Sunday, November 1, 2009

New School - SPS' psuedo charter school

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Below find a sequence of comments about the New School copied out of a blog.

State law does not permit charter schools; nevertheless, there does exist within SPS a fairly recently established school that resembes a charter school in a number of ways. I refer to this school as a 'psuedo'- charter school.

This school is known as The New School, or "South Shore." It is located in Rainier Valley. It does not have the freedom from regulations district and state regulations that charter schools do have, but in these ways the school resembles a charter school:

  • it has enrollment-by-lottery system
  • it is situated in a part of the city that has higher poverty and higher than average percentage minority school-age children
  • it has a small class sizes and a rich, progressive curriculum
  • it has taken over space from an already-established program (though not all charter schools do this--but non-charter schools do NOT do this); it is now trying to take over the whole bldg--but the original program is fighting to stay (SouthShore high school re-entry program).
  • it receives significant foundation support, as is typical of charter schools that have rich progressive curriculum and small class sizes
What is somewhat unusual is that the program starts at pre-K. I met an African-American parent of a displaced T.T. Minor child who said she has heard good things about the program. So it is quite an attractive school, from what I understand. I suppose for most parents who tour, the progressive curriculum adds to its attractiveness. I bet it has atypically small class sizes, too.

This school is interesting to me because of the dual standard it reveals in the District's priorities.  The New School enjoys clear and significant support from the School District. (Rumor has it that the Superintendent's daughter attends preschool at the New School.) Alternative schools, on the other hand, are being phased out. (See "Alternative schools instead of charter schools" on the Charter schools page.)  To compare the New School with Alternative schools is appropriate, because like Alternative schools, the New School has a progressive, hands-on curriculum (the PreK-G1 curriculum is called High/Scope--external link). 

This next set of comments I copied out of the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog (, and then re-organized for clarity.

10/31/09 11:41 adhoc said... My son graduated from Bryant last year.

He had 30 kids in his 3rd grade class, 31 in his 4th grade class, and 30 in his 5th grade class.

Even at 30/31 the classes are huge. The kids can't walk up and down the aisles in the classroom, and had to turn sideways in some areas. They had to share cubby's. Had 3 lunch shifts. Lost the science lab to form another classroom. New School.......

adhoc said... From the report: "Grant-supported for at least the next 6 years by the New School Foundation. These additional dollars support Pre-K, small class sizes,instructional assistants and staff training"
What's the point? Is this foundation trying to prove that if every school has a bunch of outside donors and can get the supt or other political figures to enroll their kids that the school will work and/or be protected from the idiocy of the central district decision making?

adhoc said... So, what happens to New School if the grant isn't extended? How do they fund all of the "extras" without the private dollars? Do they all just go away, and New School becomes just like every other public school? And are parents who enroll aware that this could happen?

SolvayGirl1972 said... [commenting on preceding comment] Isn't that pretty much what happened when the money ran out at TT Minor—another Sloan-funded school?  [See internal link - scroll down to "Case Study: T.T. Minor"

Here is the link to the report: [external link to pdf file]

 uxolo said... [commenting on the scheduled end of the grant support]

uxolo said... The New School history is not very pretty. Olchefske let them establish before going to the Board for a Memorandum of Understanding was ever presented. I would not trust the district website regarding the funding cycle. I would trust the New School's site for accuracy.

Robert said... Yeah Gavroche Kay has told me that she is against charters. Send her an email and ask her yourself (I am certain she will respond ;-) ).

 Melissa Westbrook said... I think the parents at South Shore are aware that their school is greatly helped by the funding from the New School Foundation. Do they all know when it runs out? I doubt it. Will New School continue this experiment? Again, unclear. But if the funding goes away, they will be funded just like every other K-8. I have no idea what would happen to the pre-school; maybe a private operator would take over.

SPSMom said... [commenting on the Superintendent's having enrolled her daughter at New School, says it does NOT bode well for alternative schools], I think it bodes well for charter schools. Two reasons, there is nothing really alternative about the New School and two, it is an example of what a private/public partnership can do. Free tuition and smaal classes, and some enrichment.

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