Purpose and Mission Statement

We are a group of educators, family and community members dedicated to advocating for equitable, positive solutions to the challenges that our public schools face.

Mission Statement: SCAPE is organized to support public school education. SCAPE members believe that public schools are successful when parents, educators and the community are jointly committed to their success. We facilitate cooperation beyond the classroom, engage in school district governance, and advocate ways for schools to meet the diverse needs of all students in a changing world. We envision public schools that promote creative and analytical thinking, and treat education as a lifelong process.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 2014 Summary

--Meeting days/times/locations: It seems like Wednesdays have become more difficult for members to meet on.  We decided to change our standard meeting date to the second Thursday of the month with the locations to alternate between the Allied neighborhood and the Lussier Center/Ashman Library.  This means that our next meeting will be held on Thursday October 9th.  We will confirm the location and get that information out to you ASAP. 

--Principal Search: Discussion centered around the process and making sure that communication of timelines and other decisions was improved.  There were many concerns that were raised because of the speed with which initial decisions were required to be made as well as the general lack of clarity provided by MMSD.  As it stands now, the committee that was created in the spring will continue.  It was suggested that the committee try and meet prior to any interviews or other actions, and to try and meet without administration present.

--Volunteering and Background Checks: We continued our conversations about the challenges that are involved in insuring the safety of students while encouraging all families to be involved at Crestwood. 

--Building Relationships: We would like to increase the diversity in our group (in terms of all demographics, neighborhoods, connections to Crestwood, etc.) and discussed ways to make this happen.  It is clear that we need to establish our legitimacy in a variety of ways and to reach out to a variety of organizations, groups and neighborhoods in order to build these relationships (both internal and external to the immediate school community).  Ideas included. . .
            More focused meetings with better "marketing" of specific topics
            Connecting with organizations and inviting speakers to meetings
            Finding out what different communities within our larger community are
                        interested in
            Using connections like Girls on the Run or Millennium Soccer as vehicles for
                        developing relationships.

--Long Range Planning: It was agreed that having a focused action for the year would be a positive for our group.  A couple of ideas were presented and we will continue this discussion at our next meeting.

1) Advocating for more SEA's (Special Education Assistants/Aides) in all schools.  This could be tied to implementation of the Behavior Education Plan as well as a way to increase diversity in staffing.  There could also be an improvement in the Grow Our Own initiatives where employees are assisted in becoming licensed professionals.

2) Support for the BEP.  There are many issues around this new approach to discipline and it will encounter many bumps in the road to implementation.  At the same time it is a worthwhile initiative that needs discussion and support. 

--Other Potential/Continuing Issues: Focusing on any topic or issue will not preclude us from having conversations about other things as well.  Issues that were raised included testing (Smarter Balanced), Common Core, Educator Effectiveness, and ELL/ESL needs.  It is a certainty that other issues will come up as the year unfolds.

It was also suggested that we reach out to MMSD and inquire as to what issues they might want our "assistance" with.  We have a number of connections and it might be interesting to hear what administration views as a priority for groups like ours to focus on.  Rest assured that we would continue to be an independent voice for our school, our community, our students and staff.  We wouldn't want it any other way, would we!! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 2014 Meeting and Action Items

 Summary of January 15, 2014 SCAPE Meeting

Updates on Action Items
We will continue to explore getting our own URL and creating a website primarily designed to share information with SCAPE members.  We will try to get madscape.org as our URL.  Other discussion included making sure the website is current, accessible and uncluttered.

--Meetings at Boys and Girls Club
Nancy was able to reserve a meeting room for our February, April, June and August meetings. 

The SCAPE letter was sent, but no response has been received from MMSD.
--Attendance at Board of Education meetings
This will be crucial as we look to get information and to influence policy. 

--Conferences/Ready Set Goal
Discussions with MMSD and MTI have not produced positive results yet.  There is another meeting scheduled for next week and Andy will report information from that as it is available.  Currently MMSD staff is expressing a possibility that RSG's will not be funded in future budgets.

--Technology and Budget
Due to the unexpected introduction and push to pass the MMSD Technology Plan we spent a significant time discussing the plan and its potential implications.  Major concerns centered around the fact that the plan is being rushed through, the evidence supporting the need for 1:1 student to technology ratios is not there for elementary students, and that given current budget concerns the price tag for the plan will impact other programs and staffing in a way that is of significant concern. 

Discussion Topic- Grouping, Clustering and Tracking
We had a great, although somewhat abbreviated, conversation about this issue.  Some thoughts that were raised included:

-What drives this process is it student centered, curriculum centered, budget centered, or
            based on legal requirements?
-How are students grouped/identified and what can be done to improve this process?
-How do we "remove the edges" and make our classrooms places where all students are
            engaged in learning appropriate to their needs, not removed or given "one size fits
            all" activities.
-There was concern raised that the inclusive climate at Crestwood is changing because of
            initiatives like Mondo, math grouping and Interventions.
-Elementary grouping is, in many ways,  a different creature than Middle and High           School grouping.
-What do the different communities and groups in our school need/want to make sure that
            all of our students have opportunities that are geared to their needs?
-How do we have conversations that are not compartmentalized by group or by interest? 
            This is the current reality and causes conflict between different groups instead of
            creating a cohesive solution to our challenges.

"To Do"
--Meetings at Boys and Girls Club
More follow-up with B&GC staff will occur to try and increase neighborhood attendance at our meetings. 

Andy will follow up with the Superintendent and we will consider communicating our concerns at a future Board of Education meeting if no response is received.

--Attendance at Board of Education meetings
Cris will email the Board's weekly schedule as it becomes available.  We will look into getting buttons made so that we can be identifiable at events and meetings.

--Technology and Budget
We will gather information about the plan over the next couple of days with more info coming in from a contact on the Technology Steering Committee. 

Then we will begin a letter writing/phone campaign to ask questions of the Board and Administration.  We will be asking these individuals to slow down the process and explore all options before passing a plan that could negatively impact our students and schools. 

We will also look at getting some information out in the media as well (letters to the editor, Facebook, etc.)

We will also communicate with other schools in order to expand the voices that are heard on this issue.    

Over the weekend we will share ideas and formulate some "talking points" for people communicating as SCAPE members.  Members are welcome to communicate their ideas as individuals, but we want to make sure that SCAPE is heard as well.

It is important that we get this started quickly so that our opinions are heard during the decision making process and not just "after the fact" at a Board meeting where the votes have been decided.     

--Increasing SCAPE Visibility
We will try and make contacts in the Allied community as well as in our ELL community to increase participation from these groups. 

Next Meeting:
          Wednesday February 19th 6:30 @ Boys and Girls Club

Potential Topics:
            -Follow up on "To Do" list
            -Improving Communications
            -Continue our Grouping/Tracking/Clustering conversation
            -Presentation on Homelessness by a Crestwood Parent
Feel free to suggest other items.  We would like to have a focus so that we can communicate this with B&GC staff or other Allied neighborhood sources to try and increase attendance from that community at our meetings.