Thursday, September 29, 2011

Advanced learning and the school board elections

By request, a thread to discuss what is known about the school board candidates' positions on advanced learning programs. Also feel free to talk about who you support for school board and why.

13 comments :

Anonymous said...

Well I for one will never forgive the incumbents for splitting APP. Especially Lowell. Against policy.

They're nice in person, polished in their speaking, but no matter what comes out of their mouths, their votes belie their hearts. Maybe it's just representative of Seattle, but they don't understand, and are not advocates for, advanced learning -- especially APP.

- Remembering what we had

dw said...

Quick story: At one of Harium's community meetings (a couple years ago when the APP split was being proposed and fought) he said he envisioned and supported splitting elementary APP into 3 or even 4 buildings spread around the city. Apparently his (lack of) vision has already started, and if we don't get a handle on things quickly the district will use the overcrowding situation at Lowell (and soon Hamilton) to execute that plan and dilute our program down to nothing.

Other stories?

The viability of our program is dependent in large part on the understanding and support of the Board members. Please keep up on the issues and keep in touch with the elections. Most, if not all of the incumbents are not our friends.

Meg said...

I think every single challenger will do better than the current director. I'll be voting for all of them. Do I think they're champions of advanced learning?

No, at least not all of them. But I do feel certain they will do no worse by advanced learning (or in any other area) than the incumbents.

Kate Martin has gotten dinged for coming across as inflexible. After talking policy and budget with her in person, I think it's a PR image-issue rather than a real problem. She struck me as someone who is willing to alter her opinion with new facts, and to admit where her opinion is first-blush rather than deeply researched. I don't think it's a bad thing that she wants to improve learning conditions for gen ed - that is a different matter than being opposed to APP.

Anonymous said...

i am wondering if Carr might not be a better choice. she has always answered my questions and although making some bad votes seems to understand APP and its challenges.

L@L dad

Exhaused said...

I'm with the other posters here. What we have isn't working and we seem to be losing ground. There is too much energy around stirring the APP pot with the current folks. Slicing and dicing will not further the power of the program and mostly it just simply will not address those whose needs APP was designed to serve. It is, however, a political play, for and by, those who fail to understand the fundamental purpose of APP.

Donald Tsang said...

Given the rate of growth Elementary APP is experiencing, simple math makes it clear that two normal elementary-sized schools will not be enough, even in the short term (2-5 years).

It seems wrong to blame the incumbent (> 3 year tenure) board members for planning "splits"... it seems completely right, however, to blame them for not thinking them through, and for not realizing that simply breaking up cohorts is unacceptable...

(and for either not realizing, or not making clear to the public, the overcrowding issue that should have been red-flagged YEARS ago)

Meg said...

Donald-

I don't think the incumbents should be blamed for every problem APP has.

That said, they had direct hands in a number of problems that APP is coping with right now.

Given that the incumbents were aware that they would be implementing a neighborhood assignment plan, the closures and splits were foolish and costly.

The incumbents voted to close 5 schools (Harium was the exception on this vote) and shift around numerous programs. Within 10 months the district announced plans - which the all of incumbents approved - to open 5 more schools. Several of those schools were in zones where there had been closures.

In addition, under the old assignment plan, putting APP in buildings with a program that did not guarantee admission (whether gen ed, spectrum, or montessori) made sense. Admission to a non-guaranteed program could be held down if the guaranteed program had an uptick in enrollment. Under the new plan (again, which the incumbents approved and oversaw implementation of), multiple programs have guaranteed admission to the same building. This contributed directly to the over-crowding mess at Lowell.

A second order effect of the NSAP that the incumbents don't even appear to have considered at all is that families who perceive their neighborhood school as less desirable are more likely to test for and matriculate into APP. Under the choice plan, they might have chosen something closer to home. Now? Not so much.

Were there other contributing factors? Yes. There were. Rising enrollment appears to have contributed. But keep in mind, the total enrollment change from the 2000-01 school year to the 2010-11 school year is actually only about 160 students.

If the way the incumbents had treated APP was my only beef with them, I might still vote for them. But it's really not. They have been fiscal disasters. For all of their enthusiastic addition of processes and procedures to safeguard the district's fiscal health, they seem to still have a touching faith that the existence of a process or procedure is enough to ensure that the district will operate well. Their intentions are good, but their oversight and governance are dreadful.

dw said...

+1 for Meg's post. As usual. My only quibble would be that I'm not even sure in all cases that the incumbents' intentions are good. At least not across the board. Some decisions are just too hard to comprehend in that context…

Recently I had a chance to talk with Sharon Peaslee, who is running against Peter Maier in district 1, and I think she's the real deal (not to mention Peter has been a real dud). She has a background in education and real feet-on-the-ground experience both in Bellevue and SPS dealing with school district politics, with positive results.

To the topic of our blog, after talking with her fairly extensively, I think she would be a great advocate for our kids - as well as other groups that don't fit the "one size fits all" mentality of the district these days. APP, Special Ed, Alternatives, Spectrum, we're all being marginalized more and more every day, and the incumbents have been a big part of this (let alone all the non-curricular fiascos).

I know things didn't work out ideally a couple weeks back, but Sharon said she would be willing to entertain questions related to APP here on this blog. Shall we try again? I'm not sure if we need a new thread, maybe right here?

One thing I would caution on my own, the candidates are all incredibly busy right now, with several forums and events going on every week. I hope, as a group, we can keep our expectations reasonable. No, that doesn't mean I think everyone needs to post real names (!) or coalesce our questions, but we should exercise some patience in light of time demands.

dw said...

+1 for Meg's post. As usual. My only quibble would be that I'm not even sure in all cases that the incumbents' intentions are good. At least not across the board. Some decisions are just too hard to comprehend in that context…

Recently I had a chance to talk with Sharon Peaslee, who is running against Peter Maier in district 1, and I think she's the real deal (not to mention Peter has been a real dud). She has a background in education and real feet-on-the-ground experience both in Bellevue and SPS dealing with school district politics, with positive results.

To the topic of our blog, after talking with her fairly extensively, I think she would be a great advocate for our kids - as well as other groups that don't fit the "one size fits all" mentality of the district these days. APP, Special Ed, Alternatives, Spectrum, we're all being marginalized more and more every day, and the incumbents have been a big part of this (let alone all the non-curricular fiascos).

I know things didn't work out ideally a couple weeks back, but Sharon said she would be willing to entertain questions related to APP here on this blog. Shall we try again? I'm not sure if we need a new thread, maybe right here?

One thing I would caution on my own, the candidates are all incredibly busy right now, with several forums and events going on every week. I hope, as a group, we can keep our expectations reasonable. No, that doesn't mean I think everyone needs to post real names (!) or coalesce our questions, but we should exercise some patience in light of time demands.

dw said...

Greg,

We have another school board candidate (Sharon Peaslee) ready to answer questions from our community. Last time this garnered a lot of interest, so I'm wondering if this thread has gotten stale and run its course already. Perhaps a dedicated thread is in order?

dw said...

Greg,

We have another school board candidate (Sharon Peaslee) ready to answer questions from our community. Last time this garnered a lot of interest, so I'm wondering if this thread has gotten stale and run its course already. Perhaps a dedicated thread is in order?

Greg Linden said...

Hi, DW. I'll contact Sharon Peaslee and ask about her interest in a Q&A here on this blog.

Greg Linden said...

DW, Sharon Peaslee offered to do a Q&A. A post is now up to get it started.

http://discussapp.blogspot.com/2011/10/q-with-school-board-candidate-sharon.html

Thanks, DW, for your work to help set this up.