Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Open thread

Discuss whatever you like! Also, if you attended the APP Advisory Committee meeting last night and have any reactions, I am sure others would be interested in hearing about it.

20 comments:

Ben said...

I attended the meeting. Or, well, an hour of it. I fear that I'm going to come across as a crank, or worse, but I found the meeting so frustrating I could hardly sit still. At least half the time I was there, the topics discussed were not topics of concern to APP. They might all have been important things, issues deserving discussion and consideration, but not at a meeting of the APP Advisory Committee!

These topics included:

* The current FRL at Marshall and what that means for funding
* The future make-up of kindergarten and ALO at Lowell
* Adding literacy and math coaches at Marshall
* The new SAP and the effect it will have on numbers at both schools

(As I said in another thread down there:) 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!

Robert said...

Ben, too bad you couldn't stay longer as I feel the full meeting was much better. The sad fact is that a lot of meeting time this year has unfortunately been devoted to issues related to the split and is based on parent's expressed concerns. That said, my take is that there is a clear vision for the program and that it is on track to continue to garner future improvements regardless of this huge hurdle. Kool-Aid anyone?

I say this because I thought Gregory expressed an in-depth understanding of the issues at hand as well as a commitment to effect the necessary changes across the building to make what many of us thought would be untenable actually succeed. I thought Patrick was up to speed on the issues that parents are expressing concerns over. And for me the most important part was Bob covering in great detail APP's future including: curriculum alignment, MAP test results (and perhaps using it for outreach!), major changes coming to current curriculum, differentiation, testing, self contained programs, AL office staffing, GHS APP program, etc. Details of the full meeting will be sent out shortly and I think you will be excited to hear them.

Skeptic said...

Robert, maybe we should limit the propaganda to the APP AC meetings, because I think everyone who isn't directly involved in the committee is sick of it, and frankly insulted by the APP AC's refusal to acknowledge reality. I have a third-grader at Thurgood Marshall who was stabbed in the chest with a pencil by a general-ed. kid in the hallway yesterday afternoon. The kid was running by, laughing, saw a kid he didn't know who looked like an easy, APP target, and assaulted him. Luckily, my son wasn't badly injured. But do you really want to give me Bob Vaughan's delusional speech about what a happy, great place APP is to be right now?

Anonymous said...

How do I ascertain how typical is the experience of "Skeptic"? (I haven't made it to the last two meetings.) I keep hearing about harmful behavior but don't know how often or to what extent it is happening.

Greg Linden said...

Anonymous, there is a good discussion of the safety issues parents are concerned about in all the comments on an earlier thread about the previous APP AC meeting.

As you can see, it appears the previous APP AC meeting was flooded with parents worried about safety and the lack of response to incidents that have occurred.

ArchStanton said...

Skeptic, I'm sorry to hear that your child is continuing to have a bad experience at school. I hope that he and your family come out at the other end relatively unscathed.

At the risk of stoking the fire, I am curious as to whether other T.Marshall APP parents perceive that there has been any change in the behavior of the kids or in the response of the faculty. In other words, has anything been done to improve the situation since the November APP-AC meeting?

agibean1958 said...

My daughter has experienced two incidents-one when an APP kid in her class deliberately scratched her and one when some gen. ed. boys were making inappropriate remarks to her and some other girls. In both instances immediate action was taken and I was personally called by Miss. B. I was satisfied with the actions.

Overall, my daughter has not found TM to be problematic in terms of feeling any less safe than any other school she's attended. In fact, she feels far more at home there than anywhere she's ever gone to school-her academics are being met and she's got friends from a wide range of backgrounds in both the APP and ALO populations.

*I* personally could have done without having to worry about a permanent scar on her face thanks to her classmate, but at least the kid was swiftly reprimanded. As to the other incident, it was completely inappropriate for the boys and they got in deep trouble for it.

I remember the same kind of thing happening when I was a middle schooler back in the dark ages in a very middle class school and not a whole lost was done, so I'm glad to see things have changed in that aspect.

Skeptic said...

Agibean1958, I'm glad to hear that your experience in dealing with the principal went better than mine. When she finally got around to calling me about my son's assault, she actually told me that while he may believe in his heart that another child stabbed him in the chest with a pencil, she prefers to view it all as a misunderstanding because when she asked the other child (whom she indicated that she knew from various other incidents this year) about it, the assailant said it was just an "accidental" stabbing.

Julie also went to the trouble of having the school nurse intimidate my shy son by examining his cut the next day; the nurse pronounced it more of a "scratch with a pencil" than a stab wound. But I never said he had a serious physical injury; my concern is much more with the psychological trauma the whole incident has created for him.

Julie also told me that there isn't really any violence problem at school, that really, "only about 5 misguided parents seem to be concerned about this issue," and suggested to me that if my two sons are feeling so anxious about being out on the playground, and, after this week's incident, alone in the hallways, they should talk to the school counselor about their anxiety issues.

So if the principal says there has never been a violence problem at Thurgood Marshall, there wasn't one, right? And if the principal says that my son imagined the whole stabbing incident, even though he insists he didn't, then it never happened, right?

dj said...

My daughter (at TM) was trapped against the wall and scratched on both arms, by another kid in her APP class. The teacher told my husband about the incident the same day and explained how she handled it, and we were satisfied. This had happened before the meeting in November.

I've asked her if she has noticed differences in things like kids playing more roughly, hurting each other, etc., at TM, and she has said that it is a rougher atmosphere than either of the schools she attended previously (T.T. Minor and Lowell). But at least with respect to the one incident involving her, I was fine with how it was handled.

agibean1958 said...

Skeptic,

I feel like we're talking about different people entirely, as I've had nothing but caring responses from the staff regarding any issues. The nurse in particular has been, if anything, over-cautious in alerting me to ANY problem, whether it be an asthma flare or a fall in PE. I can't even imagine a setting where she'd be intimidating-she always APOLOGIZES to me for even calling! I will say, though, that it makes perfect sense that she'd want to see an injury caused at school. That's what she's THERE for, after all.

I hope you are able to resolve things. I would also gently ask that despite your anger at the child who hurt yours, you remember that he IS after all, a young child and not a hardened "assailant" and that your DS was NOT actually stabbed. As upset as I was that a boy deliberately injured my daughter, kids have problems with impluse control sometimes and do stupid, mean things. I don't think the boy and my daughter will ever be friends, but they've been able to work it out and do classwork together. I would rather operate with a feather than a hammer, you know?

Anonymous said...

I have heard from other parents that the Thurgood Marshall School Counselor has been much more successful with dealing with and resolving (at least for the time being) student conflict and aggressive behaviors. Based on that I would skip talking to the Principal altogether (as she seems to be in denial, or at least overly protective of the accused) and go directly to the Counselor.

Skeptic said...

I'm sorry if my tone strikes some as a bit overheated. Let's just say that it's been a long, stressful week for me as a worried and frustrated parent of some really great kids who are having a really disappointing school year at the hand of adults who can and should be doing much better.

But if the Thurgood Marshall principal admonishes APP parents one more time to "respect cultural differences in playground behavior," I am going to scream!

Anonymous said...

Skeptic,

I agree with you. Cultural differences should never include "acceptable" levels of violence. We must expect better of all children.

(I'm still trying to figure out how an "accidental" stabbing can occur.)

I hope your son is feeling better.
--Another TM 3rd grade parent

Anonymous said...

Seattle Public Schools has a zero tolerance policy for violence. An assault is quite serious and should result in an immediate suspension after the Safety and Security Department at Seattle Public Schools is notified. See

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/discipline/index.dxml

and

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/discipline/navsubs.nav?index=8

This is supposed to be a consistent standard across Seattle Public Schools. Zero tolerance for violence.

hschinske said...

We got the Hamilton newsletter today, and the assistant principal (Jo Shapiro) reported that they now plan to give parents the MAP scores for both the fall and winter testing after the winter testing in January.

"Originally, we hoped to provide you with your student's MAP scores as part of the first quarter grading period. Although we have the results from the first assessment we are asking our families to be patient so that we can do a more thorough job analyzing the results and comparing our fall assessment with our winter assessment. The winter assessment is scheduled for January, prior to the end of the semester. By this time our staff will have completed a second training and will better understand how to use the MAP student data. We are looking forward to providing you this information by the end of January."

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how things are going at Hamilton this year. I have heard that they have cancelled a math class? And that the curriculum in general is lacking. Does anybody have any first hand knowledge?

Anonymous said...

Is anyone contemplating opting their kids out of the next round of MAP testing?

Skeptic said...

My two APP kids at Thurgood Marshall won't be participating in any more MAP testing until someone can show me how it benefits them. Teachers aren't using this information to tailor learning to kids' specific needs, so what's the point?

What would happen if every APP parent who was frustrated with the program for whatever reason opted out of testing, too? Would someone finally start to listen to us?

Dorothy said...

Regarding MAP, I just heard from a parent at View Ridge that they are using MAP as intended. VR is (as far as I can recall) a Spectrum school but they've been using an inclusion model for years, so perhaps more like a well run ALO ought to be.

Anyway, they are using MAP data to ability group for math. For instance, there are four second grades. Based on MAP assessment, the kids move around between the four rooms for math. Three of the four rooms are teaching third grade math. I personally think this can work as well with fewer classes per grade with some flexibility between grades. It's exactly what MAP is supposed to be used for, and wouldn't it be great if APP and other programs followed this lead?

ArchStanton said...

Hey Greg; just so we don't hijack the other blog, http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2009/12/governors-cutting-everywhere.html it might be worth opening a state budget cut thread here.

•Suspend the state program for gifted education, which affects nearly 23,000 students. ($7.4 million)