Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do you want a new APP Advocacy group?

In the comments to an earlier post, a few parents were interested in much more APP and advanced learning advocacy, saying they wanted a group that promotes the programs, improves participation in the programs, and helps parents and the district better understand the value of these programs for Seattle Public Schools.

Let's open a discussion on this. How would the mission of this group differ from the APP Advisory Committee? How would you like to see it structured? Who would want to be a part of the group? What specifically should the group start with to have the highest impact in their advocacy?

If you have any thoughts on advanced learning advocacy, want to see more of it, and are interested in helping, please add a comment here. If there is a critical mass of people willing to make it happen, perhaps this is the place to find each other.


Skeptic said...

I'm not sure what form this group would take, or really, even how much of a difference we could make, but I, for one, am willing to try.

Right now, given the situation APP is in, we're all stuck discussing what can be done to keep it from getting any worse. Could a group of determined parents find a way to make APP actually better?

Take the issue of math: I have yet to speak to an APP parent who loves Everyday Math. (And it's not just an APP issue of course). Could an APP parent action group raise awareness of this issue for parents across the district and lobby the district for more curricular autonomy for programs or schools? Is that a good first area of focus, or would there be better options? (Believe me, I have lots of improvements I'd like to work toward in APP, but maybe other parents don't see those as burning issues.) Would some sort of survey of APP parents help us figure out where to begin?

Central Cluster Mom said...

Charlie said:

"I have recently heard that Eckstein may dissolve their Spectrum program and move to an inclusive model. Let's see if Susan Enfield steps in and tells them that they must retain Spectrum as a self-contained program.

That will be a good measure of her support for advanced learning."

This is a big problem for advanced learning in this district - if Spectrum is completely dissolved, APP cannot be far behind. I would be resentful of the APP program if I was a Spectrum parent that just lost their program.

In order to be an effective advocacy group - we need to include members from Spectrum, APP and ALO. That is how this group would be different from the APP Advisory Committee.

The APP program was split - but it is still in existence, albeit a bit hobbled right now dealing with all the issues related to the split).

Spectrum is holding on by a thread - and Eckstein is a shining example of success that may be dismantled in the coming year.

Let's work together to put a "face" on advanced learning in this district - then maybe Susan Enfield will understand just how important these programs are to a LARGE group of district families.

We need people who are experienced (or willing to learn) in developing a program PTA - much like the current Special Education group?

Mercermom said...

I would also want any advanced learning advocacy group to include promotion of Spectrum and ALO (or AP or other opportunities for rigor at the high schools). For example, how can anyone academically justify the decision that the Spectrum advanced learning program at the middle-school level will not include science? I'm guessing it's motivated by resources and/or scheduling efficiencies. But academically it makes no sense. See the piece in yesterday's NYT about the administration's push for better math AND science education nationally. As another example, the District should be making sure that advanced learning opportunities are available to kids who are highly capable in math or reading, but not both. To deny them adequate opportunities is indefensible academically.

hschinske said...

If the committee at Eckstein turns out to have enough power to go over Bob Vaughan's head, where have they gotten that power? is it a power that another committee could also amass? Because frankly, if it IS possible to just bulldoze over long-established policy in SPS, I can think of lots of things I would like to bulldoze my own self.

I'm kidding. Sort of.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, it should be an Advanced Learning advocacy group. We need lots of families if we are to be heard, and APP's not the only program that needs help.

In Central/South Seattle the Spectrum and ALO offerings are not what you'd call attractive. Many (most?) parents whose kids test into anything less than APP opt to stay at their neighborhood school. Why disrupt their child's social life for, well, nothing? And SPS wonders why there's not more Advanced Learning buy-in in the south end...

chula's boy said...

Agree with others, in that all advanced learned programs should be included in any advocacy efforts.

Also want to emphasize how poorly South-end schools are represented; thus an advocacy rep or two is needed who fully understands the unique challenges in these schools.

Sign me up if there's a kickoff meeting to get this started. Hopefully we can move beyond talk and get an action plan together pronto.

ArchStanton said...

I can think of lots of things I would like to bulldoze my own self.

Vroom, vroom! Look out! Here comes Helen! LOL

I've said it elsewhere, but I'll repeat it here; I think an Advanced Learning Advocacy Group (that includes APP, Spectrum, and possibly ALO) is the way to go.

So, who wants to take on a leadership role, here? (don't everybody step up at once)

ArchStanton said...

Take the issue of math [...] Could an APP parent action group raise awareness of this issue for parents across the district and lobby the district for more curricular autonomy for programs or schools? Is that a good first area of focus, or would there be better options?

Unfortunately Skeptic, I have only recently begun to understand how big the math issue is - not just in Seattle, but throughout the state. I'm afraid that the voice of SPS APP isn't going to make a measurable difference.

I'd like to believe otherwise if anyone has evidence to the contrary.

Dorothy said...

Bob Vaughan has come out loud and clear that the latest math adoption (HS)was perfectly fine for APP kids. I am pretty sure (but not positive) that Dr Reisner has said the same thing. And an outspoken APP Garfield teen took it upon herself to organize a student evaluation and I believe the conclusion was positive toward Discovering Math.

In fact, Bob's phrasing made it seem like while it wouldn't be great for most kids, APP kids and their teachers could and would make it work for them. So your advocacy against the math? Well, good luck.

Anonymous said...

Do I want a new APP advocacy group? Well, based on the APP AC meeting I just attended, I think I want something. I only stayed for an hour, but half of that was devoted to non-APP matters:

* The future make-up of kindergarten and ALO at Lowell
* Adding literacy and math coaches at Marshall
* How the new SAP will affect the numbers at both schools

It's almost like APP is so afraid of being accused of elitism, racism, and exclusivism (!), that it shies away from APP concerns even at a meeting of the APP AC!