge the truth, that Lowell at Lincoln is an independent school from Lowell?

2) How can that reason outweigh the harm that this situation is causing?

I think the answers are pretty simple. The district officials would have to do some work - not much, but some - if the two schools were separate. They would also have to do some work to allocate additional resources to each - library books, PE, and music equipment to Lincoln and Title I money to Lowell. They don't want to do the work of creating the school or the work of re-allocating the resources.

This outweighs the harm done to the students because the harm is done to the students and not to the staff who would have to do the work. So the staff don't care.

Anonymous said...

"...last spring Susan Enfield announced that both schools would be separated in the interest of offering students the best possible educational experience"

1. Management made and announced this decision.
2. The actions required by the decision have not been carried out.

Who, specifically, in SPS management is responsible for carrying out the actions necessary to implement the decision? Who is the direct supervisor of the responsible party? Is the position vacant? If that is the case who, specifically, is responsible for fulfilling the duties of this vacant position until filled? Seriously. Names. Of the managers that continue to draw salaries - increasing salaries - because they are "taking on additional responsibilities" and because they are "underpaid".

Sue in Zen Field

Erik Tanen: pissed off Lowell parent said...

The problem is it seems that we cannot get to the bottom of who is in charge. Ultimately its the superintendent how has to decide to offer school status to Lincoln.
But in the meantime, they need to spend the time to give us separate test scores, so that we can create a school designed for our students, which is very different then APP North. I was sitting in a NOT meeting, when the principal put a box full of the test scores on it. In bold were the words "SORRY BOTH SCHOOLS SCORES ARE IN HERE" It's taken a tremendous effort by principal Smith to get an electronic copy, so that we can create our own data.
Why in gods name, do we have to do this. The district employees should just do their job.

Anonymous said...

Erik - yup, the district employees should just do their job.

This should be a fairly straightforward exercise. It is unfortunate that such a straightforward exercise should prove so challenging to the managers and administrators of this district.

"SORRY BOTH SCHOOLS SCORES ARE IN HERE"....but wait...I thought they were not separate schools!

Who is not doing their job?
Who is the supervisor of the person not doing their job?
Who does this supervisor report to?

Seriously. Names.

Whoever is responsible for following up and ensuring the separation into two schools is now messing about with federal money. Sorry, but WTF is the problem here?

Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

It's great that the Lowell PTA president is on top of this. Are the principals--both Lowell and APP@ Lincoln--making similar demands and raising a stink? Seems like this should be their job, not that of parents... Or perhaps this an effort to help apply public pressure they need as back-up, because they're meeting with continued resistance?

ELB

Unknown said...

"That would basically create an elite all-APP academy in the North End. Other APP programs are co-located with regular education programs, so this immediately creates questions of equity."

Well, that's certainly ONE way of putting it.

APP at Lincoln an "elite academy?" How is that? It's a temporary site for a program that is open to any student who tests in.

They did NOT choose to be located alone - the district did that. That "question of equity" would need to be directed at the district. And how is it them being housed alone is inequitable? Are they getting more resources? Not that I'm aware of.

"Pretty good situation"? They have been and continue to be in an endless holding pattern. That they have made the best of it is to their credit. (Just as Pathfinder put up with a lousy building for years and years as has Arbor Heights).

And it's not what APP would get but what the Lowell students would get - access to Title One funds they want. You are welcome to go ask Lowell parents about this issue.

Anonymous said...

ELB - both principals at Lowell and Lincoln are advocating for separate school status. And are getting nowhere with the District. The District says to talk to the Board and the Board says to talk to the District. Hence the need for parents to also get involved to try and get some resolution.

Jane

lowell parent said...

Why is it always parents that have to get the well paid district managers to do their jobs. They ask us to trust them with $600,000,000 for BEX 4. Are they kidding. As of now I'm voting no.

Po3 said...

Unbelievable.

Give me a break said...

Who decid
Banda should step in and make an executive decision and give both schools what they want and deserve.
I just don't get why they do not just say that App is in Lincoln and in five years just move them to whatever school they will be going to. Don't they do this all the time. Maybe they want to break up the group but are afraid to piss off all of those parents, or they want to cohouse them with another school, but realize there are no other schools that can absorb 500 kids, or even two groups of 250, so they do nothing instead and 700+ kids are impacted by their inability to make hard decisions. They should focus on the problems at hand instead of getting excited by shiny new schools in the future.

NESeattleMom said...

So does this "school" have two principals like before plus a vice principal? No wonder the button on the website has not worked for APP at Lincoln on the School Directory page. It is more of the same going on 1.5 years....Watch out, APP parents. What replaces this could be worse. How about making it Lincoln Elementary till June 2017? Or adding it onto Thurgood Marshall where the rest of APP is? Or naming it Wilson Pacific APP @ Lincoln?

Charlie Mas said...

Here's another problem with the culture of Seattle Public Schools: everything is personal, nothing is institutional.

When Dr. Enfield made that promise it was a promise from her personally, not a promise by the District. So when she left, so did your promise.

Jan said...

Charlie -- I know where you are coming from, but I am not sure that "personal" vs "institutional" really means anything. Do you actually think that, if Enfield had stayed, this promise would have necessarily been kept? Where it DOES matter, I suppose, is in "institutional history." When too much turnover occurs, people genuinely do lose track of what was promised (and just as important -- why -- but really, reasonable record-keeping should be able to handle this, you would think). The real problem is -- there is never a "deal." There is never really a contract between the promisor and the promisee (us). Everything is just whatever you think, today, that you will more than likely do. And tomorrow? Who knows. That is why schools with MOUs do so much better. Those are legally enforceable contracts (not just because they are written, but generally because someone on the other side -- Sloan, McGilvra parents, somebody, has actually put money in, or taken action, or built something -- in reliance on the District's promises. Once the promises are bought and paid for -- they can't just ignore them, though they do do what they can to get out of them at times.

For parents, we have no leverage. Our "money" goes in in the form of taxes -- tied to nothing, and thus spendable at will, or our votes -- again -- which are only for board members, not staff.

Note. Charters do not help this. In fact, they make it worse.

It doesn't matter whether the promises are personal or institutional. They are not binding. You can call them "promises," you can call them "fig newtons." They are not enforceable.

Anonymous said...

What a disgraceful situation.

I wonder if the Lowell PTA and / or Lincoln APP PTA have considered getting together and filing a FOIA request with the district to find out who is responsible / get all correspondence/paperwork pertaining to this issue. Would be a starting point and possibly enough to nudge the district into action.

And wouldn't it just serve the district right if 1040 passes and both these schools (programs) apply for charter status? (That doesn't mean I advocate it.)

Winston

Charlie Mas said...

Jan has this right - even if Dr. Enfield were still in the superintendent role, she might still renege on the promise.

With her gone, however, the communities can't even get that close. They can't even try to hold her accountable for it. The promise is honestly broken, it is dishonestly denied and there is no accountability at all.

Dorothy Neville said...

APP cannot become charter, can't have eligibility requirements.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,
But gifted charters do exist in other States... It is a slippery slope. Creative types often figure out 'work arounds' when sufficiently motivated. I have no idea what would happen here if it passes, but I do know I don't want to find out (eg. I hope it doesn't pass).
-- yes, somehow, some way, betcha it could happen

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as APP goes, special needs are special needs, right? Couldn't an argument be made that the needs of these students are not met in the general education environment? Look at it as a need, not a threshold.

If charters are intended to meet the needs of students whose needs are not met in the public schools, there you have it.

Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

To "Very Curious" who posted this comment:

"It will be interesting to see how the APP community responds to this. I think they already know the district will not give them school status. That would basically create an elite all-APP academy in the North End. Other APP programs are co-located with regular education programs, so this immediately creates questions of equity."

I would ask you to please not jump on the bandwagon of calling our school "elite" because it has testing requirements. The kids in our school learn differently from typical kids. Their brains simply don't work the same way that other people's brains do. They have special educational needs.

If they had special educational needs because of cognitive impairment or physical differences, I will bet that you would never accuse them of being elite. You would not likely disdain them for wanting their own school with programming that targets their special needs. You would not think that they have it "pretty good."

However, as your comments implied, most people seem to think that highly capable kids don't deserve the compassion that other kids with special needs deserve.

We see this at the district level all the time - this patronizing attitude that because our kids are "smart" they will turn out OK even with repeated splits and school changes and instability. NO KID does well living in a state of constant transition. ALL KIDS want things to be predictable.

We want this for our kids too. We want our school to have a home so we can settle in and build a solid school comunity. And to not find out on the first day of school that our cafeteria tables got carted off someplace because someone at SPS forgot we were here. Or that 1/3 of our teachers didn't have computers for the first 2 weeks of school because we don't have a separate school number. We want what other schools have. In effect, we want equity with the children in neighborhood schools.

Many of our children and families still have ties to Lowell Capitol Hill. We do want what is best for them, esp. in terms of Title 1 funding, and we have been arguing in favor of a complete split for the past year. We are hoping that the district will treat both campuses fairly.

Mom of APP 2nd grader

Charlie Mas said...

To yes, somehow, some way, betcha it could happen

The rules in other states are different from the rules here. Other states do allow entrance criteria while Initiative 1240 would not.

So how could it happen? The same way that Washington charters under I-1240 could create schools without many students with IEPs - don't serve them and they will leave.

Just create a charter school, we could call it "All People are Powerful", and tell people it will be an academically challenging school in which the curriculum is keyed at least two years ahead.

Any student can enroll. Accept them all, and, if the list gets too long use the lottery to choose them.

Them teach to the APP expectations. Offer no support to the students who can't keep up. Give them bad grades. Do a lot of parent conferences in which the parents are told that this isn't the right school for their child. They will, in time, leave. When they are gone you will have an APP school.

Another way to do it is to test the students and segregate the classes between eligible and non-eligible. Then do nothing with the non-eligible students. Put them all together - regardless of grade or age - in one class with one teacher and babysit them, but don't bother to teach them. They will leave.

Please understand that I'm not recommending these tactics; I'm just answering the question.

If you're disgusted by these tactics, then I suggest you think about what is happening to students with disabilities in schools all around the country all the time.

Anonymous said...

To Mom of APP 2nd grader who said "most people seem to think that highly capable kids don't deserve the compassion that other kids with special needs deserve."

You are correct. Typically developing children and advanced learners will rarely face the challenges and prejudice that students with disabilities do. However, advanced academic learners often are challenged socially. For that disability, they do deserve compassion.

Sped student parent

Unknown said...

Oh APP couldn't go charter but YES, a charter for gifted students could open.

In fact, they are considered, under I-1240, "at-risk" kids so a charter opening a school for gifted students would (allegedly) get a preference. (The initiative says they do but then says ZERO about how that is applied either by the authorizer. Not much of a preference if it's not spelled out.)

Now, could they have testing to get in? No but they could write their charter to have high expectations and if your child couldn't cut it, he/she could be exited (much as they do in KIPP but for behavior).

Anonymous said...

Simple solution to this, at least as far as test scores are concerned. APP @ Lincoln students should not take the test this year. With no APP students, the Lowell students will see their scores. And perhaps the district will be reminded that they can't count the scores of our kids without actually counting our kids...

- Grrrr

Anonymous said...

The district official in charge of data is Eric Anderson. Mr Anderson should be ashamed to collect his paycheck.