Tuesday Open Thread

Here is some grist for the mill today:

Press release from the District at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for McDonald International Elementary School.

The Executive Committee is meeting on Wednesday morning and their agenda includes a resolution against charter school legislation, a discussion of the 2012-13 Board priorities process, talk about the Board meeting times/comment timing and managing the public testimony list, and the policy development process, among other items.

Board Work Session on BEX IV tomorrow.

The Board will also conduct an oversight meeting of the Internal Audit work on Wednesday.

The District is hosting its annual Family Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Chief Sealth International High School. The goal of the symposium is to support families as critical partners in their student's academic success.

Here's a link to the Board's Policy Review Timetable. Is it just me or is nearly everything scheduled for TBD?

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
If the last FACMAC meeting was anything to go by, there will be several changes both to project list and timeline for the BEX levy. I don't want to say more, since the plans may have changed since then.

Call me Ishmael
Floor Pie said…
I went to hear Mr. Banda speak at Hamilton last night. Lots of folks were there with questions and comments about who gets to attend JSIS. People were in tears. Literally. In tears. About who gets to attend JSIS.

Young families who bought into the neighborhood ten years ago think it's no fair that younger siblings got preference this year. Established families think it's no fair that they will have to choose between uprooting their oldest to a new school or sending their kids to different schools. One expressed a very real equity concern that only those who can afford a home in the wealthy heartland of Wallingford will have access to Stanford's program. Several people said what matters most to them is simply predictability.

As an outsider, it seems to me like the best solution would be to make Stanford an option school (or flip it to a charter school if 1240 goes through). There's really nothing "public" or "neighborhood" about it anymore; why try to force it to fit that mold?

I felt it would have been incredibly insensitive to bring that up at the meeting in front of all those crying parents, so I didn't. But I'm bringing it up now. I think it makes sense. Is it likely to happen? And if not, what's a better soultion?
Josh Hayes said…
Hmm. I think Google ate my first response.

Floor Pie, you're absolutely right: the equity issue is unavoidable. If language immersion is a "program", it needs to be available to all students city-wide. It's absurd to imagine that immersion would be made available in every school (or that it SHOULD be: the demand exceeds what JSIS and the handful of other such schools can provide, but by how much?), and so JSIS, and other immersion schools, should be option schools.

Now, is that likely to happen? No. The likelihood is exactly zero. Money talks, and equity walks.
mirmac1 said…
When Banda spoke at Concord last week, he made it sound like his FIRST priority is equity and access. He heard from STEM@Boren parents near tears there. So, where does he stand on JSIS? on STEM as program or school?

What good is choice for a few when the vast majority have a snowball's chance in hell for good math or language immersion?

I hope he succeeds in making access to these programs more available to all students, including those in special education and in schools with few programs and offerings.
Unknown said…
Yes, all the language immersion programs should be Option schools (but have a Geozone and a preference for students who speak one of the optional languages - it helps the entire program greatly to have those students in the school and adds diversity).

I have heard Sherry Carr opine on this many times and yet where is her push for this to happen?
Anonymous said…
And lets not forget Montessori! Temperament and learning style fit is essential for a child to succeed in the Montessori model. It's fantastic for some (my daughter was definitely a Montessori kid) but totally wrong for others. ALL program schools should be options—especially since we know neighborhood boundaries are subject to change.

Anonymous said…
Some of us have asked that language immersion schools be option schools for at least five years now. Good luck to the newly outraged. Join the line of parents who have tried to talk sense to district enrollment and have been bulldozed by Tracy Libros who points to the board, and by the board who points to Tracy Libros.

Don't let Carr fool you. Or Martin-Morris. They haven't lifted a finger to fix things in years.

Speaking of lifting a finger: A resolution against charter schools at the executive committee? Do tell! Who is on the executive committee? I wonder if this would have a chance to see the light of day in a full vote. It certainly would be interesting to have every single board member on record.

Anonymous said…
The very idea of these "program" schools is inequitable. They were formed to attract people who really didn't want to go to public schools in the first place. They were formed to attract people who want a very exclusionary schools for their own kids. They wanted something "special" and something that was likely to keep kids out. In point of fact, mostly the "program" schools do not serve students with disabilities in their, very unique, oh so special programs. JSIS has the absolute lowest rate of service to students with disabilities anywhere: 5%. Notably, it serves practically no black students: 1.5%. FRL? 8.8%. Why are people sitting around crying at board members? Because their kids are not guaranteed a rarified, exclusive school experience. How can anyone pity them. BF Day is right down the road, as are many fine schools. But yes, you might have to sit next somebody they don't like.

Where are the charter school floggers now? Where are those who decry "segregation"? Look at JSIS. Why aren't these same people lambasting that?

Lori said…
Re: JSIS and neighborhood versus option school.

At the Bryant meeting with Mr. Banda, someone from the district (sorry I've forgotten who) explained that the Beacon Hill (and possibly Concord?) community had lobbied hard to be a neighborhood school, not an option school, in order to best serve their neighborhood kids, many of whom aren't native English speakers. They wanted to draw in as many foreign language-speaking kids as possible, which they believed would be best accomplished with neighborhood boundaries, and apparently this is why the district made Beacon Hill (and therefore also JSIS) neighborhood schools.

I'd never heard this explanation before. Anyone else at the meeting that can corroborate or clarify what was said? Sorry I don't remember all the details, like who said it!
Anonymous said…
Agree that language immersion schools should be option schools, but why should they have a Geozone at all? Because of transportation costs? (Not saying I disagree -- genuinely asking.)

- a parent
Louise said…
Isn't McDonald also a language immersion school? Isn't it right up the road from JSIS? Doesn't it have space? Not sure why people are crying, honestly. Is it because McDonald is perceived to be not as good?
Unknown said…

The executive committee is comprised of DeBell, Smith-Blum and Patu.
Josh Hayes said…
Louise, I think McDonald is pretty darn full (I know a teacher there; she has a VERY big class). I too find it puzzling that, what with JSIS being language immersion and all, the district chooses to open a school from which you can almost literally SEE JSIS and make it too an immersion school. WTH? If you're not going to make them option schools, they should at least be more widely distributed than THAT.
Anonymous said…
I remember the northend parents who wrote here a few years back, in support of the "new" neighborhood assignment plan. They had no problem with southend kids being stuck in substandard schools and shut out of all-city programs, told us parents just needed to get more involved to improve schools near us (LOL) but now these same voices complain about overcrowding in the northend and their own kids not being allowed into special programs at other schools? Seems like you got the predictability you were demanding, because now your child will definitely not go to JSIS unless you live within the boundaries.

Anonymous said…
Solvay Girl, I disagree that Montessori requires a certain temperament. Perhaps it ought to be a non-geo program because it is "special" and attracts a family looking for something different, but after observing Montessori classrooms over the years and talking to the teachers I am convinced it serves nearly every child well. Not every single one, but "regular" style classrooms can't serve every single child perfectly either.
suep. said…
@ parent @10/9/12 9:14 AM

What exactly are you saying? Are you saying that JSIS community actively discriminates against black children and kids with special needs? That the parents/guardians of JSIS, who have no control over enrollment decisions, are somehow responsible for the demographics of the school?

Your broad-brush accusation that families who choose specific programs for their kids are all motivated by some sort of racial or disability prejudice is vile, unsubstantiated and only implies your own prejudice against these families.

Why shouldn't the district offer a variety of appealing programs in its schools -- language immersion, Montessori, advanced learning, IB, STEM? If anything, the problem here is that the district doesn't offer enough of them. Clearly there is a great demand for them.

As long as we have a neighborhood school policy and a district that's no longer willing to provide transportation to more options, a school community will reflect the demographics of the neighborhood in which it is located. That's why the NSAP has been problematic and made it harder for our schools to be racially and economically diverse.

By the way, has anyone addressed the question of who would pay to transport kids around the district to these hypothetical charter schools, if they became legal? Since entry would be based on a lottery system, not geography, wouldn't charter schools require a return to the old transportation model that the district has deemed too expense to maintain?
Anonymous said…
A little off the JSIS situation, but this article made me gasp. A bit too Clockwork Orange....

From NYT, article on use of ADHD meds to control kids' behavior and improve their grades while schools suffer funding cuts. Doctors are perscribing these meds and justify doing it because in the word of one doctor (paraphrasing from the article),... basically society has decided it's cheaper to modify the kid than to modify the kid's learning/developing environment.


Anonymous said…
(Repost from Stand Up and Be Counted thread)

Noone should even consider voting for 1240 until they've read the language of the initiative. And to anyone who's considering voting in favor, I guarantee you will not support it after reading it. I GUARANTEE IT!

It's a wolf in sheep's clothing people. Not only does it funnel massive amounts of public dollars into private hands, non-profit or not, it immediately slices off 4% of a school's budget to go directly into the pockets of private "Charter Authorizers" who get paid that 4% as an administrative fee for overseeing a "portfolio" of charter schools. Then, in addition to that 4%, the "Charter Authorizers" like KIPP or any other Educational Management Company ("EMO") are permitted to set up a nice little kickback scheme where they can charge and collect consulting fees and other sales-driven fees directly from the Charter School budgets. Privatization 101 and the modern ethos of "If you can't kill a public entity, bilk it 'til the cows come home."

So the legislation not only sets up a 9 member Charter Commission at the State Level, where only 1 member is required to be a parent, and no member is required to have an education background, it also sets up a cadre of private "Charter Authorizers" (companies) who oversee the charter school chains in their "portfolio" of schools. And those "authorizers" are where the power in the charter system will lie, not with the state.

More bureaucracy, a de facto, privately run school board replacement, and of course, more professionals skimming taxpayer and levy supporter dollars into their well-stuffed pockets.

Tell me again how it's "all about the kids," please, as the Ed Reformers repeat over and over again at their billionaire sponsored retreats to Sun Valley and Aspen.

Please folks, don't get suckered into this. If you fall for it, there's no going back. WSDWG

Benjamin Leis said…

Wow that's a large generalization and comes off as bitter on my read of it.

1. "The same" people are almost certainly not complaining about JSIS now as those who several years ago commented on the NSAP.

2. There have option schools like Beacon Hill or the Boren STEM school spun up on the South and South West. In terms of new options, I don't think there has been any pattern of inequity.

3. Its human nature to want the best schools for your kids and parents are always going to complain when they can't get into one program or another. This will continue whether we have a NSAP or not, whether JSIS is an option or neighborhood school not etc.

4. There's no way especially in a district that's space and dollar constrained that we can provide complete choice to every family. The old system would be breaking down under the same strains that current one is: not enough seats. And in any case, allowing some motivated families to escape sub standard schools is ignoring all the kids left behind there. The district ought to be attacking the root problem. The general education program at all our schools should be good.

Anonymous said…
@parent: You can't fault parents for being "exclusive" without proof, and I think you're way off base to impugn people's motives as being exclusionary or not wanting to sit next to "them."

The district does not equitably place programs, period. Charlie has ranted about this issue for years! It thus becomes luck of the draw, except in the cases where people can choose, qualify, or have the means to move to a neighborhood like where JSIS is located. Like most things in SPS, program placement is another example of poor resource management, and poor relations with school communities.

Why does SPS so vainly try to push onto schools what they don't ask for, such as Discovery Math, while, on the other hand, balk or drag their feet, and break promises to groups where demand is high, such as with more language immersion schools, Montessori programs, or STEM, like the new, hobbling WS Stem program at Boren?

A great mystery of life, I suppose. But I see nothing to be gained by maligning parents who, by trying to get the best possible educations for their kids, are just carrying what society demands and expects of them. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
parent is correct with the "counseling out" of SpEd students at JSIS. How is that different than an exclusionary charter school?

sped parent
Anonymous said…
Southender has a right to be a bit bitter. 10% set aside? Separate, but equal. Nice turn of phrase, but hardly reality. Look at where the city/society choose to invest infrastructure dollars, how they do it- surface light rail vs. underground??? But keep on hammering the separate, but equal bit. It's a good escape clause kinda like throwing charter and standardized testing + teacher eval as the educational panacea.

reality bites
Anonymous said…
I think we need to stop the North vs. South stuff folks. As someone from the South End, sure, I suppose I could dance with glee that, after we got ours, which we are still getting, it's nice to see somebody else share our pain and misery. But how cynical and sad is that. I'd rather see suffering alleviated, not duplicated.

Such sentiments only serve the powers-that-be to divide and conquer us, while continuing to perpetuate divisions that serve the pandering political operatives within their enclaves, such as Carlyle on Queen Anne, and Pettigrew in the South End. They consolidate and galvanize their power while thrive while we tear each other apart.

I get it, Southender, but let's keep our eyes on the big picture and not fall into the neighborhood turf wars like we've done in this district for way too long. We all benefit from a stronger, healthier district. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Are you saying that JSIS community actively discriminates against black children and kids with special needs? That the parents/guardians of JSIS, who have no control over enrollment decisions, are somehow responsible for the demographics of the school?

Yes. I'm saying exactly that. Perhaps, "actively" is too strong - but uninclusive and inconsiderate is not too strong. The appeal of such programs are their exclusivity and that it will be a really "nice" group of kids attending without any pesky problems that come along with diversity. True diversity is indeed a challenge. In order to attract students into schools - the district is forced to pander to those who don't want it. For example, what the heck is soooo appealing about Montessori? It's really the exclusivity. For example, at Graham Hill the Montessori program was disproportionately white and non-disabled. And likely for that reason, it was popular, unfortunately, even if parents won't admit or acknowledge that.

What I am saying is that the district should consider ALL groups when establishing new programs, and that schools need to serve everyone. They shouldn't be used as some sort of special draw for families who really would rather be in private schools, or have exclusive educations.

I have only contempt for self-righteous cry-babies at board meetings, like those at Hamilton's meeting. I've seen them at board of director community meetings too. No pity.

Anonymous said…
@parent: You may or may not have a point. But I find your accusations reckless and toxic. Why was Graham Hill's Montessori program predominately white and non-disabled? Did non-white and disabled kids apply and get turned away? Are white families more likely to choose alternative programs? Do we know the reason? Has it even been explored? Or do we judge every book by its cover?

We can't play judge, jury and executioner without facts and evidence. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
WSDWG, with respect to exclusion of special-needs students, the district does nothing. That's how they exclude. The admin says, "we can't serve your kid here." They won't provide the support a child might need to succeed in a given program.

As for representation of minorities and ELL students in programs like APP, the district said it was going to make a concerted effort to identify children who would benefit from advanced learning. How is that going?

sped parent
Anonymous said…
WSDWG - I don't understand your wig out. It is common knowledge that students with disabilities are edged out of popular schools and sent down the road to the other side of the tracks. The JSIS = BF Day demographics prove this but you are about to have a heart attack. What's up with that?

Carla Santorno (remember her?) reviewed the data on about the redlining of special education students (it's all available through OSPI) and described it as akin to institutional racism. It's a fact that the more popular or choice the school the more that families with kids with special needs are discouraged from attending.

Parent is absolutely correct to call this problem out. But maybe parent could give us some of the numbers.

Another parent
Eric B said…
A few things on charters. Charters have two choices on transportation, and it's entirely up to them (and the authorizer) which they choose. They can offer no transportation, or they can contract out transportation to someone else. If they contract it out, they can go direct to a First Student or equal bus company, or they can go to the school district.

WSDWG, you're a little off on the charter authorizers. In the initiative, they are required to be either the charter commission or a school board that puts in an application to be an authorizer. It's not contracted out to private companies. Management of the school itself can be contracted out to private nonprofits.

All that said, please do read the initiative, particularly the part about charter conversions. It's awful.
Anonymous said…
Either you assign by address or by lottery. Either you guarantee within a map or agree to give everyone the same fair chance. You northenders wanted this new segregated assignment plan based on address, to keep our kids OUT. You demanded a predictable assignment when someone buys a house and moves near a school, and that is exactly what you got.

Even if JSIS becomes Option with lottery these people will still cry because their kids can't all get in!

And if JSIS did change to Option, where will those neighborhood kids go?

Anonymous said…
It looks like I will get my wish on having the board on record for their charter vote. The 3 members of the executive committee will be on record for whether or not to put it to the full board. If it makes it out of committee, then the full board will have to talk to it at a meeting.

mirmac1 said…
I see the Downtown school's still getting set up for 2014. $5M is a nice gift to Amazon, that just spen $1.16 Billion on the SLU Vulcan properties.

BEX IV Timeline
Jan said…
southender -- where I disagree with you is in motives (and my disagreement is only partial). When the District ditched its choice program in favor of neighborhood assignments, my sense was that there were two "stated" goals: 1. Decrease transportation costs, and 2. Provide predictability. Both laudable goals -- but at what (or whose) expense? Well, at the expense of all those families for whom predictability would mean predictable access to a substandard school -- in other words, mostly the south end.

On the one hand, I don't know that any of us who HAD predictability all along could really understand the frustration of families who didn't live close enough to ANY school to have a clue where their kids would end up. Really -- it was NOT a minor issue.

And, everyone acknowledged, before NSAP started, that its success was going to depend on "making every school excellent" (or whatever MGJ said) BEFORE changing the assignment system.

But -- of course, that never happened (or only partially happened, at a few schools, like Sealth and Cleveland). If they had had the guts, they should have said -- UNTIL it happens, no change in assignment plans! THAT would have gotten people's attention. But they didn't. They just blew past the failed task of improving southend schools, and imposed neighborhood reassignment (with the promise of 10 percent choice seats -- which they immediately scuttled).

And, so, here we are. But I don't think a lot of people had bad motives. They just failed to see (or were unwilling to acknowledge) that solving their problems was making someone else's problems much worse.

The part I can't excuse, though, is that this was all so predictable. Lots of people saw it happening. Way too few people demanded a better solution.
Anonymous said…
Once again the 'programs' get screwed - and how.

No further promise of APP to Wilson Pacific. Just a generic promise to build an elementary.

World School? They are 'looking for a suitable location.' They are booted with NOWHERE TO GO. AMAZING.

And bye-bye Alternative School Pinehurst K8. You are steathily closed as part of a capital campaign. So glad you worked and rallied to stay open just yesterday. The way JSCEE has treated your population is one word only. Disgraceful.

Anonymous said…
My previous post refers to mirmac1's link. The letter under Banda's name is making its way to various school populations right now.

While I am in rant mode, let me add this: Once again a COMPLETE AND UTTER FAIL on district communications. No warning on massive impact to cherished programs. Nothing. Left field. Want to piss off parents? Yep, this will do it.

The BEX levy viability gets shakier everyday thanks to noncommunication. Not to mention the SLU giveaway.

Jet City mom said…
To reply to a question up thread, from my perspective of having kids in Seattle area schools ,
" Yes, alternative schools are often considered more often by white families than families of color". Not sure why, could be they like the structure that a comprehensive school can offer, or they associate " alternative" with " reentry" , ( but oftentimes so does SPS), or they feel some of the ECs that a comprehensive school offers that an alternative school may not ( like broader choice of sports & music programs), is important for their child's success in school.

But a lot depends on how the school is being presented, once they learn about them, many minority families have been happy with option schools.
First, my recollection is that McDonald was opened as a foreign-language immersion to help fill Hamilton (JSIS not being enough students).

Second, Sue is right - parents don't assign who goes to a school. The district does.

Southender, good point.

As for transportation under charters, there is NO mandate to prove transportation. There IS a requirement to have a "plan" but the charter group could say their plan is the kids walk/bike or take Metro. They do NOT have to provide transportation.

Quite the irony for those beating the charter drum as that "choice" gets negated for poor families (or even busy ones) if there is no direct transportation to a charter school which is not likely to be in your neighborhood.

Parent, what is "sooo great" about Montessori? A lot and any parent that has their child in it can tell so. I give all credit to my sons' pre-school Montessori for nurturing and expanding their love of learning via the Montessori method.

The Montessori program at Graham Hill required some payment (if I am recalling correctly). I would say that it might not have been marketed as well to all families.

Actually the district DID do a huge outreach to minority parents for APP/Spectrum. I remember Bob Vaughn telling me he personally called families who had a child with high state test scores and they either were not interested or didn't believe it would help their child.

Well, if the SLU money is still in there, that's a problem. I had a chat with the Mayor and he is urging the downtown businesses to take up his offer for a height rezoning in exchange for placement of a school. It would be a win-win situation and yet, I'm not hearing much from any business willing to do this.
Anonymous said…
Add to the list of homeless programs the Cascade Parent Partnership (homeschool center), currently housed at Wilson Pacific. Maybe they can join up with Pinehurst K-8 to find a new home.

Jane Addams K-8: Move to Pinehurst K-8 and open Jane Addams building as a middle school by 2015. We will work with the Pinehurst community on next steps for the school.

I was surprised the Jane Addams building was not made a middle school as part of the last round of closures, so it's good to see there is finally a more immediate plan to deal with the middle school capacity issues.

It's not ideal for the Jane Addams or Pinehurst community, of course. The alternative programs seem cursed with a nomadic existence.

Jet City mom said…
Actually southender my kids have never attended their neighborhood schools,( although we bought our house, because it was only three blocks away from the elementary school& a bike ride away from the high school)

I think the school is more important than its building & where it is located, & I would give other families the same leeway to find what works for their own kids.

Additionally when the district released their new plan, they decided that families on our block would send their kids to an elementary 1.7 miles away.
Instead of one that is three blocks away.
They have since pushed the boundary two blocks, but except for nine blocks at the NE boundary, the attendance boundary is well within the walk zone.

So that school is saving on buses I assume, but the next school will need more.
Anonymous said…
OMG Melissa, did you really write this? "Actually the district DID do a huge outreach to minority parents for APP/Spectrum. I remember Bob Vaughn telling me he personally called families who had a child with high state test scores and they either were not interested or didn't believe it would help their child."

Are you serious? A phone call from Bob Vaughan is your idea of advanced learning outreach??? OMG.

This district is structured on inequity. As has been written here many times, there has never been a single authentic self-contained Spectrum program in Southeast or South West-Seattle clusters. When parents ask for a Spectrum test or ALO materials at our elementary schools they are met with blank stares.

Build it and our kids will come! Fill it with kids out of area if needed, to get one started. But a phone call??? OMG, you gotta be kidding.

-southender laughing in amazement
Southender, if the director of a program takes it upon himself to personally call parents of eligible students to tell them about a program that could benefit their student, yes, I do think it worthy. He also had the department send out letters to those parents.

This was beyond their efforts at specific schools.

I'm thinking you must be young or work with middle school students, OMG.
Anonymous said…
@Another Parent & Sped Parent: Hang on. I'm not denying the problem with exclusion of special ed kids. It's a huge problem.

I'm saying don't bash parents for doing what's best for their kids. That's their job.

Conversely, it's the district's job to fairly apportion resources and opportunities for all kids of every need.

If a parent is overreaching or asking for too much, the district should be competent enough to reel them back to reality and manage their expectations. You can't bash parents for doing the best they can for their kids. That's all I'm wigging out about. WSDWG
Charlie Mas said…
Board members, when speaking individually, claim to support using option school assignment rules for language immersion programs. All of them claim to support this. So why hasn't it happened? Why hasn't it even been proposed?

Senior District staff also, when speaking as individuals, will claim to support using option school assignment rules for these programs, yet they too fail to act on that support.

How can this be? It's easy. They aren't sincere.

Here's the impediment to the change: because assignment to option schools is first self-selected by families and then determined by a random process, the District can only make rough estimates of the number of students who will leave their attendanced area school for an option school. This complicates the job of closely predicting the expected demand for each attendance area school.

The District wants to closely estimate the enrollment at each attendance area school because they are very concerned that they will underestimate the number of students who will accept the assignment to their attendance area school and be forced to overcrowd a school.

Funny, huh? They seem unaware of how putting these programs in attendance area schools, like JSIS, is creating the exact same outcome.

They should, of course, use option school assignment rules for the distinctive programs and, at the same time, not run their estimates so close to 100% capacity. They should instead target 90% capacity in schools. This would allow them a margin of error.
Anonymous said…
@Eric B:

Sec 210(e)(2) - An authorizer may delegate its responsibilities under this section to employees or contractors.

Sec 211(1) - ...authorizer oversight fee,...may not exceed four percent of each charter school's annual funding. SI of public instruction shall deduct the oversight fee from each charter school's allocation & transmit the fee to the appropriate authorizer.

211(4) An authorizer may provide contracted, fee-based services to charter schools under its jurisdiction that are in addition to the oversight duties under section 210 of this act.

211(6) - In the event of revocation of any authorizer's chartering authority, the state board of ed shall manage the timely and orderly transfer of each charter contract held by that authorizer to another authorizer in the state...

@EricB: I don't see Shoreline SD stepping in and taking over the management of Seattle Charters. So, if this isn't written for private, contracted-out authorizers then who?

If I'm misreading it, Eric, then let me know. I know the legislation says school boards or the state board elsewhere, but is the contracting provision I cite above not the trap-door for privatization?

If I'm wrong, I'll stand corrected. Let me know how you read the above. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
@EricB: And thanks for raising the issue. I think it's really, really important that we discuss the actual legislation, versus charters pro/con.

I've always said I'm not against or for charters, per se. But the way most are operated today are not as they were originally dreamed up and designed, mostly because certain folks learned how to capitalize on discontent, and profit from it. As usual. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
"This district is structured on inequity. As has been written here many times, there has never been a single authentic self-contained Spectrum program in Southeast or South West-Seattle clusters. When parents ask for a Spectrum test or ALO materials at our elementary schools they are met with blank stares."

Seconded. AL spends a lot of effort finding kids--but there's NOWHERE FOR THEM TO GO and no one takes responsibility for creating thriving programs down here. Parents think the testing and the transfers won't help their kids, because they won't without solid programs, which don't exist... unless you test into APP, in which case you can opt to send your kid on a bus two hours a day to get what should pretty much be standard issue education (which is what my family ended up doing, after having no Spectrum option and a school that refused to have an ALO), weeeeeeeeee!
Anonymous said…
Melissa: I know you've read & studied the initiative at length. Am I mischaracterizing the legislation. I read both "operators" and "authorizers" to be outsourceable under the act. Am I wrong? WSDWG
Anonymous said…
I think this is the key provision:

Sec 210(e)(2) - An authorizer may delegate its responsibilities under this section to employees or contractors.

Where will our basically unpaid school board find the time to manage charter schools, in addition to all else they can barely address? How could they not opt to contract out their "authorizer" duties?

Remember: It was a Board that closed schools and adopted Discovery Math. Bad decisions are a hallmark. WSDWG
Oh yes, the authorizers can outsource their duties as well and then put their "stamp" on it.

So there's profit in the authorizing and profit in the management/educational services at the schools themselves. Money for all, really.

And the school boards will likely outsource their work (should any be dumb enough to sign up for this) because as Director Peaslee pointed out to me, just getting vetted to be an authorizer would be work for a Board, no less being an authorizer.

Confused? Well, see under the initiative ALL school boards that want to be authorizers have to be vetted by the Board of Education.

(Not our friends at the Charter Commission who are presumably "vetted" by the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President. And oddly, the Charter Commission is omitted from TWO key sections of the initiative. Those would be involving how they pick charters.)

So it's a task to BECOME an authorizer and to BE an authorizer if you are a School Board.

So far I have found just one School Board director in the state who is for 1240 but she's been censured by her Board twice now so I don't take what she says very seriously. There might be more but see, over at the Yes campaign, they have NO endorsement page so really, it's hard to say who endorses this thing.
Anonymous said…
So.....given that enormous load of work required to qualify as an "authorizer", just imagine how attractive an existing charter outfit from out of state, which is already quite knowledgable and experienced in becoming an "authorizer" (and who probably wrote the legislation, has many TFA in its ranks, and gets money from Gates, too!) would be to any district being blackmailed...er..um...that wants to take a whack at opening a charter would be...Gee Whiz!! It's almost like we're not just discussing the idea of charters, but constructing the pilings for an entire cottage industry to set up shop in Seattle and start vacuuming out our local dollars to far away states and places.

Then again, maybe I'm just a conspiracy nut who hates poor, struggling kids and wants to see them fail. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Melissa you can snark all you want about my typing skills. I challenge you to name a single improvement to Advanced Learning accomplished under the woefully inadequate leadership of Mr. Robert Vaughan. That Task Force you were involved with accomplished nothing.

Phone calls?!? Imagine being that busy parent who answers the phone to some guy downtown explaining why your kid should be moved to another kind of school. It's called Spectrum which you never heard of because you aren't too comfortable with English or there are no APP or Spectrum schools nearby. For a split second you wonder, what is this call about, is my son in trouble? Can't be, since he's always done so well in school! No thank you sir, whoever you are... I gotta go now, bye.

Anonymous said…

We need to have our feet firmly grounded in reality. When given the option to have a fit and insist my child be in advanced math (even though I recognized her math teacher was very capable, and that others scored better than her), I backed off. If the choice is denying a young child a chance to read and write at grade level, versus the quality of their playspace, what should we do as parents and a society? I don't believe "advocating for what's best for your child" is sufficient excuse to re-order our priorities. I see this with the whole issue with those who choose to live downtown, pushing a nearby school for their kiddos versus a mold-free, rodent-free, non-crumbling school elsewhere.

sped parent
Anonymous said…
@Southender: That scenario paints a pretty bleak picture of a preoccupied, disinterested parent who can't be bothered for a few minutes to discuss their child's educational opportunities. And will that same parent become a blamer-hater later on, when their kid is left behind, spinning his or her wheels in a school that doesn't meet their needs. (Maybe they should've taken the call?)

If the head of the Advanced Learning office called my house, concerning my child, the first thing I would do is listen to what he had to say. If my English is bad, I'm pretty sure Vaughan would arrange for a translator. He's been trying to diversify APP to quiet its critics for years, and I happen to know for a fact that the year he started reaching out and calling parents, APP had it's largest influx of minority students enroll the following fall.

Between a letter (which is also sent) and a phone call, I think a personal phone call carries more weight, and constitutes more effort by the AL Dept Head.

Another truth is that Spectrum at Leschi languished for a decade under an administration that didn't support it, and didn't believe in separating kids by ability. That same philosophy is killing Spectrum programs today - IN THE NORTH END - at Lawton & Wedgewood if you can imagine it. And you do know there's Spectrum at Muir now, right?

I realize most ALOs are a joke, but Spectrum at Muir was a positive upgrade for the South End, wasn't it? So, shouldn't we give credit where it's due?

Anonymous said…
Yes, Sped Parent, I agree with you. But in your's and my "grounded reality" let's call it, I doubt a single parent advocating for a downtown school has ever even heard of Arbor Heights and probably couldn't find it with a GPS!!

So should they be attacked and whacked upside the head for being so "selfish" when their primary sin is ignorance and/or inexperience? What good does that do?

Perhaps they should first be told, "Nice idea. Now, get in line behind those who've been waiting patiently for years." And who's job is that? Yours? Mine? Or competent district leadership?

When people get the facts and background, many of them can see the big picture, and will endeavor to do the right thing. Ignorance (small "i" - involuntary) and obliviousness are unfortunate, but they can be counter-balanced with information, most often with good effect.

I'm primarily saying we should educate newbies to the district, many of whom are Amazon District residents, before we attack them. If they continue to be jerks after knowing the facts, then have at 'em. That's all I'm saying. And I hope - at last - I'm saying it clearly.

But turf wars will backfire, I promise you. WSDWG

NW parent said…
Wow - can Pinehurst hold all the Jane Addams kids? That seems to have come out of nowhere. Sorry AS1.
Josh Hayes said…
NWparent, no, Pinehurst can't possibly hold Addams. It's about half the size, if it was filled to the gunwales.

My question is, if the BEX levy goes down, does this musical-chairs proposal also disappear?
Josh Hayes said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Parent has it wrong, saying the appeal of language immersion programs is "their exclusivity and that it will be a really 'nice' group of kids attending without any pesky problems that come along with diversity."

Sorry, not true. The appeal is, get this--the ability to learn another language! Are white families perhaps more interested in language immersion programs than non-whites? I don't know, maybe... Are white families that elect to send their children to language immersion, international school programs more likely to oppose diversity than white families that want an English only school for their kids? I seriously doubt it.

True, JSIS is not as diverse as some schools, but there are certainly schools with higher percentages of whites. And if you look at the recent Seattle Times report on changes in demographics after the NSAP, you'll see JSIS has remained about the same, approx 60% white. Surely you're not suggesting that any school that has a white population higher than the district average must be filled with a bunch of racist?

In terms of the low JSIS special ed population, I would imagine at least some of this is due to parental choice. Am I wrong? I know that a friend of mine, for example, had a daughter with language acquisition issues. While she sent all her older children to immersion, she did not think that was a good fit for her youngest so opted to go elsewhere. This doesn't seem unreasonable to me. While I suppose you could argue that every school should be able to serve every student equally, we all know that's not the case. JSIS, for example, does not have any programs for advanced learners. While most other schools at least have ALO (to the extent that means anything), JSIS has nothing.

Floor Pie said…
ELB, you're right that parental choice plays a role in JSIS's low special ed enrollment. Kind of like when a person in a wheelchair chooses not to climb a flight of stairs.
Anonymous said…
Floor pie, couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said…
Gosh thanks. I asked a serious question re whether or not the sped population might be less inclined to choose immersion, due to concerns over language issues, multiple teachers, multiple classrooms, etc. Granted these might not be issues for all or even most sped students, but are you saying they are not concerns for any? I've heard from other parents their kids would not do well with the transition from one language in the AM to a different language, teacher, room, and mix of students in the PM. And like I said, my friend had concerns for a different issue.

It was an honest question, and while I understand the bitterness and outrage behind your responses, I don't see how they further the cause of getting other non-sped parents in your corner. Before I can join in your outrage, I need to understand what the factors are. You can help, or not.

Anonymous said…
No WSDWG I do not believe you would act on that call, especially if you'd never heard of Bob Vaughan or advanced learning. Not if you were a busy working parent of several kids caught unawares when that phone rang, in a community where most calls have always been about a problem and smart kids left to be invisible among the chaos. A phone call is simply more lip service not a genuine attempt at outreach, especially when no authentic advanced learning programs are available in Southeast or South West-Seattle anyway. John Muir and Beacon Hill International are in South not Southeast, with no transportation provided to our geographically large area.

WSDWG I am aware of Spectrum cuts district-wide but when a northend parent weeps because their child can't get in to JSIS or View Ridge Spectrum or Wedgewood Spectrum at least their fallback default assignment school will teach their child at grade level.

I won't vote for this Charter Schools law but I can understand why most of my neighbors will. They are understandably tired after so many years of broken promises from Seattle Schools and hoping any change will bring improvement in academics, discipline, and safety. The only improvement we've seen around here is Stuart Sloan's new school South Shore which is similar to a Charter.

Unknown said…
"Melissa you can snark all you want about my typing skills. I challenge you to name a single improvement to Advanced Learning accomplished under the woefully inadequate leadership of Mr. Robert Vaughan. That Task Force you were involved with accomplished nothing."

I didn't snark your typing skills; I'm amused by your wording.

Anyhow, I am NOT defending Vaughn's overall record. It is dismal. But to say he has done nothing to reach out to potential students for Advanced Learning is not true.

Yes, the AL Taskforce didn't get much done and yes, that would be Bob Vaughn's lack of leadership. If it ever does get started-up again, that won't be the case.

But you are aiming at the wrong people. Charlie and I have been fighting, for over a decade, for better Advanced Learning opportunities especially for the south end. Sorry you didn't know that.

"In terms of the low JSIS special ed population, I would imagine at least some of this is due to parental choice. Am I wrong? "

You are wrong. If there is not a program, Special Ed parents have NO choice. And principals and the district drive those choices, not parents.
Anonymous said…
Did non-white and disabled kids apply and get turned away[from Graham Hill Montessori]?

WSDWG, are you new around here or what? YES, they did. Was it overt? I think these things pretty obvious. Montesssori wasn't "right" for them. Or they were a student with a disablity who was assigned there, but too bad - there's a waitlist for Montessori. (But how is a waitlist for a program in a school fair when kids with disabilities are assigned there in August without any inkling that's where they'd end up?) Or they didn't pay first. The Montessori was a pay option for a while. Whatever the reason, the Montessori became the white school for students without disabilities, and the rest of the school, well it was the rest. Lots of southend parents liked that... mostly the ones who really justed wanted to escape to the north end or go private or gee just say it. Have their exclusive school.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, I'm glad to read that my wording amused you, since your constant misspelling of Bob Vaughan's name has amused me too.

And your claim that you and Charlie have "fought" for advanced learning in southend schools for over a decade? Not so amusing, kind of sad really because I see no concrete results. But I remember Charlie defending Bob Vaughan's claim that the same levels of advanced math would be offered at Washington Middle School after the APP split, how's that working out? Charlie wrote here that he trusted Bob and his promises for more electives at Washington middle school after the split, that didn't happen either. Doesn't look like a fight or a struggle, looks more like you are all good friends. I appreciate that you and Charlie volunteer your time as parents but Bob is a paid District employee who has broken too many promises to have any credibility with our community.

Your quote about special ed is just as true of advanced learning in southeast: "You are wrong. If there is not a program, parents have NO choice." Phone calls are no substitute for a genuine program, Melissa. Our parents still have NO choice.

Anonymous said…
@Josh Hayes

The way I see it, if the levy goes down, then the JA building becomes a comprehensive middle school, and the Jane Addams K-8 kids would be re-assigned to their attendance-area schools. Why? Because with an an assignment plan that is based upon middle school feeder patterns, assignment middle school seats are a higher priority than option seats at a K-8.

Attendance-area schools in N. Seattle would be grossly overenrolled, because there would be no funds to expand Olympic Hills, Loyal Heights, or build any new schools. Pinehurst would most-likely be re-purposed as an assignment school, because there is so much growth in the Lake City/Northgate area.

-North End Mom
mirmac1 said…
I hope Mr Banda gets wind of this free-wheeling discussion. He insists that equity and access are among his top priorities. He has an advisory committee (should he elects to listen to them) that is working on these issues. They have already encountered the calcified, "ain't my job", attitude at JSCEE.
Anonymous said…
@parent: Was it overt? I think the's things are pretty obvious.

Well, there you have it: Policy driven by hunches and gut-feelings. Causation? Bah! Evidence? Who needs it! Remedies or improvements? Good luck!!

@Southender: I often agree with your thoughts and sentiments, but I think the "too-busy" argument, while dressing-down Bob Vaughan's outreach efforts is a loser. Agree to disagree. While the existing inequities are real, unless and until parents step up and demand change, all SPS will do is continue to throw bones and make empty promises, like always. They're not going to just drop a Spectrum program into the SE if parents don't cooperate and demand it. WSDWG
Anonymous said…

Sped parents can demand until we're blue in the face. It's like spitting in the wind. A majority of the board wants special education to be one of the top three priorities. What do we get? Retreads as "interim interims" and "so sue me".

sped parent
Anonymous said…
WSDWG, you know you can't have it both ways. Parents have been stepping up and demanding for advanced learning, for better math, LA, and science curricula, for better spec ed program all over this district INCLUDING the SE. But as you frequently have acknowledge in your many postings, it doesn't mean didley with SPS and even less so when you have parents who have less political clout as in Patu vs. DeBell, aren't native speakers, and just don't have that financial advantage (stay at home, fast home internet instead of waiting a turn at the library) that makes advocating for their kids and special interest that much easier.

Anonymous said…
@Sped Parent: I was responding directly to Southender and Parent, which is why I addressed them specifically. I take the complaints of special ed parents at their word.

@Frustrated: Likewise, I take you at your word. But regarding your "having it both ways" comment, keep in mind that the prior Gang-of-Four board and MGJ had a blood-oath, and refused to listen to anyone. As you correctly point out, I railed against them repeatedly, and at length.

This Board is different, however, and I hope that will translate into positive changes, such as we are seeing with math waivers & curriculum, and dumping of the old Strategic Plan - grab your barf bucket - Excellence 4 All!!

I'm as frustrated as any parent in this district that we must constantly fight against competing forces for things we shouldn't have to fight for, such as whatever math they use at Mercer and Schmitz Park, proper special ed services, counselors, etc.

I don't see how that's having it both ways. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Ok WSDWG. But I can relate to my SE brethren and parents who have a legitimate grip with schools/principals that exclude SpEd or others who don't "fit the mold" or curricular focii. They should not have that prerogative. It is them who must conform to our students' needs, not the other way around.

sped parent
Anonymous said…
Dying to hear the outcome of the Exec board vote opposing charter legislation. what's the word people?

-no on 1240
Anonymous said…
On a totally different topic...

I filled out the application to have my K kid tested for Advanced Learning. I was told by her teacher today that 'they' want her to take the fall MAP test next week.

Since she can't read and doesn't know how to use a computer (if only it was on an iPad) I have no idea how the test could possibly be useful.

I read on the AL web page that they start with the cognitive testing for K kids (oral testing with a moderator). Anyone else's kid being asked to take the MAP test?

-K Parent
Anonymous said…
Dear K Parent -
Just teach your child how to use a mouse and she will likely do fine. The students wear earphones and all of the questions are read out loud. It was the kids with NO exposure to computers (the mouse) and those who were ELL who seemed to struggle the most. My second grader is looking forward to the MAP next week (but she's into tests!)
Also, the fall MAP testing is "optional" for Seattle schools, but all kindergarten students will be taking the winter and spring MAP administrations. The reason they want you to take the optional administration of MAP is likely so she'll have time to go through the other testing (CogAT and Woodcock Johnson Achievement, if she tests high enough for consideration for APP) by the time of open enrollment in spring. If she doesn't test until winter, by default she wouldn't be able to enroll in APP (and maybe even spectrum) until second grade.) It can't hurt to test and she'll get exposure to the process so will be more comfortable next time.
Good luck!
~JA Mom
Pm said…
K parent-

The criteria for advanced learning includes performing at a high level on the achievement tests (MAP or Woodcock Johnson). A kid who is a non-reader in kindergarten probably won't score well on those tests. Even if your kiddo scores well on cognitive testing, he or she may need to wait to be admitted to advanced learning programs until he or she is more advanced on the academic side of things. The system is designed to catch early readers in kindergarten, but not kids who are not there quite yet.

Anonymous said…
When my child tested into APP years ago, they administered the tests verbally in a group setting. My child was not yet reading at the beginning of K, yet still qualified. Using K-2 MAP for qualification, I'm not sure how testing would have gone.

-food for thought
Jan said…
Interesting. I never had a child in the earliest APP grades, but when I was testing my K kid (who went spectrum for 4 years and then transferred to APP), another mother with an APP kid said that they really do (or did then) run the curriculum 2 years ahead, and that 1st graders not capable of reading at at least a 3rd grade level were at risk to flounder. I have no clue what is going on now, but if you have a nonreader in K (I know -- many bright kids pick up reading and then make incredible progress, so it is not inconceivable that your child is right on track), you may want to talk to the APP first grade teachers to make sure you are making a placement that works for your kid. Parents that I know seek APP because they are concerned that regular ed placement will not work for their kids, and the kids will actually do poorly. But it can go both ways. I can imagine few things I would have hated more than putting my perfectly capable (but not reading 2 years ahead) kid into a situation that made them feel like they were already behind -- in first grade.
Anonymous said…
A lot of growth can happen from the time a child takes the test to the time they start with the program. In our child's case, she went from not reading to reading Harry Potter, all in the course of a year. It's not something we could have anticipated, but disrict testing ended up being a good predictor and the placement was appropriate.
Joshua Ginzler said…
I’ve read most posts, & I am saddened by the childish rhetoric.

FOR THE SENSIBLE MINDS, here are some facts re: the JSIS situation & the Banda mtg at Hamilton last Monday.

1. One naïve mom, who did choke up, invested yrs & $$$ in JSIS believing it her school (6 blks away); valuing international ed; & valuing her children learning openminded views of the world. She is now sending her 4 yr 11mo old (would have gone McD this yr) 20 blks away & across 99.
2. Most of us spoke about sibling assignment. The 4 zone changes in my 6 yr old’s life created a false decision: put my sons in 2 schools or move my shy JSIS son to bf day with his lil bro, where he knows no one, to start all over socially. It’s punishing, but not b/c of BFDay’s status.
3. We do have a poverty of wealth here, for which I cry joyously. But it’s not about access for me; I don’t want inequity in my family. Splitting siblings b/c of 27 arbitrary tie-breakers is imprudent.
4. Split families are less likely as involved in the schools compared to those attending one school.
5. None working on this issue had anything to do with any of these changes. They happened to all of us. My struggle is my struggle. If its onerous, arbitrary, & unnecessarily caused by others then I have as much right to advocate for my children. Any suggestion otherwise is simply ignorant.

An exclusive neighborhood school is NOT our fight. In fact, our desire for immersion is a desire for diversity, which requires children of ethnicity, immigrants, racial & sexual minority families. Sadly, it’s not what we got. But the comments to us “Nor-enders” are bizarrely prejudiced & biased accusations (giving narrow-minded conservatives fuel to insist the liberal segments are filled with reverse discrimination). I am left to wishfully assume that “southender,” “a parent,” & “parent” were too uncomfortable with their vitriol to sign their real names. But I AM NOT speaking to them & I won’t read one iota of response from them. There is no assuaging such anger/bitterness over some real and astonishing problems in our society and city – not in this forum.

I AM speaking to those who responded to them and fueled their persistence. PLEASE DON’T. Offer counter facts, by all means, and digi-dialogue with leveler heads. You are biting on a baited hook if you ask people how serious they are about the following spiteful comments:

Why are people sitting around crying at board members? Because their kids are not guaranteed a rarified, exclusive school experience. How can anyone pity them. BF Day is right down the road, as are many fine schools. But yes, you might have to sit next somebody they don't like.

Seems like you got the predictability you were demanding, because now your child will definitely not go to JSIS unless you live within the boundaries.

The appeal of such programs are their exclusivity & that it will be a really "nice" group of kids attending without any pesky problems that come along with diversity. True diversity is indeed a challenge. In order to attract students into schools - the district is forced to pander to those who don't want it.

I have only contempt for self-righteous cry-babies at board meetings, like those at Hamilton's meeting. I've seen them at board of director community meetings too. No pity.

You northenders wanted this new segregated assignment plan based on address, to keep our kids OUT.

I do feel compassion for them, but enough time wasted…

Joshua Ginzler
Anonymous said…
Joshua Ginzler I'm sorry for you, if you think compassion is a waste of time.

Crying Mom who "invested yrs & $$$ in JSIS" had unrealistic expectations if she thinks that would or should influence her child's chances for admission. The assignment plan rules are public information and boundary maps are on the district website.

At least some of Crying Mom's neighbors' kids will get into JSIS or the other international elementary school nearby, then Hamilton for immersion or APP or Spectrum. Eckstein, Whitman have Spectrum too. But our kids will not, because Southeast has never had Spectrum or any international school, and there are waiting lists now for APP.

Your feelgood attitude about diversity does not change these facts. Neither does a Bob Vaughan phone call. The current system offers advantages to your neighborhood which are paid for by everyone's taxes but are closed to our kids.

Tickets to the best schools are now for sale in the real estate markets! Promised set aside seats have been quietly eliminated, an entire socioeconomic class barred from educational opportunity, why aren't you sad about that Joshua?


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