Friday, April 06, 2018

Families and Education Levy Changes Endanger SPS School Supports

From Summer Stinson at Washington's Paramount Duty:

Mayor Durkan is defunding and discontinuing crucial K-12 public education equity programs by not including them in the upcoming Seattle Families and Education Levy. Examples of programs that have received notices that they've been cut from the Families and Education Levy are:

(1) SPS's Family Support Program-- Family Support Workers ensure that students and their families have access to basic needs; i.e. clothing, food and housing resources, provide emotional and behavioral support, serve as a link for parents to engage in the school community and assist them with referrals to community agencies, 
and (2) a middle school close-the-gap equity program. I've heard from parents at Hawthorne Elementary and Eckstein Middle School about the notices that the schools received about these programs being cut from the Families and Education Levy, which completely defunds these programs.
It appears that Mayor Durkan is redirecting the Families and Education Levy to preschool and 2-years free college at the expense of K-12 public school wrap-around services. Defunding K-12 equity programs is unacceptable!

 We need to mobilize parents, students, and school communities to take action and demand that the City of Seattle stop defunding K-12 public school programs. The Seattle City Council can and should be taking action on this and insisting that Mayor Durkan to cease these cuts.
The City Council needs to hear from parents on this. Please email: Seattle Council Members (council@seattle.gov); the city Department of Education and Early Learning (dwane.chappelle@seattle.gov); and Mayor Jenny Durkin (jenny.durkan@seattle.gov ). 

I received a poll on the upcoming levy that floated the idea that the Families and Education Levy may be $650 Million over 7 years. It's astonishing to me that the city would consider a levy for such a sum--all while defunding and discontinuing necessary educational programs and wrap-around services, such as Family Support Workers.
There's much that I will add:

- I'll ask but I'm willing to bet the district and/or Board was not consulted on this.  And this happening when the City is being very kumbaya about working with the district.  Again I say - this is not what a partnership looks like.

- This is the City's levy and they can put forth any kind of spending of the money that they want.  However, I believe if they asked, this would not be what people would cut. 

- Mayor Durkan has said she would take funds from this levy for her Promise Program for free community college for Seattle graduates.  Well, taking money from programs that support younger learners seem a little odd because how will those kids get the supports they need in order to graduate?

- I am also hearing that they will roll the Pre-K levy into the F&E and I suspect that is to be able to spend more on Pre-K as it is more costly than they thought.  They need to be transparent on these dollars.

- Family support workers have been part of the Families and Education Levy for decades - and are a top priority every time the community is asked what they want the Levy to fund. (this via reader Robert Crunkshank)

-  I went to most of the City Council's event about pre-k-12 public education.  Not a word about this.  

- If the City wants to do it, so be it.  But they should understand the landscape.  The Legislature enacted a huge property tax on Seattle which is hitting mailboxes right now.  Then, the City wants to ask for what looks like a huge F&E levy at about $650M.  

If they cut basic support programs to low-income schools, the optics are terrible.  

If they roll Pre-K into the levy, the optics are not good.  Why do that? 

If they include charter schools into the levy, the optics are terrible.  If they choose this particular option, I'm out.  And, I'll consider waging a campaign against the levy.  (The last time I ran one campaign - against I-1240 - it barely passed with less than 2% of the vote.  It didn't pass at all in Seattle.) 

- Want to guess who might lose if the City passes this huge levy? SPS and not just in lost programming.  The district will then have to try to pass not one but two levies just months later.  I say the Board should vote to have the election for the Operations and Capital levies in AUGUST and let the chips fall where they may for the City.  

Tell the City they need to do two things - be transparent with what dollars will be spent on what AND explain why the district no longer needs family support workers (or why the City thinks the district has the money for them). 


Eric B said...

Can you post phone and email addresses where we can direct outrage?

A.Samuelsen said...

Anyone know where one could find a draft of the Levy?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The emails are in the post.

Mayor Durkan - 206-684-4000
City Council - 206-684-8888

Anonymous said...

How about the city start paying for the space they take up in Public Schools and stop charging SPS for the Center School space.


prek said...

The city neglected to tell voters that their pre-k program is part of a research project. IMO, curriculum was never vetted by voters. Here are the results:

"The average ECERS 3 rating improved from 3.57 to 3.89 (on a 7-point scale). CLASS scores maintained already high levels on Emotional Support (going from 6.14 to 6.29) and Classroom Organization (from 5.67 to 5.55). CLASS Instructional Support score improved from 2.65 to 3.06 (also on a 7-point scale)."


Watching said...

I recommend that individuals contact Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez's office. She is the Chair of the Education Department.

Phone: 206-684-8802
E-mail: Lorena.Gonzales@seattle.gov

The city is getting ready to ask a big ask. I'm concerned about the district's levy.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the levy oversight committee has discussed this? Unfortunately tbere do not seem to be any materials or minutes available from the oversight committee's last 3 meetings. The next meeting is this coming Tuesday at 4pm.

I agree that this is unacceptable and is essentially the agenda proposed by Tim Burgess in his recent op ed: focus the levy on pre-K (with the unstated implication of cuts to that levy funded services for K-12).

But Tim Burgess is not in office anymore ... I think he saw he was too conservative for Seattle and he would lose to a challenger from the left. There is no need to enact his policies. I will send emails and likely also attend Tuesday's meeting.

Jonathan Mark

Skeptical Mom said...

So, the mayor wants to focus on helping children from ages 1 to 5 and then stop helping them and then help them again from 18 to 20? What kind of message is that sending?

Outsider said...

It always seemed to me that community college was largely remedial in nature, teaching what students could have learned in high school, except that they were unfocused or distracted for various reasons. Community college is like giving students a second shot at high school once they are older and mature enough to actually benefit. Its tough on taxpayers who have to pay for it twice, and tough on students too:
I wonder if Durkan's free college scheme includes grants for living expenses, or just tuition.

Maybe thinking outside the box would be to fundamentally restructure the whole mess. Scrap the compulsory attendance to age 16 then drop out principle. Treat secondary school more like a years-of-eligibility system, which students can use when they are in the right place to do so. Teenagers who frankly won't focus on high school no matter what the school does could opt instead to work in the private sector, earn some cash, learn how the real world works, and preserve their school eligibility for later in a CC setting when they have the maturity and direction to use it well. Students' education would be turn out same in the end, but their cash flow would be better, not to mention the taxpayers' cash flow.

Anonymous said...

There is no way - after paying $2000 more in property taxes this year to fund McCleary (which would have been worthy if not for the sleazy methods by which it was funded) that I will vote for any education levies. No matter how crappy they are!


Anonymous said...

I like Outsider's ideas. I was one of those kids that couldn't focus in high school and used JC as remedial for 1 year before I went to university.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

I like Outsider's idea as well. I used CC to shore up some holes in my education before attending a 4-year college. However, I still find it hard to justify more levies given my shocking property tax increase.


Anonymous said...

Community colleges are also a good place for lower income students to get a head start on the undergraduate requirements of the 4-year schools at a more affordable cost, then transfer to a 4-year for their last 2 years, cutting the amount of debt they accrue. Many times the community colleges have class schedules that are more amenable to those who must work PT or FT as they take classes.


Anonymous said...

But I will add, that giving ANY money to charter schools is a non-starter for me. I will not vote to give public monies to privatized schools. (And I note that the WPC is crowing over more charter school applications for the upcoming year.)


Melissa Westbrook said...

1) To note, all the education levies coming up are renewals. The City doubled-down last time on the F&E levy with a higher amount and got it. If they roll Pre-K in and come for more, I have to wonder.

The district would be wise to NOT ask for as much for Operations (given they are getting more state money - I know, not enough) and to not put some high-cost, high-profile downtown school on the ballot.

And again, I think the district should do the election in August.

2) CT, well, WPD can crow all they want. There had been four notice of intents filed with the WA Charter Commission; two submitted applications. And Spokane SD - the only other authorizers - told me a month or so ago they received no NOI.

So it's not like people are breaking down the doors to open charters nor or there some huge outcry for them.

Paying Too Much said...

ill be voting no for all levies.

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

Your comments will be deleted if you don't sign it with a name you pick for yourself.


Anonymous said...

@ Outsider You said "It always seemed to me that community college was largely remedial in nature, teaching what students could have learned in high school".

They do offer some remedial classes, as well as English language courses & ELL classes that combine 2 year degree course content with ELL, as well as many other unique programs universities do not offer. But that is only a small part of what they do!!

However, like CT mentioned, they also serve as an open access to college and offer the first two years of college for the overwhelming majority of first generation college students in our country. They are extremely important. Unlike universities they are truly like public school...open access.

In some areas of our country, even affluent, they are designed as junior colleges (no technical programs) meant only for transfer to university.

In Seattle they are now also transitioning and offering a few 4 year bachelor programs which will continue to grow. In Seattle some have changed their name to align with a changing focus on 4 year programs. In recent years Seattle Central Community College became Seattle Central College. North Seattle Community is now North Seattle College. Bellevue is also Bellevue College.

They also offer small class sizes and more personalized attention, even for students at universities who come over take math and other courses to avoid the large lecture style courses with hundreds of students.
CC faculty

Anonymous said...

P.S. I should also mention that ("community") college faculty in the Seattle area are focused upon teaching and not research unlike universities. There are many outstanding educators in the system and many hold doctorates in their field.
CC faculty

Anonymous said...

At the engineering school I went to, Physics was a weed out class. In Physics 1, we were told after the first test that the average was too high and that we could expect the next test for the average to be much lower. I got a C in that class and really didn't feel like I learned anything despite studying non-stop for it. Physics 2, I took at a community college over the summer. The class was full of other kids from my engineering university. It was one of the best classes I ever took as an undergrad. The professor was so excited and clearly loved teaching. He really knew his stuff and was really happy when we got it too and did well on the tests. I learned so much more in that class than I ever did in the weed out class at my research university. It wasn't until I got into my junior and senior level classes that I felt like I had professors who wanted to teach and were excited about their students learning. Everything before that was just a weed out class and made unnecessarily hard.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Outsider has a good B.S. detector but often loses it when it comes to making generalizations and conclusions.


Unknown said...

Very interesting ideas... Of course it would have major consequences for how high schools are funded and any such drastic reform would take immense popular initiative; if by some bizarre turn of events it came from the top, it would likely be a fig leaf for cuts and the replacement of universal, whole-student public ed with corporate-backed job training. But I hear the idea that teenagers should have more freedom and chances to engage the real world. All rather beyond the scope of the present debate though.