Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Rainier Beach IB Program Gets a Boost from the Alliance for Education

From SPS Communications:
The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools today announced a multi-year agreement to sustain the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Rainier Beach High School, which has been at risk of being discontinued at the end of the current academic year due to lack of funds.
The Alliance for Education has pledged $50,000 per year in philanthropic funds for each of the next three school years – 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 – for a total of $150,000. This pledge has been made possible through the early support of the Thomas B. Foster Endowment and the John Stanford Fund. Seattle Public Schools will fund the remaining costs of the program and will be examining mechanisms to sustain the program beyond the 2018-2019 school year.
“This is a community solution that celebrates students and helps sustain opportunities for kids,” said Alliance for Education President and CEO Sara Morris. “Rainier Beach has put Seattle at the vanguard of leveraging advanced learning as an equity driver. We are inspired by the extraordinary efforts and accomplishments of Rainer Beach students, faculty and community and are thrilled to play a role in supporting their continued success.”

“Many enrichment programs are supported by their local school communities,” said Betty Patu, Seattle School Board President. “This is a case where the broader community is stepping up and embracing a school on the move. It’s a testament to Seattle’s generosity and a powerful statement on holding equity as a community value.”

Rainier Beach High School has made IB a part of every student’s academic experience. As opposed to establishing IB as an academy within the school in which only some students participate, every Rainier Beach High School student takes at least one IB course. IB has been credited with the schools’ 25-percent increase in graduation rate since 2011.

“High expectations and hard work are at the core of our students’ success,” said Ivory Brooks, principal of Rainier Beach High School. This support is greatly appreciated and is definitely a move in the right direction for our RBHS School Community. Our students are proving that with high expectations and a world class academic program they can and will compete in college career and beyond. Rainier Beach High School is on the rise."

Representatives from the Alliance for Education, Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle joined together to make the announcement this morning at the Alliance for Education’s annual community breakfast.
end of press release

I have mixed feelings on this announcement.  Great! is the first one but then some sadness.  One, because while $50K is going to really help, my understanding is that it takes more money than that to sustain a program (especially one that is school-wide.)  Two, what about Ingraham and Chief Sealth which also need help.

I wanted to advocate that money for IB come from the Families & Education levy which is using $7M for Early Learning on top of the stand-alone Pre-K levy.  It would seem that maybe the City could help Ingraham and Chief Sealth's programs which are also worthy of support. 

I also wish that the line about RBHS having IB for every student was not contrasted with the more limited programs at Ingraham and Chief Sealth.  Those are big comprehensive high school that would need many more resources to match what the much smaller RBHS does.

But good for RBHS.


Watching said...

I share your sentiments, Melissa.

What are the full costs of the program and did the Alliance attach strings to funding/

Anonymous said...
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Eric B said...

Current costs of IB at about $260K/year at Ingraham. Cost to be more inclusive and recruit more lower-income students would be a little higher.

Anonymous said...

There was a pretty good news article in the Seattle Times (from a few weeks ago when MW was "off" so I don't think it ended up being linked on the blog) about how the district isn't / won't fund IB.

The whole situation is pretty shameful. Seattle School district has pretty high per student spending, and yet, so little makes its way in an impactful manner to the classroom.


Anonymous said...

30% cuts coming to JSCEE...you heard it here first! There's your IB funding folks.

Little bird

Eric B said...

Little bird, the only thing that gives me hope that this might happen is that Sue Peters asked what parents would want funded. There's no way that a significant piece of the answers could happen without major cuts at JSCEE.

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Dahliamom said...

I heard a great presentation by two Ingram parents at Sue Peters community meeting on Sunday. They made several points, one being that RB is a much smaller and younger IB program. Meaning that it needs more support to grow, establish roots in the school culture, and show to the larger SPS community that it can be a great program. The Ingram parents said that, unlike Ingram and CS, RB has a much more limited ability to raise dollars within the community. That may be why the Alliance for Education stepped in with dollars.

Mother of MS and HS students said...

I AGREE THAT RBHS is newer and needs support to sustain IB. And if only one school can have it, it should be RBHS. BUT, under what logic can SPS consider a rigorous IB program an OPTIONAL program for any other school (Sealth, Ingraham or any other school) that parents can choose to support by fundraising. Parent fundraising should be for true extras -- like band uniforms, lights for the stage -- not CORE CURRICULUM adn Teacher Professional Development. Our educated Seattle leaders should be embarrased at this state of affairs. Parent fundraising is letting SPS -- and our legislators -- off the hook.

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Jan said...

Melissa -- I concede that you make many really good points about equity for ALL the IB programs, City help (use those City levy dollars to do good, not make mischief), etc. On the other hand --

It has been a LONG time (since before MGJ) that I think I have had an opportunity to use the word "Hooray" in the same sentence as "Alliance for Education."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Point taken and agreed with, Jan.

Maureen said...

Personally, I want IB to be funded by the Seattle Public School District, not by some random nonprofit that is subject to an unelected Board (no offense, wonderful person I know who is on that Board!). Having the Alliance (or Gates, or Allen or whatever) fund IB is not significantly different than having Friends of Ingraham fund it. It is not sustainable. It is not an acknowledgement that IB is an integral part of how we as a community prepare our students for college and careers. It certainly doesn't acknowledge that IB is used by the District to balance capacity and offer appropriate options for a range of students.

Catherine said...

I see the Alliance funding RB-IB a diversionary tactic - to take some pressure off their other choices. It's good RB still has the program. It's bad for public education in general.

Anonymous said...

I am happy for the students and staff of RB - they absolutely deserve a well-funded IB program. However, I am very frustrated that it is only RB receiving this support.

"Rainier Beach High School has made IB a part of every student’s academic experience. As opposed to establishing IB as an academy within the school in which only some students participate, every Rainier Beach High School student takes at least one IB course."

Guess what? Chief Sealth IHS does this too. All 11th and 12th graders at Sealth take either standard level (SL) or higher level (HL) IB Language Arts. While there is small full diploma cohort each year (20-30 students), a large number of juniors and seniors take two or more IB classes. Again, ALL students take two years of IB Language Arts.

Chief Sealth has not had the help of the Families and Education Levy. Funding IB puts a huge strain on the school's budget. For the IB Language Arts classes, for example, several days of oral assessments are required. Normally, a sub would be brought in while the teacher facilitates the exams one on one with the students. The Sealth teachers are doing this without subs.

Most districts in our region fund the IB Coordinator position centrally. In Seattle, we fund the coordinator out of building budgets. This spring, the Chief Sealth staff failed to approve its budget by the required 67%. We were asked to decide between funding the IB coordinator, a full-time social worker, and the beloved woodshop program. The budget process was long, divisive, and demoralizing for many. A $50,000 check would have allowed the school to fully fund all three positions (we were about $40,000 short after making cuts in several departments).

Like Rainier Beach, Chief Sealth is not a school that can easily sustain an IB program on its own. The free and reduced rate is 62% (it's likely higher due to some students not turning in their forms). Many students who enroll in IB classes, opt not to take the exams at the end because they are unable to pay the registration fees.

IB is working, especially at RB and Chief Sealth, two schools that have tried to make their IB programs as inclusive as possible for all students. And it is not the only program that deserves support. Sealth is also running an innovative Spanish immersion program. Next year, over 50 students who have been in dual language/immersion since Kindergarten (at Concord and Denny) will arrive to Chief Sealth as freshmen. They will have the opportunity to continue in a 4-year immersion continuation program, which includes IB History of the Americas and IB 20th Century World History IN SPANISH. Like IB, the immersion program depends fully on building funds, which is very difficult for a new program in its early years.

I really hope that SPS finds a way to support IB at all three IB schools soon.

Noah Z

Anonymous said...

I understand everyone's reasoning behind the idea that the SPS should find IB. However, I think that is a bad idea. The more separate this program can remain from the tamperings of the district the better. I have spent hundreds - actually thousands - of dollars over the years of my personal funds to supplement the district's pablum with rigorous curriculum materials. We feel lucky to be part of the Ingraham IB program - and, as always, - we will do what it takes, as parents, to keep it sustainable for all the kids in the school. We have seen too many good programs abruptly.....and I mean really abruptly (mid-year, no warning, leaving kids rudderless).....eliminated by the district.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

IB costs are mostly generated by staffing. Those funds come from building budgets even at Ingraham. Parents are not funding IB. Teachers, Staff & Students are funding IB by making sacrifices elsewhere in the school budget. When we changed from WSF to WSS our district committed to funding by staffing needs instead of by student numbers. SPS needs to pick up staffing costs for IB the way other districts do.

-HS Parent

Lynn said...

If the district is going to fund expensive programs like IB at some high schools, they will have to provide equitable funding for extras at the schools that provide advanced learning through AP classes. Alternatively, they could replace IB with AP classes. The IB program itself is not magic - the key is to provide rigorous classes.

This mess replicates the problem with fundraising requirements for the north end language immersion schools. At least they are option schools. Parents who don't want their child's education to be dependent on yearly fundraising can choose their neighborhood school instead.

Anonymous said...

IB & AP are not interchangeable. One big difference is the inclusiveness of the programs. As a sped parent, my experience is that IB works to make all requirements including internal & external assessments accessible to differently abled students. The same accessibility is not available at all for AP exams and the few accommodations that are available are denied at a very high rate even under the new ADA advisory letter.

-sped parent

Lynn said...

If that's the case then every high school in the district should offer IB classes to allow equitable access to advanced courses for students with IEPs and 504 plans.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Lynn, assuming schools want to include them.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the IB program is NOT controlled by SPS. Any student that needs supports in writing (IEP or 504) will have a difficult time perform in IB and SPS can not modify the IB requirements per the guidelines of the international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

The international educational foundation admits the program is discriminatory in it's requirements, but the ADA does not extend to other countries.

Info only

Anonymous said...

Actually IB has lots of possible accommodations for writing, including scribing, typing, recording,extra time, et cetera, even on IB exams. The IB coordinator requests accommodations based on the IEP/504. So students can have the same accommodations they get in school. Students in SPS are getting accommodations for the IB exams. You don't have to submit new evaluations or separate paperwork months ahead of time & hope for approval like AP exams. If you are not getting accommodations for your student in IB you should talk with your coordinator. If they are not able to get approval, they should ask other coordinators how to do it.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

Actually that might be your students experience, but many IEP students are told NOT to take the IB exams due to the rigor and LACK of accommodations allowed by the IB governing body. So it's true some students with certain needs might be accommodated, but not all.

Info only

Anonymous said...

It is maddening to hear that there is a school counseling students out of IB because of disabilities. To clarify these are students who are able to succeed in IB courses with accommodations only, no modifications, but are being told that staff won't try to get those accommodations on exams because they think they can't? Is this an SPS school? Can you say what school this is? The coordinator at our school makes it all seem pretty automatic & knowing lots of families with IEPs & 504s, I have never heard of a problem getting accommodations.

-sped parent

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