Seattle Schools: What's the Plan?

A bit of a slow week at SPS, probably because of the MLK, Jr. day off.  It's a good day to reflect on issues around race relations and our district, our city, our state and our country.  Maybe a good day to go see Selma.  (I read that one student - at a sponsored viewing of the movie - had said thank you to the producers for making it because he finally learned what "MLK" stood for - meaning, the actual letters, not the man. Amazing.)

Looking over the Board agenda for the school board meeting on Wednesday, I found a compare and contrast moment.  The Times had a good story about the Creative Advance Initiative - arts in the schools program - and it's highly successful launch. 

The Creative Advantage Initiative, a program paid for by the city of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools and the private Seattle Foundation, this school year helped 1,659 students in about 12 schools — mostly in the central part of the city — who wouldn’t otherwise have received regular music instruction.

Next year, the group will help 10 more schools offer arts and music classes. In general, schools in the program are able to hire more arts teachers and buy supplies, but they also get about $7,500 a year to hire artists or connect with organizations from the community, like the symphony or ballet.

On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the arts program will help end those inequities and that the city would spend $525,000 on the program over the next two years. To date, the city has spent $450,000 and the school district has paid $600,000, said Calandra Childers of the city’s office of arts and culture.

So those sums of $450K and $600K jumped out at me because the Board agenda reflects Intro items on McDonald Elementary and John Stanford for $502,000 and $450,000 for their PTAs to spend for Language Immersion Instructional Assistants.

Of course, I am not criticizing those schools (far from it).  But those are nearly the amounts that the City and the district put in for all those schools to have art. Can you imagine if those two schools got to raise that money for art or other enrichment?  

There was a discussion at the last Audit and Finance Committee on this issue.  Director Blanford stated that he would like to see the program expanded but that this fundraising was troubling.  He asked both principals if there was discussion in their communities about it.  Both said yes and said that there was a need for a "coherent strategy" for these programs.  No kidding.

 (Blanford also claimed there was a middle school "immersion" program which surprised me because I was not aware of this.  Anyone?)

Martin-Morris had some interesting comments about what kinds of money the district will see from the state and "basic education funding" looks like.  He said that what McDonald and JSIS are doing is like "basic+" because it uses IAs who, in turn by their presence, lower class size.

While our district spins over Technology summits and LEAN and other new initiatives, they never truly figured out how to support initiatives that parents want and are keenly popular.  I have no idea how Director Blanford - who is becoming increasingly thoughtful in his questioning - thinks language immersion/world schools can expand if the basic supports come from parents.  

What is this district truly committed to and what - is  - the - plan?  

 Because the district cannot say - with a straight face - that they are truly committed to language immersion or IB even as they tout it at every turn.  Commitment means the district truly funding programs to their basic needs for good outcomes. 

This question of "what's the plan" is becoming even more important because apparently, at the works session last week about the Strategic Plan, staff wants a reset.  (I believe this is very much about the bell times issue which they do NOT believe in and do NOT want to address.)

The problem is that staff wants to hit that reset button and name the priorities WITHOUT parent/school community input OR Board approval.

Danger, Will Robinson. 

So to the bigger picture.

Does anyone think that this growing drumbeat of "change" around the School Board, around the Strategic Plan, around how this district functions is all a big coincidence?  Nah.

The power that be, frustrated that they cannot control the Board and the issues, are trying a new tactic.

I call it - "Let's just ignore them."  It's brilliant.

Because really, what can parents do?  What can individual board members do?  If you have the Gates Foundation, the Alliance, and others who have decided that you don't try to gain the upper make it look like you already have it. 

I think that's very much what senior staff have been told to do (especially Superintendent Nyland, who I don't think is completely co-opted but yes, I think he has people whispering in his ear). 

Ignore those parents, whether it's about programs or capacity management or testing.  What can they do?

Ignore those Board members' requests for info, put them off, obfuscate, wait them out.  Plan behind their backs until the last moment and then put it out as a fait accompli.  

I just learned that a referendum could be brought to allow the Mayor to take over the Board.  This is fascinating because boy, would it take the political heat off him.   If he tried to go to the Legislature, it's quite the gamble AND he would hurt himself just asking.  No, get a bunch of "citizens" together to put forth a referendum and, with Gates-paid signature gathers (remember 1240?), you whip up that "dysfunctional Board" rhetoric and voila!  A City-run district. 

Of course, there are waaay too many issues that point directly to senior staff, not the Board, that cannot be denied.  The major and most prominent being Special Education.  Also on the Board agenda is the movement of nearly $3M from the "School Board Minimum Fund Balance" to pay for funding for Sped.

Now the item won't tell you how much this "balance is (you can do the math, of course, but why should for a public document). 

Board Policy No. 6022, Minimum Fund Balance, requires the School Board to annually adopt a specific reserve percentage between three and five percent of the budgeted non-grant expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. On April 2, 2014, the Board approved adoption of reserves totaling 3.25%. Expending $2,904,062 from the reserves in FY14-15 would reduce the Minimum Fund Balance to 2.77%, which, by policy, requires a plan, including timelines, to bring the reserve back to at least three percent. 

Now I could be wrong but the funds that the DOE forced the district to hold for NCLB services is still there.  The district had just a dozen families ask for school changes.  I know the requests for tutoring have been low as well and I'd be willing to bet that there is likely to be at least $1M+ coming back into the General Fund coffers by the end of Feb. that could be directed to the reserves.


Another View said…
I am absolutely fine with McDonald parents providing funding for 1As.

It is important to remember that millions of dollars get funneled into low income schools for lower class sizes, pre-k, Family and Ed dollars etc.
Another View said…
It is also important to remember that families have been paying for full day k and subsidizing full day k for low income students.
Anonymous said…
The "funneled" money does not begin to address the effects of poverty. This excuse has been used to justify parent funding in schools and it can't. Charlie bemoaned the inequities in schools in another thread but he has been a great defender of schools who keep the PTA funds (instead of sharing them like Portland and neighboring districts). PTA funding is Exhibit A for walking the talk about equity. Apparently this is going nowhere.

Same goes for "subsidizing" for "low income students" (you must mean student living in poverty). Money has always been provided for students in poverty from the "funneling". That's why the cost of kindergarten hasn't been even higher for others. You could actually say the LAP and Title One have been subsidizing kindergarten for your child, since you went there.

If you spend some time in schools like Bailey Gatzert, you'll see what I'm talking about.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Was there any conventional media covering this "press conference" it seems very well sad, confused and utterly a waste of time.

There are a lot of problems in our schools and that is just part of it.

What I can see from the schools is two schools or even three in one depending on size. Just going up and down a buildings floors can often be revelatory. There are clear divisions and programs that demonstrate any number of factors that contribute to that.

What I want to know is why a new Super doesn't require a full audit of every school and using yes data and there needs to be some data, to support and defend the existence of said programs.

What is the point of all the surveys that exist by staff, students and parents if they are never read or accommodated into developing a school?

There are schools all over this district and many alternative programs? How many are underserving their communities, are redundant or simply just another fiefdom or even hidden gem in a district that seems utterly unaccountable to the community in which it serves?

Funny how a private school that had been existence for years before once it became a charter got the microscope and full investigations, demand for change and yet how many of our public schools could need and in turn do the same?

Why is it that one problem gets a ton of hysterical support or attention - the Greenburg matter in the Center House a small alt program and an alleged rape at a big "important" school tons of attention yet cross over this district and find that there are all kinds of problems and "rumors" that are utterly ignored?

Why is it when you ask questions that make people uncomfortable you are maligned in Seattle? Is it in the coffee or water here?

- Just Asking Questions
Anonymous said…
About 14.5% of students in SPS receive special education services. At Macdonald International School, 5.7 % of students receive special ed service, 5.8% at John Stanford International School.

Whereas BF Day, also in the vicinity, has a special education population of 16%. C

Point being, SPS is allowing those 2 "immersion" schools to grow a program that can only grow at the expense of students with special needs, who are now forced to relocate to schools like BF Day in disproportionate numbers. Who cannot attend their regular neighborhood school which will not accommodate them in favor of students who seek the optional language immersion route. So we're pushing out a federally mandated program in favor of an optional program and we're saluting these families for their wonderful fundraising?

Where is the leadership and ethical voice in this district? It sure isn't coming form Nyland or from the Board.

Anonymous said…
I have not been involved in any of the international schools in SPS. But I have been involved in some other SPS schools with high fundraising levels. Certainly a lot of that fundraising benefits middle & upper income students. However it also benefits low income students in those schools. The extra funds from title 1, families & education levy, & SPS go to schools with high FRL percentages. That means that low income students in schools with low FRL percentages don’t get the extra support. (For example, no school social worker.) That support has to come from parent fundraising.

Parent funded programs like a school choir, homework center, team uniforms, or library books benefit every child including the lower income students. Every activity I have seen in those schools has included every student without regard to ability to pay.

There are many parent-funded programs in those schools that primarily support low income students in that community. Programs like Packs for Kids weekend food, scholarships for trips& class workbook consumables& school activities, school owned instruments, school-supplies & toiletries-supplies closets, gift cards for counselors to help families in crisis or a child who outgrew their coat, emergency grants. I have been involved with both a school whose FRL increased significantly & one whose wealthy numbers increased significantly due to boundary redraws. The extra money brought in by fundraising was targeted first to the neediest students in both of those changes. Parents & staff were thrilled that those funds could help provide a safety net for vulnerable students & their families. I know families that pay double for every fee a school requests from lab fee to field trip to yearbook to give an automatic scholarship for another child in the school.

Parent fundraising is not going to take a child out of poverty. But it can fill in some gaps in school funding for students in poverty. If fundraising income were shared equally among schools would funds for low income students also be spread per capita to support low income students in wealthier schools?

Another View, again, I think Martin-Morris has the right viewpoint. The language immersion schools are more basic ed+. I think the Title One schools, on the basis of not even getting full funding from the state, struggle more.

I don't believe saying paying K parents are subsidizing anyone. They are paying the costs for their child to have full-day K and if you info that that money subsidized anyone, that would be good to provide.

Also, the number of schools that have pay for K has gone down and should actually go away once McCleay is enacted.

Just Asking, those are some good questions. On the question of First Place, well, a charter is a different school - by choice - so they have different rules and accountability. Not saying, right or wrong, but that is the state of things.

Disappointed, I agree (except for the very severely disabled who need specific equipment and services that could not be provided in multiple schools). The district's model should be serving kids in their own neighborhood school and not shifting them off to other schools.

Concerned, the kind of fundraising you are talking about seems to me to be different from raising money for staff to support a program.

We have many times raised the question about sharing funds and that has landed with a thud.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for your concern. With the neighborhood school formula, there are more of the extreme haves and have-nots in the district.

However, I have taught in schools like you mention--ones that did not make the cut-off for Title One but had students with needs, nonetheless.

Quite frankly, many of those students benefit from not being in a vortex with high volumes of classmates with the issues that often accompany poverty. Because the overall needs were simply not as overwhelming, we were often able to zero in on these kids and give them more of what they needed, with and without extra PTA funds.

Research clearly bears out that clustering students in poverty (which often also means by race) results in the worst outcomes. Thanks, SPS neighborhood plan that didn't take this into account!

Don't hold your breath on SPS parents sharing PTA money, especially from many parents on this blog. They decry charters in the abstract(lack of SPED service), clustering of involved parents, haves and have-nots, etc. etc.) but have no problem when the same manifestations/inequities are benefiting their own child in real time.

--enough already

Lynn said…
Families who qualify for free or reduced cost meals never pay for K. In our highest poverty schools, the state provides the funding. For the next group of schools, the district covers the cost with LAP funds. For any students attending pay-for-K schools, the costs are covered by tuition-paying families.

For the 2013/14 school year the cost of full-day K at pay-for-K schools was about $2,150 per student. Parents were charged $3,110. The extra $960 covered the 28% of students the district allowed to attend for free and the 5% of fees that were charged but not collected.
Anonymous said…
Enough Already,

I really think, from my experience in various schools in this district, that all students benefit from having economic diversity in the building. I know that idea was shut down during the NSAP meetings by groups afraid of loosing out on certain high schools. But being a well-off parent in schools that have seen FRL changes, I know that my children had a better experience in the more diverse populations. I believe that the poorer children did too.

Transparency Please said…
The referendum process would allow for Seattle, and not the rest of the state, to have a partially appointed school board. Language in the referendum would include cities with a certain population i.e. "Cities with over 500,000 would appoint 3 school board members." There is PLENTY of reason to believe that there would be support for a partially appointed school board in Seattle.

Ed Murray and Tim Burgess work for the 1%, and they are working directly with the Gates Foundation to put prek into Seattle Public Schools. The notion of decentralized control of SPS is a real one; prek/ Family and Education Levy is the mechanism being used to further insert the city into SPS. Did you know that principals receiving Family and Ed. dollars must attend city "Levy Retreats"!!

The city's Department of Education has enough staff to run Seattle Public Schools and I believe we will see Gates spending millions of dollars to hire signature collectors to get a partially appointed school board on the ballot. Then, we will see millions of dollars poured into a campaign to control and deliver a message.

Melissa makes a good point: The referendum process would allow Ed Murray, Burgess etc. to give the impression of keeping his hands clean, while setting-up the infra-structure to transfer governance systems. The city and district are already working on sharing databases etc.

The board would be smart to disallow the city from further inserting themselves into K-12. They can begin by not allowing the city to get involved with K-5 hiring. There WILL be attempts for the city to hire prek teachers and move them into K grade. Then, bang, the city is involved with SPS hiring.

The individuals that funded the city's prek campaign are the SAME individuals that support charter schools, appointed school boards etc. There is a bigger picture, here.

Lynn said…
Enough already is correct on one point. LAP and Title One funds do subsidize the cost of K for families who attend fully-funded schools but don't qualify for free/reduced cost meals.

Just Asking Questions - what programs do you think wouldn't be able to justify their existence?

Disapointed - McDonald and JSIS are no longer neighborhood schools - they're option schools. Are you suggesting that we shouldn't have any option schools because every student should be required to attend school in the building closest to their home?

If parents were not allowed to raise funds for their children's schools, you'd see more of them choosing private schools which would exacerbate the concentration of students living in poverty.

Finally, can someone explain how the presence of IAs at JSIS affects students at Bailey Gatzert?
Transparency Please said…

The City of Seattle is becoming increasingly aggressive with the use of Family and Education Dollars. On page 2, you will see that schools have "Levy Teams" and they are required to attend retreats!!
Transparency Please said…

It is also interesting to note that the city wants information regarding the district's Academic Warehouse which links teachers to test scores. From above document:

"Please email to request a School Data Report created by the Office for Education reflecting your students’ information. Additionally, OFE strongly encourages schools to consult their District Academic Data Warehouse reports, as well as, any school-specific data reports when answering the questions below. Please feel free to insert graphs, tables, or data excerpts into your narrative, as appropriate, to support your analysis."

Historian said…
It is true, families that paid for full day K helped support full day K for schools with high FRL populations. Years ago, there was a lot of discussion regarding a sharp increase in raising full day K tuition, but the board decided to increase the rate- slowly.

One or two years ago, the state began funding full day K for low income families.
Lynn said…
The state doesn't fund families - it funds schools. If low income children don't attend schools that are funded their costs are subsidized by fee-paying families.
Anonymous said…
Oh, I forgot to mention that one, Lynn. The other excuse for not sharing PTA funds with other public schools: Parents would take their brilliant children elsewhere and it would dilute the remaining gene and financial pool in the district. Skirts the moral/ethical issue entirely! Neighboring districts managed to do the decent thing, including Portland, without an exodus to private school

That is a very vapid, desperate defense of the indefensible. Same argument has been used throughout history when the privileged have had to share--"We'll shop elsewhere." It's an especially good day to remember this history.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
Bailey Gatzert a school example of how the needs of students living in poverty are not met by Title One and LAP.

Another view seemed to think that students receiving funds to help remediate the effects of poverty justifies parents' raising half a million dollars for their low FRL school.

I guess that would connect any dots that didn't connect.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Blanford also claimed there was a middle school "immersion" program which surprised me because I was not aware of this. Anyone?

Immersion does exist in middle school, but it's very limited. Rather than the half-day immersion experience of elementary school, it's a single class in MS. Instead of taking the typical Spanish or Japanese 1/2/3 series, HIMS middle school kids coming from immersion programs take a different language series. Its not a very robust pathway--there are only 2 different levels, so kids end up repeating one level--but the classes are "immersion" in that English is not spoken (unlike in the typical language classes). The classes are designed to build on the speaking and comprehension skills the immersion kids have, while also backfilling some of the gaps seen in immersion programs.

I should also note that this alternate language track does not ONLY serve the immersion kids from JSIS and McD. I know a number of kids who came to HIMS from outside SPS who also had advanced foreign language skills and tested into this track. Additionally, kids who more quickly pass through the typical 1/2/3 series can jump into the immersion track when appropriate. So essentially, immersion in middle school just means they have have courses available at more appropriate levels for all students.

Anonymous said…
To those who oppose the parental funding for IAs at JSIS and McDonald, here's another question:

SPS has clearly decided to offer this model. Teachers have clearly said it's too challenging to provide instruction in a foreign language to large class sizes without additional support. Since the district clearly is not providing the additional funding the model seems to require, in the interest of "fairness" should the kids attending these schools just be out of luck?

Anonymous said…
What I don't get is why Bill Gates cares so much about Seattle Public schools. At 6th grade, he went to Lakeside. His own kids go to private schools. He doesn't live in Seattle but rather in Medina. Why doesn't he go bother Bellevue School District? His taxes support Bellevue Schools not Seattles. Why does he get any say?

Anonymous said…
SPS is allowing those 2 "immersion" schools to grow a program that can only grow at the expense of students with special needs, who are now forced to relocate to schools like BF Day in disproportionate numbers. Who cannot attend their regular neighborhood school which will not accommodate them in favor of students who seek the optional language immersion route.

JSIS and McD are option schools, not neighborhood schools. BF Day IS the neighborhood schools for many kids in the area. Greenlake is the other. Additionally, the language immersion model is not a good fit for all kids. Not only do you have the challenge of learning a new language, and learning new material in other subjects IN that foreign language, but you also have additional challenges like switching classrooms and teachers midday. I know families--both with gen ed and special ed kids--who have decided the additional challenge and chaos of this approach wouldn't work well for their children. I'm not at all surprised to see that the percentages of sped kids in these schools are lower. It makes perfect sense--and why would you expect the percentage to be the same across every school anyway?

There are undoubtably unique challenges that come from running a half-day immersion program that includes three different languages, and this may make it more challenging for school administrators to offer the type of sped services that might be possible in a more traditional school. It might mean that this option is not as viable an option for some kids. Is that ok, or does every program need to be equally appropriate for every type of kid? Does every program and delivery model need to be equally effective for every type of kid? If so, what's that model? I don't believe there's a gold standard model that works equally well for all, so it seems to me that having options is good: Creative Approach Schools, international and immersion schools, AP and IB options, STEM focused schools, comprehensive middle schools and K-8s, HCC/APP schools, etc. With the way people seem to complain about all these special programs and models--complaints based on scant/nonexistent evaluation data, I might add--you'd think everyone wants a single, one-size-fits-all approach, where all kids start out the same, get the same, and end up the same. Is that really the ideal?

Anonymous said…
All schools in SPS are underfunded, whether they are supplemented by Title or LAP funds, or PTA fundraising.

It is galling, sometimes, to see school communities that are able to raise significant sums and improve their programs doing that. It's worth noting that forcing those PTAs to distribute a certain percentage would 1) not give much of a boost to other school communities, and 2) likely cause a drop in donations.

Does it still make me queasy to see JSIS, or View Ridge or other powerhouse PTAs raise a ton of money while other schools scrape by? Yes.

But the problem is not in the PTAs.

The problem is a district management that adds several million dollars to the Central Administration budget while pulling teachers out of schools because of "budget issues."

The problem is that district administration doesn't put students first.

Whether at a school with a high percentage of students eligible for Free/Reduced lunch, or at a school with a low FRL %, all students in SPS are public school students, and their education is supposed to be the district's priority.

Instead... we have highly compensated district administrators who create churn in schools, play politics at the district level, spend a ton of SPS money to help the city's preschool initiative, come up with Improved Plans For Performance, and then don't have the time or budget for actual schools and students.

-- Went Private For A Reason

Greenwoody said…
The key point Melissa made here is that several of the board and senior district staff do not believe it is their job to listen to and address parent concerns. They just don't. They firmly believe that parents should be ignored.

That situation would be far worse under an appointed board.

Right now the #1 priority has to be to defeat all four incumbent members of the school board in their bids for re-election. All four who are up for re-election believe parents should be ignored and have acted to help stonewall parent concerns at every turn.

We will fight a referendum if and when it comes.
Confirmed said…
Families are paying $285 per month for kindergarten and there are 26 students in a class.
Lynn said…
You are the one who pointed out that: Quite frankly, many of those students benefit from not being in a vortex with high volumes of classmates with the issues that often accompany poverty. Because the overall needs were simply not as overwhelming, we were often able to zero in on these kids and give them more of what they needed, with and without extra PTA funds.

Research clearly bears out that clustering students in poverty (which often also means by race) results in the worst outcomes.

Assuming you are correct, it seems obvious that it would be best for everyone if we don't drive families whose children are relatively easier to educate out of public schools. Every family will decide for themselves when a school becomes untenable for them. The issue could be class size, or access to a school nurse or counselor, or art or PE. If they're not able to fix those problems for their children, they'll leave. You can call this a vapid, desperate defense if you like. Some might call it good parenting. I call it reality.

Because our school funding model sends more money to schools with more challenges, losing middle class families will reduce the money available for schools like Bailey Gatzert.

Your comment on the relative brilliance of children, gene pools and finances is your baggage - not mine.

I don't think the city, state and federal governments are doing enough to reduce poverty or to alleviate it's effects on children. I also think attempts to shame people into making charitable contributions are rarely effective. Keep trying though.

In the end, the solution has to come from the state legislature. If our schools were amply funded, parents wouldn't have to pay for essentials.
Anonymous said…
HIMS mom, I like language immersion, but unlike IB/AP or STE(A)M, immersion school does take more resources to support. LAs, math,& science classes are part of gen Ed so all schools must cover these subjects -often with pathways built in. Because of cost, the only way SPS can allow option one-way immersion schools (for predominantly native English speakers) to operate is where parents can raise 500K a year.

IF you have a large enough native Spanish or Mandarin speaking population to draw from, it's possible to do dual immersion with no (or less) private donation because the school gets ELL funding. So while option school implies a choice here, it's not an equal choice nor equally accessible given NSAP.

Special Ed students get very little choice. BF Day ironically has a transitional bilingual population
2013-14 at 14.5% per OSPI .

- Immersion fan

"Neighboring districts managed to do the decent thing, including Portland, without an exodus to private school."

Could you tell us what other districts "do the decent thing" other than Portland? My (scanty) research hasn't found another, neighboring or otherwise.

HP, he's one of the wealthiest people on the planet and it's a pet project (that he projects as helping the work force). Sometimes I also wonder about his motivation (especially in the face of failure).

"Instead... we have highly compensated district administrators who create churn in schools, play politics at the district level, spend a ton of SPS money to help the city's preschool initiative, come up with Improved Plans For Performance, and then don't have the time or budget for actual schools and students."

Anonymous said…
In response to Lynn query

Just Asking Questions - what programs do you think wouldn't be able to justify their existence?

I have no idea if I did I would have long said so. It is why I have asked why not a fully transparent audit of each school to assess the costs and the outcome. Yes that dreaded data word again. And then see if in fact the outcome that has resulted was or is one that supports the costs and logistics.... could it be consolidated, altered or utterly eliminated.

To answer your question I cannot as I have no clue about over all the schools, alternative, elementary, etc that exist in the system.

Since you seem to be on the inside track I would love you to tell me what some of these schools do - and here is the caveat - that are not conventional elementary, middle or high schools. In specifics... thanks

- Just asking questions
Anonymous said…
"Special Ed students get very little choice. BF Day ironically has a transitional bilingual population
2013-14 at 14.5% per OSPI ."

Immersion fan, I don't think you understand. Special Ed students by law should not be bumped from any school anywhere closest to home, option or no option. And some of these kids would love to be in immersion programs but for the "sink or swim" de facto (?) policies going on. That these boutique programs displace kids from the n'hoods and create disproportionate sped populations in other schools, such as BF Day (which btw is catalyzing more legal actions against the District than probably any other school at this time for its non-adherence to special education laws), is a problem. It's not a neutral situation.

"...IB/AP or STE(A)M, immersion school.."

There's such a thing as an IB immersion school?

I think both dual-language and STEM have more costs involved IF you want to do those programs justice. Are the outcomes worth it? You'd have to check the research.

But our district loves to tout these programs but not fully support them. Parents were never told they would be carrying costs year to year.
Anonymous said…
Portland and Eugene, OR share donations; Bellevue and Lake Washington ban spending PTA money on staff, including IAs. There may be others but I don't know who they are.

All decisions were based on community concerns about increasing fairness and equity between schools.

--enough already
Teacher said…
The immersion pathway that is most intact is Concord-Denny-Chief Sealth. The first cohort of Concord immersion students are now in 7th grade at DIMS. Denny jumpstarted immersion a few years ago with literacy and social studies classes in Spanish. These kids are now in 9th and 10th grade at Chief Sealth IHS where they are taking world history (9th grade) in Spanish and contemporary world issues (10th grade) also in Spanish. In addition to the immersion social studies courses, they are taking advanced Spanish language classes at CSIHS. So one third of their day is in Spanish (compared to 50% at the K-5 level). Both Denny and Chief Sealth have hired qualified bilingual teachers who can teach the social studies content in Spanish. But as the middle and high school program continues to grow, the need for district support will only increase.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Teacher. And that brings up another thing I hate about this district. While I think that having immersion schools can be a great benefit--and frankly, it would be very disappointing if the public school district in an educated city like Seattle didn't offer a variety of approaches--I am so tired of how SPS does everything willy nilly. Immersion is done differently at different schools--not just at the elementary level, but it sounds like there are huge differences at the middle and high school levels. We see the same thing again and again with other programs/services/issues, too--major inconsistencies in delivery of APP/HCC, Spectrum, and ALOs; SpEd; PE waivers; lunch times; field trips; and on and on. Why is there no consistency across schools???

Anonymous said…
@ Immersion fan, I like immersion too, but I don't believe that one-way immersion programs necessarily require more resources. The particular model of immersion that SPS uses seems more expensive than it needs to be, and likely less effective. When you combine multiple immersion languages in one school, you lose some economies of scale, and you lose the "immersion" environment (e.g., school announcements, signage, etc. English becomes the default language of the school, since it's the commonality.) I'd love to see a thorough evaluation of the immersion program here, including a comparison to other models. Immersion schools elsewhere have been able to do it very effectively without IAs, but this may be easier with a single language, full-day immersion model. The benefits of the "international" approach we use here are unclear to me.


Anonymous said…
Immersion fan and reader re option schools and special ed, think of this way: students w/ disabilities cannot even exercise the option in these 2 schools. No other class of students in SPS faces that exclusion.

Anonymous said…
Reader, IDEA has not been interpreted to say special ed kids must have access to a nonstandard program near them. Wish it did, but that's not how it works and the district knows it. A district simply has to offer access to the program somewhere. If you live in Maple Leaf and by lottery get into JSIS and want your special ed student to have access to their Spanish immersion but the district has decided that Concord is the one place it will offer special ed support services for Spanish immersion, then you can fight the difficult fight to make the district provide services and if you prevail then you can plan on a long bus ride everyday for your kid. Most special ed families don't know they could in theory get into these special programs. The ones who do almost never want the tradeoff of a cross city bus ride to get into a special program and drop the idea of pursuing it.

Special Needs
Anonymous said…
Special needs, that is incorrect: no building can simply declare itself sped-free because it is one type of program or another. That is simply against the law.

another reader
HIMS, you ask good questions. Why no continuity in programs (with principals deciding, not staff, for what are supposed to be district-wide programs)?

Anonymous said…
No another reader, you are incorrect. I am not talking about general education - neighborhood assignment schools. I am talking about magnet programs, which Seattle because it can never do things like other districts does not call magnet programs. Here they are option programs or alternative programs. Think of them as the lottery programs. These schools can and do legally not support special needs students. The district simply has to offer access somewhere in the area to the program. My language example holds true. I don't like it. But that is the way it has been interpreted.

Special Needs
Charlie Mas said…
The District has a policy, Policy 2090, that requires an annual assessment of the quality and efficacy of every academic program. They just don't do it. None of the academic programs are reviewed or assessed. None of them. Which, of course, makes me wonder what management, if any, is happening. How can Shauna Heath conduct a performance evaluation of the manager of Advanced Learning without any evaluation of the Advanced Learning programs?
Anonymous said…
I want to comment on the option school-special ed debate. I know this is an older thread but this is of interest to me because my son cannot attend the option school his sister goes to because they only offer resource. I think this is a major problem here in Seattle-kids with special needs not being given opportunity to inclusion-based programs in option schools. Supposedly the district is opening several new ACCESS (inclusion) programs this year,but we don't know where yet. I wish there was a legal case to be made here, since access to alternative education approaches should be available to our SpEd students.

-Want alternatives

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