Thursday, June 30, 2011

What would make APP stable?

The APP program has had little stability in the last two years. It was split at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Due to capacity constraints and increased demand, further splits in the next two years look likely for all grades. Unless something can be done, much more uncertainty and change are in our future.

But there appears to be no plan, no thought of what APP should look like two years out, no path to make APP a stable and thriving program again. Instead, it is crisis after crisis, each time yielding a sub-optimal outcome in a wild scramble.

What would make the APP program stable again?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Capacity management ignores Lowell

For the work session on capacity management with the school board tomorrow, the presentation (PDF) not only does not mention that Lowell will be over 145% of capacity next year, it does not mention Lowell at all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What will happen to elementary APP?

After a major meeting on June 27, a parent summaries the district's new plan for Lowell APP:
Here's the short version:
There is no plan.

July 8 was given as the date for releasing the short-term plan for next year. There was no presentation of plans beyond next year.

The short-term options were given as:

1) Keep everyone at Lowell (not an option due to safety)

2) Move 4-5 APP (there was clear and repeated parent testimony against this plan)

3) Expand APP to 3 sites (the few supporting this option most likely hadn't gone through the first split)

4) Move all APP to Lincoln (this seemed the clear preference of APP families, though several expressed concern about the viability of Lowell if all of APP were to move)

Under cons for moving all of APP to Lincoln (as presented by the District), there were suggestions about reductions in PCP options (there would be music/PE or art/PE, but not music/art/PE) and another note that some may not get transportation to Lincoln (no details on who would lose transportation or why).

If the cohort would be split - again - it would be North, Central and South, with Central and South feeding to Washington. North was defined as North of the ship canal.
Earlier, over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Charlie Mas wrote:
I think the District would like to have four elementary APP sites: Thurgood Marshall for South Seattle, Lowell for Central Seattle, a location in the north-end, and a location in West Seattle.

I think they would like to open the north-end location next. If each school needs about 250 students to form the critical mass necessary to support a viable program, then they could almost form two from the current program at Lowell. That would take 250 students out of the building and fix the overcrowding there.
Another parent added:
We are all caught up in the current crisis, but I urge everyone to think a bit ahead and look at where this all is going.

As Charlie said, we are headed toward elementary APP split across three or four locations.

Many APP parents are fine with further splits of elementary APP as long as at least one of the locations is in the north. Some parents might be fine with splitting into 3-4 elementary locations, including one in the north, but only if Lowell continues to be one of the locations. And, some APP parents might be wary of further splits and the shift to regional programs, preferring we move back toward one city-wide elementary APP program.

But the path we are on now is 3-4 regional elementary APP programs: one at Thurgood Marshall, probably two in the north, maybe one more in central or south, and nothing at Lowell.

Whichever of these options you might prefer, it would be a really good idea to be thinking about it now rather than just letting whatever happens to APP happen.
Please see also the new thread on the Save Seattle Schools blog, "Lowell: What to do?", and the comments there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lowell overcrowding even worse than expected

In a recent e-mail, the APP AC writes, "Lowell is looking at over 700 students in the building."

That puts the incoming 2011-12 population at Lowell at the high end of previous estimates and at what would appear to be 145% of capacity. The district considers "severely over capacity" to be 125% of capacity. The highest over capacity building currently is Gatewood at 116% of capacity.

This is in an old building that does not have a fire sprinkler system and houses fragile and difficult-to-evacuate special education children.

Please see also the earlier post, "Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year", and the lengthy discussion in the comments on that thread.

Update: Save Seattle Schools reports that Lowell Principal Greg King "announced [to teachers] that ... this fall's [Lowell APP] 4th and 5th graders were going to be going to Lincoln." It is unclear what is going on. Where Lowell Elementary's APP children will be next year appears to be in flux.

Update: Nancy Coogan, an executive director of Seattle Public Schools, has set up a community meeting to discuss what will happen to Lowell APP next year. The meeting is at 7pm Mon June 27 at the Lincoln school auditorium.

Update: From the comments after the big June 27 meeting, leading solutions to overcrowding at Lowell appear to be either the entire APP moves to Lincoln for a year or APP splits now into three sites (regional APP elementary schools for north/central/south, meaning half of Lowell APP moves to Lincoln temporarily until a permanent home or two can be found in the north). The district will decide on July 8.

Update: The Lowell PTA has set up a "Lowell Capacity Update" page.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another open thread

The previous open thread is filled with weird goo, so here is another open thread. Discuss what you like!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Open thread

A new open thread, discuss what you like!

APP AC meeting and the future of APP

Lifting from the comments, a Lowell parent summarized his or her impression of the APP AC meeting last night, saying:
The biggest surprise to me last night is that Washington APP is looking to allow non APP kids into APP science next year. They say they have to because of "scheduling issues." If this really happens, it is the beginning of the end. We were told at the time of the split that APP is a "self-contained" program. I guess it is only if it's convenient. I really appreciated the WA. middle school teacher bringing this up. If they are going to start dismantling the program, parents should be aware.

Lowell is going to be over 700 next year and it's going to be unbelievably crowded. I got the distinct impression that next year is the final year for APP at Lowell. Bob Vaughn only said APP #s for Lowell next year. I didn't write down the number, but it was about 450 - just about 2x as many as TM. The split is sure working to bring south end kids into the program!!!!

The "school district" doesn't come to these meetings. I have no idea what they think about all this. Those of us involved in the split a few years ago knew that this was coming. Bob Vaughn seems to believe that APP is growing because of map testing highlighting additional kids who should be given the Cogat test. While that may be true, he didn't talk about overcrowding in the NE or the dismantling of Spectrum. I think these are both huge factors in more kids choosing to come to APP north.
Anyone else attend that meeting? Impressions from the meeting?

Update: Good discussion and additional information in the comments.

Update: Lifting from a comment over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Kay Smith-Blum was at the APP AC meeting. An excerpt from the comment summarizing what she said:
At the APP-AC meeting on Tuesday, Kay Smith-Blum showed up, which was great.

Lowell will be incredibly overcrowded this fall ... Honestly, I don't know how the numbers we're hearing (easily over 700) can be safely accommodated.

KSB made one suggestion that got a round of applause: an APP 1-8! ... A mushroom 1-8 APP at John Marshall, with 6-8 filling in from the area. One could imagine a Spectrum program in the building that could pull (not push!) kids from Eckstein. And she mentioned using Lincoln at the temporary building for the north APP kids for 1 year while getting Marshall up to code. NOTE: this was not an official proposal by her, just something to discuss and consider.

On the downside, she also brought up something that many of us feel would be the final stake in the heart of APP: more splits. As in further splitting the Lowell cohort into a central and north APP (as if ThM is south!), and she mentioned even splitting again for West Seattle.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stop taking MAP tests?

Lifting a good topic for discussion from the comments, Charlie Mas advocates for APP and Spectrum no longer taking standardized tests:
I have advocated test boycotts to the advanced learning community a few times before.

Seven years ago my threat of a WASL boycott by Spectrum students drove then-superintendent Raj Manhas to make six specific promises to the Spectrum community. The boycott was broken, but so were all of the promises.

About five years ago I proposed opting out of the WASL as a tactic for Spectrum and APP families to evade proposed re-qualification requirements. The District pushed back by threatening to exit any student who didn't test. It got ugly for a little while, but the District blinked first and the re-qualification requirement was dropped.

Two years ago I recommended a WASL boycott to APP families that would end only when the District fulfilled the promises they made when splitting the program. The APP Advisory Committee didn't want to take or endorse any direct action and the result has been that the District hasn't done anything to fulfill their promises to APP students and families.

Now we see the beginning of the end. One Spectrum program, Lawton, has been killed. Another, Wedgwood, is climbing the steps to the guillotine. There are dead programs littering the field already: North Beach and Wing Luke to name just two. APP has been cut in half and it doesn't take the Amazing Kreskin to figure out that the District is going to split it again. There will be two north-end elementary locations.

The time has come for the advanced learning community to step up and take some action to save itself. There is only one action that we can take: boycott the standardized tests. Opt your children out of the MSP and opt them out of the MAP. The kids should not intentionally fail the tests, they just shouldn't take the tests at all.

You are entirely within your rights to preclude the testing of your children. It does your child no harm. It does their teacher no harm. It does their school no harm. The only people who are hurt by it are the District administrators who get hit in their pride. These people live on test scores. It is all they care about. It is their currency.

And we control it.

It is time for us to exercise our power. It is time for us to demand that they fulfill their commitments.

Spectrum families at Lawton and Wedgwood should opt their children out of the MAP and the MSP to protest the changes in their programs to to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the Lawton and Wedgwood communities.

All other Spectrum families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Lawton and Wedgwood communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to other Spectrum communities.

APP families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities, to save their own program, and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the APP community.

ALO families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to save their own programs and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to ALO communities.

All families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to all communities.

Stop taking the tests. This is your path to recognition and power.
Thoughts? What would APP parents and kids gain from a boycott? What would they risk?

Update: Charlie also started a thread on this over at the Save Seattle Schools blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Open thread

Talk about whatever you like!

Update: Joyce asked me to mention that an old thread on what to do about Lowell overcrowding still has a pretty active discussion. Might want to skim it over if you haven't read it recently or join in if you want to add something.