Friday, February 27, 2009

What Model for Lowell and Thurgood Marshall?

Like many of you, I was opposed to the splitting of the elementary APP program when the district proposed it and became more adamant in my opposition to the split as the district offered shifting rationales to defend the proposal. No matter how frustrated I got, however, I thought that there was a major silver lining in the District's otherwise uninspiring effort: the District's unswerving rhetorical commitment to improving participation in advanced learning programs by racial minorities and by students of low and middling socio-economic status. The optimistic part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, the District had a hidden plan in which it would rebrand Lowell and Thurgood Marshall as Advance Learning Academies, would actively recruit promising students from underpresented races and classes for the non-APP classrooms at Lowell and TM, and would develop sensible plans for integrating those students into the academic life of the APP program to the extent their performance justified it.

While such an approach would have had its pros and cons, at least it would have provided a clear vision for the schools and an explanation for why the APP program was being split. Though the results aren't in, the early returns suggest that the District does not have such a model in view. I have heard nothing about any outreach efforts to recruit students who would benefit from such a program to Lowell and TM, the Design Teams keep talking about compromising and balancing the needs of different populations, the schools seem headed for uniforms (which in this District at least is a strong signal of undesirability), and the schools seem actively interested in recruiting APP siblings (who, by definition, will not be adding to the diversity of the learning environment).

I have two questions. First, if the District's motivation is really to expand the diversity of those receiving advanced learning services, what steps are they taking to design Lowell and TM with that focus? Second, if that is not the District's rationale/model, then what is?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Advice for Design Teams

The Design Teams for Lowell and Thurgood Marshall are hard at work. We have been asked to provide input on crucial design issues. While direct emails to Team members seem to be the preferred method of communication, there is nothing wrong with having another place to work out ideas and perhaps compile them. This is that space.


The question of whether the new APP Programs will have school uniforms has proven one of the most contentious in other fora. This thread is for discussion of that issue. As readers of other blogs know, I have strong opinions on this issue that I will add to the discussion below.

School Start Times

Out of the many issues that have arisen, perhaps the most out-of-the-blue has been the district's recent decision to include Thurgood Marshall and Lowell on the list of schools that will start instruction at 8 AM. This thread is for discussion of that issue.


This is obviously a time of transition for the Elementary APP Program in the Seattle Schools. In the last few months, APP parents and other stakeholders have shown a remarkable level of engagement with issues related to the future of the program. These conversations have taken place in a variety of less-than-ideal fora--for example, on the school's own Lowellink, on other broader Seattle Schools blogs, and on an email lists that have grown to hundred of names. The purpose of this blog is to create a single, dedicated space where APP parents and other interested parties can come to discuss the many issues raised by the School District's decision to transform the Elementary APP Program. Welcome.