Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Cleaned Up" SPS Boundaries Map Dated 2/28/14

Someone just sent me this "cleaned up" "future" SPS boundaries map, dated 2/28/14.

This does not reflect any reassessment of Southeast cluster boundaries, which, per a unanimously approved amendment to last fall's BAR, the district is supposed to do after engaging with all our diverse communities. (My block is still assigned to the 8th grade school away from us.)

Changed Assignment Areas:
Van Asselt/Wing Luke
Cedar Park/Olympic Hills
Sand Point/Laurelhurst

I'm posting this here because I'm not sure where/if it's posted on the district website.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine's Day Cards by Maple Students at Georgetown Art Attack: Sat, 2/8

I'm proud to have organized the effort at Maple PTSA for kids to make and sell these beautiful homemade cards!

Georgetown and Beacon Hill kids from Maple Elementary will be selling these handmade Valentine's Day cards during Georgetown Art Attack at A Dog's Dream (5913 Airport Way S., between Jules Maes and Fonda La Catrina) between 6 and 8 p.m. this Saturday, February 8.

100% of sales will benefit the Maple PTSA, which funds art supplies, outdoor school, field trip transportation, and other enrichment programs for children at the school.

Cards cost $3, and we're happy to take credit cards! Each card includes an envelope and a label on the back explaining the project. Stamps will also be available for sale.

Send Mom your love with one of these cute kindergartener-made cards.

Choose something more architectural for your dad.

Not sure what to say to your sweetheart?

"You shall be my Valentine or I shall blow up your nether portal and your emeraldssssss..."

"Slobery kisses and pats on the head -- are time together is a gift. Can you be my master?"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Give SE a Chance to Be Heard -- Vote Yes on Betty Patu’s Amendment 8

Please email and -- encourage them to vote YES on Betty Patu's plan for the Southeast. Feel free to copy and paste the text below. Thank you!

Give SE a Chance to Be Heard -- Vote Yes on Betty Patu’s Amendment 8

This Wednesday, the Seattle School Board will vote on a new Growth Boundaries plan that has been developed without the input of the diverse communities of Southeast Seattle. Many of these changes will take kids out of the walk zones to their neighborhood schools, and force them to bus to faraway schools.

Unlike most of the city, there are no imminent capacity issues in the Southeast. Therefore, we should take the time to listen to local families in their native languages and get boundaries right for Southeast Seattle. Please support Southeast Director Betty Patu’s Amendment 8, to rescind these proposals while she engages our diverse communities about these changes.

1) Since there are no capacity issues for 2014-15 in the Southeast, we can take the time to engage families on future changes.

2) On Nov. 12, Superintendent Jose Banda announced to the Seattle Council PTSA that “we missed the boat” on outreach to racial and linguistic minorities in the Southeast.

3) For the 5 lower Southeast grade schools with boundary changes, only 11 total comments were received. This is only 0.11% of the nearly 10,000 comments received. It’s clear that our families, particularly non-English-speaking ones, are not aware of the changes in store for them.

4) Only some of the boundary materials were translated, in only a handful of languages, only halfway through the process.

5) Beacon Hill has the worst boundary plan in the whole city: Mid Beacon Hill students living in the walk zones for both Maple and Dearborn Park would be forced to bus to Van Asselt, the eighth school from their homes.

6) Kimball students would be bussed out of the Southeast district up to the Central District for middle school at Washington.

In conjunction with Michael DeBell’s Amendment 7, to add language immersion to Dearborn Park for a year while allowing the community to decide whether to be a neighborhood or option school, these are the right choices for Southeast families. Please vote yes.

Growth Boundaries: 5 Lower SE Grade Schools Send in 11 Comments Total

The latest version of the Growth Boundaries Board Action Report lists all the community input that the district has received about the growth boundaries plan. They say they've received 1,285 meeting comments, 400 "walk the boundaries" survey responses, 3,984 survey responses, 122 postcards, and "several thousand" emails.

If you count "several thousand" as 4,000, that's a total of 9,791 responses.

Given that the district has not done any outreach to the low-income and racially and linguistically diverse families in the Southeast, I was curious what percentage of responses came from the 5 lower Southeast grade schools in particular. All of these grade schools will have boundary changes by 2017, so all these communities will experience the kind of disruption that has the rest of the city up in arms.

The answer? The total number of comments from lower Southeast schools was 11. This represents 0.11% of responses citywide.

Based on the near-total lack of response, it's clear that the city has not engaged these communities about all the changes in store for them. In fact, at the Seattle Council PTSA meeting on Nov. 12, Superintendent Jose Banda announced to the group that "we missed the boat" on outreach to the diverse communities of the Southeast.

That is why the School Board must support Director Betty Patu's Amendment 8 to rescind all proposed changes for the Southeast, until she has time to work with the district to inform these communities and collect their input. There are no imminent capacity issues facing the Southeast, so there is no need to rush through any changes without engaging the affected communities.

Grade SchoolTotal Comments% White StudentsFewest % of White Students Among City Grade Schools
Wing Luke22.41
Van Asselt22.73
Rainier View06.68

Note: Racial data from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

APPENDIX: Summaries of Public Input

May 28 – October 8
Dunlap: 0
Emerson: 1
Rainier View: 0
Van Asselt: 1
Wing Luke: 2

October 1 – 14
Dunlap: 1
Emerson: 2
Rainier View: 0
Van Asselt: 0
Wing Luke: 0

October 11 - 30
Dunlap: 1
Emerson: 2
Rainier View: 0
Van Asselt: 1
Wing Luke: 0

November 1 - 13
Dunlap: 0
Emerson: 0
Rainier View: 0
Van Asselt: 0
Wing Luke: 0

November 13-14
Dunlap: 0
Emerson: 0
Rainier View: 0
Van Asselt: 0
Wing Luke: 0

Friday, November 1, 2013

Misrepresentation (or error?) about outreach to communities of color in Southeast Seattle

Dear Superintendent and School Board Members–

I’m deeply concerned about a serious misrepresentation (or error?) on p. 4 of the Nov. 1 version of the “Growth Boundaries for Student Assignment” Proposed Action Report. Paired with a list of meetings that specifically calls out Southeast Seattle, this statement implies that the administration reached out to the racial/linguistic minority communities in the Southeast: “Several community-based meetings (included above) were held after the five large community meetings. These targeted meetings provided more direct opportunities for families that might not typically respond to e-mail and/or English language based opportunities for input.”

To be clear, the district has NOT engaged in any special outreach to Southeast Seattle, home to the city's largest minority populations. Here are the meetings listed (my notes in parentheses):

--“October 2, 2013 - Meeting at High Point Community Center” (outreach from the district to a racially diverse group, but in West Seattle)
--“October 7, 2013 - Meeting with Seattle Council PTSA” (not a racial/linguistic minority group at all)
--“October 8, 2013 - Seattle Council PTSA Meeting with Southeast Schools Representatives” (this was not outreach from the district, but rather a meeting hastily assembled in response to the utter lack of outreach from the district)
--“October 10, 2013 - Gatzert Open House” (outreach from the district to a racially diverse group, but in the Central District)
--“October 15, 2012 - Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee” (not a racial/linguistic minority group at all)
--“October 28, 2013 - Meeting with Special Education PTSA” (not a racial/linguistic minority group at all)

It’s ironic that the only mention of outreach to Southeast Seattle is a meeting that was assembled in response to a lack of such outreach. The district had nothing to do with the meeting; no one from the district was even in attendance. And the published outcome of the meeting ( was that, on our own, we were unable to assemble a representative group to provide feedback: “We are acutely aware that the coalition of parents giving input here were disproportionately white and middle class. We believe that the timing and outreach associated with this process have been inadequate for meaningful engagement and dialogue within our community. Any new proposals should be presented to the full SE community, with adequate outreach efforts, in multiple languages, and with enough time built into the process to allow for the fostering of true understanding and meaningful dialogue with our diverse community.”

Some of us have been trying to let minority voices be heard. At the last School Board meeting, my Mid Beacon Hill (Zone 36) neighborhood was represented by members of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese communities (and we donated one of our speaking spots to an East African woman who hadn’t made the speakers’ list). Our neighborhood is being shut out of our walk zone for Maple, and is not being allowed into the zone for nearby Dearborn Park (which we’re also in the walk zone for), either. Instead, despite our continued protests, the administration wants to send our mostly non-English-speaking community to the EIGHTH grade school from our homes in terms of distance. (Maple, Dearborn Park, Hawthorne, Kimball, MLK, John Muir, and Orca are all closer.) No other group in Seattle is being kicked out of multiple walk zone schools to be bussed away to the EIGHTH grade school from their homes.

We are stunned by the lack of equity in this process. Please understand that despite the commentary in the latest version of the Board Action Report, there has been NO outreach to the communities of color in Southeast Seattle. The district has only done special outreach for minority communities in West Seattle and the Central District. Even though Southeast Seattle is home to the city’s largest racial minority populations, there has been no special outreach here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Two-Question Survey to Help Beacon Hill’s Children of Color Walk to School

In both their latest boundary map, Seattle Public Schools wants to kick Mid Beacon Hill out of the official Maple walk zone (an area so close to a school that bus service is not even provided) and instead make our kids bus miles to school every day.

We’ve been working hard to rally the neighborhood to oppose this change, but the majority of our neighborhood are not native English speakers, and none of the boundary materials have been translated into any other language. At the Oct. 16 School Board meeting, we were supported by members of our local Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese communities, and we spoke about retaining our Maple walk zone, and also the need for native-language outreach in these important decisions. Together with an East African woman (to whom we donated one of our speaking slots, as she was also speaking out for the need for cultural and native-language outreach), we were the only voices speaking about the lack of racial and linguistic equity in this process. (See this blog post, containing a bar graph depicting the lack of diversity in feedback the district has received so far.)

If you also feel it’s unjust that SPS is kicking a majority-non-English-speaking community of color out of its local school walk zone without even notifying affected families in the languages they understand, please fill out this two-question SPS survey before Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.:

Choose Zone 36 for the area of concern, and provide a comment like "Let kids in the Maple walk zone walk to Maple. For a racially equitable process, notify affected families in their native languages."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Racial Equity Inquiry About Maple Elementary Boundary Change Proposal

To: Bernardo Ruiz, Director of School Family Partnerships and Equity and Race Relations at Seattle Public Schools
From: Julie van Arcken, Maple Elementary School parent
Date: October 13, 2013
RE: Racial equity inquiry about Maple Elementary boundary change proposal

Dear Mr. Ruiz:

I live in Mid Beacon Hill, within the walk zone for Maple Elementary, where my daughter attends kindergarten. With its majority Asian population (26% white, 21% Filipino, 20% Chinese, 17% Vietnamese), Mid Beacon Hill benefits enormously from its zoning at Maple Elementary. Under the expert guidance of Principal Pat Hunter, the school has spent years developing protocol to help children who only speak Asian languages learn English.

As part of its Growth Boundaries Project, on Sept. 17, the district released a draft proposal that would shut children from racially diverse Mid Beacon Hill out of its district-defined Maple walk zone, and start bussing those children to faraway Van Asselt. Because this proposal was so clearly contradictory to the project’s stated objectives of equity, walkability, and data-driven decisions, as well as the district’s overall policy of racial equity, I believed I only needed to explain the issue to the Growth Boundaries Project leaders to get the changes made.

At the Sept. 23 community meeting at Mercer, and again at the Sept. 30 meeting at Meany, and again at the Oct. 2 Seattle School Board meeting, I asked the district to revise their boundary proposal to let families within the Maple walk zone in Mid Beacon Hill remain at Maple. A number of parents from Georgetown, a 78% white community outside the Maple walk zone, also attended these meetings and asked to remain at the school.

In the new Oct. 11 Maple boundary proposal, I was surprised to see that the district continued to shut out Mid Beacon Hill families who live within the Maple walk zone, while allowing back in Georgetown families who do not live within the Maple walk zone. The only reason I can imagine for this is that that the district received more comments from Georgetown than Beacon Hill.

To understand why the district would receive more comments from Georgetown than Mid Beacon Hill, please see the chart below. The majority of Mid Beacon Hill residents speak languages other than English. A racially and linguistically diverse neighborhood will never be able to coordinate a feedback blitz the way a majority-white, majority-English-speaking neighborhood can.

Racial and Linguistic Diversity of Georgetown and Mid Beacon Hill

GeorgetownMid Beacon Hill
Has families in the Maple walk zoneNoYes
Speak only English at home66%44%

From the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) 2011 5-year estimates, released December 2012. Based on data collected from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2011, and centric to mid-2009. The census tract used for Georgetown was 53033010900, and Mid Beacon Hill was 53033010402. See (race) and (language).

To test my assumption that the district has not effectively engaged non-white families in the boundary process to the extent they’ve engaged white families, I created the bar graph below. I took the all the Growth Boundaries community feedback comments from the table in Appendix C of the Oct. 16 School Board agenda (, and isolated the comments classified as pertaining to existing neighborhood K-5 schools. In the cases where the classification named two schools, I counted each separately but weighted them both as 0.5 comments. For comments that named a grade school along with a middle school or high school, I counted it as if it were only about the grade school. I then correlated the number of comments received with the percentage of white students at that school, as reported by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Washington State Report Card website ( - October 2012 data).

In the chart, you’ll notice that the number of comments about a school’s boundary rarely exceeds the percentage of white students at that school. Basically, it seems when the district conducts a process using only English-language materials and only communicated in English via websites with no direct outreach, a disproportionate number of white families provide feedback.

Notably, with the three non-white schools that received a lot of feedback, the comments presented at the Mercer community meeting and the School Board meeting were almost entirely from white parents. This is based on my own visual observation; you can also review the School Board meeting video here: In the case of Maple, most of the comments were from the 78% white community of Georgetown, which did have its voices heard.

Meanwhile, schools with a white population of less than 10% received literally no feedback, or virtually no feedback. In the case of Dearborn Park, which most radically would be changed to a language-immersion-only option school, with all the families being rezoned for Van Asselt, the district received just two comments. (And at least one, if not both, of those comments were from me personally, so they do not count.) Using the district’s feedback mechanism as a guide, you would think that no one at Dearborn Park cares in the slightest that their entire school is going to be taken away from them.

Based on my findings above, I’m concerned the district may not be ensuring racial and cultural equity in the boundary planning process. Mr. Ruiz, can you answer the following questions for me, about racial equity in the boundary planning process for my daughter’s school, Maple Elementary?

1) How has the district considered racial equity when determining which families get to remain within the Maple attendance zone? Why would a neighborhood of majority-white, majority-English-speaking families who live outside the walk zone be prioritized over a neighborhood of majority non-English-speaking families of color who live within the walk zone? How does this support the project’s stated objectives of equity, walkability, and data-driven decisions, as well as the district’s policy #0030 of racial equity? The area being shut out of the walk zone is a relatively small chunk of Mid Beacon Hill – the ask was not larger than Georgetown’s.

2) Can you explain specifically what racial equity analysis tool has been applied to soliciting and reviewing feedback on the new Maple boundaries? According to the “Racial Equity Analysis” section of Seattle Public Schools’ Policy 0030, “The district shall review existing policies, programs, professional development and procedures to ensure the promotion of racial equity, and all applicable new policies, programs and procedures will be developed using a racial equity analysis tool.” What racial equity analysis tool is being used for the community feedback process, and how is its effectiveness being tested?

3) Did the district announce its original draft Maple boundary proposal through direct outreach (ie, flyers sent home with students) in Maple families’ native languages? My daughter attends Maple, and I have not gotten a single handout that even announces that any changes are happening, let alone that we would be assigned to a different school. I only got one email, back in September.

4) Has any of the Oct. 11 boundary revision information been translated into Maple families’ native languages and directly circulated? If so, how much time will be allowed for feedback after those translated materials are circulated? Will the feedback mechanism require access to computers and an understanding of English?

5) Was racial and cultural equity considered when the most-diverse local community meeting (Mercer Middle School, the only meeting in Southeast Seattle) was scheduled first of all the meetings, taking place just two days after “improved” maps were posted to the district website?

I understand that the boundary planning process has been a monumental task, and truly representative feedback may be difficult to attain. However, in the absence of effective tools to ensure representative feedback, the district should not assume that silence equals consent. The district should not assume that only white, English-speaking families want to keep their children to keep going to their current schools, and non-English-speaking families of color don’t mind being shut out of their walk zones to be bussed to faraway schools.

Mr. Ruiz, I’d be very happy to meet with you and the Growth Boundaries Project leaders to discuss this issue together as soon as possible. The feedback timeline is very short, so I would appreciate a quick response.

Julie van Arcken
Maple Elementary Parent