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Old 03-24-2016, 01:37 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
64,657 posts, read 54,231,258 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homesinseattle View Post
Josie, you are right about the funding of course but for a lot of parents, including my wife and I, the decision is more complex. We don't like the "testing" culture that schools have become, we believes it stifles the creativity of the teachers and children. We don't like the class size, the deemphasizing of music and the arts. We don't like the rigorous adherence to "technology first" and think all those computers so early may not be so good. We found a school that works for us. I have to work a little harder and have a few less meals out to have the funds to pay for it, in my mind it is a good investment in my daughter's future. I realize not all are so lucky. The lack of funding is heartbreaking, and frankly incomprehensible in a region as prosperous as ours.
I don't know what private schools are doing these days, but I can tell you that when I attended private schools, that was not where parents who wanted their kids to have art and music instruction sent their kids. Back then, that was a strength of the public schools, and private schools didn't spend money on those things; they were completely absent from the curriculum in some private schools, and where they were present, the "instruction" was not instruction at all, but simply babysitting. In art, kids were graded on innate ability or lack thereof, not on learned skills, because the teachers didn't teach skills. And there were no art history or music history classes, either.

The strength of the private schools was, and still is, that they have small class sizes, better individual attention, and a lot of grammar and writing instruction for college preparation. Back in the day, public schools didn't teach grammar, though I'm told that has changed now, at least in Seattle.

The whole testing culture in public schools, on the other hand, seems like a disaster. Stressful for students and for teachers, and an unnecessary drain on instructional time.
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Old 03-24-2016, 01:47 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
64,657 posts, read 54,231,258 times
Reputation: 56313
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfunkle524 View Post
As someone with a baby on the way, this has been an enlightening thread so far. When my wife went to private high school the cost was pretty ridiculous. Nowadays it's flat out disgusting. That's only a sample size of one high school though.


I was a public school kid and always thought private schools were for hoity toity parents who irrationally saw it as more of a status symbol. Sure our textbooks sucked and we didn't always have supplies but our teachers were fantastic. If the teachers aren't fantastic here then I could see that being a serious issue.


Still though, I get the feeling that private schools are overvalued. A ton of highly paid individuals have a lot of money to burn around here, so I think that distorts it further.
You're onto something, with the bolded. There is, or used to be, much truth to that. Private schools used to teach only the bare bones of what was required for university admission at the flagship state schools in their area, and not a drop more. There were virtually no electives in the program, so students would spend hours daily in "study hall" getting their homework done. Parents were paying top dollar for their kids to spend several class periods a day doing their homework, because the schools claimed they couldn't afford to add faculty to fill out the course offerings.

Private schools also don't have to meet all the state requirements, so they can dismiss class earlier in the day, they don't have to offer certain state-required courses, and they don't have to meet the same standards for minimum days per year school is in session. This is great from a kid's perspective, but it means the parents are getting ripped off. It also means the kids may go through life never knowing their state history, and never having had a World Geography class, or whatever loopholes the private school can take advantage of in the disparity between state requirements for public vs. private schools.

The good news, though, is that now, universities are requiring much more background education from HS graduates for university admission, so the private schools have had to step up to the plate, and offer more. Things are improving. My general impression is that parents are now getting more bang for their buck, but of course, they're shelling out more bucks than before, too. I don't know how that stacks up when taking inflation into consideration, though.
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:27 PM
 
Location: a warmer place
1,747 posts, read 4,637,612 times
Reputation: 754
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfunkle524 View Post
As someone with a baby on the way, this has been an enlightening thread so far. When my wife went to private high school the cost was pretty ridiculous. Nowadays it's flat out disgusting. That's only a sample size of one high school though.


I was a public school kid and always thought private schools were for hoity toity parents who irrationally saw it as more of a status symbol. Sure our textbooks sucked and we didn't always have supplies but our teachers were fantastic. If the teachers aren't fantastic here then I could see that being a serious issue.


Still though, I get the feeling that private schools are overvalued. A ton of highly paid individuals have a lot of money to burn around here, so I think that distorts it further.


There are some really great teachers in the public schools here. Most of the problems stem from the administration and funding. The dysfunction is mind boggling. Just a year or so ago almost all of the special education kids (thousands) information was faxed unredacted to a private individual who was in the process suing the schools for services for his sister. The information included names addresses, diagnosis, ss# etc. The recipient had the good grace to turn over the information. I can only imagine that this was not the first time something like this happened. Last year for standardized testing our local middle school took three weeks to accomplish this....that was one week of testing per grade level and the other two weeks the kids spent in extremely large classes doing worksheets to stay busy. The whole event wasted 9% of the school year.

Yes some private schools are ridiculously expensive. But if you are willing to look at Catholic schools you can get some very good deals. Holy Names, Seattle Prep and St Joes come to mind. Still a lot of money but a bargain compared to some of the others. For us we tried really hard to make public school work for our younger child. I invested a ton of time and energy. In the end we pulled out. What a shame.
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Independent Republic of Ballard
4,988 posts, read 3,194,754 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaday View Post
The funding is terrible. Even if you live in an affluent area with strong fundraising capabilities SPS discourages raised funds being used for necessary things like textbooks.
The failure is in state funding, which is supposed to pay for the cost of "basic education", which is supposed to include teacher pay and text books.

While Seattle might be "affluent" now, that was far from the case over most of the last half century or more, with property values at or below national averages (I was able to rent a two-bedroom apartment on Queen Anne Hill for $575 as late as 1995, for instance). Families sending their children to SPS were well below average income, with many richer families either sending their kids to private schools or moving to more affluent districts (Bellevue, Lake Washington, etc.). There is a wide gap between the ability of richer and poorer school districts to pass supplemental levies. Now, with poorer families being increasingly pushed out of SPS, it is districts such as Highline, for instance, that are being forced to bear the brunt of the problem.

When I went through Jr. and Sr. HS (Hamilton and Lincoln) in Seattle Public Schools in the 1960s, our text books were old and worn, but we didn't have to share them. We did have large class sizes, since we were the leading edge of the Baby Boom. When the daughter of a friend went through SPD in the 1990s, students had to share text books, and still had large class sizes, despite being part of the following Baby Bust. If there is a canary in the mine, it is text books.

It was in the early 1960s, I believe, that SPD stopped teaching History, Civics, Geography, English, Grammar, etc., replacing them with just two classes, Social Studies and Language Arts. We did have to study Washington State History, which was generally loathed by students. We were taught decent phonics (not sight reading), cursive handwriting (not block lettering), spelling, grammar, logic, and enough geopolitical and historical awareness to protest the Vietnam War, first in a trickle, later in droves, although for me, at least, most of that was accomplished not in Seattle, but in Aberdeen, which prior to 1961, when my family moved to Seattle, had a very good school district (with trees, fish, and clams not yet in short supply).

Of course, one of the problems with being an increasingly affluent school district is that a higher cost of living makes it harder to hire and retain qualified teachers. While step-increases are still paid, COLAs have not, with total salaries capped once step-increases run out, making it more difficult to attract new teachers to the state.

State gets an ‘F' for its effort on education spending | HeraldNet.com - Editorials

Quote:
Again, not taking into account a modest 3 percent pay raise last year, the first since 2008, Washington state ranked fifth from the bottom. Teachers just starting their careers made about 28 percent less than their peers in other fields. By age 45, teachers made 34 percent less than other professionals of the same age and level of education.

Most alarming, the state's worst mark in the Rutgers report was for effort. In comparing education spending to each state's economic productivity, Washington again ranked fifth from the bottom. Despite a gross state product that ranked ninth in the nation in 2009 dollars, its level of spending earned it a grade of “F,” better only than Colorado, North Dakota, Arizona and Hawaii, and then only slightly so.
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:47 PM
 
Location: WA
5,019 posts, read 19,552,481 times
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In actual dollars spent per student Seattle is a bit above the national average. Studies of schools across the nation cannot correlate dollars spent to the quality of education.
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:52 PM
 
Location: Independent Republic of Ballard
4,988 posts, read 3,194,754 times
Reputation: 2751
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdelena View Post
In actual dollars spent per student Seattle is a bit above the national average. Studies of schools across the nation cannot correlate dollars spent to the quality of education.
Is that correlated to the higher cost of living? A dollar doesn't go as far in Seattle as in many other locations.
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Old 03-24-2016, 04:41 PM
 
Location: a warmer place
1,747 posts, read 4,637,612 times
Reputation: 754
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyDonkey View Post
The failure is in state funding, which is supposed to pay for the cost of "basic education", which is supposed to include teacher pay and text books.

While Seattle might be "affluent" now, that was far from the case over most of the last half century or more, with property values at or below national averages (I was able to rent a two-bedroom apartment on Queen Anne Hill for $575 as late as 1995, for instance). Families sending their children to SPS were well below average income, with many richer families either sending their kids to private schools or moving to more affluent districts (Bellevue, Lake Washington, etc.). There is a wide gap between the ability of richer and poorer school districts to pass supplemental levies. Now, with poorer families being increasingly pushed out of SPS, it is districts such as Highline, for instance, that are being forced to bear the brunt of the problem.

When I went through Jr. and Sr. HS (Hamilton and Lincoln) in Seattle Public Schools in the 1960s, our text books were old and worn, but we didn't have to share them. We did have large class sizes, since we were the leading edge of the Baby Boom. When the daughter of a friend went through SPD in the 1990s, students had to share text books, and still had large class sizes, despite being part of the following Baby Bust. If there is a canary in the mine, it is text books.

It was in the early 1960s, I believe, that SPD stopped teaching History, Civics, Geography, English, Grammar, etc., replacing them with just two classes, Social Studies and Language Arts. We did have to study Washington State History, which was generally loathed by students. We were taught decent phonics (not sight reading), cursive handwriting (not block lettering), spelling, grammar, logic, and enough geopolitical and historical awareness to protest the Vietnam War, first in a trickle, later in droves, although for me, at least, most of that was accomplished not in Seattle, but in Aberdeen, which prior to 1961, when my family moved to Seattle, had a very good school district (with trees, fish, and clams not yet in short supply).

Of course, one of the problems with being an increasingly affluent school district is that a higher cost of living makes it harder to hire and retain qualified teachers. While step-increases are still paid, COLAs have not, with total salaries capped once step-increases run out, making it more difficult to attract new teachers to the state.

State gets an F' for its effort on education spending | HeraldNet.com - Editorials
Thanks for the history lesson on Seattle schools. very interesting. I do know the funding issues are at the state level. I wonder why other districts in Washington like Bellevue and Issaquah don't have the same shortages? Seattle schools parents raise tons of money in fundraisers just can't direct the $$ for certain necessary things.
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Old 03-24-2016, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Independent Republic of Ballard
4,988 posts, read 3,194,754 times
Reputation: 2751
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaday View Post
Thanks for the history lesson on Seattle schools. very interesting. I do know the funding issues are at the state level. I wonder why other districts in Washington like Bellevue and Issaquah don't have the same shortages? Seattle schools parents raise tons of money in fundraisers just can't direct the $$ for certain necessary things.
Richer families largely fled SPS to escape forced busing in the 1970s on. It used to be that the capacity issues were in the Southend, where many of the poorer families lived. Now, it is in the Northend, with richer families returning there. SPS parents might raise a significant amount of money and pass what look to be large levies, but it is also the largest school district in the state, so money raised gets spread thin. Bellevue and Issaquah, for instance, could ask for larger levy amounts, simply because, with higher per-capita and richer families, they have more assurance they will pass.

SPS test scores have gone up significantly, partly from richer families moving in, but also from higher property values providing more money. Ingraham HS used to be a problem school not that long ago. It is now an "8" at Greatschools, with a four-star (out of five) community rating.
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Old 03-24-2016, 05:23 PM
 
589 posts, read 357,469 times
Reputation: 1516
Quote:
Originally Posted by tifoso View Post
I live in the Bay Area part-time and regularly lurk on CD's SF-O-SJ board. Whether it's there, in my neighborhood (North Bay) or where I spend much of my time (Contra Costa) there are no shortage of complaints about public schools. So I'm curious where you had such a great experience with Bay Area public education.
Los Altos Hills. (I know.) LAH is the home of many titans of Silicon Valley, founders and venture capital types. There are also lots of Stanford people because it's an easy bike ride to campus. Retired 49er football stars. These types of people make sure the public schools are top notch. The LAEF (fund-raising organization) is very good at raising money.

We didn't know how good we had it.
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Old 03-24-2016, 05:42 PM
 
589 posts, read 357,469 times
Reputation: 1516
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
I don't know what private schools are doing these days, but I can tell you that when I attended private schools, that was not where parents who wanted their kids to have art and music instruction sent their kids. Back then, that was a strength of the public schools, and private schools didn't spend money on those things; they were completely absent from the curriculum in some private schools, and where they were present, the "instruction" was not instruction at all, but simply babysitting. In art, kids were graded on innate ability or lack thereof, not on learned skills, because the teachers didn't teach skills. And there were no art history or music history classes, either.

The strength of the private schools was, and still is, that they have small class sizes, better individual attention, and a lot of grammar and writing instruction for college preparation. Back in the day, public schools didn't teach grammar, though I'm told that has changed now, at least in Seattle.

The whole testing culture in public schools, on the other hand, seems like a disaster. Stressful for students and for teachers, and an unnecessary drain on instructional time.
You should see what it's like at private schools such as Lakeside and Overlake these days. Those kids have access to every kind of art and music instruction. It's jaw-dropping.

We didn't visit the Forest Ridge campus in Bellevue, but if it's anything like the Sacred Heart HS I attended in Atherton or the Sacred Heart HS I visited often for "play days" in SF, it features tip-top instruction in the arts, science, literature, history, foreign languages, and mathematics. We were always going to see plays at ACT or making excursions to the museums, picture galleries, and symphony halls in SF. I don't remember paying anything extra for any of these excursions. They were an important part of the curriculum.
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