Friday, May 02, 2014

Director Blanford's Community Meeting Tomorrow

Just a heads up on Director Blanford's community meeting tomorrow at the Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am to noon. 

I was told that at the Work Session on Capital Projects (which I am sorry to have missed because it sounds like there were not enough hard questions and more than enough funny lines) that Director Blanford was looking for info to back the district's position on Wilson-Pacific.  He said he felt it would come up at his meeting tomorrow and wanted to have an answer. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the ed specs for Wilson-Pacific are the floor, not the ceiling.  There is NO reason it could not have an auditorium.  Money?  Well, the district, to appease Sealth back when they were being co-joined with Denny found about $1M+ to keep them happy.  I'm thinking the district has the money but does not want to spend it there.  (Apparently they do want to spend it on GC/CM contracts for capital projects.  This is a general contractor/construction manager delivery method versus a DBB which is  design/bid/build process.  I've heard various back and forth on this issue but my point is, it tends to be more expensive.) 

There was a map at the meeting that took up a fair amount of time because, well, everyone seemed so in love with it.  I'll try to find a link but it's called "Capital Projects Site Map."  The big excitement comes from the fact that (1) every single property the district owns (even leased ones) appears on the map and (2) it purports to show all the active capital projects. 

I looked at the map and said, "Where the Cleveland Forest?"  The district owns that and it's not on the map.  (Maybe because it's undeveloped?) 

As well, apparently the Board was very excited because the map would show that capital projects are evenly distributed north and south.  Seriously.

Apparently, Flip Herndon, in explaining the map, gave the example of Queen Anne High.  He said the district "owns" something (I'm confused because I thought this was long gone) and the district, if they ever wanted to use it, would have to buy all the condos in it. Sure, that's going to happen.  

I find this whole thing troubling because this is not where the focus should be.  Why is this a big deal to show where the BEX IV projects are?  Why isn't there a map showing all the past and present BEX projects? Anyone who reads this blog would know that yes, BEX has been mostly evenly distributed (with a slight lean to the south end).  I can't believe this is a burning issue for the Board.

What WOULD be great is a full account - in detail - about every single capital dollar in BEXs and BTAs over the last 20 years.  What WAS to be done, did it get done, what was the budget for each project, what ended up being spent for each project and what DIDN'T get done/reduced.  Never seen that document or map.

Also to note from the meeting:

- World School finally has its entire $14M that got promised way back when.  (It had gotten reduced - without explanation - to $11M but, at this Work Session, it's back up to $14M.)  Its project is to be done in three phases with the bulk of it in Phase three.  They will end up with 600 students on what is arguably one of the smaller elementary sites in the district.

Now I've hung around this place long enough to remember when oh no, we could not build bigger or a different grade level of school at an elementary site.  The ed specs had a certain acreage for elementary, middle and high school.  I do believe those have gone out the window.

- Eckstein is getting rid of four portables.  Yay!  But two of the newer ones are going right back to Hale.  The other two?  Well, fingers crossed that they get demolished because what I was told when my sons were there was that those older portables were about 40 years old.  Done.

- I think my sense that STEM K-5 is moving faster to becoming a K-8 was right.  Apparently the schedule is being moved up for Arbor Heights.  You'd think it would be all about AH having the worst building in the district but, if that were the real reason, then it would have been at the head of the list from the start.  But now it gets moved up just as STEM K-5 wants to be a K-8 (and, I would assume, that the district wants that as well especially since they are running out of middle school space in the SW).  

 I am sensing that staff really want parents/community to get out of the way and let them proceed.  What I find interesting is that when staff wants to support a project, they say, "X amount of dollars got voted on for this project in BEX" but they go very silent when they are questioned about what projects get changed from what appeared on the ballot.  Can't have it both ways. 


kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said...

There were a few future Wilson Pacific parents at Director Blanford's meeting and they raised some concerns.

Director Blanford's response was that staff has their analysis and the the community is using different assumptions. I find this approach fascinating as the foundation of dialogue is discussing different assumptions and using that to daylight what is going on. The parents that I have spoken with in the Wilson Pacific area are simply asking the question, what happens if all of the currently enrolled students in the Wilson Pacific area roll-up to middle school. That number is much much larger than the numbers being used in the boundary re-draws from last November.

I don't think of this as a different set of assumptions, but rather just a question.

Anonymous said...

"staff has done their analysis."

That, to me, sounds incredibly dismissive, and indicates to me that Blanford has not done his homework relating to the not-so-distant SPS past, where concerned parents raised the alarm concerning the growing student population while SPS went on a school closure spree and formulated a NSAP which did not incorporate a 4th middle school north of the Ship Canal.

How old are the numbers being used to make the assumptions which Blanford and the rest of the Board are using as the gold standard? I believe they date back to the 2012-13 school year?

Has SPS even hired a demographer yet?

For instance. The enrollment projection chart provided in the Wilson-Pacific FAQs shows:

2016-17 JAMS enrollment: 849
2017-18 JAMS enrollment: 856

These numbers indicate that they are projecting approx 285 students per grade level at JAMS in 2016-17, when next year's 6th graders are in 8th grade.

I have heard that they are expecting approximately 340 incoming 6th graders at JAMS for 2014-15, which is remarkable, considering all the uncertainty around a brand-new school.

If the number of incoming 6th graders stays at about 340, then:

2016-17 JAMS enrollment = 1020.

If the school grows in popularity, JAMS will reach at least 1100 students by 2016-17.

Assuming there are no changes to the JAMS feeder pattern or programming, the projections used for the Growth Boundaries work are already off (low) by at least 200 students.

The point that I'm trying to make is that the data Blanford is defending is already inaccurate for JAMS, a new comprehensive middle school opening NEXT FALL. How can he possibly defend these same projections for Wilson-Pacific MS, opening THREE YEARS FROM NOW, in 2017-18?

This wouldn't be such an issue if the building was being designed with flexibility and expansion in mind, but that does not appear to be the case for the Wilson-Pacific campus.

It also wouldn't be such a big deal if the future of the AS-1/Native Heritage program wasn't at stake, but it is, as there has been absolutely no guarantees made regarding the relocation of the AS-1/Native Heritage program should the space at Wilson-Pacific be needed for the comprehensive middle school.

- North-end Mom

WonderingWilla said...

The school closure spree was mentioned and he brushed it off as a one time error *in the past* which hopefully won't be repeated.

Anonymous said...

Well, the outcome of the school closure spree (not enough seats for the number of students enrolled) is essentially the same outcome of not adequately planning for future enrollment growth.

There were monetary costs involved with past capacity management errors, in order to re-open closed school buildings, as well as the "costs" to families and school communities during the closure process.

IMO,this "taking each year as it comes" method of capacity management planning is costly on so many levels.

If the Board really voted to "save Pinehurst/AS-1," then it should work to find a long-term site for the program, where it will be able to grow...not cap it at its all-time low enrollment of 150, or, worse yet, risk ultimate closure should the space actually be needed for the comprehensive middle school.

Honestly, without the prospect of a long-term "good home" it will be a miracle if AS-1/Native Heritage is able to maintain 150 and earn a spot at Wilson-Pacific MS. It is a K-8 program after-all, and most families who enter a K-8 at kindergarten expect to stick around for the full 9 years.

And how much is it costing, dollar-wise, to convert the middle space to accommodate a K-8, and how much will it cost to re-do the modifications for the K-8, should the projections turn out to be inaccurate, and the space is immediately needed for the comprehensive middle school?

Honestly, I don't see the current capacity management plans as being that much different than the Goodloe-Johnson school closure era, just a bit more passive-aggressive.

- North-end Mom

mirmac1 said...

"...and earn a spot at Wilson-Pacific MS". I don't like how that sounds. Perhaps you may wish to restate this.

Director Blandford's statement is along the lines of his naive, ingenuous questions at board work sessions. The guy walked onto the board, on the basis that he knew sooo much (he has a Masters in Educational Leadership or something). Yet he asks questions that make me, a lowly working-stiff parent, cringe. Even if I wasn't a Peters' campaign supporter, it would be clear to me that she has...um...CONSIDERABLY more knowledge and understanding of education policy issues; a bit more beyond "staff has made done their analysis...."

Lynn said...

Director Blandford attended a PTA meeting at Thurgood Marshall recently. As to be expected, there were some questions about Advanced Learning in the published Q&A.

How will Advanced Learning change in the coming years? Not sure - Special Education will change first as it is a bigger issue at this point.

(As a member of the curriculum and instruction committee shouldn't he be aware that the state is requiring major changes to our highly capable program be in place in September?)

How do you deal with the criticism that the SPS is doing a very bad job of managing money? He understands how people can be critical - it is our job to advocate for our kids. We need to look at the best evidence-based strategy to get us to the place that we want to be. Some people just undermine the process at every turn. They want to see SPS fail. We need to work together to succeed. SPS should have the best public education system. And we can get there with a lot of work.

Who are these people who want to see our schools fail?

Why not test every kindergarten child for advanced learning opportunities? Wouldn’t it help the inequitable demographics? Not all parents (ie north) want their kids to be in a diverse program. Part of his strategy is to ask the board and staff those hard questions. We are a very segregated city yet we are one of the most progressive cities. How is that possible? His hope is that the superintendent can start to push some of those boundaries. He would like to encourage his colleagues to give Jose Banda the support he needs for that change.

That's my favorite for most tone-deaf response of the evening.

Anonymous said...


Maybe the word "earn" was a bit harsh, but haven't heard much about what happens in the proposed hybrid K-8/comprehensive middle school scenario if the AS-1/Native Heritage numbers drop below 150, especially if there are "unseen" increases in middle school capacity needs, coupled with a campus design that may not allow for portable placement to handle increased enrollment.

I don't believe this possibility was addressed in the Wilson-Pacific FAQs. I could only find this very vague statement about what would happen should they want to expand the program beyond 150 students:

"Regarding the future location of Pinehurst K-8, should it grow beyond 150 students, it’s
important to remember that Pinehurst is an option school and thus the District can cap/manage
its enrollment. If the Board wishes to expand the number of seats at Pinehurst, staff will develop
options/recommendations for Board and community consideration at that time."

I do apologize for my jaded perspective....it's been a few years in the making.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

WWW, yes the district and the Board are great at "one-time" issues and "moving on."

Blanford said this? "They want to see SPS fail." I, too, would like to know who he is talking about because I don't believe this to be true. Not one person in this town wants the district to fail (no matter what they want to see change). A very "us versus them" attitude to have.

Anonymous said...

My Mother in Law said there was an article in the Times a few weeks ago about SPS and capacity, and in searching for it on the website I found this article from 2011:


Some quotes I find particularly interesting now that we are in 2014: "The district is now reopening some of the same schools it had closed in 2006 and 2009 amid fierce opposition from parents and community activists.

By next year, about half of the 12 shuttered schools will be back in operation — after millions of dollars were spent in closing and reopening costs. But the reopened school can't accommodate all the extra students, and a tight budget prevents any new building construction until at least 2016."


"While demographers at school districts across the country use the same method, many also consult other data.

In Boston Public Schools, demographer Jerry Burrell said he relies heavily on housing patterns and immigration trends.

The basic methodology is "just a tool," said Burrell, noting it often is late in picking up on major trends. "You have to look at all these other pieces."

San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., officials agreed. Even in smaller Puget Sound districts, nondemographic factors are an important consideration, officials said.

Lake Washington tracks housing developments, said Deputy Superintendent Janene Fogard, adding the district correctly predicted an enrollment spike similar to Seattle's in 2009.

Those types of factors are not an important consideration in Seattle's current method, officials acknowledge."

Can anyone tell me:

Has SPS recently looked at the number of new housing units in the North end and consider it in their methodology, or are enrollment projections still based on the same assumptions they were when this article was written in 2011?

And, has the over crowding eased in the schools mentioned in the article? Is Schmitz park still using portables for 190 kids? Is Hay still teaching classes in the hallways? Does Lafeyette still hold special ed classes in the hallway? What about Thornton Creek?

I know that next year APP at Lincoln will be 700 kids next year and sharing common spaces like the lunch room with the 140 K-8 kids. And Hamilton is projected to be 969, though the building was built for 850. And it seems that ALL of the north end schools are full.

AND...Are the enrollment projections used in the FAQ's for the Wilson Pacific project updated using current enrollment data?

Let me be clear with my perspective here... I've met with SPS staff and I find them all to be incredibly smart and competent. I'm not criticizing staff's work.

AND, North Seattle is growing in families by leaps and bounds. Projections made from data that that was compiled using 2012 (?) enrollment numbers before the boundaries were set last fall, and might not include factors that the huge number of kids showing up might not be providing us with an accurate picture of how many seats we will need in the coming years.

Those projections may not have been wrong when they were made, but reality is proving different than the projections, and maybe it is time to update to get a more current picture?

It's a bit like budgeting for next year based on last years checking account balance. Never mind that you spent thousands of dollars.

Is there any chance that the Board or staff will take the time to look at the current account balance? Can we at least PLEASE see UPDATED projections instead of what was produced before the growth boundaries vote last fall?


Lynn said...

On the topic of capacity management in other school districts, I found something interesting the other day. Montgomery County Maryland (just outside DC) assesses a school impact fee for each new dwelling unit constructed. The basic fee is $25,944 for each new single family detached dwelling, $12,345 per unit for a multi-family project and $0 for multi family senior housing. There are additional fees if the schools in the local cluster are over 105% capacity. Transportation impact fees are also assessed.

Here's a schedule in case anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting the information from the TM meeting.

I'm not sure if the responses are tone-deaf as much as what might be indicate a belief that has been voiced on this blog and in other settings that Advanced learning opportunities = racial segregation. It breaks my heart because discrimination is discrimination even when it is against the "smart" kids.

Personally, I LOVE the idea that all classrooms everywhere can serve all kids at all levels and all kids will meet or exceed standards. Wouldn't it be lovely if we have superhuman teachers that can simultaneously teach 30 kids all of the content that is expected of them AND focus on the individualized instruction and support that all 30 of those kids may need?

And, it has proven over and over and over that it doesn't work. Teachers have to try to teach to the majority of kids, and the kids on both ends of the spectrum often get the short end of the stick.

This district is on a path to demolish Advanced learning self contained classes, in spite of and maybe even because of the new law. Where other districts didn't really even have a program defined on the books, Seattle at least had the bones. But now the guidance and recommendations coming from OSPI are, just like what happens in classrooms, focused on the majority and the bare minimum.

I don't have much hope at this stage unless the ALTF really rallies to make strong and solid recommendation that advocate against the further dismantling of APP.

What irks me even more is that people scream about discrimination but then turn around and discriminate. My kid never had the chance to get into the language immersion program that Blanford's kid is in. We are excluded because we don't live in the neighborhood.

ALL kids that are identified as APP get in.

Really, is it more equitable to get into a school because of where you live, than whether or not that school is actually the RIGHT educational fit?

--reverse discrimination bugs me

Anonymous said...

@ Lynn,

Can we connect off this blog? I'm really interested in talking with you about impact fees. please e-mail me at emercer at drizzle dot com.


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

Mr Wolf,

QA & Magnolia really needs a high school. I was driving around Ballard yesterday and there are lots of new multifamily housing there. And Roosevelt area is slated to have a huge multifamily construction project in the next decade. Then there is the new Yesler Terrace gentrification.

We have Magnolia Elementary unused. Is there enough acreage there to build a highschool? I know it is not centralized but we are out of optimal solutions.

Thank you Mr Wolf, it is great that you are willing to interact with the public. Thank you for your work.


Charlie Mas said...

Director Blanford should know about the upcoming changes in Advanced Learning. He, along with all other Board Directors, were briefed on them in a Friday Memo.

This answer indicates that three things:
1) He had forgotten the Friday Memo.
2) He answered the question off the top of his head without taking any time to research it.
3) He didn't recognize it as the skill-testing question that it was and failed the test.

Anonymous said...

Wow not getting into a language immersion program is discrimination? And this is equivalent to racial, sex, economic, religious.... discrimination? I really think we need to be careful about drawing comparisons. Also language immersion is not the same thing as bilingual education in communities which speak predominantly Spanish or for ELL.

Even the strongest advocates of G&T programs (check their websites) and their researchers are admitting there is something not quite right to the lopsided HCP demographics all over this country. To examine the situation and wanting to make changes do not mean there is "reverse discrimination" taking place.

I wouldn't use Blandford's answers (are those actual quotes or summary?) to answer AL concerns for all the reasons Charlie summarized so humorously. Go to Sue P.


Lori said...

That text is from TM PTA minutes, so it's probably not a direct quote but rather the PTA Secretary's attempt to capture the discussion:


Regardless, it's offensive and a highly charged accusation. I surely hope that whoever wrote the minutes got it wrong, but if not, not only did a sitting Board member apparently accuse a large number of the district's parents of being racist, but the TM PTA member(s) appear to agree by the factual way it's presented in the minutes, as if no further discussion or explanation is needed.

I wonder if their membership has approved these minutes yet? If not, will anyone question the statement that "not all parents (ie, north) want their kids in a diverse program?" Did anyone at the meeting question it? I should certainly hope so.

Moreover, I don't understand what that statement has to do with the question that was asked about universal testing. Assuming it was even remotely true that north end parents don't value diversity, how would that justify not testing all Kindergartners? Seriously, those minutes seem to be saying that the district doesn't test all Kindergartners because some north end *parents* are racist. What?!? It makes absolutely no sense. I hope people who attended that PTA meeting let the rest of us know what they really discussed.

Anonymous said...

yes, reader, not being able to get into ANY of the Magnet/options schools because someone doesn't live closely enough is in effect discrimination. Kids are discriminated against because of where they live, which for a kid that lives in South Seattle but that might want to go to Salmon Bay, for example, it is discriminatory. Or the newly formed and reputedly super awesome JAk-8 ESTEM program. Or the Boren STEM program. OR ANY of the options schools really.

First they get to superficially control enrollment when neighborhood schools can't and secondly there are no longer any "lottery" seats available because they are full with neighborhood kids. Even if you did manage to get your kid in, you have to drive them every day, which is prohibitive to most families.

Our option/magnet schools are more discriminatory that APP. APP is for ANY kid in the district who lives ANYWHERE in the district and is an identified advanced learner. Just like Special Ed is for any one who is identified. It doesn't discriminate based on color of skin or where you live.

You can argue that the population of current APP is not as racially diverse as it "should" be, but the REASONS for that are not that anyone is intentionally excluded based on where they live or the color of their skin.

--discrimination bugs me

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I looked at the minutes from the TM PTA meeting.

They are a draft and have not yet been approved. They won't be until their next meeting on May 29th.

In reading them, I think the secretary was fairly careful in recording the questions and answers. There is no description of any reactions.

I will try to ask Director Blanford as well as the TM PTA President about what was said. I don't think Blanford will answer me because he told me in the campaign that it was unlikely we could work together. He never has anything to say about any Board e-mails I include him in.

Anonymous said...

discrimination bugs you, do a little bit more research regarding the testing used for AL. There are shortfalls and bias in the testing. The CogAT designer acknowledged his test limitations. I know this has been discussed in the past on this blog and other sites. Sounds like current task force are looking at this as well. Other districts have done the same and have changed how and when they test.

As for SPED, there is a long documented history in academia and DOE about the misuse of this designation with our vulnerable and high needs students.

Most reasonable people understand in oversubscribed schools or programs with wait list, not getting in is more about lack of seats. Under choice system, transportation was expensive, but it allowed some children out of neighborhood schools. Still they faced wait list in oversubscribed schools along with complicated tie breaker rules. One of which was struck down by SCOTUS.

I'll have agree to disagree with you here.


Charlie Mas said...

Option schools are not supposed to have a distance tiebreaker - other than the Geographic Zone.

Of course, the Geographic Zone was originally supposed to be small and only help kids who lived right next to the school to get in. Now they are drawn very big - for capacity management reasons, we are told - and can have the effect of excluding children who live outside the Zone.

Charlie Mas said...

And yes, there are many more option school seats per student in some parts of town than in others.

And, even if a South-end kid could get into Salmon Bay, no transportation would be provided.

Anonymous said...

thanks Charlie

Reader, this is exactly what bugs me about discrimination. So many people have no clue that they are discriminating against someone else. Or understand how the NSAP is increasing segregation again.

Discrimination is simply the exclusion of someone by a specific factor. Where you live is a specific factor that happens to also highly correlate with race and income.

Funny enough both gifted learning programs and busing were used as policies that reduced segregation. Gifted programs were set up to both increase the number of black kids in the program AND get more white kids into the inner cities.

I find it disturbing and ironic that instead of Blanford learning about the ACTUAL reasons why there are fewer black kids in APP than we'd like to see, he blames the people in the program for it. When the program itself was first dreamed up as a de-segregation policy!!!!

I don't deny that the Cogat likely has some racial bias, just like all of standardized tests too. But that isn't the only reason that more black kids aren't in the program.

--black kids don't get nominated by their teacher or parents to test. Testing everyone would capture more kids who don't have an advocate.
-- testing require achievement scores, not just cognitive ability. What that means is that someone can be super smart and have high potential but they happened to be get stuck in a family that doesn't value education or a bad school or have a learning disability that is not being addresses. These kids test high in IQ, but read or do math lower than they should so they don't get in.
--Reverse discrimination of the program by black people: The program is for (simplistically) identified smart kids. But now it is perceived to be a "white" program and black people don't want to go to it.

If Blanford who is a highly educated black man, thinks that APP is first and foremost a racist program and not the program to appropriately educate the super smart kids that it is, we've got a HUGE problem.

discrimination against the smart kids is just as bad as discrimination against black kids.

It's even worse that he doesn't' realize that he is discriminating against the SMART BLACK KID,

SCOTUS took away the attempt to de-segregate our schools through busing, and the NSAP is the main reason that schools are increasingly less diverse.

Giving people the ability to bus to a school that isn't in their neighborhood is a policy he should support if he wants to increase diversity in our schools.

BRING BACK OPTION SCHOOL BUSSING and INCREASE the number of seats that are "lottery" would do more to improve diversity, than reducing the effectiveness of APP by pushing kids back into neighborhood schools.

I wonder if Mr. Blanford might take a moment to think about how it might actually be BETTER to support gifted kids (because discrimination is discrimination) AND get more black gifted kids (not enough of them are being identified that need it!) into APP instead of pointing to it the reason for the entire city's segregation.

He is actually working against his own goals with the policies he's advocating...

--discrimination bugs me

Anonymous said...

I'm confused as to who or what you are accused of practicing discrimination? Is it Mr. Blandford? Is it language immersion school? Is it not enough busing? Options school? How does all that becomes a case of discrimination against advanced learners?

Look if you want to discuss about NSAP and increasing segregation, let's do. Newspaper articles have been written about it. Not enough language immersion programs distribute across the district, is that discrimination? Open to discuss. The way the district handle capacity is a form of discrimination? Fine, let's discuss. But if you are going to throw these things out, please be serious about it and do so with context, history, and how these pieces relate to all other moving pieces such as budget, churn, and the needs of 50,000 students.

Finally, if your proposal is to end discrimination by bringing busing for option schools and increasing lottery seats to promote diversity, why not do so with APP as well? And why stop with option schools? Why not bring back the 10-20%set aside seats for comprehensive schools? This will mean some students will not get into their choice school even if it's their neighborhood school. And accompanied busing? In some neighborhoods, parents have set up private bus service. Can we ask parents to pay to make it happen? How genuine are people about ending segregation? To do so, budget and capacity planning will need complete overhaul? Where do you want to begin?


Anonymous said...


My mama taught me to be careful about pointing a finger at someone because there is always 3 more pointing back at you (plus the thumb)

My point is that EVERYONE has biases and is discriminatory in some way shape or form even though they don't think they are. Racist people don't think they are racist. People in general are very unaware of their own biases and that is my point.

It is SOOOO easy to point to another person and tell them how wrong they are for something, then turn around and do that same thing to someone else.

Blanford pointing the finger at APP families as racist (never mind that it is actually pretty diverse with many different cultures and colors represented) if he supports the exclusion of kids from Option schools based on address and ability to pay for transportation is HYPOCRITICAL.

Diversity is not simply skin color, though that word gets thrown out in the city all the time when what it really means is black vs. white. People on all sides of the discussion don't see their own biases and discriminatory thoughts and ideas and that all works it's way into policies that harm our kids and create MAJOR inequity.

Public education is meant for everyone. The NSAP reversed efforts to de-segregate our schools. It made disadvantage groups that have been discriminated against and excluded for centuries even further discriminated against. AND instead of trying to find ways to INCREASE equity through making the accessibility of "good" schools more open, it frankly allows all of the wealthy neighborhoods to exclude people from poorer neighborhoods (which still correlates highly with race/color).

The question that needs to be asked is what problem is a given policy or program trying to solve?

If the problem is that not enough poor people or people of color are going to APP, then the solution is to find policies that get more of these kids into APP. It isn't to demolish APP, because the smart kids (aka the geeks and nerds) need and deserve an appropriate education just like everyone else.

If the problem is that our schools are segregated (which they ARE!) then what policies will impact that? Opening up seats in Option schools to more than the neighborhood kids and providing busing will allow for more diversity in those schools.

All this "becomes a case about discrimination against APP kids" because APP is where the finger is being pointed as the reason that our schools are segregated. IT IS THE SCAPEGOAT. The myth that it's families are "not interested in diversity" is perpetuated when that is simply not the case. We want ALL kids who are highly gifted to have access to APP.

But instead of REALLY looking at policies that would pull more kids into APP (like testing ALL kids instead of only those that get nominated which is what was suggested to Blanford in that meeting) Blanford thinks that "Some APP (i.e. North) don't want diversity.

He is being both hypocritical and discriminatory with both his statement and his policies.

Want to work for equity and diversity in SPS? A GREAT place to start would be to INCREASE ACCESS to EVERY KID in the district to Option schools by increasing the number of kids that get in on lottery assignment and subsidizing transportation.

And STOP using the geeks and nerds (i.e. APP) as punching bags and chess pieces in the capacity mismanagement nightmare.

--discrimination bugs me

Melissa Westbrook said...

Blanford is showing himself to be somewhat willing to go very slowly on his learning about the district. It's quite troubling especially when it decides to take that education during meetings were business is to be done.

I have never done a count of how many Option seats exist in any given region. I suspect Charlie is right that there are more in some areas than others.

That said, there is a lottery (after GeoZone) to get into Option Schools. I know someone way out of neighborhood who got into JSIS (and sent out an e-mail "my kid got into Stanford!")

But our transportation costs are way high and adding on more is not going to help. You could try advocating this to the Board but I'll bet they will say they need to cut costs, not add them.

Anonymous said...

My apology for misspelling Stephan Blanford's name. I wasn't at the TM meeting and am cautious about what was reportedly said. He is a voting member so it's worth the time to meet the man and speak with him directly.

I'll leave it at that.


Anonymous said...

Director Blandford seems unwilling to listen (he cut Mel off?) and not interested in learning (I know all that). And he brags about winning an election with 90% of vote? If he really said the thing he is quoted as saying at TM -- he is inappropriate to serve on a Board of a diverse district because of his prejudice AND he is inappropriate to serve as an elected official because he doesn't think he needs to engage, listen to, or learn from the citizen stakeholders whom he serves.

Please, Meg, Kellie, Mel -- run for the Board? Please? We can't keep going through these cycles of destruction.

-thoughtful leadership

mirmac1 said...

Gosh guys. I was snarky when writing "Bland"ford. I didn't think you would copy me by accident....

Anonymous said...

The former director of Blanford's district, Kay Smith-Blum publicly supported Blanford and said he was 'going to be great'.

This blog generally seemed to support Smith-Blum's viewpoints. So is the negativity toward Blanford now

>>>>>that he appears he may not be on a path to being great because he isn't very smart about how the district works

>>>> or is it that his priorities are not the same as writers on this blog nor the priorities of Kay Smith-Blum - who could have seemingly run for a second term and won easily, but chose not to

>>>>>> or is it that he isn't giving access to Melissa as she alluded to in her comment above, and so the blog commenters are in turn unlikely to support him

>>>>>>or is it that he is discriminatory in some factually demonstrable way?

He hasn't been on the board very long nor has he apparently done much in that time, so hard to tell what we're working with. So far, I'm not actively critical of him, but don't find much reason for support either. Since he handles the Central district, I'm interested in what people think.

Central parent

Anonymous said...

discrimination bugs,

I am remembering talking to Blanford's predecessor's predecessor, Mary Bass. She had discovered that the re-segregation attempts were benefitting white students. This should not be surprising once you realize that better-resourced families are better able to navigate a system. Any system.

I read a clear explanation of this recently, and I can't remember where. Might have been here. Might have been Charlie. Anyone remember?

Anyway, I remember when there were city-wide option schools and transportation, and I don't think option schools were much more diverse. It is difficult to create diversity even when you want it, and can afford it.

My main point is: there is no simple fix. But Mr. Blanford could certainly learn some less inflammatory ways remind us about majority/ financial privilege.

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

Oh, hey, I remembered the source of the "resource navigation" idea - nothing to do with education at all. It was a lecture by Bruce Link at the Biobehavioral Cancer Prevention & Control Training Program Annual Symposium called "Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Mortality Disparities."

It was really good. I'll try to find something he has written online.

Chris S.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ditto on hearing from Central area parents.

I have my own opinions and I try to explain them. That said, any reader can like/support anyone they want. But as someone who has been around a long time, his basic lack of knowledge of the district is astonishing.

And again, clarification is needed and I will attempt to find it.

Anonymous said...


Chris S

mirmac1 said...

Central parent,

That would be your first bullet point. Precious time is wasted at work sessions because he has some very basic questions that anyone with a pulse would know the answer to.

Anonymous said...

Patu didn't know squat about the district beyond her own Rainier Beach experience. She was PAINFUL to watch during meetings and sometimes still is. But, she's done a good job for the district she represents. Cuts through a whole lot of administrative stupidity and white privilege thinking.

So maybe Blanford is another Patu?


Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa,

Lottery AFTER GEOZONE is the key. The GEOZONES are drawn large enough that it doesn't leave many lottery seats.

Shrink those geozones down to a small area around the school, and create more lottery seats. Then subsidize transportation for FRL kids so that they can actually make it to school.

You could pay for the transportation subsidy with the $$ coming from the various sources that say their goal is to close the achievement gap like the Families and Education levy or the Wallace foundation fund or Gates. You could also actively recruit for highly gifted kids with those funds and give them the opportunity to be challenged and supported through advanced learning opportunities.

Real access to "good" schools and teachers in funded programs will help close the achievement gap faster than $$ and $$ on testing.

Yes, an increase in transportation costs, but a HUGE increase in real equity for the kids in Seattle, not just the kids of parents who can afford to live in 700k single family homes in Wallingford and Queen Anne and Ravenna and Ballard for example.

Some kids have access to quality education and others don't. It isn't right. Increase the quality in all neighborhood schools (arts, music, PE, libraries, books and good teachers) and when you have programs that are "exceptional" like language immersion or ESTEM they should be available to ALL kids, not just the ones that can afford to live in that neighborhood.

Side note...Just heard on NPR this morning that there are fewer and fewer black teachers. Why? IMHO Black students are still not getting the opportunity to access quality education and find a love of learning and become any number of professions that require an education. We aren't doing enough to empower disadvantaged kids through education. So fewer and fewer black students are becoming teachers and the cycle continues.

More black kids need to be invited into the Montessori programs, for example. I recently heard that the racial divide in Leschi is as stark as at Thurgood Marshall.

I'm rambling on and on because I take GREAT offence at the implication that I am a racist because I've got a gifted kid. I've got more far more diversity in my family and my close community than most people, but just looking at me you might think "little white girl whose been handed everything." Simply not the case and judging a person by the color of thier skin is racism, plan and simple.

If people are going to point fingers at where there is systemic inequity and racism in the system, the first place to look is the return to a neighborhood school system, and and "Option" school system that excludes the vast majority of disadvantaged kids in the district.

Racism from anyone is toxic.

I kindly ask that Director Blanford check his own biases and think about which policies he should promote that will actually help close the achievement gap, instead of simply discriminating against another group. Gifted kids of all colors and backgrounds deserve an appropriate education.

-discrimination bugs me

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hoping, true Patu did not know the district well but I think she knew it better coming in the Blanford. I think Patu is more direct in her thinking.

Discrimination, you didn't ramble on and had good things to say. You pointed out something that I often ask, which is, "How come these groups don't step up to help in real ways like transportation to good programs"? It's a mystery.

I have also tried to talk here at the blog about racism but not much traction. Everyone has a hairpin trigger and, as you say, EVERYONE has a story and background. No one should be dismissed as not being able to understand.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't compare Director Patu, who has a huge heart, lots of humility, and listens, to Director Blanford, who has not shown heart, has demonstrated arrogance, and has shown he doesn't wants to listen to those with considerable institutional memory. Dr. Blanford could learn a lot from Ms. Patu. Ms. Patu still doesn't know a lot of technical detail, but she is never afraid to admit that upfront, and then talk about what she knows is good for kids, all kids.

-scared and scarred

Lynn said...

This conversation is repeated all over the country in urban school districts. Most children in wealthier neighborhoods come to school well rested and well fed. Their parents read books to them from infancy and they attended developmentally appropriate preschool programs. Their parents are highly educated and are more likely to have flexible jobs that allow them to volunteer in the classroom and to be able to support extra enrichment programs in their schools.

Teaching these kids is relatively easy. Some of them show up knowing everything you were supposed to teach them this year. They're likely to pass required state tests.

When we talk about improving the quality of schools in every neighborhood - I think we're ignoring these things. Most of the schools that we think of as quality schools are just schools where the kids don't have many problems.

Of course the NSAP created "good schools" and "bad schools." Our neighborhoods are economically segregated. You can improve schools by spreading out the kids who have lots of problems so no school is overwhelmed. You can improve schools by pouring resources into them to supplement the things those students aren't getting at home. (Isn't that what South Shore is doing?) Is there another option?

kellie said...

Can I circle back to whomever reported that Blandford shrugged off the closures as "one time" event. I can hardly address that comment. Can you please provide some more detail. If that is true, there is some serious disconnect and the Central area who has really taken in with closures is going to need to work to educate Blanford on this.

The closures was a mindset the colored every decision for years.

There was
03-04 round of pre-closure meetings
04-05 round of closures that closed MLK
05-06 round of closures that closed another 5 school and caused Superintendant Manhas to resign.
06-07 where there we no closures because the board had to go hire a new Superintendant that would get the closure job DONE and brought in MGJ with a mandate to close schools.

The the 07-08 closure round that closed more schools WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY OPENING schools in North Seattle because of capacity issues.

Quickly followed by the 09 BTA that reopened all 5 of the closed elementary schools, except the one that was sold.

The Irony here is that the Kindergarten cohort size was actually growing from 2002 onwards but it took years to see that the projections were wrong and schools needed to be opened and then we moved into the we have to open schools and we have to build schools.

So a system that has at least a full decade of not projecting growth accurately, was a "one-time" thing.

Please tell me I mis-read this comment.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, yes, adequate funding is at the core of making "bad" schools into "good" schools. South shore is grant funded such that kids get small classes etc. And they should! It shouldn't have to come from grant funds though. All schools should be funded amply. And PTA's and grant funding shouldn't need to be making up for the shortfalls.


Anonymous said...

Blanford's jab at the North-end parents shows that he knows nothing of how just 5 years ago APP families from all over the city lobbied desperately to stay at Lowell and Washington, yes, even from Magnolia and North Ballard. Where was he then?

open ears

Anonymous said...

I don't know Mr. Blanford, but have watched Betty Patu over the years of her service on the board. I am very afraid that scared and scarred has it right. It is one thing to have a lot of distance to cover. It is something else entirely to have a lot of distance to cover and to insist that you are already there.


Anonymous said...

People may have hairpin trigger, but many don't choose to pull it. For some of us, we can't afford to because the consequences are quite deadly. That has been my life's experience and my kids. Like the lesson when we get told NOT to pull out the race card. As for race discussion, it's an exercise where in 35 years of my adult life have been retread of the same. If anything, things have gone backward and I'm too tired and prefer to save the energy to keep my kids and their friends on a positive trajectory. As they grow older, they are learning hard lessons for themselves and to watch that is soul braking and eats me up.

By the way, where in the thread did people call you a "racist", discrimination?

It's scary reading through these posts. People are making big leaps here. I don't even know this man or know enough to like him or not, but I don't like what is being done to him. Maybe I'm being foolish for speaking up here, but I like fair play. And just as people speak about checking their biases, why not apply it here. As for Ms. Patu, she has my personal respect. We don't always see eye to eye, but she gets the problems of South Seattle. Any real representation here means a lot!


Anonymous said...

Not one peep from the squeeky wheels when the board took away transport for out of neighborhood kids.Parents with more resources will get their kids to their school regardless.

The district lost a lot of state funding for transport next year because of the decision to sunset this transport. There will be no real savings until the portable are paid off.

The district will be paying for portables for about a decade in order to shift kids to their neighborhood school.The board voted against sunsetting this transport last time ( I believe it was Oct. or Nov.of the 12/13 school).
for this very reason.

But fear not!
The loss of the NCLB waiver means those kids will get their transport back eventually.

The thing I do fear is that failing schools will be turned into charters.


Anonymous said...


Your post is difficult to follow. Do you think the other comments hear about Dr. Blanford are because of his attitude/performance, or because of something else? Do you think critical posts about Direct DeBell were because of his attitude/performance, or something else? If it is something else, what is that something else? Do that something apply equally to all Board members all of the time, or just the ones who you like but are being questioned or criticized?

I ask because you mention 'race card' but there is no context. Are you suggestion someone is playing it? Not playing? Is that even relevant to the discussion?

Arrogance vs. humility were the character traits being discussed, not sure how your card factors into any conversation about character traits.


Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous discussing the limitations of the CogAT:
Where is this information? I would be interested in seeing another perspective since I don't see how it could have bias as it seemed mostly abstract to me, from my recollections of taking it six times.