Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

District enrollment and school tours information here.

What do most speakers at tomorrow night's Board meeting want to talk about?

Approval of the Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2019-20 as it pertains to Graham Hill's Montessori program

I'll have a separate thread on this one because there are some notable issues. 

From NBC News: While teenage girls attempt suicide more often than teenage boys, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, boys are more likely to die by suicide.

From Education Week:

In February, educators will gather outside a massive detention camp for migrant children and stage a 24-hour "teach in." 

The upcoming protest at the Tornillo, Texas detention camp is organized by Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, who teaches newly arrived refugee and immigrant students in Washington state.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the news again.  From NPR:
A federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommends rescinding Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial discrimination in school discipline. And, DeVos says, it urges schools to "seriously consider partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel."

While student survivors rallied for gun control, DeVos said early on that would not be a focus of the commission's work.

The final report highlights a single concrete gun control recommendation, pertaining to the expansion of "extreme risk protection orders," which allow household members or police to seek the removal of firearms from a mentally disturbed person.

Some of the federal safety commission's new recommendations, like directing resources toward mental health and social-emotional learning, actually echo the views of education experts who support discipline alternatives.  The question now is whether the government's latest reversal in direction on civil rights might bring a return to the days of zero tolerance.
OSPI says:
The bottom line is this: Rescinding the 2014 guidelines will have no effect on Washington’s laws and rules related to student discipline. In addition, this will have no effect on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) enforcement of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in the administration of student discipline.

Under state law, Washington school districts must adopt and follow the student discipline rules released by OSPI in August. The rules encourage schools to use best practices in discipline, and prohibit schools from excluding students from school for absences or tardiness, among other things.
Also from OPSI:
For the fifth year in a row, the 4-year statewide graduation rate has grown, breaking another record, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced today. The 4-year graduation rate in the 2017–18 school year was 80.9 percent, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from the previous year.

The graduation rate for students who graduated within five years also hit an all-time high at 82.7 percent in 2018.

Several groups of students in the Class of 2018 increased their graduation rate by more than the statewide average. The highest were English learners and Pacific Islander students, who increased their graduation rates by 6.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.
What's on your mind?


monkeypuzzled said...

Concerned about the security situation at HIMS. Anyone else?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am investigating this story and have started a thread. It is troubling.

Anonymous said...

Four seats on the school board are open in 2019. Who is running for them? Are the incumbents planning to seek second terms?

Sate Nilver

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I believe Director Geary is moving so she's probably not running. I would think Director Harris and Director Pinkham might. Not sure about Director Burke; I think the office has been hard on his worktime.

I suspect we'll see some ed reform types running as Gates Foundation has contracted with a consulting firm to find such people. It might be important to check how long new candidates have actually lived in the districts they want to serve.

dj said...

Today is the fifth day in a row that the afternoon bus from my kid’s school is “60 minutes late” (ie no driver). I contacted transportation and they said they “hope to have the situation worked out in January.” It is mind-boggling to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DJ, this is so troubling. I know the district just allotted money for more buses because of the issues.

dj said...

Well, my kid has now been told he won’t have a driver for the rest of the year. So that’s our district.

dj said...

By year I mean 2018, before I sound overly dramatic. That’s still seven days our two-working-parent household has to fetch a child from a far-off school with supposedly guaranteed service.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DJ, demand taxi service or Uber. You'd be within your rights.

Anonymous said...

Graham Hill staff spoke at the school board meeting last night asking that the district remove Montessori @ Graham Hill as an enrollment option and allow them to provide a single program for all students.

The district continues to see the negative repercussions of using program placement to fill empty seats in neighborhood schools. Programs like Montessori and HCC should not share space with neighborhood schools.

110 of the 358 students at Graham Hill have choice seats at the school. I did not hear any plan for dealing with the potential loss of 30% of the school’s students and staff.

Fairmount Parent

Eric B said...

Fairmount Parent, I'm sure we can trust JSCEE staff to sort that all out and make sure that there's no problems. Why, they can just manage boundaries like they did for Whitman and RESMS or move waitlists like they did for Stevens. Nothing to see here.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm surprised that no discussion or mention was made as to the impact the loss of the "choice" program of Montessori would have on the school, particularly since the majority of the Montessori families (website data confirms that almost 1/3 of the students come from outside the neighborhood zone-most of those are Montessori families) come from outside of the neighborhood zone. I guess they will wait until they have to cut staff and the district has to rezone many of the SE neighborhood schools because the enrollment at Graham Hill will decline so much. Why doesn't the district do research on this before making such a big decision- they are the ones that gather that data but don't seem to review it when making such decisions. Also, a friend attends the school and they say parents are extremely frustrated with leadership because parents have had no chance to be involved in addressing the issue of the segregation that having this choice program creates. They were told there would be a discussion at an April 2018 meeting about school equity issues and then at the meeting they were told that the school's Montessori choice program option was going away. No input or discussion from families to come up with solutions or even learn what the issues were. There is definitely a lack of communication and consequently community at that school, although the voices that spoke at the School Board meeting portrayed something different.Even looking at their website, they say in an 11/2018 memo that the admin will communicate about issues on the website (and elsewhere), yet there was no mention of the December 19 school board meeting that it was going to be discussed at. Guess they didn't want frustrated families concerned about the lack of transparency showing up.

- Interesting Meeting

Anonymous said...

Did the district/board actually make a final decision yet? It's not the role of the teachers/parents/admin who presented to the board last night as also being responsible for making considerations related to enrollment, is it?. Those considerations need to come from the Superintendent and the Board.

That said, the racial segregation between the programs is unsurmountable and must be addressed. By and large, most families feel it needs to be addressed by joining programs; other means were attempted and deemed unsuccessful by a highly committed group of educators at the school.. Other families have already left who didn't agree with the plan and most likely, the school will have a drop in enrollment as incoming families will choose not to opt in to the program and therefore, school. It's too bad, because the "contemporary" program has amazing teachers and have yet felt for years they are looked down upon as a "less than" program. It's gross. It's imperative the change occur.

However, the leadership at the school must be addressed. It wasn't evident last night because people needed to come together to support the one program, but the principal did not clearly communicate the process to become involved in the equity team as they made the choice to move forward over the last three years. One teacher spoke about it taking three years but most families were only involved in it last spring, when it was announced at small language group meetings and then one large meeting. There's been no interest in actively engaging families to solicit feedback, organize excitement about standing up for what's right and doing it in a way that's inclusive and caring for one another's perspectives. Did the principal communicate at all about it this fall? Any new K families probably had no clue when "one program" was even mentioned on a bulletin board or one flyer. The principal did the least you could do, frankly- she sent a few robocalls and emails and one letter in late November. She updated the website that is rarely checked in the community anyway. At the PTA meeting, she said she didn't want to share plans since not everyone was there? She said she would solicit involvement in some kind of team to help plan and then never did- the school was told a community organizer wold come help with the communication and family engagement and it never happened. Families didn't know and I am not confident teachers knew the process either.

I don't know- the school needs to lose it's Montessori program because the racial segregation is atrocious. It's evident in all choice programs, frankly, or most of them, and when they are in one building, you cannot NOT face the reality of what choice programing does to our city. But in order for the school to move forward positively and hopefully not lose families, we need leadership that can take this on, and wants to. The weak leadership was lost on the Board last night but it's very evident in the community- not just with a small group of parents but with lots of parents and with faculty and staff too. There is concern there will be both teacher and family flight, not because of the loss of the program, but because of the leadership that is needed to lead with a strong, caring and clear vision for the school.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Rosa Parks wasn't arguing for the abolition of public buses. The Greensboro students weren't arguing for the closure of lunch counters. You don't respond to inequities by closing programs - that actually makes the inequity *worse*. If there are inequities in program enrollment, you work to get more kids of color into the programs. Do people not get this? Or is all this really just a cover by some people to close down programs they never liked to begin with?


Anonymous said...

Toure- True. I don't think there was any effective effort to get more kids of color into the program (unless you count a sign outside that says register here and I think they said a flyer was sent to preschools). Leschi, when they combined their two programs due to similar reasons, got the community together, piloted the proposed model and then brought it to the board for approval and to change the choice status. They created a program that the community was involved with creating -yes, some families did leave-and made sure to have the community (staff, teachers and family) buy in to and get excited about the program. Why would the School Board vote on this before knowing what the desired curriculum plan is and having the community excitement and buy in? Otherwise it seems to me the district is just going along with the admin in creating a school that is going to lose families, teachers and staff to to other schools. Doesn't the district have any community meetings with the families in a environment where questions and concerns can be raised? If I remember correctly, this was the case with the Leschi change- they talked with families, students and staff.

Toure, I agree, the inequity can get "worse"- families, particularly the white families attending Montessori from outside the neighborhood zone, will no longer go to Graham Hill and will try to get into other option schools (or try to get into better academically performing nearby neighborhood schools). Then what happens-segregation begins to exist not within programs within the school (HCC like Thurgood Marshall -Neighborhood school/HCC program, Montessori/Contemporary at Graham Hill ) but by whole school buildings (ex. Graham Hill becomes predominantly families of color, since all the potential white families who currently come from outside the neighborhood zone don't have preference and they no longer want to go there because the draw of the Montessori is gone, PTA money decreases dramatically, etc.) within the South End Schools. Then a program such as STEM or Montessori needs to be created in a school as a way to get families to come back to a school. Or you have to build a brand new STEm school like Renton recently did that has total community excitement! Seems like the School Board/district should first require Graham Hill to have a desirable, thought out curriculum plan with the Graham Hill Community support (like Leschi did) before they agree to remove the "choice Montessori program"so as not to have yet another struggling south end neighborhood school.

And why didn't the committee that was tasked with this item mention that the 110 of the 358 spots at this school are choice spots? That's almost 1/3 of a school that might be gone! I thought I heard one of the Board Directors on the committee that was tasked with this document say quietly something like it only impacts 1 class or something minimal. There are I think 6 classes at Graham Hill that are considered as Montessori. !/3 of a school is a lot!

-Don't Understand

Anonymous said...


You are right. Rosa Parks wasn’t arguing for the end of public buses, but she was protesting enforced segregation on those public buses. In the same vein, the Graham Hill community, confronted by the segregated reality of their school, are no longer willing to condone or ignore it. They want to be one school, not a school divided by options, the exercise of which is closely tied to race and privilege. And not just at Graham Hill, but thoughout the district.

Institutional memory

Anonymous said...

The Graham Hill staff is banking on families who enroll their children in Montessori choosing to stay at the school when it offers nothing they wouldn’t find at their neighborhood school. The community they’re imagining does not exist.

Fat Chance

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, none of these programs is segregated by design. I do sometimes wonder why Montessori isn't more popular with kids of color or why, at Thurgood Marshall, there aren't more kids of color in the HCC program. It's right in those schools.

So options are a bad thing for kids of color. Hmmm.

Interesting that the Montessori program at Bagley seems to be thriving.

Opting said...

Cleveland is an option school and is 24.8% Black/African American, 50.3% Asian, 11.3% Hispanic/Latino and 7.8% White. Orca K-8 is an option school and is 20.7% Black/African American. Hazel Wolf K-8 is 9.4% Black/African American, 9.1% Hispanic/Latino and 6% Asian. So, I cry BS that somehow families of color can't navigate the option school system. Families of color are obviously able to make wise and conscious school choices just like anybody else. They can and they do. Demonstrably. They sign up for charter schools and private schools and Cleveland and Orca and Hazel Wolf and Licton Springs and TOPS... South Shore is an option school and is 46.5% Black/African American. So if families of color are not choosing the Montessori track at Graham Hill, it's not because they can't. It's the same sign up process as at all these other option schools that families of color ARE choosing to attend.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Opting, I would agree. I almost wonder if some principals don't promote the option programs for their own reasons. Some did that in the far past with Advanced Learning.

I am hearing this stepping up meme that Option schools are part of the problem of inequity in the district. I'm not really buying that.

Odd, years and years back, no one wanted cookie-cutter schools and now it seems that may have changed for some. Because if you dilute Advanced Learning and cut out Option schools, that's what you'll get.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like there's about to be new demand for a private Montessori middle school in South Seattle. SPS equity ideologues need to realize that they can only force families to do so much before they vote with their feet and join the 30% of Seattle kids that attend private schools. How is that a good thing for our city?

Fed up

Lets see beyond ourselves said...


I'm not hearing that people think Montessori or choice programs should be cut out, but since these programs can only be funded by PTA fundraising or organization to find matching gifts, grants, etc, then its seriously inequitable and needs to be evaluated at large. There's white flight to the option programs. You and Opting should look at the numbers of white students in these schools and how they compare to schools in the area and our city at large. This is especially true in the southend (not Southshore, which I imagine is because that school is funded somehow by a large foundation so has a ton of extra money not raised by a PTA) and in West Seattle, where are larger numbers of POC. The choice programs are by and large white, as are HCC programs, and these students are leaving schools with more kids of color.

It also doesn't sound like the Montessori program at GH is not thriving, its just inequitable. I am confident Bagley doesn't have the racial diversity that GH has.

Abby said...

So often it seems like attempts to improve equity are having the opposite effect. Currently students who live in the Graham Hill zone have access to a Montessori program if they want to enroll in it. And they have the benefit of getting to know the more diverse group of kids who do want to enroll in it and come from outside of the geozone to attend it. It's good to get to know different kinds of kids, right? But if they get rid of the Montessori option, then Graham Hill zone students have lost that option and their school has lost funding from losing the out-of-geozone students who came for the program and then they have to potentially move the boundaries of MLK, Dunlap and Emerson to fill Graham Hill that way. And families from other zones who came to Graham Hill for this program may leave the district because they've already demonstrated that they weren't interested in attending their geozone schools. Which is less diversity at Graham Hill, fewer options for Graham Hill zone students, and less funding for the district as a whole. A move made ostensibly to promote diversity that will end up having several negative impacts to diversity.

O. G. said...

But if our goal is to get rid of inequity, shouldn't we stop Southshore from receiving foundation money? Or share it throughout the schools?

Anonymous said...

There's a huge flaw here in the anti-option school reasoning, and it's this as described by "Let's see beyond ourselves":

"since these programs can only be funded by PTA fundraising or organization to find matching gifts, grants, etc, then its seriously inequitable and needs to be evaluated at large."

No, that is not the "only" ways those programs can be funded. That is what SPS has chosen to do, but such an approach is not necessary. No public school should have to rely on outside funding in order to exist and offer programs. That is not a failure of the parents, it is a failure of the district, which ought to provide the necessary funds.

I get that there is rising concern about PTA funding and rightly so. But we must remember that PTA funding is not the *source* of inequity. The source of inequity is financial decisions made in the state legislature and in the JSCEE. When either the state or the district rely on PTA funding, they are creating the inequity. PTA funding should not be necessary. Eliminating it, however, *does not eliminate inequity.*

I think that point needs to be stated again: eliminating PTA funding does not eliminate inequity. All that would happen here is elimination of programs, many of which serve kids of color. People are focusing on a symptom and not only neglecting the problem, they will make the problem worse.

Option schools are a great way to get around the residential segregation patterns of Seattle. The district mismanages the availability of and access to option schools. They mismanage the funding of option schools. But option schools make a ton of sense for desegregation and for meeting the individual needs of all kids, especially kids of color.

The focus should be on getting sufficient funding to make option schools and specialized programs exist without any need for PTA fundraising or outside grants or such. That is how you make equity happen. Eliminating those schools and programs is inequitable and needs to be called out and opposed.


Anonymous said...

Well stated Abby, that is exactly what is going to happen. So why doesn't the board try to step in and prevent such a collapse of a neighborhood school and research and study what the impacts are going to be? They sure are not going to have fun dealing with all the families from the other schools (Hawthorne, MLK, Rainier View, Dunlap) that will be impacted by a geographic rezone which is what is going to happened. They should really think this decision and its impacts through. Also interesting is that the Graham Hill principal at the Board Meeting did not talk AT ALL about how they are going to work with the community to figure out what kind of curriculum program they want to become-STEM, Montessori inspired, etc.-because it appears they just want to be a NEIGHBORHOOD School but they want to placate the Montessori families by making them feel and think they will have a say in the matter. The BLT is picked by the principal and the advisory board that is supposedly going to work on this decision (which she tells us will be made by June and next year would be the year of planning) will be picked by the BLT. One teacher did talk about how its ok to be a neighborhood school- interesting slip of what the admins ultimate plan is?! Since families at Graham Hill first became aware of this plan in April 2018 (conveniently after the February choice enrollment period) I'm betting applications from GH current families (and incoming K families that wanted Montessori at GH) to option schools and other better performing neighborhood schools are going to be WAY up this year- particularly at South End option schools. And if people don't get in, many will opt for private. So who really wins by making such a change without thinking of the impacts? And in talking to teachers and parents, teachers and staff didn't even find out about the proposed plan to end Montessori until late March/early April 2018- a few weeks before it was announced at the April community meeting. So much for communication by leadership and getting even your own staff on board! Might be why the 2017-18 Staff Climate Survey Response to "Staff Perception of Professional Environment" dropped from 70% last year to 48%!

-Very Interesting

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

80% of the school population does not live in segregation. They live in the Graham Hill assignment zone, which is roughly made up of the south part of census tract 102 and tract 111.02.

Census tract 102 (Graham Hill and part of Hawthorne) has a Median Household Income of $85,240 and 4.0% of families below the poverty level. 40.3% of the estimated 4,605 residents in this area consider themselves to be non-white.

Population by Race and Ethnicity:
• White: 2,748, 59.7%
• Black or African American: 694, 15.1%
• Asian: 744, 16.2%
• Two or More Races: 288, 6.3%
• Hispanic or Latino, any race: 131, 2.8%

And census tract 111.2 (Graham Hill, southern part of the assignment zone) has a Median Household Income of $74,474 and 9.1% of families below the poverty level. 59.5% of the estimated 4,390 residents in this area consider themselves to be non-white.

Population by Race and Ethnicity:
• White: 1,776, 40.5%
• Black or African American: 605, 13.8%
• American Indian and Alaska Native: 13, 0.3%
• Asian: 1,219, 27.8%
• Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 23, 0.5%
• Some Other Race: 21, 0.5%
• Two or More Races: 239, 5.4%
• Hispanic or Latino, any race: 494, 11.3%

Those sure don't seem very segregated!

Scooby said...

Where the Students Living in the Graham Hill Attendance Area Attend School (2017-18 data)
Graham Hill 248 students
South Shore PK-8 34
Thurgood Marshall 20
Orca K-8 18
MLK 14
Hawthorne 8
Dunlap 7
Van Asselt 6
Kimball 5
Dearborn Park 3
Leschi 3
TOPS K-8 3
Wing Luke 3
Adams 2
John Muir 2
Pathfinder K-8 2
Emerson 1
Maple 1
Rainier View 1
STEM K-8 1
Stevens 1

So, there's 383 elementary age public school students who live in the Graham Hill attendance area. 248 of them attend Graham Hill and 135 of them go to one of 20 different public schools. Of the 135 who go to different public schools, 58 go to other assignment area schools, 57 go to option schools, and 20 go to HCC.

And where the students attending Graham Hill live (2017-18):
Graham Hill 248 students
Emerson 25
MLK 19
Hawthorne 18
Wing Luke 14
Dearborn Park 8
Dunlap 5
Kimball 4
Rainier View 4
John Muir 3
Van Asselt 3
Out of District/Unknown 2
Bailey Gatzert 1
Beacon Hill 1
Lowell 1
Maple 1
Montlake 1

So, there's 358 students who attend Graham Hill (well, last year). 248 of them live in the Graham Hill attendance area and 110 of them live in other assignment areas. So 110 students from out of zone commute to Graham Hill for school and 135 commute out of the Graham Hill zone for school. So, actually Graham Hill is a net exporter of students.

And that's not even mentioning the 30% of the overall Seattle population who attend private school. If 30% of Graham Hill attendance area students attend private school, that would be another 107 students going to private school. Which would mean Graham Hill is importing 110 students from other attendance areas and exporting 242 students to other schools.

So 248 students living in the Graham Hill attendance area are attending Graham Hill and 242 have voted with their feet. Ruh roh!

kellie said...

The new narrative that somehow "choice" is the cause of inequity is fascinating.

In recent memory, bussing was both the "solution to" and the "cause of" inequity. I remember when SPS was adamant about "door-to-door" bussing being a moral imperative for equity and then 10 years later blaming the cost of bussing as the excuse for not enough resources in the classroom to create equity.

Choice is neither the cause of, nor the solution, to inequity.

However at the moment, there is a much better question. Do we want families to have any Seattle Public School choice? OR do we want the ONLY choice to be leaving SPS.

Public charter schools are in Seattle now and likely to be here for the foreseeable future. As such, families have choices. They can choose to leave the district, change addresses, or they can choose a PUBLIC charter school.

Right now SPS does not look very much like the City of Seattle. The nearly 30% opt out rate creates more problems than anything else. Seattle has a poverty rate of 13%, while SPS poverty rate is 20 points higher.

Replacing options schools, that work within the system, with charter schools that work outside the system will only create substantially greater inequities and most likely cause the poverty rate in SPS to skyrocket.


kellie said...

There is a critical distinction between Public option schools and Public Charter schools.

Public option schools tend to shift enrollment away from private schools and out of district enrollment and improve the financial health of a public school district. They do this by enrolling students who would otherwise NOT enroll and typically tend to enroll students who are less expensive to educate than the median. This means that there is more revenue for students who need it.

Public charters operate on a similar principle. In order to be profitable, public charter schools target students who are less expensive to educate than the median. However, they target students who would otherwise be enrolled in Public schools. This then concentrates poverty in a way that option schools do not.

While option schools tend to add revenue to a district, Charter schools remove revenue.

Anonymous said...

kellie, can you tell me where to find data re: how much it costs to educate these different types of students? You said students who choose public option schools are typically less expensive to educate than the median, which saves more revenue for students who need it. However, I seem to recall seeing data that many option schools are actually more expensive per student. What data show that these students are less expensive to educate?

You also said public charter school students tend to be less expensive to educate than the median, so if they leave it concentrates poverty in the schools that serve those who remain. Again, same question. Where can we get data on how expensive such students are to educate? Presumably parents leave for public charters because their students are not being well-educated at the public non-charter schools, so is it possible they need something more expensive, or at least something different? The fact that public charters don't spend more on them doesn't necessarily mean they are less expensive to educate--it may just mean they are not getting the education they need. Isn't that part of the problem with charter schools--the lack of accountability?

I guess what I'm really asking about is a possible disconnect between how much is spent and this idea of how expensive a student is to educate.



Ms. Westrbrook, I disagree with your assertion "Again, none of these programs is segregated by design." If option schools and choice programs weren’t a filtering system then they wouldn’t exist. When speaking to a retired SPS principal about the issue of segregation at Graham Hill she said, and I quote, “Montessori choice schools were racist at their inception, and designed as a holding place for the white kids that didn’t test into HCC.“ This sentiment has been echoed throughout this string of comments (which I am very disappointed to see is full of people who don’t attach their name to their words, btw) as the primary concern amongst most here is the loss of the “Montessori” parents who will leave Graham Hill for another option program or private school. All of the numbers and percentages and racial breakdowns and enrollment data provided here will never address the actual issue: Separate But Equal Does Not Exist. When Seattle Public Schools decides to take on the passive agressive liberalism of this city, and own the fact that our schools are segregated, then we will be getting somewhere.

And responding to Kellie "Choice is neither the cause of, nor the solution, to inequity." I couldn't agree more. The people making the choice are the only people who can solve the problem. The institutional problems started a long time ago with Jim Crow laws, redlining, Japanese Internment camps, the list can go on. As a white student growing up in the south end of Seattle in the 90s, I was not bused anywhere. I went to south end schools. By the time I got to middle school the segregation began: “Horizons” at South Shore and “Humanities” at Franklin. North end white kids were being bused into south end schools, where they were then placed into special programs rather than integrated into the south end school population. Talk about a waste of time, money and a huge carbon footprint, all to create the original “choice programs”. The district can’t force people to send their kids to public school; if people want to opt out and pay for private school, then so be it. What this city can do is educate parents and communities to start looking at the real issues of institutional racism and ask our city to battle our segregated legacy head-on. We could become an example for the entire country: Imagine a city flush with money, ambition, power, ingenuity and unparalleled intelligence; Now imagine that same city figuring out how to give every child within its boundaries the best education available. Full stop.

Lastly, I would like to ask for the name of the Anonymous poster who started their comments with "Did the district/board actually make a final decision yet? It's not the role of the teachers/parents/admin who presented to the board last night as also being responsible for making considerations related to enrollment, is it?" I would love to know who you are so we can meet and discuss how to help GH a move forward. If you are a GHPTA member I imagine you have my email. ;)

Thanks, all! I look forward to the journey ahead.
-O'Hara Jiménez Graham Hill PTA Co-President

Anonymous said...

@O’Hara Jimenez,

A retired principal’s opinion is just that, an opinion. It has no more value than anyone else’s.

I’d love to hear what effect you think this change would have on enrollment at Graham Hill. How many teachers do you anticipate losing if the option program is removed?

Fairmount Parent


Hello, “Fairmount Parent”.

You are of course free to throw aside any opinions you want. The heaviness of the retired SPS principal’s words, spoken to me in an honest conversation about our city and the state of our public schools, will always stay with me.

As for GH, if I had a crystal ball I would tell you exactly how it will play out. What I do know is that this fight for Graham Hill to desegregate is a litmus test for our city as a whole. Will we wallow in fear and point fingers? Or will we be brave enough to engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue about the baseline issues at hand? As the PTA co-President of Graham Hill, I am going to do my part to help our community have honest and open discussions, where we treat each other with respect and aren’t afraid to do the hard work of dismantling the racist history of our city.

Lastly, to whom ever runs this blog: Please follow the rules you have laid out in bold at the bottom of this blog “It is the policy and practice of this blog to delete unsigned and anonymous comments.” Full names should be required.

Thank you,
O’Hara Jiménez GHPTA Co-President

Scooby said...

Getting rid of one choice program is not a model for how to desegregate a city. The segregation you (and the retired principal) perceive in the Montessori program at your school is not segregation. It is different families making different choices. Why aren't more families of color choosing the Montessori program?

When you stop families from outside the Graham Hill zone from choosing to attend Graham Hill, that makes the Graham Hill assignment zone too small because a lot of your kids are choosing to attend South Shore PK-8 and Orca and TM and MLK and Hawthorne and Dunlap and Van Asselt and Kimball...). So, should GH-zone families be banned from making those choices, too? Surely those choices are also contributing to what you perceive of as segregation.

Or you get rid of the Montessori program altogether to stop those pesky out of assignment zone students from coming to Graham Hill from Emerson, MLK, Hawthorne, Wing Luke, Dearborn Park, Dunlap, Kimball, and Rainier View zones. Phew! Then "segregation" will finally be miraculously cured in the Graham Hill zone! Except that when those 110 students stop coming to Graham Hill, you either need to find another 110 students to come to Graham Hill or you're going to lose 1/3 of your teachers. If the kids aren't there, the district won't send the teachers there either. When the 34 Emerson zone students stop coming to Graham Hill and go to Emerson instead, Graham Hill will lose the teacher(s) for those kids and Emerson will gain the teacher(s). Same with MLK and Hawthorne.

Or you close Graham Hill altogether. Elementary schools with less than 250 students are really expensive to run. 500+ student elementary schools are more cost effective.

When families of different races make different choices (to attend Montessori or not), those are different choices, not segregation. All the families picked that, either by picking Montessori or not picking Montessori. When you get remove choices, this hurts all families. And it will hurt Graham Hill.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Hi "Scooby". It is your job to do the hard work to understand institutional racism, not mine. And from your post above, you have a lot of work to do. If you are interested in having a real discussion then please state your full name in your next post.

Thank you,
O'Hara Jiménez GHPTA Co-President

kellie said...

@ unclear,

I am not following your question, possibly because you misquoted me a bit. So I will try a different approach.

I am highlighting the "dollar-cost-averaging" nature of school funding. The State of Washington pays a set amount per student. For simplicity, let's say $10,000 per student. The expectation is that some students will need more and some students will need less but that ALL students should be able to be served for the average funding of $10,000 per student.

There is never an expectation that any particular student would require $10,000 for their "free and appropriate education." The expectation is that AVERAGE cost of some students needing more and some students needing less can be managed the school district within that budget.

ELL students and students with IEPs get more funding over and above average amount, which is appropriate to provide additional services. But there are many categories of students who require extra services but do not receive extra money. Medical 504 plans can have substantial costs but there is no extra money. There is also no extra money for homeless students. All of those services are required to be provided within the AVERAGE per student funding

Public charters are well documented to exploit this system. Public charter are REQUIRED to generate a PROFIT to cover their operating costs. Even the "non-profit" charters, need to generate additional revenue to cover their overhead.

As such Public charters "target" or "market" their services to students who are most likely to be able to be served within the budget. This why special education is such a hot topic with charter schools. The money for Special Education is also generated on a "dollar-cost-average" basis. If a charter school is ONLY servicing resource room level sped, but they are still be paid the average amount, that is a lot of extra dollars to the charter school.

To be as direct as possible, when a charter school services a "less expensive" population, that extra funding is profit. Less expensive can be defined as LESS than the average funding amount. When an option school services a "less expensive" population, that extra funding is REVENUE that is then used to fund other district projects.

Hope that helps.

kellie said...

@ O'Hara Jiménez,

First I want to be crystal clear. SPS practice of placing "option programs," intentionally designed to attract primarily white middle class families, into attendance area schools is deeply problematic in more dimensions than a simple blog post can capture.

That said, it is important to note that this practice was considered the "equity" practice and the "desegregation" practice of a different time. It is a variation of the old "magnet school" approach, where you placed a program that would "magnetically attract" these "less expensive than average" students and place them into building that was challenge to fill either for geographic or academic reasons.

The belief at that time was that this practice would generate more resources for ALL students. It is a variation on the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats.

It's a good theory, but in practice this can create as many problems as it solves at the building level. It made a lot more sense in a 100% choice system where 100% of the Graham Hill families chose the school. It makes a lot less sense when it is truly two separate schools in one building.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The majority of Option schools get the same money as any other school and certainly not more. (More may flow from PTA but that's not what the question is.) Cleveland gets more because the district buys a laptop for every student to do STEM-based work. The first 2 years for dual language schools generally get something like a $20K bump to help get it up and running but after that, nothing extra. What Option schools get more funding than regular schools?

Ms. Jiménez said:

"If option schools and choice programs weren’t a filtering system then they wouldn’t exist."

Yes they would and have for decades. The first "option" schools were alternative schools, mostly created by parents. And they were open to all. In fact, they were almost charter school-like in that they incubated new ideas in teaching and learning.

"When speaking to a retired SPS principal about the issue of segregation at Graham Hill she said, and I quote, “Montessori choice schools were racist at their inception, and designed as a holding place for the white kids that didn’t test into HCC.“

And that is that principal's opinion. It's not true. I'd be willing to bet that most of the kids in the two Montessori programs are not in Advanced Learning. (What is also odd about this whole thing is that in my post about waivers, Graham Hill is still on record for a waiver thru 2020 for Montessori.)

I absolutely agree that this city and this district could have the best urban district in the country especially if they truly used a multi-pronged approach to fighting racism and inequity instead of pitting parent groups against each other.

I run this blog. But 1)people do not have to sign their real names (but it takes courage to do that and I applaud all who do but I understand why teachers/staff would not). They have to USE a name/moniker. 2) I do have another life and I try to keep up but sometimes anonymous comments get by me. I delete as I can. Ms Jiménez, while I appreciate your inside comments here, it is not your place to tell my readers what to write in their comments.

Scooby said:
"Getting rid of one choice program is not a model for how to desegregate a city. The segregation you (and the retired principal) perceive in the Montessori program at your school is not segregation. It is different families making different choices. Why aren't more families of color choosing the Montessori program?"

And boom! there it is. The one thing this district NEVER likes to face down (or even figure out) - why do parents make the enrollment choices that they do?

Whether anyone likes it or not, parents make enrollment decisions for all kinds of rational or irrational reasons. It can hurt schools when the district doesn't track these patterns.

Thanks, Kellie, for your always helpful insights.

Scooby said...

O'Hara Jiménez, you can actually have a real discussion with someone without knowing their name. When schools lose 1/3 of their population, in my experience the results on the school are BAD in terms of funding and teacher morale and community spirit. This perception of low morale causes more families to choose to avoid the school and causes the school to go into a little death spiral for a few years before the district does whatever it decides to do to "fix" the problem. I hope your school doesn't experience this death spiral the way my school did. It takes years to rise again from the ashes. It's painful for everyone. And the district is not much help. And it's sad for families with young kids who go to the school because it takes years to recover from this kind of earthquake in a school's happiness level and by the time the recovery occurs, many families have moved on in one way or another. Even if just moving on to middle school. Many give up before then.

I don't attend Graham Hill and as you correctly perceived I'm far from done learning about institutional racism. But my school community did implode. And it was very sad and painful for those of us who were left behind. I hope Graham Hill has a better time of it. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Enrollment has already been on the decline for the past several years at Graham Hill according to the SPS Enrollment Reports:
December 3, 2018: 321 Students
June 1, 2018: 347 Students
June 1, 2017: 370 Students
(this is basically a loss of a class and teacher each year)

With the proposed removal of the "Montessori choice program" the attendance at Graham Hill will drop by a considerable amount since 110 students come from out of the geozone and will now choose another option school, private school, or will just attend their neighborhood school. Sure, some might stay, but if there are 110 students outside the geozone coming and there are 6 grades that's about 18 kids a year. Take away 18 kids that will potentially not be attending from outside the geozone for K next year, if approved, then that's already 1 class and 1 teacher lost from the school (and 303 students remaining at the school). But more families will leave this fall- outside the geozone or not, because during choice enrollment in February, families frustrated by the continued poor leadership at the school, staff turnover, lack of transparency, whatever, will choose to apply to go elsewhere. And the 303 total enrollment drops into the 200's. When does the district step in to do something or prevent this from happening? It's not like the academics are a draw at this school. Families could go to their neighborhood school and shorten their commute.

-Some Thoughts

kellie said...

I really appreciate all of the people who have posted actual data on Graham Hill's enrollment.

There is a critical piece of data missing from the numbers, because the district does not keep this information in the enrollment reports. The waitlist numbers.

Has Graham Hill had a waitlist for the last few years? If yes, the district has deliberately restricted access to the school. If no, then families are already avoiding the school and some sort of substantial change would make a lot of sense.


Ms. Westbrook, I'm not telling people what they should write: I'm asking for accountability. For many on this blog, this conversation about GH is about numbers, data, another example of the district failing. For me, this is my kids' school. The fear mongering that is occurring will absolutely turn both current and incoming parents away from our school. This fight is very real and I need people who are willing to have a real dialogue to step forward so we can battle what is coming head-on.

Scooby, I still disagree. Not being able to attach a name or context to a person gives me little faith in the conversation. I am of course sorry to hear about your experience with a failing school. I would like to know more and learn from your experience if you are open to speaking in person.

Kellie, I would love to learn more from you as well.

Anyone on this blog, please DM me on twitter if you are there @oharajimenez.

Scooby said...

Graham Hill was the "Historical First Choices by School: Kindergarten" (table 2b)
21 students in 2013
29 students in 2014
27 students in 2015
42 students in 2016
22 students in 2017

And "Historical Assignments by School: Kindergarten" (table 2c)
13 students in 2013
17 students in 2014
13 students in 2015
18 students in 2016
19 students in 2017

And "Historical Waitlists by School: Kindergarten" (table 2d)
9 students in 2013
16 students in 2014
14 students in 2015
24 students in 2016
10 students in 2017

From here: https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/2017-18/Section%202_Open%20Enrollment%20and%20School%20Choice%20Trends.pdf

This other report also breaks something out by grade level, but it's hard to tell what. I guess who's attending their assignment school vs. a different assignment school through the choice process.

There were 5 Non-Attendance Area Kindergarten Siblings on the wait list for Graham Hill last summer. Hard to tell from the district form if they were still on the list by Aug 31 when it was dissolved. It seems like they probably got in.

Anonymous said...

There is a link to the final waitlist numbers for 2018-19 on this page (pdf so I'm not sure how to link to it directly:


Summary from the table:

K Gen ed: 2
K Montessori: 3
1 Montessori: 2
2 Gen Ed: 3
2 Montessori: 1
3 Gen Ed: 1
4 Gen Ed: 3
4 Montessori: 1
5 Montessori: 2

So there is some unmet demand for both Gen Ed and Montessori seats, but not a huge amount, at least not at the later stages of the waiting list period.


Anonymous said...

@O’Hara Jiménez,

I want to follow up on a few of your statements.

If option schools and choice programs weren’t a filtering system then they wouldn’t exist. ...a retired SPS principal ...said... “Montessori choice schools were racist at their inception, and designed as a holding place for the white kids that didn’t test into HCC.“

First, OF COURSE option schools are a filtering system--they filter by program type or approach. They exist to provide people alternatives to the traditional K-5 neighborhood school model--alternatives like K-8, immersion, Montessori. It's like saying mint chip and vanilla ice cream are filtering systems because they separate people by flavor preference. Second, are you suggesting Montessori programs are inherently racist, or just when in part of your school? Would it be racist if your whole school became Montessori?

All of the numbers...will never address the actual issue: Separate But Equal Does Not Exist. When Seattle Public Schools decides to take on the passive agressive [sic] liberalism of this city, and own the fact that our schools are segregated, then we will be getting somewhere.

Separate but Equal is not relevant here because the goal is to provide Separate And Different--as in traditional vs. Montessori. Equality could be the issue if you were talking about outcomes or resources or something, alleging that the Montessori program provides better outcomes (more growth) or is better funded. The latter shouldn't be a problem since PTA funding should be shared across the school. If the former is the real issue, why wouldn't you want to expand the Montessori program and get more/all of the neighborhood students into it?

The people making the choice are the only people who can solve the problem. The institutional problems started a long time ago with Jim Crow laws, redlining, Japanese Internment camps, the list can go on.

So parents choosing an option school are the problem, or the district officials who allow a choice system are the problem? Or are choices inherently the problem, and we should have a one-size-fits-all program for everyone? I get the feeling the latter is what you're really saying, without wanting to really say it... When you talk about "figuring out how to give every child within its boundaries the best education available," it seems that you actually mean the same type of model. However, the best education for each child might mean different types of programs based on learning styles, personalities, etc.

What I do know is that this fight for Graham Hill to desegregate is a litmus test for our city as a whole. Will we wallow in fear and point fingers? Or will we be brave enough to engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue about the baseline issues at hand? As the PTA co-President of Graham Hill, I am going to do my part to help our community have honest and open discussions, where we treat each other with respect and aren’t afraid to do the hard work of dismantling the racist history of our city.

While your intentions may be good, it does not seem that you are truly here to have meaningful dialogue about the root issues if you are going to refer to this as segregation and compare it to Jim Crow and Japanese internment camps. The Graham Hill Montessori program is open to anyone. This is a choice issues, not an assignment or discrimination issue. If the problem is that you think people of color find it harder to navigate the school choice system, let's see if the data support your opinion. As another poster illustrated already, there are higher rates of students of color in many other choice schools, so that argument doesn't seem to be well supported. SPS institutional policies do not seem to be what is keeping students of color away from your Montessori program.

Ima Parente

Anonymous said...

@O’Hara Jiménez,

Also, I think it might be helpful if you explicitly stated what you would like to see happen. I'm not talking about big goals like "end segregation," but rather practical approaches to getting to where you want to be. Eliminate the Montessori program to stop out-of-zone white kids from coming to your school? Convert the entire school to Montessori, with the same mix of kids all integrated? Keep the same kids but integrate them into a non-Montessori program?

How do you plan to address the issues at the root of parent choices? Do you acknowledge that parents make choices for a wide variety of reasons, and that many choose programs for pedagogical reasons? How are changes to the instructional model likely to impact your school?

There are big-picture questions that you need to be thinking about and communicating as you go down this road. Every decision has consequences, and while the details of how individual decisions might shake out are hard to know, some of the general ideas are not. In the name of the honest and meaningful discussion you say you want to have, please be willing to engage in some of the big-picture thinking and discussion here.

Ima Parente

Anonymous said...

@imaparente et al,
Thanks for expressing your outrage at the fact that racial segregation is a reality in Seattle schools, that children enter though one door and then proceed to highly segregated classrooms, that they are confronted daily with the knowledge that one program bares all the demarcations of privilege, while the other.........

It doesn’t matter whether this situation is permitted by choice or not. It’s morally wrong and it affects the practical education of all the children on a daily basis. The lived experience of the students is that segregation by choice exists. Do you not think they wonder why?

The Graham Hill community made representations to the School Board at its last meeting, which made the Board members hang their heads in shame. There is no justification for allowing any segregation within schools or as part of assignment plans to continue, and all the lengthy fake rhetoric won’t change that.

Institutional memory

Anonymous said...

@Institutional Memory, racial segregation is a reality in Seattle public schools because racial segregation is a reality in Seattle housing demographics—not because of option programs or school choice. Eliminating option programs will not end segregation in SPS. The way to fix that is by moving away from a student assignment plan that is based on address, not by eliminating choices. (And your insinuation that I don’t care about racial segregation because I do support option programs is baseless. My support for option programs is due to my recognition that one size does not fit all. Are you suggesting that it does, and that all students learn best in the same type of setting and with the same curriculum?)

Would it solve the problem if the Montessori program was in a different location, a freestanding school, so that GH students didn’t witness the “demarcations of privilege” each day? Or is the problem that there even exists a program that is, so it seems, of less interest to families of color? Are AP classes also bad, because they attract fewer students of color? Are leveled reading groups and walk-to-math approaches also bad because they also often break students into more segregated groups?

What if were, instead, to support outreach to help apparently underserved populations better understand the Montessori program at GH so its demographics could better reflect the surrounding area? What if every student at GH had to choose whether they wanted the traditional or Montessori program, even if that meant the Montessori program grew (and ultimately there were fewer spots for out-of-zone students)?

Why is there such hesitancy from you and those who think like you to answer basic questions about what people think programming and assignment should look like in practice, and instead you resort to casting alternate opinions as racist or fake rhetoric?

Ima Parente

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am a bit amused that 1) there's this "all schools must be exactly the same" mentality going about in SPS. I've been here a long time and I recall when the cry was "we don't want cookie cutter schools but ones that serve their community."

2)This idea that somehow a school district can equalize for everything. They can't. There will always be kids who get more/different upbringing that includes more exposure to travel, arts, etc. You can try to make sure that kids across the board get some of that but equally? I don't see how.

3) Ms. Jiménez, you say GH has "“demarcations of privilege” - please explain what that looks like. It is just because the Montessori program is mostly white children or something else? Also, why do you perceive fewer parents of color choose the Montessori program? And if there are "two separate schools" at GH, what has been the role of the principal to unify the school?

4) I appreciate that Ms. Jiménez worries that closing the Montessori program - and discussing that - may see GH with fewer students. If you close down a program that is popular with some parents, I'm not sure what outcome you could expect. We heard the same from Madrona a couple of years back when they decided that there was only one way for their school to be. People vote with their feet and not much can change that.

I'll be ending this comment section by 5 pm today.

Anonymous said...

So the discussion is getting a little too close to the bone and has to be promptly closed down.

The reality is that segregation which privileges the well prepared over those who haven’t had historical access to the same insider tracks and considerations, is wrong, wherever it occurs. In addition it distorts the outcomes and experiences of public schools. And yes I include walk to math, AP and all the other quaint vestiges of privilege which masquerade as academic difference in this ambivalent city.

Programs and services which were explicitly designed to retain white students in the face of a nationally mandated desegregation order have simply replaced the old separate and equal systems. They need to be dismantled and a new and genuine floor of equity established.

Arguing for anything else and for maintaining the status quo is an argument in favor of segregation.

Institutional memory

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Institutional Memory, but it's Christmas and I don't have the time or desire to monitor it further. If I leave it open, sometimes people take advantage of my absence. We have talked about this and can take it up again.

Do not read your personal feelings into my blog decisions.