Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Open thread

Please discuss whatever you like!

Update: In the comments, Squeagle gives a useful summary of a Thurgood Marshall meeting today with Principal Julie Breidenbach. Worth reading.

19 comments :

Lori said...

Was there an APP advisory committee meeting last nite? Can anyone summarize what was discussed? thanks.

squeagle said...

Julie B invited parents to come for a "Coffee Chat" at the TM library today. I'm glad I went. I came out feeling like she knows her school, and is making smart choices (given that she has some unusual challenges).

She talked frankly. She discussed the challenges of getting kids tested into the program—first, testing comes so early in the year, teachers often don't know their kids well enough to identify candidates in time to recommend them for testing. Then, the nuts and bolts of the testing process can be difficult for some families to navigate, and without intensive follow-up by the school, the kid falls through the cracks. Then there's the issue of kindergarteners (and others) not testing well, and who among these can afford the private testing (which is free for FRL but can cost $500, which is a burden if you don't make the FRL cutoff).

Then... really? If we want kids to succeed, we (or somebody) should be looking at age 0-5. Hello.

Then there's the whole "misperceptions about APP" can of worms. APP is "elitist" (this from affluent and poor schools alike); APP kids are socially maladjusted... and your kid is "perfectly normal," so probably isn't APP material. Many of us are familiar with this. (And apparently, we're all loaded.) Julie points out that these prejudices aren't a big issue in Bellevue or Issaquah (we know, we know...). (Me, I wouldn't attribute it to "liberal Seattle," though, just to living in a diverse community. All the differences get flattened out to make everyone less anxious.)

There was mention of the whole "APP walkover" situation that caused such heat last fall. Seems there was a child in the ALO classroom that was off the charts in math, but Julie couldn't get him (or her, don't know) into an APP math lesson (with his math peers) because he wasn't part of the APP program. The heat came from APP families who were very concerned at that point that the APP program was being watered down in the name of inclusiveness. (Do I have that right?) A little transparency could have gone a long way here, but Julie's hands are tied when it comes to discussing individual students. There was no flexibility built into the system, so the child has remain unchallenged in his/her classroom.

What else: Classrooms. There will likely be a 1/2 split APP class at TM next year. So far, it looks like there will be two (somewhat larger) APP 3rd grades, but that will depend on who-all shows up. No computer class next year—any money Julie has is prioritized toward School Nurse hours and math.

There were some pointed questions about money, what we got and how she's choosing to spend it, and why. Julie seems to need to put out fires, put money where the most need is... and the highest need may not be differentiation in 5th grade APP math (for example).

There's some recess program she's interested in—maybe someone else remembers what it's called, I don't, but it sounds good. Parents pointing out we need more adult presence, more staff as well as volunteers. Hoping we'll make better use of volunteers next year.

Also, how huge Lowell is slated to be next year. "Just imagine if APP wasn't split! We wouldn't all be able to fit!" Can some Lowell families opt in to TM? Not with bus transportation. Will they change the borders, or split again? Who knows.

Anyway, there's another coffee chat next month, and I encourage parents to go. If you have pointed questions, Julie won't shy away. Thanks to her for making herself available and being so transparent (in as far as she's able).

TechyMom said...

I think families in the Lowell walk zone could get transportation to TM. Some may decide they want smaller classes, or for their kids to be in class now with the same kids who will go to Washington. I doubt, however, that many will give up the walkable school for that, at least in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me guidance re how you go about arranging to home school your middle-school child in just one subject? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Lowell is having an open house for old and new students the night of May 26th, and our family has a conflict. Will we be smacking ourselves on our foreheads if we don't attend? Like many of you we're juggling a couple of kids with sports and school functions and all of that good stuff--we're going to try and make it but will we be missing something critical if we end up not being able to attend? Thanks for your experiences here!

ArchStanton said...

I don't think you'll be at any disadvantage if you don't attend the open house. There will likely be several scheduled park playdates (at least in the lower grades) during the summer where you and your child can meet kids/families in your child's grade. I don't know how the open house is going to be organized, but frankly, it might be easier to make connections in a smaller playdate environment than at an all school open house.

TechyMom said...

There is also talk about an all-school ice cream social in the summer. There was one last year.

Anonymous said...

About the Lowell open house - what does your kid think about missing it? Would next year be their first at Lowell? If it will be your kid's first year at Lowell, would the open house make them feel better/more excited about changing schools?

We my kids first started at Lowell a few years ago, the open house was a great way for them to meet the teachers for their next grade level and to see the school. I think it helped them feel more connected to the school. As a returning family, we are planning to go so that the kids can meet their potential teacher for next year.

lendlees said...

Going to the open house gave us an idea of which teacher would be a good fit for our child and got him excited about changing schools.

If you can go, I would highly recommend it just for that reason. Even if you go for a quick half hour to meet the potential teachers for next year and let you child get a glimpse of the work he/she will be doing next year.

Maureen said...

Going to the open house gave us an idea of which teacher would be a good fit for our child ...

Can you choose your child's teacher? When and how does that happen?

hschinske said...

A little transparency could have gone a long way here, but Julie's hands are tied when it comes to discussing individual students. There was no flexibility built into the system, so the child has remain unchallenged in his/her classroom.

What the heck is an ALO but an environment that is supposed to have flexibility? And why on earth couldn't Julie mention that there was a student who needed extra challenge? (the same way she JUST DID mention that fact? if it was wrong before, why is it OK now?)

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

exactly Helen!

ArchStanton said...

"Can you choose your child's teacher? When and how does that happen?"

No, you can't choose your child's teacher and they tell you not to request a teacher by name.

IIRC you will get an opportunity to share information about your child that will help them form classes and decide which teacher to place children with. I think this is a collaborative effort between teachers. If you know something about the teacher(s) and feel that your child would be a better fit for a particular teacher, the thing to do is to describe your child's strengths and weaknesses and describe the sort of teacher and classroom environment that you think your child will thrive in - hopefully this meshes with the qualities of the teacher you think you want.

Shannon said...

We are going to the open house even though my son is continuing. He is anxious about being in and "upstairs" class and we're happy to have the chance to explore a bit and see potential teachers.

On the ALO walkover issue, after her years in APP she must know that it is more complex than one child's need for a differentiated class.

I am sure all APP families want kids to be challenged and engaged in their work (ALO, APP, Spectrum). However, without feeling much trust in the District's vision for the program it is hard to see beyond the "thin edge of wedge" argument in cases such as this.

Anonymous said...

What time is the Lowell Open House on May 26th?

I don't see it listed here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/schools/lowell/

Thanks,

Gregg Miller

BL said...

Gregg,
The Lowell open house is from 6:30-7:30 followed by a PTA meeting from 7:30-8:30.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, BL.

The letter from the school just arrived in the mail today (the 18th), and the Open House is tomorrow! I can't be there, but my wife and son plan to go.

Gregg Miller

Anonymous said...

. . . and the open house is not, as it turns out, the 19th, but next Wednesday . . .

gm

Anonymous said...

anonymous asked: "Can anyone give me guidance re how you go about arranging to home school your middle-school child in just one subject? Thanks"

This thread might be dead, but did you get your question answered elsewhere? What subject?

Making arrangements with the school is not as hard as you think, but get your curriculum plans in order well in advance of September. And don't count on being able to use WAVA, as SPS legal blocked some kids from doing so this last year "because they were in APP"!