Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Impressions from the APP Advisory Committee meeting?

The APP Advisory Committee met earlier this week. Minutes from the meeting are not available yet, but some reports are trickling out from people who were there.

In particular, ArchStanton wrote in the comments to an earlier post that:
Questions that were emailed did not get answered because a lot of time was spent (for valid reasons) discussing safety, behavior, and communication issues.

Let me also add that I was simply dumbstruck by the admission that the T. Marshall community (teachers and students) was not prepared for the arrival of APP this Fall. (This was part of a discussion where it was acknowledged that there was culture shock on both sides.)
Anyone else attend the meeting? Thoughts? Comments? Could you summarize what happened?

Update: A summary by Skeptic from the comments:
Most of the meeting consisted of worried TM parents demanding action on playground safety--and receiving few answers.

There were about 10 Lowell parents in the room compared to about 40 TM parents, and the Lowell parents I talked to at the meeting felt sheepish about bringing up their relatively minor concerns after they listened to some of the stories of the TM parents.

The safety issues are worrisome not just for the anxiety they create, but also, as one mom pointed out during the meeting, because they are demanding so much time and energy from the staff that might otherwise be put toward learning and trying to improve the school.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe we are reacting to a situation that the district should have been proactively working on the day we were told the split would happen. Did no one (except APP parents) anticipate that there would be clashes between the Gen. Ed. and APP students? What happened to the "transition team" we were promised? Apparently the TM staff and students weren't prepped for our arrival--no wonder this fall has been rocky. The message the district is sending is clear to me--they don't care if this ill-conceived social experiment fails at the cost of the APP program.

Anonymous said...

I'd appreciate it if someone who attended would circulate a summary of the meeting discussion. My fourth-grader at TM hasn't reported any negatives beyond what I'd have expected from moving to a new school, so I'm curious how the atmosphere at TM was characterized at the meeting.
- Ruthie

Ben said...

It sure seemed clear at the time of the split that this wasn't a good idea.

APP parents: This won't work.

Board: Sure it will.

APP parents: It didn't work the last time you tried co-housing.

Board: This will be different.

APP parents: How?

Board: We've learned from our mistakes.

APP parents: The APP audit said this kind of co-housing is a terrible recommendation.

Board: The design teams will work it all out.

APP parents: This won't work.

Board: Sure it will.

agibean1958 said...

Can someone explain what is meant by the staff and students not "being prepped"? When we attended both the just-before-school-began open house and the first PTA meeting in September, as well as the first day of school coffee, Ms. Breidenbach, some teachers AND PTA officers from both groups talked about extensive work over the summer-especially on the part of the PTA, to work on the merger. It seemed as though it was more than well known that the two groups coming together was going to take some work.

And I KNOW students there last year were told about it and discussion was held, because as it turns out, my daughter knows some of those general ed students and they told her about some of the kids' discussions that they held LAST YEAR.

In addition, the teachers I've spoken to (both APP and gen. ed) have not mentioned any serious problems with the kids. A few parents I know have also mentioned their kids have found the transition a good one.

My daughter, a 5th grader, has seen for herself several groups of kids from the two populations work out being there together. On a personal level, she's made several new friends outside of APP, who share social interests with her, to her delight.

While I hardly expect sunshine and lolipops, I haven't heard of the dismal prognosis I'm seeing here. It's going to take some time, but unless people actively work to keep the TM merger from succeeding, I think it has a good chance.

Anonymous said...

But what does it mean for the split to work? My (admittedly anecdotal) take is that the APP cohort is doing just fine and the non-APP cohort is struggling along exactly as they were beforehand. No big issues, but no big benefits, certainly no benefits big enough to justify the large transition costs imposed on the kids.

Ben said...

APP parents are reporting that they are receiving dismissive comments from Julie when they complain of rough, "violent" playground behavior; if there's an active anti-bullying culture at TM, many kids and families are unaware of it; have heard several reports of racial slurs directed at APP kids; ALO parents refusing to have their kids go on field trips with APP classes.

Your kids might have great experiences making friends outside their APP classes. Not all families are having the same experience.

Skeptic said...

I'm a TM parent who was at the meeting, and it was just miserable. Aside from a scheduled speaker who offered a talk on twice-exceptional children and the typical oddly pro-school-district rhetoric offered by the all the APP AC toadies, most of the meeting consisted of worried TM parents demanding action on playground safety--and receiving few answers. TM APP parents are being made to feel that if they insist that kids feel safe during recess, they are somehow being culturally insensitive. There were about 10 Lowell parents in the room compared to about 40 TM parents, and the Lowell parents I talked to at the meeting felt sheepish about bringing up their relatively minor concerns after they listened to some of the stories of the TM parents. The safety issues are worrisome not just for the anxiety they create, but also, as one mom pointed out during the meeting, because they are demanding so much time and energy from the staff that might otherwise be put toward learning and trying to improve the school. As one dad called out during the meeting, "It's not just safety; we have other concerns," but just as was the case in that meeting, we're never going to get to those until the staff at TM finds a way to solve the safety problem first.

ArchStanton said...

"Can someone explain what is meant by the staff and students not "being prepped"?"

I can't tell you what the speaker meant (I think it was Julie B. - someone please correct me if I am wrong), only that that was one of the excuses offered for the issues being raised.

I am sure that out of the several hundred kids and families at TM that many (most?) are not having these negative experiences. But when 40 parents turn out for an APP-AC meeting to express that they or their children don't feel safe and that the principal is dismissive of their concerns - that tells me that it's not one or two isolated incidents and there is a legitimate problem.

Also, IIRC, the problems were occurring more in grades 1-3, so a fourth or fifth grade family might not be aware of or sharing those concerns.

dj said...

My anecdotal view thus far has been basically the same as anonymous at 10:34 -- that the APP program is fine, but that placing it at TM hasn't done much to alter the TM. I ask my admittedly bad-witness seven-year-old about her experience there. Does she interact with non-APP kids? Not at all, per her reports. She sees the kids in her class, and other APP kids she knew at Lowell, and that's about it.

Since I'm not able to spend time on the campus right now, I'd really appreciate hearing about the kinds of things parents or their kids have observed. What is the playground safety issue? What other concerns are there? Because my perspective at this point is that nothing seems to be going particularly wrong for my kid, except for the fact that she had to move schools a second time in three years and leave a lot of her friends behind.

Anonymous said...

Ben and other TM parents - Do you plan to bring these issues up at the PTA meeting tonight?
- Ruthie

Mercermom said...

I would urge people to get more evidence about whether there is a bullying or safety problem specific to the culture at TM that is significantly different from any other elementary culture. I wouldn't reach that conclusion based on the fact that there were 40 people at the meeting from TM, and that some (?) of them expressed concerns about these issues. As I wasn't at the meeting, I can't speak to the level of concern expressed and by how many, or what number of people might have been present because of other concerns (like the earlier concern TM parents had about program mixing in science). The experience of our second-grader has not raised any safety or bullying concerns so far. He has reported a couple of incidents involving unprovoked hitting and inappropriate playground comments, but those been from kids in the APP program. I also haven't heard any concerns expressed by friends with kids in the same grade level. I'm not suggesting that other kids haven't experienced negative interactions with kids in the ALO program or that their families concerns that they haven't been adequately addressed are unfounded; I'm just reporting that our personal experience does not support the conclusion that the playground culture is any different from what our kids have experienced at other schools, like Stevens and Lowell. If one area where TM hasn't been prepared is organizing "friendship groups" or some other program for promoting positive interactions with other students, then I hope that will be a priority. My concern is that prospective families looking at TM will perceive that there is a significant safety or bullying problem, as opposed to isolated incidents, and that perception may not be accurate.

On the preparedness issue, it's hard for us to see any evidence of lack of preparation in the classroom. We are very pleased with his teachers. And if there are areas in which the school overall was inadequately prepared, we aren't aware. But that may reflect the limitations of information gained from a second-grader.

Ben said...

We were told that Julie mentioned "the level of violence" at TM, meaning that the complaining APP parent had to learn to deal with it.

Corina Linden said...

Failure of the program at TM would threaten APP across the board. The problems at TM are just as we had feared, and warned.

If TM staff allows these problems to go unresolved, many south-end parents will exit (moving north, out of the city, or to private/home school), decreasing the size of the TM cohort still further. What actions would this then justify by the district? Rebalancing elementary assignments, sending more north-end kids south? Concluding that cohort size doesn't matter and fragmenting APP programs still further and scattering them across the city? If cohort size becomes too small, APP can no longer be sustained as a self-contained program, much less benefit from the economies of scale of having a concentration of APP students.

We should all be pulling for improved safety AND education at TM.

Corina Linden
Concerned Lowell Parent

Anonymous said...

While it was wonderful to hear that all TM teachers attended writers workshop this summer, it did nothing to help prepare them for what is happening outside of the classroom at TM this year. An anti-bullying program should have been in place day one, with staff trained. Playground and lunchroom rules and expectations should have been spelled out from day one.

From what I understand, 5th graders are now getting along better because of their social interaction from their overnight camp. The other grades have had no such opportunity to get to know each other (yet). This is something that should have been in place at the outset. Again, lack of foresight and planning.

To Mercermom: Bob Vaughan admitted that the level of bullying at TM has historically been much higher than Lowell has EVER experienced. TM has never had an anti-bullying policy in place as Lowell and TT Minor have had--and we walked into a situation that will take time and patience to improve.

One thing that is so upsetting is that it seems as if there is a double standard--APP parents are being asked to dismiss behaviors/incidents that would never have been overlooked last year, but because we are the perceived privileged cohort, we must learn to live with it or risk being labeled racist.

I don't understand why our principal hasn't been given more help, frankly. It shouldn't be all on her shoulders. While I question her lack of communication with and avoidance of APP parents this year, she is only one person and this is very difficult, complicated situation the SPS District has imposed upon us all.

Mercermom said...

Ben, I don't mean to nag about evidence, but I do have questions about how much is first-hand knowledge versus rumor and shared stories. For example, my child came home one day saying that another child shoved him into a pole on the play structure. When I asked if they had a disagreement that seemed to lead to it, he said no, the particular child (who is in his APP class) just sometimes does that (i.e., hits people for no apparent reason). If it seemed to be an ongoing problem that I was hearing that this child was targeting my child or repeatedly hitting him, I would probably talk to his teacher or someone else at the school for assistance. But this one incident seemed to be something that could be addressed by talking to him about what he might do to deal with the situation. I don't consider that one experience indicatative of a culture of violence among APP students, or more broadly at TM. If I went to the school for help, I would probably expect them to tell me that this "level of violence" among two APP kids is something that we have to try to deal with (perhaps by helping the kids learn how to interact without hitting). I'm just saying that without full information from the parent/child actually involved about exactly what happened, what they were told, what the other child or witnesses say happened, and Julie's perspective on the situation and what response she gave, it's hard to conclude that there is a problem with either the level of violence or the responses of the administration to it. As another example, I am aware of acquaintances whom I understand withdrew their child from Montlake at least in part because they perceived her to be experiencing bullying and they were disatisfied with the administration's response. Does that mean there is a culture of safety or bullying issues at Montlake? I haven't heard that from the many people who love Montlake. That doesn't mean the individual family's concerns weren't valid; but it's not a reason to conclude that a school has a systemic problem.

Corina, what do you mean by your conclusion that "[t]he problems at TM are just as we had feared"? Is the problem that you have concluded that there is a safety problem at TM? Or is the problem that some parents were skeptical about the program change and they're still not satisfied that it's working, which jeopardizes the success of elementary APP? The latter is a problem for APP; but it's a different problem from the former, from which I haven't seen any convincing evidence.

Ben said...

One thing hindering the APP and ALO second grades from getting to know each other is the unofficial boycott by ALO parents when it comes to mixed field trips.

Ben said...

No, I don't have "evidence." All I have is what others have: the reports of people involved.

As you say, minor problems of aggressive behavior could be addressed by discussing the matter with the kids. This doesn't seem to be happening at TM.

ArchStanton said...

One of the problems creating this "culture shock" is that in spite of what the district defines as ALO, there are a lot of students at TM that by Julie B's admission are not "school ready". Below is what the SPS website says about ALO:

------------------------------
Whom does the program serve?

ALOs serve two primary student groups: (a) district-identified students who are academically highly gifted/gifted, and (b) teacher-identified students who demonstrate skills and readiness for participation in an accelerated and rigorous curriculum that is based on Spectrum curricular guidelines.

Students participating in an ALO program are expected to (a) demonstrate mastery of grade level GLEs in all areas and (b) work toward mastery of GLEs beyond grade level in reading and mathematics (typically, one grades or more above current grade assignment in reading and mathematics following Spectrum guidelines).
-------------------------------------------

By their own criteria, an ALO student should be "school ready". Yet in spite of that, SPS treats ALO like any other Gen Ed class. If they were serious about their own guidelines, students who are not "school ready" would and should receive an environment, curriculum, and education that met their needs.

Of course we all know about the variability that exists within Spectrum. ALO is even more meaningless. IMO, ALO is just a label they can slap on a school to say "look we're offering advanced learning everywhere" even if nothing has changed.

Skeptic said...

Mercermom: I don't think any of the parents at TM (or our Lowell comrades) who are worried about the mood on the playground want to blame it all on general-ed. kids. Even kids who came from Lowell are getting the message that all sorts of behaviors that would never have been tolerated on the playground at Lowell are no longer going to get them in trouble at TM. My student has described shoving matches and what he describes as "angry swear words" between APP students, too. He says the playground sometimes "just feels a lot more angry" than it did at Lowell.
And while some parents only have their children's reports to go by, Julie herself made references at that APP AC meeting to instances when she's already had to suspend students at TM and alluded to incidents "that were very upsetting to some of the kids who saw them."

Anonymous said...

MercerMom -

Much of the agenda for Tuesday's APP AC meeting came from emails the committee received from parents at the school. Were names attached to all concerns that were emailed to the committee to be used as "proof?" Of course not.

As others have posted, almost the entire time for elementary APP discussion was used to discuss safety issues at TM. To have about 30 parents concerned enough to come to school at night shows how upset these parents are. There were several first hand accounts from parents of problems they have witnessed. Julie did not deny any of these stories, and mentioned there were a couple of others not mentioned. This meeting was tension-filled.

Other issues on the agenda which didn't have a chance to be discussed were: perceived disparities between the schools, perception of confidence in the APP program, communication between staff and parents, time outs between ALO and APP classes for disciplinary reasons, bullying, how safety issues are handled by the staff, ways to build community, what can parents do?

There was also a note to discuss definitions of APP and ALO. I don't know what that means since the definitions are already on the district site.

Anonymous said...

Couple of questions, I was not at the meeting:
1. Was there any talk about solutions to the TM playground issues? Did Julie or other show any leaderhip, or commit to solving the problems?
2. Can someone elaborate on the 2nd grade ALO boycott of field trips?
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

By their own criteria, an ALO student should be "school ready". Yet in spite of that, SPS treats ALO like any other Gen Ed class. If they were serious about their own guidelines, students who are not "school ready" would and should receive an environment, curriculum, and education that met their needs.

I think you have a misapprehension about what it means for a school to offer ALO. There is no expectation that all, or in fact, any students in an ALO school or class meet or exceed academic expectations. The ALO designation simply means that *if* a student is capable of working above grade level, they receive some sort of support or accomodation for that, the specifics of which are left to the school.

ArchStanton said...

The ALO designation simply means that *if* a student is capable of working above grade level, they receive some sort of support or accomodation for that, the specifics of which are left to the school.

IMO, the best teachers (given the resources) differentiate even if they are not labeled ALO. Yet, in my experience, we are expected to refer to the entire non-APP population at Lowell as ALO whether they receive differentiated instruction or not. It kind of makes the designation meaningless, doesn't it.

Is it done to make Johnny (or his parents) feel better to be told he is in "Advanced Learning" even if he is not "school ready" and is receiving standard or even remedial instruction? Or is it done to give prospective parents a warm, fuzzy feeling to think their kids' needs might be met at their neighborhood school?

What's the point?

Skeptic said...

To the anonymous poster with the question about solutions to the TM playground issues: Maybe other people who attended the APP AC meeting can offer their take, but I felt like Julie had very little to say regarding solutions beyond "This will take time." Some parents offered to come in and help monitor the playground, but there seemed to be reluctance to take them up on that offer. I think there were worries that a group of white APP parents trying to tell general-ed. kids how to behave on the playground might create a whole new set of problems. And I'm the first to admit that I'm a little paranoid after the whole APP split last year, but I was a bit worried about where Julie may be going with the argument that the more the APP kids and general-ed. kids spend time together, the more they will get to know each other and respect each other, at which point the playground problems will abate. Sounds great, right? But the example she offered was having kids from both programs come together to do more academic work, say, perhaps, a poetry unit. I can't get my kid's APP teacher to offer him work on his level as it is. What is going to happen when she has to shift the curriculum back down to grade level for these APP/general-ed. academic projects so that everyone feels included? Is Julie really claiming that the only way she can "change the culture" on the playground is by watering down the little bit of academic rigor we're struggling to hold onto in the APP classrooms?

Anonymous said...

Definitions of ALO and APP were outlined by Greg King at Lowell in a Thursday Note. In the TN he said ALO students would move up to another ALO class should they need advanced instruction. (Eliminating the concern about blending with APP) Julie B. was asked to do the same so there was an understanding among both populations, and so far she has declined to do so.

Robert said...

Skeptic I think she used poetry as an example of something that is less academic that could build relationships between the two programs. At Lowell, I believe they are handling that with drama as well.

Davonna said...

I was at the meeting last night because of my deep concern about Julie's (lack of) response to playground safety. I know there have been bullying issues, but for now I'm willing to accept that it will be a long-term process to change that. There was an effective program in place at Lowell (and it sounds like TT Minor as well - Second Step which was used there is a great program). We can eventually get that established at TM. What appalled me was finally understanding why my son had been pushed off the slide a couple of weeks ago. A standard playground game for 2nd grade at TM that I observed on Monday was to try to pull one's friends off the big play structure (either trying to push them off the top of the slide or I saw a girl pulling down on another girl's arm as she hung headfirst by her knees from the monkey bars). Another game is to slide head-first down to the bottom of the big spiral slide and then block it, causing other kids to pile up on the slide. My 2nd grader accidentally joined the pile oj the slide one day when there were only a few at the bottom and he couldn't see them from the top - they wouldn't get off the bottom of the slide and let him off, so he was contemplating jumping over the side, decided that would be too dangerous for him, when another girl came down on top of him and pushed him off the slide, causing him to hurt his arm. Julie's got a wonderful idea that we need to accept kids as they are, but she's waiting to develop the personal relationships with kids that will give her the clout to discipline them before she tackles the 2nd grade playground culture. Meanwhile, several ALO boys are getting the slide shut down nearly daily according to my son (confirmed by Morgan Jones - who is awesome out there - firm and stern when called for, but respectful to kids). And they're getting a lot of prestige from their peers for it. When 5 kids were pulling on each other at once, Morgan just had to let it go - that's when I saw the girl pull down on the other one hanging on the monkey bars, although to give him credit he might not have seen that.

What deeply disturbs me is Julie's response when I reported this in the hallway after, describing to her very specifically what I'd seen on the playground that day. Her response was that she had African refugee boys out there, who had to be physical, some of whom had never had a white person in authority over them before. And then the part about needing to develop relationships before discipline could follow. My strong feeling is that we owe it to all TM kids to convey to them that they are important enough to keep safe, and that as adults, we are not going to let them hurt themselves or each other. Positive discipline is about immediate non-punitive enforcement of clear boundaries - and when handled in a way that makes it clear that the kid's ok but the behavior's not, discipline engenders the trust Julie is trying to build! I helped Morgan shut down the slide on Monday (after EIGHT children piled on with the two at the bottom oriented head-down, holding up the rest). (It took Susan at the bottom blocking kids from swarming up from below as well.) Right after the kids gave up on the slide and took off, a little boy climbed up to the top of a nearby ladder and said to me "I hope I don't die." I had no idea what he meant, so I just said, no, don't die, you're too valuable. (Since I was concerned that the tolerance of unsafe behavior on the playground was sending him the clear message that he wasn't valuable enough to protect.) He then jumped backward off the top of the play structure (with the pole right behind him - good thing he didn't hit his head). He said, pleased, "I didn't die." And ran off to join his friends. He was checking to see what I'd do - he wanted my attention for his stunt, and he was trying to see if I'd stop him from trying it.

Davonna said...

And more evidence that this is not really about APP vs ALO, this is about unsafe behavior which can be directed within one's own group: my 4th grader reports seeing a kid having his arms twisted behind his back by a couple of other kids (all ALO). I was so proud of him (maybe this is the Lowell anti-bullying program at work): he said "What are you doing to him?" and they said, "it's ok, he's our friend." He said, "well, stop it," which they did - he worried though that they might do it again when he wasn't looking. I said, honey, I am SO PROUD of you. But you did what you could, you can't be the playground police. (And of course I'm thinking, please don't stick your neck out too far and get hurt yourself! He kind of freaked me out with the story of the 2 5th graders who according to my kid were clawing at each other so viciously that the teachers couldn't get them apart.)

Time for solutions!

Please call me or email if you want to coordinate.
Davonna Cufley
935 4365
davonna@cufley.org

Ben said...

I would like to see something like the Lowell Way at TM. SOMETHING that is relevant to all the kids in the school, and that can be incorporated into their school experience. My son used to refer to the Lowell Way. I've heard him and his friends discuss it. It meant something to them. It informed some of their decisions and behavior.

Now (yes?) it's gone from Lowell, and whatever the Thurgood Marshall pledge is, it doesn't resonate with my son.

MadronaGreen said...

We have heard reports from our child (2nd grade) of behavior on the playground that would not have been tolerated at Lowell.

It is sad the number of times we were told "the design committee will handle that" when the brief that the design committee was given was so small.

My heart goes out to Julie B. for the number of things she is being asked to do. At the same time, one of the things that was so wonderful about Lowell was the low incidence of bullying and the acceptance of the Special Ed and APP children for who they were as indiviuals.

While another non-profit commitment kept me from attending the Tuesday meeting, my hope is that we can all somehow work with Julie to achieve a solution.

Thoughts?

Stephanie said...

Well, my son a first grader in APP has been repeatedly hit, kicked and punched on the playground by ALO students. The final straw was him coming home off the bus in tears with a golf ball size lump on his head and telling me he was punched in the head by an ALO student. I had to watch for a concussion all night long. There was no calls from school about this. He did report it to whoever was on the playground but as a first grader he didn't know he had to report to his teacher and Julie as well.I had a meeting with Julie about this and she was incredibly dismissive to me and called my son a liar, saying he was probably hit by a ball. My 4th grade APP daughter has witnessed fist fights that took 3 adults to get under control. She has had numerous friends who have been punched and kicked but their parents are so tired of Julie they refuse to deal with her. I have contacted the district safety department and was directed to the ombudsman and they are going to talk with Julies boss about this. I will be hearing from them tomorrow. I want all of the TM children to be safe and I want some playground rules in place with consequences.

MadronaGreen said...

Stephanie, I am so sorry to hear that.

Anonymous said...

It saddens me that children are getting bullied and don't feel safe. It does seem that the bullying has lessened, any recent incidents?
My son expresses that the level of play is too rough and frightens him.

We were handed a horrible situation and need to work together and be patient. We need to be mindful of imposing our values on those of others, no mumbling that our values are better.

I think we need to tread cautiously on the safety issue. My threshold is definitely higher than many others. Risk by choice is ok with me but being forced to jump is not. If my boy and his friend decide to crash into each other, so be it.

I'd rather avoid having random parents telling them what to do. My child will question authority and the answers need to be pretty sharp.

If you want to volunteer to play with the kids great! If you want to monitor/instruct them I want you to have school wide approval and would hope you've gone through Positive Discipline or some other training.

Shannon said...

Well, here's an embarrassing contribution. After reading this thread I asked my Lowell 3rd Grader about breaks and whether he saw any problems. Utterly unprompted he said "No, no way. I don't have trouble at recess except the African American kids play rough sometimes and call me Dummy if I get in the way of their ball. But that's OK, I just say "sorry".

I am really concerned at his racial characterization of the differences in play and the social distance he assumes is OK. On questioning about whether these were kids in his class he could talk to he said "No, the African American kids mainly play together. You know. Not the kids in my class - there are not many African American kids there."

I am not sure what you do.

Ben said...

"We need to be mindful of imposing our values on those of others, no mumbling that our values are better."

Which values are you referring to?

ArchStanton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArchStanton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anon 11/5 at 6:46 said:

"We were handed a horrible situation and need to work together and be patient. We need to be mindful of imposing our values on those of others, no mumbling that our values are better."

I find this kind of talk extremely frustrating and non-productive. There was one parent at the meeting the other night saying that we were too "negative." Please. Is having a safe school where kids feel safe imposing our values? If so, I say fine. As a Lowell parent, I was very sorry to hear several parents mention that their kids were scared at school. No kid should be scared at school. I say my non violence value should be imposed.

What about the disservice we are doing to these kids by not teaching them that non violence is "culturally appropriate" here? Should we only have them learn that after they hurt someone?

Anonymous said...

It's not as though teaching nonviolent conflict resolution and working against racism are mutually exclusive goals. Seattle is crawling with consultants who would be thrilled to help the TM community work together to resolve these problems and emerge stronger. The TM community is probably crawling with parents with the skills to write a grant to raise the funds to hire one of said consultants. There is a way forward, folks. Let's look for that, and skip the part where we write blog posts tearing each other apart. That's a waste of time.
-Ruthie

Anonymous said...

You can't "work you way forward" if people don't even agree about what the way forward is.

We were hearing a lot of excuses the other night about why things can't change and we have to take lots of things into account before we act and how much time that all takes...

Until we can even agree on a basic fact - violence in the school will not be tolerated and kids who are violent will be dealt with - nothing will change.

pjmanley said...

I think things will be better after the meeting, which I attended. The challenges are proving to exceed expectations and capabilities, but Julie and the Staff have pledged to do all they can to get their arms around things, and believe things are improving. But that's hard to tell to any parent who's kid has been injured, and is afraid to go back on the playground. People needed reassurance that something was being done, and to date, weren't satisfied.

I sensed a better understanding between parents and staff after the meeting, compared to before.

I also came away dissatisfied at the district for not properly resourcing the merger - not by a long-shot. Especially since they swore they'd do everything they could to prevent another Madrona. Besides paying for the movers and some new instruments, I can't see anything else the district did to support the merger from a social standpoint.

But if the first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge it, then we've cleared step one, and I'll take that as a big positive coming out of that meeting.

Shannon said...

Hi Arch
No, I'm not offended by your tone.

One of the insidious aspects of race issues and racism is our inability to trust our feelings. Of course I don't like him being called a Dummy but he is very astute socially. From the way he says it I know he sees it as a power play rather than something about him. Still, I worry about the lessons he learns to cope with these interactions. Lessons about race and Other kids.

Shannon

Anonymous said...

Anyone who could weigh in on tonight's General PTSA meeting at TM?

Stephanie said...

I am trying to find solutions for the APP community in general and for those at TM as well.

So to solutions and transparency, I have joined the Parent Advisory Committee as the representative for APP. I will be meeting with all kinds of people at the district level to advocate for APP.

I am also scheduling a meeting the CAO Susan Enfield to discuss the future of APP and solutions for TM. If anyone has anything they would like to relay to me about concerns questions please send them to sdonath@aol.com.

I am also talking with the district about the safety issue at TM and am going to be asking them for more help,(ie. Maybe paid district people on the playground and possibly a vice principal for Julie to help her with her work load, or some other person to help).

I want to be part of the solution for all of our children.
Stephanie Barnett
VP of Enrichment Seattle Council PTSA
206-931-4405
sdonath@aol.com

TechyMom said...

My daughter is in K at Lowell. I've noticed that the demographics in K are quite different than in the 1-5 ALO classes. Is that true at Marshall too? I remember reading that before this year Marshall had a lot of mandatory assignments and kids who hadn't done open enrollment. There are a fair number of middle class families in the Marshall assignment area. Maybe the differences between the programs will get less pronounced over time? I'm pretty sure that will happen at Lowell. Does it seem possible at Marshall?

Stephanie said...

The APP advisory board is very unaware of what is going on in our community. Please email them with all of your concerns with anything that has to do with APP. I would like to see them be more effective but that will only happen if they know about concerns, questions and feelings we are all having. Do something positive and take action. Email the APP advisory board president Stephanie Bower at stbower@comcast.net.
Thanks,
Stephanie Barnett
VP of Enrichment Seattle Council PTSA
APP PAC representative
sdonath@aol.com