Monday, November 29, 2010

Open thread

Seems to be a lot going on for APP lately. What would you like to talk about?

Gregoire cuts APP in 2011 budget

In a recent e-mail, the APP AC reports:
On ... November 23rd, Governor Gregoire ... [proposed cutting] all funding for highly capable [students in] ... Fiscal Year 2011, retroactive to September 1, 2010.

Her letter to Senate Majority Leader Brown can be viewed here ,
and her proposed cuts can be viewed here

*If you have not yet contacted your legislator, please do so immediately *! The Governor requested legislators have any potential responses to her recommendations ready by Monday, November 29th ... Please e-mail your [sitting] representatives or phone them directly.
It's easy to e-mail or phone your legislators. Go to Find Your Legislator, enter your address, then e-mail or call them. You can also contact Governor Gregoire.

This, by the way, happened last year too and was avoided. So phone calls and e-mails might help.

Update: The Governor's proposed budget is available. The section on education (PDF) contains the proposed cut to our funding.

Update: A group called "Parents and Friends Highly-Capable Education" sent out an e-mail urging people to write their legislators and the Governor and also sign a petition that will be delivered to the Governor.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ingraham Accelerated IB program

On request, a new thread to discuss the proposed Ingraham Accelerated IB program that was presented at a meeting last night.

PJ Manley attended and summarized the meeting:
It would be an Accelerated IB program at a high school that already has a well-established IB program. The principal & teachers seem to be good, supportive, and available. It was a very upbeat meeting, and I think Bob V deserves a fair amount of credit for this idea. It's not his own. He readily admits he's copying the Interlake model in Bellevue.

Based on what was presented, I'd choose an accelerated IB program over typical AP classes at a neighborhood school in a heartbeat. It would be the perfect fit for anyone on the fence between APP or IB. I have to believe it will appeal to a lot of people.
An anonymous parent also attended and added:
I am cautiously optimistic that it could become an excellent alternative for some kids.

The IB diploma is a rigorous and coordinated curriculum that has high value with college admissions officers. Gifted students would be in self-contained classrooms in 9th grade -- so the 9th grade academics are potentially more rigorous than at Garfield. It appears than some of the 10th-12 grade classes might also be only highly gifted students. So the gifted group would feel more cohesive. So overall, this curriculum held more appeal to me than a mishmash of AP courses at Garfield.

And the Ingraham teachers are already teaching the curriculum, so it might require less start up time than I had originally thought. The also are proposing to make it possible for gifted kids not currently in APP to test in -- which should both bring in new students and reduce the complaints that kids can't enter a "gifted program" in Seattle after 7th grade.

It was also clear that Bob Vaughan was passionate about its potential, based on the outcomes in Bellevue. And the Ingraham principal and staff who attended the meeting seemed excited about the program and having our kids ... I think its the core of a very good idea.
Update: Meg Diaz points out that the presentation is available (PDF).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Open thread

A new open thread for everyone, discuss what you like!

Problems at Hamilton APP

There have been several requests for a new thread to discuss problems parents and students are seeing post-split with the new middle school APP at Hamilton.

It appears Hamilton APP was discussed at some length at a Nov 5 meeting with Kay Smith-Blum. Lendlees summarized:
Lots of discussion on how Hamilton and Washington were not equal, how Hamilton's teachers are not used to working with APP kids, how Hamilton's library isn't set up for APP, and how there isn't critical mass at either school to offer advanced math. In addition Hamilton is not offering very advanced math in 6th grade as they do not have an advanced enough course at 8th grade. And, finally, the music program at Hamilton is in jeopardy because they did not plan properly in the rebuild and there is no space for it.
Over on the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, Gavroche added:
Algebra class for APP 6th grade has been eliminated as a result of the split.

APP 8th graders at Hamilton have been told there is no math class for them anymore, so they are being used as free TAs to correct papers in 6th grade math classes, or told they can go do an online course, at their own expense.

There is not enough physical room at Hamilton for the music program, so the school had to give up a gym space for the music program and divide the main gym in half to accommodate multiple PE classes.

At least 3 teachers in Hamilton 6th grade APP this year have no prior APP experience and this has resulted in inappropriate assignments and expectations.

One of the APP math teachers at HIMS is only teaching gen ed math this year.
And, in other comments, two other parents offer some additional details ([1] [2] [3]) on what happened with math instruction for APP students at Hamilton.

Others have additional information? Or thoughts on what to do about it?

Update: In the comments, APP AC Chair Stephanie Bower disputes the accounts above, saying that they contain "information that is incorrect and/or exaggerated". Could others who might have knowledge of the situation at Hamilton APP clarify what is going on there?

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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

APP at Garfield threatened?

Over at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, Charlie Mas reviews the slides (PDF) from the new NSAP Transition Plan and writes:
Some things are pretty clear:

The District staff don't really want to do anything about changing the Garfield attendance area. In fact, they don't appear to really want to change any attendance areas. Instead, a lot of the options for Garfield had to do with re-arranging APP.
Ruthie adds:
Several of the vaguely-described potential "options" for fixing the overcrowding problem at Garfield seem to involve APP.

My bet is that the District isn't going to tell us what this latest round of hosing will look like until January. This would be a GREAT time to get someone from the APP-AC to answer some questions on this blog, guys, chief among them being "Who, exactly, is advocating for our kids in this process?"

Sorry to be cranky. I still have PTSD from the elementary split.
And, Lendlees writes:
They are planning once again to move/split/whatever APP without any thought as to where the students will go. (or as Parent said, how many APP students live in the Garfield zone)
Update: Good discussion in the comments.

Update: An anonymous parent claims letters are going out from Robert Vaughan saying that APP at Garfield "likely" will be broken up soon. The parent made the full text of the letter available.

Update: Active discussion on Robert Vaughan's letter in the comments of a post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Update: Another post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, "Questions About if APP is Split Off From Garfield".

Update: In another post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, "Possible Outcome for Garfield", Charlie Mas writes:
The District is going to do something about Garfield and what they are going to do is limit APP access to the school. The full weight of reducing the overcrowding at Garfield will fall on APP.

This was their intent from the start and it is the reason that they drew the Garfield attendance area as they did. They want to break up APP because the District improves school test scores by re-arranging the distribution of high performing students.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?

Kay Smith-Blum at Lowell Nov 5

Lifting this from the comments, Lendlees writes:
Don't forget that Board member Kay Smith-Blum is coming to Lowell this Friday (11/5) for the "Coffee with Gregory" time (9:30 am). She's always a breath of sanity and is a big advocate of APP.
Kay Smith-Blum is the School Board Director for District 5 (Central Area, including Lowell). If you can't make this 9:30am Nov 5 meeting at Lowell Elementary but want to talk with Kay Smith-Blum, she has another meeting Nov 13 at 10am at the Douglas-Truth Library.

Also, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has her last coffee chats tonight 6-7pm at Mercer Middle School and tomorrow (Tue Nov 2) at North Beach Elementary from 8:10am-10am.

Update: Good summary of the Nov 5 Kay Smith-Blum meeting in the comments.