Charlie Mas (a Beacon Hill neighbor) attended the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) option program open house at Cleveland High School on Saturday, and has posted his experience there at the Seattle Public Schools community blog.
He discusses the potential changes in the student demographics and some of the challenges the STEM students may face, including budget cuts, transportation issues, and a staff that will probably need to adjust to the school’s changes themselves. According to Mas, staff members at the open house at times seemed unprepared for the possibility that many of the STEM students will be working at or beyond grade level and will want to take advanced courses in subjects such as world languages.
However, Mas also describes what he sees as positive aspects of this new program on Beacon Hill:
“My daughter is looking for a small school, and I am convinced that STEM will be small. She is looking for project-based learning and they are definitely going to have that. She wants to escape the ‘Discovery’ math, and it looks like STEM will offer an escape from it. She is looking for a lot of science, and oh boy will she have that.”
The Seattle Times (BHB partners) also reported about STEM yesterday, focusing on concerns about budget issues and whether the District will be able to support the program.
To set up the STEM program, the District may spend $800,000 for curriculum and training from the New Technology Network, a network of schools with a STEM focus. Some, including School Board President Michael DeBell, are not certain this expenditure is necessary in a time of tight budgets.
The Times quotes Cleveland principal Princess Shareef, who feels the New Technology Network support is vital: “If we want to do this correctly, we’re going to need the professional development that the New Technology Network affords. I hope, hope, hope that the board approves it.”
Starting in Fall 2010, Cleveland will not be a neighborhood “comprehensive” high school, but instead an “option” school, open to everyone in the District. The STEM program will be phased in for freshmen and sophomores in the classes of 2013 and 2014, while juniors and seniors will be enrolled in a College Readiness Academy.