Saturday, October 12, 2013

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Update: First comment is on the school board candidates, and this is also a good thread to talk about that, but that can be an issue that generates conflict. Please try to keep it civil, especially if commenting anonymously. I suspect links to news articles and other objective information would be most useful to other parents.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

An influx of cash into Suzanne Estey’s PAC of over $40K signals another negative hit piece on Sue Peters is coming. And for those who aren’t aware, the same people donating directly to Estey’s campaign are funding the PAC. While Estey is giving lip service to running a positive campaign, the claim is simply not credible. Her campaign is anything but positive and I’m frankly horrified by the level of money backing her candidacy. IMHO money shouldn’t be so influential in a School Board race.

Greg, I appreciate your perspective on ground rules for the blog. And agree that Sue Peters as a candidate should be discussed by name, and PTA Presidents past and present must fall under the same ground rules. Jean Bryant has confirmed that she made public records requests targeting Sue Peters and her children’s teachers and Principals. That’s just not right. But it’s in keeping with the type of negative tactics we see coming from Estey supporters.

I’m truly saddened by what I observe. And worry that our community will lose credibility during a very important time when Advanced Learning is under review.

Greg, I apologize for leading off a thread with a school board election post, but who we elect is important for the broader advanced learning community (not just Lincoln which seems to often have the loudest voices). Perhaps a separate thread on the election and candidates will provide separation to discuss other important topics.

--Long Time APP Parent

Anonymous said...


Thanks Greg.

Here’s the url to Sue Peters official site where she links to many of the pieces she has written over the years regarding education and policy.

http://suepeters4schoolboard.org/my-writing-on-education/

Also on her site you can find the an image of the two hit pieces that were mailed by Estey’s PAC during the primary.

There was a comment in a prior thread referenced a piece written by Cliff Mass on his blog – here’s the link:

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/search?q=wealthy+folks

If you are interested in tracing the money for each of the candidate’s campaigns or the Estey PAC the data can be found at the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) site:

http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/Candidate/loc_candidates

I trust our community to do their own research and talk to as many informed parents as possible.

--Long Time APP Parent

lendlees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

lendless...

...but there you go peddling rumors without any facts to back it up. Didn't Greg just encourage our community to at least make an effort to stick to the issues and site sources and specifics.

And I fail to see how slamming teachers (and their union) is a positive message. Or why better math curriculum district wide isn't an admirable goal -- and one of Sue Peters focus areas. Just dropping MAP testing alone would pay for new math curriculum for K-8.

I just can't follow your line of reasoning at all. It seems like you are blaming teachers for draining all the money out of schools -- and suggesting that it's their fault we have large class sizes and can't afford better curriculum.

I for one have immense respect for our teachers and most do amazing work under increasingly difficult circumstances. And to bring it back around, I attended an event organized by Sue Peters honoring Theresa Roth, a veteran APP teach who retired a couple years ago. I know where her heart is at when it comes to respect for our great teachers.

--Long Time APP Parent

Meg said...

rumors or not (I know almost nothing about north end PTA drama), Estey appears to support the ed reform line. Her supporters are strong supporters of the ed reform line. Ed reform churns out better sound bites, worse results. I can't support that. I believe in Estey's good intentions (because serving on the school board is a thankless job), but I support Sue Peters. She is deeply acquainted with the issues facing the district, and well-aware of the trade-offs that need to be made to serve the best interests of all students.

Greg Linden said...

Lendless deleted his comment, which I think is unfortunate, as it made an interesting point about district funding. In particular, he briefly argued that Dale-Estey might be better at helping raise additional funding given her connections, and that at least one of Peters' priorities, lower class sizes, probably is impossible due to lack of funding. That's the kind of debate and discussion it would be nice to have here.

Since I have to be the moderator, I'm not going to engage in that debate beyond trying to summarize that interesting point Lendless made then for some reason deleted, but I would like to point people to the position and endorsements pages for both candidates. Best summaries of their positions and endorsements I found:

Dale-Estey: positions, endorsements

Peters: positions, endorsements

Anonymous said...

Thanks Greg. I'm trying to shut out the chatter and focus on the 2 candidates because one of them will represent my area.

Concerns for Dale-Estey: don't think she has enough experience dealing with SPS and will be easily persuaded and led by others. She just hasn't been around enough to put in the time to understand how things work, or more importantly, don't work. I am afraid she will get distracted. And no, I don't think she knows how to get money to fulfill McCleary. If she did, she would be governor.

Concerns for Peters: she gets SPS and it's working. But her work has been more with APP, math curriculum, and big ed reform nationally. (IMO, if you didn't know Peters and just read her school board website postings, you would think this is more about national platform along the line of Ms. Ravitch, rather than a small area in Seattle school district. It's all good stuff.)

I want to vote for a school board member who represents my street corner, but more importantly, one who will work well with fellow board members to govern this district and our Superintendent. We have so many problems facing our district. I like to see the board and Mr. Banda get some breathing room to figure things out. It's going to be a bumpy tumultuous time even under the best circumstances given capacity problems, BEX financial limitations, C&I issues, SEA, core curriculum, and various other mandates coming at us.

I want a board to focus on district's matters first and foremost, not ed reform, not charters, not TFAs, or whatever latest ed gizmos, not city or state politics, and not personal political future. Is this possible?

10 years in & very tired

Anonymous said...

Strikes me that voting for Estey simply because she might be able to bring more money into the district (and that's a BIG "might", not a dead certainty) is a very narrow reason and a strategy that's likely to backfire.

Estey is endorsed by DeBell. DeBell, IMO, has been destructive for SPS and therefore anyone endorsed by him is a non-starter for me. Also, Estey has very little experience in SPS - I think her older child is in quite a young grade. I don't see someone who really gets the issues, and I don't want someone who's going to be an Ed Reformer puppet with others pulling the strings on the board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have heard Estey state what I might call her "rainmaker" credentials before due to her many contacts throughout the state.

This is an interesting tack to take because (1) I have never heard any previous candidate say "I can bring money into the district, and (2) it is unusual for any board member to act on their own to find money for the district. And, as Anonymous says, that's a very big "might."

Anonymous said...

Oops - sorry - I didn't mean to be anonymous; just forgot to post my usual alias.

-flibbertigibbet

word said...

Agreed flibber.....

Also, "bringing more money into the district" can involve scoring deals with publishers for poor curriculum (Everyday Math anyone?).

Anonymous said...

For those who don't think private money can do good things in a district, note the opening of the new building for Aviation High School in Tukwila:

Funding sources: State (9 percent); Port of Seattle (23%); Highline Public Schools (32%); federal (1%); private individuals and foundations (35%).

Major corporate donors: Boeing Company, Raisbeck Engineering, Alaska Airlines.

And the Boeing grant that allowed the 7th grade HIMS physical science teacher to create a new curriculum (along with other HS science teachers).

LH

word said...

BTW, my daughter is in the 7th grade physics class mentioned above and she is finding it to be great!

I think the lesson there is that when TEACHERS can develop their own curriculum (as opposed to having curricula thrust on them by the district, the Gates Foundation and/or the profiteering publishers), great things can happen. I think the key to success is when the private grants enable talented teachers to do what they do best.

Lynn said...

There is no need to be a board member to encourage and coordinate investment by private entities in public schools. Those are two separate (and full-time) jobs.

Anonymous said...

We will be touring Aviation High this Saturday, in Highline School District with our 8th grade HIMS APP student. There is a community open house from 11-2 on 10/26. Would love to see other APP families there.

http://www.highlineschools.org//site/Default.aspx?PageID=53

-Still deciding

Anonymous said...

To Still deciding:
Do you think your student would be appropriately challenged at the Aviation HS after being in the APP program at HIMS? Do they offer the right math, LA/SS and science course for the freshmen?
And would you need to move to Tukwila in order to enroll to the school?
- Curious

Anonymous said...

Still Deciding,

Thanks for the info re: the open house! I, too, am considering it for my 8th grade WMS APP student. The profile in the Times sounded like something he would be interested in. I also share Curious' concerns re rigor.

Guess I will hear more on Saturday.

-- need a HS

Anonymous said...

Curious and Need a HS:

Like you, I will find out more on Saturday. However, I do know at least one APP student who has gone there, and I will try to seek them out. I hear wonderful things about the program. I too am curious about the rigor, but I imagine it must be fairly strong to be a true STEM program. If you care about rankings like US News and World report, it gets higher rankings than GHS and IHS. I will find out specifics about math offerings and how they would track with what we've had. And no, we wouldn't move. We'd apply as out of district. I understand 20% of the school is from Seattle. So the big downside is we'd be looking at 2 years of carpooling and long Metro bus rides, before he can drive himself. But as my son has a strong interest in science and engineering, this might be a good fit for us. It is much smaller than GHS and more math/science oriented than IHS. He might benefit from the smaller size and individual focus (which I think he'd lack at GHS; he is not a hugely self-motivated student). Big question is the challenge - but if he was top of his class here, rather than middle of the pack in SPS, that might be good for him too from a confidence standpoint. Will report back, but please spread the word!

Still deciding

Anonymous said...

Thank you Still deciding.
We can't make it on this Saturday for the Open House so would really appreciate your reporting back after.
Thank you so much. And will spread the word about it.
- Curious

Anonymous said...

A reminder that the APP Advisory Committee will sponsor a community meeting:
Thursday, October 24

Washington Middle School (Lunchroom)

2101 S Jackson St

6:30-8:30 pm

This meeting will provide:

information about the District's proposed changes to enrollment, boundary and school assignment changes
dedicated time for you to make comments, ask questions, and offer feedback
a forum for the APP community to respectfully hear from each other!
The APP AC will collect all of the comments and convey them to District officials and Board members.

We particularly encourage families with middle and high school students to attend and share their experience with the community as a whole.
Email your school rep below with any questions you'd like addressed. If you cannot attend, please email the APP AC with your feedback about the plan.

See you there! APP AC


Shannon A

WS said...

Can you start a new thread about the above mentioned meeting, for those unable to attend tonight?

Anonymous said...

It was just a rehash of all the issues the program is having. Questions but very few answers. I did find out what a " design team" does, but that's about it. I was surprised by the low turnout.

Jen C

Anonymous said...

I was not able to attend the meeting, so I guess my big question is will the issues be solved by preventing more splits? Let's suppose splits are averted for next year. Then what? What happens the year after next? Does HIMS APP then have a nomad existence, or just get split anyway, but with less say in the matter? What about West Seattle?

Would you be willing to summarize the issues here, as appropriate?

ben said...

I was there a bit late but heard the majority of the meeting. I haven't seen the APP AC committee members before and for the most part I was impressed. However, they are not privy to any information that is not already public. So this was more of a discussion of the already out there plans with people discussing the pro/cons. Director Mclaren was in attendance. The meeting was fairly heavily weighed towards the TM/Washington (nearly a third to a half of which were from West Seattle based on a show of hands) As you might expect most of the time was spent on their questions around the south end pathways and the West Seattle options in particular.

The crux of the issue is whether the West Seattle pathway will be viable and attract new families in who are not currently in APP due to the logistical burden vs. its impacts on the cohorts who stay in TM/Washington.

There were also some general points made about preserving viable cohorts and not diluting the rigor of the program.

FWIW: I'd love to see the committee step up like this again and drive advocacy for the entire program. Multiple meetings in different geo-zones would help a bit or perhaps more actively communicating with the parent community.

Ben




Anonymous said...

I was also at the APP meeting last night.

Dr. Steve Martin, interim head of advanced learning, was there. He said his office only has 4 staff and is primarily focused on identifying kids who are eligible for advanced learning programs. His office doesn’t have the resources to provide support to the advanced learning programs themselves (e.g. providing professional development for teachers working with gifted kids; maintaining consistency in the curriculum and workload expectations between different advanced learning programs).

This lack of support from the Advanced Learning Office makes me very nervous about the proposed continued splits to the APP program – since it doesn’t seem like the District will provide any support. Instead it seems like it will be left to the principal at whatever schools APP happens to land. And some principals are supportive of APP while others are not.

I was also surprised to learn at the meeting last night that the design team for JAMS has already been put together but it doesn’t include any APP parents or reps. I may be reading too much into this but it doesn’t send a signal that JAMS wants APP at its school.

One parent pointed out the inconsistency between recommending a single elementary school location for north APP – but then having 3 locations for south APP (Thurgood Marshall/Washington; Fairmount Park/Madison; and Wing Luke/Aki Kurose). There’s concern that there won’t be viable cohorts if south APP is spread across 3 different elementary and middle schools. Some people speculated that the reason for the south-end split was to try and increase diversity in APP and to draw more kids from South Seattle into APP. People then commented that they didn’t think this strategy would work to increase diversity in APP and that people are drawn to APP because it meets their kids’ needs – not because of its location. And they were concerned that the cohorts would be too small if south APP was split across 3 buildings.

It sounds like the next version of the boundary plans may come out end of the day on Fri. Nov. 1.

Catherine

LN said...

The stand-alone in the north end and several locations in the south is an issue that needs to be rectified, I think. I have a kid at Lincoln and a kid in our neighborhood school (who will remain there). I would be OK with more elementary locations to serve the younger kids closer to home, but fewer middle school locations. I like the idea of various high school options. I don't mean all APP, but some IB high schools, some high schools with really robust AP classes, some high schools with STEM, STEAM, E-STEM focus.

If we had 5, for example, elementary APP locations, you could serve the NE, NW, central, SE and SW populations. Yes, some co-horts might be tiny, but they get bigger as the kids get older.

Then, we could move to 3 middle school locations serving truly north of the ship canal, central (including QA and Mag) and South of I-90 (somewhere near the Georgetown area would be ideal).

SPS can make this more equitable location-wise, but they really can't do anything about the co-hort size. We did, however, send our kid from the furthest NW part of Seattle to Lowell when APP was there. To counter my above thoughts, that's not too much worse than West Seattle going to TM.

Having almost completed elementary school, I can't argue with a straight face that the elementary kids really need that big of a co-hort. The earlier grades would be fine with one classroom. By the end of elementary, there would most likely be 2-3 classrooms. How is that any different than my neighborhood kid's school that only has 2 classes per grade all the way through?

ben said...

@Catherine.

You probably are reading more into the composition of the JAMS design team than has occurred. After all, this group was spun at the end of last year and the proposal to have APP in the building is less than 1 month old, not approved and very subject to change prior to that point. I don't think it would be even reasonable to try to do much planning when the next iteration of proposals from the staff might move the location. Who'd even want to volunteer their time yet?

Ben

Anonymous said...

I think the equity issue of a single North end elementary vs 3 south end options is offset somewhat by the single South End middle school whereas North End APP would divide into 2 or is it 3 locations for Middle School?

The biggest news I heard was that the various working groups in play on APP delivery etc are very likely to suggest significant reshaping of the program delivery method, identification and new methods for developing south end (read diverse) cohorts.

This may be the real news. Not which school our kids are parked in for which years.

I was surprised by the low turnout.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous by Shannon at 4.:16

apparent said...

Where will the Seattle School Board directors vote to put APP (North) middle school students in 2014? Superintendent Banda has put APP (North) MS on the chopping block: Will the Seattle School Board directors approve his current staff recommendation to split that cohort into 3 pathways beginning in Fall 2014?

There is certainly no obvious justification for splitting APP (North) MS now based on inflated enrollment predictions, and without even waiting for the pending advanced learning task force recommendations on identification and delivery model.

What viable alternatives to such an APP (North) MS split remain available?

1. Reopen 952-seat John Marshall Middle School as a fully comprehensive middle school with APP (North) MS intact, together with some right-sized option program (e.g. Pinehurst K-8) – a viable interim and a viable permanent option.

2. Annex some portion of the new Lincoln High School to Hamilton Middle School, to be developed for APP (North) MS and such other uses as space/logistics require – recently proposed but not widely discussed, so interim viability and/or permanent viability of this option are still unclear.

3. Triple the seats dedicated to APP (North) MS in the new Wilson-Pacific Middle School, which will share the same campus as the all-APP (North) ES in the new WP Elementary School – not a viable interim option, from 2017 a viable permanent option but does not currently seem under serious consideration.

Each of the above options is superior to the Growth Boundaries Plan Version 2 proposal to split APP (North) MS beginning 2014-15. Is there any viable building in north Seattle that could keep this cohort together other than those listed above?

If you want to avert the north Seattle middle school APP split, you must email each director right now expressing your strong desire to keep this cohort intact, because the finalized Version 3 of the Growth Boundaries Plan may be finalized by November 1, will be introduced for action on November 6, and the plan will be approved by the Directors at their November 20 board meeting.

apparent said...

Here is a valuable report on what the School Board Directors are saying about APP, from an alert parent who attended their most recent board work session or community meetings:

Board Work Session, as described by Joanna posting on 10/18:
“APP – the discussion centered on the delivery model – one vs two vs three. And I don't have time to write more at the moment. Stand alone or not for elementary is a question, and only Sharon [Peaslee] voiced strong opposition to an elementary stand alone. General agreement that stand alone was not good for secondary. General agreement that the District needs a plan for APP before determining locations.”

“As I said they went through the Meany and TT Minor pieces quickly and spent quite a lot of time on Pinehurst and to some degree APP. Sharon [Peaslee] was the only one to express a definite opposition to the stand alone elementary APP. That is not to say the others supported it. The discussion ended with the fact that they have to come up with an actual recommendation for APP with the task force – that is the plan, the best plan. Staff obviously favors non-stand alone at all levels if possible. I had the impression that the staff also favored at least two sites if possible, but no decision was made. I guess the staff is suppose[d] to work on it with the task force.” [Note: but the Board will approve the Growth Boundaries Plan in its November 20 vote, before either advanced learning task force will make recommendations!]

“Middle School Roll Ups – all seemed to agree that ensuring enough students for Jane Adams MS is important. At least there was no opposition. APP middle school roll up with a 6th grade academy seem to be getting squashed. Even from testimony on Wednesday and from sitting in on other meetings, I am not surprised. Generally the staff seems to support the idea of just moving all students in the corresponding assignment area to a new middle school when it is ready. That is all the students assigned to that attendance area would simple move as a group to the new school – no grandfathering; thus assuring all middle school students a full middle school experience.”

“General agreement that Wilson Pacific will not have high school on it. It is costly when the District owns Lincoln if it is needed. Kay [Smith-Blum] mentioned that when opening Lincoln, do not open with the idea that you will assign students south of the ship canal to it.”

“Sharon Peaslee was a strong advocate for Pinehurst and thinking about it sharing space with Thornton Creek. There is still confusion over whether Thornton Creek will get transportation in the future to Salmon Bay. Betty [Patu] and Marty [McLaren] expressed support for finding a home for Pinehurst. Harium [Martin-Morris] expressed strong doubt about the idea of Pinehurst sharing space with Thornton Creek.”

apparent said...

Here is a valuable report on what the School Board Directors are saying about APP, from an alert parent who attended their most recent board work session or community meetings:

Board Work Session, as described by Pam posting on 10/18:
“I was at the meeting and I was very impressed with Director Patu's heartfelt comments regarding Pinehurst and the school district's intention of closing this school. Both she and Director McLaren spoke in favor of honoring what is in the best interest for these children, rather than what might be easier for the budget. I think she even said something like, ‘We are talking about children. Children who are thriving at this school, children who obviously need this school to thrive.’ It was so nice to hear such a kind and humane statement. I don't even know where Pinehurst school is, but we so often complain about the what the directors are doing, I thought it might be nice to point out that Patu and McLaren were advocating for this community from their hearts. They might not always make decisions or recommendations that we agree with or understand, but these two women have compassion.”

apparent said...

Here is a valuable report on what the School Board Directors are saying about APP, from an alert parent who attended their most recent board work session or community meetings:

Director Martin-Morris Community Meeting 10/19, as described by “in attendance” posting on 10/19
“Interim plans for APP did come up at the meeting, and Harium [Martin-Morris] said he is opposed to putting half of APP MS in with JAMS. He is recommending the ‘Lincoln Annex’ temporary solution. Essentially, annex a portion of Lincoln and then let Lincoln/HIMS decide how they want to serve APP between those two buildings.”

“A member of FACMAC [Melissa Westbrook?] was in attendance, and was asked about the proposal floating around the blogs recently about moving all of APP MS to John Marshall next year, but this particular FACMAC member said it wasn't feasible. No additional details on that, but this person is a facilities wonk and has a very good handle on the numbers and assumptions.”

“One thing to note, and this did come up at the meeting: many people in JAK8 are there because it's close to home and it's shaping up to be a good school, not particularly because of the K-8 configuration or the curricular focus. Many of these families will stay at JA as the building transitions from JAK8 to JAMS, and I'm not sure if or how this is being modeled in the district plans (let alone the parent-proposals). Harium [Martin-Morris] is aware of this, and I think it's part of the reason he doesn't want to try to stuff half of APP north in that [Jane Addams MS] building right now. That, and the fact that the new committee dedicated to revising the AL identification process has only just now started meeting and won't even have any recommendations until after the new boundaries and interim plans are voted on. Splitting APP in any kind of configuration right now is a very, very bad idea.”

apparent said...

Here is a valuable report on what the School Board Directors are saying about APP, from an alert parent who attended their most recent board work session or community meetings:

Director Martin-Morris Community Meeting 10/19, as described by Melissa Westbrook posting on 10/19
“The biggest takeaway was that Harium [Martin-Morris] said at the [October 17] Work Session that he did not believe that a single director supports roll-ups. That was the message they were hearing and I believe that they will say no to this idea to staff. My impression is that JAMS will start as a 3-grade middle school.”

“Harium [Martin-Morris] said there will be a ‘version 3' of the boundary plan and the district wants community comments to make it the best and final one. He said he welcomes comments individually but hopes everyone sends/cc's them to the boundaries e-mail so that they can be tallying all the requests.”

“I [Melissa Westbrook] also advocated for Lincoln to be the home for APP North elementary [note, ES not MS] (and maybe Pinehurst) and that Wilson-Pacific be a middle and high school. Harium [Martin-Morris] said he had thought about this and that it was the MONEY that is the problem.”

“There seems to be this growing call for Hamilton’s APP [MS] to annex to Lincoln. I [Melissa Westbrook] would defer to what that community believes is best for them but it seems like those students have to sacrifice a comprehensive middle school experience and no one else is being asked to do that.”

apparent said...

Here is a valuable report on what the School Board Directors are saying about APP, from an alert parent who attended their most recent board work session or community meetings:

Director DeBell Community Meeting 10/19, as described by Anonymous posting on 10/20
“DeBell does not support 6th grade roll-ups, instead favoring creation of comprehensive middle schools. The catch, I think, is current assignment rules that explicitly allow students to remain at a school once assigned there. To implement a comprehensive middle school in a single year, the district will have to revise these rules. This could be done for the Wils-Pac middle school [and reopened John Marshall Middle School”?], that is, at the time of assignment students could be informed that they will be moved when the WP middle school [and reopened JM Middle School?] is created.”

“There was an interesting discussion of APP, and acknowledgement that some are against APP feeling it exacerbates equity problems. . . . Regarding APP stand-alone. The message I got is that the cohort is too small to create a stand-alone north Seattle middle school. But if this is the case, it seems it is also too small to divide into separate cohorts. There remains a strong case to keep APP together in middle school (Lincoln?) [or Wilson-Pacific, or reopened John Marshall Middle School?] for the next few years as the program changes. This would enable the district to get better information to better place the program, including how many GenEd and APP students will end up at various middle schools under the new growth boundaries and after implementing APP qualification changes recommended by working groups.”

Anonymous said...

John Marshall should not be used for a permanent location. We know it's an alternative you favor, apparent, but it's just not healthy for kids or staff.

Anonymous said...

I was also at the APP Community meeting this week:

1) One parent remarked that it doesn't make sense to open new APP locations farther south since all the identified APP students in the south already attend Thurgood Marshall. If you open a new elementary with just a few APP students, there is no cohort and the district won't give them their own classes with 5-15 students in them. Voila - no APP at all.

2) Regarding opening new APP programs and moving parts of the APP cohort into other schools such as JAMS - it only works with staff and administration support for the concept of APP. I've been in a number of places where staff and administration don't like separate APP classes and that's not fair to anybody. At Hamilton, as some parents remarked, it took a number of years and much staff turnover before the APP community was accepted (and not resented) there. There's been quite a few JAMS community members saying they don't want APP in their school since it will crowd out the neighborhood kids.

Momof2

dw said...

Momof2,

You got it kind of right. But at Hamilton I don't think all the APP teachers would agree that they are "accepted" yet. I think a more accurate word would be "tolerated".

Even the new HIMS principal, who many parents had high hopes for, is apparently of the mindset that any teacher can teach any kids, mixing teachers between APP and GenEd. The previous principal did this as well. Of course there are times when scheduling makes that impossible to avoid, but word is that she is doing at least some of it on purpose, philosophically (though I would like to hear some corroboration of this).

This is why Washington State NEEDS a gifted teaching endorsement. Everyone needs to lobby our legislators to support this, as many other states already provide this. There is no other practical way to avoid damaged philosophies.

This is now the 5th year of APP in the Hamilton building, and it's still barely tolerated by many. For that matter, it caused angst amongst staff and families back at Washington middle school when it was the entire city-wide middle school for APP. Splitting again is a terrible idea, for so many reasons, whether MS north or ES south.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there discussion last year, probably during BEX talks, to the effect the John Marshall school cannot be used as a permanent location, due to some sort of new requirements or restrictions that have been enacted since it was mothballed? I seem to recall that the district was able to get around it by using it as an interim site, but that reinstating it as a permanent school likely couldn't happen. Anyone remember that?

HIMSmom

Lynn said...

Momof2,

Yes - I've noticed that JAMS doesn't want APP, Eckstein doesn't want APP, Hamilton wants more room for language immersion. All of north end APP should move to WP when it opens - everyone would be happier. Why isn't the district discussing an annex at Lincoln? And why aren't they coming up with more reasonable projections for middle school APP in the north end?

Anonymous said...

I understand and agree with the idea that APP middle splits in the north end are not good. However, why does it seem pushing for WP is a good idea? Isn't that jsut kicking the can down the road? Capacity is needed for gened in the NW, too, despite a seemingly disproportionate focus on the NE. And when folks talk about an annex at Lincoln for HIMS, do they mean that APP should go there or like a grade at HIMS or what? I know that there are no magical fixes at this point, but a Lincoln annex sounds kind of like a 6th grade roll up to me -- isolating and not comprehensive.
hmmm...

Anonymous said...

@1:18

At least in a Lincoln annex, those kids (whether they turn out to be 6th, APP, Lang Imm. whomever...) could do sports, afterschool activities, ski bus, team read volunteering, and all the other things Hamilton kids do. The south east of Lincoln, which is closest to Hamilton includes the band and orchestra rooms, as well as several classrooms. It would be better for HIMS to overflow and sit tight until WP is open rather than throwing the whole north end into upheaval.

open ears

Lynn said...

I think the idea would be to give the principal at Hamilton access to however many rooms at Lincoln are needed and let her figure out how to use them. Maybe all 8th grade APP LA or Social Studies classes would be held there?
The NW would get relief when WP opens and APP moves out of Hamilton - one or more elementary schools would be redirected from Whitman to Hamilton. In the interim, JAMS and Eckstein would not be full. Some Whitman students could take open seats in those schools.
I'm just thinking it through - I don't know the north end that well.

Anonymous said...

I can't wrap my head around the logistics of an annex at Lincoln. Students only have 5 min for passing. A blocked class only allows for 5 extra minutes, total. The school day is not going to change, so how does it work without losing class time (or homeroom time, which is used for making up work, meeting with teachers, etc.)? The state considers a 50 min class an "instructional hour" to allow for passing and block schedules. You can't have shorter classes and you need start and end times consistent with other schools for transportation purposes.

Lynn said...

I'd think you could change the school day temporarily if necessary. Some school districts double-shift their schools to respond to capacity problems. This wouldn't be nearly as big a change.

Anonymous said...

First class or last class, too, could be fine. Or the classes around lunch, which at that point is most of them, right?

Anonymous said...

As far as room in the nw, I am often surprised (happily) at how small class sizes are at our neighborhood school. I have one in app, but my other is in gen ed and a class of 17. This is great for us, but begs the question; why are there so many seats open when capacity is rising? We are lucky, ut realistically we could take another 50 or 60 kids. Anyone else have this at their scho? We love it, but why are we so lucky?

Jen C

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant while enrollment is increasing and we are facing capacity issues.

Jen C

Anonymous said...

Follow up on Raisbeck Aviation open house. Very, very impressive. However, this was just the open house to show off the new building. The in-depth curriculum tours for new applicants are 11/7 and 12/5. However, we had tours by a few students all of whom were incredibly articulate. We also got the scoop on math offerings, and I have no doubt that my APP kid would be challenged. Math to BC Calculus and beyond, plus electives in Applied Mathematics that really looked at exciting and practical uses. Unbelievable programming options. Amazing facilities, including a full wind tunnel and machine shop. Robotics team is first NW school team going to nationals. All students get a computer. Some cons: 2/3 boys, 1/3 girls right now, but the girls we met said they love it and social dynamics are good. Also, more applicants every year. Sports: only ultimate frisbee right now. We didn't even ask about music, but I'm guessing that is a con. We'll be at the full tours to find out more about the English/LA offerings, but it was our understanding that they all have an aviation/aerospace bent. Regardless, we saw enough that we're putting in an application. They are available 11/1. I'm guessing it will be a hot ticket, as they have a fancy new building and are getting rave reviews on US News and World Report rankings. Actually, I guess I should say that it was just awful and no one should apply except my son. :)

-still deciding (but getting closer!)

Anonymous said...

Also following up on the Raisbeck open house. We were very impressed with what we saw. My kiddo was very excited about the prospect of going there. We also plan to apply.

In additon to the cons mentioned above, I would add there are no art classes, no music, no PE, and no languages other than Spanish and Japanese. Even with that long list of cons, I would still pick it for him over any of the other high school options out there. It definitely wouldn't be a great choice for everyone. (I have a current grade 9 student, who wasn't impressed with it and wouldn't want to ever go there.)

--need a high school (but, think we found one!)

Lynn said...

I've been thinking about the letter the Seattle Council PTSA send to the School Board and the Superintendent. There's a Special Ed PTSA. Maybe there should be an Advanced Learning PTSA (or PTO). If the advanced learning office really just manages the testing process, there is a lot of work that isn't getting done. APP parents already contribute a lot of financial resources to their children's schools. Maybe we'd get more value for them if we pooled them and prioritized them as a group.

An APP PTO could:
Form a group to research and recommend an APP curriculum.
Recommend (and possibly provide) continuing education for APP staff.
Participate in the hiring team for principals for schools that house APP.
Advocate directly with the board and superintendent as needed.

The APPAC is offering guidance to the AL taskforces now - but they were set up to mange communication between the district and parents. An APP PTO could set their own agenda, fundraise and apply those funds to things we currently can't influence.

What do you think?

dw said...

Lynn, you mentioned two very different things in the same comment and I'm not sure if you intended to conflate them.

1) Advanced Learning PTO
2) APP PTO

I tend to think the former would be ideal, if possible, because the biggest problems with advanced learning in Seattle are system-wide.

That said, it has proven to be very difficult to keep enough Spectrum/ALO families engaged in a meaningful way over the long term. In contrast, for whatever reasons, many APP families have proven to be fully engaged in their childrens' educations year after year. No surprise, really, but it's important to remember in light of this kind of suggestion.

Some of this is certainly related to the constant pressures the program is under, but there's also just the underlying level of need. The more your kids truly need special services, the more you're going to fight for them, whether it's SpEd, ELL, whatever. The difference is that APP families, in general, either have the means or have made significant sacrifices to have the time available to do so. They are also a very well-educated group, and have the ability to make very strong and compelling arguments. If any of these pieces are lessened or missing, those groups will have a harder time advocating (or even fully understanding their kids' needs).

I also think that the general crappy attitude in Seattle towards advanced learning in general would provide a constant pressure on an APP PTO. You know, the "If I can't have it then no one should have it, even if it's a net gain to everyone" attitude.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, dw. I would argue that is has more to do with the nature of the programs, not the nature of the parents, that has made it difficult for Spectrum/ALO families to stay "engaged". These programs are not focused, not defined, not supported, not concentrated in a single school, and not considered as special or as necessary as APP (as evidenced by your comment).

One problem is that there are many, many north-end kids who have Spectrum labels. Many don't need anything different than what is happening in their local school, nor do they get anything different, because it's a meaningless label as it stands. Easy to get, easy to ignore, everyone is happy. So why have it? But just because it's a common label, doesn't mean that what it is supposed to provide is not sorely needed by some. The parent community is just very diluted.

Lynn said...

dw,

I did mean an APP PTO - I see that I made a mistake there.

I think that we face that negative attitude all the time now. And we aren't getting the curriculum we were promised. I do think that APP students' needs are further from the needs of general education students and should be addressed seperately. Mostly I'm realizing these are things the district is never going to do. Why shouldn't we do it ourselves? Because you're correct - APP parents as a group do have the resources to fix these problems.

Isn't the district providing an appropriate (and different) curriculum to STEM schools?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback on aviation HS. It's been on our radar for sometime now.The competition to get in is going to intensify, especially with the new building. We'll tour, but the selection process is competitive and that's something frankly my child just isn't used to. Might be good to shake up that complacent attitude a bit. It's worth a shot and will still have IBX to fall back on:)

Anonymous said...

Some of the spectrum parent reps on the AL task force opposed self contained classrooms due to segregation issue and felt the social cost of such labeling was damaging to children. Now their children are in APP. All very weird given the emotional feelings against self contained spectrum at the time.

Anonymous said...

Jen C,

Beware of small classes and small schools. They are targets for closure. Sad but true. Look at what is happening to Pinehurst.

Long time observer

apparent said...

“Look at what is happening to Pinehurst.” Long Time Observer

Also because of possible competition for “interim” space in the potential Ham/Lin Annex in the South Wing of Lincoln High School (but what about longer term?).

Superintendent Banda’s recommended 3-way split of APP (North) MS beginning in Fall 2014 can also be averted by moving that cohort intact to a reopened John Marshall Middle School on either an interim or permanent basis. Far from competing for space, 952-seat John Marshall MS (852 seats for K-8) is roughly the same size as Hamilton MS and Jane Addams MS, large enough to provide either a temporary or permanent home for *both* APP (North) MS (549 students at Hamilton 2013-14, draft Growth Boundaries Plan Version 2, Slide 18) together with Pinehurst K-8 (156 students 2013-14, draft plan Version 2, Slide 27), and with lots of room to spare for a third SPS option program.

Here are the relevant extracts a few days ago from Superintendent Banda’s October 24 letter to the Pinehurst K-8 community:

“I recommend that the [Pinehurst K-8] program be closed, unless the south wing of the Lincoln building becomes available [for interim use 2014-16] and an option can be worked out as a result of the meeting with the Thornton Creek community, to allow the Pinehurst program to exist within the Thornton Creek program, without excessive administrative and operational costs [in the vacated Decatur building permanently from 2016]. A supplemental report will be provided after the [Thornton Creek] community meeting.”

“With the passage of the BEX IV Levy . . . , the [Pinehurst K-8] building will be demolished in summer 2014, and a new building constructed as the future home of the Jane Addams K-8 program. As a result, a decision must be made to either move the Pinehurst K-8 program or close it.”

“The only permanent location identified for the [Pinehurst K-8] program is at the Decatur building, beginning in 2016.” [Superintendent Banda, why not John Marshall Middle School, beginning in 2014?]

“The only interim location definitely available for 2014-16 is the Van Asselt building, but this is nearly fifteen miles from Pinehurst. Because the [Pinehurst K-8] program is extremely localized (just 12% of the students live outside the northeast/north areas of the city), it is likely such an interim location [Van Asselt] for even two years would have a significant negative impact on the [Pinehurst K-8] program.” [Superintendent Banda, why not John Marshall Middle School, beginning in 2014?]

“Various forms of mergers with the Thornton Creek program [which will move into new ES building on Decatur site] have been explored. All options which utilize a middle school program are either too costly, or are not consistent with the existing Thornton Creek program. Locating the Pinehurst program within the Decatur building [which will be vacated by Thornton Creek ES] but without its own administrative staff is perhaps an option, but would likely still require added administrative staff, such as a head teacher or assistant principal, given the 660 student enrollment already planned for the site. A meeting will be scheduled with the Thornton Creek community to discuss options, to take place prior to November 20.”

“My final recommendation to the Board [i.e., to close Pinehurst K-8] is posted on the Pinehurst web site. No decision has been made at this time: the School Board will have the final decision authority. My final recommendation to the School Board will be introduced at the Wednesday, Nov. 6 Board meeting and the School Board’s decision on the final recommendation [i.e., to close Pinehurst K-8] is scheduled to take place at the Nov. 20 Board meeting.”

apparent said...

Despite Superintendent Banda’s above recommendation, readers should be very aware that Pinehurst K-8's cause is far from lost, since in recent days 3/7 SPS board directors (Peaslee, Patu, McLaren) have all publicly expressed their desire to keep the program alive if suitable interim and permanent locations can be found; so even now that school actually needs only a viable plan and just one more vote out of the remaining four directors.

If John Marshall Middle School is any part of that viable plan, it will also be necessary to cohouse Jane Addams K-8 in portables with Jane Addams MS during construction from 2014-16 as originally recommended in Version 1, not taking up John Marshall MS for the exclusive interim use now recommended in Version 2.

Superintendent Banda also notes that Public Hearing # 2 will be held *tonight* at Pinehurst, Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7:00p.m., and that advance signup to testify is not required.

Lynn said...

Could Pinehurst fit into Marshall with JAK-8? Just until Decatur is available. I hope there's a way to save the school - but I also think JAMS needs to start as a 6-8 school next year. Alternatively, could you use portables at JAMS in the interim?

Anonymous said...

LTO,

I hope that is not the case. Our school is North Beach, and it is already up in arms in rezoning issues that would leave us in the attendance area even though we are far closer to Viewlands, and send to loyal height the north beach families who live across the street from the school.

Our daughter qualified for Spectrum but there is nothing there but walk to math. She is 2e so we are hoping with one on one district testing she will test into app this year.

North Beach is a gem of a school. Not the crappy old buildings, though...

Jen C