Friday, November 30, 2018

Seattle's Promise Program for Community College

From the Seattle Times, a story about how the new 2-year City scholarship program will work.
Seattle Promise is phasing in over two years, so not all high schools are immediately covered. Seniors at Ingraham, Garfield, Chief Sealth, Cleveland, Rainier Beach and West Seattle high schools are the first beneficiaries.

Those schools are already part of a program called the 13th Year Scholarship, which paid for a year of tuition at Seattle’s community colleges through private donations. When voters overwhelmingly approved the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy, they essentially bought the Class of 2019 at those six schools a second year of tuition-free community college.

Students currently in 11th grade at 11 other Seattle high schools (the Class of 2020) will become eligible for free community college when they graduate. Those schools are: Ballard, The Center School, Franklin, Interagency, Middle College, Nathan Hale, NOVA, Roosevelt, South Lake, World School and Lincoln.

The city’s lawyers are examining whether graduates of Seattle’s public charter schools will also be eligible, said Chris Alejano, who is Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s education policy adviser.

Currently, graduates of specific high schools are assigned to one of the three branches of Seattle Colleges based on geography (Sealth, Cleveland, Rainier Beach and West Seattle students are assigned to go to South Seattle College, for example, while Garfield graduates will go to Seattle Central College, and Ingraham students will go to North Seattle College).

But by 2020, students will have flexibility in choosing which of the three campuses they want to attend.
I'm sure the City is examining if they can give K-12 dollars AND Promise dollars to charter school students.  I said during the campaign that I did not want K-12 dollars to go to charter schools because I believe it will likely dilute the dollars going to existing SPS programs.  I perceive that maybe the levy was so large in order to cover giving K-12 dollars to charter schools and negating my argument.  That remains to be seen.

But I also said that I thought charter school students SHOULD have access to the Promise Program.  It's mostly new and entirely different pot of money.

One issue that I have not seen clearly stated is if a student must start community college the fall after they graduate in order to access a Promise scholarship.  I would assume that is so.

I also note that there have been recent stories that 4-year colleges/universities are paying more attention to students who do very well at community college.  An issue for 4-year institutions is that some students come in not prepared either emotionally or academically for the work. 

Most college/universities want students in and out in four years.  If you have before you a student who has proven their worth academically AND is likely to be more mature/grounded when they get to a 4-year institution, it may be an easy choice to admit them.


Anonymous said...

Say a low-income student who's good in athletics gets a scholarship to a private high school, then afterward decides they aren't ready for--or can't afford--a 4-year university yet. Why shouldn't they be eligible for Seattle Promise, too? Just because they had the nerve to go to private school for a while?

Parents with students in private schools pay the same taxes and levies, so why don't our children have the same access to this city-funded, need-based college support program?

Seems wrong

Melissa Westbrook said...

Because their parents made a choice not to support public schools. They are citizens, to be sure. You pay taxes into support the PUBLIC system and you want to access it sometimes but not all the time. Again, a choice. I would say that I think this a different issue than private versus public because it's a program for Seattle public high school graduates.

Badminton Team said...

Seattle Central College, for example, only offers sports as "clubs" and then only for badminton, swimming and volleyball. So, if athletics is enough of a kid's main focus that it determines which high school they choose to attend, it seems pretty unlikely that a 2-year college is going to have what they want anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Because their parents made a choice not to support public schools"?

So "support" means "make use of"? Voting for levies and paying taxes into a system you don't personally use (AKA contributing more than you get out) seems like supporting public schools to me. If SSD is overcrowded as it is, and the state doesn't fully fund education, you could argue that people using private schools are doing the public system a favor.

"You pay taxes into support the PUBLIC system and you want to access it sometimes but not all the time"?

Yes. Isn't that how many public services work? People use services when they want or need to, and don't when they don't. That's ESPECIALLY how it works with education, people come and go -- between districts, between public and private, etc. Are you saying it makes sense that someone attending private school K-8 then public high school can get access, but if the reverse is true they don't? Or that if someone has been contributing for decades but sends their child to private high school they don't get access, but if someone moves from out of state and attends a public high school they do, even though they haven't been contributing to our state and city very long?

People here often have a strange view of private schools, and a strange need to portray those who ever dare to use the private system as bad guys, entitled, traitors, racists, etc. People choose public and private schools for many different reasons. Many in private now have been in public in the past, and vice versa. This does not mean their "support" for public education has changed, just that their educational needs or priorities have. If only the people actively "using" public education (AKA "supporting" in your view) were paying for public education, can you imagine what we'd be left with w/o the financial support of non-users?

@ Badminton, my post was not about a student focused on athletics as their love. Sometimes strong athletes from low income backgrounds are offered scholarships to prestigious private high schools. In many cases, it would be foolish to pass up such opportunity. At any high school, public or private, there may be students not ready to head off to university afterward, and for those students, community college may be the next step. Not because they want to play some sport at the community college, but for the learning. The education. After all, a scholarship to play sports at a private high school does not mean a student wants to continue playing the sport in college. Or even if they do, it doesn't mean they would (a) make a team, or (b) get a scholarship to attend.

If the purpose is to provide Seattle's low-income youth with the opportunity to attend community college if that's their path, it seems petty or mean-spirited to not make that opportunity available to any local student in that situation. Maybe have a residency requirement if you're worried students will move to the city to take advantage of the program.

Are there good reasons to exclude private high school students? I have not heard any--just a bunch of "but they chose private!" outrage. Maybe it's a funding issue, and we have to limit the numbers somehow. Fine, say that--but maybe say we'd want to ideally work toward opening that up to all Seattle low-income youth who want to go to community college. What's best for our community, after all? The opposition I've seen, however, makes this all seem personal. Like there's some bitterness or a sense of betrayal, or maybe that people think those who went to public school did something to deserve this whereas those who went to private didn't?

Seems wrong

Anonymous said...

@Seems Wrong It seems IMO unlikely that a low income student who attends a private high school on scholarship would even attend a community college. If they received a scholarship for a private high school, they would be even more likely receive a scholarship at a four year college.

In addition many private high schools in Seattle have all sorts of resources NOT available to the average public school student in the college planning arena. They have dedicated counselors that work much more closely to assist them. Most of the private high schools also have an interest in stating the statistics of those who went on to four year colleges and universities. That is where they steer them to apply as well.

I do not believe the city's program should also pay private school kids. They made a choice to leave the public school system and have accessed IMO a more privileged environment with smaller class sizes, dedicated college counselors etc. Others do not have those resources and that choice. It is hard enough for many of these kids with challenges to access college. That is the driver of what this is about. The low income kids with challenges who attend public school will be the ones who take advantage of this offer. The more affluent kids attending public school or those who are low income but with high grades etc will likely continue to apply and be admitted to 4 year colleges.


kellie said...

Here is a link to the history of the program, including the 10 year statistics.


While the program was designed to support low income and historically underserved students, the new program is universal. There are no income, background or gpa qualifications.

This years seniors are only eligible for the old program and the old program was based on partnerships started by the community colleges. ONLY students from WSHS, Sealth, Beach, Cleveland are eligible at South Seattle. Garfield students are eligible at Central and Ingraham students are eligible at North.

Seniors at Franklin, Center, Ballard, Roosevelt and Hale are just not eligible at all this year.

I think the question of including STUDENTS who could use this program but are not public school graduates is going to be interesting. There is a flw in a "universal" program that isn't actually universal. In addition to private and charter students, there are also many students for whom high school is not a good fit and instead of graduating, get their GED. Those students are also outside of this program.

Anonymous said...

@ LMP, you're right: many high school athletic scholarship recipients will probably pursue college athletic scholarships. But others may not. Some may want to focus on their college education, since they know they won't be going pro. Some were never that passionate about their sport in the first place, but it got them a good high school offer nonetheless. Most importantly, some don't really "pan out" as star athletes down the road--they may get injured during high school, or they stopped growing, or their early dominance in the sport was lost, or they get a few bad concussions and rethink whether or not they want to keep putting mind and body through that, etc. Each student and situation is unique, but I don't think it's a stretch to assume they won't all end up on 4-year college teams with scholarships.

You said: "The low income kids with challenges who attend public school will be the ones who take advantage of this offer. The more affluent kids attending public school or those who are low income but with high grades etc will likely continue to apply and be admitted to 4 year colleges."

I agree. But I'm talking about the group you conveniently overlooked--the low income kids with low grades who attended private high school but don't get admitted to, or aren't ready for, or can't afford, a 4 year college. They are in JUST as much need for support. To exclude them because their high school was private seems...spiteful.

How do you feel about a student who goes to K-10 at private schools then transfers to SPS to graduate--should they be eligible? What about a student show goes to SPS for K-8, then transfers to a private school because something about their public school experience wasn't working for them--should they be eligible? Should it matter whether or not they wanted to go private or instead felt they needed to? Should it matter if they have siblings who are in fact in SPS, which apparently demonstrates support for public education?

I agree that, for the most part, few private school students are likely to be in a position to even want to take advantage of this program if it were offered. But for those who would, what's the rationale for excluding them? If a low income Seattle student who happened to go to private high school did not have the opportunity to attend a 4-year college and wanted to attend community college instead, does it really matter where they went earlier? Services should be based on actual need, not what we think someone's need should be based on our perception of their life.

Seems wrong

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, thank you for that additional context. Knowing that a well-off student from SPS might be able take advantage of this program while a poor student from a private or charter school couldn't makes it all the more disturbing.

I completely agree that "there is a flaw in a 'universal' program that isn't actually universal."

Seems wrong

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seems wrong, that's great that you not only pay taxes but vote in levies. But again, that money is for public schools that you are choosing not to access.

No, people in private schools are not doing SPS a favor. If SPS had more of the private school share, they would have been able to handle it and naturally would have had more public dollars to use.

We all pay taxes. Some of them for things we resent or don't use.

What I am saying is that the government will serve your child when you are in a public school - anytime. (You should see how fast traditional public schools have to move when a charter school suddenly goes under.) But the taxes you pay are not your money - it's the public's. So you can't exactly say, "I want to spend my taxes on this kind of school, not that kind of school."

I personally have NEVER criticized someone for sending their kid to private school. I did for one year for one of my own kids. Every parent has the right to do what they believe is right for their kid for being educated. People have often been surprised by my stance, given I'm a public school booster. Nope, I have no problem with it.

I am a bit surprised at your language about someone being "bitter" or "spiteful." We're not the ones who made the rules. I think your beef is with the Mayor and City Council, not here.