Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday Open Thread

Private school report from Education Next tells us (bold mine):
  • Private nonsectarian elementary schools serve a small percentage of the nation’s students, but a growing share of high-income students. Just 1 percent of middle-income students enrolled in those schools in 1969, and the percentage grew slightly to between 1 and 2 percent in 2011. But the enrollment rate among high-income families grew from 2 percent in 1969 to 6 percent in 2011. 
  • Private schools historically ranged widely in their annual fees; many programs, such as those run by the Catholic Church, were designed to be broadly affordable and offered significant discounts for low-income families. However, the number of Catholic schools has fallen sharply in recent years, while the number of nonsectarian private schools has increased. At the same time, income inequality and residential and school segregation by income have grown.
  •  Our analysis finds that private schools, like public schools, are increasingly segregated by income. In particular, the share of middle-income students attending private schools has declined by almost half, while the private-school enrollment rate of wealthy children has remained steady. Much of the decline among middle-income students is due to falling enrollment at Catholic schools, which have closed in droves in the past 20 years. Meanwhile, private-school enrollment among affluent students has shifted from religious to nonsectarian schools.
  • For example, among families with children in grades 1 to 8, the 90th percentile income in 1975 of $111,410 was roughly double that of the 50th percentile income of $56,084. In 2013, the comparable 90th percentile income of $183,959 was nearly triple the 50th percentile income of $68,256.
  • First, if the private schools affluent families choose for their children provide a better education than the schools available to children from lower-income families, these choices pass on economic advantage to the next generation and undercut the potential for intergenerational economic mobility. Second, it is possible that well-educated affluent parents who send their children to private schools may be less interested in devoting their political and social capital to advocating for better public schools. 
Is this a decline in religious belief?  The role of religious belief in education?  Charter school growth (which is now on the decline)?   One thing for certain - whether it's public, private or charter, schools are increasingly becoming more and more segregated (I'll have a separate thread on charter schools and segregation as they seem to embrace it.)

And now for something totally different - how much of a raise do you think SPS teachers should get?  Would you support them in a strike? 

What's on your mind?


Michael Rice said...

I don't know how much of a raise I am going to get. While more money is always better than less money, what I strongly believe is that what the extra money needs to fund is additional counselors, family support workers, mental health professionals, etc. These are the the people who are needed to help students navigate school. As an example, I know that the contract amount for high school counselors to students is 1 to 400. I know that Ingraham counselors have a ratio way over that. This makes it very difficult to build a relationship with a student. We had to sit through multiple staff meetings where the district is telling us that students are more successful when you build a relationship with the students. While this is not an earth-shattering revelation and I have known this since the first day I started teaching, the district has done nothing to support this.

I know that many other teachers are seeing what the surrounding districts are negotiating for raises and are wondering why SPS and SEA have not settled yet. I have been through multiple contracts and votes and I have never been able to actually read the contract because it is always settled a day or two before school starts. We have no idea what we are voting on. It is a dream of mine that someday we will be like Bellevue, which settled last week and is having on-line voting over the next week or so. I don't know if SEA and SPS is even meeting right now. I sure hope that they are, but I don't think there are any meetings at the present time.

The reason the teachers "won" the last strike is because of the great community support. I have a strong feeling that if there is a strike this time, the community will be irate at both sides. I'm a teacher and if there is a strike this time, I will be irate at both sides.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, your selective highlighting is interesting and certainly makes clear your perspective on this issue.

As public schools face more and more problems, people who can afford to leave will do so. This does not mean, however, that those people will decrease their advocacy for better public schools. In some cases they may actually increase their commitment to a strong public education system, as they gain a fuller understanding of what works and what doesn't; as they experience the pain that comes from paying for private school and are looking for a way out; as they continue to advocate for their other children who are still in the public system; as they support their neighbors and community; and so on. The idea that parents escape and then turn their backs on others feels like an assumption that is likely not be based on reality.

The idea that private school students get an economic advantage because their schools are better if not really supported, either. As many posters here note, many of the best schools in this area are public. Many of the "gifted" programs are also public. Students of affluent parents get an economic advantage because their parents are affluent, and this is true whether or not the kids go to public or private schools.

Also, in my experience, many (most?) people who can afford private schools for all (or one of?) their kids don't have greater political and social capital than many parents in public schools. Financial capital? Yes, for many. However, there are many well-off families in public schools, too, and they have a lot of untapped financial capital that many parents paying for private school have exhausted.

Are there obnoxious, elitist parents in private schools who think their kids are too special for public schools? I assume yes--just as there are such parents in public schools, who send their kids to one school instead of another for similar reasons. But as with most things, it's not helpful/fair/accurate to paint with a broad brush and suggest public school parents are one way and private school parents another.

broad brush

Anonymous said...

A number of studies have shown that private schools do no better the public schools after controlling for demographics. I remember when the Freakonomics guys came to that conclusion about a decade ago. A whole bunch of parents in a friend's preschool said they would not send their kids to private school since it is a waste of money per the data. Here are some recent cites on the issue:





Anonymous said...

The devil is in the details. Which public, which private, which kid.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Broad Brush, I highlighted what was stated. I found it interesting; I didn't say I agreed. It's there to start discussion.

Devil, I agree. I am grateful I had the ability to choose the SPS high school we wanted for each child.

Also, I tell parents that I would not waste the money on private elementary school (unless you feel like your child has an issue that would better be addressed in a smaller classroom) because most elementaries are good. Flashy, no but places where creating community is important.

Anonymous said...

"Also, I tell parents that I would not waste the money on private elementary school..."

Are you telling this to parents whose neighborhood school requires their child to wear a uniform? Isn't that still happening in some SPS elementaries?

Are you telling this to parents at Bailey Gatzert Elementary where the FRL is over 70%?

It's great that you were able have choices about where to send your own children for high school.

That can no longer happen in most cases in SPS, and elementary students are required to attend their neighborhood school, except for a few escapes to option schools.

Strict neighborhood schools exacerbate segregation.


Jet City mom said...

Both my kids attended private school for at least part of their education.
We are low middle income, and received aid.

I hear people talk about the positive effects a public school teacher had on their lives.
But do we ever talk about the impact a negative situation has?
The teacher who was teaching her 4th class the way she taught her 1st grade class the year before? With lots of simplfied worksheets, and no field trips or celebrations because of one students religious beliefs.
The projects from 3rd grade were more challenging. It didn’t help that the teacher told my child things like “ you just are not good at math”, which cast a shadow on her for years to come. ( I did not learn about this for 20 yrs)

Then the next year the 5th gd teacher told the class about the projects they would accomplish that year, during the beginning of the year family meeting.
Jokes on them, because just weeks after and all through the year, that teacher was not in the classroom because of family issues, but would not take a leave so that the school could hire another classroom teacher.
Instead that class was supervised by parents and rotating subs. This went on for years.

Or the teacher the principal wanted to fire but did not want to do the work so she forced her to quit by assigning her to the Title one students, which were subjected to her tirades before she did so.

I can go on.

All these experiences were in public school and I have more where they came from.

In private school you pay for accountability.
When your children are involved, it’s worth it.

Juliette F said...

Bellevue has secured over 18% raise. I know that Seattle cost of living isn’t lower than Bellevue. And the state LEG budgeted and secured this money & MORE specifically FOR teacher raises, so any ‘hold back’ by Supers/Districts seems greedy and spiteful to the people teaching our kids.

Seems like a no brainer.

....So, of course, SPS will f&@% it up in spectacular fashion. :/


Anonymous said...


A Harvard study challenges the NCES methodology of the "all things being equal" analysis.

Those with stereotyped conceptions of private education gathered by reading J. D.
Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye or watching the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society
might simply accept the model’s assumption. But elite, secular, boarding schools for America’s privileged, however delightful a subject for literary figures, remain the
exception in private education, serving no more than a tiny fraction of the private school
students. Most private schools have a religious affiliation and serve a considerably less
well-endowed population.

for choice

Anonymous said...

"I tell parents that I would not waste the money on private elementary school"

Surely you understand choice goes beyond academics. A significant number of families choose private school for a religious education and don't consider it a "waste."

waste not

Anonymous said...


What about the new Sup - all over town on Twitter meeting with the city leaders? I would prefer she started reaching out to parents, kids, and teachers.

36 year veteran educator

Anonymous said...

Uh...it's summer. Meeting with city leaders? That's a GOOD thing. Understanding the big picture issues make one a better leader. She just visited the SPS summer skills center @RBHS. And met Shoreline's superintendent. Seems like she's off to a strong start.

Thanks Juneau!

Getting Tired said...

Don't expect WEA or SEA to explain levy caps and/or the fact that 20% levy funding pays for teacher salaries.

In 2015, with a promise of McCleary, SEA provided teachers with a salary increase of 14% base pay over 3 years. SEA had originally asked for $172M.

"Just before midnight last night, SPS offered the union a $62 million package that included wage increases and additional staff for special education, but still added up to less than half of the $172 million in proposals for which SEA has asked. "


Because the teacher salary part of McCleary had not been funded, I believe funding came from MSOC.

The state legislature did not intend for teachers to receive the total billion dollars in a year.

The state is scheduled to fund special education this year. What will happen in 3 years when the teacher contract needs to be re-negotiated?

Will there be RIFs when the levy cap is defined?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the potential teacher strike over raises, average total compensation for SPS Non-supervisory certificated salaries ranges from $51.5 to $100.7 and is already in line with non-managerial professions in Seattle.

Seattle's Salary Schedule is very similar to New York's, which has a higher COL.




Employees in the private sectors average 3% annual raises loosely based on the cost-of-living. In top corporations, incentives are primarily bonuses, not raises, and significant salary increases are mainly achieved via mobility.



I concede that the mobility model to increase salary is less desirable in the teaching profession, because higher teacher turnover negatively impacts the students as well as institutional knowledge within school communities.

However, I think teachers need to be aware that asking for a raise on top of COLA while already receiving taxpayer funded retirement, full benefits, tenure and union protected employment are much more than the average at-will private employee receives.

A further question is what happens to the class size reductions and hiring of additional employees (counselors!) if all the money goes to raises for existing teachers?

Help me understand why their current salary schedule is unfair. I don't see it, but perhaps someone can provide additional perspective.


Getting Tired said...

Next-up: Principal raises.

Isn't there a "MeToo" clause in principal contracts that would provide them with a raise similar in size to teacher salaries?

The legislature provided the district with an additional $49M. This number is less than the 2015 contract settlement agreement.

NNE Mom said...

I would be entirely in support of giving a massive raise to 80% of the teachers my children have had. Especially the younger ones who aren't making much considering how hard they work. But about 20% of SPS teachers are no good and some are actually harming children. That's worse than failing to help or mentor or teach them. Some teachers really needed to be shown the door. Not moved to my neighborhood school (thanks) and then demoted to my child's classroom (thanks) and then supported by that abusive IA (not the rape one, although that one is definitely proof that there are adults working in schools who need to be exited).

The teachers who are bad at their jobs or negligent or harmful to minors make it really hard to support a raise for all teachers. Keep that in mind, SEA. Also, maybe you could have a word with your members about not dissing people on social media. It's totally unprofessional.

Getting Tired said...

Teachers do receive benefits such as health care and retirement. They also work 180 out of 360 days a year.

I certainly won't support a big ask in 3 years...especially if teachers start going after dollars allocated for special education students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"In private school you pay for accountability."

Really? Friends that went to private school said they generally got "that's how this school is and that's the door if you are unhappy." I mean you could bring issues to the school but you didn't have much leeway.

Waste Not, I have written that there are many reasons people go private. But if it's about academics and community, I think SPS does fine on that for elementary.

Getting Tired, teachers work 220 days a year. Let's get those numbers right.

Jet City mom said...

My experience with PNAIS accredited schools is that they were very responsive to our families needs.
The fact that we paid 30% of what most other families paid was not an issue.

On the contrary, my impression was that school staff ( I am still friends with someone who is now head of one of the older prominent schools), was appreciative of my perspective of letting them do their job of providing a place for kids to learn the skills they need for adulthood, and I did not try to micromanage my child’s experience just because I thought paying thousands of dollars every year gave me the right to do so.
We only became involved when there was a conflict or concern and more often than not, the school notified me before I had any idea.

Contrast that to our experience in public school, when I only learned my child was not getting her legally required IEP pullout because I arranged my schedule so I could be in the building almost every day.

Anonymous said...

The fact is some public schools are not a great place. Maybe the building needs remodeling and it's not reasonable to ask students or teachers to spend 6 hours a day there. Maybe it's somehow got weaker teachers than elsewhere. More likely: maybe the building has a weak principal which is not an uncommon thing in Seattle. But you've got your assigned school, there's a waitlist for your option school and you're probably not in its geographic zone anyway, and your student's needs just aren't being met but there's no way out of that one public school. So, private it is.

It's the sort of decision you don't make globally, you don't write off a whole district. It's really dependent on the school you're stuck with.

If we had true choice, that would be so great. But we don't or we can't or I don't know what the deal is. Seems like the executive types in the district just want to keep every single person always in their assigned school no matter what. I guess because it makes their jobs easier? Because that's how smaller districts have to do things? I don't know. Capacity can't be the whole story.


Anonymous said...


You're right: It's not the whole story. When the Supreme Court ruled against the racial tie-breaker in Seattle, our retiring Justice Kennedy recommended less restrictive remedies than racial tie-breakers for districts like Seattle that weren't subject to desegregation mandates. Kennedy wanted to preserve diversity without quotas, likely because he knew that Brown vs. Board of Education would otherwise no longer be considered a valid precedent. SPS chose to go the other extreme and make school boundaries which focused on neighborhoods, with little gerrymandering or consideration of FRL (which is usually a proxy for race in this country).

The real story is the fact that the power base in Seattle wants and likes neighborhood schools that have boundaries which are etched mostly based on demographics and historical red-lining. Being "progressive" in Seattle doesn't extend to issues that affect your progeny, unlike in Portland.

Whenever you're stuck in a neighborhood school and can't get out, especially when getting the short-end of the stick, it's not a pretty picture. In instances when your own children are the victims of neighborhood boundaries, it's unacceptable.

I love it how "Kellie" talks about the so-called choices that the school assignment plan gives residents--in project manager-ese language.

Truth be told, there is no real choice in SPS, and that's "a-okay" because those with power get schools for their own that are riding on the historical redlined neighborhood boundaries, and those without power don't get their voices heard.

Interesting how Melissa likes to encourage parents in her echo chamber to "go public" for elementary school. Yeah, that's because those "folks" get their kids into a like demographic and all the ensuing benefits to boot: i.e. PTA or PTO dollars from their "auctions".

Volunteering in a high poverty is commendable, Melissa. It's more than most people do. Here's the underlying question: Why does such a school even need to exist???
Seattle can and should gerrymander boundaries so that these types of schools are boundaried out of existence. This is in the ever-gentrifying Seattle, Btw. No excuses except that the power neighborhoods continue to say amen to these ghetto-izying boundaries.

Once they hit middle school, the blank hits the fan, which means that the schools with high FRL may join their kids and all that. Why do you stop with selling public schools when they hit middle school, Melissa? Oh, I know. That's when diversity and political fall-out sets in, and things start getting "iffy".

Of course, if you live near Ballard, Roosevelt, or Ingraham (IB) or have a kid in HC who can have a school-within-a-school at Garfield, go fer it!!

Urban schools aren't easy. But you chose to live here, people, and it's Seattle and not Newark. Time to step up to the plate.

In all honesty, you can't be against charter schools and be for the current neighborhood school plan in SPS, unless you think parents who want what you want for your own child don't deserve the same quality.

At least private school parents are being honest. They don't want an urban school experience for their kid, and are not in the market of trying to create a private school within the urban school.


kellie said...

@ Mel,

Thank you for publishing some information on private schools and the impact on the public system. Over the years, I have seen estimates that range from 20% to almost 38% private school enrollment in Seattle. Those numbers do have a big impact on Seattle.

kellie said...


You have conflated many of my comments from over the years so I will clarify my position.

The student assignment plan "as written" has multiple protections for families regarding choice. The current SPS administration routinely ignores all of those protections. Additionally, there has been an annual subterfuge where staff has on an annual basis chipped away at those protections in the SAP. At a recent board meeting, once again, there was a motion to remove all "Program Placement" oversight away from the board and give staff sole discretion on programs. Thankfully, Eden Mack made a policy based plea from the dias and there were enough voted to defeat this (again).

The annual encroachments have had a powerful impact on the SAP. The failure to move waitlist and the dissolution of the waitlist over the summer has dramatically reduced families choices that were supposed to be protected by the SAP. Choice seats at Franklin and Cleveland have remained unfilled for almost five years now and it appears that staff are simply more brazen every year in their refusal to follow the SAP as written.

I am not a fan of charter schools, but this flagrant disrespect for the SAP will make Seattle ripe for charters. If SPS continues to disallow choice AND continues to focus this lack of choice primarily on poor neighborhoods, I will need to become a charter supporter.

kellie said...


A few of your SAP comments lack historical nuance.

Prior to the NSAP, there were more highly impacted schools in Seattle and the 100% choice plan subjected highly impacted schools to both enrollment and staffing instability. There are still highly impacted schools in Seattle and there always will be highly impacted schools under any SAP. The long history of redlining regarding housing can't be cured with an assignment plan, it can only be ameliorated.

There was extensive gerrymandering when the boundaries were first drawn for the NSAP. I ran through Tracy Libros's block by block analysis of diversity and SES. Tracy Libros believed deeply in school diversity and went to great lengths to treat this block by block analysis to have increased diversity be a primary consideration for every school. The NSAP planning documents (which used to be on the website before the ADA ruling that removed all these documents) showed the expected change in SES and diversity at every school in the district.

Gerrymandering was a cornerstone of the assignment plan. After Tracy's retirement and the extensive staff turnover, that has been neglected at best and most likely forgotten.

I also disagree with your assertion about the power base. SPS, not families, had a plan to re-segregate North Seattle. SPS's plans to open Cedar Park would have created a high poverty school, in a substandard building, with TWO low income housing developments directed to this single school. That plan would have instantly created a 90% FRL school and reduced the poverty level at all of the adjacent schools.

All the power base had to do was nothing. This was SPS's plan. SPS's plan would have created more tidy high SES, primarily white schools. But yet all of the schools communities united to fight this plan and fortunately won.

Can SPS do better? Absolutely. A good start would be to actually use the tools built into the plan. A district wide boundary review at the time of BEX was also part of the plan and a review could go a long way to creating more improvement.

Superintendant Nyland was completely uninterested in the day to day impact of the SAP. I don't have any notion of where Superintendent Juneau will take this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, Kellie.

If you don't think schools are deeply tied to housing prices, look at the ads.

The power base has deep investments in maintaining this system. If you think otherwise, I consider that very naive.

It's great that the community rallied around one school. That was an anomaly, which is why it was so newsworthy.

There will always be highly impacted schools? Seriously?

Gerrymandering can and should be done more extensively, and actual choice can and should be done. Setting aside seats for choice that would level out FRL extremities would be an ideal first step.

See the reaction you get. See if a power base isn't alive and well.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Truth be told, there is no real choice in SPS, and that's "a-okay" because those with power get schools for their own that are riding on the historical redlined neighborhood boundaries, and those without power don't get their voices heard."

There is real choice in SPS. That you think it doesn't exist is wrong. You can look it up. Is there huge choice? No.

I also note that when we had choice the district said 90% of people got their first choice. They also say 90% of people in the current system get their first choice. I doubt that latter statement but I think there are large numbers of people happy with their assignment. What the district has to continue to do is provide solid education in safe buildings for all students.

Thank you for those comments, Kellie. Very helpful.

kellie said...


Of course, housing prices and schools go hand in hand. Poverty is real and has profound impacts. Housing policy and poverty are deeply intertwined.

Schools and assignment plans can and should mitigate this but schools alone are not a cure for all of the complexities related to poverty.

I should also be clear about this. Highly impacted is not an excuse or a synonym for poor quality. Highly impacted should translate to a place where there is a substantial allocation of resources.

If I had a vote during these contract negotiations, I would be advocating for retention bonuses and incentive pay at highly impacted schools.

Feel free to call me naive.

Anonymous said...

"The district...has failed to explain why, in a district composed of a diversity of races, with fewer than half of the students classified as “white,” it has employed the crude racial categories of “white” and “non-white” as the basis for its assignment decisions...Crude measures of this sort threaten to reduce children to racial chits valued and traded according to one school’s supply and another’s demand." - Justice Kennedy

Refresher on Supreme Court case related to Seattle's race-based assignment plan:


...In design and operation, the plans are directed only to racial balance, an objective this Court has repeatedly condemned as illegitimate...Accepting racial balancing as a compelling state interest would justify imposing racial proportionality throughout American society, contrary to the Court’s repeated admonitions that this is unconstitutional.

...School authorities concerned that their student bodies’ racial compositions interfere with offering an equal educational opportunity to all are free to devise race-conscious measures to address the problem in a general way and without treating each student in different fashion based solely on a systematic, individual typing by race.

(FWIW's explanations should perhaps be taken with a cup of salt)

wayback machine

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Wayback Machine

Anonymous said...

From your link and Kennedy:

"(b) The plurality opinion is too dismissive of government’s legitimate interest in ensuring that all people have equal opportunity regardless of their race. In administering public schools, it is permissible to consider the schools’ racial makeup and adopt general policies to encourage a diverse student body, one aspect of which is its racial composition. Cf. Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306. School authorities concerned that their student bodies’ racial compositions interfere with offering an equal educational opportunity to all are free to devise race-conscious measures to address the problem in a general way and without treating each student in different fashion based solely on a systematic, individual typing by race. Such measures may include strategic site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of neighborhood demographics; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race."

He is against quotas for race but gives suggestions for legal means to achieve diversity.

This is what I stated above.


Anonymous said...

@ FWIW, you said:

"Urban schools aren't easy. But you chose to live here, people, and it's Seattle and not Newark. Time to step up to the plate."

Why is it parents who have to step up to the plate, and not the district? If the district's schools and policies are doing real damage to a kid, what exactly do you think a parent is going to accomplish by "stepping up to the plate"? And to be clear, I suspect many people who find themselves in the position of contemplating a switch to private schools have already "stepped up" many, many times. Moving to private is often a last resort.

"In all honesty, you can't be against charter schools and be for the current neighborhood school plan in SPS, unless you think parents who want what you want for your own child don't deserve the same quality."

That's absurd. A parent can absolutely think that all children deserve the same quality--provided the quality is high. I doubt many think all kids deserve low quality. But if the get low quality and have an option for higher quality, do you begrudge them taking it? It seems you do. It seems you'd prefer they sacrifice their own child in order to make some larger statement, even when that statement is not likely to have any effect on the overall quality for others. I'm not sure I see what exactly you think parents should do, and how it's likely to change anything in the short run.

"At least private school parents are being honest. They don't want an urban school experience for their kid, and are not in the market of trying to create a private school within the urban school."

And you know this how? What makes an "urban school experience" anyway? Does moving your kid from a cushy public school in a well-off suburban neighborhood to a private school in a more urban setting count? Or do you mean the private school has to be more diverse and low income than the neighborhood school (which for many public schools in SPS isn't actually that high a bar?) Or does urban just, for some reason, mean public as opposed to private? And, yet again, there are no SPS schools that are anywhere near to being a private school within a public school setting.

yet again

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yet Again, you ask good questions but I ask that you not encourage FWIW/Delete Me. My perception, after long experience, is that this person is here to flame-throw, not add to the discussion or offer solutions.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I love your posts, and mostly, they’re dead on. The echo chamber/status quo nature of the blog needs your fresh air and voice for true equity, as well as a teacher’s perspective. Your assessment of neighborhood schools though is off. Seattle’s neighborhoods are becoming more and more diverse. As we move towards forced density, diversity will increase even faster. White or black enclaves are small and shrinking. “Choice” in SPS didn’t facilitate diversity along any axis. It simply codified and legitimized the practice of white flight. Schools buses from the south end to QA and Magnolia were packed with white upper and middle class students, escaping their neighbors for “better school”, wink, wink, wealthier, whiter schools. Neighborhood schools are the way to go. They need to flexibly accommodate all students. Their boundaries should be drawn to maximize not minimize diversity. It’s the way most places works and it does work. It’s cheaper, less polluting, healthier, and most equitable. The poverty FRL percentage bump in per pupil funding should be drastically increased to support schools that remain disproportionately populated with challenging students.


Anonymous said...

We left (secular) private schooling after a decade plus and moved the kids across the country to attend Garfield for precisely that "urban" experience, before leaving for university.

By "urban" I mean having a student population representative of multiple races/cultures/SES (with no one dominant), and also centrally located within a city enabling the kids to assume personal responsibility for their own schedules by walking and utilizing public transit to/from their activities. These are important secondary aspects of a full education (in our opinion) that were simply unavailable where we came from, private or public. Very few schools in the country offer this, unfortunately, alongside strong academics and extracurriculars.


Anonymous said...

@FNH, you did all that just to attend Garfield? Wow, talk about commitment (and flexibility, resources, etc.)!

You do understand, I'm sure, that not everyone is in a position to do that, right? Most people aren't. Ironically, if most people with the means to seek out that "urban" experience that only a few schools like Garfield can provide actually DID seek it out, those schools would change dramatically and no longer provide that sought-after, diverse experience.

I'm not sure if your "urban" is the same as what was meant by the original poster (FWIW/DeleteMe), or if "FNH" is another of FWIW's new monikers. If that IS the "urban" meant by FWIW, that public (urban experience) vs. private (non-urban experience) really doesn't hold up at all, since, as you acknowledged, few SPS public schools even meet those "urban" criteria.

yet again

Demi said...

@yet again,

Garfield high school has an assignment zone that covers downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Leshi, Madrona, the Central Area, etc. Almost half of Seattle residents rent and over half own their houses. Both renters and home owners can move. In fact according to census data about 104,000 people move away from King County each year (most to Snohomish and Pierce counties but also a lot to L.A. and Whatcom county apparently). And obviously lots of people move to King County every year.

SPS has to educate ALL the students who chose to attend its schools. If high school students live in the Garfield zone, Garfield has to be willing to educate them.

Students don't control where their parents choose to live. Most students actually have zero control over that. But by any measure of the imagination, a school whose assignment zone includes downtown Seattle should probably rightly be considered an "urban" school.

Anonymous said...


Of course families move, and yes, downtown schools are often urban. My comment was directed at FNH who said they moved all the way across the country in order to attend Garfield, one of the "very few schools in the country" to offer and "urban" experience that includes "a student population representative of multiple races/cultures/SES (with no one dominant), and also centrally located within a city enabling the kids to assume personal responsibility for their own schedules by walking and utilizing public transit to/from their activities." Moving across the country is very expensive, and many also can't afford to give up their jobs or aren't in position to transfer. FNH did not say they moved for employment and then decided to buy/rent in the GHS zone, but rather that they moved for GHS. Impressive commitment, no?

SPS has to educate ALL the students who chose to attend its schools. If high school students live in the Garfield zone, Garfield has to be willing to educate them.
What? Of course! Did I say anything to suggest otherwise? Perhaps you were misreading me.

The original discussion was about high schools, and some apparent distinction between urban schools vs. private schools, which I don't think is a valid comparison. There are private schools in urban areas, and public schools in less urban areas. There are public schools that aren't diverse, and private schools that are more so. Are you suggesting Garfield is the only "urban" assignment high school in Seattle, since it's what includes downtown in it's zone? Or will Lincoln count (includes lower QA)? Franklin (SODO)? FNH has suggested the criteria are dependent on a combination of racial demographics and public transit, so that could potentially broaden the pool of "urban" options citywide, even if transit is inconvenient... I don't know what the heck FWIW/DeleteMe meant by urban, but their comments often don't seem intended for in-depth analysis.

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Demi said...

I don't know FNH. I'm just saying it's not that unusual for parents to make decisions about where to live with an eye to where their children will go to school. And sure, people have differing abilities and desired to pursue that. Moving across country can cost maybe $1,000 to $10,000, but a lot of good private high schools run about $30,000 to $35,000 per year per kid. And Lord help you if you have more than one kid.

Seattle's biggest employers are Boeing, Microsoft, UW, Amazon, King County, Starbucks, Swedish Health Services, the city, Costco, Nordstrom, Group Health. These employers routinely hire people from outside the city. And surely some of those new hires have school aged children? People actually move from all over the world to work in Seattle. 40% of our tech workers were born abroad.

I don't really see how anyone could argue that any SPS high school is suburban or rural as opposed to urban. Seattle is the 15th largest metro area in the country, also one of the biggest countries in the world. So, any school in Seattle is urban.

Anonymous said...

Uprooting and moving cross country for 4 years of high school does seem extreme. You have to wonder from where they moved.

I have yet to find the actual UVA study which has been posted in summary form as "proof" private is no better than public. They followed some 1000 students in a longitudinal study, but don't state much about their methods or geographical range. Wish there was more info.


Anonymous said...

@ Demi, so then every private school in Seattle is also urban. I happen to agree that many, if not most/all are. But if you go back and reread the original comments to which I was responding, there was an assertion that “private school parents” don’t want an urban experience for their kids, whereas SPS parents do (or can’t afford otherwise. My point was that the idea that private = non-urban and public = urban is off base. Some private schools in Seattle are more diverse and/or in “grittier” neiighborhoods than some public schools. If they aren’t all urban, then public vs private is not the dividing line.

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Demi said...

I don't think it necessarily matters so much whether a private school is located in an urban setting or not since they can still select whatever students they want. Take a private school that charges $35,000 a year with a $55,000 boarding option. Since they don't have to accept everyone, they're free to curate their population as they wish. They don't even have to live within commuting distance thanks to the convenient boarding option. For example, these schools could just decide they don't accept any boys. Maybe only students from Catholic families. Maybe only students who earn a certain score on the SSAT. Maybe only students who present the desired features on the "character skills snapshot" looking at their intellectual curiosity, teamwork, initiative, responsibility, resilience, self-control, open-mindedness, and social awareness. A school like this doesn't necessarily reflect much about the setting where it happens to be located (urban, suburban, rural). Maybe they have a skiing or sailing or equestrian courses depending on their location.

A private school can choose not to admit a student body reflective of the local population, so even if the school happens to be located in a city, the students might only reflect a very specific fraction of the students who live in the city (especially with a boarding option!).

Anonymous said...

@ Demi, That's a very "east coast elite" view of private schools, with all the "boarding" and "sailing" and "equestrian courses" language, isn't it? We were talking about Seattle (where there are even public schools with ski teams/clubs--gasp!, and where public school students often sail via independent orgs, mixing with their private school peers who also elect to row, sail, etc.)

So it sounds like you're essentially saying that the very fact that a private school can control it's admissions precludes it from being "urban," whereas a public school that is majority white and low FRL is necessarily urban if it's in a city. I don't agree with that, but I suppose that's one approach. It certainly does not fit the criteria of FNH, however, who moved across the country for Garfield since there are so few urban high schools in the US.

To each his/her/their own. Regardless, I think we've beaten this horse enough.

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Demi said...

Seattle has a $60,000/year boarding school, The Northwest School. It has a badminton club and a mindfulness club and an opera club. It seems pretty "urban" with its location on the Pine/Pike corridor within blocks of a tattoo parlor, a yoga studio, Mamnoon, a Brazilian restaurant, a sandwich shop called Honey Hole, the Paramount Theater and the state convention center. But it's certainly not "East Coast"...

But what I meant about private schools is that since a private school can pick the student population it wants, it doesn't necessarily tell you much about where the school happens to be located.

SPS educates about 70% or something of local students. Any given private school in Seattle might only educate maybe 0.3% of Seattle students. It's just not necessarily a reflective sample.

Anonymous said...

@ Demi, well of corse a private school isn’t a reflective sample. You seem to have a simplistic notion that a private school can’t be urban, but a public school in a city automatically is. That does not seem to be what the OP meant by an “urban school experience,” nor does it make sense in a district with neighborhood assignment zones that result in schools with totally different demographics. How many SPS schools mirror the overall district demographics? Not many—most are skewed one way or the other. In some cases, a student can get a more diverse experience at a private school than public, depending on how you want to measure it. In public schools w/ low-minority, low-FRL, generally high-performing populations, students tend to be with a lot of kids like themselves—and not in very “urban” feeling neighborhoods, either. In private schools, however, there is often less segregation by ability, so rich or white or academically advanced students often sit side by side with lower income (scholarship) or minority or average ability students. Yes, those private school students were admitted via a selection process—but that doesn’t necessarily mean the resulting school experience can’t be just as—or even more—“urban” than in a public school that “pre-segregates” students to some extent by neighborhood demographics, and that then further breaks them out by program and/or ability.

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