Questions and Answers - NSAP
Q: Jane Addams only has a 3-year commitment as a K-8. There is concern that we won't be able to attract parents in January if they don't believe the program will continue.
A: Dr. Goodloe-Johnson initially seemed confused (even though it was a pretty clear question, maybe she forgot where she was or the circumstances in the new JA creation). Anyway she said there were 3 factors to consider. One, the comprehensive school report. Two, enrollment at JA. Three, we are going into year 2 of the NSAP. Geographic zones are going to be drawn for option schools. There may be a boundary issues for Garfield. Between November and January we should know.
(So the enrollment number analysis plus the geographic zones created should give us the answers to what tweaks may occur for the NSAP. This would be a good time to stay tuned in and not zone out during the holidays.)
Q: Will boundaries for neighborhoods be redrawn?
A: That's always a question mark. "The School Board could redraw the boundaries." It's an option.
I have to point out here that the Board does NOT draw the boundaries. I noticed she did this a couple of times at this meeting, trying to put the Board in the conversation. That's fine but the Board gives direction and policy to the Superintendent who then develops the plan to carry out those things. The Board then approves/tweaks/says start over/abandons the plan and the staff carry out what they voted on. The Board doesn't create any plan or draw any boundaries.
Q: The NE schools are packed - Bryant, Wedgwood, Laurelhurst, Thorton Creek - all over capacity. You added Sand Point to relieve this but the boundaries for it are small. In addition, you put the special programs there and there is going to be more transitional housing nearby. Is it time to talk about Jane Addams becoming an attendance area middle school (or regular K-8) to take the pressure off Eckstein that will come from all these overpacked schools?
A: That could be part of the conversation.
One parent pointed out that between John Rodgers and Sacajawea there are 50 empty seats (but that really doesn't help in the NE but in the North). I'm pretty sure Olympic Hills and Northgate have some as well.
Q: MAP. 10 weeks of the year we lose use of our library plus the librarian time.
A: It's not a district-wide issue but a school by school issue. (Let me pause here to say that if you read this blog and go out into the community, this seems to be a big issue everywhere.)
Then she said this: How can we free up time at school sites? We could see how children do and maybe just do it 2 times a year at some sites or maybe just have specific groups of children take it all 3 times. (This is absolutely what I heard. If someone heard differently, please say so. I was so surprised. What!?!)
Q: I asked if we had a teacher shortage in Seattle?
A: No, not that I'm aware.
Q: So why would we consider bringing Teach for America to SPS if there's no shortage and there is a cost to us (beyond salaries)?
A: We wouldn't have to pay that cost. Another entity/group? would pay for it.
Q: But long-term who would pay/
A: Melissa, I don't know about the future but we have something now. I would be one more way to have a wider access of teachers.
Q: So you would seriously have a just-out-of-college grad with 5 weeks training and no experience teach a middle school special-ed class?
A: I don't understand your question. (I thought it was pretty clear myself.) I think that the training TFA teachers get is better than some our teachers get. (Again, yes, this is what I wrote down that she said.) These teachers are just the same as all the other teachers. (And that's why you have to write an MOU with TFA and the SEA. This from Michael DeBell; they are bringing in 25 teachers which seems like a lot for a program like this.)
Another parent commented that TFA had a good longitudinal study about its work and I pointed out there had been many studies of TFA, with many differing answers about it.
Q: How to make Sand Point more of a draw?
A: She said that the first year was a time for the SP parent community to talk about what they want for the school. (One, both McDonald and SP communities DID talk about what they wanted before the schools started. If the district had put anything in place, I know both schools would have better numbers. Two, I just don't believe that what the parents want for their school is what they are going to see. I can't think of the last time a program got placed somewhere because a community asked for it.)
One parent pointed out that she could see the benefit of something like Teach for America. She said she was a pre-school teacher but that it was very expensive to get her teaching certificate and that hands-on teaching is valid as well as having a certificate. "It brings a richness to our school." Again, we need another thread on TFA but I will say that no TFA teacher comes into a school with hands-on experience. TFA gives them on-the-job training when they are placed into a classroom. It would not be my first pick (and if I had my special ed child in a class like that, we would have gone private).