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Monday, August 19, 2013

Seattle Schools Seek Equity & Race Advisory Committee Members

From SPS Communications:

Seattle Public Schools is seeking nominations for its Equity and Race Advisory Committee to the Superintendent.  To be considered for the committee, applicants should complete and submit a nomination form by Friday, Sept. 13.

The committee will be composed of parents/families/guardians/community members/teachers/staff and instructional leaders who reflect the diversity of Seattle Public Schools families. The committee advises the Superintendent on the implementation of the Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity Policy (Policy #0030) to increase student success.

Seattle Public Schools is committed to providing an excellent education for each and every student and we are dedicated to preparing our children and youth to graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and life.

The District’s new strategic plan focuses on raising student achievement by ensuring educational excellence and equity in every classroom, improving systems Districtwide to support academic outcomes and strengthen school family and community partnerships. Equity and Race is one of the key strategies of our strategic plan and we are committed to working with families and community members and staff to create a truly excellent School District for each and every student.

The Equity and Race Advisory Committee to the Superintendent will consist of up to 40 parents/guardians/families/community members/teachers/staff and instructional leaders representing the diverse population of the District.

Consideration will be given to engage families, community members and groups who have not historically been active or represented in District decision-making processes, as well as representation by individuals of differing gender, ethnicity, race, age, geography and stakeholder interest groups. The initial term of membership to the committee is September 2013 to September 2014.

The committee’s work involves one to two meetings a month, a presentation of the School Family Partnerships report to the Superintendent and a presentation to the School Board.

Click on the links for the invitation lettercomplete description of the committee and the nomination form. Nomination forms will also be available at school offices.

82 comments:

Jon said...

Can I use this as an opportunity to have a frank discussion about what we mean by equity?

What does the district mean by equity? Equity usually means equality of outcomes, as in every student performs the same. Is that what the district means by equity?

Does equity mean every student should be challenged to the maximum of their ability? Or that every student should receive some minimum level of instruction and nothing more?

If students are performing above average, equality of outcomes would be best served by removing instruction for those high-performing students or removing them from the system. Likewise, the district can achieve more equal outcomes by expelling or removing underperforming children. Are either of those desirable? What, in our definition of equity, prevents the district from pursuing those strategies?

What is the relationship between equality and race? Which "groups have not historically been active or represented in District decision-making processes"?

To what extent is equity a major problem in our district? To what extent is racism a major problem in our district? To what extent is poverty a major problem in our district? And what should we focus on to most quickly help improve educational outcomes for the children in Seattle's public schools?

Anonymous said...

Equity means the system is no longer rigged to perpetuate uneven distribution of services. It means removing hoops that are easy to jump through for a certain group, the group that designed them, or helping those that were meant not to get through the hoops acquire the skills to do so.
It ultimately means eliminating "white privilege".

T.

Anonymous said...

T
Can't it also mean eliminating affluent privilege? If every child who qualifies for free or reduced price lunches received the support they need, would we consider the district's practices equitable?

Lynn

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Does equity mean every student should be challenged to the maximum of their ability? Or that every student should receive some minimum level of instruction and nothing more?"

That's a very good question.

"Can't it also mean eliminating affluent privilege?"

You'd have to define that for me. Is that PTAs that can raise a lot of money? Large numbers of parent involvement? The ability to have more public/private partnerships?

Jon said...

So, your plan is to eliminate all inequity problems in the US, including all elements of white privilege, using our underfunded public school system? How exactly do you expect that to work?

I don't think you are answering any of the questions. All I hear in your comment is rage against white people. Equity cannot possibly mean white people suck and need to be punished through the public school system.

Can you make some attempt to engage on the questions? What does equity mean in terms of Seattle Public Schools? And how does equity help improve the educational outcomes for the children of Seattle?

Anonymous said...

To me, equity means providing services in a fair manner--not necessarily the same number of services to all, or the same types of services, etc., but ensuring that the distribution of services is just. That's obviously subjective, however, and creates challenges. People get hung up on equity meaning equal.

In terms of outcomes, to me it means that those at the bottom get the most help, so they can make the biggest gains. Those better off in that measure may get a little less, but also still make significant gains. And those performing at the highest levels already should also get the basic programs and services they need to progress further. Equity means all have strong opportunities to learn and advance, with special supports provided for those who need them most in order to help reduce the gap.

Truthfully, however, it's hard for me to imagine how equity is possible given the NSAP--especially in the absence of limits on PTSA funding for individual schools or requirements for pooling of funds--and given the inconsistencies in curriculum, programs, etc. from school to school.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Jon, equity might mean lots of different things, but on no planet would it ever mean maximizing potential. Duh. Should everybody get a pony who has pony talent? Obviously you have a lot of privilege and no, equity doesn't mean you will get more.

Wake up.

wsmama3 said...

I found this to be the most helpful - sorry about the long tag to send out a google image - but it's been the most effective "ah HA!" I've had at an SPS meeting.


http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://3yearstothirty.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/equity.jpg%3Fw%3D400%26h%3D295&imgrefurl=http://3yearstothirty.wordpress.com/category/money-2/&h=260&w=400&sz=54&tbnid=IMrPH0kbNT2S8M:&tbnh=90&tbnw=138&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dequity%2Bvs%2Bequality%2Bcartoon%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=equity+vs+equality+cartoon&usg=__OdhpasW2lFKD7GB54AtdwJPxywg=&docid=wZxY8MPk8dSqXM&sa=X&ei=QeASUqqaA6rSiwLHuoC4Aw&ved=0CDEQ9QEwAQ&dur=1869

Melissa Westbrook said...

WSMama3, that was useful, thank you.

I would ask if we have this discussion that things stay civil and respectful.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

My point is that there is a big performance gap between low income and non low income students. (For the 2011-12 MSPs at least at least a 30 point difference in passing rates for both math and reading in the 3rd, 5th and 8th grades.) How do we address equity looking at this gap?

Children living in poverty have a much smaller vocabulary than children in more affluent homes before they start school. This sets them up for more difficulty reading and then more difficulty learning by reading. If their home environment doesn't change, the gap is likely to grow over the years. What can we do about that? It seems to me that preschool programs and in particular programs that teach parents to talk to their children (and how to do it) would be helpful. For older children, if they're going to catch up, they'll need more time in school or after school programs that enrich their environment.

I think equity is not just about white privilege.

Lynn

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

My reading of the committee is that it provides different voices to the discussion provision of equal opportunity for the purpose of advising the superintendent.

While these sorts of discussions are usually interesting, I would like to know what are the outputs of all these advisory groups. I have been trying for a month to even contact someone from the Superintendent's advisory committee on positive school climate and discipline and have had zero luck. The page on the school's website is old and lists a committee head who does not respond. I have had no luck emailing the superintendent about this either. I am aware of the fact that the committees exists at the behest of the superintendent, but do I really want to work on a committee where there are no known outputs? And no known way to provide inputs once the committee is established?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, I understand what you are saying. I'm saying poverty is a huge factor. Schools cannot solve all of society's ills nor provide a level playing field (because of the outside-the-school factors).

BUT, that's where the Families and Education levy can help with these support services, starting in preschool. That we still have people who think that half-day kindergarten is enough for low-income students is hard to fathom.

After-school programs, summer programs, counseling - both mental and career - all these can help but they come with a pricetag. Also, families have to be willing to come to the services.

Also those who complain that some communities don't value education may not understand how day-to-day life is for some people. That making a secure and happy school community for their child would allow them to look beyond that day-to-day and into the future.

I honestly believe the overwhelming majority of parents want high expectations and the belief that their child can succeed. But that does have to be coupled with the understanding that some of those expectations have to come from home.

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

it's the Asian kids at my kid's school that do best. Can we remove their privilege?

Gee. What school is this, and by what measure do Asians "do best"? It isn't test scores btw. In SPS, in general overall, whites are still outscoring Asians.

Another reader

Anonymous said...

Cute image, but surely we don't mean that those who come in with a big block already underfoot need to have it taken away, do we?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Does this mean the existing one is being dissolved? Shouldn't half of them stay on for continuity?
By the way, this 'commission' is the darling of Mr. Banda; it's all about equity!

Closing the achievement gap is the wrong focus. High standards (academic) and expectations (attitude/behavior) from all students (and faculty and staff), should be our District's single focus. All kids should work to their potential, but to do so, this District cannot rely on slogans or politically correct window dressing (we are all taking Algebra NOW-- too bad we didn't scaffold you to succeed, but hey, your butt is occupying that seat so we can all feel good about it... Surely some of you will pass, and those who fail, oh well).

When IBM is recruiting, they won't be looking to coddle recent grads, they will be looking for excellence and those who perform and are ready to contribute. Schools are our opportunity to prepare young people to move on and up, pretending that all is honky-dory just because we are randomly assigning certain students to algebra when they've not proven that they are already (ie haven't scored 250 on Winter Map or sufficiently passed some other algebra-readiness test) in some but NOT ALL middle schools because that is the strategy to change the racial make up of a course... well, that is not a strategy that will be successful or is fair to the students or faculty.

Racism is real, but I would say that not preparing students, setting them up for failure (by forcing unprepared students into courses they are not ready to take) is not only NOT going to address the real concerns, but likely harm the students the District and people on this commission are most trying to help.

"Wing and a prayer" is a really dumb approach. Look at what Rainier Scholars is achieving, and look at HOW they are achieving it: with intensive effort, low student-teacher ratios, and LOTS and LOTS of instruction time. That, I could get behind! That would make a profound difference! That would be the right direction to take.

In the meantime, let's just keep the Comission going, and hope that someone on this thing, not staff, because you can't collect a paycheck and speak truth to power, calls out that talking a good politically correct talk (Hello, Mr. Tolley) is worthless and offensive. Effectiveness is what matters, so if our District wants to get serious about seeing improved performance in demographic groups that appear not to be performing, in our era of 'neighborhood schools', then radically tilt the WSS to FRL, change the CBA to weight FRL students to count as 1.3 when counting class size, and push money into Title 1 schools for early childhood education. Toddlers who aren't read to, because their single parent is holding down 2 or 3 jobs, need environments that will foster early literacy skills and numbers sense, THAT is how we get to ALL students being prepared for that IBM or JP Morgan interview (or any other interview they want to pursue).

-scared & scarred

Charlie Mas said...

And what was the outcome of all of the other similar advisory committees? Was their work no good? Why can't we just implement their recommendations?

And why does the superintendent need to be advised on what equity is? Doesn't he know? He sure talks about it a lot for someone who doesn't know what it is.

Anonymous said...

radically tilt the WSS to FRL, change the CBA to weight FRL students to count as 1.3 when counting class size, and push money into Title 1 schools for early childhood education.

Yeah but!!! Then Jon's students would lose money! We can't all have reduced class size. There isn't money for everyone to have it. They wouldn't reach their potential. There would be no ponies afterall. Oh that wouldn't be equitable at all!

Another reader

Anonymous said...

As all this "equity" talk drives more and more resources towards "disadvantaged" kids, won't more and more parents of "advantaged" kids just vote with their feet and join the 30% of families in Seattle who have abandoned the public schools and moved on to private schools?

This just seems like a recipe for turning the public school system into a place for only the "disadvantaged". Is that what we really want? Is a 2 class educational system best for society? I don't think so.

-Unintended consequences

Anonymous said...

Dear unintended,

That's what we have with NSAP. It's the trade off, the unintended consequences, when you have a city that remains segregated by race and income. Check out wallyhood, rainier valley, magnolia voice, central district, and wedgewood neighborhood blogs. Look at the photos of neighborhood happenings. Read the content and comments.

here already


Anonymous said...

Until it is acknowledge that all people have different needs then it will continue to be a fight. People who have more money have different needs than people who have less money. People who have an IEP have different needs than people who don't have an IEP. People who live with one parent have different needs than people with two paretns. All people cannot be treated equally because they have different needs. However, all people can be treated fairly based upon what their needs are.

It should never be equal because equal doe snot meet everyone needs. Fairness meets needs because it acknowledges they are individuals.

-Long Gone

Anonymous said...

won't more and more parents of "advantaged" kids just vote with their feet and join the 30% of families in Seattle who have abandoned the public schools and moved on to private schools?

Oh this old canard. Go ahead! See ya! Don't let the door ... Private schools do not have endless capacity. And that threat is no threat at all. It's right up there with a 2 year old holding his breath. You often find these 2 year olds at school board community meetings. "If you don't do xyz, I'll show you. I'll just write the $20,000 tuition check to a private school." If you leave, you'll be saving the rest of us money. Go ahead!

Another reader

Anonymous said...

I don't think unintended consequences was actually threatening anything, and it's a legitimate point. If the district goes far enough- refuses to see as its job making progress with students who are ahead, for example, or disallowing parents to use their own money to start programs at their school, they eventually are saying they do not intend to educate children unless they come in disadvantaged in some way. And at that point surely any parent who can afford it will go to private school, because all parents need to educate their own children, and if sps tells them it's not its job, they'll find someone to make it their job.

We are too close for my comfort to a two class educational system here in seattle, especially for a progressive city. I can't afford private school(unless i picked a favorite child) but there is definitely a point at which I'd think I had to go elsewhere, because I think I need to educate my children while we are all solving all of society's ills through the Seattle public school system.

I don't think we need to cater to the rich or fall behind in closing the achievement gap to stave this off. Just make sure sps has some kind focus on educating every child, and not taking away advantages of those kids who might have some in order to appear more equal. I actually think counting frl kids extra is a good idea, but I think we should leave PTA funds alone, so that people can become invested /feel they can actually help their child's school.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Long gone, I have a thread planned about a study that speaks to your point.

TechyMom said...

Putting on my asbestos suit to bring up two important points that will likely be unpopular.

1) What about this achievement gap, between middle and upper class kids? When I read the comments on these threads, I see a lot of middle class people reacting angrily to the idea that they have too much, while they can see their kids falling behind. That doesn't mean that the other gap isn't real too, but failing to acknowledge this one makes it very hard to communicate.

2) "should everyone with pony talent get a pony?" well, yes, actually. Every kid with a talent for a sport should have an opportunity to develop it. They don't get to keep the pony, but riding classes in public schools sounds like a fine idea. The YMCA and girl scouts have found ways to teach riding for a reasonable cost, so why not schools? Making sure that the kid who could have found the solution to global warming isn't pulling espresso and reading philosophy at night at the Goth club sounds even better. Educating the next generation to its full potential is absolutely the best use of our shared resources as a society. Please raise my taxes to pay for it. If we pool our resources, every kid have a first rate education. Stop believing that the shrinking pie is inevitable.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Every kid with a talent for a sport should have an opportunity to develop it.

I could agree with that but that is NOT the job of schools and that would be in my top three things I would change about American education.

If you want your child to excel at sports, by all means, put them in a recreational program. But the amount of effort and energy put into sports in schools is wrong. I am fine with club sports where the costs are low and it's basic but when you get into uniforms, equipment, resources and travel AND people use it as an excuse to NOT have late start, you lose me.

Good academic outcomes for all students is the goal for public education. Everything else is secondary.

Anonymous said...

The point isn't sports per se. It's everything, including sports that's above and beyond standards. We define needs as standards, public school isn't obligated to do more. Since it already does do more, and way more, then equity really speaks to those groups who fail to obtain that minimum, and fail to get the goodies provided others beyond standard.

Another reader

Anonymous said...

wsmama3, I helped you out: http://bit.ly/1cYNKc6. You can use free sites like bitly.com to shorten URLs.

--- NW tech nerd

Melissa Westbrook said...

fail to get the goodies provided others beyond standard.

Define this statement, please. Provided by whom? "Goodies?"

And actually, it IS the sports. Take that away and you'd be surprised at the money, attention and time that there would be left for many other things in the school day.

Anonymous said...

Does needs as standards mean we only educate up to the point that students can competently finish high school subjects? That is a terribly low bar. Is college readiness beyond that "standard"? What about elite colleges? Should those only be for private school kids? Or should there be some pathway to those schools for children whose parents cannot afford private education? I think so, but again, I fear the peasant/ruling class educational system if we consider anything above arithmetic and 5th grade spelling "goodies."

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

"If you leave, you'll be saving the rest of us money. Go ahead!"

Another reader, what money is being saved by middle and upper-middle class families leaving for private school? On the whole, a middle and upper-middle class child who speaks English natively and does not have a disability and/or a mental health disorder costs less than to educate than the district receives in Basic Education Allocation. But, a low-income student for whom English is a second language and/or has a disability and/or a mental health disorder often costs more to educate than the district receives in BEA plus LAP and/or special education and/or ELL funds. Therefore, districts need the funds generated by the middle and upper-middle class students to subsidize the costs of those higher cost kids. It's simple economics. When these families leave, it makes it harder to fund the schools, not easier.

The SPS Strategic Plan and the City of Seattle Families and Education Levy contain little if anything that appeals to the needs of middle class, white families, i.e., the majority of families in Seattle. What are these entities doing to encourage those of us who have left the public schools for private/Catholic schools to return to SPS? It's like we're unwelcome. On the other hand, our middle class kids at private schools would likely do fine academically and otherwise in SPS; but why should we return to an environment where closing the achievement gap and teaching cultural competence have become the focus of the district? Our private/Catholic schools focus on the individual student. Public schools seems to focus on group identity. No thanks.

--- pays tuition - votes for every levy

Anonymous said...

So, appropriate curriculum for advanced learners is neither a right, nor equitable, apparently. Well, then, to heck with FAPE and to heck with supporting your local school, lest you be derided as privileged, unfair, and partaking, or conducting a grand conspiracy to deprive other kids of their equitable rights. So other kids are entitled to my tax and levy dollars, but my own kids aren't entitled to their fare share because they are above standard.

Who's privileged, again?

WSDWG

Unknown said...

This is a pretty rambling thread. But I detect some pushback on the idea that kids with disabilities are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

The concept of FAPE is to provide an opportunity, not a result.

In practice, the provision of FAPE does not have any requirement to maximize the potential of a child with disabilities. What many parents don't understand is that all FAPE means is that the education provided has to have some likelihood of providing educational benefit. That's it. It provides a bottom rung, not a top rung.

FAPE is not something that is guaranteed to students who are gifted, but if it were, it would not be the educational nirvana that some imagine.

Anonymous said...

I fear we have a bigger problem than equity right now. I hope that the people who makes up this committee will do some serious brainstorming to figure out how to re-desegregate our schools. Some of the schools in the north end is >90% white right now. If something is not done to change this, we will have serious problems in 10 or 15 years. Seattle is a good place to live in right now, it will not be so in the future if our kids grow up only knowing people who are exactly like them. Bigotry against another group is much easier if you don't know anyone from that group, then you can believe whatever
disgusting canard you read about them on the
web.
If you don't think this is a big problem, just read some of the posts in this thread. SPS should serve only the interests of white people because white people make up the majority in Seattle? REALLY? I sure hope I do not know you in real life, sir or madam. And no, I am not black, not ELL, not sped, or whichever population you are saying is
sucking up all of the district's resources. I am, however, disgusted!

CCA

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it was pointed out - and regularly - that going to a neighborhood plan would resegregate this district. It appears that is happening.

What I found interesting as well is that on Sunday, my husband and I did a stair walk (hundreds of staircases through Seattle - we find the walks online - very fun and you learn a lot about other neighborhoods). We were in the lower Rainier Valley and ended up driving right past Franklin.

My husband looks over and says, "Oh, that's the high school where STEM is right? Because it's right next to the light rail station?" I said no, that was Cleveland. He said, why have an all-city draw and expect to attract kids without decent transportation?

Good question.

Anonymous said...

@CCA: The commenter asks a fair question, the point of which seems to be: Shouldn't the public schools appeal to all kids and families in the city? Comments like "Don't let the door hit you..." contribute to the unwelcoming impression people outside SPS have of it, and bear all the hallmarks of prejudice and discrimination we supposedly abhor.

WSDWG



Anonymous said...

FAPE, free and appropriate education, is legal parlance for an entitlement under federal law to students with disabilities alone
. Notably, courts have ruled repeatedly that students are entitled to a "FLOOR OF OPPORTUNITY", nothing more, a "Chevy, not a Cadillac". Definitely, and specifically not potential maximization. So right WSDWG, you're not entitled to a FAPE unless you've got a disability, and you wouldn't like the Chevy if you were.

The fact that "gifted ed is basic" entitles you to almost nothing under the law as is.

Sped Reader

Anonymous said...

As a public option school, presumably its enrollment is open to all students from all ethnic backgrounds. NOVA isn't like New York City's Bronx High School of Science which is highly selective.

If the community wishes to shift the school's demographics, they can, by enrolling more of their students in this alternative high school.

GMG

Anonymous said...

CCA, you (and people like you) are the reason we left SPS. And you are the reason why SPS needs yet another equity and race committee.

And shame on you for even suggesting that we bus kids from the CD to your neighborhood school --- splitting them away from their friends and neighbors --- so YOU can feel better about having a diverse student population for your own kids. Shame on you for wanting to subject these kids to this experiment so you can try to allay some your white liberal guilt.

And, given the numbers, you're also going to have to get more black and Hispanic families to move to Seattle. There just aren't enough black and Hispanic kids in the city to bus to all of the elementary schools in the north end.

--- pays tuition, votes for every levy

mirmac1 said...

pays tuition,

Wrong. Seattle homeowners subsidize general education to the tune of 36% of total expenditures, special ed 33%. Get the facts.

Anonymous said...

mirmac, I'm not talking about levy dollars. I'm talking about basic education funds, and other supplemental funds provided by the state. There are low cost students, average costs students, and high cost students who are funded primarily by state funding. My point was that the district needs low cost students to help cover the cost of high cost students. But if you run the low cost students out of the district, it's harder to fund the district as a whole than otherwise.

--- pays tuition, votes for every levy

Anonymous said...

CCA,

If adults want the schools desegregated, they're going to have to desegregate the neighborhoods. We can't depend on the schools to solve all of society's problems.

Who is saying the schools should only serve the interests of white people?

Lynn

mirmac1 said...

State funds pays for 64% of general education, State and Fed funds pay for 67% of sped students. There are many "low cost" sped students who only require related services or resource room assistance. Principals are all too happy to use these students' "excess cost" funding to subsidize smaller-class sizes for honors or special "academies" (look at McClure and Ballard).

I agree with CCA. I find some of the sentiments on this thread to be appalling.

Jon said...

I also find some of the sentiments on this thread to be appalling, but I suspect we are finding different things appalling.

Most of the comments so far seem to agree that equity means every child has opportunity for a good education. Almost everyone agrees that equity means children from households in poverty need more funding, for food, medical care, and books, all of which may not be available at home.

What I find appalling is that some people, and it is just a few, are saying that equity means we should use the public school system to punish some children for the societal ills we have in our broader society, that some children with the wrong skin color should get less funding and less education in our public schools, that discrimination based on race is acceptable in our public schools, and that it is perfectly fine for the district to close the achievement gap by not educating or forcing out children performing above or below average. That is appalling, and I hope that it is not a common attitude in the parents of Seattle or our district leadership.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I think the commenter was being facetious about kicking out the high and low performing students. It was just to say that equity isn't going to be achieved if we are so focused on the numbers and not on the individual needs of the the students.

At least that is how I read it.

CHM

Anonymous said...

Lynn, the most segregated program and school of all is APP. Adults created that one. It's the height of hypocrisy to see all these AL proponents cry about neighborhood segregation for everyone else. The fact is, only a few small neighborhoods are mono racial. Evidently it's a god given right for themselves alone.

Reader 15

Anonymous said...

Lots of schools have lopsided demographics. Whether it's > 65% white or <35%white. Same with FRLs. Sounds great to talk about raising tax knowing there's no political will to do so. Redlining was a shameful legacy, but all in the past officially. People can live anywhere, except when they really can't because they're priced out or made to feel unwelcome. There's awareness alright as shown by "white trash" PTA tea party and of all those "suspicious people" alerts in the neighborhood blogs. Not a lot of sound and fury when when we remove choice and the 10% set aside. The consequences of NSAP were known when enacted. But boy does the indignation come out over schools with high frl, ell, and sped ed and students getting more funding and even the idea of pooling a small percentage of PTA money to benefit fellow schools.

The fight will continue into the next generation because even though we don't have racial and religious redlining, we have the softer, slighly modified version at play. Makes it far easier for people on all sides to cling to their perceptions and find mutual reinforcements with like minds.

unending

Anonymous said...

The idea that nice, white readers are leaving, and that it's a problem ... is ridiculous. Somehow these maximally privileged people don't even recognize their own "goodies". Pays Tuition thinks the mere presence of his kid will benefit others, because somehow, they will bring in more than they draw. Hello! We just had several audits noting that the special ed piggy bank is continually being raided to support kids like his/hers. Hello! That's not a common benefit you're providing. And the practice is probably a lot more widespread than a conservative auditor would find. When you see scads of AP or IB classes with a few students on the roster, that's an equity problem because that money is coming from somewhere.

Another reader

Anonymous said...

Another reader, is it really your contention that SPS is better off with middle-class Seattle families attending private/Catholic schools rather than SPS schools?

--- pay tuition, votes for every levy

Anonymous said...

Yes. I believe private schools provide a community service and educate students without burdening the government with additional costs, leaving more in the state budget. Seattle is the biggest draw from the states coffers. So, thank you Pays... for paying and also supporting public ed.

Another reader.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, Jon. One person's equity is another person's discrimination.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

APP is the most segregated program/school of all, says reader 15. Was it designed that way, maybe? Is it a function of privilege? Or is just coincidence that all the gifted kids are not FRL or black or Hispanic?
I see the neiborhoods starting to get more integrated as parents select schools by moving.

W.

Anonymous said...

Using WSDWG's logic, one person's equal opportunity is the loss of another's unequal opportunity. When you put it that way, that's not a bad thing.

Silly

Anonymous said...

Actually all children are entitled to a free and appropriate education, but FAPE is the federal term of art to describe what exactly that means for disabled students, who may not be discriminated against, and what they require in terms of accommodations not to be discriminated against. What basic/appropriate education means is up to states to define, and WA state has defined advanced learning as basic education (not just under McCleary, but basic educational definition statutes.) Advanced students do have rights, just not under IDEA, unless they are disabled, which makes sense. It makes sense for nondisabled students to use some of the same terms, though, because the right is the same(and indeed derived from the right presumably granted to all children to begin with), just not the accommodations specific to disabled students. But "some educational benefit" is the right of all kids, and I do think it's one under assault for advanced kids here sometimes.

I am pretty appalled that many of these commenters would allow children not to make progress for years on end in the name of "equity." it's nobody's fault that the kids are ahead, and they certainly shouldn't be punished by sitting idly for however long doing nothing but waiting for other kids to catch up (and getting extra "compassion training" that apparently only academically able kids need, not kids on or below grade level, who are allowed to learn academic things at school.). Job one is to teach kids things. Everything else has to be secondary.

Of course we need to keep the easy to teach kids in schools, which a greater proportion of private school kids are. The whole point of disproportionately disabled is that too many hard to teach kids in one class makes it harder for the class to move forward, and obviously if the balance tips that way district wide, more and more classes will have a harder time moving forward, especially as they let class sizes balloon.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Sleeper, students are entitled to a floor of opportunity, not more, even if they are gifted. Basic ed doesn't give you the right to individualized education plan, due process, fape, etc. And nobody is entitled to talent maximization, at least in public school. Students with disabilities are entitled to lre, least restrictive environment, and education with non-disabled peers to the MAXIMUM extent possible. No, it isn't to "compassion train" others. LRE is a federal mandate, and one that sps is currently out of compliance
With. Nobody is saying kids should sit around doing nothing , though I question the gifted status of a kid who would do that. Classrooms simply must provide differentiated instruction accessible at at many levels. Those must be minimally designed to confer some benefit to all students. That is the common language you seem to want. In reality, most students in SPS receive much more than this. Equity should examine all this.

Sped reader

Anonymous said...

Gifted students are not autodidacts, and can no more make progress with no teaching than any other student, special or general Ed.

The compassionate training was not about having students in the class getting their LRE, but about having students whO have mastered all the material in a class sit and wait or teach other students. Nobody has asked for maximization-that is a straw man. Instruction that makes some forward progress for the student over the year in core subjects is basic, not maximization, and is not available to many students now, and is pretty regularly threatened on here by commenters. Sps has both mandates, and must meet them both- for special Ed students and advanced learners. The mandates just come from different places.

Anonymous said...

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Beg to differ sleeper, I often hear parents decry that ALL children deserve an education to "maximize" their potential.

As a semi-gifted child from the pre-APP days, I know that I didn't sit around staring at the walls all day while little Suzy caught up. The statements to that effect are overwrought and histrionic. Frankly, if the expectation is that their child should be pushed to their maximum potential, then perhaps Lakeside is more appropriate for these families.

Reader 15

Anonymous said...

I went to school 30 years ago, too, and it was as different from the environment our kids have as ours was from our parents'. For one thing, students now designated as special Ed were ignored or kicked out of the classroom as lazy, and the teacher focused on easier to educate children, probably such as yourself. We don't do that now, thank the lord, but it means we have it be more efficient with teachers' time, since it is split that many more ways. I don't think you have been in a lot of classrooms if you don't believe students are waiting month after month to learn something new. Teachers are really busy and have too many kids in class. They often can't get to the kids who are ahead-I have watched talented teachers not get to kids ahead, even while busting hump every minute of every day. Those kids might not be sitting there staring at walls, but it doesn't mean they are learning anything new, with actual educational benefit.

I think pie in the sky all children deserve a chance to maximize their potential and live the dream and eat all the jellybeans they want, but that is different from what I would say they are entitled to as a share of our state educational budget. In terms if what they are guaranteed by federal and state law what they "deserve" is the ability to make progress, to access advanced learning if they are determined to qualify. That's a Chevy, and it is an actual entitlement. Most of my kids are in Gen Ed, and that is what they receive and are entitled to- the opportunity to progress and receive educational instruction. Same for my kid who is not able to make progress in that setting.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

There's a fine floor of opportunity in every classroom, Sleeper, for nearly all students. Your child needs to actually paddle to make progress. The learning doesn't arrive for consumption. You don't need to "be determined to qualify" to get advanced learning, it should expected of everyone. That's equity. Guess what? In real life everyone has to learn to paddle!

Reader 16

Anonymous said...

"there's a fine floor of opportunity in every classroom, Sleeper, for nearly all students."

There we disagree. I'll take my observations of SPS classrooms over your snipes at my kids.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Again with the drama. The "snipes" are not at the kids, rather at the commenters with a misguided, unsupported sense of entitlement.

Reader 15

Anonymous said...

Reader,
In a classroom controlled by an adult teaching material they already know, how do you expect a seven year old to choose to make progress? My experience was that they won't let you read ahead, read something else, do something else. What are you seeing in today's classrooms that is different?

Advanced learning should be expected for everyone? What about the vast majority of the kids for whom the general education curriculum is designed? They don't get what's right for them?

Yes, I feel my children are entitled to go to school and sit in a classroom and be taught something they don't already know. I can't afford Lakeside and my children are entitled to receive their education in public schools. Luckily for my family, the state agrees.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

The state agrees? Well lets see Lynn. If the current offering isn't to your liking (evidently it isn't good enough for Sleeper) We'll see what the state believes is sufficient. So far they haven't said. Good luck getting them to offer you more. The "state" always agrees with you - so long as you don't ask for anything. You said you wanted a segregated math for your smart kids at McClure in another thread because your kids might have to take the subject with some non-gifted underserving kids. Good luck getting the "state" to help you out with that one!

-Reader 16

Anonymous said...

My app offering is good enough for my app qualified child, and my general ed offering is good enough for my general Ed children, but no, my app child does not belong in a general education classroom, nor do plenty of other children who have finished the curriculum available there.

And not because the kid doesn't "paddle." it's not drama to call you on snark.

The state has absolutely said what they believe is necessary, and even what the cut off is (it's the app cut off, not "kids who the SSS blog commenters deem weird/genius/van gogh like enough to deserve a bone)

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

From the Washington State Senate 2012 Citizen's Guide to K-12 Finance:

"The Highly Capable, or gifted, program is funded under basic education statutes for up to 2.314 percent of enrollment and, as is the case with other categorical programs, the allocation cannot be used for other programs. This translates to approximately $400 per student in the 2010-11 school year.
As with other categorical programs, the new funding formula for the Highly Capable Program provides a designated number of hours of instruction per week, in this case 2.1590, assuming class sizes of 15 students per certificated instructional staff. This translates to additional funding in the 2011-12 school year of approximately $406 per eligible student."

--- Sierra Nevada

Melissa Westbrook said...

"the opportunity to progress and receive educational instruction."

I appreciate this thought because it gives the basic "educational instruction" (and I would think that would be with following appropriate fed/state rules/regulations).

It also offers hope - "opportunity to progress". That would mean that no matter the level a student starts at, there will be the opportunity to move forward.

How far forward seems to be the hitch.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that we talk about or embrace "floor of opportunities" and such when we talk about AL kids' rights to a decent education, and that expecting anything better makes one "entitled," whereas, within Big Ed Reform, such talk would quickly be labeled as the "soft bigotry of low expectations" if ever said about struggling kids. And we wonder why these issues perpetuate, year after year. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Sierra, $406 does not even cover transportation to an alternate school location. Certainly not enough for different, additional materials, reduced class size, extra staff, or even testing, or evaluating entry disputes. So let's put to rest any idea that the state funds these things or somehow requires them. Sounds like you all need to go and join the equity committee! The superintendent is looking, I'm sure they will welcome you with open arms!

Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good call-out, WSDWG. But I think they would say - as we hear here frequently, AL kids have all sorts of back-up at home.

What is interesting is that I am currently sitting at the Charter Commission meeting where they are discussing rules. One is about the term "at-risk" and that includes students who are under-represented in gifted programs.

So, yes they are underrepresented (and I have some ideas on how to raise those numbers) but if the programs don't exist, these kids may not have that at-home backup.

There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of presumptions about students in the AL programs.

But you get rid of these programs - you get rid of them for ALL students, not just those you think have parent back-up at home.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to remind the equity folks of Charlie's old post. It's not about the teaching, staff, instruction, or materials. It's all just the peers. We don't want to spoil the soup, or pee in the pool! Stupid kids are such a bummer.

Reader

Anonymous said...

Reader, why the flames?

--- Sierra Nevada

Anonymous said...

What flames Sierra? $406 covers very little. Less than transportation. That's a fact.

-Reader

Anonymous said...

Reader,

The grant Sierra Nevada refers to is expected to be $458,499 this year. It's used for testing and to cover the administrative costs of the advanced learning department. The district also receives additional transportation funds from the state to transport APP students. Those are all of the costs of the program.

The district is now required by the state to provide highly capable students with access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction. They have to do that with the basic education funds provided for those students. So - they get something different not something extra. If you don't like that take it up with your elected representatives.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

No Lynn, you have it wrong again. The state is entitled to provide "basic ed" to gifted students. Well, what is that? It doesn't say. It leaves it to the district. There is no requirement that the district provide ANY specific program at all, only that it provide education. In fact, some districts do not provide separate programs. It does not say, for example, that gifted students must be provided a range of alternate placements (that's a sped entitlement under IDEA). It does not say, for example, that they must provide a separate classroom (that's another sped entitlement under IDEA). If you wish to ride the sped wave, and pretend that "gifted" has the "same rights as sped", then the requirement is that students are to be included with regular ed kids to the MAXIMUM extent possible, exactly the opposite of all your posts. How does that seem to you? Your child who just can't behave if he's around kids who aren't as smart as he is? (Remember? You said "trust me, he just can't"). OK. I'm trusting you. Well, that's just not an entitlement for a segregated environment. You may wish for that entitlement. Then, I suggest YOU contact your representative and get that entitlement enacted. Until then, it will be questioned.

In point of fact. Sped self-containment accounts for around 5% of SPS students. Self-contained gifted, which isn't an entitlement, is much larger and growing.

Reader

Anonymous said...

The Highly Capable, or gifted, program is funded under basic education statutes for up to 2.314 percent of enrollment

Just reread this one. The program has 12% of north end students and a somewhat smaller, but still very large percentage of southend students. Funding "up to" a cap, means that all above the cap are actually unfunded. Something to keep in mind. Something like 6x are therefore not funded at all.

-Reader

Anonymous said...

WAC 392-170-012
Funds.

For highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education. School districts may access basic education funds, in addition to highly capable categorical funds, to provide appropriate highly capable student programs.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Reader-

WAC 392-170—Special Service Program—Highly Capable Students has been revised to reflect the 2009 legislative action which redefined basic education to include programs for highly capable students. Changes to RCW 28A.185—Highly Capable Students, effective September 2011, finds that for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.

On a personal note - is there anything you are more invested in than this topic? Is there another issue we could discuss for awhile?

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Where does it say that your child has the right to a segregated environment? Just asking.

-Reader

Anonymous said...

No, it's 11% of Hamilton middle school service area students in middle school APP. That's the biggest outlier, and there are many reasons for it.

4% of the district overall is in APP, which is not a self contained program at the middle school level (except one class, I believe, maybe two?) or high school level, and the district has decided to stick with national norms of 2% rather than cut off kids who might benefit, even if that decision spreads funds thin. Just like every other program, and like we'd expect them to do with sped if they had such a cut-off.

There are many ways other districts provide advanced learning services, but they are often such different environments (starting with a belief that some significant number of children are academically advanced and need something educationally as a result of that fact) that it's hardly worth getting into. All districts are living up to their mandates, highly capable, IDEA, or otherwise, with varying degrees of success for varying reasons. That's not proof of much.

This thread has gotten a bit personal, here at the end.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

They're supposed to use research based methods, and if the district is big enough to support it, this is the best way according to every reputable source. The vast majority of large cities offer something like this, and unless something radical changes in US educational goals, this remains the best way to support academically advanced kids, while, i'd add, also affording the best outcomes for other students.

Mostly what other districts have is gifted programs, including self contained ones, that have a lot less drama and a lot more support from their communities.

-sleeper