Thursday, December 9, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind?


hschinske said...

There was a meeting at Lincoln last night for parents of middle-school APP students to discuss the accelerated IB option at Ingraham. I got there a little late, so would appreciate some description of the first few minutes (came in toward the end of Will Miller's remarks).

A lot of stress was laid on what a great opportunity it was to finish the IB diploma before applying to colleges, as that makes one a much stronger college candidate (otherwise you're doing two-thirds of the exams at the end of your senior year). Obviously not everyone will end up doing the whole diploma at all, and I was not the only one who was attracted by the idea of doing it over the course of three years instead of two (though I think there may be a rule that you have to take all the exams within two years -- that would be something to look into).

I expressed concern over the proposal to have a self-contained APP IB track, saying that even the appearance of having a school-within-a-school had dogged us for thirty years at Garfield, and did we really want to set something like that up *on purpose*? What would be the benefit? Several folks expressed surprise and said they hadn't realized that was the plan, and someone who had been on the Interlake tour said yes, their gifted IB courses are completely separate from the other IB courses, and Bob Vaughan's plan mirrored that.

People asked about the rigor of the courses, especially math and science, about how it was determined that there were enough students available to offer a particular class (especially if the program starts out small, they worry about getting the same kind of problem as with Hamilton math, where 7 or 8 is not considered enough for a class), about how the program is funded and whether that funding is sustainable, stuff like that. Clarifying what would happen for grades 9 and 12 was big.

We didn't talk a lot about transportation, but I'm sure it was in the back of everyone's mind.

Other concerns including having oversight of how the program was doing, whether there would be enough flexibility to do electives, what the homework load was like, how much writing support there would be, and so on. Several parents were happy about the increased writing requirements as they felt Garfield classes seldom require the kind of sustained academic writing that they would like to see their kids able to do. I agree, but worry about how much time it will take for students who aren't as fluent writers to get up to speed.

I'm sure there was more. There's going to be a survey coming out in a little while. It was suggested that anyone with leanings toward the program say yes, you'd be interested, as you can always change your mind later, but the expression of interest now is crucial so that they won't automatically move to a geographic split.

They're hoping to get 60 current APP students interested, but as few as 30 would be enough to start with. The opportunity to switch is also being offered to current 9th-graders, but I don't know how many will take it up.

One thing I didn't think of saying is that part of what's going to drive my decision is whether anything at Garfield will end up gutted (which naturally no one would admit anyway). If it's a choice between an untried program and a gutted program, I can easily see just bailing and going to Ballard, which would add over an hour to my kid's day and save a ton of stress.

Helen Schinske

lendlees said...

Anyone considering opting their child out of the MAP testing?

CCM said...


Why would you think the Garfield program would be gutted?

If they maintain the south-end APP kids there at the very least or maintain it as a choice, the #'s will be smaller than they are currently but very similar to what they had in the past (our neighbor, who graduated from Northwestern a few years ago attended as an APP student when the #'s were much smaller than the current cohort and she was very happy with the offerings at the school).

Has there been talk of "gutting" the Garfield offerings that I have missed? The # of sections of AP classes may decrease, but I haven't heard about decreasing the choices of AP courses....?

hschinske said...

Why would you think the Garfield program would be gutted?

I don't necessarily think that it's likely to be gutted. I just assume it may be as part of my cynicism about the whole split, and because I'm so sick of being manipulated and pushed around. They're going to have to sell me on this one.

In any case, just as we did last time we looked at high schools, we'll be looking at what Ingraham, Ballard, and Garfield have to offer, in their current incarnations, and making a decision based on what seems right for the kid we're talking about. We are in the fortunate position of having one more year to think about it, so we'll be able to see how the split has played out in the first half of its first year.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Yes I am opting my student out of MAPS

Anonymous said...

The December Garfield PTSA Newsletter has an article by Marlies van Bergerijk in which she takes APP and unnamed APP parents to task for inappropriate comments made in a public meeting. Unfortunately she never says what those comments were, but she calls them "beyond the pale" and is generally critical of the attitudes of APP parents.

I'm not sure what this is all about and without knowing what specifically she objects to, cannot know how to address her concerns. I do find it deeply disturbing that the PTSA of the school would publish such an article which seems to be trying to pit groups of Garfield parents against each other.

Anyone have PTSA connections that can suggest how to start mending this breakage?

Greg Linden said...

Maybe you could contact Marlies directly to ask what she is talking about? Her e-mail appears to be

The newsletter in which she makes that complaint about APP parents is at

Shannon said...

I received a letter today inviting me to take a survey on the new high school program. There is a link on the Advanced Learning index page (the letter gives you a long URL to type which would have been better set up as a simpler URL with a redirect).

Here it is:
Thank you very much for taking this short survey. All information will be kept confidential and the identifying student ID is for demographic use only.

All student information will be used in aggregate, no individual student's information will be disclosed.
Please enter a single student ID. You will find this number on the invitation letter sent to you from the Advanced Learning office. Only responses with a valid ID will be considered.
This survey is designed to gauge your interest in a proposed APP/IB High school option for Seattle Public Schools, located at Ingraham High School as described in the letter you received inviting you to take this survey.
APP students currently in grades 8 and 9 may have the option to complete the IB Diploma program in grades 10 and 11 at Ingraham High School. In grade 12, they would participate in additional electives at Ingraham and have the opportunity to take college classes, create an independent study and/or work in an internship.

This program would be modeled on the successful program currently offered at Interlake High School in Bellevue.

You can also view a course comparison of Garfield's recommended course schedule for selective college preparation and a proposed schedule for APP/IB at Ingraham.

How familiar are you with the proposed APP/IB High School option?
Very familiar
Somewhat familiar
Not very familiar
Never heard of it until today

On a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being 'Least Important', and 7 being 'Most Important', how important are the following features to you in a high school?

Rigorous curriculum
Classes designed for gifted students
Classes with non-APP Students
Strong Music program

12th grade internship
Wide variety of classes available
Wide variety of extra curricular activities

Thinking about the features that are most important to you in a high school and what you have learned about the APP/IB program at Ingraham High School, how interested are you in having your child(ren) participate in the APP/IB program.
Very Interested
Somewhat Interested
Not Interested
I need more information

What additional information would your family like about the APP/IB Program at Ingraham High School? And for parents of 8th and 9th grade APP students think about what information your family would need before open enrollment in March 2011. (you may select up to 5 choices)
We would like to visit classes at Ingraham High School.
We would like to talk to other APP students who have also indicated they will enroll at Ingraham High School next year.
We would like to talk to highly academically gifted students in the IB program at Interlake High School in Bellevue.
We would like to visit classes at the gifted IB program at Interlake High School in Bellevue.
We would like to talk to students in the IB program at Ingraham High School.
We would like to know more about the opportunities to take college classes, create an independent study or work in an internship in grade 12.
We would like more information about the IB Diploma program.
Other (please specify)

Any other information / comments

hschinske said...

So, did I imagine it, or was there a comment here about the survey at the Advanced Learning website? I just got the letter from Bob Vaughan today as well.

The survey is at

Note that you have to put your child's ID number in, and it has to be a student currently enrolled in APP who will be affected (so, for example, I can't use the ID of my daughter who's now at Nova).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Yes I took the survey and noted that transportation (or lack of) was not addressed. I wrote it in twice in the comments/other sections provided.

They know transporation is an issue, why are they not surveying that information to see how big of an issue is odd.

Anonymous said...

I took the survey. There was very little content to it. I don't see what useful information can come from this. It's disappointing to make the effort to get significant APP family response, yet not ask for other relevant feedback about the program or other possible ways to improve it.

hschinske said...

I just read on saveseattleschools that APP-qualified students who've taken early entrance to kindergarten are not being allowed to sign up for APP first grade: this apparently happened to at least two students last year, one of whom was born only hours into September 1. That's appalling! The district used to recommend that such students repeat a year at APP entry (they had a beef with late summer babies as well), but that was a long time ago and I never supposed they would bring back such a policy.

Moreover, there is currently no such policy written down anywhere that I can find. How can they enforce such a thing without a written policy? Isn't that clear discrimination?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

@Helen: This policy change is true, and new. My son, now a third-grader at Lowell, was early-enrance to Kindergarten and allowed to start first grade there two years ago.

My younger son could possibly start kindergarten next year (early) -- when researching the application process, I stumbled across this policy change so we are going to wait a) because he probably should wait, and b) we don't want him to have to do K twice just to get to APP.

For the life of me, I can't find this policy change -- they really don't make it easy for you to find things on the Advanced Learning Site.

Anonymous said...

@Helen: Just a quick update -- I emailed advanced learning and they confirmed that early entrance k cannot apply for APP first grade, but could do Spectrum for first grade. But, even they could not find the policy statement!

I'm curious to know what happens for second grade -- does the student get to go to APP second grade (after doing first grade spectrum), or do they have to repeat first grade once they get to APP...

Anonymous said...

shouldn't a rising 1st grader be eligible to enter any program open to 1st graders? It's not your fault for reporting it (thanks, btw), but that is batshit crazy.

Shannon said...

Anyone else hear about the "fire" at Lowell? My message says that the lower levels were filled with smoke from a faulty heater / furnace but that the school was cleared by the Fire Department. No doubt will hear all about it from my son this afternoon.

Steve said...

We evidently got a phone message to our home number about this, and my wife mentioned that the fire department had been out to make sure that everything was ok. I don't have the transcript of the call, so can others fill in the details? I'm hoping the schools posts something on Lowell Link soon...

Shannon said...

Here it is:

"Before students arrived at school this morning the fire alarm was tripped at Lowell. The Fire Department came and checked the building.

In Mr Sakaue's Room, 108 (5th Grade APP) they located a malfunctioning motor inside the heater. The motor dispersed smoke throughout the classroom and it filtered into the hallway.

The Fire Department removed as much smoke as possible. However, the residual smell of smoke did remain in the lower level of the building.

In Room 108 the smoke dissipated.

Maintenance has been contacted and has come to the building and removed the heater. Portable heaters will be provided to warm the room.

Although we have been cleared by the Fire Department to hold school as usual some students may have allergic reactions to the smoke particles or residue.

Nurse Sandy is at school and has been alerted for any possible adverse reactions to students and we will follow emergency procedures for providing treatment.

If you need to keep your child at home the absence will be excused.

Thank you for your understanding.

Principal Gregory King"

Corina said...

Re: the "fire", I was at Lowell 9:30-12:00 today, and there is nothing to worry about. There was a mechanical malfunction in one of the downstairs 5th-grade classrooms which caused some smelly fumes. The room was aired out, though the room and hallway were, in the words of the students, "stinky". I was working in that hallway most of the morning, and none of the children complained of adverse effects.

Shannon said...

Frost wasn't even aware there had been a fire :)

Anonymous said...

Got the phone message, too. Odd that Mr. King can't make the recording himself, but had an administrative assistant read it.

Anonymous said...

So what happens now, with the Gifted Education funding cut by our Governor? What does that mean for APP? Is that $$ designated for testing, and Bob Vaughan's office, or is it back to neighborhood schools for us?

ArchStanton said...

re: the Garfield PTSA Newsletter

Maybe what she describes actually happened, but that article is just rumor and hearsay. Without any specifics or objective evidence (like a recording of the proceedings, or corroborating statements) its just a heavily biased anecdote from someone with an agenda looking to stir the pot. Disappointing that someone would print it, but I guess a newsletter doesn't have any pretense to journalism.

It just doesn't seem possible to escape the sniping and back-biting. Stuff like this and the situation at Lawton (see the other blog) that makes me wish APP/Spectrum were entirely self-contained - then at least you wouldn't always be guarding against threats from within.

Maureen said...

Arch: APP is about 25% of the GHS population. From what I understand, most of the APP kids think of themselves as Bulldogs first and APP second. The postings on this blog make me think that most of the APP parents see it the other way. Am I wrong? (Maybe most of the posters only have younger kids and aren't part of the GHS community yet? Maybe that's why they don't seem to consider the impact the loss of the APP cohort would have on the other 75% of the kids?)

Does this division exist at Lowell/TM/WMS and HIMS? I've never enrolled my kids in APP, I can't imagine a school divided like that.

It's interesting to me that your wish is to be self contained and not to reach out to the rest (majority) of your community.

ArchStanton said...


This blog was originally an elementary blog, but changed to more of an all APP blog. In spite of that, I think most of the posters/followers are still elementary.

As an APP expatriate, I don't currently have a horse in the race so, I can't speak to the current climate at any of the schools. I've just observed that any time you mix APP with another group, there are always people who feel that: the APP model is wrong; that APP gets more or is somehow better; and that APP parents are all white, privileged, elitist, whiny, racist, selfish, etc...

If you haven't, please read the John Stanford piece on APP at Madrona for one perspective.

My wish for APP to be self-contained has nothing to do with my desire to reach out to the rest of my community. I currently put in my time tutoring disadvantaged kids living in the projects - the projects where I grew up, incidentally. I just don't see putting APP into disadvantaged schools as being the best way to help either community. It's unfair to expect APP parent energy and money to be the rising tide that comes in and lifts all boats without some say in the matter and it's unrealistic to think that all non-APP families will just welcome APP with open arms and no resentment.

I really do miss the diversity that my child was exposed to in public school (even in APP) as compared to our private school. But, we felt that we could more easily expose her to a diversity of people/ideas/cultures on our own while meeting her academic needs at private school than we could doing it the other way around. It ain't cheap and ramen gets old, but we can sleep at night without the constant nagging worrying whether our program will be further split, relocated, or even exist from year to year. Like someone else has posted, we still have PTSD from the elementary split.

hschinske said...

Maybe most of the posters only have younger kids and aren't part of the GHS community yet?

That much is certainly true. I don't think there are a lot of high school parents here, which is presumably why this news didn't start an immediate firestorm on this thread: probably none or very few of us were at that meeting. (I do have a student at Garfield, but I was not there.) Not to mention being afraid of saying the wrong thing.

Maybe that's why they don't seem to consider the impact the loss of the APP cohort would have on the other 75% of the kids?

What evidence do you have that they don't? And anyway, naturally people are thinking most about what's happening to their own kids, and, on this blog, naturally they're talking most about what's going to happen to APP (that people are addressing more internal matters doesn't mean they are not concerned about wider ones). And right at the moment, APP leaving Garfield altogether is not on the table, so there's no reason for anyone to be expressing that special concern.

I don't know what happened at that meeting, and I'm not going to defend it or say it's impossible the story could be true. I simply don't know. But I do think if Marlies van Bergeik was not able to state the exact problem in that forum (I mean the newsletter), it was the wrong forum and the effect could only be inflammatory, regardless of her intent. I don't blame Arch for being angry at all. Nor can I blame anyone for venting about various kinds of divisiveness and attacks and wishing that we could get away from them all (which does NOT mean wanting to get away from the 99.9% of people who don't engage in that behavior).

For a bunch of uninteresting reasons, I'm posting on just a couple of hours of sleep here. If I've inadvertently said anything that sounds inflammatory myself, I apologize and hope I can be cut some slack. Thanks.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Sorry for my typo: van Bergeijk. I did check the spelling, just fatfingered it.


David said...

Hi, Maureen. I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that APP parents who are trying to stop the destruction of the current, self-contained APP program are not reaching out to the community? So, stop advocating for our program and just let it be eliminated, or people will accuse us of not being team players?

Does any other school or program have to endure these kind of attacks? Are TOPS parents not team players for advocating that TOPS stays as is? Are STEM parents not team players for pushing for continued development of that new program?

And, in general, what good does it do to pit school against school and program against program like this? Shouldn't we be trying to figure out instead why people, like ArchStanton, leave Seattle Public Schools for private schools? Isn't the enemy the forces that push people to leave Seattle Public Schools for the private schools, taking their resources and motivation to improve Seattle's public schools with them?

Greg Linden said...

Note from the moderator: Blogger's spam filter had removed some comments recently, incorrectly labeling them as spam. I just fixed that, so 5-6 comments that were not appearing will now appear. Sorry for the problem. Not sure why Blogger's spam filter is failing us lately.

Shannon said...

In terms of the article not being big news for "younger" APP parents. I am parent of a Lowell kid and the article makes me feel sad and weary. I dislike so many aspects of it, in particular its appearing in a PTSA publication.

It has the effect of making staying in APP in doubt.

I keep hoping "things are sorted out" by the time my son enters high school. Just like I keep hoping "things are sorted out" at Hamilton before we hit middle school.

Coming from my distant insecurity, if there was a vociferous overreaction or turnout among APP parents at Garfield, I understand where it is coming from.

Another group often under attack? AS1 perhaps?