Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mayor Durkan to Announce Her Education Plan Today

 Update: here's the link to the Mayor's plan.  Here's a link to the video of her announcement today I have not watched it yet.)

I want to note that Mayor Murray - in his Education Plan - said he was going to end homelessness for Seattle children by the end of 2017.  (He later denied saying that but it's on the videotape of the event and in the City's materials.)  Durkan's plan says:

Increase K-12 and community investments to close the opportunity gap, increase teacher diversity, provide support services including for students experiencing homelessness, and help students most at risk of dropping out of school;

More modest.  It would seem to me - of all that the Mayor and the City Council and city leaders could promise to do - ending homelessness for children is one big measure about this issue that they could get done.

It appears the number the Mayor wants to go for in combining the Families and Education levy and the Pre-K levy is about $635M which is more than double what the two combined is today.  I'm a bit shocked but Councilman Burgess went for broke in doubling the F&E levy last time so maybe there's a sense that it can be done.  I think it's a bad idea and I think the Mayor is trying to bite off more than she can chew.  

Look for the size of the Department of Education and Early Learning to grow exponentially if this passes.

end of update

I attended the Levy Oversight Committee meeting yesterday for the City's Families and Education Levy where there was a sneak peek at the Mayor's Education Plan.  The Mayor is planning an to discuss the "contours of the levy" today at 11:35(?) am at the Miller Community Center; it should be airing on Seattle Channel as well.

I was the only member of the media at the meeting and there was just one other member of the public.  Director Geary was filling in for Director Burke and Superintendent Nyland - a member of the committee - did not attend.  In fact, it was a sparse committee as compared to the numbers of SPS and City staff.

Here's what was said.

 - It appears the Mayor wants to shift to more services for K-12 than academics.   

This could be good news because much of how the City assessed how the levy was doing was based mostly on academic scores.  The Mayor's spokesperson at the meeting (I did not get his full name) "Education is a social science where it is hard to draw a line from intervention to outcomes" with so many variables like who leads the school, where kids live, etc.

- the Mayor doesn't think the "current strategies" are closing the opportunity gap fast enough.  What I didn't hear - and maybe this will come out today - is how the City would coordinate its efforts with what the district is already do in order to unite for better outcomes.  

- They will be rolling the Pre-K levy into the F&E levy and the levy will be on the November 2018 ballot.   Despite having mentioned in previous meeting minutes that they might come in at about $700M, there was no mention of money.  If you add in the current amount for the F&E levy at $235M and the Pre-K levy at about $58M, you get to roughly $300M.  Coming in at the $700M range would be a huge bump (but then again, read the list of what they want to do).

- From their community meetings on the levy, they heard five basic wishes:
  • closing opportunity gaps - focus on underserved, disadvantaged and/or students of color across all age groups
  • early learning
  • expanded learning opportunities for out of school time with transportation
  • systems coordination - preparation for post-secondary life with college, career and pathways to get there, aligning systems and resources
  • wraparound services - mental health, social emotional supports, health care, family supports and outreach, family engagement.
That's a pretty heavy lift.  

On the good side, the Mayor seems to get the need for family supports but I suspect rather than in-school ones like Family Support Workers, that the City will turn to outside CBOs.

- Plus they want to do something about increasing teacher diversity.  While supportive, Director Geary was somewhat skeptical, given the Board's knowledge of the issues around attracting new teachers to a very expensive city especially for those who have heavy college debt.

It does not appear that the City will be working with the district's already established (and successful) Seattle Teacher Residency program. 

- They want to continue to fund the health centers in all the comprehensive high schools plus a couple of middle schools. They want to add on one new high school center (presumably Lincoln) plus two more middle school ones (also unnamed).

- The plan also talked about "readiness academies" to help seniors navigate the college application process, support on campus and funds for low-income students for transportation, books and fees.
I'll note there are several good groups that already provide college application services for low-income students.

- One levy committee member said that it was great to help kids get into college but if they are not prepared for the work, it might be difficult.  Meaning, getting them ready with more rigorous courses in middle and high school.

Head of DEEL, Dwane Chappelle, said the City would be working with middle and high school principals.

- Another question was asked about tracking the numbers of students who go onto a 4-year university.

- The City is having regular meetings with SPS staff - Michael Tolley was named - about coordinating all the public ed levies coming up.

- It was noted that the City Council is having two community meetings in late May/early June to ask what the community thinks about what's on the levy.  At first, those meetings were called a "touchpoint" for the council but then it was stated that the Council might use comments to shape some thinking.

- Another question was about support for birth-3 and the answer was those efforts will come from the sweetened drinks tax money.

- Member Greg Wong asked about the committee's role in shaping the levy.  That seems to be something that neither DEEL nor the Mayor's office considered.  Mr. Chappelle said they wanted to "leverage" the support of the committee's knowledge with their support of the levy and "provide insights" but none was asked for at this meeting.  It almost seems like the City and/or the Council think the committee will just rubber-stamp whatever they come out with.  Curious.

- When asked for the Mayor's definition of "opportunity gap", the spokesman said there was probably a "technical one" but he didn't know and then laughed.

Director Geary said that there is a different between an opportunity gap and an achievement gap (which is measured thru academics).  However, DEEL's K-12 person, Veronica Gallardo, formerly of SPS, said with the opportunity gap you can measure the number of students taking and passing courses.  A bit confusing there.

- I asked Mr. Chappelle about two things.

1.  I have heard him and other DEEL reps says that all Seattle high school grads would be eligible for the Promise Program.  Other times, SPS grads.  If it were ALL grads, that would include charter schools and private schools.  He said that will be ironed out but he thinks it is SPS grads.

2.  To that end, I asked if the F&E levy will include money for charter schools and he said they are just working at the high level and that hasn't been decided.  So I guess that's on the table.

There are upcoming meetings of the Council's own Select Committee on the levy.

Monday, April 23rd, Monday, May 14th, Monday, May 21st, Monday, June 11th and Monday, June 18th.

The levy is to be finalized around June 25th.


Anonymous said...

Making the Promise program available only for SPS students seems incredibly unfair in my opinion. What about those of us who were forced to move a child to private schools because SPS was failing to meet their needs? We still pay taxes, levies, etc., and end up with the great financial burden that comes with paying for private school. Why would these Seattle residents not be granted the same opportunity as everyone else, just because they went to private school? Should a wealthy family with "typical" students who are well-served by SPS and thus able to get a "free" K-12 education also be eligible for the Promise program, when a middle class family whose child was falling through the cracks in SPS and forced to move not be eligible? Should a student who spends K-8 in private but 9-12 in SPS be eligible when one who spends K-8 in SPS but 9-12 in SPS is not? If you ask me, eligibility should be based on financial need, not where the Seattle resident went to school. Don't we want all our young adults to have the opportunity to go to college? Or is this another "equity" based argument, in which it is (wrongly) assumed that all private school students are rich and white so it's ok to discriminate against them?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I think it would be difficult to prove you were forced to move your child to private school but I think you could ask that the City provide a way to make that case to get those funds.

Most wealthy families are unlikely to access this program but I think you know that.

I believe all students who apply for the Promise Program also have to apply for financial aid.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, okay, maybe "forced" to move isn't the exact word for it. How about "needed to" move in order to protect the child's well-being and/or ability to learn. Does that help? Although I don't see why it's relevant exactly why someone decided to move their child. If a student starts in SPS and all is going well, why bother paying to move? Why should they be treated any differently after graduation?

If a student applying for the Promise Program also has to apply for financial aid, then of course wealthy families are unlikely to access the program. That's as it should be. But the assumption that private school students are from wealthy families doesn't necessarily follow, and it seems flat out wrong that a student who was struggling in SPS, moved to private school to try to do better, and who doesn't have the resources to pay for college would be denied access to the program just because they ultimately graduated from a private school rather than SPS.

You know, many of those who leave SPS do so because they have various challenges that SPS doesn't do a good job addressing. Those same challenges may also make college more of a challenge--and make community college a good idea. Private school students can, and do, end up at community colleges. They aren't all wealthy, either. But I think you know that.


Watching said...

The city seeks an additional $343 Million Dollars. Yet, they want to decrease wrap around services for Seattle Public Schools.

Here is what is happening:

"Levy funding for family-support services has dwindled in recent years, from nearly $2.6 million in the 2011-12 school year to $750,000 this year, according to a memo that school-district administrators sent to workers like Owens last month.
The school administrators also issued a warning, saying they had been told to expect only $191,574 in the 2018-2019 school year — the final year of funding from the existing levy. The reduction could result in the loss of family-support workers at Lowell and Van Asselt elementary schools and Pathfinder K-8, the administrators said."


The city must not cut back on wrap around services.

Watching said...

There is big money going into this campaign:

"A campaign to pass Durkan’s proposed levy, which launched even before Wednesday’s announcement, already has support from several high-profile business interests, including Microsoft, Mariners’ CEO John Stanton and developer Matt Griffin, according to public disclosure reports.
In late March, the campaign spent over $41,000 for polling research. Sandeep Kaushik with the campaign confirmed they’d received the results of the survey, but declined to elaborate. "


Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the former RBHS Principal who was Murray's ed champion? Out of job?

- Just Curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

That’s Dwane Chappelle, the head of DEEL.

Anonymous said...

And what is the DEEL with that? There were so many task force committees I am not sure if and what they did and where are they now... HOLA!

- Just Curious

NoPortables said...

As long as K-12 students are housed in portables, there is no justification for SPS to take on the zero to five years. Kids shouldn't have to walk across a playground to get to the bathrooms or the lunchroom, and heaven forbid a school goes into lockdown?

Anonymous said...

13th year Promise Scholarship in which Durkin is seeking expansion: http://www.southseattle.edu/13th-year/
" The scholarship is open to all graduates from participating high schools, regardless of GPA, income or other factors. All participating students are guaranteed to have one year of in-state tuition covered through a combination of need-based financial aid and scholarship funds."


Anonymous said...

As the parent of an 8 year old and a 10 year old, I know there is one fundamental thing that the city could do to improve my children's quality of life: MAKE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND PARKS SAFE!!!

I am sick of needle sweeps before soccer games. I am sick of not letting my kids go into the trees neighboring parks so they can explore because of what or who may be lurking there. I am sick of not letting my kids go to a park by themselves.

Do you know what those single moms who can't afford child care every minute of the day want? The ability to send their school age kids outside for an hour or two and not worry that they will get stuck by a needle, or harassed by a mentally ill person who needs services.

Why is the city not focused on this? Preschool is great, but the results take 20 years. Our kids need to be able to play, explore, and have fun without adults constantly hovering over them. I know parents who moved from Ballard to Carnation because they couldn't let their kids play in their own backyard anymore because of harassment from people in the homeless encampment that was one block away.

The city could do so much for childhood RIGHT NOW. And the kids who are in most need of this? Probably the ones whose parents work three jobs and can't be with them every second. Where is the constituency for this?


Anonymous said...

Still not seeing how it's equitable to exclude private and charter school students from Promise Program eligibility, but whatever. I guess if SPS doesn't serve your student well and you end up paying out of pocket for education (while still contributing just as much money to public education as everyone else), it only makes sense that you continue to get screwed even after your student graduates.


Anonymous said...

@sickandtired I agree and am in Ballard. Someone stabbed outside Larson's yesterday, and two homeless people found dead this past month, one with a bullet hole. Break-in's and robberies happen weekly. Our neighbors were robbed this past week. The Ballard library has had 5 incidents regarding needles this past month. It is really out of control. Ballard already has multiple homeless encampments. They are also soon to get the city's second low barrier shelter near Loyal Heights school. Since crime and drug use around Licton Springs has skyrocketed and issues at the two new schools since that shelter was implemented, many are concerned.
NW parent