Rep. Carlyle Supports Northwest Center Kids, Gives Seattle Public Schools An F- in Communication


Thank you for covering this Danielle. It hits very close to home for me, and I appreciate the coverage the Stranger is giving it, and especially this information about shoving aside kids with special needs for something that doesn't even address the issue for more than a couple years!!
The sad thing is NWCC just spent thousands of dollars in grant money in November and then SSD came in and told them they were being evicted. I don't understand why they want to move NWCC. Unless they plan on selling the property to the highest bidder. SSD should understand that moving would cause alot of setbacks for the families and children that go there. Its really hard for some of these kids to deal with change in their lives this could really set them back. Shame on you Seattle School District.
My son goes to NWC, and his best friend's parents were just forced to accept a spot at another school. It's sad how SPS and Superintendent Banda's staunch refusal to sit down and talk about alternatives with NWC, Rep. Carlyle and the city (who have been very open and willing to talk about possible solutions) is already starting to tear this community apart. I don't understand the lack of transparency in the SPS, nor their refusal to accept outside help or ideas.
"Does Seattle Public Schools have a longterm plan or have any idea how to manage their demographics? "

As a long-time public education activist and blogger, the answer is no. It is has always been no. The district cannot see further than a foot in front of them.

Why is a good question. One, they don't have a demographer on staff and can't seem to fill the position. Two, the last demographer missed the signs that the district was growing and they had to hire an outside consultant to explain what was happening (before their very eyes). Three, they are just not engineering to think long-term with so many short-term issues in front of them.

However, most times, as in this case, they knew this was coming and did nothing. And now they are reaping what they are sowing (and having the Seattle delegation unhappy with you is not good).

To be fair to SPS, they are faced with a sort of musical-schools problem: more kids than they have space for. So it's impossible to please everybody.

To be accurate to SPS, it's their own damn fault. There is, quite literally, no demographer on the staff at SPS. None. How they estimate future enrollments, then, is a mystery: maybe they're reading tea leaves, or throwing the I Ching, or something - but if so, they're doing even THAT badly. Remember all the hollering about closing schools a few years back, because enrollment was declining? They were told at the time, this is stupid, but of course they are district administrative staff and They Know What They're Doing. Not so much, it turns out.

So yeah. More kids than they planned on, and they're scrambling to deal with a big bulge in middle-school populations -- and, get this, they haven't really thought about what will happen in a couple of years, because those kids don't just disappear, they go to HIGH SCHOOL, and our high schools are already running at or above capacity, with a couple of minor exceptions, and those will fill up as well in the next year or so. Cue the district suddenly realizing OMG, we NEED MORE ROOM FOR HIGH SCHOOL KIDS in 3, 2, 1.....
More space than they have room for? How many facilities like that massive school in Magnolia are shuttered?
The NWC situation is just another symptom of a far deeper problem within SPS. We should all be considering whether the Banda hire was a good idea. So far he's been completely unable/unwilling to deal with the serious issues that exist in the ranks of SPS administration. There is a tremendous amount of dead weight in the upper echelons down at Stanford Center. The financial scandal and senior staff like Silas Potter Jr. are the tip of the iceberg. The real story is the general malaise and incompetence across all district admin departments from Public Affairs to Teaching & Learning. We need both a superintendent and board that is willing to clean house.

If it weren't for the marginal autonomy that principals enjoy, the whole system would completely collapse on itself. Absolutely appalling for a district of our size in a comparatively wealthy and well-educated city.
@6, hardly any. That's one of the last buildings - that isn't leased - that they have no yet reopened.
The Magnolia school is a beautiful location. Restoration sounds like a great idea.

SPS lacks any kind of long-term thinking because no one is there for the long-term. Check out the senior management. Almost none of them were there two years ago and almost none of the people they replaced were there two years before that. The astonishing turnover discourages long-term planning or thinking.

The District decided, in a crisis, to use the Wilson-Pacific property for a new elementary and middle school. At that time they made no plans for relocating the schools and services at the site, like CPPP. They simply deferred the decision.

Now they have their answer. They chose to dissolve the Indian Heritage program by submerging it into the Middle College at Northgate and shifting CPPP into the Queen Anne site leased to NWC.

You'll notice that they didn't choose to move CPPP to the Webster building leased to the Nordic Heritage Museum. Oh, no, we wouldn't want to disturb that.

They couldn't move it to the Lincoln building; they've already put a couple other programs there. They couldn't move it to the John Marshall building; they plan to make Jane Addams K-8 camp out there. They couldn't move it to the new school they're building on the Thornton Creek property - it's not built yet. They couldn't move it to the old school on the Thornton Creek property - Thornton Creek is still in it. They couldn't move it to the Allen building - they sold that building to the Phinney Neighborhood Association. They couldn't move it to the University Heights building - they sold that building to a neighborhood group as well. They couldn't move it to the Magnolia building - that building is "too remote" and would actually require money to make ready. They couldn't move it to Oak Tree, there's a shopping center built on top of that school district property. And they sure as heck weren't going to lease a space for CPPP (as they do for The Center School) because *gasp* that would cost money.

No, their brilliant solution was to exercise the clause that allows them to terminate the NWC lease with six months' notice.

There is a huge divide between the administration of Seattle Public Schools that operates out of the headquarters building in SoDo and the work that is done in the schools. The schools, by and large, are working well and are staffed by caring, dedicated education professionals working with inadequate resources for inadequate pay to do the actual work of teaching kids. They, for the most part, live up to the District's stated values of openness, honesty, engagement, and accountability. The headquarters, on the other hand, is completely dysfunctional and is staffed by petty bureaucrats with big salaries who spend their efforts in internal political contests and, for the most part, violate the District's stated values (as well as the District's policies and state and federal laws). This disconnect, itself the product of a broken system, provides the schools, staff, students, and community, with protection from the horrible decisions made in headquarters.

The headquarters makes decisions and, since they have no means for enforcing them (or real interest in doing so), those decisions are ignored by the schools, who go on to do what they know is right. For example, the District adopted a disastrous set of math textbooks, but a long list of schools use other books. Only one of those schools has documented district permission to use other books - the others just did it without the District's knowledge. All of the schools - all of them - try to operate under the District's radar. They all wish to escape the District's attention because the District's attention - and the subsequent interference - is always destructive.
The atrocious work done by district administrators and efforts by schools to evade their bureaucrats is the primary legitimate rationale for charter schools.

All charter schools offer - the one and only benefit - is freedom from incompetent district-level administration. At times that seems like a huge value.

The best solution is not to evade the counter-productive district administration but to fix it. We elect school board directors who promise to do that. But within a year or so in office those fire-breathing reformers are co-opted. After about a year in office they switch from representing the public to the District to representing the District to the public. They refuse to enforce policy. They refuse to stand up for their stated values. They refuse to hold the superintendent or staff accountable. And when you ask them why, they will tell you: "I don't want to anger these people; I have to work with them." They come to value their relationships with the staff more than they value their duty.

Reform is possible. Reform is easy. All it requires are school board directors who demand it. If the school board directors do not, however, demand that reform, then charter schools start to look pretty darn good.

I'll say it again because it needs to said: Dysfunctional district level administration like we have in Seattle is the strongest argument there is in support of charter schools. When the schools are better off operating independent of the district level administration then they should operate independent of the district level administration.
If I had been running the 1240 campaign, I would have run against the district administration.

Survey after survey shows approval ratings of 80+% for teachers, schools, and principals, and they show approval ratings of less than 30% for district administrators and school boards. A charter school campaign that promised to free our schools from district administration would have been a winner even in progressive Seattle.
For the press, the district feigns cooperation with Northwest Center. In truth, the district refuses to even talk to Northwest Center representatives or parents. This is a longstanding pattern of Seattle School District (board and staff) with regard to children with disabilities. It's as though they close their eyes and think we will go away. Northwest Center parents and advocates are refusing to go away.
"They refuse to stand up for their stated values"

Charlie Mas is incorrect and out- of line.
Maybe NWC should occupy the building like they did at Mann.
Seriously, again? More misinformation. Cascade PPP needs to be moved to Queen Anne specifically because it is the only long-term option available to them that works. THE ONLY ONE. As a public school working to provide equitable education to its students, this site works long-term so that Cascade can avoid unnecessary and damaging multiple moves. Is Cascade PPP supposed to jump around to different interim sites for 2 years so that Northwest Center doesn't have to? I'm interested to see ... will SPS provide and meet the needs of its own enrolled students ... or will it prioritize a private school with an influential, loud voice? I don't have an issue with how SPS has handled this, but if they choose to lease a site to a private school when the facility is needed by public students, then I'll have an issue.
@ SPSparent1. The principal of PPP indicated in multiple emails to district officials that Cascade will be 500 students within 2 years. This site holds 270 kids. The school district confirmed this to the state legislature, which is why the funding was blocked. This is a bandaid, not a solution.
I think that we have again forgotten that Cascade PPP is like NW Center. Both schools serve an at risk and challenged population. Both Cascade PPP and NW Center have children who are disabled as well as a normal population.

MK1456 This is not my understanding. I did not see this. I will talk to the principal on Tuesday before I spread something that I do not KNOW.