Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, New Business

Here are a few things you might want to know about coming up VERY soon.

1. You might remember that a year ago, during the AAPS budget forums, participants were invited to indicate interest in working on strategic planning subcommittees. I had thought that would happen last spring, but it was delayed, and delayed again--at least the public participation part was. Although there are, I believe, 8 subcommittees of the strategic plan, they are only asking for assistance on three of them. [Why only three? I don't know. At the budget forums people were asked to indicate which of 8 subcommittees you might be interested in joining.] In any case, there is a January through March timeline for this--at least, that is the plan. I also can't really tell what some of these strategies mean. For instance, if you were interested in the education achievement gap, or school funding, what would you choose? Here are the details from AAPS News: 
Action Teams will reconvene in January to discuss these strategies:
  • Strategy  No. 1–  “We will create a complete educational program featuring personalized learning that realizes student aspirations and meets international standards.”
  • Strategy No. 5 –  “We will implement a system to ensure continuous development of staff capacity.”
  • Strategy No. 6 – “We will engage and inform our constituents to engender trust and support to accomplish our mission and objectives.”
Contact Liz Margolis by Jan. 7, 2011 if you would like to be a member of one of the Action Teams listed above. E-mail her at or leave a message at 734-994-2236.
UPDATE 1/5/2010: Read the comments from Liz Margolis of AAPS if you would like more information about the strategic planning process.

2.        My friend asked me last month, "Would you send your child to the International Baccalaureate school?"
           I said, "Probably not, but I'm glad it will be there for someone else. I'd be more interested in Washtenaw Technical Middle College where you could get actual college credit for the classes."
          He said, "Really? I would have thought you would be really interested in an immersion language program."

OK, so let's get something straight: International Baccalaureate schools are not immersion language schools. You can read more about them in this earlier post (and its links). It is possible--but not guaranteed--that an IB program will give you college credit. Many of our local school districts are banding together under the auspices of the WISD to set up an IB school. [Dexter is planning on integrating an IB program into their own high school.]

Why am I telling you this? Because, if you have a student entering ninth grade, you might want to check out the International Baccalaureate question and answer sessions (mandatory for application):
Please plan to attend one of the following sessions:
  • Wednesday, January 12: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 18: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 27: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Monday, January 31: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 9: 7:00 p.m.  – 9:00 p.m.
Information sessions will be held at:
Washtenaw International High School (WIHS)

510 Emerick Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48198.
For more information, please call 734-994-8100 x1263, or visit the web site at

3. Ann Arbor's Community High application packets are available now and are due on or before 2/11/2011. Information can be found here.

4. Ann Arbor's Skyline High also has an application and information here, also due on or before 2/11/2011.  It looks like they have reduced the number of outside-of-Skyline-district student openings from 125 to 100. I am guessing that this is related to the fact that the number of in-district students has been increasing, but I'm not positive. (Nor am I sure about how that decision is made.) Also, if you are in-district, there is a curriculum night on January 12th (which seems early to me!).

4. Similarly, Ypsilanti's New Tech High School is also taking applications for incoming freshmen. Find more information here. Unlike Community and Skyline, New Tech High School is open to students from other districts.

4. I changed the blog design. I'm not sure what I think--and comments are welcome.


  1. Ruth,
    The AAPS Strategic Plan method (based on the Cambridge Strategic Planning Process) called for a plan update and review by the Strategic Planning Team. This team is made up of 30 staff, parents, community members and students. We met in December to review the status of the plan upon completion of phase 1. At that time each strategy is reviewed. We ask three questions: 1) is this strategy still viable? 2) if yes, does it need any updates or should the process stay the coures? 3) If no, should it be deleted and is there another strategy that has come up the district should address.
    From this review the team decided that only three strategies needed to be brought forward for updates. The other 5 will stay the course.
    You can find the Strategic Plan and the phas 1 update at this link -
    Liz Margolis

  2. Thanks for the clarification Liz! If someone wanted to get on the standing Strategic Planning Team (or any other similar group that is regularly convened), what is the process for that? Is it, for example, through the PTO Council?

  3. The Strategic Planning Team was initially formed in 2007 with representatives from the different bargaining units, administration, community volunteers we invited and then we asked for a representative from each group that sits at the board meetings; PTOC, PAC, BPSSG. We also asked for student volunteers from the high schools.
    The Team has a planned 25% turnover and we filled those slots with people from similar backgrounds as best we could. As an example we have 3 students on the team because I received 3 responses from one high school.

  4. Why is the Tech school credit more sure than the IB credits? I graduated from an IB school, and my college gave me credits for my higher-level IB courses.

    I also came in a with a few credits from a sustainable ag program at a local community college and didn't get any credit for those.

  5. Chuck, for the most part, schools accept AP or IB credit based on your scores on an exam. If you take the exam, and score well enough, you will get credit.
    Again, for the most part, students at Washtenaw Technical Middle College graduate with an associate's degree in hand, and thereby get treated as transfer students. Of course, some of their credits may not transfer--that is always a risk when you change schools.
    And by the way, if you think I sounded too negative--I think there are a lot of reasons to consider going to an IB school (based solely on what I've read). For instance, the integrated curriculum, the international components, and the extended essay requirements all sound good to me. But if your primary motivation is college credit, then Washtenaw Technical Middle College or the Early College Alliance at EMU are probably the first places to look in the county. And if you are really looking for an immersion language program, then none of these will fit the bill.

  6. Hi, Ruth.

    I am very interested to see how many students enroll in the IB school. It sort of seems to me that ECA offers the best of both worlds, in some ways. You get the college credit by virtue of earning it in college classes, and you get to maintain ties to your home school district if you want to. Building a class schedule at a university would seem to offer more options for course selection than at a high school, even if it is an IB high school. But of course, different choices fit different needs.

    As for your new blog design, I really like the dark blue backdrop with grey letters, but it needs some sort of design or picture. Just a little too plain!

    Thanks for keeping this conversation going.


  7. Regarding design, YpsiAnon, that's a good idea--I just have to figure out how to do it!

    I'm not sure, but I think that at the IB high school, you will also be able to maintain ties to your home district--for instance, I believe that if you wanted to play sports you could. I'm not positive about that, though. In any case, though, you would have to be able to get back and forth to the home school in time for practices, etc., and that seems like it would be very challenging, unless perhaps if your home district is Ypsilanti.

  8. I am not sure what the race to get college credit while in high school is all about. But, that said, this all fits into what people want ----- choices.

  9. Along the same lines, here is a New York Times article about rethinking the AP exams: link.

  10. To Anonymous,

    One big reason for the "race to get college credit" is that there are no costs for it while in high school! College is mighty expensive, and getting two years' worth for free is awfully tempting.

    Another reason is that there may not be enough upper-level classes in the high school to challenge some students, but there aren't enough students in the school to support the offering of more advanced classes there. Some kids would be treading water or regressing if there weren't these options.

    All of these choices are going to be great for individual students, but for the greater population, I think it is going to be devastating. Heck, I think it already is.

    - YpsiAnon

  11. YpsiAnon, I agree with you that it will be devastating for some of the districts (probably not all)--I'm hoping to post about that soon.