Friday, November 12, 2010

Q&A with APP AC

Stephanie Bower, the Chair of the APP Advisory Committee, said she would be interested in doing a Q&A with APP parents here on this blog.

Please post any questions you have for the APP Advisory Committee in the comments!

Update: It looks like the Q&A is winding down. I wanted to summarize this long thread, but was struggling trying to do that. Fortunately, someone else already provided an insightful comment that may summarize the reason for much of the turmoil in this Q&A:
I think the APP AC should be recognized for what it is, and not expected to be something it is not. That's why I asked the very first question in this thread, in a (I hope) neutral tone. Stephanie has taken a bit of a beating in this thread and I hope everyone appreciates her willingness to do this, even if you disagree with her.

Stephanie is visibly walking a line so fine it almost doesn't exist, trying to balance the desire to be responsive to parental concerns with the fact that the APP AC is deeply embedded with the existing district process.

As is usual with all similar positions (ombudsman for the press, citizen review panels for the police, the CBO, presidential debate moderators), it is staffed with well-intentioned and capable people who work hard to balance everything they hear while appearing neutral, but they have no real power...and they develop long-lived relationships with the powerful institutions on one side of the process (the district) while the other side (the parents) comes and goes. It's almost inevitable that the conciliatory tone they strike sounds a lot like capitulation, because they are looking for a midpoint between the powerful and the powerless.
I want to thank the APP AC for its work on behalf of APP parents and students. And, I especially want to thank APP AC Chair Stephanie Bower for coming here for the unenviable task of enduring questioning from parents, many of which were quite upset about the past and planned disruptions to APP. Thank you, Stephanie, for being willing to do this.

Update: In addition to the summary by the parent above, Stephanie pointed to her answer to the very first question in this thread as a good summary of the work and role of the APP AC. She asked for it to be added here:
We are not elected officials so we don't really "represent" parent concerns in that way, but we use multiple methods to communicate to and get communication from the APP community.

We hold monthly meetings, email minutes and many emails out to now 1323 people, and some email us with their concerns and thoughts. People email us with all kinds of questions. In the past, we have done surveys, held special meetings (sometimes very large ones), had workshops. We constantly invite people to email us with their concerns. Many on the APP AC are involved in our school buildings, so we talk to parents, staff, and principals.

We are also parents with kids in the schools, so our experience of the program is first-hand. Even several of our staff reps have been or are APP parents. I have 2 in APP since first grade who are now at Garfield, one who also has an IEP/Special Ed for health issues.

The collective information, together with our history and experiences, inform what we say and do. When you are a committee of 16, you get quite a broad representation of the program. We usually send out emails to the list telling people what we are doing, what we are saying, and inviting anyone and everyone to contact us.

We are open to suggestions for better ways to do this!
I want to thank Stephanie again for doing this sometimes contentious Q&A. I hope APP parents, Stephanie, and the other members of the APP AC thought that the Q&A was useful and helped to clarify what the APP AC does for APP parents and what the APP AC probably should not be expected to do.

167 comments:

cheezit said...

Does the APP AC consider it a primary goal to represent parent concerns in the district process?

If so, how does the APP AC ensure that it is really aware of the concerns of APP parents?

Anonymous said...

What can parents do about the issues at Hamilton?

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Cheezit,
we are not elected officials so we don't really "represent" parent concerns in that way, but we use multiple methods to communicate to and get communication from the APP community.
We hold monthly meetings, email minutes and many emails out to now 1323 people, and some email us with their concerns and thoughts. People email us with all kinds of questions. In the past, we have done surveys, held special meetings (sometimes very large ones), had workshops. We constantly invite people to email us with their concerns. Many on the APP Ac are involved in our school buildings, so we talk to parents, staff, and principals.
We are also parents with kids in the schools, so our experience of the program is first-hand. Even several of our staff reps have been or are APP parents. I have 2 in APP since first grade who are now at Garfield, one who also has an IEP/Special Ed for health issues.

The collective information, together with our history and experiences, inform what we say and do. When you are a committee of 16, you get quite a broad representation of the program. We usually send out emails to the list telling people what we are doing, what we are saying, and inviting anyone and everyone to contact us.
We are open to suggestions for better ways to do this!
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Anonymous,
It depends on what kind of issues are going on for you as to where it makes sense to go, what to do.

I would start by emailing Kathy Tanaka, the Hamilton parent rep on our committee. She will bring it forward to the committee to address, and we will take it where needed...to Dr. Vaughan, the principal, school board members, BLT reps, our staff reps on the APP AC, district staff, etc. We already do this on lots of issues.

I would also contact Lisa Renehan, an APP parent who sits on the BLT, building leadership team at HIMS.
She is very experienced in APP issues with 3 kids going through the program, one now in college--we work with her as well.
The building leadership team makes many decisions in schools.

It is important for us to know what is going on in the schools, so please feel free to contact us. It can be kept confidential as well if needed.
Stephanie

lendlees said...

Knowing that the district has not kept any promises for the APP community, what makes you so sure they will do right by us now at the high school level?

We do not have equitable splits at either the elementary or the middle school level and we do not have any written curriculum--all were promised more than a year and a half ago.

Most of us do not trust the district to do anything for APP except take the extra money we bring in from the state.

Where is the advocacy in this?

Sorry to be so snarky here, but I would bet that this decision was made a long time ago and we are just hearing about it now--when it's too late to do anything about it.

Just like before. Only the district made a mistake on capacity when it suggested Hawthorne or else that would have been a done deal, too.

Anonymous said...

I have a question that takes off from Lendlees. I believe the decision was made to split app at the elementary and middle school levels before any announcement had been made to parents.

I believe the high school decision is already made now, and I am not sure why to fight it (I am a north parent, and I would really like my kids to go to Garfield with all their classmates).

Why should parents be involved when the district AND the board have no interest in either our opinions or suggestions? Why should parents believe that anything will be different now when it's only been two years since they last screwed with APP and all the same people are involved?

If you want parent participation, these questions need to be answered. I have been involved in APP for several years, and see lots of worn down parents.

Meg said...

Stephanie - how much flex do you think there is in the district's discussion? Do you get the sense that other options for Garfield's capacity issues are genuinely being considered, or is the district really only looking at some form of splitting HS APP as the solution to Garfield's capacity woes? Do you have any sense of what individual board members think?
Thanks.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Lendlees and Anonymous,
I am also a worn down parent!!!!! I'd say I'm an EXTREMELY worn down parent, in fact!!

Also, I prefer this to be a dialogue and exchange of information. It would be great to avoid snark, as snark just breeds more snark, and is not constructive. I will try to offer my perspective as candidly as possible, but beware, I am long-winded.

I have seen the district do many of the things they said they would do, so I believe they have kept promises. They kept Lowell open (advocacy here). They gave us great Principals at Lowell and TM. They gave Lowell extra funding of around $125,000 (after we brought the disparity to the school board's attention--advocacy here). They allocated extra funds to create music rooms at HIMS (still working on it--advocacy here too). They funded additional music and foreign language teachers at HIMS for 2 years, even though the student numbers were not yet sustaining the pay on their own (design team advocacy for year 2). They paid for staff to participate in design teams. They have provided the Advanced Learning office more staff in an era of many cutbacks and layoffs, so they can develop their advanced learning offerings. The advanced learning office pays for teachers to get together vertically and horizontally between schools to plan curriculum together for consistency across buildings, which was a big issue we pushed for. There are other things too. Could the schools use more support? You bet, but schools are losing librarians and nurses because of district and state-wide funding issues and a rotten economy, not becuase APP is targeted for destruction. There are problems with perception of APP, though.

As far as north/south balance, we have been concerned about this since we imagined splits years ago. But both Hamilton and WMS are robust. Lowell is bursting at the seams, and TM will take time to build. This year seems to have gone much smoother at TM, and I suspect enrollment will grow there in the future as a result. More support would have been good at both elementary schools, but the principals kept it together. What really counts is what happens in the classroom, and the APP teachers have worked hard to keep that consistent before and after the split.
{continued in next post}

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

{continued from previous post}

We do have APP curriculum. Curriculum is like a flowing river, not static, it is always changing, developing, and hopefully improving, so it is hard to catch a snapshot of it. We talk about curriculum ALL THE TIME at our APP AC meetings. Teachers are teaching something, they are coordinating something, your kids are learning something that sequences up each year--there absolutely is curriculum. Dr. Vaughan created a spread sheet with the curriculum for grades 1-12 last year and presented it at several APP AC meetings. Curriculum is a work in progress. Yes, more time and money would make it better faster.

As far as the conspiracy theory, I don't think that has happened either. From what I have seen, I don't believe the district thinks that far ahead that specifically, which is different problem altogether, but not a conspiracy.

Going way back to the split, after speaking individually with nearly all the school board members,
it became obvious to me the split happened becuase of the district and school board members' vision for APP...they basically don't want "all their eggs in one basket" and felt that spreading it around and co-housing would make it more accessible. We will be debating that for years to come, but maybe it has, as overall numbers are up, not down as some parents predicted.

I am not one to wear rose-colored glasses, but I do see that mostly, people are trying their best to do the right thing--parents, teachers, administrators, and even the school board. They had a different idea of what the right thing was.

As for now, we are talking with school board members to find out if they are thinking what we are thinking, advocating for the cohort to remain at Garfield first, then looking at what a gifted high school program could look like...remember, Lowell is open and not closed, so there is the possiblity of influencing decisions.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Meg,
you are asking the same questions we are. We are now going to speak with individual school board members to learn what their priorities are, to communicate our priorities, and find out where we are. I will be able to answer your question better next week.
Once we speak with them, we will formulate a plan for advocacy and ask others to participate.
Stephanie

lendlees said...

Stephanie-

1) Have you and/or other members of the APP-AC visited Interlake HS?

2) Has anyone advocated putting Lincoln on BEX to relieve the overcrowding at Garfield rather than moving APP out?

And, snark aside (your comment is duly noted), the only reason Lowell stayed open was there wasn't anywhere else to put the north-end APP students or the medically fragile special education students. So, I'm not sure that I would hold that up as the poster-child of advocacy.

Thanks.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Lendlees,
Yes, Geeta and I visited Interlake and met with the principal and other staff there.

Lincoln is a possibility, but we are hearing it might be needed during an Eckstein renovation in the future.

I don't believe those are the only reasons Lowell stayed open. It is a very large elementary school building, somewhat well-located for a half-city draw. We advocated to keep APP in a fairly central location for a variety of reasons, including it is easier for staff to collaborate across buildings.
Stephanie
(trying to be brief and definitely appreciating the snark-free posts!)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie--I may be one of many parents who did not see or overlooked information about receiving meeting minutes, etc. Is the information about getting on that list something you can point me and others to? Thanks!

AnotherNEMom

Anonymous said...

Dear Stephanie,
It really depresses me to read a post in which you congratulate yourself about how the split at Lowell went.

My children had a miserable year at Thurgood Marshall, and we have now given up on APP entirely as a result. Two years ago, when I watched you at those meetings about the split, warning that elementary-school parents should simply take what the district was offering lest they turn around and offer something worse, it broke my heart. Then, when I started attending APP AC meetings to see if any of the members were concerned about the split and saw instead that meetings consisted largely of members taking turns praising Dr. Vaughan and each other for a job well done, I was heartbroken all over again.

I hope you'll do more on behalf of the high-school community this time around.

Two in the program said...

Sadly, I have to agree with the previous post.

In previous iterations the battles were fought more vigorously. Things played out very poorly this time and while some of your efforts are certainly appreciated, reading the blogs recently it seems like you're losing the confidence of many community members.

The results of the splits are NOT good, either at the elementary or middle school levels, and it doesn't help to gloss over the problems as we face the possibility of a repeat performance at high school. If we (you) are really taking a strong position against a high school split, you need to keep every one of the problems with the existing splits frontmost and center in the conversations. With the Board members, with the media, with staff, with the community. Otherwise such a position lacks credibility.

When you say "it became obvious to me the split happened becuase of the district and school board members' vision for APP...they basically don't want "all their eggs in one basket" and felt that spreading it around and co-housing would make it more accessible."

Could you elaborate please? This is really, really important stuff. I've heard similar words from Board members. It's the crux of the whole notion of splits, and yet it makes absolutely no sense at all.

Charlie Mas said...

While the principals at the APP schools are great, and while the funding at Lowell to replace the lost Title I funding the students had at TT Minor is also welcome, those are not promises that the District made concurrent with the split.

When the District made the elementary and middle school split, they promised a few specific things. They promised that the programs would be comparable in size and quality - but they are not. They promised a written, aligned, taught and tested curriculum - and we don't have that.

They can say that a curriculum isn't a written document, but that's not what they were saying when they promised it. The general education program for the District has a written curriculum.

There was a promise of music classes at Hamilton and the school and the District have made good on that promise to the extent that it could be expected. That has happened. But let's not pretend that the District has kept their promises to this community.

Where is the Parent Advisory Committee for Spectrum and ALOs? I haven't heard from them for years. Are they still around? Who advocates for those programs?

Where is the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee or Steering Committee, or whatever that was supposed to be formed? I don't see it.

Where is the response to the APP Audit? That was supposed to be a project of the Strategic Plan but it appears to have been quietly dropped. No one talks about it anymore.

Where is there no quality assurance for any of the Advanced Learning programs? Where is there no regulation of them? Some schools have gone back to blended Spectrum - which is nothing - and other schools are only allowing Spectrum-eligible students participate in their ALOs. That's not how these programs are supposed to work.

Does the APP AC submit an annual report and set of recommendations to the superintendent and does the superintendent respond to it as required by Board Policy? Where are these annual reports and responses?

The APP AC is appointed by the superintendent and is supposed to be advising her. How many times has she met with the group to get their advice? Whom does the group advise? What advice has the group given?

Charlie Mas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi AnotherNEMom

You can sign on to the list serve at

http://groups.google.com/group/app-ac-seattle
and click on "join this group" to sign up. If that doesn't work,
contact our communications rep who manages the list,
Robert Njegovan robertnappac@gmail.com
and he can add you.
All the past emails are on the google site as well, so you can dig into the archive.
Stephanie

Bird said...

Stephanie,

Could you address what is going on at HIMS with regard to advanced math? It sounds like parents have been struggling to get appropriate math instruction and that the level of instruction has dropped since the split. I'd like to know what the APP AC has done in terms of advocacy here.

From a posting on Seattle Public Schools Blog


For some background: there are three separate situations with HIMS math, one for each grade at Hamilton right now. Last year there were a number of 7th graders in geometry, who asked and waited forever to understand what would happen to them this year. Eventually half-hearted plans were made for them to be class TAs, but even that fell apart after the school year had already started. They were booted and are doing independent online courses, but not as a group. Neither the school nor the district was helpful in the process.

The current 7th graders' story began last year when several very highly qualified 6th graders were refused enrollment in Algebra I. In fact, some of the kids actually were enrolled in the class for a full month and unceremoniously booted down to the pre-algebra class, ignoring their classwork, MAP scores, and any other relevant data.

McClure Parent also said If people really want to do advanced work, they can do it. If they really want to complain about how they got shafted, because they didn't get their learning in the self-contained setting they dreamed of, they can do that too. It's all in the goal.

So to your point, for the 6th graders last year, there was an existing class with plenty of open seats, a willing teacher, and eager students who were performing very strongly in class. No one was asking for anything special, just a seat in an existing class. Parents were given excuse after excuse, and in some cases outrageous tales of why the kids couldn't be in that class.

While the decision was technically signed by the principal, the "orders" came from Bob Vaughan downtown. As far as I know, no one has ever gotten a straight, believable answer about why this happened. And there were many, many emails and conversations.

Some of the kids dropped one period and did math independently outside school, some stayed in school and took and extra math class on the side to "keep up" with their cohort. All of this took great effort and it wasn't free. And with great difficulty they all eventually got permission to take geometry in the building this year, but like the current 8th graders right now, there will be nothing for them in the building next year. Again, to your point, no one is expecting a "self-contained" class. But not only do we not get a real class, we can't even get a back-of-the-room with a little teacher help class. We can't get help coordinating an online class through school. We get absolutely nothing. The kids are just abandoned until high school.

Lastly, the current 6th graders were just flat out barred from taking Algebra I from the get-go, and apparently their parents didn't have any fight left in them after watching what happened to the older kids.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Anonymous at 10:02pm,

I'm truly sorry your experience has not been good for you and your family. I know you are not the only one.

The split is not what I or the APP AC wanted or advocated for, but we saw the writing on the wall and made the decision that if there was no other option, we would do what we could to make the outcome the best possible for our kids.
We are parents in the program too.

I have seen Dr. Vaughan over the past few years and know he advocates for our kids. I have personally seen at least one previous manager before him who wanted to completely do away with APP and had the support of the Superintendent to do that. Those were extremely stressful days. So I am grateful to Dr. Vaughan for what he does.

APP is still here, different because of the Superintendent and School Board's decisions, but here, and amazingly, growing. The way it looks now is not a good match for some, but it is for many, including new folks who are just starting the program. We hear from parents who are unhappy, and we also hear from parents who are quite happy with the way things are now. APP has never been appropriate for every student who qualifies. But I am truly sorry that you and some others have felt the need to leave. I don't think anyone wanted that.
Last year was very hard on us all.
Stephanie

Charlie Mas said...

One of the promises with the split was that students would be able to pursue advanced math - Algebra in 6th grade, Geometry in 7th grade, and Algebra II in 8th grade.

The District has clearly reneged on that promise as well.

So the consolation prizes are great, but we're looking for the primary elements that were promised in the split - the ones that we're not getting.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Two in the program,

This was also hard for us to understand initially when we met with school board members. We brought data, great arguments, pleaded our case to each one, but it did not work. And we had good data and arguments, so did everyone at Lowell who worked so very hard and with great passion. But their work also didn't prevent the splits.

This is my opinion and others may disagree, but this is what I saw.
I believe our pleas did not work for a variety of reasons...among them perception of APP as elitist and not diverse enough, and the Superintendent and school board's desire to grow the program and increase access around the city.
And they are the ones with the power to make decisions to fulfill their vision.

Again, we will go round in circles for years about the success of the split in achieving those goals.

We see the problems from the splits, such as scheduling problems in middle school and split classes in elementary school. We also experience them as parents involved in our schools. We definitely do not gloss over them, our committee actually works with the connections we have developed to bring them to light and try to resolve them. We are doing that now with the Hamilton music rooms, for example. But we are parents and staff, not school board members or the Superinentdent.

But please know that we hear from parents who are also OK with how things are now too, and many are glad their school is closer to home.
Stephanie

hschinske said...

I have seen Dr. Vaughan over the past few years and know he advocates for our kids. I have personally seen at least one previous manager before him who wanted to completely do away with APP and had the support of the Superintendent to do that. Those were extremely stressful days. So I am grateful to Dr. Vaughan for what he does.

Yeah, well, sometimes it's King Log being better than King Stork. And these days, when they're actually letting him do a few things, it's more like King Storklet being better than King Stork.

I'm not at all grateful to Bob Vaughan for nixing sixth-grade algebra, as it appears he did. Nor am I happy about the push for AP classes at earlier ages. I would much prefer a more developmentally appropriate curriculum, after the model of Ms. Shadow's teaching, at an appropriate level and depth, but with less stress and less in the way of high-stakes consequences. I think AP classes should absolutely be available as an OPTION for younger students as necessary, but not as a one-size-fits-all substitute for gifted accommodation. (The suggestion of "accelerated IB" sounds much the same.)

Not to mention that he's made any number of promises about APP at Garfield not being broken up, and indeed predicted that the new boundaries would actually *eliminate* the pressure to break up APP, and it's all fallen through.

Bob Vaughan is a nice, intelligent, well-meaning fellow who has taken huge amounts of crap from the district and from parents over the years, and tried to do his best to hold Advanced Learning together with hardly any funding and often little respect. I get that. I really do. I still vehemently disagree with some of his actions.

Helen Schinske

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Charlie,
you were on the APP AC, so you know how it goes. I sat next to you when you, Jane Fellner, and I presented our case to not split years ago...so you know how this goes and what we can and cannot accomplish.

I cannot speak to the Spectrum or ALO advisories, but I have heard that Roger Daniels is supposed to be addressing that this year. There don't seem to be parents stepping forward to create these groups. But there needs to be.

As far as work and groups coming out of the APP Audit, I for one, was not happy with that audit and how and when it was done. I wish it were a better document. There are some recommendations that are worth pursuing and the district should incorporate those into their work.

Quality assurance, we work on that with our committee, as we have staff from each of the schools on the APP AC. But what quality comes down to is teaching, and teachers are hired by principals who operate under union rules. We have been able to sit on some hiring teams, but have not had access to others. We have also asked Dr. Vaughan to work on this issue, but he is limited as well, because it is school principals who hire the teachers and oversee what they do
and how they do it. If you want to lobby someone about quality, go to the school principals. We do.

As the committee has evolved, we don't directly report to or work with the Superintendent. We work with Dr. Vaughan who now reports directly to the CAO. We are fortunate to have a manager (after many years) who works with us and understands the APP community. If needed, we contact the CAO and Superintendent and have gotten responses and a certain level of support for APP.
We have found it very important to work with school board members, however. They are the superintendent's bosses and at times, have intervened to change things on behalf of parents.
It is a really good idea for folks to develop positive relationships with their school board member.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Bird, I was at a meeting last year where the Hamilton math was brought up. Some parents were clearly upset about it, but it felt like the APP AC was supporting the district on this. Stephanie was trying to downplay the situation. Didn't make sense to me.

georgia said...

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for opening up this Q&A.

Our child is in his second year in elementary APP at TM and his experience has been net positive.

My concern is that the split, at least at the elementary level, is not equitable in terms of program size. As you know, Bob Vaughn is aware of this and has said that the south end has fewer applications for testing than the north. I know he is trying to address this issue - but I am concerned that a N/S split at the HS level would create an unsustainably small APP program at Garfield.

My question: I understand that the APP AC/you are advocating for not splitting HS APP. I think the issue has been well communicated (on this blog, saveseattleschools, emails - an email went to all TM parents yesterday, coordinated by the TM APP AC rep and the TM APP Teachers). Do you have insights into the specific things that parents are doing to mobilize (e.g, how are current Garfield parents mobilizing? What are Washington/Hamilton parents doing? when are relevant meetings being held with the district? What are other forums for advocacy?)

It seems to me that a unified front across all APP levels would help. It would be helpful if we could use this and the saveseattleschools blog as a means to inform parents of the entire scope of actions being taken, so we could a)be aware, b) engage.

We all have busy lives. I would hate to miss out on an opportunity to be part of a larger forum because I was unaware. Some may think I'm being naive (that our voices can make a difference) but I'd hate to regret not trying.

Thanks for your time.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Math questions:

the math situation has gotten very emotional for parents from Hamilton, who sometimes attend the meetings to argue their case to Dr. Vaughan there. That situation will not be resolved in front of 50 people, one or two overtaking the meeting with their personal cases. We always have so much to get through in the meetings, which is why we now start half an hour earlier. They are marathons that typically go for 2.5-3 hours.

The math situation is complicated,
I will try and write more later on it. I personally did not support parents going to the registrar at HIMS and self-accelerating their kids a year ahead of the APP cohort.

However, the APP AC has supported the need to offer rigorous math to meet the needs of our kids, and that might be 3 years accelerated for some. The loss of that level of math in the splits is something we do not support. We continue to put this issue on our agendas and to bring the issue up repeatedly with Dr. Vaughan as something that still needs to be addressed.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Georgia,
thank you for your thanks, and it is great to hear your child's experience at TM is positive.

I'm starting to spend all my time on email lately (neglecting my son's birthday!), so I have to be brief.
Do you get the APP AC emails?
We have sent out notice of 2 meetings next week, one at Garfield 6:30 on Monday, November 15, the other at Ingraham 6:30pm Wednesday, November 17.
If you are not getting these emails, please sign up at http://groups.google.com/group/app-ac-seattle?pli=1
There are around 1320 on the list now.

We are in the process of collecting information before we figure out what to do and what to suggest parents might do. Parents can do that as well by attending the meetings, reading about Ingraham and Interlake and Garfield online. The ptsa at Garfield has been very active in supporting the presence of APP, but I don't know that they necessarily want all of APP in the building. I don't know that they will support the growth of APP in the school as it takes over a larger and larger percentage of the school and potentially displaces the neighborhood students. One could argue that the "neighborhood" was drawn too big.
While APP has certainly contributed greatly to Garfield's many success, there has also historically been some resentment toward APP in the building.
Stephanie

hschinske said...

I personally did not support parents going to the registrar at HIMS and self-accelerating their kids a year ahead of the APP cohort.

If the teacher didn't have a problem with it, I don't see why anyone else should. I sure don't. My son's in a math class that meets his needs (typical APP level of algebra 1 in 7th), and other people should have classes that meet theirs. Otherwise it would be like saying, well, my kid has kind of big feet, no one else that age should need shoes any bigger than his are.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Would like to explore this idea of moving the APP HS into Lincoln. My impression when HIMS was there that the school was not completely filled. Is there enough capacity to co-house programs?

Eckstien would not be there for more than a year or two. I think having an APP HS where all APP students could continue on regardless of where they went to middle school is a wonderful idea.

Anyway to look into the feasibilty of this?

Another thought is down the road the APP HS could be turned into a 6-12 program (like what was done in West Seattle.) This would relieve the over-crowding at HIMS.

Anonymous said...

The SAME THEME has been repeated over and over. For YEARS. Here it is again: APP as a program for the highest of the highly capable works best when it is large enough to offer some choices. Not all Highly Capable students are the same. Not all Highly Capable students need the same lockstep level of Math, or Reading, or Music, or anything. We had a program that worked well with ONE cohort. If you "expand" the program, you effectively kill it by turning it into a Spectrum program. If you divide the program into smaller groups, you effectively kill it by reducing choice and forcing one sizes fits all approaches to the smaller group of kids at each site.

When we asked the district what benefit to APP students should we expect from the program splits and changes they had no answer. There is no answer, because there is no benefit to the students.

It makes some school measures look better. It allows some students to attend a closer school, at the expense of a lesser educational experience. It satisfies some district goals of inclusion and anti-elitism. But it does not help the kids.

It also drives more families out of the public schools and into private.

Anonymous said...

When GARFIELD was housed at Lincoln, it was a spacious and workable facility. There is no chance that the district will want to move Garfield back there after building a new building at Garfield, but it would make a wonderful site for APP. I would strongly support a 6-12 APP, or even a K-12 APP on that site. It would be a solution to all the issues of all the splits.

Anonymous said...

I attended the Kay Smith Blum meeting at Lowell a couple of weeks ago. I saw Geeta there, so I am sure you heard all about it. The stories parents told about their kids' experiences at Hamilton were not positive. We heard about the math problems, but we also heard about a principal and several teachers who appear not to be APP supporters (even a report of a teacher who said an anti app comment to an app student). We also heard about language arts teachers who don't have the proper materials to teach their classes.

A parent also reported that non APP parents are not happy with APP because it sounds like they will lose their weight room due to orchestra...? There was also talk about general issues with overcrowding there. Will APP be moved from there in a couple of years?

The district keeps using APP to relieve overcrowding issues instead of solving the real problems. The Garfield boundaries are huge and moving APP out of Garfield is only a temporary stop gap.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Anonymous at 12:27pm...

we are probably going to get into philosophical differences if we go down this road,and this discussion could go round and round for a long time.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course.
Lowell pre-split was good for a certain kind of APP student. Not all who qualified went, and some who went, left. So it was not perfect. My kids who are now in 9th and 11th grades went through Lowell since 1st grade. At the time, it met certain needs but not others. I was a parent there for 7 years.
Many wanted to make the move to Hamilton. We did not hear a big outcry from the WMS parent community. We found that rather surprising.

Having the program at 2 sites has NOT killed the program or turned it into Spectrum. In fact it is GROWING, more people want to come, that is what is putting pressure on the situation at Garfield.
APP is still a test-in program, we have mostly the same teachers, the same students. Where the rubber hits the road, in the classroom, is much the same as before the splits.

Changing the make up of the building has not impacted the core of what APP is, and it is allowing our kids to get a more diverse public school experience. Some will say they PREFER That, it is why they send their kids to pubic schools.

All transitions are hard, and this change was a painful process, starting with an announcement about closing our elementary building. It was ugly. But things are settling. Better or worse depends on what your personal priorities are.
Stephanie

Syd said...

Is it possible to have an all hands on deck APP meeting? This is big, and is not going to be addressed with small groups of parents. Next year's 9th grade families should not be the only ones with a voice.

Can the APP AC coordinate a meeting like this - APP K-12?

Two in the program said...

In fact it is GROWING, more people want to come, that is what is putting pressure on the situation at Garfield.

Stephanie, this is just not true, and by repeating the district mantra you are misleading people. There has always been high demand for seats in the advanced learning programs, but the program is growing because of two reasons:

1) Lowering APP entry criteria
2) Poor support for Spectrum

You can throw the bad economy in the mix, but that's out of the control of the district, and will eventually reverse.

This combination of poor support weakens both levels of advanced learning.

There is a good discussion of this on another thread, here: Open Thread starts midway down, Nov 10, after 8:44pm, through the end. Worth reading.

APP is still a test-in program, we have mostly the same teachers, the same students. Where the rubber hits the road, in the classroom, is much the same as before the splits.

Except where it isn't:

1) Higher math has all but been killed in middle school. If there's no classroom, it's hardly the same as before.
2) Less sections mean the kids can't even get the classes they want
3) It's not all the same teachers, and without a certificate required in WA we're getting some teachers that really don't understand gifted ed needs.

I could go on and on, but you already know these things. The problem is that you are glossing over the bad stuff and it's not helpful. All these things have to be daylighted and highlighted to the board, the media, new families that don't understand, and everyone else that has any interest.

Steve said...

There are two simultaneous meetings going on this Wednesday (Nov. 15). One is a board meeting, and the other is the meeting at Ingrahm about Advanced Learning and the "new" APP option. It's rotten that these are happening at the same time, but whatever. I propose two things:

1. Those of us who can attend either meeting try to organize and split up so that there are APP parents at both meetings, ideally delivering a similar message. I like Charlie's post as a summary, and others have great things to add as well. I'd be happy to keep track of attendees (via email) and try to even out the participation.

2. Stephanie, before Wednesday, can you post the specific positions of each board member regarding APP (current plan, general strategy, etc.) so that those who attend each meeting can specifically reference them? I like what 501(c)(3) organizations do before elections: they ask the same questions of all candidates, and then report the results so there is more transparency about each candidate's position.

We have little or no control over the Superintendent, and while the board does what the board does, it might help to remind them that they are elected officials and we are putting them on record about their support (or lack of support) for APP. Your conversations with the board members in the near-term will be valuable for us to learn where we stand. I hope you will share the details with us in time to act upon it.

(I love the idea of using two iPhones to "broadcast" the proceedings to each meeting. Standing at the podium showing the board live video of the large group of parents at the APP meeting will help bring us all into the room. Not snarky, but fun).

Jessica said...

Stephanie,

Thank you for answering questions in this forum.

Do you know how many current APP students at Garfield live north of the Ship Canal -- and to what extent opening a second APP site would "solve" Garfield's enrollment problem? Or whether it would just slice off a few hundred students without making much difference over time?

I'll just add here that as a new APP parent with one student at TM, I'm very pleased with the academic program so far. There was a schoolwide family/student dance at TM last night and the atmosphere was energetic and friendly. Other parents have told me that Year 2 for APP at TM has been very smooth and uneventful compared to Year 1.

So whatever complaints or worries people have about the elem APP split, they might want to take a second look. I have plenty of friends who are spending $25k/child for private school, and they look kinda wistful when I tell them about APP.

In the APP vs. private school debate, I think that parents and children should be realistic that APP may not provide everything for their "highly capable children," but that's what you get for "free."

Bird said...

Stephanie,

Thanks once again for stepping up to publicly address concerns on this blog.

The math situation is complicated,
I will try and write more later on it. I personally did not support parents going to the registrar at HIMS and self-accelerating their kids a year ahead of the APP cohort.


My child is an elementary student. I'm removed from the HIMS math issues, but I do find them very, very worrying.

I don't understand the district's position on this. It looks bad. It looks to me, in the absence of other information, like I should seriously consider private middle school for my child.

Can you at the very least give some insight to parents like me about what exactly the district's position is on this and why they would try to prevent students from participating an accelerated math class?

For an outside observer, it makes little sense.

It sounds like you have some understanding of the district's reasoning and may even share it. Could you please help clarify it here?

It would be extremely helpful.

Two in the program said...

Another very bothersome tactic that the district uses all the time (and it almost feels like the APP AC has used on occasion as well), goes something like:

Yes, some people don't like this decision, but we hear from people who love it as well!

So without actually lying, 100 people might hate a decision while 3 people liked it, and yet the district plays this out as if it was a wash.

This kind of statement was made about the Lowell split, and yet the support was overwhelmingly against the split. Like 98%. Granted, this was families in the building, so it was primarily those for which the current system worked well. But very few families outside the system were swayed by the change, making it a terrible decision.

Question vigorously when these types of statements are made!

This is one area in which the APP AC could be very helpful. Surveys. Yes there have been a couple, but this is something that should be done on an ongoing basis, not only to help understand the needs and desires of the program, but to gather banks of uncompromised data to be used as evidence when poorly thought out proposals are being discussed. Especially proposals that use obviously false assumptions.

For example, right now we are hearing about a potential program at Ingraham, and we're hearing that families are interested in it. Is that 2 people or 200? And what defines "interest"? I have a hard time believing there is a lot of strong desire for a program that is yet to be defined (although I could be wrong - prove it in a survey!). This kind of information should be helpful to Bob Vaughan's office as well. I'd guess that any such poll right now would have a huge majority choosing the I Don't Know Because There Isn't Enough Information option.

Oh, and no push-polls! ;-)

David said...

Reading all the Q&A here, it seems to me that a lot of the debate can be boiled down to differences in what we consider advocacy on behalf of APP.

For the moment, assume that it is accurate to say that most on the board and in the district are at best indifferent and at worst hostile to APP. How should the APP AC deal with that?

If I hear Stephanie Bower correctly, she is saying that the APP AC should accept that, in the face of indifference and hostility, the best we can do is nudge things around a bit to be as favorable to us as possible while acknowledging that the outcomes aren't going to be ideal or even all that good. We have to accept what the situation is. We have to do our best working within what exists.

If I hear some of the others commenting here correctly, they are arguing that we should attempt to change the indifference and hostility, by organizing parents into a serious lobbying organization that constantly points out the value of APP to the district (in, for example, funding, market share, and test scores) and into a serious political organization that supports candidates in school board elections that are supportive of APP.

Do other people think that is a fair summary of the difference? And, Stephanie, what is your reaction to this characterization of the difference of what you and what other people might mean by advocacy?

lendlees said...

Two in the program-

A survey would be a critical piece. I've asked KSB if staff will send out one before they decide to move APP and she assured that they would, but knowing their conflicting priorities, it would be more expedient to do our own.

Three questions is all it would take:

1) What is your assignment area high school? (offer a list to choose from)
2) Would you choose a traditional high school program such as Garfield or would you choose a program like Interlake in Bellevue (link to website) that offers a combined Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate, sited at Ingraham?
3) If you were not given a choice and were assigned to Ingraham's AP/IB program, would you choose your assignment area high school instead?

Very simple, very easy to tally and get a really good understanding of where folks stand. Gets rid of the hearsay and boils it down to concrete numbers. If folks really do choose their assignment high school over the AP/IB school, then the district will need to account for that in the upcoming transition plan...and in their budget as they will lose at least transportation $$ if they lose APP students.

So, Stephanie-can we send a survey like this to the 1323 folks on the mailing list?

hschinske said...

Good list, lendlees. But what about other choices, such as private school, Nova, or STEM? I can see leaving private school off (force a choice among public school options) but the all-city draw public options ought to be there, seems to me.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Survey questionS:

Would you support an APP HS @ Lincoln?
Would support a 6-12 APP program at Lincoln?

lendlees said...

Oooh. Thanks Helen. Forgot about the all-city draws.

Redo question #3 to read:
3) If you were not given Garfield as a choice which high school would you choose?
a) Assignment area school
b) The Center School
c) Ingraham AP/IB
d) NOVA
e) STEM @ Cleveland
f) Other (please specify)

We would probably want to redo question #2 as well to incorporate the all-city draw schools to ensure we account for those families who would choose those schools over Garfield.

Anonymous said...

I'm removed from the HIMS math issues, but I do find them very, very worrying.

I agree with this statement and also want to point out that at the time the WMS split was made, there were explicit promises that the district and Bob Vaughn were both aware that advanced math was going to be an issue. They promised either an in school option or a district provided transport to a High School would be provided.

This is a repeated pattern with APP. District promises are not kept. They are used to get concerned parents to shut-up.

Like the general "some people are in favor" or "some people were positive" comments often made by the district, there is no way to verify, there is no way to evaluate and there is no way to weigh the impact. It's just a technique to deflect criticism.

Yes, APP is not a program for everyone. But there was a group of kids it was right for who do poorly in other environments. When you try to expand the program to appeal to others for whom is was not right in it's current form, you may find some new kids who thrive in the modified program. But you risk doing so at the expense of the kids for whom the old program was working. They lose something that worked for them.

For the most part, lowering APP standards does increase the size of the program, but it changes the target and diminishes the value to the original group. I understand the School District's desire to score political points, but I'm very upset that the schools seem more interested in politics and ideology and less interested in education. That's wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good questions lendlees, but maybe rephrasing of question number two to say: Would you choose the traditional APP placement at GHS or or would you choose a program like Interlake in Bellevue (link to website) that offers a combined Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate, sited at Ingraham?



Mary

Anonymous said...

Also, to add to my previous post. The questions assume that APP is leaving GHS. Is that what you want to present to the district? If the preference of most is to have APP stay intact at GHS or at another location, it is important to say that.

Mary

uxolo said...

Mercer Island was enrolling middle school Seattle students. Maybe MIHS is going to be an option.

Do not rely on the APP AC to speak for you regarding GHS. Write your own letters, lots of letters and write to the Bd and copy the mayor.

I agree with Two in the Program. Poor support of Spectrum has drawn kids to APP. Poor decision on boundaries for GHS led to overcrowding. Forcing kids to Ingraham? Absurd.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Wow, a lot to respond to.
This could take over my life--it pretty much has.

I will respond as much as I am able, but clearly, some people will disagree with pretty much anything I write. I would rather provide information than get into philosophical debates, as those minds will never be swayed. I don't want to get caught up in posts that just want to vent, pick fights, or kill the messenger (who would be me here). I hope we can all respect this.

From what I have seen, the few who speak out on blogs can create a skewed sense of what is going on and how people are feeling, as it's usually those of us who are unhappy about something who speak up, sounding pretty angry. And sometimes the negativity can spread like wildfire and suddenly everyone is questioning everything, everything looks terrible. In a similar way, our APP meetings mostly focus on problems too. But particularly in blogs, like in crowds, fear and doubt can take over. I think it's important to speak up about problems but also keep things in perspective.

A handful of people participate in blogs, some numbers go to meetings, etc. but the vast majority just send their kids to school and are fine. And this includes students in math at HIMS.

Could things be better? I'm sure they could. Things can always be better, especially in our schools, especially when there is so little funding.

I don't believe I or the APP AC gloss over problems, indeed, our committee tends to highlight them. But we see a wide spectrum of problems as well as good things, at all 5 schools. There needs to be a balance, and we need to prioritize problems and try to address those most urgent. There is a lot of information in our meeting minutes, and more if you come to meetings.
And there were problems before the splits too.

A few folks write in who are OK with things, and parents email our committee too or talk to us at events. I invite more of you to speak up with your positive experiences so we have some balance in what we all read.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Syd,
yes, we are trying to set a date for an all-hands APP community meeting.
It will likely be just after Thanksgiving, as people travel the week of the holiday.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Helen, we agree that kids should be appropriately served.
However, no where in APP can parents pick the level of their kids' classes.

What if Spectrum parents walked into the school, went to the registrar and placed their kids in APP LA simply because they want to? We lose the integrity of the self-contained model if parents start to do this on their own. It is a slippery slope.
Even teachers cannot place students. At TM last year, there were non-APP students placed in APP classes for science at the beginning of the year. A delicate problem to reverse something like that, but it went as high as the Chief Academic Officer who reaffirmed that APP is a self-contained program in elementary and middle school.
These issues are not happening at WMS as far as I know. Some districts have self-selection into their gifted programs.

I think those parents had good intentions for their children, but they took advantage of the new school and new principal. The kids were not kicked out of math, they never should have been in those classes in the first place.

That is protocol, it does not address the issue of a need for a third year of acceleration. Some probably do need it, and we want those students to be served.
But let me ask, should the district be responsible for offering a higher level of math if parents go out privately and accelerate their kids? Should it feasible to run a class for 4 kids when other classes are filled to capacity?

Clearly, this all needs to be resolved, and that will not happen in an APP AC meeting! There seem to be issues with math and the new curriculum at many levels. I don't fully understand it all, I am not a math expert as some are, but as parents keep bringing these issues forward, hopefully changes will be made.
Stephanie

ArchStanton said...

yes, we are trying to set a date for an all-hands APP community meeting.
It will likely be just after Thanksgiving, as people travel the week of the holiday.


This isn't directed at you, Stephanie - just an observation about how things work:

Funny thing. Dropping the bomb just before Thanksgiving like they did two years ago. I guess it's two weeks earlier, so maybe it's not that much of a coincidence. But still...

ArchStanton said...

As I look over my previous post, I would like to remind folks that in spite of the Thanksgiving holiday two years ago, quite a large number of APP parents that did not have out-of-town plans, did in fact spend countless hours organizing over email. In spite of suggestions to wait from the powers that be and even though they would rather have been doing something else on a holiday weekend, they met and discussed in person, at homes and libraries in hastily organized groups.

Just because the Board is busy or the APP-AC doesn't plan to hold an all-hands meeting 'til after Thanksgiving doesn't mean that you can't begin organizing and getting your ducks in a row. Indeed, there will be many parents charged up with nervous energy and a need to do something, anything but sit on their hands until the end of the month.

Take advantage of that momentum, if you can.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Anonymous at 11:59am and 12:30pm,

it is an interesting idea to think of Lincoln. It is a great building.
We have given this idea some thought as well.

I have heard, though, that Eckstein will be at Lincoln when their building is being renovated, so it probably would not be available soon.

Also, given the splits of APP at elementary and middle school and the the Superintendent and School Board desires to create more APP sites, I think it unlikely they would put bigger chunks of APP in any one place to make a 1-8 or a 6-12.

We talked about a 1-8 years ago, but lots of parents (and kids) liked going to a separate middle school where they meet new kids.
We found at the time, 2 years ago as well when we suggested it again, the school board did not want to consider out of the norm options like a 6-12 or other configurations of APP. We suggested all kinds of configurations as solutions. They did not want to create something unique to APP, and practically speaking, it does become complicated.
Remember, all these splits have been about breaking up APP into smaller chunks, and this seems to be their concept for APP and neighborhood schools.
Still, it is something parents can suggest to the district and school board--there may be some aspect that could work.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi ArchStanton,
yes, it always seems to be suspiciously terrible timing.

We wanted to have our meeting the week of Thanksgiving, but some of our committee will be out of town, so we thought others might be as well and we should wait until after the break.

I agree with you, everyone should study up...on IB, AP, Garfield, Ingraham, and Interlake. We should all be as informed as possible.
Stephanie

hschinske said...

However, no where in APP can parents pick the level of their kids' classes.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/math/Seattle%20Public%20Schools%20Mathematics%20Course%20Placement%20Contract%20%286th%20Grade%29.pdf

"Our mathematics program allows for 6th grade students in those rare situations to “opt up” from 6th Grade Math to 7th Grade Math, or from 7th Grade Math to 8th Grade Math. Students may not skip
two course levels."

APP students assigned to 8th grade math (pre-algebra) should be able to opt up to 9th grade math (algebra 1). That is not skipping two levels for them. Cutting off the math placement contract at 8th grade is discriminatory.

In any case, my understanding is that these students were accepted into the class by the teacher and were doing well in it. It's also my understanding that the new placement test that year was so bogus that not a single student district-wide qualified for algebra in sixth grade. At Eckstein they ignored the district test and administered their own, placing a number of sixth-graders into algebra. Why should Hamilton teachers and administration have less sovereignty? In past years at WMS, Mr. Pounder has recruited students whom he thought could handle higher-level work and moved them up mid-year in order to get a quorum for Integrated 3. Is he no longer fit to judge?

But let me ask, should the district be responsible for offering a higher level of math if parents go out privately and accelerate their kids?

Getting children classes at their level isn't "accelerating" them. It's acknowledging their actual needs. And keep in mind the district PROMISED that there would be the same levels of math classes available post-split. They've broken that promise. Heck, they've smashed it.

According to a recent post on saveseattleschools, there are eighth-graders at WMS this year taking independent study math. I don't know which program they're using, but EPGY for institutions is quite cheap ($135 per year per student: see http://epgy.stanford.edu/district/signup.html -- the eight students need not all be working at the same grade level). I know Dr. Reisner is familiar with EPGY; pretty sure she even had one of her own kids use it. That kind of option doesn't appear to have even been on the table at Hamilton: why not?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

A reminder for TM parents, there is a PTSA meeting Tuesday at 6:30. Perhaps one or both of our APP-AC reps will be there to discuss the high school program placement issue? In any event, this would be a great opportunity for folks to talk, find out who is going to Wednesday's meeting at Ingraham, make lists of questions, etc.

Stephanie - Thank you for posting here. I hope you'll continue to do so as this process - whatever it turns out to be - moves forward.

Ruthie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie:
You complain about "parents who go out and privately accelerate their kids." You sound like Bob Vaughan, who chided me, in a conversation I had with him, about "allowing too much learning to go on in my house" when I complained to him that my incoming first-grader was a fluent reader and already familiar with addition and subtraction--and that those two facts left him bored out of his mind in his first-grade APP class. This was by no means a child I was chasing around with flashcards or phonics workbooks. The "too much learning" was going on in his own head--and that somehow made us one of those families for whom APP is "not a good fit"?

You used that tired excuse with one of the earlier posters who said that his or her family had left APP. Maybe it's not a good fit for your family, you wrote. Can you explain to me, exactly, the type of student for whom APP is a "good fit?" Is there some mythical 50th percentile of giftedness? Or does APP simply become "not a good fit" once a student's parents start to complain about how the district shortchanges our kids every chance it gets and how much better it could be?

My question for you is why you would even serve on an APP advisory council if you truly believe that no improvements need to be made and that the vast majority of parents love the program.

We need advocates, not apologists.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a student caught up in the split at WMS, I remember that there were a number of promises made about quality and equality of programs that were not kept. I also remember that concerns about dividing apart friends who would have been in classes together were it not for the split, were assured that the cohort was coming back together at Garfield and that the district would be keeping APP together at the High School level to insure critical mass for AP offerings. This now appears to be just another empty promise.

I think I am coming to understand that our kids are pawns to the school system. They have test scores that need to be raised and/or equalized and building goals. Individual achievements by individual students do not help them reach their goals. A sudden influx of high scoring students raises building scores more than any improvement in actual educational program could. I realize this sounds dark and borderline conspiracy theory, but frankly I cannot see any other explanation for the repeated attacks on the APP program. This program used to work much better than it does now. The proposed changes are making it progressively worse.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Per the NSAP, the boundaries for Lowell, TM, WMS, HIMS and Garfield were all drawn so that BOTH the neighborhood families and APP could colocate. A critical question for the APP AC is to determine the exact number of neighborhood students and the exact number of APP students that were planned for each of the five buildings?

Only after this baseline is determined, can reasonable people begin to have an actual honest conversation about where the excess capacity is coming from.

With a baseline, it then becomes easy to have the conversation about solutions. If APP is the over the planned capacity then the APP community should find another solutions. If the neighborhood families are over the planned capacity, then the boundaries were drawn too big and they need to be changed.

Without this baseline information, it is just too easy to point fingers and for each group to try to shove out the other group. There should be clear line of some sort that says that we PLANNED for this many students and then this happened.

If APP has grown beyond "THE PLAN", then the APP community can begin a conversation about multiple programs and multiple locations and are the entry criteria right and should there be exit criteria to maintain a cohort size. But without a baseline, it is all speculation and finger pointing.

Additionally, if the boundaries for Garfield were drawn with only 300 APP students in mind and they knew there were 500 APP students, then this was clearly intentional the entire time and everyone can just fess up so that we can fix it.

So that is what I would like the APP AC to determine and clearly communicate to the entire community - How many APP students were in the original plan.

Because this is going to happen each and every year from now on to at least one and maybe more of the APP locations. It would be nice to have a game plan for all APP locations going forward and a guarantee of some sort that at least this many seats per building are reserved for APP and not that APP is the squatter that only gets the left over space at the available buildings.

For anyone that has followed Sped Ed, we all know that is how the district managed special ed for years. They would put all the special ed kids in whatever building was left after all the choices.

This conversation is going to happen at HIMS soon as they are full this year and they are going to be over-full next year. I imagine it will be a nice perk to move APP into whatever new school gets opened up in the north end.

The APP AC needs to be thinking about this as a multi year strategy for the NSAP not as a solution to the current crisis.

Thank you!

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Hi Stephanie,
I'm re-posting this here from the other thread so you don't have to jump around so much. Thanks, by the way, for joining the discussion here. As you can see, people have a lot of questions and are hungry for more info about what's going on and what the future of APP truly is in Seattle.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...
But we do fight, we just don't kick and scream, as that simply turns people off and they refuse to listen.
We talk and wrangle with decision-makers, provide data, arguments, plead our cases, work one-on-one to influence decisions
.

Who said anything about kicking and screaming? How about organizing, informing the APP community and public, and maybe even the media, of all that's going on? And simply saying a firm "No," to bad district ideas that will harm our kids and promises we know the district won't keep.

How many hits do our kids have to take from this district in the name of "Capacity Management"?

The tide was so strong with the splits two years ago, it was a tsunami that none of us could have stopped. It had been building for a long time. We had some influence over it, but there was no stopping it. And if we had screamed and kicked or fought in that very visible way, we would have lost any opportunity to participate in the process of change, would not have been included on Design Teams and the school board wouldn't be willing to meet with and listen to us now. We have to maintain mutual respect to be heard.

I don't know, Stephanie. That's one theory. But what if that's what the district wanted you to believe? If there's one thing this district hates, it's negative publicity. So I think there were other options. Instead we were all advised to 'keep our heads down' and not make a fuss. Look where that got us.

Also, regardless of what you thought the inevitability of the splits was, why didn't you give the rest of us the chance to decide for ourselves whether it was a done deal and not worth fighting? The defeatist tone of that post Thanksgiving meeting at Lowell in 2008 still rings bitterly in my ears.

What if we had all united a serious opposition to the splits; what if we had pushed back as was our right to do? You can't know what the outcome would have been. It couldn't have been much worse, despite what you have said. They split us into five pieces and are now shooting for six.

By the way, don't you think that the Seattle School District is skating on thin ice by collecting funding from the state for gifted education at the same time it is dismantling it?

Lastly, could the APP AC please e-mail all 1,300+ members of the APP community that letter from Bob Vaughan? Because the future of APP at Garfield concerns more than just the 8th and 9th grade families. It concerns all of us.

Thanks.

Sue
Seattle Education 2010

Stu said...

And if we had screamed and kicked or fought in that very visible way, we would have lost any opportunity to participate in the process of change, would not have been included on Design Teams and the school board wouldn't be willing to meet with and listen to us now. We have to maintain mutual respect to be heard.

First of all, I've seen no evidence of mutual respect. In fact, the way that APP has been treated, politically bandied about, split, and then unsupported, shows just the opposite.

That said, I actually believe that kicking and screaming, and perhaps some threatening, is about the only way to get the attention of the board and, in some cases, stop a runaway train. When the district tried to close schools 5 years ago, organized communities, broadcast on TV in matching T-Shirts, didn't hurt, it helped. And how 'bout the elementary split?

"Lowell is a horrible building and must be closed!"
Loud protests about all the money that went into the building and distance to the proposed schools leads to:
"Montlake will move into Lowell w/half of APP."
Montlake Community screams bloody murder, threatens lawsuits, shows an organized protest and, suddenly, TT Minor is a "better" fit.

There are some ridiculous, and scary, things happening in this district and it's time to stand up against them. One voice doesn't always make difference but a unified community, a community of APP elementary, middle, and high schoolers, with a unified "stop messing with our program" or, at least a "how 'bout all the promises and equity BEFORE more dismantling," might be just the thing we need.

Remember, the district has shown time and time again that what's best for APP isn't a concern. They make up numbers and ignore facts and get away with it because, once the decisions are made, they move on to the next thing without bothering to fulfill obligations. (The most recent Meg Diaz charts, showing just how accurate her predictions have been over the years, based on numbers that the district supplies and then ignores, are pretty amazing.)

NOT protesting hasn't really been the answer . . perhaps a little bit of kicking and screaming is called for for a change?

stu

OverTheEdge said...

re: HIMS math

This comment just pushed me over the edge and I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. You really should not have gone here:

The kids were not kicked out of math, they never should have been in those classes in the first place.

You are twisting words and both points in this sentence are lies.

If a group of students is sitting in a classroom for over a month, then the principal comes in one day and says you are being removed from this class, that is being kicked out! This is not debatable. You may want to twist the meaning of the phrase to something else, but that won't fly here in a public forum. People can see through that.

As to whether they should have been in that class, do you really want to open that up here? The district cheated by administering a brand new test that, as Helen pointed out, zero kids in the entire city passed, then adamantly pretended the results were valid. There were a number of issues about the test and the process that you really don't want me to get into here and now, but it was a sham and everyone knew it.

Fortunately, everyone in the building took the district's shiny new MAP test, which, as an unbiased nationally-normed test will certainly straighten things out. Right? Think again. These kids scored off-the-charts (literally) on the MAP test, with at least a couple of them later in the year outscoring the APP kids not just one grade ahead, but two grades ahead as well. According to SPS that's four years ahead! But the district never, ever, ever makes mistakes. So the excuse was "we don't know what those results mean yet." On an absolute scale, maybe, but they had a clear relative measure to compare with all other APP kids, so once again, total BS.

You could have said "they weren't assigned to those classes by the district", but don't you dare say "they never should have been in those classes". Because that is both false and insulting.

Interestingly enough, staff actually waited to kick the kids out until after the first MAP scores came back. Why? Were they secretly hoping the kids would do poorly? No idea.

Continued…

OverTheEdge said...

…continued (skip to the last 2 paragraphs if you want the wrap-up)

So how could a situation so preposterous come about? Because the district wants to close off advanced math for 8th graders in APP because of small numbers - even though this was in direct conflict with their split commitments. This sucks, but the situation and logistics are complex. However, instead of figuring out some kind of reasonable solution to serve kids in the best way possible, given the constraints, the district decided to just cut things off at the root, by cutting off any advanced math placement starting at 6th grade. Regardless of open seats, regardless of willing teachers, regardless of test scores, and regardless of whether the parents would sign a contract releasing the district from responsibility for 8th grade math in the building. Yes, that was brought up both before and after the Math Placement Contract was officially announced.

To bring us all up-to-date, this year's small handful of well-qualified APP 6th graders were again barred from enrolling in Algebra I. Sadly, after watching the disaster last year, they gave up the fight and the kids are being underserved. But this situation will never go away! There will always be at least a few kids who are a year or more ahead of the others, and they should be served to the degree possible, not shoved back into their box.

You also said: However, no where in APP can parents pick the level of their kids' classes.

Stephanie, as Helen pointed out, you may want to re-read the Math Placement Contract again, because it clearly spells out that this is explicitly allowed. And last fall ('09) Anna Maria de la Fuente carefully said it applied to all students in all programs, including APP. Somewhere along the line it seems that promise has been broken as well.

and you said: We lose the integrity of the self-contained model if parents start to do this on their own. It is a slippery slope. Even teachers cannot place students.

This is also incorrect. APP in middle school, according to HIMS administration and according to HIMS practice is not self-contained in math. Last year and this year there were Spectrum kids taking APP math and vice-versa. At "math night" last week, it was very clearly announced to prospective parents in the informational sessions that APP is self-contained except in math. And by its nature, of course, math is the one subject where this makes perfect sense.

So now that you pushed me down this very ugly path, is there anything productive to take out of this? It's less than 20 kids (across all 3 grades) affected, right? Why should this be a big deal?

It's a big deal, and relevant right now because it's a clear, egregious and ongoing instance of the district reneging on their promises related to splitting APP. It's a clear case that can, and should be pointed out as an utter failure of the district to follow through on their word. And it's a foreshadowing case that the staff and Board needs to have held in front of their faces as they are considering a decision on splitting high school APP. Not that I think it will happen, and I'm only speaking for myself, but if the district were to come back and fix the mess they made in middle school math I might actually consider listening to what they have to say about high school. But as things stand, forget it.

lendlees said...

Stephanie--

How about when you are emailing Bob Vaughan's letter to everyone you can include a link to the survey I outlined?

I would be very happy to program it, administer, and analyze the results. I own my own market research firm and do this type of work for non-profits, small businesses as well as large multi-national corporations.

@Mary--I like your wording for Q#2. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of problems with APP related to the splits and other district changes, but I have not seen anyone specifically mention that there are also problems related to the constant uncertainty and sheer numbers of changes being made.

In all the years my kids have been involved in APP, no year was spent without either planning for, fighting against or adapting to some kind of program threatening change. We have ideas that each year of schooling builds on the previous and leads to the next, but the reality has been far different. Kids do not know from one year to the next where they will go to school, what continuity to expect in their learning or whether half their friends will be sent away. It has been hugely disruptive even in years when the splits didn't happen. It's been worse in years when they did.

Personally I suspect this also impacts parent involvement and commitment to the schools. It's a lot easier to volunteer, donate or offer resources to help when you expect kids to spend more than just the current year in their current building or current curriculum. If it's all likely to change next year anyway, then parents are probably less inclined to invest resources in the temporary situation, which only contributes to the downward spiral of uncertainty.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Lendlees,
thank you for your wonderful offer regarding a survey. We may do that, but it is important for everyone to be well-informed before a survey is conducted. We are sending out an email to the APP list today with various internet sites people should read, we also need for everyone to attend the various meetings to hear what is being discussed.
We have done surveys in the past regarding splits with mixed results. They are extremely hard to write, and it's so important for participants to have a good understanding of the choices and their consequences. Something very simple might be good, though.
Please send me an email so I can contact you directly.

THANK YOU!
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Anonymous at 8:25am,
I think for the most part, you are absolutely correct. But splits have been talked about and even proposed by the district for years, it is part of how I got involved in APP advocacy.
Several years before our current elementary and middle school splits were proposed, there was a proposal on the table to split APP at WMS due to overcrowding. We fought that one, and it was pulled off the table. District proposed it, we went to the school board who questioned it in subcommittees, and in large part thanks to Charlie finding a policy that helped us, the proposal to split was dropped for the time being. Since then, that policy was changed.

But you are correct in that very little thought has gone into understanding the real consequences of splits, and very little planning once the decision was made. It can definitely be done better.
Stephanie

ArchStanton said...

there are also problems related to the constant uncertainty and sheer numbers of changes being made

Well said. This was a major factor contributing to our decision to leave public schools this year. Although we are fairly young in our school career, we dreaded the thought of spending the next decade constantly watching our back and steeling ourselves for the next battle. And it's not specific to APP - everyone in SPS has to deal with this chronic instability.

I hasn't always been like this, has it? I came up through SPS and I don't remember them threatening to close or relocate my school every two years. I believe that I had the same principal for as long as I attended each school. We had busing and although it was disruptive, at least it was predictable.

Anonymous said...

Could the moderators please create a separate discussion thread for the Hamilton math controversy? The topic is too big to combine with the high school program placement discussion.

I want to echo a comment made on Nov. 13 by Anonymous at 10:43 PM:

"It would be nice to have a game plan for all APP locations going forward and a guarantee of some sort that at least this many seats per building are reserved for APP and not that APP is the squatter that only gets the left over space at the available buildings."

Indeed, it would. The most frustrating part of the elementary program split was the sense of never being given complete information about the district's "game plan" for APP. Reading your comments here, Stephanie - which I appreciate so much - I am left with the same frustration.

Is there a long-term "game plan" for APP program placement? If the answer is yes, what is it? We're adults, we can handle bad news. If what MGJ and the folks at JSIS want is to see all APP kids assigned to neighborhood schools, for heaven's sake, level with us.

If there is no "game plan" at all, tell us that. If there is no consensus, tell us that. If the district has not provided this information to the APP-AC, tell us that.

The information vacuum is crazy-making. Not to be overly dramatic, but some families' financial plans, residency plans, etc., are hanging in the balance of this high school program placement question.

Ruthie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Stu,
if you believe kicking and screaming is what works, that is what you should do. In my opinion, though, I have found it not to work, as decision-makers simply write you off and don't listen.
Don't you when someone is screaming at or threatening you?

An advisory committee that tries to work each day with the district, principals, school board, does fight, but we cannot kick and scream, and certainly never threaten anyone. That is how you get a restraining order against you, which I have heard has happened with particularly threatening people. We also have school staff on our committee for whom this is their livelihood. We need to be respectful of all, even if we disagree with them. We lobby hard with persistence. Good data is actually a useful tool.

The APP AC is only one part of APP Advocacy. Individual parents must speak their own minds, students too. We have always encouraged that and asked parents to write letters and emails to decision-makers.
Parents at Lowell were very organized and vocal in vehemently fighting the elementary split, but it did not change the outcome.
Stephanie

Meg said...

Stephanie -

I have a question about how Bellevue's accelerated IB program got off the ground; you may or may not know the answer off the top of your head.

When Bellevue started their accelerated IB program, was it a forced split of their existing gifted program, forcing a portion to attend the accelerated IB program, or was it started as an additional option that families with students doing advanced work could choose?

And thanks, again.

Anonymous said...

Actually can we have a thread that covers all HIMS-APP issues not just math, I think it would be good to collect all the issues at HIMS, not just math in one place and this blog seems like a great way to to this.

While I appreciate the suggestion to email staff directly, that does not daylight the issues/concerns.

If we could get a complete list of what people have been experiencing, the APP AC can begin to deal with the problems.

Thanks!!!

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Sue, response to 12:20am.

I stated from the outset, I am offering information and also sometimes my personal opinion. These are responses from my perspective, anyone can disagree.
Remember too, we are parents in the schools, have jobs, kids with homework and doctor's appointments, and we spend HUGE HUGE amounts of time on all this, with the goal of doing good things for all our students.

Could things have been done better? Probably. But we are not the decision-makers, and it doesn't take long after meeting with school board members to see what they support. Then we have to decide where we put our energy.

This all takes time. Clearly there is a lot of grief still about the splits, at least from the people posting here.

I keep reading about people who believe there are conspiracies about dismantling APP. I have questioned this too, but I just don't see it. I don't think they are that organized or premeditated.
I believe there are general ideas about APP at the district and school board, perceptions and mis-perceptions, and that not everyone likes APP or even believes it should exist. But APP IS growing in enrollment, more students ARE signing up for testing each year...it has not withered away. Realize the superintendent is endorsing the creating of a gifted high school program...that is frankly, rather amazing given how people believe she is trying to get rid of APP.

APP does look different than before, there are some things we have gained and some things we have lost. It is up to each family to decide what is right for themselves. APP has never been right for everyone, particularly in high school where many families choose other options.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Math folks,

I am sorry, but I can't focus on the math at HIMS issue now in this blog. It is complicated and very emotional for some parents.

There is so much we need to do now with the Garfield situation, I have to put my focus there.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Meg,
Interlake's gifted high school program was started as an option, and it still is an option.
What Dr. Vaughan has currently proposed is also an option.
Actually, APP is an option.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

How can you lobby board members on behalf of APP, when you do not have a sense or clear direction from the community? You cannot speak for them when you don't know what they want. Right now you can only go into those meetings and express your own opinion which seems to lean toward dismantling APP at GHS in favor of what is only a concept program at Ingrahm -if I am reading this right. I am just sayin'.
MM

David said...

Hi, Stephanie. My question seems to have gone unanswered, at least not answered directly, so I hope you don't mind if I ask it again?

Let me state it slightly differently this time. If parents wanted an APP advocacy organization that constantly pointed out the value of APP to the district (e.g. in funding, market share, and test scores) and coordinated support for APP-friendly school board members during elections, should that organization be the APP AC? Or should parents form a new and separate organization for that purpose?

OverTheEdge said...

I am sorry, but I can't focus on the math at HIMS issue now in this blog. It is complicated and very emotional for some parents.

There is so much we need to do now with the Garfield situation, I have to put my focus there.


But this IS about the Garfield situation. I don't expect you, or the APP AC to spend a bunch of time trying to fix the existing problem right now (although it would be nice to acknowledge your factual errors), but perhaps you missed the point at the end, so I'll reiterate:

Math at HIMS a big deal, and relevant right now because it's a clear, egregious and ongoing instance of the district reneging on their promises related to splitting APP. It's a clear case that can, and should be pointed out as an utter failure of the district to follow through on their word.

It's a foreshadowing case that the staff and Board needs to have held in front of their faces as they are considering any decision related to splitting high school APP.

I'd love to see the district come back and fix the mess they made in middle school math. It might actually push me to consider listening to what they have to say about high school. But as things stand, I don't believe any of their promises, and no one else should either.

kellie said...

Stephanie,
I also would like to get an answer to baseline question. How many seats are set aside at each of the current 5 APP locations.

Anonymous said...

"Realize the superintendent is endorsing the creating of a gifted high school program."

With all due respect, I have to completely disagree with that statement. MGJ is simply attempting to move high achieving students into a school with an IB program, to increase the lackluster enrollment. This in turn will increase the scores of the school. If allowed to happen this will make four schools she has done this to.

To date:
Thurgood Marshall
HIMS
Cleveland

lendlees said...

Kellie-

I can answer that one. The district does not hold aside seats for APP (unlike Spectrum which they do cap). APP is a guaranteed placement as it is considered special education and is mandated by the state (extra funding for transportation etc...).

That what makes the whole NSAP so frustrating in that the district drew the boundaries too large for Lowell, HIMS and Garfield (not sure about TM and WMS) to allow for the fluctuation in APP students.

Meg said...

Yes, APP is an option, although it is an option the state gives SPS additional money for, unlike, say, options like South Shore K-8, TOPS or Cleveland's STEM program.

I think I wasn't clear - for those families in the gifted program in Bellevue, is the accelerated IB an additional choice, or a defined route if families wish to continue with accelerated academics? Are Bellevue students choosing between regular ed and accelerated academics or do they have a true choice between different gifted programs?

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Ruthie,
thanks for writing and for your thanks!

I am believe the APP AC's new TM rep Sharmila Naidu Williams will be at the PTSA meeting this week.
That meeting is why the district meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Meg,
I believe the Interlake program is the only gifted high school option in Bellevue. But it takes kids who were already accelerated in their PRISM program. PRISM students who choose to go to other high schools would be on an accelerated path also, but I'm not sure what classes are available to them at other high schools.
Interlake GHSP also accepts students from out of district and allows testing into the program at the high school level.
I don't think SPS would take kids from out of district, but it could be an option to finally allow testing into APP at 9th grade to fill a program at Ingraham. That would not, however, address the overcrowding at Garfield.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

All, with this email, there are 87 posts here that have accumulated very quickly.

You can also write me directly at
stbower@comcast.net
You can also write anyone on the APP AC. The school reps are also getting emails from parents.

I get a lot of emails directly and respond to all of them, usually with more detailed answers.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Lendlees and Kellie,

APP is definitely not considered Special Education...that is really different and Special Ed kids (such as one of mine) do bring extra funding. Special Ed is a federal designation, and each student gets an IEP, or an individual education plan.
In a few states, gifted programs are under the umbrella of Special Ed.

The term we use is that APP is considered a Special NEEDS program.
The district does place students who qualify, apply on time, and choose to come.
There are waitlists for Spectrum.
And yes, there is funding from the state for transportation of APP kids, although with this economy and the past election, there is no guarantee that will continue.
Stephanie

kellie said...

Lendlees,
Thanks for the clarification and that was my guess. However, somewhere in the footnotes for the NSAP, there had to be some assumptions about the size of APP and the size of the neighborhood. I think if those numbers were daylighted, it would be easier to argue that the boundaries were incorrectly drawn. Otherwise, every year it is going to be the same conversation where APP is too big and taking up space in a building needed for neighborhood students.

In many ways, APP has the same problem as TOPS but without the ability to cap enrollment. TOPS had managed that with their neighborhood set aside program. It seems like APP needs something similar otherwise the program will constantly be under the threat of being squeezed out of the building, no matter what that building happens to be.

Hamilton was underenrolled for years but now that APP is located at Hamilton, H is too full and it won't be long before this conversation repeats.

Anonymous said...

I would be cautious of two promises made with regard to the accelerated IB program for APP at Ingraham. The first concern would be whether SPS would actually have a concrete plan in place for the 12th grade students who have effectively completed high school after 11th grade. Bellevue does provide college level classes, independent study and interships. My hunch would be SPS would steer students to North Seattle Community College. We are dealing with SPS, not Bellevue!

The other concern, and not sure whether it matters, is that the threshold for entry to the Bellevue gifted program is higher than Seattle. This could impact a student's success in such an accelerated program.

Dorothy Neville said...

The main philosophy of IPP and then APP WAS that it attempted to meet a student's academic needs in a developmentally appropriate fashion.

The new middle school science situation seems completely against that philosophy. Why is pushing the pressure of AP classes on younger kids developmentally appropriate? It might be for a few, but not universally.

Likewise, there are significant differences in an IB program and a high school full of AP and honors course choices. Some will thrive in IB, but what percent? I think families in APP have been exploring IB for years and those that feel like it is a good fit already leave for Sealth or Ingraham. What Vaughan proposes doesn't really address making the IB program more attractive to many. The IB program is quite rigorous, simply accelerating it a year might help a few, but I imagine that others who might like IB would not want it accelerated, reducing the likelihood that it would be developmentally appropriate. If I were in charge and thought to push for more volunteers to go to Ingraham, I would have promised beefing up 9th and 10th grade Pre-IB classes. That might also make Ingraham more attractive to others not in APP, so would boost a cohort and the enrollment of the school.

I agree that the middle school math situation IS pertinent to this discussion. I do not understand why Stephanie feels the need to bring up repeatedly that this causes parents to be emotional, and seems to dismiss it as a concern due to that emotional reaction. OverTheEdge brings up factual sounding assertions that jibe with other reports from the last year.

WMS APP math teachers have a long history of artificial barriers to appropriate math placement. The split and the new math contract policy both threatened that (and that made me happy, since I hoped it would mean kids would be better served). Hearing Stephanie resort to party line and insinuating that parents are sneaking around to get an appropriate math fit seems rather insulting.

Eckstein has had a workable solution to the handful of three year ahead math kids. They are scheduled at the same time as the two year ahead class and have a semi-supervised structured independent study with a small but strong cohort to work with. I volunteered in the class for two years. I know that other mathematical parents have done the same in different years, so in addition to the teacher spending at least a few minutes with them daily, they often have access to help from other sources. I have no idea why HIMS and WMS cannot provide the same thing.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Also, APP specifically is not mandated by the state.
There is nothing from the state which says HOW SPS should serve gifted kids. How gifted programs look vary from district to district around the state.

WA state Office of Public Instruction (OSPI) has put together a committee called the Highly Capable Technical Working Group that is comprised of gifted experts and advocates from around the country. They have been meeting for months and will make recommendations to the state legislature. You can read about what they are doing if you do a search for the name of the committee or go to the OSPI website.
Gifted Education is under General Education and funded the same as general education in our state.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Dorothy,
we need to hear more specifics about the proposal at Ingraham. My understanding is there would be self-contained APP classes at 9th grade, and starting in 10th grade APP students would start the IB program. At Interlake, there are some AP classes they take as part of their curriculum too.

I say math is emotional for folks because I see that in meetings and in emails where parents have been very upset. For this reason, I do not dismiss it, I keep adding it to our agendas for discussion at meetings and recognize it is not yet well-resolved. But I just can't focus on it now, my time and energy are going toward working on Garfield.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

If the Superintendent were trying to create a wonderful gifted program up at Ingraham, many, many things would be different here.

1. That effort would be in broad daylight and highly publicized.

2. Parents of APP students and other highly capable learners would be in the process of being polled about what we want and/or what it would take to entice us into a new program.

3. That effort would have *preceded,* yes, *preceded* the NSAP, so that enrollment numbers could have been appropriately projected.

4. The program would be placed, as all-city-draw programs logically would be placed, in a location that can serve a broad spectrum of students.

Is any of that true here? No, it is not. This is being thrown together quickly, quietly, over the holidays, as a *response to capacity management issues*. Not as a response to complaints on the part of APP parents, or fervently expressed wishes on the part of APP students, or a desire on the part of the district to better serve APP students.

Stephanie, is it true that the APP AC already has tentatively decided to support this IB program idea at Ingraham? Because that is what I have heard.

Greg Linden said...

[From the moderator: There have been a couple requests for a separate thread on Hamilton APP. I will start one sometime in the next couple days, just wanted to let this very active Q&A thread stay at the top for a bit longer.]

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Anonymous at 11:55am,
you will need to add Garfield to your list! APP was placed at Garfield in the 1980's to do exactly what it has done at the school. And I suspect the students there would say that was a good thing to have done.

I think we need to look at this situation very, very carefully.
While I AM ENDORSING THAT ALL APP REMAIN AT GARFIELD, and that is how every conversation with a school board member will start--my two sons are enrolled at GHS--this proposal needs to be evaluated and at least considered.

I have to acknowledge that MGJ is not proposing that the APP high school path dissolve and the students sprinkled around to all the different neighborhood high schools. To our dismay, this has been suggested in the past, including by School Board members. It's my hunch that this is what some school board members would prefer, as some of them have stated there IS NO high school APP program. The students take classes that could be offered at any high school.
This current proposal looks to be a gifted high school program, different from the experience at Garfield and at the moment, it is being presented as an OPTION. I personally am amazed by this given what I have seen over the last decade. It may be an appropriate OPTION for some APP students, including those who don't choose to attend Garfield now (16% of last year's APP 8th graders have gone elsewhere for high school this year), and would certainly be better than a forced geographic split. As an option, it would allow music kids to still go to Garfield, which would be incredibly important to the APP path and Garfield.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Anonymous at 2:18pm,
In response to your statements

1. it is in broad daylight and a public meeting scheduled to discuss it. I'm not sure what more you would expect. It is still early in the process.

2. I suspect that parents might very well be polled, which would also be pretty amazing. I do not recall any other SPS school community being polled about an option for their community. Let me know if it was done before as it would be good to know. The APP AC has done surveys in the past.

3. I am rather glad this proposal did not precede the NSAP. It tells me that the intent has been to keep APP at Garfield.

4. Location would make sense in the north end, as that is were most of the APP students come from to Garfield. Most of the north end schools are packed to the gills. The district could instead reassign students from other north end high schools to fill empty seats at Ingraham and alleviate the capacity problems in the north end.

This is being looked at in part because the GHS ptsa has lobbied hard for something to be done with the overcrowding at GHS. There are APP parents on the GHS ptsa board.

The APP AC has NOT, I repeat NOT tentatively decided to support this idea. We need to meet with school board members, attend the district meetings, and hear from more parents before our group will decide what to support. We are obligated to analyze all options.
Stephanie

hschinske said...

My understanding is there would be self-contained APP classes at 9th grade

Wouldn't this cause some divisiveness within the school? And wouldn't APP kids be at an advantage for completing the IB diploma due to having three years to do it instead of two, and therefore not having to put in as concentrated an effort? Would that be perceived as fair?

Helen Schinske

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi MM,
maybe you are new to APP?

We lobby based on years of listening to the APP community as to what they want. For me personally, it's been about 10 years. We heard loud and clear during the elementary and middle school splits as well, that people wanted to make sure APP high school assignment would still be to Garfield.
We communicate to and from 1327 people on our email list. That is a lot of people who know what we are doing and what we are saying.
We have heard from many, many parents, and now students too, we continue to get lots of emails. We also rely on our own experiences as parents, teachers and staff in the schools. We were right in the middle of the elementary and middle school splits, also served on Design Teams, so we know first-hand the issues that have come up before.

If you can find better people to lobby on behalf of APP, let me know, I'll sign them up! They can take my place, and I'll spend my son's 17th birthday today with him instead of writing on a blog.

The APP AC encourages everyone to advocate for the program. We are not responsible for being the sole advocates, everyone needs to do this.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie-

There has been a lot of back and forth in the last couple of days, but I am unsure whether the APP AC acknowledges that there are failures in the splits?

Off the top of my head I came up with these. Other parents should feel free to add to these:

1. New teachers added to APP who have no gifted experience - we were promised teachers with gifted experience.

2. Programs are not equal. TM much smaller than Lowell. Hamilton has not been provided with text books for classes. High math classes offered at Washington, but not Hamilton.

3. No written curriculum. We were promised this prior to the school year the first year of the splits.

It's important for the APP AC, as well as the district, to understand that these are outstanding issues. Many parents won't chose a program like the IB proposal simply because we don't believe a word the district says. Fool me once and all that. Maybe the district thinks more along the lines of Homer Simpson - "It takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen."

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI David,
I'm sorry if I missed your post, almost 100 in this short a time is rather overwhelming. I am responding to direct emails too.

I'm not sure how to answer your question, I think it depends on what people want or feel is needed in terms of APP Advocacy.
Funding, parents can't really impact. We have asked that parents write to their legislators when funding is being determined at the state level. Market Share, the district doesn't care about...it does not drive any of their decisions. They serve the ones who show up.
Test scores, I'm not sure for what purpose we would try and influence that, and anyway, we can't influence people's scores.

One time we sent out a political announcement, not even an endorsement, and we were criticized for it, so we made the decision to be non-political. We are pretty careful, as we email to a lot of people. So if someone wants to endorse school board candidates, that should probably come from someone else.

We try and focus on working with the sitting school board members.
Stephanie

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Anonymous at 4:24,

We actually understand these things very well. I must correct some of your statements.
1. There is no gifted endorsement for teachers in Washington State. That is something I hope OSPI's Highly Capable Technical Working Group will address. Principals hire teachers, not district administration or parents. For this, you must lobby your school principal. I really urge you to do that, it is important. If you have it in writing somewhere that we were promised teachers with gifted experience, please send it to me.

2. Programs are equal in what they offer. TM is smaller than Lowell, but that is due to lots of factors.
The vast majority of students who apply for advanced learning testing are in the north end.
Elementary enrollment is UP this year in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades, and the same as last year in 4th. Overall elementary enrollment is UP by 57 students! That is certainly not a failure.
Both WMS and HIMS offer the exact same levels of math. The same assessments are used at both schools.

3. There is curriculum--your teachers are teaching content based on coordinated, scaffolded and aligned curriculum. How would students have moved from one grade to another these 31 years of APP?
How could they graduate high school if there had not been curriculum? How would we have National Merit finalists if they hadn't had some curriculum along the way?

In my experience, these are issues, but not necessarily broken promises or failures that would lead me to believe the new sites are FAILURES.
The use of the word "failure" is a gross exaggeration and is incorrect. Would you really say that to the teachers who are working so hard every day with our kids?

Please take care about what we say, hiding behind anonymity.

Stephanie

Anonymous said...

We do not seem to be working from the same set of facts.

Stephanie, you say that there is a coordinated, aligned and scaffolded curriculum in place for all APP. Perhaps someone can explain what that means. In our Parent night at schools, several teachers mentioned the lack of a coordinated curriculum and specifically the lack of any coordination between middle school and high school classes. This is something they said they wanted to work on, not something they said they had.

In a post in this blog dated only three days ago, lack of promised APP curriculum is cited as a current problem. This is not just a random parent comment, this is a top level blog post including citations and references.

http://discussapp.blogspot.com/2009/11/missed-commitments-app-curriculum-and.html

If you know something about curriculum different than this, can you please provide information about how we can find out about this curriculum.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

As for any belief in Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson's commitment to APP, I'm with Anonymous at Nov. 14 11:55 AM who said...

"Realize the superintendent is endorsing the creating of a gifted high school program."

With all due respect, I have to completely disagree with that statement. MGJ is simply attempting to move high achieving students into a school with an IB program, to increase the lackluster enrollment. This in turn will increase the scores of the school. If allowed to happen this will make four schools she has done this to.

To date:
Thurgood Marshall
HIMS
Cleveland


I'm especially unconvinced of her support of any kind of accelerated education in light of this recent comment of hers:

"Assessing every student and placing them according to ability sounds like tracking and discrimination…and we’ve moved light years away from that."-- Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson

-- sue p.

OverTheEdge said...

I agree that the middle school math situation IS pertinent to this discussion. I do not understand why Stephanie feels the need to bring up repeatedly that this causes parents to be emotional, and seems to dismiss it as a concern due to that emotional reaction. OverTheEdge brings up factual sounding assertions that jibe with other reports from the last year.

WMS APP math teachers have a long history of artificial barriers to appropriate math placement. The split and the new math contract policy both threatened that (and that made me happy, since I hoped it would mean kids would be better served). Hearing Stephanie resort to party line and insinuating that parents are sneaking around to get an appropriate math fit seems rather insulting.


Thank you Dorothy. And yes, it does feel insulting, because there were at least 4 factual mistakes that still have not been acknowledged.

Fact: Kids were in fact kicked out of their math classes. No justifications, rationale or excuses can change that fact. That Stephanie has attempted to deny this irrefutable fact in a public forum pisses me off more than anything else.
Fact: Parental placement was not wrong, the district was wrong, and this has been confirmed in multiple ways ( MAP, online testing, teachers, current placement in Geo )
Fact: Parents can opt to place their children up a level in math. That's exactly what the Math Placement Contract is about. Anyone can read this on the district web site.
Fact: Math in middle school APP is not self-contained. Anyone can check with the building, this was highlighted in the informational sessions last week.

On those points, I'm done now. Whether or not Stephanie acknowledges the above, any interested parent can dig around and verify the facts to their own satisfaction, it just seems childish to try to sweep this stuff under the rug and ignore it.

All this aside, the important reason to keep this topic alive is your first point above. It is very pertinent, as is a strong piece of ammunition against splitting APP at Garfield. Promises were made and they were immediately broken without any rationale or remorse. Whether or not the APP AC chooses to pack this data in their arsenal or not, everyone reading here should understand what happened in middle school math and use it as an example of why we do not and cannot accept any promises from the district at face value.

Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice (or thrice, or 10x), shame on us.

OverTheEdge said...

I agree that the middle school math situation IS pertinent to this discussion. I do not understand why Stephanie feels the need to bring up repeatedly that this causes parents to be emotional, and seems to dismiss it as a concern due to that emotional reaction. OverTheEdge brings up factual sounding assertions that jibe with other reports from the last year.



WMS APP math teachers have a long history of artificial barriers to appropriate math placement. The split and the new math contract policy both threatened that (and that made me happy, since I hoped it would mean kids would be better served). Hearing Stephanie resort to party line and insinuating that parents are sneaking around to get an appropriate math fit seems rather insulting.


Thank you Dorothy. And yes, it does feel insulting, because there were at least 4 factual mistakes that still have not been acknowledged.



Fact: Kids were in fact kicked out of their math classes. No justifications, rationale or excuses can change that fact. That Stephanie has attempted to deny this irrefutable fact in a public forum pisses me off more than anything else.

Fact: Parental placement was not wrong, the district was wrong, and this has been confirmed in multiple ways ( MAP, online testing, teachers, current placement in Geo )

Fact: Parents can opt to place their children up a level in math. That's exactly what the Math Placement Contract is about. Anyone can read this on the district web site.

Fact: Math in middle school APP is not self-contained. Anyone can check with the building, this was highlighted in the informational sessions last week.



On those points, I'm done now. Whether or not Stephanie acknowledges the above, any interested parent can dig around and verify the facts to their own satisfaction, it just seems childish to try to sweep this stuff under the rug and ignore it.



All this aside, the important reason to keep this topic alive is your first point above. It is very pertinent, as is a strong piece of ammunition against splitting APP at Garfield. Promises were made and they were immediately broken without any remorse. Whether or not the APP AC chooses to pack this data in their arsenal, everyone reading here should understand what happened in middle school math and use it as an example of why we do not and cannot accept any promises from the district at face value. The Board needs to hear it (and any other similar issues) over and over until they understand.

Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice (or thrice, or 10x), shame on us.

hschinske said...

There is curriculum--your teachers are teaching content based on coordinated, scaffolded and aligned curriculum. How would students have moved from one grade to another these 31 years of APP?

The above is a disingenuous answer. The questions concerning curriculum were not in reference to whatever happens to have been taught in APP over the past 31 years by various teachers. The APP audit called for reformation to the curriculum BEFORE any split (specifically warning that splitting the program before implementing a best-practices curriculum would exacerbate problems with inconsistent teaching) and a reformed curriculum was supposed to be in place on day one of the new school year following the split. It wasn't. The most we have seen since is a draft presented at a couple of meetings.

See, for instance, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/08-09agendas/010709agenda/caopresentation.pdf

"Evaluators found unwanted variability in how APP is offered across classrooms.

○ They recommend careful specification of common curriculum and work to make instructional delivery more consistent with best practices in gifted education.

○ They point out that offering the program in multiple sites before specifying curriculum would compound the impact of teacher variability.

□ Because the district’s closure proposal specifies multiple sites, work to put APP curriculum into writing is being accelerated.

○ Advanced Learning Office staff have already begun working with APP teachers at Lowell and Washington to clarify curricular targets and instructional strategies.

○ Our objective is to have written curriculum frameworks for core academic domains completed before summer 2009.

Helen Schinske

Stu said...

Re: Kicking and Screaming

Stephanie,

Hmm . . . I didn't mean LITERALLY kicking and screaming, nor do I condone violence or name-calling or shouting or stalking . . . and I think you know that. What I meant, and again I thought it was obvious, was that, perhaps, this time around, we not roll over.

I believe that if the APP community had fought back against the original split, rallied, marched, written endless letters, gone on TV, threatened lawsuits, etc., the outcome might have been different. And I'm not saying that there wouldn't have been a split; maybe yes, maybe no. But maybe, just maybe, if our representatives had represented and not just acquiesced and reported, we'd still have a unified cohort OR, at least, maybe the whole thing would have delayed a year while DETAILED PLANS were made as to how to best handle everything.

Regardless of how you want to paint this picture, there ARE serious inequities between buildings, there ARE serious middle school math problems at HMS (our son was personally involved), and there is NO set curriculum.

In addition, while I think they're working really hard on getting the music program up to speed, it won't be WMS for a number of years. More importantly, however, a split high school program will cripple an internationally renown music program at Garfield.

You say that, since you're not elected officials, you don't really "represent" parent concerns. Then who speaks for the APP community?

We are a group of parents who are, proportionally, probably more involved with the education of our kids than many others in this district. Our kids are considered among the best and the brightest and the APP program exists because, over the years, it's been proven effective. The board, district, and especially this superintendent, have politicized our community over the years, played North vs South, rich vs poor. They ignored the advice of their own audit and mixed disparate communities, which only goes to put a spotlight on an unequal education, and, I believe, have split us into different schools for no other reason than to raise "building" scores.

We listened to their reassurances and promises last time; letting it happen again is insane. You know what Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, don't you? It's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

stu

uxolo said...

Stu:yes, public protest kept schools open.

The AC can only join Bob Vaughan in ONE alternative solution to the problem of overcrowding at GHS? There are NO other solutions proposed by the so-called Advisory Committee?

Maybe the APP AC committee should be disbanded. It does not have an elected representation. It clearly is not publicly critical of any of the issues represented here.

David said...

Disbanding the APP AC might be a bit far, but clearly another, new, additional group is needed.

We need a group focused on APP advocacy. We need a group that constantly points to the value of APP to the district and the school board to fight their indifference and hostility. We need a group that endorses and supports APP-friendly candidates in school board elections.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,


I don't think that the comments on these pages are representative of all or even most APP parents. We deeply appreciate your time and dedication to this volunteer position: one which has clearly sucked hours from your life and is turning out to be a thankless job.

Our experience at Lowell these last three years has been largely positive, even through the split. We feel fortunate to have such a great school/program for our children. Considering that we are in one of the worst economies in decades and we have just voted down the candy and income taxes, I am thinking it is all going to get worse before it gets better and we are thankful that APP is largely remaining intact.

I appreciate the information you have written in these last days, and I strongly applaud your civility and respectful replies. Nicely done.

cheezit said...

Re: representation

I think the APP AC should be recognized for what it is, and not expected to be something it is not. That's why I asked the very first question in this thread, in a (I hope) neutral tone. Stephanie has taken a bit of a beating in this thread and I hope everyone appreciates her willingness to do this, even if you disagree with her.

Stephanie is visibly walking a line so fine it almost doesn't exist, trying to balance the desire to be responsive to parental concerns with the fact that the APP AC is deeply embedded with the existing district process.

As is usual with all similar positions (ombudsman for the press, citizen review panels for the police, the CBO, presidential debate moderators), it is staffed with well-intentioned and capable people who work hard to balance everything they hear while appearing neutral, but they have no real power...and they develop long-lived relationships with the powerful institutions on one side of the process (the district) while the other side (the parents) comes and goes. It's almost inevitable that the conciliatory tone they strike sounds a lot like capitulation, because they are looking for a midpoint between the powerful and the powerless.

I agree that an independent representation of parents' concerns could be useful...but I see downsides to that. Feelings and opinions are fine, but venting without directed purpose is not useful. Many of the matters of fact that have been brought up can only be investigated by someone who has a lot of access to the schools and teachers. So such a group would need to really focus on defining achievable goals and sticking to them. Conducting independent surveys of parents could be very useful, for instance.

Anonymous said...

I would like to also show support for Stephanie and the others who have committed time and energy to creating bonds within the district to the advantage of APP.

Some may know that the APP students and families suffer from great misunderstanding within the distict and from staff, students and families outside of APP.

I never thought I would say this, but it is a time for some temperance, to allow us all to be heard appropriately. A witch hunt will backfire and I fear that a few angery voices may take away the chance for others to be heard.

Please attend the meetings and listen to the concerns of other populations, we are not the only ones suffering. The elitist label is not fair, but it is very real and can easily be used against us.

hschinske said...

I think the discourse this time around is going to be very much affected by the presence of public blogs such as this one and saveseattleschools. A different tone has already been established, seems to me, and like it or not, it's generally much more direct and challenging.

Helen Schinske

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

A response to the most recent comments,
thank you so much for the thank you's. They are very much appreciated.

Stu, Cheezit, uxolo, and others (whoever you are!), there are APP parents who have done real kicking and screaming, even made threats. I believe the Lowell community did exactly what you described, Stu, in fighting, rallying their community, writing endless letters (many saved on my hard drive), it was in the press, etc. They were organized, active, loud, and tireless, and repeatedly pointed out all the reasons that APP should be kept together with data and testimonials. They did an amazing job. This was among the best and the brightest doing their best to avoid a split...and IT DID NOT CHANGE THE OUTCOME of the splits.

Much as some of you want to blame someone for that outcome, I am not responsible nor is the APP AC...nor are the hardworking folks at Lowell.

The more entitled we sound, the more people close their ears and want to ding APP. That is administration, school board, principals, teachers and especially other parents. So think about the message we can send and how we send it. Because we got dinged.

The APP AC members are not elected, there is no option to elect people to an advisory committee yet--but I do think we represent people quite well. If the community did not value the emails and information and what we do, we would not have over 1300 people receiving our emails. It is impossible to represent every individual opinion.

I would think it is actually a good thing to have an advisory committee that has working relationships with the School Board, Principals, teachers, district administration ...it has taken a lot of careful work to develop the ability to have their ear and for them to listen to us. But sometimes, like you, they have a different opinion of what should be done, and like you, nothing will change their minds.

I sincerely suggest that parents who want to make change in a quicker, more radical way, should run for School Board. We all have a voice, we have arms and legs...listen and learn, then advocate for yourselves and your program. Don't just sit at your computer and throw stones. I would encourage everyone to DO something about what you think needs changing. The channels are there and you can do it. If you feel there needs to be another group advocating for APP, I think that's great...

Stephanie

CCM said...

Stephanie,

I believe that most people do appreciate the time that all of you put in -- it is hard (impossible?) with such a range of opinions to make everyone happy.

I was part of the Lowell contingent that worked hours on end during the elementary school split -- including banging our heads against the wall meeting with the school board and knowing full well that it wasn't making a bit of difference or changing their minds. It became very apparent that the decision was already made and no matter how much evidence and data-driven information (thanks Meg) and arguments were made against the split - we weren't getting through.

I think the tone that has been set with Bob Vaughn's letter has had the same effect - sounds like the district/board has already made up their minds about splitting Garfield.

Not that it really matters at this point - but you said that you don't think the district thinks far enough ahead to have purposefully drawn the boundaries with this split in mind. I have to disagree -- as when it was pointed out to Bob Vaughan that the Garfield boundary was way too big - he replied that those "really smart demographers downtown" know what they are doing. I think that they probably did know what they were doing and it was exactly what they were asked to do - draw the boundary too big.

So - I don't envy the APP AC over the next few weeks, and I know that you will do all that you can re: convincing the board members of the importance of keeping APP at Garfield. I'm just not real optimistic about the outcome based on what happened two short years ago.

But - I'll be at the meetings - doing all that I can to help.

Anonymous said...

As a non-APP parent with two kids thriving in AP and honors classes at Garfield (we live in the attendance area), I wish the APP community could and would broaden this discussion to include all members of the Garfield community who will be impacted by this assignment change. Unlike Lowell, which only affected the APP community when the split was made, this change will affect all of Garfield. Except for the fact that people are really put off by the completely myopic views expressed in these 115 comments, there are many non-APP families at Garfield who do not want to see the school change to accommodate the ridiculous boundaries. All members of the Garfield community should be speaking with one voice, for what is best for everyone.

The growth in the APP program is a problem going forward, that's for sure. But removing 200 APP kids from Garfield will severely impact the percentage of Free and Reduced Lunch students. It is currently at around 34% - Garfield's concentration of poverty will certainly be closer or above that tipping point where poverty starts to overwhelm a school without APP. All the fundraising that is heavily supported by APP families that funds so many programs geared toward struggling or under prepared students will be affected negatively. This socioeconomic balance is a crucial element that makes Garfield successful. I would encourage the APP community to realize that at Garfield you are members of a larger school that supports you. Please let's speak with a unified voice. We all want to see the best possible outcome for all our kids and Garfield.

This process is typical of the many chaotic changes that have been thrust on SPS families, staff and schools since MGJ came to town. There is a rush to fix a problem that many have said was intentionally created when the boundary lines were drawn so large around Garfield last spring. I think we need to slow down this process, make some boundary adjustments to the south, and thoughtfully propose new APP pathways that will benefit both the growing APP cohort and Garfield. Right now, the proposals seem to benefit neither. The sky is not falling. They just want us to think it is.

Anonymous said...

As a non-APP parent with two kids thriving in AP and honors classes at Garfield (we live in the attendance area), I wish the APP community could and would broaden this discussion to include all members of the Garfield community who will be impacted by this assignment change. Unlike Lowell, which only affected the APP community when the split was made, this change will affect all of Garfield. Except for the fact that people are really put off by the completely myopic views expressed in these 115 comments, there are many non-APP families at Garfield who do not want to see the school change to accommodate the ridiculous boundaries. All members of the Garfield community should be speaking with one voice, for what is best for everyone.

The growth in the APP program is a problem going forward, that's for sure. But removing 200 APP kids from Garfield will severely impact the percentage of Free and Reduced Lunch students. It is currently at around 34% - Garfield's concentration of poverty will certainly be closer or above that tipping point where poverty starts to overwhelm a school without APP. All the fundraising that is heavily supported by APP families that funds so many programs geared toward struggling or under prepared students will be negatively affected. This socioeconomic balance is a crucial element that makes Garfield successful. I would encourage the APP community to realize that at Garfield you are members of a larger school that supports you. Please let's speak with a unified voice. We all want to see the best possible outcome for all our kids and Garfield.

This process is typical of the many chaotic changes that have been thrust on SPS families, staff and schools since MGJ came to town. There is a rush to fix a problem that many have said was intentionally created when the boundary lines were drawn so large around Garfield last spring. I think we need to slow down this process, make some boundary adjustments to the south, and thoughtfully propose new APP pathways that will benefit both the growing APP cohort and Garfield. Right now, the proposals seem to benefit neither. The sky is not falling. They just want us to think it is.

none1111 said...

CCM, I ditto your every word.

Of course they knew exactly what they were doing. That's what makes it all the more revolting.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

I'd like to offer this to the discussion:
Why Aren’t Our Schools Encouraging Our Kids to Reach for the Stars Anymore?

Ed Reform is creating a new achievement gap of unfulfilled potential

(Report from the Oct. 15-16 WAETAG conference on gifted education, “Proficiency is Not Enough”)


Here's one of my main thoughts:

The latest breed of ed reformers has no interest in our highest achievers, assuming wrongly that they don’t need any help, or perhaps worried, politically, that if they advance and fulfill their potential, the “achievement gap” will grow, therefore they must be stifled.

But in so doing, ed reform is creating another achievement gap—between the potential and actual achievement of those children who hunger for more.

Evidence like the superintendent’s comment indicates that nurturing the minds of the highest achievers is not high on the list of priorities in this and most other school districts. By denying this need, districts are denying the intellectual and creative needs of children of all backgrounds because giftedness transcends race, gender and economics. In fact, one the strongest aspects of Seattle’s Accelerated Progress Program (APP) for highly capable students is that it affords every highly capable child in the district, no matter what their socioeconomic background, the opportunity to join a program that will meet them at their level and challenge them with the depth and complexity they need.

Administered correctly, programs like APP are one of the strongest tools that school districts have to transcend socioeconomic and racial barriers and close any gaps at either end of the achievement spectrum.

And yet district administrators commonly think that identifying and helping the highest achievers and helping the lowest achievers are mutually exclusive endeavors. But why should that be?


--Sue p.

uxolo said...

Two suggestions (from the meeting last night) for making more room at GHS until the district creates inviting programs elsewhere:

split session- for example, an 8 period "day" where some go kids go 1-6 and others go 3-8;

a simpler one: use the Teen Life Center and Community Center for additional classrooms.

Anonymous said...

In looking at the numbers, it looks like GSH is only over-enrolled by 134 students based on projected v. actual enrollment numbers. Less than what I would have thought based on the districts alarming information being sent out.

I have to wonder, how much impact making Cleveland an Option school has on GHS enrollment. The school is currently at around 750, but can house at least a 1,000 . Had CHS stayed an assignment school and enrolled to capacity, it seems to that GHS would be able to enroll all their students. (Resulting from to drawing different lines around GHS, Franklin and CHS that would right-size all the schools.)

By moving APP out, I do think most families will choose assigned schools, namely Ballard and Roosevelt as both schools have solid programs versus selecting a "new program" with limited access via Metro.

In a year from now, GHS won't be overcrowded, but BHS and RHS will...then what?

What if Cleveland was simply fully enrolled? How would that look?

Jessica said...

I want to add a sincere "thank you" to Stephanie and others on the APP AC for all the time and effort they spend on APP issues.

APP is not special education, and parents and children are not entitled to it. APP exists because people have fought to create and keep it going. I feel lucky that it's there for my daughter; it's public school, it's not perfect, but it's working for her and hundreds of other children.

If parents are upset that their children can't work three grades ahead in math, then maybe they should talk to the UW's program for genius students or consult private schools (if any will support such an advanced level of math) about admission and/or scholarships, because public education very obviously has its limits.

Thinking about APP in the future and the situation at Garfield, demographic changes that are ongoing in Seattle will bring many more - not fewer - students to APP because it's seen overall as a very successful program.

Is it realistic to expect that Garfield will absorb that population increase over the next five or ten years? How can APP parents get in front of that train to help design the future AND keep the overall program intact -- even if it's not housed in one school?

Let's also consider that the vast majority of children adjust very well to new circumstances -- and anyway, APP students are supposed to be able to handle challenges. My junior high school closed after my 8th grade year, and I thought the world was ending. But I was 13 and I got over it.

Anonymous said...

If parents are upset that their children can't work three grades ahead in math, then maybe they should talk to the UW's program for genius students or consult private schools (if any will support such an advanced level of math) about admission and/or scholarships, because public education very obviously has its limits.

Wow.

This is not acceptable. Seattle public schools is not limited to providing only two years of acceleration in math because of some insurmountable constraint.

They are not providing this support by choice. The schools managed to provide this level of support before the split and other parents report that other middle schools, besides Hamilton, are able to support some kids at this level currently.

Given that, I don't think it's a reasonable position to tell parents, sorry you'll just have to give up on public education, it's not meant for your kid.

Honestly, if we have to sacrifice the program for some students, I'd rather roll back APP back to the standard of the old IPP program, and serve only the kids who are ready to go to college out of middle school. Those kids are hard to serve in general ed class and, in my opinion, need much, much more support than the kids that are simply a year or two ahead.

Fortunately, this is not a choice we have to make. The schools can provide an education to everyone, but we do need to hold them accountable to do so. This attitude is not helping.

Again, wow.

Wow.

Maureen said...

@"Wow Anonymous," Of course it's not an "unsurmountable constraint." It is "only" MONEY. The same money that is wanting when the schools try to provide supports for kids working three grades BELOW level. The same money that has led to an unsupported roll up of "Integrated Comprehensive Services" for special ed kids in elementary. The same money that makes downtown so thrilled that High School enrollment has increased under the new assignment plan.

I have yet to hear from an APP parent why their kids are the highest priority out of all the needs this District is (not) funding. While I agree that SPS isn't spending every cent (or million even) optimally, what I want to hear is why maintaining 100% of the APP identified and enrolled 8th grade cohort is more worthy of attention than anything else SPS is cutting?

hschinske said...

Oh, right. Taking kids out of an algebra class and putting them in a pre-algebra class totally saves millions of dollars ... wait, what?

Seriously, these kids need to be in some math class with some teacher anyway. Pounder's got the materials, and he damn sure knows how to teach them. What is the big budget problem here?

Helen Schinske

anne said...

"Honestly, if we have to sacrifice the program for some students, I'd rather roll back APP back to the standard of the old IPP program, and serve only the kids who are ready to go to college out of middle school. Those kids are hard to serve in general ed class and, in my opinion, need much, much more support than the kids that are simply a year or two ahead."

I couldn't agree more! The crux of the problem is that the Spectrum program is so weak that everyone tries to get into APP and there are lots of kids on the bottom of APP and the top of Spectrum that could easily be served with advanced coursework outside of APP. It's just that it's not there. At all!

My son tested into the APP-track for math in middle school (2 years ahead) but CMP math was horrible. He's was in Spectrum for LA/SS (which was only so-so - very little writing experience), and Spectrum at WMS has no self-contained science, so he was in the general ed class, bored to tears. I asked the principal to allow him to be in APP science since his math performance was so high, and he had for two summers done well in the Summer Stretch in Physics classes at the Robinson Center, but he said no, that's not allowed...so we finally pulled him out of science class and homeschooled.

We finally gave up and went private for HS and he is finally getting the challenge he needs and deserves!

Maureen said...

Helen,

I'm not talking about math (you're right about that--what's the teacher's problem? Is it coming from the principal?) I'm sorry I was unclear--I realize now that "Wow" was focusing on math. But this thread has also addressed the proposed cohort split.

I'm talking about keeping 100% of the 8th grade APP cohort together at GHS when it is overcrowded and other schools are not. That is what I want APP parents to compare to ICS rollup and interventions for kids working three grades below standard.

I'll tell you what made me post this: I just heard a 2nd hand report of what was said at last night's meeting and it did not reflect well on the basic level of compassion and empathy of the average APP parent.

hschinske said...

I have yet to hear from an APP parent why their kids are the highest priority out of all the needs this District is (not) funding.

I don't see the financial point at all here. How is APP getting any big bucks out of any of this? How is it any sort of financial priority? Where are there any costs significantly different from those of any other program?

By comparison, as Charlie Mas has pointed out, look at the whacking great big start-up costs for the STEM program (many of which were ill advised and could have been better spent, regardless of how valuable the program turns out to be).

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

I'm talking about keeping 100% of the 8th grade APP cohort together at GHS when it is overcrowded and other schools are not.

But that's not a financial problem as such. Again, all those students need to be in some classroom with some teacher. They're not costing the district any more at Garfield than they would anywhere else. Indeed, it will probably cost more to set them up at Ingraham, and the costs and the effect of the crowding will be much the same as they are now if the Ballard- and Roosevelt-area APP kids go back to their neighborhood schools and overcrowd THEM.

Okay, I lie -- my kid would cost the district $27 a month more at Garfield than at Ballard, due to getting a Metro pass. Big whoop.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Incidentally, Maureen, I'm not even against splitting the cohort as such. I'm indignant at the way they're going about it (e.g., drawing the Garfield boundaries too big on purpose), which seems to me disrespectful to absolutely ALL parties involved.

As I wrote on saveseattleschools earlier, "If the district folks had planned it out and done this as a sensible long-term project, that might have been different. But to willfully and purposely put Garfield's students, teachers, and school administration through weeks of chaos from overcrowding in order to press that agenda, when NONE OF THAT WAS NECESSARY if they'd just done their jobs ... well, I feel manipulated and I'm pretty mad."

Helen Schinske

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I have yet to hear from an APP parent why their kids are the highest priority out of all the needs this District is (not) funding.

This is completely wrong. APP is not asking for any additional money. APP does not cost the district any more than any other program for regular education. APP is asking for a successful program to be left intact. If the district wants to put the APP program at one site anywhere in the city, there would be widespread parent support for it. This is not a question of priorities and funding.

Maureen said...

I agree that SPS probably purposefully drew the boundaries too large and is now using that as an excuse to split the cohort. I expect they figured that if they did it right it would just give the APP parents a chance to file a law suit so figured it wasn't worth the risk. They also hoped crowding might drive a significant number of APP identified kids to RHS, BHS, STEM and IB.

This is a money issue because (1)full buildings save money over empty ones (2)the more middle class kids a gorgeous new Garfield can suck from Prep and SAAS the better and (3) if our struggling HSs had larger groups of successful students and supportive parents they would also draw in more Seattle students from Shoreline and Mercer Island and (4) evidence is that poor kids do better at no more cost if they attend schools at less than 30% FRL (Kahlenberg) and probably 10 other reasons...

But more to the point, I'm actually generally thought to be an advanced learner in terms of compassion. I try to listen to every side of an argument. The APP refrain I have been hearing reminds me of when my kids whine and I have to say "I can't hear you when you talk that way."

I keep hearing "the cohort is important" "my kids will be emotionally harmed by a split with their friends" but then "of course all of the Garfield area APP students will stay at Garfield" and if the cohort gets sent to IHS I'll just send my kids to Ballard or Roosevelt instead. Can't you even hear yourselves?

You know what I keep waiting to hear? (and this was through the K-8 splits as well) The cohort is especially important for kids who otherwise wouldn't have access to a critical mass of advanced learners. If we have to be split, let's make sure that the kids who would otherwise be sent to struggling schools get a seat in the APP.

Instead, I hear, though not from Helen, that I should be grateful that APP is there to populate the "varsity team" at Garfield.

I know I won't convince any of you, you can't hear me when I talk this way.

CCM said...

I'm curious Maureen -- what exactly did you hear about last night's meeting? From your comment - you weren't there - so you heard it second hand?

I was there for the entire meeting - and can't really guess what was said to illicit such a response?

Overall focus was on Garfield (the meeting was at Garfield - so not surprising) and I heard comment after comment re: not using money and time to split the APP cohort when APP is not to blame for the overcrowding and please leave current Garfield kids (both APP and others) at the school through graduation.

The district representatives flatly refused to comment on anything - they literally were silent....just writing down the comments on an overhead.

You must have heard something different - so I'm just curious to know what you heard?

All of us our going to take what we want to from these meetings - but frankly making the statement that things were said that reflected poorly on the "basic level of compassion and empathy of the average APP parent" has me confused...

Jessica said...

To "Wow - Anonymous," it's my understanding that APP works two years ahead of regular-ed. If I am misinformed, please tell me if Washington MS has provided +3 years in math in the past or present, before the split.

Seriously, though, is there a private or public middle school in the Seattle/Eastside area that works three years ahead in math? I don't know, so someone clue me in.

Helen, isn't there always a budget impact if you assign a teacher to a classroom? And isn't that impact greater if it's a very small number of students?

As for telling parents "sorry you'll just have to give up on public education, it's not meant for your kid," then maybe parents whose children have particular talents can supplement w/extra math (just as they do with a musical instrument) but keep their children in public school for the rest. I don't see how the default position from APP parents can be, "My highly gifted child needs X - so hire X!"

CCM said...

Edit from my above comment....

All of us ARE (not OUR) going to take.... :)

hschinske said...

Actually, Maureen, having more kids in private school most often SAVES the district money, if anything. Granted, taking a class from 31 to 32 adds money without making the class perceptibly harder or more expensive to teach, but once you hit the tipping point where you need to divide into more classrooms with more teachers, you're spending more.

There are a lot of reasons why we might want a bigger market share (not least because it would indicate greater satisfaction with the public schools in general) -- I'm certainly not saying it would be a bad thing -- but saving money really isn't one of them.

Helen Schinske

Peace said...

I get that some students didn't get the math that they wanted, even the math that they deserve, but, I think we have bigger fish to fry here. And in fairness, there are also lots of APP students able to work 3 years up in other subjects, that don't get the chance to do so within APP.

Yes, the splits have not worked out very smoothly for some, maybe even for most. But proving that last year's splits didn't work is not APPs path to partnering with SPSD employees to find a solution for the overcrowding at Garfield. Other groups within SPS hate APP, I've never been able to figure out why, but they do.

The way we are going to gain friends and influence people is to remain open and stay engaged. My biggest fear is we will play into the hands of all other stakeholders by being obnoxious, as a community, and then be disregarded as a group. I don't believe this is an occasion when the squeaky wheel with get the oil, but rather the shaft.

Anonymous said...

What hasn't been mentioned (that I've seen) is that some students in APP cannot be served by programs such as Running Start, and these kids are better served in an age appropriate school setting due to social and emotional issues. That is the whole purpose in my view of APP--giving kids that need more of a challenge an advanced learning program,allowing them to remain with their peers--children their own age. When we ask that APP students please be kept together as a cohort this is what we are referring to--we are not referring to friendships.

Also, is there any way to get Maria Goodloe Johnson out of her glass castle ask her directly what her plan is for APP? She should have come clean with us prior to Elementary and Middle school splits. Why does she feel the need to be so surreptitious, and how does she get away with it? Let's face it, we can spin our wheels all we want giving rational arguments and alternatives to APP splits, but once she has made up her mind, it is a done deal. We deserve a direct answer.

hschinske said...

Jessica, Washington Middle School and Eckstein have *both* fielded a third year of high school math (algebra 2 or Integrated III) most years. The demand is not that rare, and there is a long history of accommodating it. In some years, I believe (others with personal experience can explain more) there have been enough applicants for a whole separate class, and in some cases I think the students were scheduled for an Integrated II class but worked together on Integrated III, with teacher support. (For Int. I and Int. II, cross-grade groupings generally made full classes possible.) Some years these arrangements have fallen through, and students have had to pursue outside options (I don't know exactly why, but probably due to shifting administration politics).

If you'd read this thread more carefully, you would also know that the district made a very distinct promise that the split would *not* cause the lack of a sufficient cohort to be able to provide a third-year class, that they *would* continue to offer the third year at both sites.

Currently, WMS is at least providing some sort of independent study option for third-year students. Hamilton is not, and is not allowing further 6th-grade students to enter on that path. This IS a really big deal, because they have not just let something slide, they have actively GONE AGAINST any possibility of fulfilling their direct promise. I cannot see how anyone can think that unimportant.

Islander Middle School on Mercer Island offers math at up to two years ahead as a matter of course. http://www.misd.k12.wa.us/schools/ims/8th%20grade%20curric10-11.pdf shows geometry available in 8th grade. I have heard of further acceleration being possible by taking classes at Mercer Island High (the student I know who did this was, I believe, taking AP calculus in eighth grade).

Helen Schinske

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

To "Wow - Anonymous," it's my understanding that APP works two years ahead of regular-ed. If I am misinformed, please tell me if Washington MS has provided +3 years in math in the past or present, before the split.

Actually, yes, there were some students at Washington before the split that were working 3 years ahead in math. I've always been told by SPS staff that this "two years ahead" thing is more of a rule of thumb than a hard and fast rule.

At the time of the Washington split, there was concern that this group of high level math kids would be split in two and they would lose the necessary numbers to provide a class to these kids. And, in fact, this happened.

If you read, my post earlier on this thread, you'll see that there were some 6th graders that started this year in algebra at Hamilton. They were doing fine and then, after a month, were removed from a class that had space for them. I've never heard a satisfactory answer for why this happened. I'll add that I don't have a kid at Hamilton.

I don't see how the default position from APP parents can be, "My highly gifted child needs X - so hire X!"

I don't see anyone here saying this.

What I see is people saying when there is room in class that fits a kids academic needs that kid should get a seat. And also, if we keep growing and splitting the APP program, we're making it harder and harder to accommodate kids on the high end that were reasonably well accommodated in APP before.

ArchStanton said...

More like, "my highly gifted child and some number of his peers needs X - so please keep them together and provide X, instead of scattering them to the wind and forcing us to seek individual solutions for each one."

Jessica said...

Thanks for your comments, Helen and Anonymous, about the math program. That's very useful context in the current debate.

Then I guess the next question is, if APP continues to grow at the two MS sites -- and it sounds like, potentially, split HS sites -- will having more students at each site, such as you describe in math, provide the critical mass for more advanced work? And can that be baked into the planning?

hschinske said...

The problem isn't the numbers so much. There are ways to work around that. The problem is the administration's attitude. If you don't let anyone take algebra in 6th grade, no one takes algebra in 6th grade, qualified or not.

Incidentally, a few years back the district floated a new math plan that would have had algebra 1 be the standard goal for 8th grade, with acceleration for the average Spectrum and APP students (and any others who tested in -- let's not forget that this isn't just a program thing, it would affect ANY student sufficiently advanced in math) amounting to one and two years beyond that. So a while ago three years ahead was about to be signed in as a goal for the *average* APP student, and now it's to be a goal for *none*? I'm getting sick of the whiplash here.

For what it's worth, I've always thought a few more students could qualify for math three years ahead than presently do, but not a lot more. It's not that I thought the district's plan was totally realistic, and they may have been right to abandon it. But there's no way the same people could have believed the *philosophy* behind that plan, and then implement the policies they have at Hamilton.

Helen Schinske

Bird said...

So, Helen, do you have any idea what the district's motivation behind the current situation with math is? Have they ever provided a justification?

hschinske said...

I have no idea what the justification is (barring what I can glean from Stephanie's summing-up). I haven't been personally involved, and only heard about the situation recently. OverTheEdge presumably knows what they said.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Maureen, not all of us can win the lottery to get our kids into TOPS, and must therefore rely on other means to get an acceptable education for our kids.

Stu said...

First, to Stephanie: in reading over my posts it does sound like I'm taking some of my frustrations out on you and the committee and that's not fair; I apologize. I was disappointed, at the time of the Lowell split, 'cause I felt as though the committee, and Bob Vaughan to some extent, took a "we're going to get hosed so let's see if we can, at least, minimize the hosing" approach in the early going. And, by the time the battle lines were drawn, we were now fighting over HOW to split the program not WHETHER to split the program. Anyway,the point is, I do appreciate all you guys do for APP but, like everyone else, I'm exhausted at the constant barrage. Which brings me to Maureen . . .

Maureen: I don't think I'm special or deserving of anything more than a quality education for my child. That's right, MY child. I advocate for all children in the district, I help fund raise at our local elementary, even though our son doesn't go there anymore, and I try to involve myself in matters that affect the district as a whole. That said, my job is to help my son with whatever he needs to prepare him for higher learning, be it high school or beyond. If he's advanced in math, BECAUSE THE DISTRICT ACCELERATED HIS MATH, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the district to continue his math education.

I'm not asking that the district offer anything new, nor am I asking that they not give things to other groups; I'm asking them to keep the promises they made when making the split. Things like equity between programs, NO high school split, written curriculum, qualified teachers, etc. I'm asking the district not to lie and manipulate data just to get their way and, perhaps more importantly, I'm asking them to state their goals BEFORE breaking up a successful program.

Lastly, you talk about how, if there's a split, many APP kids will just go to Ballard and Roosevelt and be happy. I think you'd be surprised at how many aren't assigned to those schools. Our son would be assigned to Nathan Hale which, though a fine school for some, doesn't offer the number of advanced classes he needs and doesn't have the advanced music program of Garfield or Roosevelt. Does my son DESERVE special treatment to be in a music program? Yes . . .ALL our children deserve special treatment! But, even though he loves music and practices hard, and dreams of continuing music as gets older, there's a serious possibility he'll be denied space at Garfield and, in the alternative, won't be able to get into Roosevelt because of overcrowding and an extra 5 blocks.

I'm truly sorry you can't hear the difference between advocating and whining. As a whole, the APP community is asking for reasonable responses to reasonable requests; we're asking for promises to be kept; we're asking that our children be allowed to continue down a path that this district offers; and we're asking these things in a way that takes nothing away from other programs.

stu

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Blogger Maureen said...
(...)
I'll tell you what made me post this: I just heard a 2nd hand report of what was said at last night's meeting and it did not reflect well on the basic level of compassion and empathy of the average APP parent.


Um, Maureen, how many of the 1,300+ APP families were at this meeting that you feel you could gauge what the "basic level of compassion and empathy of the average APP parent" is, and based on secondhand info, no less?

I for one was not there last night, so I feel you are insinuating something pretty negative about a whole lot of us, most of whom weren't even there.

So, to quote a previous commenter on this thread: Can't you even hear yourself?

As for my level of compassion and empathy for all the kids of SPS and advocacy for public education in general, please check out my writing at Seattle Education 2010 and Huffington Post. I am even empathetic to what's been done to TOPS and spoke up at a meeting with Michael DeBell on behalf of TOPS though I've no kids there. (You have or had kids there, don't you? It sounds like a great school, btw.)

I also spoke up at the alternative school meeting at TOPS last year or so, in the hopes of helping the alt community learn from and avoid what happened to the APP community in the "APP audit."

I also share your belief that kids should be allowed to test into APP at high school as well.

I believe that the Garfield overcrowding situation was created by the district, not the APP community, and that one group, be it APP or any other, should not repeatedly be made the sacrificial offering for district-made inequities.

I also believe that the fact that one school should be so desirable district-wide is both a testament to the district's ability to do something well, and an indictment of the district for having failed to replicate this success in other schools.

I also want to go on record to say that I believe it's unconscionable for the district to spend so much on one school (Garfield, $135 mil or so) while neglecting so many other schools.

--Sue Peters

OverTheEdge said...

I have no idea what the justification is (barring what I can glean from Stephanie's summing-up). I haven't been personally involved, and only heard about the situation recently. OverTheEdge presumably knows what they said.

Sigh. I was trying to silently move back to the shadows, but I suppose I can pass along a little more of what I know.

First, let me say that after dozens of meetings and personal conversations, with building and district staff, not to mention ridiculous amounts of email, I have never heard any justification for blocking 6th graders from Algebra I. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

What we get is stuff like this (direct quote): "Students can opt up, but not to Algebra 1, because that course will not be offered to 6th graders.". But no rationale whatsoever.

What we did hear several times is "it's too expensive to serve small classes". And we totally understand that. But that doesn't come into play until 8th grade! Not to mention that each and every parent who was involved in last year's fiasco explicitly agreed that we would sign a contract to release the district from any responsibility to provide an 8th grade class for Alg2. Certainly not ideal, and definitely broke the district's split promises, but we were all willing to take our lumps with Alg2 issues later. At least it would be only one year of hassle. (no one in the district seems to understand that it's better to serve kids for 2 out of 3 years than zero out of 3 years)

Instead, we were informed one afternoon that all of our kids were being kicked out, down to a lower class (6HH). The kids would be notified the following day and we should have our schedule change requests to turn in that day as well. Less than one day's notice!

Interestingly, the signing-off-on-alg2 issues we brought up were addressed perfectly by the new Math Placement Contract. In fact, reading that Contract it felt like the district was actually paying attention to the issues and addressing them! But those thoughts were short lived. Last spring, Ms. de la Fuente (head of SPS math) very clearly and explicitly said that APP kids were allowed to use the Contract. However, by the time this fall rolled around, she had apparently reneged on that as well, blocking all incoming 6th graders from Algebra I again. This time without even pretending to care about test scores or ability.

To this day I don't think anyone outside the Stanford Center has any real understanding of the rationale behind this decision. And it's not for lack of trying to understand. If anyone can ever get an answer from staff that makes any sense whatsoever, please, please post it here, because we're all still waiting for a rational explanation.

I hope that's enough. The details aren't nearly as important as knowing there are clear, factual cases that show the district most definitely does not keep its promises. All families and Board members should know that before buying into any promises - especially as they might relate to proposed splits.

OverTheEdge said...

Sorry, the previous post might be a little confusing because I mixed the current 6th grade algebra blockade with the experiences of last year.

Long story short: Last year we were told that our kids didn't pass a (new) district test. Even when we presented strong evidence that both the test and process were seriously flawed we were ignored. Several kids left the building for math, but the families never gave up, and eventually MAP and other legitimate data proved we were correct. This year our kids were allowed into Geometry. However, unless things change, we'll have nothing in the building next year.

But more important than that, our kids will be the last ones to even get that far. This year they aren't even pretending to have a test or process that would allow any 6th grader to enroll in algebra because they know there will always be eligible kids and they don't want to serve them. This is really just finishing off what was attempted last year, but we have not heard any justification or rationale for this at all. It's bizarre and bewildering.

uxolo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
uxolo said...

The absence of appropriate instruction is the point that Helen and OverTheEdge make when they describe math classes. Individual families must do this advocacy.

Individuals need to be writing individual messages regarding Garfield's future. Now. Do not wait for a message from your APP AC.

There is no reason to settle for Ingraham as an option. If the district wants to build the IB program, they should commit to middle school IB programs at Denny and ANY feeder middle school near Ingraham. Other cities have pre-IB programs. Given that there is no gifted education certification or training required in WA state, at least the middle school teachers would have a curriculum and a target for what the high school preparation would be. RIght now, this city has a great high school called Garfield High School. It historically had a middle school called Washington Middle School that had jazz bands and an orchestra and a math team that won all sorts of 1st place awards in regional competitions. It is a huge mistake for the city to tinker with this pathway.

The district doesn't know how to draw boundaries or create a functional assignment plan. That is the problem to solve first.

November 17, 2010 5:59 AM

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Greg,
it's looking l like a lot of the questions have wound down, so I will go back to concentrating on other emails regarding Garfield that I need to address.
Thanks for this opportunity to answer questions.

I have to say, personally, it is frustrating to be the object of so much anger. I am an APP parent for 11 years, with a busy career, family, who works hard to get in the trenches and improve things for APP, ALL of APP, not just my kids. It's very hard to be bashed by a few armchair quarterbacks with what they believe to be 20/20 hindsight.

I'd also like to request that you might add some of the comments I've made to the opening page of this blog, not only the cold "summary" written by one blogger--although I do agree with this articulate blogger to some degree. I was asked to do this Q and A, over a very busy weekend, and I think it would be appropriate to put some of my comments on that opening page, not just criticisms of me and our hardworking APP AC.
It makes me wonder about the real purpose of this blog, to stir people up who can be snarky behind anonymity, or really provide a constructive dialog, which I DO think is important. The snarky battle tone keeps some people out of this dialog for fear of attack, (and I know this because some have written or spoken to me), and at this point, this experience hasn't particularly encouraged me to continue to blog.

Disagreement OK, but where is common civility, particularly if you want to encourage people to participate? People accusing me of lying? C'mon, I'm a parent here too. And I haven't seen most of these folks in the trenches.

Stephanie

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Stephanie. I apologize that the Q&A was frustrating.

I don't appreciate you attacking me though. I only moderate this blog and, like you, I am a volunteer. I have no agenda other than to provide another way for APP parents to talk with each other, another way that is not under as many controls as other channels. I think this blog serves that purpose.

I want to thank you again for doing this Q&A. Despite the unstructured and sometimes angry discussion, I think it was helpful in increasing transparency and understanding of the work and role of the APP AC.

I hope you or other APP AC members will do it again in the future. Perhaps next time we can add a little more structure if that might make things more comfortable, maybe asking participants to try to stick to posting short questions and then you could repeat the question with brief responses? Would that work better?

Bird said...

I want to thank Stephanie for participating in the Q&A. I know it was very helpfult to me, and I can imagine it was helpful to others.

Greg, I'd be interested in similar threads with "invited guests". Dr Bob?

Though I don't know if anyone else would sign up for such a thing for fear of being exposed to the strong sentiments of unhappy parents.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Greg,
sorry, my comments were not directed to you. I can imagine this is an extremely time-consuming job that largely goes without thanks, so at least let me thank you!
Thank you for posting my opening comments--I do appreciate it.

I got a really good email response from the Superintendent today.

Another format of Q and A I'd be willing to try, perhaps when people have a lot of questions about the ingraham and garfield situations specifically. I think Bird had a great idea with the invited guests.
And thanks, Bird, for your thanks as well!
Thanks again,
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie-

I also want to chime in and say I appreciate you taking the time to answer questions on this forum.

I posted previously on this thread, but my negativity was NOT aimed at you, it was aimed at the district. As you very well know, the APP community was hit hard two years ago and now we are getting it again. I am at Lowell, and many parents are still mad from two years ago. The wounds have not yet healed, and this just opens them right back up.

You are the closest we get to communication with the district, so you get the anger. If the district would actually communicate with parents (perish the thought), I think that would help your role a lot. As it is, you are the stand in for the district.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie--I think your whiny, defensive tone is a little shocking. Re-read the posts. People wouldn't sound so disappointed with your performance on the APP-AC if they weren't, well, so, disappointed. Were any of your kids deported to lesser programs at Thurgood Marshall or Hamilton after all of your obsequious audiences with the school board or any of your disingenuous pep rallies for the APP community? Is it really appropriate for you to spend all of your time at APP-AC meetings giddiliy praising the great job Bob Vaughan is doing while APP is slowly unraveled before everyone's eyes? I really don't think you've done an adequate job explaining to the community why you're so proud of the work you're doing. Do you really believe that the kids in APP are better off than they were when you took the helm of the APP-AC? Our family certainly hasn't weathered the changes very well. And no, that doesn't mean that our kids simply aren't right for the program. It means that APP is failing them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:57:
There has been a lot of debate on this blog recently about inequities between Hamilton and Washington.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have not read a single mention about inequities between Lowell and Thurgood Marshall in any of the recent threads. What evidence do you have that supports your claim that it APP at Thurgood Marshall is a "lesser program"? Do you have children enrolled there?

Yes, there were bumps at TM last year, and yes the enrollment is smaller than Lowell (which I understand is an issue that the Advanced Learning Office is trying to solve).

Yet - I can't speak for the entire APP TM population, or the rest of the TM population - my child is in his 2nd year at TM and is thriving. He is learning, enjoys his friends, is excited to go to school every day, and has very good teachers. And the admin staff, led by Julie B, is working hard to build a community.

Is APP perfect? No. But the APP teachers at TM are doing a fine job. I take offense to your calling TM a "lesser program".

Anonymous said...

I have one more thing to add to my comment from last night (10:59):

*Every* APP teacher at TM taught at Lowell, some for a very long time. Julie B. was the principal at Lowell. Does moving a few miles south make them less capable of doing their jobs? I say no.

Sure, the environment is different. But these teachers are teaching the same thing, the same way, to similar kids. You do a tremendous disservice to these teachers and Julie by making blanket statement that APP at TM is a “lesser program”.


- TM Parent

none1111 said...

Anonymous,

TM may be working fine for you, but the general feeling is that Lowell is working much better. If you get out to the meetings and listen to the conversations, that's what you'll hear.

While the poster above you is obviously upset and overly abrasive, I think the point is that neither building is working as well as Lowell worked when it was a cohesive building.

The situation is far more nuanced than people appreciate. Yes, the APP AC does a LOT (LOTS and LOTS) of work advocating for our program. It's an incredible amount of work. The question is: how effective has it been? Were we really ever faced with a Hawthorne/TM split, or was that a ploy to lull the community into accepting a Lowell/TM split? Without reaching into the brain of a small handful of people, there's no way to know. Also, remember it's not just the splits, there's a lot of work and advocacy that goes on for small gains around the edges.

Is it really appropriate for you to spend all of your time at APP-AC meetings giddiliy praising the great job Bob Vaughan is doing while APP is slowly unraveled before everyone's eyes?

I have to agree with this. Bob is in a very difficult position, squeezed between doing what is right, and keeping his job. We would be worse off without him, but I don't think he has been doing a very effective job at holding together the strengths of our program and I'm disappointed in his work over the past 1-2 years. But if you ever worked with his predecessor you'd know that things can be a LOT worse.

CCM said...

Its interesting when you get this comparison of programs/buildings - which is a natural consequence of the split program.

I feel that a lot of it comes from biased opinions based on a small group of parents and the need to convince yourself that "my child is attending the better program".

The TM assessment must be 100% based on last year -- as the only thing that I have heard this year from my neighbors that attend the school is that the climate is so much better and the small size of the program has been beneficial due to smaller class sizes. There is no argument that the administration and teachers at TM are every bit as qualified and successful at teaching this group of kids as the Lowell staff.

We also heard prior to the split the mantra of "we (primarily North-end parents) feel so sorry for WMS kids -- it is going to be so much worse than Hamilton". Well - that didn't really pan out did it? But I haven't heard anything from WMS families saying Hamilton is a "lesser program".

I do think the program was stronger when it was a whole - but I would ask that when you are making that point - please refrain from the blanket statement of which program is "better" than the other. I believe that it is very subjective - and unless you are part of the program that you are belittling - you don't really know.

Just my two cents...

Anonymous said...

Actually, I do attend meetings (TM PTSA, APP-AC), and I read this blog. I also talk to other TM parents. So, I believe that not all perspectives are represented in the available public forums.

I know that APP is different now than it was prior to the split, and as I said previously, I know it’s not perfect (I have my own wish list of improvements). I am reacting to Anonymous' “lesser program” comment because I think it is unfair to make generalizations that can reflect on the teachers and staff who are in the classroom with our kids every day, and have been working in the APP program for years.

- TM Parent

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Hi Anonymous at 9:57pm,
as a matter of fact, my 2e child (who missed 73 days of math and other classes due to his health impairment last year) DID move to Hamilton for 8th grade. So yes, we experienced first-hand the effects of the splits,
and it was probably hardest on that 8th grade class many of whom have been together since 1st grade, like my son with his friends.
I don't think it's fair for anyone to compare experiences, as we have our hands full at my home.

All I can say to your comments is be careful what assumptions you make about people.
Again, the personal insults about anyone, particularly hiding behind anonymity, are really unnecessary.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Anon November 18, 2010 9:57 PM:

Maybe it is time for you to step up and take over the APP-AC committee as it sounds like you would do such a better job!