Saturday, July 16, 2011

Open thread

Summer in Seattle, rainy and cold. What's on your mind, APP parents?

You can use this thread to talk about whatever you like but, for the Lowell split and setting up APP at Lincoln, I might suggest you use the recent thread "No more APP at Lowell" instead since it is already specific to that topic. And, for broader issues of possible further splits at all levels due to the capacity problems in APP and Seattle Public Schools, I might suggest you use one of the other very recent threads, "What would make APP stable?" Both of those threads are still active.

58 comments:

Shannon said...

I feel a bit despondent with the news that Ms Chow is leaving Lincoln APP too. She has been a great teacher and I really enjoyed working with her on the Lunar New Year celebration. We'll miss you Althea!

Here is her note:
After 10 years as a 2nd grade APP teacher at Lowell, it is difficult to imagine myself doing anything different. However, I would like to let you know that I have chosen to accept an open position with 3rd grade APP at Thurgood Marshall beginning this fall. My home is in West Seattle and my young children will attend a full-time bilingual school in Columbia City just 4 minutes away from Thurgood Marshall. A transfer to APP's southern site, as opposed to a move north, simply makes more sense for me and my family.

I feel badly leaving without a formal "goodbye" to my former students, parents, and colleagues so I would like to invite anyone and everyone to stop by the wading pool/playground area of Volunteer Park on Sunday, July 31st from 11:00a.m.-12:30p.m. Bring a picnic lunch for yourself and field games or pool toys, if you wish. It's a summertime "panda party", for those who know what that means! Kian and Sage will be there, too. :) If you can't make it to say hello/goodbye in person, feel free to send me an email at alchow@seattleschools.org. Thanks, everyone, for your support over the years. I will miss you!

Best,

Althea/ Ms. Chow

Anonymous said...

From the Lowell capacity update page:

For Lowell APP walkzone families from Perry Lee,
Thurgood Marshall Co-President:

If you want to transfer your walkzone child to Thurgood Marshall this Fall, you should go to the enrollment center right away despite the threads about the waitlists. It is not clear if all the walkzone families wanting to transfer have submitted their paperwork requesting the transfer.

Physically, we have the space at TM, we just need the folks downtown to approve the new classroom and move the waitlist. I think we can make that decision easier if everyone who wants to transfer to TM this Fall goes to Enrollment Services ASAP and completes the paperwork.

And if you are still trying to decide where to go, or know of other walkzone familes who also needs to decide, please visit our school library this Tuesday (July 19th) from 3-7. Ms Hudson, our school librarian, has the library open every Tuesday this summer. And I'm available to schedule a time on Tuesdays to meet with any parent who might want an informal tour of our school. I'm a parent who had a child at Lowell from grades 1-4 till the first split and have had kids in all the APP grades at TM, plus we are walkzone family so I should be able to address your questions or concerns about TM.

Perry Lee

TM PTA Co-President

Shannon said...

And an update from Principal King regarding staffing. I am interested in what is meant by teachers specializing in subject areas.

"Dear Lowell Families-

When I get back from vacation, my priority is to secure staffing, including, but not limited to art, music and PE. These are personnel decisions and we are depending on the district HR staff, many of whom are on vacation as well at this time. To date, I have submitted my proposals to the district on how to make both sites maintain and go beyond our current ways of teaching. Namely, teachers will specialize in subject areas, except for experienced APP teachers who wish to continue teaching all subjects. Also, we will pilot project-based learning opportunities that focus on integrating all subjects while providing hands-on learning opportunities. Even though we do not have enough teachers in general education at Lowell (Capitol Hill) to be able to specialize at this time, we will also have project-based learning exploration to enhance the curriculum. Teachers will continue to collaborate at both schools, such as 5th grade teachers scheduling the Islandwood field tr ip.

There are a number of questions that both the PTA and I are awaiting information from the district. Unfortunately, everyone is on vacation and we know this is really bad timing. In the meantime while Rina and I are on vacation, the PTA will continue to work with the district to get as much information as possible, in addition to keeping track of your questions and concerns.

Most of our planning for the upcoming school year takes place now, however moving 470+ students is a huge feat. We are working to ensure how we will co-exist with another elementary school and whether or not the district expects us to share teachers for art, music and PE. These are details that directly impact how we organize a school. With this said, I am planning based on all possible scenarios and staffing configurations.

Over the next two weeks, we will assign teachers and support staff to classrooms and offices at Lincoln.

I have secured space at the John Stanford Center downtown (district headquarters) for parent groups to meet with me, when I return on August 1st, regarding all programs at both locations. At this time I do not have information as to how administrators will function, except for Rina and I. Rina will focus on Lincoln, while I will focus on both sites and all programs--ensuring both sites and programs will thrive under these difficult conditions.

I am confident we will have a successful school year at both sites.
Regards,
Gregory"

Fremont Mama said...

Shannon - thank you for posting these! We are new to APP this year, so aren't getting any of the emails yet. My daughter will be starting 2nd grade in the fall, so I am particularly interested in who those teachers will be.

Susanne

Shannon said...

Hi Susanne,
Welcome! It is a difficult time to be joining the school but there is a lot of work going on and I am hopeful that we will have a great school this year.

I recall how frustrating it was before we were included on Lowell Link.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Chow has been job sharing the past few years and this year was the year where she will teach fulltime. We had 2 new 2nd grade APP teachers last year and I heard 1 was really good and the other was good.

APP parent

Mercermom said...

At TM for second grade, one teacher did math/science and the other did language arts. We were very pleased with both. I understand that the two fourth grade teachers at TM work with both classes on their chosen subject areas, and I've heard positive reports.

bf said...

I wonder if we could get Erika Dorje back from Jane Adams now that the program has moved north. Hands down the best teacher my son has had at Lowell.

Log said...

(T)eachers will specialize in subject areas, except for experienced APP teachers who wish to continue teaching all subjects.

Sounds like a good approach! Hope specializing lead to better teaching. It also allows kids to have different teachers in one grade, and not wasting a whole year if their assigned teacher happens to be not a good fit.

vampirecat said...

Weren't they talking about having the teachers specialize in certain subject areas for 5th grade earlier this year, and then decided to wait another year on this change? It seems like I recall hearing this, and maybe the move and staff vacancies have just accelerated the process. I hope the project-based learning works out though, as I think this can sometimes end up being a time-waster. (At least I'd like to know more about what is planned in this direction).
Zella917

Log said...

bf said...

I wonder if we could get Erika Dorje back from Jane Adams now that the program has moved north. Hands down the best teacher my son has had at Lowell.

I'm wondering about that, too! I know one of ex-APP teachers has left the door open for coming back. I suggest PTSA should be actively involved in the effort to recruit ex-APP teachers.

Anonymous said...

I also remember that the plan was to move forward with the subject specialization, then we were told they would spend a year planning instead. My guess is that some teachers were resistant to the idea.

The compromise may be good for the teachers, but how does it work for the students? We don't get to choose whether or not they're placed in such a classroom - what if we think our child would benefit from the new arrangement? Or not? How will they place students?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we could get Erika Dorje back from Jane Adams now that the program has moved north. Hands down the best teacher my son has had at Lowell.

I'm wondering about that, too! I know one of ex-APP teachers has left the door open for coming back. I suggest PTSA should be actively involved in the effort to recruit ex-APP teachers.


Good luck with that. Everyone needs to understand that almost all of the moves, resignations, changes this past year were because of pressure by the building administration to conform to standards. Regardless of the "official" publicized reasons.

As long as the administration is the same as last year, with the same pressures they're getting, in turn, from their bosses, we're not going to get our experienced teachers back. It's just not going to happen. Ms. Dorje doesn't live in a vacuum, so I'm sure she's well in tune with what's been happening at Lowell for the past year or so.

- hoping for change, but not optimistic

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have a sense of what will happen to the students at HIMS? Do you think they will be moved out of the building into a K-8 app model?

Log said...

New K-8 APP school is an option Kay Smith-Blum has talked about as a way to reduce overcrowding at HIMS. I'm sure it would be one of the "long term solutions" to be discussed. If SPS is going to have K-8 APP, now is the perfect time as it'll require re-openning of one of the north end schools, ie. a lot of time and money.

CCM said...

I really think that parents need to seriously consider that their children may not be well served in K-8 APP model. Most who push for that have very young kids, and may still be in the "protective bubble" mode.

Our kids are in middle school, and a we know that a vast majority of parents and kids were extremely ready and excited to move to a larger environment and expand beyond the "APP" cohort.

In my opinion, keeping them with APP only kids would be a huge detriment to their social development and impede them from learning to get along with people outside of the top 2%.

Middle school is a perfect time to tackle that, building understanding and appreciation of other kids' talents beyond academic prowess.

Again, in my opinion, they will need those skills to hold any kind of future job and be successful.

Our kids expanding their social circle to Spectrum and General Ed kids through music, sports etc. at WMS is one of the best experiences that they have had in middle school.

Robyn said...

Interesting article on Bloomberg today about how pathetic US 4th graders are with Geography.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-19/u-s-kids-appear-lost-in-latest-study-of-geography-knowledge.html

Anonymous said...

My child cannot wait to move on to middle school...we have little interest in a 1-8 model.

Anonymous said...

Hoping for change is right. Staff from every program at Lowell have been looking for other opportunities.

At the saveseattleschools blog there was a lively (160+ comments) discussion of the oppressive working conditions at Lowell right up until the announcement of the split. It is now relegated to older posts, but the issues remain and will continue to hurt both locations.

Although She-who-must-not-be-named is no longer in power here, her policies remain. The Ministry has infiltrated the school. Umbridge is in charge. Those old magical teachers will never return, because there is no magic in the standard curriculum.

WV says spidevie

Follow the spiders back to the basilisk.

Anonymous said...

I agree,I would not want to send my student to a K-8 APP school, which is why I am asking if this is a possibility. K8s cannot offer foreign language; music programs and electives. I think they are a great option for parents looking for a small middle school option, but the trade off is the limited course offerings.

And before people start saying that a APP K8 would be different than say Blaine, TOPS or Salmon Bay, remember the district is not going to give special consideration (i.e. music, Spanish teachers) to this K8 model and deny all the other K8s these same benefits.

Log said...

CCM said...
I really think that parents need to seriously consider that their children may not be well served in K-8 APP model. Most who push for that have very young kids, and may still be in the "protective bubble" mode.

Our kids are in middle school, and a we know that a vast majority of parents and kids were extremely ready and excited to move to a larger environment and expand beyond the "APP" cohort.

In my opinion, keeping them with APP only kids would be a huge detriment to their social development and impede them from learning to get along with people outside of the top 2%.

Middle school is a perfect time to tackle that, building understanding and appreciation of other kids' talents beyond academic prowess.

Again, in my opinion, they will need those skills to hold any kind of future job and be successful.


Well said! I'm open to K-8 APP concept because it offers a way (not necessarily the best) to address HIMS overcrowding. Without some changes, HIMS is another Lowell disaster in the making.

Anonymous said...

Is this one bus stopping at 4 schools en route to Lincoln? Is this how the North end routing will work - stops at schools, not in the neighborhood?

3.Current bus routing information, including stop location and time for Washington service area to Lowell:

◦Morning
■Stevens Elementary @ 8:43 a.m.
■19th Ave. & Aloha @ 8:45 a.m.
■Lowell Elementary @ 8:49 a.m.
■TOPS K-8 @ 8:57 a.m.
■John Stanford Int'l Elementary @ 9:01 a.m.
■Arrival at Lincoln Elementary @ 9:10 a.m.

◦Afternoon routing will be run in reverse

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't they also need to create a K8APP in the southend to ensure that all APP students are enrolled in the same program no matter where they live?

Laura said...

Anonymous at 1:13, where did you get the bus schedule? If there is a bus for Lowell walk zone kids to get to Lowell APP @ Lincoln, I don't understand why it would stop at TOPS, since TOPS is not in the historic Lowell APP walk zone.

Stopping along the way, at John Stanford, seems reasonable.

Looks like more community stops for APP kids next year based on this bus schedule.

Laura

Anonymous said...

Bus info for Washington service area (Lowell walk zone?) was posted on the transition FAQs page.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be ironic that the district would provide bus service to walk zone kids when the entire reason that those kids stayed at Lowell was that they didn't want to make a bus trip and walking to school was so valuable to those families. So now they are going to take a longer bus trip to Lincoln?

I thought I read (somewhere in the mass of posts on Lincoln) that walk zone students could choose Lincoln but would need to provide their own transportation? That is how it should be.

-What??

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say what's fair or reasonable in this case - walk-zone families enrolled at Lowell under the assumption that Lowell APP would be at..uh...Lowell.

Since the switch/announcement was made after open enrollment, would it be fair to families to say there's no guarantee to get into TM at this point AND there's no transportation to Lincoln? Wouldn't that be considered a denial of access?

When schools get relocated to Lincoln during renovations, don't students who would have otherwise walked then get transportation?

Add this to the many costs of poor planning.

Anonymous said...

The Transportation Dept told me that all APP is moving to community stops (TM as well) in the upcoming school year.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

I wrote Tom Bishop, head of Transportation for the district, and he responded yesterday with that bus schedule from the Lowell area to Lincoln. I did not post it to the blog. Until info like this comes directly from the district, it could change and this would really confuse parents. Look for information directly from the District, Lowell PTA, or the APP AC.

I have also exchanged emails with Lesley Rogers (communication) who wrote this morning that an information email will go out to the Walk Zone families this evening. The APP AC will also send that information out as soon as we get it.

We are working on an email update for our email list that has a lot of infomration regarding the move.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

KSB is a huge fan of K8's. This is why she has been proposing an APP K8. However, KSB is likely the only person proposing this as the rest of the district staff pretty much despise K8s and I can't imagine any circumstance in which enrollment would add another K8 to the mix.

Enrollment does not like K8s because under the NSAP, K8s families are guaranteed a seat at both the K8 and the comprehensive middle school. This adds complexity to the assignment plan and they don't like anything that adds complexity.

- north seattle mom

between a rock and a hard place said...

Our kids are in middle school, and a we know that a vast majority of parents and kids were extremely ready and excited to move to a larger environment and expand beyond the "APP" cohort.

Really? You know that a vast majority of parents and kids are extremely ready and excited about that? That's a bunch of hoo-hah.

Yes, there are some parents that are keen on those issues, but have you actually spent time in the buildings? I mean WMS and HIMS. The kids don't care. I've spent many, many hours in those buildings, and you know what I see? Kids spending time with their friends, who are, for the vast majority, in their own programs. There are exceptions, of course, particularly in athletics, and that's great. But there are no walls or evil parents saying "stick with your own", it's just the natural way things happen.

In my opinion, keeping them with APP only kids would be a huge detriment to their social development and impede them from learning to get along with people outside of the top 2%.

OMG, I'm glad you prefaced with "in my opinion", because that's all it is, your opinion. For opinions, they're pretty strong statements, and for other than a very small minority of kids, I completely disagree with you. Four years of high school is plenty time to adjust, for most kids. This model would not be a "huge detriment".

All things equal, sure, having a mix of kids in a comprehensive middle school is great, but please stop, breathe, relax, and get a grip. It's not the end of the world if this doesn't happen until 9th grade.

That said, there are other concerns with a K-8 model, especially around class offerings:

Anon at 12:54pm yesterday: At other K8 buildings, does the district explicitly disallow foreign language and music? Or is it merely due to numbers? It's very likely that some class offerings would not be available in a K8 building that would otherwise be offered at a comprehensive middle school. But to what degree? For this group of kids and families, I can't imagine anyone giving up on foreign language and band, even if it takes extra fund raising. But are there other barriers?

Also, north seattle mom mentioned that enrollment doesn't like K8s. That may be the case, but there are a few in the district, and even a new one at Jane Addams. I don't see this being a show stopper if they were just recently willing to create one at JA.

The big problem is that no one has proposed any other viable solution, let alone a great one. If K8 numbers work (and that has yet to be shown), it would be far better than continuing to gut the program with more splits. Another split and you might as well call APP Spectrum+. It's highly unlikely that the district will give APP elementary their own building in the north, and there isn't room for them to combine with any other program. Not to mention the fact that without some kind of proactive action the Lowell situation will replay itself in 2012-13 at Hamilton.

K8 is not perfect by any means, but before trashing that option make sure you can propose something better.

CCM said...

Just for the record - yes - I have spent a huge amount of time at WMS. Two kids in the building over the past few years, weekly tutoring with a different general ed class each year, plus PTA, plus Auction committees, plus FOWM etc.

I'm guessing my experience with middle school is probably much more extensive than you have, and if its not, then we have certainly worked together on something in the past three years.

I also have many friends with kids both in APP and the other programs that feel that socially a broader mix of kids has been huge positive for their kids.

You're certainly welcome to your opinion, as I was expressing mine.

You did what I asked, considered the possibility that a K-8 might not be a good fit and you came to a different conclusion - congratulations?

Your critical response doesn't change my opinion, as I know that our kids have totally blossomed in the current WMS situation and they will be more ready to participate in all of the academics and social opportunities in high school than they would have been if they had been "sheltered" with the APP population for the past three years.

Another option other than a K-8? I have no idea - and obviously the school district doesn't either. Just because I don't have a ready-made solution to the problem doesn't exclude me from offering an opinion.

Happy Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

between a rock and a hard place
- Yes the district did make a "new" K8 at Jane Addams and that was over the objection of staff that wanted to make a new elementary at AS1 Pinehurst and a new middle school at Jane Addams. The K8 was a compromise.

Also it was a repurposing of the "Summit Program" which was a K12. So this "new" K8 was actually comprised of mostly former K12 students. The district did not want to make a new K8 then and I sincerely doubt they want to make another one.

This current plan abhors anything that is different or unique.

- north seattle mom

Anonymous said...

Wondering if HIMS parents have received report cards yet? I have not.

Anonymous said...

i must say i do appreciate that the district does seem to be listening at least to decrease the issues related to previously poor management.

wz parent

Shannon said...

Okay, I seldom get really mad about something. I have a degree of acceptance of the incompetence of large bureaucracies...

BUT (you knew it was coming)... I am mad as hell about this request today regarding volunteers needing to set up Lincoln:

I quote:

"Massive Book Drive
We need a person, or two or three, to run a massive book drive needed to get seven new classrooms ready for our kids. As we cannot deplete the Lowell @ Capitol Hill classrooms, these teachers have zero books for their classroom libraries. In addition to needing someone to run this new book drive committee, we are asking people to donate books. If you have books to donate, please bring them to any of the open houses, the Back to School Social or the first day of school. Let's get these teachers the great libraries they need. All levels of books are needed - there are new teachers in almost every grade. We especially need books for two 1st grade classrooms, one 2nd grade classroom, one 3rd grade classroom and three 4th grade classrooms. If you would be willing to volunteer, please contact."

The bit that has me hopping mad is this"

"As we cannot deplete the Lowell @ Capitol Hill classrooms, these teachers have zero books for their classroom libraries."

WTF?

We have no books for our APP classrooms? How on earth did that happen?

I donated tons of books to the classrooms for 3rd and 4th grade in prior years and those books all now belong to Lowell?

Someone help me take a breath here and not say WTF again.

- Shannon trying to enact her buddhist training but failing somewhat.

Shannon said...

Okay, my calm acceptance has reinterpreted it to mean that the Teachers own their books and so only the new teachers will have no books..so...err... where do their books go? I mean, still... confused and indignant.

Anonymous said...

Shannon -

You are correct - the teachers own their classroom books. The books donated to teachers who left mid year will go to Lincoln. The books owned by teachers who went to other schools, move with the teachers.

With seven new teachers, there's a lot to catch up on. New teachers do get a little money from the district, but it's not enough for everything.

Much of this would be an issue even without the move - we just would've heard about it after school started, instead of before.

APP Lincoln parent

Shannon said...

Thanks APP Parent.

I have had an iced tea and am now feeling more constructive. Still, it seems an odd system.

I didn't mean to donate books to a teacher. I donated it to a school of kids who would pass through a class, expecting them to remain there.

It was not billed as a personal library when an appeal went out and the new appeal still makes it appear we donate to classrooms.

I am sure there is Some Good Reason and I am just cranky with moving house and trying to send the same WE HAVE MOVED fax three times from my wireless network and ending up having to crawl around under furniture to drag a phone line into the said wireless fax machine and plug it manually into the line to tell SPS we are not where we once were.

In many ways.

Shannon

Anonymous said...

Are we getting 7 brand-new, right out of school, teachers? That's a lot for one school!

-Parent

between a rock and a hard place said...

CCM, thanks for the reply (seriously). You kept your tone nicer than I did, re-reading.

I'm sure our paths have crossed, although we're at HIMS after the split. Kudos for your volunteerism, especially the tutoring.

That said, I'll get back to the topic. In your reply you did pull back on one thing, intentional or not, which is that you said you have many friends who think mixing programs in middle school is a good idea. I can't argue with that. My argument was with your first post which said "we know a vast majority of parents and kids...", which I absolutely disagree with.

I've heard this opinion stated many times over the years, and there's always some bobble-head nodding going on. But talking with parents individually later, I find that many of them just don't want to disagree out loud. It's too "un-PC". This is Seattle, after all, seemingly the only place in the world where it's embarrassing if your kids are too high on the achievement/IQ chart, and shame on us parents if our kids don't have non-APP friends. It isn't that parents actively don't want this, it's just that most I've spoken with don't care a lot. All else equal, fine, but it's never all else equal in SPS.

Most kids will make at least some friends wherever they are thrust, because humans are social animals. But we've all heard dozens and dozens of (I've probably heard a hundred) stories about kids who are in their neighborhood schools and have very limited (or zero) friends, then they come to Lowell and practically overnight find themselves with a whole cadre of great friends. This is really important and powerful stuff. In middle school, most still gravitate toward other APP kids because they're in the same classes and they share more common interests. It's just natural, and you never addressed that.

Almost every APP family adamantly and actively argued against the Lowell split/blend two years ago. Now everyone wants to make the best of the situation, and you always want to be on good terms with your "housemates". Nothing against the GenEd/ALO families, but I don't think there's any question that APP families regarded Lowell as an almost sacred place where their kids were free to be themselves and parents could focus on making the best environment environment for their kids. It's still mostly okay there because the classrooms are self-contained, but it's not the same. The energy spent trying to blend the programs and the families is well-meaning and worthwhile, given the situation, but that time and energy used to go into other things in previous years, some of which is just lost now.

continued...

between a rock and a hard place said...

Standalone elementary was almost universally accepted as the best model. Similarly, I think most families agree in high school it just wouldn't make sense to house these kids in a separate building. But middle school really isn't that clear, and honestly, I think I've heard at least as many parents quietly wish for an APP middle school. Or at least an APP/Spectrum middle school, which I'm hearing again recently with regards to the Marshall building and Lowell/HIMS overcrowding. I think it's as least as much for political/stability reasons as social reasons, but everything is intertwined.

All this said, I really don't have a strong feeling against blending APP with other programs in middle school. So why bother to write this tome?

1) It's great that your kids are thriving in the current WMS model, but it's unfair to think that your way is "The Right Way" for everyone. That feels too much like having a religious doctrine crammed down my throat. And it rubs me the wrong way when people use the word "sheltered" in this context, as an insult. I'm quite happy my kids were "sheltered" through most of elementary school, and it wouldn't bother me a bit if they didn't have to face certain social issues until high school, when they're older and more mature.

2) From a political standpoint, it's really dangerous to say how great it is to mix APP and other programs. The current trend in SPS is to dissolve Spectrum into blended classrooms, essentially killing Spectrum; and to rip apart APP at all levels, because standalone buildings aren't perceived as "PC". Crusading for blending APP with other programs is giving ammunition for the district to do another split in both elementary and middle school. One split has been bad enough, another one would be end of the program as we know it. Some would argue it's already happened.

This last point is the reason I asked if you had another solution in mind for the Lowell/HIMS problem. The only viable options in the near future seem to be a K8 or another split. By disparaging the K8 solution, you're giving ammo to the district in support of another split. WMS may be working for you, but HIMS is going to be in big trouble in 2012-13 due to overcrowding, and we need to be very careful how we advocate.

I actually have more to say, but this is a ridiculously long post, so I'll stop now.

CCM said...

Rock & A Hard Place,

I hear you - everyone is nervous that the district is going to split APP into so many pieces that it is unrecognizable. No one wants that - myself included.

A couple of points:

#1. re: many parents secretly wishing for a 1-8 model for APP. Ok - I don't know if that's true or not, as I can't read anyone's mind.

#2. When did I say “my way is the right way for everyone”? I gave my opinion, and asked you to consider it. You did, you have a different one. Religious doctrine? Seriously? I was raised Southern Baptist, so I’m pretty sure I know a good religious doctrine when I see it – my opinion is definitely not it.

But I can say that the configuration was discussed at length during the 1st split -- the PTA asked the district to consider Meany as an option for an APP 1-8. We discussed it with our friends in 5th grade and we didn't have anyone speak up and advocate for that, primarily because their kids didn't want it. That's a valid question, because certainly 5th grade APP kids are able to speak to whether they are ready to move into a larger environment or not.

We asked our child during the 1st split about that configuration - they said "no way". I asked my kids again this week about the possibility of that configuration and if they could have stayed with their Hamilton friends in a 1-8, would they have wanted to do that. They both said "no - definitely not". My kids certainly don't represent all middle-schoolers - but do echo what I have heard from other families.

Your family has a different opinion. Is that really all that surprising considering that there are a 1,000 families in this program? We are never all going to agree.

Another note - I don't think I ever said I advocated for blending classes (when did I say that?) All I said is that our kids enjoy being in an environment with kids from different programs. Really - in my opinion (there it is again) - it is the best of both worlds - self-containment for academic classes AND social opportunities outside of their APP group.

(continued)

CCM said...

Look - If the ONLY option for maintaining an APP cohort in the North end is to move to a 1-8 or they will dismantle APP and it will be no more -- I'll certainly be there along with you advocating for that option.

Would I rather see my kid in one of two smaller cohorts of 225-300 kids for elementary school and then moving into a middle school situation (maybe at two different locations) similar to what is set up now? Personally, yes I would as I do still think a 1-8 is the least attractive solution based on our experiences.

I know that our kids were very fortunate to experience a wonderful elementary school program with a wonderful group of parents, kids and staff at Lowell - so I do feel extremely sad that this is happening to the program.

But that is also why I care so much and feel compelled to offer my opinion about what I think would be best moving forward.

I am also well aware that I don't have a dog in this fight, as our kids are 100% unaffected by this decision. In so many ways we have been fortunate to narrowly miss this chaos.

So from here -- we can just agree to disagree and advocate for what we feel would be best for the program as a whole.

Hope you are out enjoying the sunshine this weekend.

Take Care.

Stuck said...

If the ONLY option for maintaining an APP cohort in the North end is to move to a 1-8 or they will dismantle APP and it will be no more -- I'll certainly be there along with you advocating for that option.

Would I rather see my kid in one of two smaller cohorts of 225-300 kids for elementary school and then moving into a middle school situation (maybe at two different locations) similar to what is set up now? Personally, yes


I think the definition (or degree) of "dismantlement" is probably where we're not on the same page.

I see another split as the end of APP. At that point it will barely be more than what Spectrum should be, and with even more difficulties to keep its full distinction alive. And with more antagonism aimed at it from the public at large. Even with the existing split to two locations the support for our kids has been drastically reduced (MS teachers swapped willy-nilly between programs because "there's no difference between APP and reg ed teachers", loss of advanced math in MS, reduction in appropriate library materials in elementary, etc.) Even the loss of all the Lowell teachers this year can indirectly be attributed to the split, since they were well-supported in previous years. I can't imagine much of anything left of APP if it's split again. And some Board members have already been heard talking about splitting into four locations! Families will continue to sign up for the program, not because it's great, but because it's all that's left.

The social stuff we can agree to disagree, I guess we'll have to! But the political and structural part, I really hope everyone is on the same page as far as digging in our heels to save what little we have left. Anything that increases the chances of another split is dangerous and ill-advised.

Here's an odd thought that just struck me as I was about to click Send. Not thought through at all, but I'll toss it out. I wonder if there is a difference in attitude (about the MS social stuff) between north and south families. It could account for the different attitudes we've seen and heard from our kids and friends.

C said...

Would someone tell me what the messages from Lisa Horwich are about? I am a new parent to APP and can't get access to the website because the school office is closed until mid-August. Thank you.

lendlees said...

C-

If you are receiving messages from me (I'm Lisa) it means you have an account with The Source. All you need to do is sign in with your email address and whatever password you use to access The Source. If you have forgotten your password, you can get 'help' here: https://source.seattleschools.org/

I send messages to the Lowell APP community via the Lowell website and the district was nice enough to load all of the incoming parents (who have Source accounts) so I can keep everyone informed.

Anonymous said...

For those of us without source accounts, is there any way to be added to the list?

--New Parent

lendlees said...

New Parent-

There is no way to add without a Source account. It is super easy to sign up and the folks on The Source team are very helpful.

Use the same link in the message above. Also, FYI, unfortunately the Source is going down for maintenance starting next Monday.

Many of the important messages are posted on either the main Lowell site or the Lowell APP @ Lincoln group page: http://lowell-app--lincoln.lowelles.seattleschools.org/

Laura said...

From Noel Treat's letter:


• Instrumental music – We heard from families that this is important for the Lowell community, so both Lowell and Lowell APP at Lincoln will have instrumental music. Each site will have a music teacher for fourth and fifth graders, a half-day once a week, for the 2011-12 school year.

Now me:
So seven classsrooms of kids get a half day of music instruction, and 1 1/2 classrooms of kids get a half day of music instruction.

Am I missing something? I'm glad L@CH gets instrumental music, but LAPP@L sure is losing out based on the statement from Noel Treat...

....and so it begins....

Anonymous said...

Laura,

All elementary buildings get 1/2 day of instrumental music as part of the WSS. It doesn't matter if there are 200 students in the building or 700 still only a 1/2 day per building. Anything over that is paid for by the PTA/instrumental music parents or out of discretionary building funds. So what Lowell at Lincoln is getting is no different than Bryant or Gatewood.

A parent

Laura said...

Thank you for the clarification, regarding music funding, a parent. I'm glad that it was just a case of my "missing something."

I'm hoping someone could provide a summary/impression of tonight's tour and Q&A. We won't be going until next week.

lendlees said...

Notes from last night's meeting are posted on the Lowell APP @ Lincoln group page:
http://lowell-app--lincoln.lowelles.seattleschools.org/

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

New APP parents should also sign up to receive APP Advisory Committee emails. We are an 18 person group of parents AND school staff from each of the now 6 schools, who work on APP issues. You'll get a lot of information and learn about issues that relate to Lowell AND issues that relate to ALL of APP, grades 1-12.

To sign up, go to http://groups.google.com/group/app-ac-seattle/ and click on "join this group". You can also contact the communications rep Robert at robertnappac@gmail.com and he can add you to the list, which as of last night, is over 1400 people.

Stephanie

Log said...

I asked SPS about the music program planning for APP at Lincoln, and got an answer back from Visual and Performing Arts Manager Carri Campbell. With her permission, I post the letter here:

July 29, 2011

Dear XXX:

I was asked to respond to your questions about Elementary Instrumental Music (EIM). The EIM program provides one, ½ day per week of instrumental instruction at each school. The central staffing allocation is not determined by the number of 4th and 5th grade classes at each location. A half day typically serves 40- 50 students. If a school has more than 40-50 students that want to participate the school or PTSA purchase additional teaching time during the spring budget process. Historically, Lowell has had a significant number of students enrolled in elementary instrumental music. For this upcoming year Lowell PTSA has already purchased an additional full day of instruction to ensure all interested students can participate.

Principal King has recommended the following EIM staffing for each of the Lowell locations:

Lowell - .1 FTE or ½ a day funded by district

Lowell APP - .1 FTE or ½ a day funded by district plus .2 or one full day funded by the PTSA (total will be 1.5 days of instruction)

Yesterday, I spoke to Elizabeth Knighton the elementary instrumental music teacher who will continue to serve both Lowell sites. She felt Principal King’s recommendations would work well. Of the 130 students that participated in the program last year roughly 100 were APP students. So, if next year’s EIM enrollment is similar the APP site would enroll 100-120 and the Lowell site 30 – 50 students. If after the students enroll for EIM in September there are higher numbers than anticipated, I will work with the central office staff to explore the potential of additional funding supports to increase instructional time. Central funding support beyond the .1 FTE would be unique, but these are unusual circumstances and we recognize that it would be a significant burden to the PTSA and/or school to come up with additional funds so late in the year.

If you have additional questions please contact me directly at cjcampbell@seattleschools.org or 206-252-0188. I will be out on Monday but will return to the office on Tuesday, August 2nd.

Best Regards,

Carri Campbell

Visual and Performing Arts Manager

Seattle Public Schools

252-0188

suep. said...

Greg - In light of the Aug 8 letter from Exec. Director Nancy Coogan (link and text below), would you consider starting a new thread about leadership at Lincoln & Lowell?

http://lowell-app--lincoln.lowelles.seattleschools.org/modules/locker/files/get_group_file.phtml?fid=12224918&gid=2367556&sessionid=60271af67ee592e8c0039681afb8956a

Basically, the district is asking Gregory King to be principal of two geographically and academically separate schools, is also assigning last year's Lowell Asst Principal Rina Geoghagan to APP @ Lincoln, and is also assigning a third person, Marella Francois, to APP@Lincoln. (Francois has not been the principal of a regular school in 14 years and left her last job at Meany Middle School in a climate of controversy.) This will effectively give APP@Lincoln 2.5 principals and Lowell half a principal.

Both APP@Lincoln and Lowell have a challenging year ahead of them, arguably especially APP@Lincoln which almost has to reinvent itself and is basically in limbo until the district figures out where to place these kids permanently. How are these leadership arrangements sensible or equitable?

(Coogan letter pasted in the next post)

suep. said...

Here's the letter from Nancy Coogan:

August 8, 2011

Dear Lowell Elementary School community,

First and foremost thank you for your assistance and your patience over the last several weeks as
we began transforming the Lincoln site. Additionally, I want to thank the Lowell leadership and
staff for their tireless work as we prepare for the opening of school.
We are in the home stretch and I wanted to provide you with an update regarding leadership for
both sites. I apologize for the delayed response, but many factors were involved with this
decision.

Gregory King will be the principal overseeing both buildings for the 2011/2012 school year. All
professional development for staff will be facilitated by Mr. King. While we recognize that
having a school in two sites is less than ideal, we also know that his expertise building Lowell
Elementary is critical while maintaining high standards as we move forward.

Marella Francois and Rina Geoghagan will be responsible for the day to day activities at the
Lincoln Building. Ms. Geoghagan received her Master’s in Teaching from the Evergreen State
College in 2001. After graduating, she taught 5th and 6th grade in the Highly Capable Program
in the Shoreline School District. In addition to teaching in the advanced placement program, she
also taught third and fourth grade in Shoreline. She was also a literacy coach for two years in
Shoreline and worked with teachers to develop curriculum in reading and writing. Her teaching
experience also includes teaching 8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies at Whitman
Middle School. In 2008, she received her administrative credentials from the University of
Washington’s Danforth Program. In 2010 she became the Assistant Principal at Lowell
Elementary School. This summer she has continued to work with many APP teachers and is
excited about Lowell at Lincoln as a school community.
Ms. Francois comes to us with a wealth of experience in Seattle Public Schools. Most recently,
Ms. Francois was the principal at the Evening School which was closed at the end of June. She
received her Bachelor of Education and Masters in Education Administration degrees from
Seattle University. She has 29 years of service in the Seattle Public Schools. She has served as a
teacher, Re-entry Program Manager, Assistant Principal, Middle/High School Principal and
Central Office Safety Coordinator. She clearly understands where our children need to be as they
exit an elementary program.

In 1982 at the request of the late Dr. Collin Williams, Executive Director of Special Programs,
Ms. Francois designed and received Seattle School Board of Directors approval for the
implementation for the district’s Behavior Modification Re-Entry Program.

As principal of Madison Middle School, the school became a pioneer in 1992 in gaining the
School Board’s approval for the first middle school to have a Site Council. Additionally,
Madison Middle School was one of only three middle schools in the United States to gain
acceptance to Stanford University’s innovative Accelerated School Project.
Hank Levin, Director
of Accelerated School Project at Stanford University was responsible for selecting and training
middle schools community across the country. The focus was to accelerate the learning of all
students.
Additionally, for three consecutive terms Ms. Francois was President of Seattle Middle School
Principal’s Association. She was also one of the founding members of the Phi Delta Kappa
Chapter at Seattle University. Knowing that the enrollment projections were going to exceed
700, Lowell was in need of an additional administrator. Ms. Francois is thrilled to be a part of
this team!

The entire administrative team will be at Lowell Wednesday evening for the PTSA meeting and
school tour from 6:30-8:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there and I am confident that the
team will work tirelessly to ensure that Lowell and Lincoln have a successful school year.

Sincerely,
Nancy Coogan
Executive Director, Central Region

suep. said...

Anyone know how Francois' reentry program experience makes her a good fit for APP...?

Also, she once said that all kids should be accelerated. I can't tell whether that means she supported programs like APP, or thought there should be no programs at all, and every child should be taught the exact same way.

Helen S. found this 1995 article earlier this year: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19951029&slug=2149386

(from an SSS Blog thread: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/05/open-thread-friday_27.html)

An excerpt:

It's the same thing she did with her school when she became principal in 1991. With determination and persuasion, she got the staff and parents to accept a new teaching model called accelerated learning.

What it means is no more separating students into honors classes, regular classes or remedial classes. Every student is held to the same high honors-level standards. Francois-Griffin, 53, first heard about the idea during a presentation when she was an assistant principal at Madison, located in West Seattle.

"I figured what's good for the gifted and talented kids ought to be good for all," said Francois-Griffin, who lives in the Skyway area with her husband.

It took a year, but she got 100 percent of her staff to support the idea, although eight of them left the school the first year it was implemented. Parents threatened to leave, too, but few did.


As Helen pointed out, this was 16 years ago, so maybe Francois' views have changed since then.