Thursday, September 6, 2012

First day of school

How was your first day of school?

What are you happy about? What problems are you hitting? And what questions do you have for other APP parents? Please discuss!

125 comments :

Anonymous said...

At least some bus routes for APP at Lincoln seem to have reverted from being organized around community stops last year (much more efficient than in previous years) ... and back to longer, inefficient routes this year -- routes which meander around back streets and don't necessarily even stop at neighborhood schools, where parents and students gathered last year.

It's a big step backward to increase from 5 or 6 total stops to 20 or so. Daily commutes will be longer and every time we get a substitute driver or new driver, it'll take that much longer for the drivers to navigate all over the place to each stop (many of which won't even have kids on a daily basis).

Of course, transportation is swamped. I've been on hold now for over an hour and a half to reach transportation and try to get a name/contact info for someone to talk with going forward. Is former Transportation Dept Mgr. Tom Bishop gone? Anyone know the name / contact for the new manager? (I can't seem to find that info online.)

Anonymous said...

If you can, it's generally best to drive for the first week. In the meantime, email transportation and wait until next week to try calling.

transdept@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad we don't have to wait at our neighborhood school -- that place is mobbed at those times of day.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me where in the city yellow bus service is provided for high school APP?
I know there is am service for West Seattle and for Ballard.

Anone know of any others or know any of the history on if there was yellow bus service in past years that was removed and why?

thanks

word said...

I am livid now. My daughter was assigned to Thurick at HIMS APP math. I thought I would see how things go but already it looks very bad.

My daughter informed me that they made a "respect" poster (empathy, responsibility) today. This kind of cr**p does not belong in a middle school APP math class. I am going to give it one more day and see if any numbers are discussed. Then I am going to set the wheels in motion to homeschool math.

word said...

I should point out that the other teachers in the other 6th grade classes at HIMS are getting a nice start on their curricula even though it is early in the school year. Is it too much to ask for a math teacher, even if the day is going to be a blow off day, to spend it on math concepts?

My daughter says that the best thing about the APP math class is that the room has an excellent view of Seattle.

I'm really upset because we really don't have a huge amount of spare time to spend homeschooling. We'll do it if necessary but it cuts down considerably on family time and I will hold the teacher, principal and school responsible.

Anonymous said...

To Word:
I am sorry to disappoint you but if you came from Lowell, the numbers that you will see soon (maybe next week) are the ones your child has already seen in the beginning of 5th grade. And the rational behind is that the teacher has to assess the whole class (there are students from other schools, other programs also). If you want to see anything new in math, you have to be patient and wait for weeks (months).
- Been there, done it

Anonymous said...

Word-

There are families from Hamilton homeschooling 6th grade math already. I am sure you can find out who they are by asking around. Might as well take advantage of others' research in exactly how to do it.

-in the know

word said...

Thanks everyone for the heads up. The school already has the standardized MSP scores and strands for each student in the class. Am I to believe that Thurik will perform a more thorough assessment? Color me dubious. Also, constructing a "respect" poster does not constitute assessment.

The fact is we do not come from Lowell - we come from North Beach - which has an excellent math program. Fought dearly, angrily, and acrimoniously for by the parents and teachers. We didn't opt for Lowell (which uses district math) for that reason.

I can say though that this is a shocking waste of time. In elementary school when we did have one inexperienced math teacher for one year my daughter's MSP scores dropped 40...yes 40 percentile points. She was bored and began to dislike math. This happened when the teacher did just as Been There described: waited until after christmas to introduce new concepts, against the advice of the previous math teacher. We homeschooled with an awesome math teacher and her scores shot up to 99th again immediately. Teachers really do make a difference. And it is outrageous that the schools are afraid to let these kids prove themselves by letting them languish with tentative instructors.

I will say that I am sick and tired of doing damage control so the district can maintain their precious scores. I'm sure you all are too. All these teachers: Thurik, our one poor math teacher at NB, are superficially nice people. But they rely on district guidelines to instruct these kids, they don't really look at them and knowledgeably assess what they can handle. They really don't care one bean about our kids or the rest of the district's kids. It's the banality of evil.

OK - rant over. Thanks for listening and thanks for your advice.

Shannon said...

Hi,
My son has also just started at HIMS from Lowell. He is doing get-to-know-you stuff in most of his classes.

He did a number game in math that had little relation to curriculum (but was fun and puzzling).

He was told to "go play" in PE. In Social Studies he played a trivia game with clues about what kids in class liked. He has no idea of curriculum in any subject. No homework in any subject except to make notes about his favorite things and his family and get a form signed to tell me he will learn about a healthy lifestyle.

I don't doubt prior ill reports about this Math teacher but I think you can give it a few weeks to evaluate which level of hell you have arrived at. Right now we would score Zero content for 5/6 periods (Mr Roe is out of the blocks in Band as the class has started listening to music and seeing instruments!).

I am really happy that school has started, that the new Principal was so eloquent and funny and welcoming at the new parent coffee, that we have only had one bus disaster and that my 6th grader seems to have received one message from all teachers IN MIDDLE SCHOOL YOU MUST BE ORGANIZED TO SUCCEED.

With that in mind and having read the rules in the HIMS Calendar which say that a parent-oversleeping is not an excuse for being late, he is organizing us all in the morning. I don't think this will last, but I am enjoying it.

Good luck with the math issue. Homeschooling united sounds like a good plan if the class is really a waste of time.
Shannon

word said...

Shannon,

Thanks for this input. My daughter really is enjoying HIMS, except for the math (and I should reiterate, she doesn't hate her math teacher PERsonally - it is just we know from previous experience that one has to be quick and proactive with math education). And she did really like the principal's speech. It seems like the band teacher is awesome. We don't have a chance to oversleep because she is so eager to get to school she hollers at us to get ready.

I think it will be a good three years. I am just sorry that the district has such a spotty and careless track record on math education for the younger kids. I have met many dedicated math teachers at the high schools.

Shannon said...

Oh, I would want to make a decision pretty quick too. I do know one parent in 6th Grade who is homeschooling. If you post to the HIMS Facebook group (Hamilton International School) I am sure you will find someone if you don't know whom to contact personally.

Anonymous said...

The process, as I understand it:

File a "Declaration of Intent to Provide Home Based Instruction" with the Homeschool Resource Center (now called Cascade Parent Partnership). Talk with the registrar about an early release. Some choose to keep a full schedule - PE, language and band, for example - in order to keep transportation (an early release means a student must leave school grounds). I'm not sure if a Declaration of Intent is filed if attending full time.

If you're wavering, I'd first talk with the Asst. Principal to discuss options and talk about concerns with the 6HH class.

Anonymous said...

To Word:
I am one of the homeschooling parents in 6th grade. The deadline of the Declaration of Intent is the 15th of September.
And this is the website with all the info:
http://cppp.seattleschools.org/
And the form with the address:
http://cppp.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1708901/File/Declaration%20of%20Intent.pdf?sessionid=fa0665a4ad518b6ec401233f92c2641e

- Been there, done it (once, not twice)

Don't Split said...

It is well know that 6th grade APP math is a waste of time at both sites. It is a huge win that some kids will get to go straight into Geometry again, but a big drag for those kids that didn't have that option the last few years post split when each APP middle school was allowed to deem that they had too few of those kids to consitute a full class.

It is exactly these problems that make it necessary to fight the district when they try to splinter APP any further--stand strong against such efforts!

word said...

We have arranged for homeschooling in 6th grade math and I appreciate the assistance and info on this blog.

However, this decision has been heart-wrenching for the entire family. It will ruin our schedule - we will have difficulty getting from our homeschool class to 2nd period. It will complicate the MAP testing. Furthermore, I am concerned my daughter may suffer retaliation from staff on this (it happened to partial homeschoolers at our elementary school - though I have no reason to think it would at HIMS). The Sept. 15 deadline for the intent to file forced our hand so that we could not spend any time observing that class. We also had to rapidly make this decision to accommodate scheduling changes.

This is a very unpleasant start to the school year for my family. I know many of you will laugh but one of the reason's we opted for APP was that we hoped for faster paced math and reading. Now we have to leave the program to achieve that. Something seems wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the irony. MAP/MSP testing shouldn't be that complicated. Just request that your child take the test during the testing window. You should be able to schedule during the open period. Talk with the counselor. Different staff handle the scheduling for the MSP and the MAP.

Partial homeschooling in middle school is very different than in elementary school. I wouldn't be overly concerned about retaliation. The biggest problem with a late start is that your child will miss assemblies and be sent to the library if they arrive for 2nd period while an assembly is going on. Of course, that could be seen as an added bonus.

Sara said...

The bus route situation is insane. Our bus is weaving through car-lined neighborhoods and stopping every third block. It is also criss-crossing arterials, backtracking and generally makes NO SENSE whatsoever!

Anonymous at 3:49 might be one of the few select families getting door-to-door service causing a double-long ride for the rest of our kids. I'd accommodate moving from the neighborhood school stop if other folks would give up their personal taxi service.

Anonymous at 3:49 said...

Hi Sara! Our stop is about 1.5 blocks from our house and there are other kids there. It takes about 40 minutes for my kid to get to school, driving it would be about 20 minutes...I think that's pretty reasonable. When I was growing up, this was how the bus system ran too, yes it's slower than driving, but it doesn't seem "insane" or like a "personal taxi service". I don't see how any one "select" family is making the route twice as long for others, if we are all doing the same thing.

Anonymous said...

To Sara:
Personally I don't think that you can blame any parents for the bus stops and the transportation service that they receive in the district. You can only blame the Transportation Department and I think if you have any problems, you should contact them right away. Maybe they can do some changes that will suit you and your student better.
I am saying this, even though I don't know anything about our transportation yet, only will start on Monday.
- Hopeful

Anonymous said...

To Word:
Good luck and please hang in there, the 7th and 8th grade math teachers at HIMS are fantastic !
- Been there...

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I would just consider supplementing for 6th grade math, versus homeschooling. The workload is easy in Thuriks class.
So if you could swing a weekly tutor with additional homework your student will do just fine.

7th and 8th grade math is much bettr.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:19

I find your post sad. Why should we have to settle? Homeschooling is a great option (maybe the only option) for getting a decent math education in 6th grade APP. I don't want my kid to have an "easy workload," I want them to have a good year where they actually learn math.

CMP is crap, and the class doesn't appear to be any better. The work today was extremely easy for my child.

-Seriously Considering Homeschooling

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 6 19pm
You are right, that would be an option also. If your student could stay put for those 50 mins every single day without doing anything. Because you are not allowed to do anything else. There is neither reading under the table, nor doing your homework, or extra worksheet from home, or talking. No, and you can not really go ahead even with one lesson. Because there is no differentiation. None. Everybody is doing the same thing. For some students, this works. For most of the APP students, it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Hey hamilton 6th grade parents of students assigned to a certain math teacher: what if virtually all of her students pulled out to "partially homeschool"??? Don't you think the DISTRICT would have to get involved at that point? Hard to ignore a classroom teacher if only 5 or so kids are actually showing up for a class. Homeschool cooperative.... Not trying to tell parents what to do, just offering a potential thought to explore in case enough parents were distressed enough about the fit and quality of instruction

- signed, history will keep repeating itself unless someone does something

Anonymous said...

History-

Homeschooling is hard and inconvenient. It is not something that many are going to do.

I would suggest that if you are unhappy with the teacher, lack of differentiation and/or the curriculum, tell the principal. Writing a letter/email is something everyone can do. If enough people do that, it should get her attention. I know people tried this with Carter, but Watters is different and (one can hope) potentially more effective.

-realist

Anonymous said...

As realist said, part-time homeschooling is not something many are going to do, even though it can be a good option for some.

history will keep repeating itself unless someone does something

A number of last year's parents did try to do something. The result? Not much of a change, huh?

Are 7th and 8th grade parents willing to rehash the issues for the new principal? This might help when 6th grade parents start expressing their concerns. Perhaps a repeated pattern of concerns would get more notice than a few complaining parents.

One complaining parent is just a nuisance, two complaining parents is just a nuisance with her crazy friend, but an onslaught on concerned parents is harder to ignore. Finding a critical mass of parents willing to speak up, however, can be a challenge.

Anonymous said...

How would one homeschool if the class you are replacing is not first or last period? Can your child have a free period and study in the library?

Anonymous said...

You have to request a different schedule with a late start or an early release. Not always easy. As was said earlier, some fill the class period with another elective, put in a full day, then still have to do math at home. It's a big commitment.

Parents are told students cannot be on school grounds if they don't have a scheduled class. There is no going to the library. It's a supervision issue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, to what anon at 10:23 said.

I will add that the parents are able to come and take the kid out of school for 45 minutes. The kid is also able to sign themselves out and walk somewhere for their free period. If you can find another kid or two at the same time, they can walk somewhere together. Maybe the Wallingford library? Not easy, but it can be done. Another option - if you find others to homeschool during the same math period, maybe parents can take turns taking the kids somewhere. 6th graders still seem pretty young.

I would like to talk to other like-minded people. How to do that when we are all anonymous...

-seriously considering homeschooling

suep. said...

@ seriously and others,

A few thoughts:

You could create a new e-mail address specifically for this purpose and ask other HIMS families with similar concerns and interests to contact you that way.

You could start a petition or letter to the principal outlining these issues and concerns and ask others to sign onto it, then present it to district admin, beginning with the principal on up.

I believe that there are a number of 7th and 8th grade HIMS parents who went through the same thing you are going through these past 2-3 years and would be willing to support this effort and sign on as well.

I also agree that if there is a growing trend of families asking about or pursuing homeschooling for a specific class, that does not reflect well on the school (or the teacher). This could be mentioned to the principal and district admin as well.

Overall, HIMS seems to be moving in a positive direction, with supportive new leadership and inspired new hires. But there are still some very problematic weak links in the teaching staff that need to be addressed.

And it's not right that this ongoing problem has still not been addressed. Kids should not have to waste a year in class.

My 3 cents.

suep. said...

@ Thurgood Marshall families,

How is the new math curriculum working out? That's fantastic that your school has pursued an alternative to EDM & CMP. A number of us would like to do the same at north-end APP/Lincoln. Can anyone here explain the steps that were taken to make that happen at Thurgood?

Thx & congrats.

Anonymous said...

I too want a new math curriculum for northern elementary APP. I asked both PTA and Administration last year, so that this year we too could have been freed from EDM and CMP. The PTA refused to put it on the survey last year, and I see again they refused this year too. The thought is that because our faculty were already under taking training for project based learning, it would be too much, plus we don't know where will be in two years.

I don't care that our location in two years is unconfirmed, our children shouldnt be denied access to strong math textual materials because they are essentially homeless as far as schools go. And while PBL is something I support, that should not be made into an either-or situation. That is a false premise. It is said that math needs to come

Anonymous said...

Continued from above

It is said that math needs to come from faculty/administration, but, it is not their kids who are getting what I consider poor math text books - it is ours. There are far better alternatives. Singapore would be fantastic. If you happen to share this perspective, the write in math into the current PTA survey and let them know it is the priority. (and should the district pay for a playground and playground improvements? This lincoln building is not ours, and will be co locating several different schools in the years to come, so how is it our responsibility to install and improve s playground for what will be 1,000 children who will then all be gone by 2017?)

- give all APP kids and all SPS kids great math please

Anonymous said...

Project-based learning and the playground put before math education? Grrr...

If it's true that the PTA blocked math curriculum from being on the survey, my thoughts aren't fit to print.

-grr

Anonymous said...

Send the new principal the links from this blog where HIMs math issues are discussed.

Anonymous said...

for those HMS parents considering taking action on behalf of 6th grade math, please considering partnering with WMS parents and address this as an issue that affects the whole program--as it does--rather than a single location

Anonymous said...

Any Garfield parents out there?

I don't understand having a class without a teacher yet.

Maybe not such a big deal for some classes, but for AP World History, seems like a big deal.

The syllabus looks great, but apparently was written by another teacher.

Is this typical? What's happened in the past? Worried...

Anonymous said...

The math materials are an issue district wide. Designating a special program (APP) out of an acknowledgment that students can benefit from a differentiated curriculum, but then using the same materials without modification beyond acceleration, that's also an issue.

It's hard to know what complaint to start with - in my opinion, the district chosen math materials are weak for all students. If the base curriculum were stronger, would there be the same complaint?

It gets difficult to advocate on a program wide basis when you find out TM went ahead and changed their math curriculum independent of APP@Lincoln. It feels so fractured. How is one site to know for what the other is advocating?

Isn't this why we have the APP AC?

Anonymous said...

HIMS 7th and 8th Math teachers also use district math materials; it's not the curriculum in 6th grade APP math that is the issue.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it is the PTA that blocked math from the survey or could it be administrators/ teachers who don't want to switch right now? Sure, it's the PTA's money, but they don't operate in a vacuum. I don't know if that's the case, but it could be.

Anonymous said...

How is 6th grade math at WMS?

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear first impressions from any parents of younger-aged kids who made the move to APP at Lincoln this year from their neighborhood school. We were torn about the decision and elected to stay at our (beloved) local school at least for 1st grade. For any other parents who struggled with the decision but went for it, do you feel like it's clear already that you made the right choice?
A northeast mom

Anonymous said...

I just found this feed while looking for some guidance on what to do with my daughter who took the APP tests at the John Stanford throughout August. We received her results--highly gifted-- in email, but have not yet gotten the paper results.

Reading this, before making my comments, I have to say that I, too, find the busing to be ridiculous. Our bus stop last year dropped out daughter off at the bottom of 6th between Aurora and Dexter, leaving her next to the little park, where she could safely walk up the hill to our rented apartment. We had NIGHTMARES last year with substitute drivers, her being 2 hours late, and dispatch having no idea where she was-- the sub got lost downtown after 5 pm, and never bothered to called dispatch. He had two 8 year olds and a 6 year old on the bus--GUIDING him back to Queen Anne! My 8 year old daughter was traumatized by the experience. It's been 5 months, and anytime we get close to downtown, she repeats the story of what happened. Shortly thereafter, her bus driver broke his arm and they got temp subs. Every day, my daughter felt the weight of explaining how to drive around to the stops. On the first day of school, she wasn't nervous about a new teacher, of having a portable classroom, but scared to get stuck with a different driver! NOW, the bus drops her off on the OPPOSITE side of dexter at 4:30--during rush hour. She used to be able to walk up to our house alone, now I have to go down there and wait for her, because I'm not comfortable with her crossing a busy street during rush hour. This has been really disheartening to her. The driver said he COULD NOT use his paddle to stop traffic because it's a four lane road. UGH.

Onto the 'gifted' part of my problem. My daughter is at John Hay. When we moved here from California in January, the environment, the teacher, the kids, I don't know WHAT brought my daughter out of her shell! We had fought for gifted testing for Arden, but they wouldn't work with us. They wanted to move her up a grade via a 3/4 split, to transition my already young for her grade 3rd grader to the 5th grade the next year. However, the teach essentially refused to work with us (when the rest of the staff agreed it was the best thing for her), and gave her a report card covered in 2s (Cs essentially). It was a nightmare... but coming to Seattle, moving to John Hay was the best thing for her! Within three days, her teacher was sending her to resource for higher math lessons.

Because of age cut offs in California and Washington, she's a very young 4th grader. She will be 9 in a couple of weeks. We are faced with deciding what to do with her academically--keeping her at John Hay, getting whatever acceleration they are willing/able to offer her, or sending her to Lowell. Her teacher has sent us a document explaining their approach to gifted kids. The whole thing was rife with grammar and typing errors. That alone is enough to make us lean toward Lowell.

I don't know, though. She finally has friends that are more than just kids that are nice to her. She was never the weird kid, but she never really bonded with the kids at her old school.

The teacher she had last year was amazing, but my first few correspondance with her teacher have been disappointing when I know that I want my child to be in a classroom where she will be challenged.

Has anyone experienced the APP or Spectrum programs at John Hay? Will my all around gifted kid get what she needs there?

Anonymous said...

continued from above:

We are currently shopping for a house in the John Hay district, but if we send her to Lowell, we could open our search to the John Standford and McDonald districts for our younger daughter, because we did full Spanish immersion with our oldest through 3rd grade, and would love to offer this to our youngest. That being said, I'm curious if they WILL bus her from Wallingford to Lowell? Or, if we move to Wallingford will we get this other school people have mentioned?

Please, if you have any advice or experience, I'm very keen to hear it!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

There is (was?) an unwritten rule about not being able to qualify for the appropriate grade in APP if your child has been grade skipped, meaning if they are too young for the grade, they would essentially have to repeat a grade in APP. If your's child's birthday places them in 3rd grade according to the district cutoff, even if they are entering 4th grade, they would recommend placement in 3rd grade APP. I can't confirm that this is still policy, but you should look into it if considering a move to APP. I don't think it's enforced at middle school, just elementary.

Also, APP@Lincoln (formerly Lowell) may move to another location in the near future. Lincoln is not considered a permanent location for North APP. John Hay has neither APP nor Spectrum, it has what's called ALO. There are only two locations for elementary APP - APP@Lincoln (Wallingford) for the North end and Thurgood Marshall for the South end.

Advanced Learning Program Sites

If your child is happy and feeling challenged at John Hay, it's hard to give advice on what's best. Sometimes it's so teacher dependent, even in APP.

Anonymous said...

Re deciding between Hay and APP: since your kid has been through some changes already with moving, etc, perhaps consider keeping her at Hay through at least a nother yr, perhaps even through 5th gr - you used to be able to maintain APP qualification by requesting an ALO report card and then she would qualify for APP at Hamilton MS (vs McCLure, which has SPectrum but not sure how rigorous it is). Hay is a pretty gd school, as is Coe , and you might look into Qn Anne Elementary as well. IN any case yr kid will prob do fine and have a gd time at Hay, so if you decide to stay there be sure to keep her qualified and plenty of J Hay kids go to Hamilton APP instead of McClure in 6th gr.
- current HIMS parent and former Hay parent

Anonymous said...

Also she could do SPanish immersion in HIMS. I know when yr kids are in elementary it seems so major, but looking back I realize how impt the Middle School decision is, being able to have that choice for MS and HS (APP vs yr assigned school) is an impt option that you can hang onto even while keeping yr kid at Hay. The uncertaintly of L@L would concern me, given the changes yr kid has been through recently. But others on this forum could speak more knowlegeably about that.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to consider - the site at Lincoln is not designed for elementary kids. They've done their best to make it work, but the playground situation is less than ideal, with not enough space, and not enough grass and climbing area. If you haven't already, you should visit the school. There is something to be said for minimizing the transitions/changes.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 9:21: We made the move to Lincoln from our beloved neighborhood school for 1st grade, with much trepidation. In fact, after I dropped daughter off at Lincoln on day 1, I drove by the neighborhood school STILL wondering whether I'd made an enormous mistake. We have so many friends there! Playdates are easy!

After three days at Lincoln, I am positive we made the right choice and now realize that daughter was missing a lot from the neighborhood school. Although she seemed happy there (so much so that we nearly stayed), her attitude toward school could be summed up in a shrug. In hindsight, I feel really guilty for attributing that to her serious personality.

Over the course of three days at Lincoln, my fairly shy, fairly stoic daughter has blossomed into a singing, dancing, excitement-machine who will not stop talking about school. She is THRILLED with her teacher, her homework, her classroom, her books, her . . . etc., etc. Most importantly for her is that she is thrilled to have friends who want to play the same way she does (i.e., elaborately weird pretend play crossed with building better mousetraps).

In sum, I had no clue how much her neighborhood school didn't fit until I witnessed how well APP @ Lincoln does.

Anonymous said...

Responding to the posters commenting on the need for new math curriculum in north end APP...

(1) I'd like to make it clear that Thourgood Marshall should be commended for moving ahead with new math despite the foot dragging of the district. Clearly leadership at the school drove the action and decided to make the needs of the kids priority #1.

(2) APP Lincoln needs to wake up on not wait for the district to make a move. It's widely accepted that EDM and CMP are deficient and need to be replaced across the district. Why APP north should waste more precious time while our sister school advances...I'm outraged thinking about it!

(3) I'm a long time APP parent and received the recent survey put out by the PTA. By any measure it was pathetic. Three options offered to spend PTA funds with explicit instructions to NOT talk about math. I'm sorry, playground equipment versus new math curriculum -- given the choice I bet math will with win in a landslide. We NEVER chose APP for our kids because of the playground or building. Lowell was rough around the edges, but the quality of instruction, dedication and community fostered a rich environment. The current PTA leadership is completely out of touch or playing some sort of game.

Greg, I think the topic of math @ APP north deserves it's own thread. I know of many people who are very concerned about this issue and how the topic seems to be actively suppressed within the school. Maybe a thoughtful, active discussion here will help.

--Committed APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Has anyone spoken directly with the PTA on the issue? That would be a good place to start...

Anonymous said...

I spoke directly to the PTA about surveying math. Judge the results: last year, this year, no math question on the surveys. I realize administration must support the move to a different math text book (s) but what would it hurt to ask the parent body what they want in terms of math? Perhaps it is a non starter, perhaps 80% of the parent community are overjoyed with math as is, in which case it is a non starter for the school. However, maybe 80% of parents in fourth and fifth grades want CMP dumped entirely, maybe 50% of parents of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade want EDM supplemented with Singapore, or perhaps want it replaced entirely with Singapore. Point is, without at least asking the question, we really don't know how the community wants to see math deployed.
- hoping for better math for all SPS students

Anonymous said...

It would be useful to have a grade by grade survey. What is holding them back?

In my opinion, the CMP books are the first that need to go. We found that we could supplement the EDM materials at home by making sure our kids mastered standard algorithms for arithmetic. CMP has been very different. It has turned my math loving kids off to math. It has left gaps in their learning. It has slowed down their math learning.

What is AL's stance? Elementary APP students will now be moving on to middle school with different math backgrounds. What happens when TM students move on to CMP in 6th? Will more of them qualify to take Algebra in 6th? It almost feels APP North is the control, and they're waiting to see how the experiment turns out.

Anonymous said...

A northeast mom...the previous commenter gave you a thoughtful reply (anon @ 8:52), but for the other side of the coin, I'd say that in our experience, there was no great difference in the social network when we switched to APP. The kids there run the gamut in terms of whom my kid gets along with just like they did at our neighborhood school. Many parents comment about their kid finally finding a best friend after the move to APP. For us, we don't notice a big social/temperment difference from our neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. First of all, I think the PTA and the administration know most people want a new math curriculum. I'm not sure a survey is necessary to figure that out. The administration says they will not implement a new math curriculum for this year. How could they? But, there will be more fundraising this year- who knows, perhaps some of it could even be explicitly for a new math curriculum. Teachers, parents, and administrators would need a chance this year to study some units from some of the options. Knowing that more money will come in, knowing that people want a new math curriculum, knowing that one can't be immediately implemented doesn't it make sense to find out what else people want right now? I don't know that this is what is happening, but that is the point. This scenario is just as possible, and possibly even more likely, than the scenario of the PTA "blocking" a new math curriculum. Why in the world would they do that? They have kids at the school, too.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that TM reviewed a number of alternative math curriculums last year and kept North APP in the loop on their intentions to switch. North APP did not follow, perhaps because they are focused on project-based-learning. I don't know that any PBL curriculum is being transferred back to TM, but perhaps the admin/faculty at TM aren't focused on that.

TM really wanted to ditch EDM because it is particularly horrible for their gen Ed program, many of whom are not native English speakers. Maybe north app admin and staff don't believe it's as much of an issue for APP kids. The private school Evergreen, which also focuses on gifted kids, uses EDM for their math curriculum.

6th gr math is bad both north and south said...

cor
The north vs south discussion is really distressing. We are one program and acting as such is the only way to go.

For those who are critical of the APP AC-have you offered to serve in a position on the Advisory Committee?

To answer the question about 6th grade Math at WMS, it is horrible, in many of the same ways that L@L parents have described.

Anonymous said...

No. North App did not know TM was switching until it became public.

Anonymous said...

During a parent-principal coffee chat, held at Lincoln mid-year, parents asked about changing the math curriculum (multiple parents had issues with the math, EDM and CMP). They were told that they couldn't do something different than TM. It doesn't sound like L@L was aware of TM's plans.

Anonymous said...

The private school Evergreen, which also focuses on gifted kids, uses EDM for their math curriculum.

Hardly an endorsement. Some parents don't choose Evergreen for this reason.

Anonymous said...

About APP-AC:
What is going on? School started but there is no welcome letter from the AC. Also, there were many open parent representative position advertised in June at Lowell, TM, Hamilton, WMS, Garfield, are those volunteer jobs filled?

Anonymous said...

Its been public knowledge all year that TM was planning to dump EDM. The principal announced at all the school tours that the TM staff was evaluating different math programs, and would be making the switch this Fall.

That made the decision to move to TM much easier for many families.

Anonymous said...

So, public knowledge for those that either attended the TM tours or attended TM - yet, perhaps not mentioned to the principal of L@L or mentioned by TM reps during APP-AC meetings? That's the kind of info that should be shared. That's kind of the point of the APP-AC.

Anonymous said...

The administration at Lowell@Lincoln knew that TM was looking at different math curriculums last year. I don't know if it was ever discussed at a APP-AC meeting, or whether the L@L faculty had knowledge of it.

Anonymous said...

TM publicly discussed its plans to change its math curriculum to better meet the needs of all of its learners. TM has a unique population of students on both ends of the achievement spectrum. TM's teachers evaluated several math programs, ultimately choosing Envision because it best addressed the needs of kids who were performing below standard, as well as the APP population performing above standard. When discussing Thurgood Marshall, posters on this blog often lose sight of the fact that Thurgood Marshall's school-wide initiatives must meet the needs of all of our students -- a relatively diverse population. This is somewhat different from the L&L situation, in that decisions at TM cannot be made in an APP vacuum. 100% of TM's teachers voted for the adoption of the new curriculum under the waiver, approved by the district. There was no secrecy involved. In fact, there was a formal waiver process that L@L does not appear to have gone through in adoping and implementing its own project based learning. L@L decided that implementing a project based learning approach better met the learning needs of its student population. In an effort to improve student learning, both L@L and TM have implemented school-specific initiatives in the years since the split. This should not be surprising given the differences in student populations between the two schools and the absence of strong APP-specific curricular support from the advanced learning office.
-- TM parent

Anonymous said...

Isn't PBL putting a name to what Lowell used to be? Does it now require special training or special designation, as if it is somehow new?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:23.

Yes, I think that's what's happening here - L@L is trying to recreate what King destroyed while TM has had it all along. Julie has the time and ability to add a new curriculum because she's had a few fairly stable years (after the early rocky time) while L@L had a sucky principal and lost virtually all of its long term teachers. I didn't even mention that TM hasn't moved buildings.

I understand Rina not changing the math curriculum right now. Yes, EDM and CMP are truly horrible, but she is bringing back PBL and training lots of new APP teachers. She and the teachers can only do so much at once. The teachers are currently being trained in PBL (a curriculum change) and changing another at the same time would be even more challenging.

I think parents should make sure she knows that you want the curriculum changed, but understand that she can only do so much.

-former long time L parent now at HIMS

Anonymous said...

Hamilton 6th Grade HH Parents:

How to you think the math is going so far? My child showed me their work from Friday and it was really simple. I know it's early in the year, but it looks like this is where they are starting. It is math they my child did in 5th grade at L@L.

What are other parents seeing from their kids?

-better math

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anything about the new 7th grade LA/SS teacher? She sounds kind of tough. My daughter (who likes almost all teachers -- even had good things to say about Thurik last year) says that she's nervous that she's going to get yelled at.
--HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the 8th grade teacher, moved to 7th? If so, I'd agree with the trepidation.

Anonymous said...

HIMS news from today: schedule changes expected for some 8th grader APP students starting tomorrow.
The reason: "We have more students than we anticipated last spring and as a result some of our classrooms packed to the gills."
I wonder what is the final student headcount at HIMS this year.

So far so good said...

To A Northeast Mom (Anon @ 9:21):

My daughter started 1st grade at Lincoln last week and we had the same experience as the first commenter -- she is thrilled with her new school. I haven't seen excitement over the curriculum yet, but no complaints about it either (unlike her neighborhood school where she was VERY bored in class). Socially, she made friends right away. At the dessert social, I found other kids are reading at her level in her class, which is already a big step up, she was practically an outcast that way in her old class. We liked her neighborhood school, and we walked by there this weekend and she said she missed it, but she didn't seem sad about it. Change is always a little hard, but so far I think this was a great move for her, and once we get into academics, I think she'll enjoy class a whole lot more.

Anonymous said...

According to Mr Carter, HIMS was already packed to the gills last year with 950 students. Last spring I heard that they were expecting 1,050 students, even though the building is designed for no more than a 1,000 (or from other sources, only 950).
I really hope the admin will make sure that the building is safe for all the students this year.
- Safety first

Anonymous said...

It seems the problems would be with not having enough classrooms to schedule students. The gym, for example, is split in two, with two classes going on at once, and 40+ kids on one side. Is that typical?

Anonymous said...

According to OSPI, last year's May 2012 count was 919 at HIMS (October 2011 was 921).

By comparison, Eckstein was 1300 (May 2012).

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 5 17 pm:
The gym is split at HIMS and it is typical. In the last 2 years at least. Because originally, after the construction, there was another, smaller gym room (I think it was called aerobic room), but that was changed to a music room after they realized how many students play music (after the spilt).
I also worry about the size of the building (rooms, staircases) and the play area (inside and out), are those all safe for our students? I have already heard about accidents, that happened at the basketball court outside previous years (with less students).

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Is there another blog or forum for Washington Middle School? We are interested in learning more about APP at Washington for next year, this blog seems to be about Hamilton? Thanks!

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Anonymous, the moderator here. This blog is pretty informal, but, yes, it is intended for discussion of anything of concern for APP parents. Feel free to raise your question on one of the open threads.

I wouldn't take the discussion on any particular thread too seriously. This thread is dominated by Hamilton parents, I'd guess, because Hamilton parents are pretty concerned about the situation in their part of APP at the beginning of this new school year. They might be most motivated to comment right now, but other APP parents are around and are reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say this, but in MHO many of the threads have been dominated by north end issues for a while-it would be great if both sides of town could come together here. Greg would you be willing to steer things that way? That might make make a larger variety of voices feel welcome. I really want to believe what you said above about other APP parents reading this blog. Maybe a nudge from you will get them writing too. Thank you for your work in running this forum, there are so few places to keep up on APP news.

Anonymous said...

I agree that many of the threads are dominated by north end issues. While I understand that the L@L issues are unique, I really don't think the same can be said for the HIMS issues. WMS is also packed to the gills. It has added new portables, a 4th lunch section and re-opened a bathroom that had been serving as a storage closet. We have the same curriculum issues - don't even get me started on math or the lack of true acceleration - and teachers who appear ill-suited for an APP assignment. I recognize that with the departure of the principal and some long-term teachers, the HIMS issues are more pressing; but, HIMS dominating the boards occurred before those happened.

And, before someone makes a comment about the populations at the schools and their likely use of the Internet, let me just say I've seen many WMS parents attempt to raise an issue in the threads, only to be ignored and have the discussion continue on without a response, or even acknowledgement. I imagine that could have a chilling effect on south end voices.

--WMS APP parent

Anonymous said...

Re: WMS APP experience. 6th grade was fine for us - but not great as both math and science were seriously lacking due to both teachers and curriculum. Our child was in a portable with 32 kids for math with a teacher that had no control over the class and curriculum that basically was review for him. Science curriculum was also horrible for 6th grade for that year - although it has since improved.

7th grade was a big improvement as we had a great math teacher for Algebra and they introduced Physical Science, which was definitely more interesting than the kits they had been working with (however teacher was mediocre at best). However, socially it was the hardest year so curriculum issues were not on the forefront for us.

8th grade was great with Mr. Schmitz for LA/Social Studies, good teacher for Geometry and Biology (didn't like the teacher but the curriculum kept them engaged).

I think our biggest learning from middle school is that it truly is an up and down experience, but no one class is going to permanently scar your child (short of mental/verbal abuse - which we did not experience) so in my opinion parents get way too worked up over these issues. Kids learn to deal with all different situations, and they are getting old enough to do so in middle school.

WMS is far more strict than Hamilton from our conversations with friends...but again, it was fine.

There are many WMS parents that read this thread - but maybe they just aren't as worked up as Northend parents for some reason.

Issues are the same for both schools.

-Garfield Parent (former WMS parent)

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:27

I don't understand what you would have Greg do here...? Should he somehow force south APP families to post on the blog? Should north families know to only post once for each south families' post? What exactly do you want?

There is no barrier to entry to post on this blog - it's free and legal. That people choose not to post here is their fault. It is not the fault of those who do.

Right after the split four years ago, this blog was (rightly) dominated by the on-going issues at TM. That they aren't posting as much anymore I take to be a good sign.

-north end

Anonymous said...

WMS Parent-

Again, South families don't appear to post as much on this blog. I, as a north app parent, don't feel comfortable responding to questions or concerns about TM or Washington. I am not there.

I wish south families would post more. The split caused permanent damage to the program, including that we have a much harder time speaking with one voice. Please talk to people you know at your schools and suggest they read this blog and post. I think we can work together to make APP stronger for the entire district. I know both WMS and HIMS are about to burst with all the kids. This is a problem for the entire program. The fact that teachers can teach in APP with absolutely no gifted knowledge is also a problem for the entire program.

We do share many issues but, if people in the south don't post, it can be hard to see.

-north

HIMS Parent said...

What I think would be helpful is if the advisory committee focused on aligning the program across sites this year. APP decisions need to be program decisions, not site decisions. If TM is using a different math, then so should L@L. Every student should have the same education experience, regardless of the site. I should be able to move my 4th grader from TM to L@L and be able to not skip a beat. Site based decisions is why Spectrum is essentially being eliminated across the district.


In addition, WMS/HIMS and TM/L@L teachers should be meeting regularly to ensure consistency across the sites. One suggestion for the APP AC is to change the format of the meeting so instead of reps of each site giving updates, the time is spent aligning subjects across each site. Decisions to change the math should be made within the APP AC, implemented program wide and include a system of staff collaboration.

Anonymous said...

I agree about needing alignment, but who decides what the program should be? Therein lies the problem. Without strong directives from AL, where's the incentive for teachers to collaborate? If AL is not sending the message that alignment between site is important, will it happen? Will teachers align to their idea of what the program should be, or will the program design and alignment come from AL?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the discussion should be focused on what alignment needs to happen between sites. TM and L@L are going down different paths, and though L@L may want better math, the train has already left the station at TM without any input from L@L. So now what? L@L seems focused on PBL, but TM may not be interested in PBL. So now what?

HIMS Parent said...

A good place to start would be with the AP curriculum.

Anonymous said...

For TM to use a different math text required a waiver. From previous postings, 100% of the teachers voted for the change, not just APP teachers. TM has a different population than L@L. So perhaps the direction TM chose to go with math invovles other considerations such as the need of their gen ed population as well....

Yes, APP curriculum would be a great start. Better would be a revamping of our math, LA, and science curricula for all general ed and integrate APP needs into that. That way it would be better money spent (and a better sell politically speaking) to benefit all and not just a small subset.


Anonymous said...

Yes, sadly, the two sites are going down different paths. TM does have a different population and a different principal. The APP AC has no authority or teeth to enforce or even recommend aligning curriculum. They can only share info. The principals are not on the AC, and even Bob Vaughah says he can only advise, not force a school to implement a curriculum. (See Wedgewood). But both schools should be working to improve curriculum, and the above suggestion about revamping ALL is great, but probably too ambitious for our slow moving district. I think the only way to get things done is through the principal - they really guide the show. Not the PTA, or the APP-AC or the AL office. Make your plea to them. 7th grade rant - SS is going to be Ancient Egypt AGAIN.And WA state history. My kid is so sick of Egypt, after a (great) indepth year in 3rd grade, then again in 6th (ancient civilizations). Second year of WA state history. We haven't even been a state that long! It doesn't take long to learn it. He's never been exposed (in school) to any US history - besides that Yukon gold rush in Seattle. This is the type of curriculum stuff that needs to be looked at. Sigh.
-How about some Civil War?

Anonymous said...

Hey, 9:21 September 8 NE mom. I have a first grader who just started at L@L, and an APP qualified third grader we opted to keep at her NE school. I think most (but not all- a couple NE schools seem to have exoduses around 3rd grade, some don't) of the NE schools have a large enough population of APP kids who stay throughout that your daughter should be able to find peers academically, so it's more about personality fit. There are several kids in my third grader's class who are qualified but stayed, and they cluster for particular subjects. It's not perfect, but the culture of the school is a really great fit for her, and the number of...alpha personalities at L@L as well as the larger size of the school would be harder on her. My younger child is a different personality type, who likes to be competitive and go-go-go and is happy to mix it up with the super opinionated kids. He has found a lot more of those people so far already, and I feel confident he will be able to make closer connections there. I think it was a good choice, but I admit the bus is kind of killing me. I hope it gets better soon.

I guess what I am saying is it's really fine to have stayed. We've gotten a great education in k-3 so far; 2 and 3 in particular have been stellar, and I can't imagine would have been as good for her at L@L, but similarly my first grader clearly needs a different sort of environment, and I am glad we moved him.

-split schools

Anonymous said...

7th grade HIMS LA/SS has started the year by reviewing last year's material. Egypt. What is up with that?

SS is going to be Ancient Egypt AGAIN.And WA state history According to whom? I thought it was supposed to be Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages...I assumed the Egypt stuff was filler until they worked out the curriculum.

From WMS' site:
The 6th grade year is spent looking at the “Cradles of Civilization” (Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China). By the end of 7th grade students will have completed work on Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, and the Age of Exploration.

The lack of US History in middle school APP makes no sense. Didn't they used to do it in 8th grade, with WA state history for 1 semester?

Anonymous said...

4th and 5th grade APP used to cover some US History - 4th grade was Colonial history/Constitution; the Civil War and Civil Rights were covered in 5th grade. 5th grade WA state standards call for covering exploration through the Constitution. 4th grade is supposed to be WA State history.

The APP history curriculum seemed to virtually disappear before my child got to 4th and 5th grade (coincided with the split).

What about at TM?

NESeattleMom said...

Does anyone remember at Lowell before the north-south elementary split that at the forums in the school lunchroom that the school district was talking about communication and alignment between north and south so that when they came together (then it was to be at Washington), they would all have had similar experiences? I thought I remembered that. Then a year or two later they split the middle school level so it may or may not be as relevant.

Anonymous said...

NE Seattle Mom-

My family was at Lowell at the time of the split four years ago. You are correct. The schools were to be run as similarly as possible.

This was going to be made easier by using Dr Vaughan's APP curriculum that was due at the beginning of the next year - September 2009. That curriculum must be fabulous with the additional four years worth of work he's put into it.

I will just come out and say it. One of the biggest - if not the biggest - problem with APP is who is charged with running it. Not a lot of running happening.

APP long timer

Anonymous said...

To the question about what could the moderator do to keep the conversations covering citywide issues: take a look back at the "Post a Comment on"...titles over the past year. In my view those have been dominated by north end subjects, which might help to explain why the discussions are as well. Just a thought. Also, I agree that there can be a "chilling" affect when south issues do come up, I find this happens in meetings as well. Inclusion and compassion are key. We all want the same thing, success for APP, so let's work together to make the biggest strides, even if it means letting go of some of the more personal or location specific issues.

Anonymous said...

This blog was started because the SaveSeattleSchools blog posters were complaining about the APP dominated conversations. This blog provided a forum for parents to freely vent, post info, etc.

If the conversation seems dominated by North end issues, maybe there is just more to complain about, or maybe there are just more complainers, either way, it is what it is.

Greg Linden said...

A little more detail on the history, this blog was started to discuss issues around the elementary APP split (starting Thurgood Marshall APP by moving central and south elementary APP kids out of Lowell) back in 2009. Here's the very first post on the blog.

I then took over moderating the blog in Oct 2009 to keep it from being shut down. Soon after, I broadened the blog to be a general discussion of APP, not just elementary APP.

In particular, the goal is to be more of a free-form outlet for discussion between APP parents, since there isn't a lot of other opportunities for that kind of discussion.

There is a lot of discussion of issues in the north-end recently, in part because north-end APP is newer and still unstable (and will be for some time, because north-end APP is unlikely to stay either at Hamilton or Lincoln given capacity issues). There has been a lot of talk about city-wide APP issues too, and, a while back, a fair amount on issues specific to the south-end schools (like portables at Thurgood Marshall and Washington, and overcrowding at Garfield and loss of AP classes at Garfield).

In general, this blog is whatever parents want it to be. The threads are discussions driven by whoever posts. New threads are usually based on current events in the district, what is being discussed in the comments, and requests by parents. The blog is whatever you want it to be.

By the way, I'm probably going to start a new thread soon on how parents might be able to help keep the north and south APP from drifting further apart, especially around curriculum. That seems to be a topic a lot of people have been interested in lately.

Anonymous said...

Sigh...from the original post in Feb. 2009, from Charlie Mas:

The District made a lot of promises to the APP community this year. They promised a written, taught, and tested curriculum. They promised equivalent programs at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall and equivalent programs at Washington and Hamilton. Those are big promises.

Thanks for the info Greg.

Anonymous said...

The (not so ) funny thing is that the AL Office manager, Dr Vaughan is the same as in 2009. Almost everyone else is changed in the district. Still, there is no accountability with the AL programs. Maybe one of the previous poster is right:
"One of the biggest - if not the biggest - problem with APP is who is charged with running it."

Anonymous said...

Reading here, it seems that the K-8 APP splits have had only negative repercussions. Is that true? And what about the 9-12 split? (AP classes at GHS vs. IBx at IHS) Has that had any negative effects? It doesn't seem to be an issue on this site. Maybe because families can choose between the two programs?

Curious

NESeattleMom said...

Hi Curious,
I don't think the APP north-south split for elementary and middle school have had only negative repercussions. There was a sadness to the split of the families that had had such cohesive community. I can only speak as a northeast person---it seems more north families chose to take part in APP once the split happened. New friendships developed. There were some losses, but not everything was bad. My child is now a 9th grader and was therefore in the first middle school north south split class three years ago in 6th grade. They thought they would all see their elementary friends in 9th grade at Garfield. It seems a lot of the north students chose Ingraham IBX over Garfield. Some, especially those with older siblings who had attended Garfield, chose Garfield. Also, those students who were very interested in AP or music. I would say that the decision process was very very difficult for all involved last year during open enrollment when students had to "opt out" of Garfield in order to choose Ingraham.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add that well before the split there were more northern APP families, by a long shot, and particularly NE families. So, it does make sense that there may be more posts from that geographic area. Being sensitive to different points of view is just as valid here as it is with other school concerns that touch on diversity. Having more perspectives creates a richness to APP discussions, let's not lose track of the benefits of taking care of everyone's needs. Thank you Greg for running this blog for the whole program, it is a great vehicle for bridging the divides.

Anonymous said...

I have a 7th grader who took APP math from a certain named teacher last year. My child learned a lot and did fine. Please give this teacher a chance. This teacher even sent a note home that my child posted on the wall. I have told my kids that THEY are responsible for their learning, and that each year one (or more) teachers will bore them or go too slow (or fast). Nonetheless they have the responsibility to get all they can out of the class. I'd like to respectfully request first that individual teacher names not be used, and second that people give the year a chance to get underway before making judgments. You will especially do your kids a favor not to talk about your reservations about certain teachers with them.

Been There

Anonymous said...

From my understanding, some of the teacher complaints are around treatment of students. Belittling students, and being "tough" in a way that seems intent on breaking the child down, rather than supporting their learning. Yes, each year will have its challenges and it won't always be a good fit, but there should be a baseline expection of teacher competence and professional behavior, which hasn't been met by some teachers. A student can only do so much when there are no books to fall back on. It isn't just a matter of a teacher going too slow or too fast.

Anonymous said...

Been There: I agree with you. As a parent of older APP kids, I shudder when I read some of the comments here; it's what gives APP parents a bad rep: shrill, hypercritical, feeling like everyone is getting a better deal than their kids. You know what? WMS and HIMS both have bad 6th grade math, but it gets better in 7th and 8th. North and South have split and it's messy and uneven and there's no going back to when "everyone was together". This is about your kids, not you. Life is messy and often disappointing. But there's lots of good, too, and your ms kids will be better served in the long run if you'd model self-advocacy and action, combined with appreciating what IS good, rather than endless complaining about how "bad" their school/teacher is. Teach them resiliency and self-direction, not impotence and riteousness.

Anonymous said...

We are supposed to put up with a bad teacher to teach our kids "resilience?" My goodness. I would prefer to NOT teach my kid to be a doormat.

My child deserves a good year of math education and that is what they are getting - outside of school.

It is far easier to teach your kid "resilience" by leaving them in a poor classroom environment. It is much harder to be proactive and actually do something about it. It is also a much more valuable lesson for a kid.

-not gonna do it

Anonymous said...

In some cases, students did try to self-advocate, and were ignored/mistreated/belittled by the teacher. At a certain point, parents do need to step in.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous and Been There -

Agree 1000% with you -- as a parent of older APP kids - what happened in 6th grade means less than nothing to our high school kids and didn't ruin the rest of their academic career.

You can't tell that to someone that hasn't experienced that yet though -- 6th grade parents are still in the "my precious" stage (I was there too!) - so until their kids get older and they see the benefits of the APP program (warts and all) moving into high school - they will continue to vex about what they perceive as a horrible situation.

Growing pains (for parents and kids)

-GHS APP Parent

hschinske said...

I have two kids out of high school and one in high school now. I've always felt the greatest benefit of APP in terms of actual support to the student's unusual developmental needs was in elementary school, with middle school being far less consistent and high school being almost irrelevant. The IBX program may change my mind about that.

I also think that middle school is often a very unhappy and difficult stage in one's education for various reasons, which may or may not be personal. But bureaucracy, bad curriculum, stupid policies, and the occasional incompetent teacher sure as heck don't help.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Had nothing to do with my thinking my student was "precious."

The teacher lied to me about what was going on in the class, made up stories about my student, undermined my efforts to help my student.

So sorry if I don't turn a blind eye to a bad classroom situation; if voicing my concerns makes me a shrill, hypercritical parent - so be it.

Anonymous said...

GHS parent-

When I am as old and wise as you are, can you teach me to be equally patronizing?

-can't wait to be as smrt as you

Anonymous said...

Been There -

Can you reveal the gender of your child who had a great experience with this teacher?

Anonymous said...

Is it only me, but I find it very confusing that on this thread there are multiple people (I found at least 3-4 "been there" with only a slight different writing) posting under the same nick.

Anonymous said...

We shrill, overreactive 6th grade parents probably can learn something from listening to parents that have gone before. At least I can see that there might be some truth to what they are saying, or at least will open my mind to the possibility, rather than shutting them down. Why so snarky on this site?

Anonymous said...

-can't wait to be smart as you

Sorry if saw my post as patronizing -- I said that I felt the same way you do when my kid was in 6th grade.

If you don't want perspective from someone who has had a similar experience but now has a different perspective - then that is up to you.

I was just trying to say that when you look back at a situation a few years removed, you realize that the learning and growth that happened as a result (for the child) was positive or not necessarily as high stakes as it may seem at the time.

I'm glad for what my kids experienced in middle school (as I said - warts and all) because it has made them much more able to navigate the perils and pitfalls of high school on their own.

-GHS APP Parent

Anonymous said...

oh yeah-

Just to be clear - my 6th grader was "precious". Incredibly smart, precocious, a love of learning, inquisitive, still gave me hugs everyday.

The teenage years have dulled that a bit - as they get ready to leave the house and they begin to distance themselves from you and make their own decisions re: most aspects of their lives. As it should be.

Our hope is that they will come back to us for hugs, advice, and perspective once they leave for college - or at least that's what our friends with kids in college say.

-GHS APP Parent

Anonymous said...

There is a way to offer advice that is helpful and there is a way that is not. Telling parents that it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things is not helpful. It is a problem now. That you chose to deal with it differently (or not at all in order to teach "resilience") is up to you.

I do appreciate the benefits of the APP program. My child had a very good elementary APP education. That makes the Hamilton situation all the worse.

No one has still explained what are parents to do? Do all you older, more worldly parents really think sitting back and doing nothing is the way to get the program improved in middle school?

-can't wait to be as smrt as you

Anonymous said...

Been There
"This teacher even sent a note home that my child posted on the wall."
I would prefer to hear these lines about any math teacher: she/he gave math lessons in an exciting way that the students learned the basic concepts really well and could use them later to solve different problems themselves (with no or only little help). She/he gave the necessary (different) amount of repetition and time to learn the concepts but then she/he gave challenging, mind bending problems that the students could think about for a couple days and then later could debate on how to solve them and which was the best tactic/strategy to reach the result. The students were happy to go to her/his class and eager to learn math. These are advanced students in middle school we are talking about here.
-Different expectations

Anonymous said...

can't wait to be as smart as you -

I can't control whether you find my perspective helpful. My guess is - some will and some won't.

Sounds like you only want to hear from people that agree with your perspective and tell you how to solve the problem.

Your assumptions that we didn't deal with negative situations when they occurred is wrong. We did - within our family and with communication with the teacher(s) when we felt it necessary. Sometimes it made a difference - sometimes it didn't but our child learned a ton along the way.

I can't help you solve a perceived, untenable problem (horrible Middle-school APP program) that I don't see in the same way based on my "older, and more worldly" perspective.

Best of luck.

-Garfield APP Parent

Anonymous said...

We have come to an agree to disagree end here.

I think it's very helpful to read others' experiences on this blog, but I want to read both good and bad experiences.

I don't want someone to "tall me" how to solve the problems. I wondered, from your perspective, how one is to do that since bad teachers are just part of middle school. Maybe that's my answer - you don't try and solve it, you just deal. If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. I disagree with that 100%.

I still adamantly refuse to believe that having an incompetent teacher in a classroom is okay and that we as parents are impotent. There is a valuable lesson for kids seeing their parents work to create change and to not just put up with whatever they are given.

Nothing gets changed if everyone pretends that nothing is wrong.

-can't wait to be as smrt as you

parent said...

There have been many official complaints about Thurik (6th g Math), Chacon (6th gr LA/SS), various 7th gr APP LA/SS teachers that are no longer teaching that subject, and the 8th gr science teacher Veit. Maybe other teachers as well that I dont know about. Definitely complaints about non-APP teachers as well. All centering on the lack of professionalism of these teachers (as noted in comments above) as well as the material and the way its (not) taught. Complaints to the teacher and then to Mr Carter, from us and several other parents i know of. He didnt do anything about it, perhaps he had too much going on or else knew he was leaving? Now we have a new principal and she seems pretty pro-active, so I suggest new parents give it a few weeks and see how it goes. If you have specific concerns, discuss with the teacher. If that is not effective, DO let the principal know - ideally in writing. We may get more results with this principal. I think venting here or advising to just live with it because your child will be fine - none of that is effective in changing the status quo. You should advocate for your student but you do need to look at the big picture - there are some really good teachers at HIMS and some awful ones, and you have to pick your battles. From what I'm hearing, this is the case at most SPS Middle Schools including WMS, so.....not sure what our reasonable expectations can be. But at the very least I think we shoudl try to set a higher bar for professional behavor from the teachers.
- 6th and 8th grade HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

6th and 8th grade HIMS parent,

Agree. Also would add.... to set a higher bar on behavior of parents and kids as well.

High expectations + tempered reality (win some, lose some) = better sleep at night

-duck

Anonymous said...

- 6th and 8th grade HIMS parent
While I totally agree with you on this:
"But at the very least I think we shoudl try to set a higher bar for professional behavor from the teachers."

I would like to ask you please don't post teachers' name here. It is not ethical, and doesn't add value to your post.
-Another 6th and 8th grade HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

To Another Hims parent - I just dont understand why the reluctance to state teacher names on the blog. These same few names have been noted many times in posts last year on this blog. I'm truly not trying to be snarky, but why exactly is that unethical? I think it does add value to the post, in fact this is exactly the kind of info that parents want (at least I do): who are the teachers that have been noted, again and again, as problem or weak teachers? When my child comes home complaining about curriculum or unprofessional behavior, is that an anomaly or has this been going on for years with that teacher? Should I be documenting the teacher's behavior in writing because history shows the teacher is not open to change or communication, and I may need that documentation down the road? I think we are all trying to advocate for our child, but also to strengthen the program along the way, if possible. Once you get one kid through 3 years of Hamilton, you know. I thought this blog was about sharing information and opinions among APP parents, I'm not tweeting this info all over the internet. I don't think I'm saying anything horrible, perhaps I should add IMO (and the opinion of many other parents) - these have been noted as weak teachers. And on the extremely unlikely case that one of those teachers reads this blog or hears about it - GREAT! Maybe they'll think twice before humiliating a student; making completely inappropriate comments to the class; or perhaps just put a dash more effort into the lesson plans. I understand what your saying, but I respectfully disagree. I will also qualify and say - YMMV with these teachers - maybe your child will have a great year but if you are the type of parent who wants to know which teachers in the program have been noted as weak for various reasons - well youve probably already heard this from other parents, so again I dont think its particularly shocking or revealing to note these teachers names.
- HIMS parent