Friday, November 20, 2009

What do parents want in APP leadership?

There are some comments on the previous post that could be lifted and turned into a broader discussion on what parents want in APP leadership.

One parent complained:
Why doesn't [Bob Vaughan] return parents' phone calls or e-mails? (For that matter, why have I gotten a "voicemail full" response on several different occasions when trying to leave a message for him?) And why, to offer one more example, does he allow his office to run the APP testing process in such an unresponsive and frustrating manner?

I know that the APP AC members like to run their meetings as "We love Bob Vaughan" pep rallies, and I have heard some parents argue that no one should expect much from a person expected to do so many jobs at once. But ... I see a well-meaning but overworked and timid bureaucrat who seems afraid to make waves with district colleagues, school boards members, administrators, and even teachers.

So while he's busy avoiding conflict (and parents), APP suffers. Do ... [we have] an effective advocate for our kids?
Another followed with:
[Bob] doesn't have the staff to do what needs to get done and therefore chooses to do what seems fun, more like pet projects, like spending all this time on middle school app science, when what was promised (and needed, has been needed for eons) is a comprehensive elementary school APP curriculum ... [and] quality Spectrum programming throughout the district.

His department is so underfunded. Why? Given all the bloat and growth in central administration, why didn't the HC office get any of the pie?
Frustrations with specific people aside, let's talk about the broader issue here. What do parents want in APP leadership? Ideally, what should APP leadership be doing?

Update: In the comments, Charlie Mas and ArchStanton suggest APP would be better served if the APP Advisory Committee was focused on advocacy. If the APP AC will not advocate for APP and advanced learning, ArchStanton proposes that parents create a new group for advanced learning advocacy. Thoughts?


Charlie Mas said...

APP leadership should be completing and implementing the APP curriculum.

APP leadership should be promoting participation in APP among under-represented communities.

APP leadership should be making sure that Spectrum and ALO programs are legitimate.

APP leadership should be working to re-locate the north-end elementary program in the north-end.

APP leadership should be promting the heck out of the program, doing a ton of publicity about everything that APP students accomplish.

ArchStanton said...

I think that's a good short list of things that need to be done - things that it seems APP leadership should be striving for.

But, how do we want our leadership to act? A little more advocacy would be nice.

We've already established that the APP-AC does not advocate - by their own admission: @ 9/27/09 7:52 PM

It seems like the closer a group (e.g APP-AC) or individual (e.g. Bob Vaughan) is to the administration, the less willing to agitate they are - whether for fear of losing their jobs or losing whatever access to power and information they have. I can't know their minds, but it's possible that having someone else agitate might give them more leverage, if they really want to make changes.

Do we have the critical mass to form an Advanced Learning Advocacy Group like we started discussing here: @ 9/28/09 8:06 AM ?

Are there ALO and Spectrum parents following this thread, as well as APP, that would be interested in working together?

Charlie Mas said...

In the APP Review the question arose if the APP Advisory Committee was an advisory committee or an advocacy committee. The two missions were seen as distinct. The committee chose to focus on advice instead of advocacy. I think that was a mistake because they aren't giving any advice and, more importantly, no one is taking their advice. They would be better off and more effective choosing to be an advocacy committee.

Shannon said...

I am interested in an advocacy group. I don't know what it would look like, but given recent trends and developments I would hope somebody is doing some thinking of ways to advocate for the program both within the educational establishment and within the parent community.

I continue to be startled at my close friends' outrage at the 'ufairness' of the APP cohort at Garfield, the refrain of "well, why are you complaining about SPS when your kid is in APP" and similar attitudes.

Without better representation of the concepts of advanced learned as something other than an elite 'private system' within public school the program will not survive ongoing Reform and budget crises.