Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Was Thinking, What Would I Do?

During the School Board campaign, there was a forum at Garfield High School. I listened to the audio and there was a question about more dances at Garfield. (High school dances can be quite the issue for a lot of people. The music, the type of dancing, size of the dance, who gets in, costs, etc.) Almost all the candidates said, yes, there should be more, good for the kids socially, blah, blah, blah except for Michael De Bell who said there would have to be some thought behind it. Michael, who I believe, is the only former PTA president in the running so he would know.

Security is a huge issue at both dances and sports activities (mainly basketball and football games). There are major costs to security (both SPS security AND SPD are usually present which tells you a lot about how far we have come from having just parents chaperone). The size of the dance is always limited. I have never heard of a high school in Seattle (well, maybe Nova or Center) that had an all-school dance. Meaning, anyone in the school could buy a ticket but there were a limit to the number of tickets sold. There would never be a 1600 ticket dance at Roosevelt or Garfield. You could not afford the security and I don't think any administrator in their right mind would allow it.

Which brings me to the situation at Richmond High School north of Oakland. Here is what happened from Contra Costa News:

"Police say the victim left the dance about 9:30 p.m. and walked north on 23rd Street, intending to phone her father for a ride home. But before she did, a classmate called to her from behind a chain-link fence that separates a campus courtyard from the street.

"Her friend called to her, then hopped the fence and escorted her" up Emeric Avenue to a low gate that led into a campus parking lot, Lt. Mark Gagan said.

They joined a group of teens and young adults hanging out and drinking in the poorly lit courtyard.

The victim drank a large amount of brandy in a short period of time while socializing, police said, then collapsed. Someone dragged her to a bench, where several people stripped her, beat her, stole her jewelry and other belongings, and raped her.

The sexual assault continued for about two hours, detectives estimate, with several young men and boys taking part, possibly including some who arrived after the attack began, as word spread.

News of the ongoing rape eventually reached Raul Rubio from passers-by, as he stood on a corner with friends about a block from campus. After verifying the claim, he went to his girlfriend's nearby home, and she called 911."

Five men/boys ranging in age from 21-15 have been arrested. Some of the victim's personal belongings such as her cell phone and jewelry were found with one suspect.

Students at the school are rightfully angry. One, because despite 4 officers and security officers, no one was patrolling the grounds. Two, the school has no security cameras which would have been some kind of deterrent from this action. Three, of course, they are depressed that this horrible thing happened to a student at their school which is now tarred as a pretty bad place. It is demoralizing for everyone at the school.

But what do you say to kids about something like this? As an administrator or teacher, you look out in the halls on Monday and think, "Who saw this happening? Who knew this was happening and watched? Who knew this was happening and walked away and did nothing? Is it a snitch mentality - if I tell, I'll get in trouble?"

How does a school recover from this? It's not like one student shot another and you can say that they had a beef between them. Adults at the school let these students down. Students let each other down. The basic trust of humanity in believing that if something horrible is happening to another human being that you will help wasn't there. That these criminals could be doing this for 2 hours and no adult intervened and no student called 911 is very shocking and troubling.

I'm not even sure what I, as an adult, would say to the kids at this school. They weren't all there at the dance and those who did attend didn't all know this was happening; the blame for this culture isn't on the majority of students. But figuring out how to help them keep their heads up while trying to solve the dilemma of how a mob mentality got going and was able to stay active for over two hours and how you get these kids to believe that adults will protect them, that is a big task.

I'm not saying dances are a bad idea or that kids will get assaulted or raped if they go to a dance. Of course not. However, a large number of kids all in one place can be a highly charged situation and that's why school officials need to really use caution. This isn't like the kids in West Side Story or Footloose having a dance-off.

(Please note: as far as I know, all SPS high schools require a ticket and ID to get in. I know for sure at Roosevelt - and likely all other high schools - students are also checked for the presence of alcohol or drugs.)

46 comments:

adhoc said...

Interesting, Melissa.

Dr. Jill Hudson, the new principal at Nathan Hale HS announced a couple of weeks ago that all school dances, up to and including the prom, were canceled until further notice.

At a parent meeting a couple of weeks ago Dr. Hudson told parents that she was appalled at the behavior she saw at the homecoming dance - dirty dancing, lots of bumping and grinding, and a situation where a girl was down on all fours and boys lined up and took turns grinding on her. When she announced that dances were canceled at this meeting, parents gave her a huge round of applause. She said it was kids jobs to push the boundaries and it was her job to enforce them. I really like her!

This was my sons first HS dance. When he got home he looked stunned. I asked him how it was and all he could say was it was "intense". Later we talked a bit more and he said kids were smoking pot just 10 feet from the front door, and that the dancing was pretty vulgar. He said he wasn't sure he'd go back to another dance.

Security was there. Where were they? If my son had to walk past a group of kids smoking pot to get into the dance surely the security officer should be able to spot them? And where were the chaperons? Were they allowing the "dirty dancing"? Apparently it wasn't stopped until the principal walked in and stopped it.

emeraldkity said...

when my daughter attended Garfield most dances were held off campus. I do believe that there was dirty dancing but I don't know to the extent. ( my daughter attended, but she doesn't discuss things)

I did chaperone on a few post senior graduation parties , last year there was some risque behavior but nothing like adhoc described at Hale.

Apparently Garfield had time out at dances.
garfieldmessenger.com/news/2009/10/16/
dance-dance-revolution/

I agree that without a clear policy it is difficult to enforce.

seattle citizen said...

Ach...

I cry for the student.

I cry for the world where this could occur.

Melissa, thank you for reminding us with this story about the dangers children (and all of us) face in the world. Thank you for reminding us about how easy it seems (always, but particulary noticeable in this brave new world) for human beings to become...inhuman.

I write, "Adults at the school let these students down. Students let each other down. The basic trust of humanity in believing that if something horrible is happening to another human being that you will help wasn't there."

Your second statement sums it up - another human being should be there. But your first statement excludes the most important people who let this girl and others down: The community and the children's parents and guardians.

Children spend only one-sixth of their time in a school. Schools are just one place they go. Schools are (and some say this is proven) one of the safest places for a child. Inside the walls EVERY adult is watching, every adult is aware...(well, not every adult, of course, but my feeling is that most teachers are humane, if nothing else). Students are usually together in bunches, looking after one another...Parents don't abuse their children at school, it's rather difficult to use drugs and alchohol at school, gangs even sometimes respect the school as a neutral zone and sacrosanct against the violence they might affict elsewhere, on the streets...

Yes, teachers have let down society when students in their schools are somehow capable of such depravity. Teachers would have, if they could have, one hopes, taught that crap out of every kid.

But who taught that crap INTO some kids? Parents. "Guardians." Cousins, "friends," song, dance and video produced by our community minded businesses, virtual games produced by our community minded software developers, liquor salesmen, drug policies, hypocrisy, denial, competition, classism, racism, hate...

Centuries of accumulated "policy" and practice, in the past shadowy and more subtle, today in our faces (abuse is nothing new; ask your grandparent's friends and relatives...)

Students let this person down? And are our children, sometimes-students, capable of supporting that poor girl on the bench? The children are OUR children - not of legal age, not capable, sometimes, of the action and bravery they need...They are OUR children, and we can't put that on them to support their friends and other kids in the neighborhood - They're still learning. What have we taught them? Have we taught them courage? "Courage is the thing: All goes if courage goes. It is a staff you must carve for yourself - would that I could help you - to help you I would open every nook and cranny of my soul - but this staff you must carve yourself." (JM Barrie, to the graduating class of St Andrews, 1921...1/4 of the class lay dead in the fields of Flanders and he was trying to console and motivate the classmates who made it through...)

Has the community taught their chidlren courage? No teacher can patrol every corner of the OUTSIDE of a building...No child can be relied on to defend his or her friend against marauding rapists...but the community CAN be expected to control its youth, to teach it how to come to a dance put on by a school for its youth so they can have a good time and dance.

Don't expect a school to keep children safe if the community is allowing some to be unsafe. Don't expect the children to defend themselves. Schools are sanctuaries from the community chaos.

Stop the chaos. Model courage.

seattle citizen said...

"gangs even sometimes respect the school as a neutral zone and sacrosanct against the violence they might affict elsewhere, on the streets..."

This is key. Gang members are children, too, and often it's noted that the violence they've learned "out there" is somewhat neutralized within the walls of THEIR school. Why, one might ask?

Because, as children, they yearn for the keys of knowledge, have a core belief that SOME adults will give this to them, and that EDUCATORS in their school are some of the most likely ones to provide this important knowledge to them.

THIS is where teachers let kids down, if and when they do: by forgetting how important the skills are that these children yearn for.

This is where student's "friends" and compatriots sometimes let each other down: by forgetting how necessary these little bits of knowledge really are, because what's out there is sometimes dangerous, predatory and thirsty.

This is where the community sometimes lets students and teachers down, by forgetting that beyond those well-used schoolhouse doors lie the keys the kids' kingdom, and the holders of those keys...

As we "measure" schools, let's not forget to measure that unquantifiable measure of safety, sanctuary and care that schools almost always are.

h2o girl said...

I cried for this girl as well. From CBS news:

"Richmond High School has a 69 percent truancy rate and is in a school district that had 19 student murders last year. Fights at Richmond have been posted on YouTube, and a van was set on fire on the football field's new artificial turf. An investigation by CBS station KPIX-TV last year found only a handful of the 16 security cameras in the school were working.

On Friday, there were four Richmond police officers on duty at the dance, but the security guards patrolling the grounds were released at 9 p.m., a half-hour before the victim left the dance.

'Dance was successful event and safe for the students that were there,' said Marin Trujillo, the West Contra Costa Unified School District spokesman. 'This dance itself was a successful event.'"


So no one was gang raped on the actual dance floor, so in that respect the dance was safe and successful, apparently. Good heavens.

Security cameras that aren't working, police officers who leave before the dance is over, and of course the kids who participated, watched and didn't help or call 911 for over two hours - there are no words, really.

adhoc said...

FYI, Harium was also a PTA president, at Hale. And site council (governing body) chair at AEII (Thornton Creek).

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, is cancelling dances "enforcing boundries"?

I would suggest that staff tell students that staff is more than willing to provide a great dance space, use student-raised ASB funds for a DJ and lights, etc, and even volunteer their own, personal time to volunteer as chaperones (as staff has to be there in addition to any parent volunteers), but there are expectations: Pseudo-sex on teh dance floor is out. Students who grind will be given one tap on teh shoulder by and adult. Two taps and they're out, gone, have a nice trip home.

Most students at dances just...dance. The dances are pretty much like the ones many of us attended: groups of students talking, scoping...some dancing, some outliers cruising the walls, trying to figure a way to screw up courage (there's that word again)...
I'd say 85-90% of students a) have little desire to grind in public; and b)are at the dance for reasons besides dry humping.

Enforcement can happen in a dance hall (gym, whatever) rather than just shut the thing down. That's a dis-service to those kids who just want to meet, dance, gain mettle...

However, some students might just say, well, they're limiting us, we won't go, and the dance won't pay for itself, or be empty....maybe to fix this a school can foster REAL dancing, and an environment of "clean" fun that isn't gross and base. Maybe students can be taught to have a good time.

WV, coincidentally, is an unrappr (maybe a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll?)

adhoc said...

I hear you SC, why punish the masses for what a few do? But I think the conduct at the dance was dreadful over all. If it were just a student, or two, or three, my guess is that the principal or chaperon may have handled it with a tap on the shoulder, or by asking that student to leave. But as I understand it there was a large group of kids involved.

Personally I think the principal handled this situation superbly. She let the students know that their behavior was unacceptable and that it was not going to be tolerated. I was proud of her for upholding school rules and following up with a logical consequence.

Dr. Hudson is working with the students to come up with a plan that will allow future dances. Once they come to an acceptable agreement dances will be reinstated.

Students will work hard to get their dances back, and I bet they will take the rules much more seriously next time.

I think this was a great lesson for them to learn, and I love that students are being involved in working toward correcting the situation.

reader said...

As bad as it we may have it here, this latest report from California is the most horrific thing I've seen in a long time.

reader said...

... that is, a gang rape of a student, for hours at a "dance" at a California high school. If it gets inappropriate, it seems there's no end to where people will take these things. Better to can it, if the kids can't behave. There's no entitlement to a school dance.

seattle citizen said...

I'm not minimizing the responsibilities of staff - it appears they were understaffed and didn't patrol - but I have to point out that this happened not AT the dance but up a sidewalk and in a courtyard. It could have as easily happened half a block away, off school property, and then who's responsible?

To me, it's the thugs who did this who are immdiately accountable, of course, and then the community. This sort of thing happens with unfortunately great frequency OUTSIDE of schools. What is the community going to do about it?

Finally....not to be mean, but merely to make a point...raise your hands if you've chaperoned a dance. Educators do it on their own time, free, to provide dances for students. Who is helping them? The dance certainly isn't "educational", per se, nor a ncesssary part of the curriculum...Educators help students put these things on so the school community can do something fun together.

Is the WHOLE community involved, or do we just leave it to staff to take care of things, to patrol the streets outside the building...

Who is helping put these events on for the community's children?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I have chaperoned a middle school dance (much to my child's dismay). Even then there was a tiny bit of dirty dancing going on that we did break up. The participating kids were not happy, but the ones who were not (including my child) were glad the adults stepped in.

My child is now at an independent school that had its Homecoming Dance two weeks ago. Before the dance, parents received a letter outlining the expected behavior at the dance and made it very clear that no suggestive "freak" dancing would be allowed. The letter admitted that many students were not happy with the ban, but the school would not withdraw it until it received numerous complaints from PARENTS asking to allow that form of dancing. I have no idea if they received any.

The dance went well, and my daughter had a great time. I do believe that when kids know that they could be expelled for extreme behavior, they tend to keep it in check.

seattle citizen said...

Solvay, that's funny: I can just imagine a letter from a parent explaining that freak dancing was a form of artistic expression, and schools should not censor their budding Twyla Tharps of dirty dancing...

Melissa Westbrook said...

The whole issue of freak dancing was huge at Roosevelt about 5-6 years ago (I found a whole discussion in the PTSA minutes.) The kids were adamant about their rights to dance how they wanted. (And you have to remember; they don't have American Bandstand or Soul Train. Some of the stuff on those shows was considered wild but downright tame compared to the grinding that goes on.)

However, one simple thing that would help; don't play just hip-hop or rap music. The kids actually laugh (but then start dancing) if you play disco, Michael Jackson, etc. A good DJ can mix it up and not keep it in one place.

seattle citizen said...

Freak dancing to me is a sign of larger problems, the "shallowing" of culture and education. Call me curmudgeonly, but I feel that culture has degraded, that what we model and practice generally has been allowed to become trite, superficial, shallow.

Animalistic, perhaps, the famous focus by media on sex and violence...

When this thread first started, I immediately connected adhoc's comments about grinding to what happened to that girl outside the school: There is a direct connection between students feeling its okay to grind in public to children (and adults...shudder...) thinking it's okay to, as a group, rape a child on a bench.

Both "activities" (I'm sorry, it's difficult to talk of rape...I hope I'm not being callow) require a suspension (or lack) of social mores, a belief that we can do whatever we want and who cares about others...

The problem isn't the dancing, that's just the usual fumbling attempts at sexuality by young people, the problem is the idea that it's okay to do this, that it either doesn't matter what others think, or that others think it's okay.

I mean, how can a whole group of people, young and old alike, rape a child in public? Yes, there's "mob mentality," but this is different, this is callousness, lack of morals...evil.

Ty Graham said...

This rape is horrible. I am shocked by the brutality.

Just as horrible and brutal as the assault and murder of the Tuba Man. A murder committed by three 15 year old Cleveland and Garfield students. This following Garfield's homecoming dance at Seattle center. The teens faced no more than 72 weeks detention. No witnesses would come forward.

People, we are failing our children. Even in Seattle.

seattle citizen said...

Dehumization:
The reduction of a human to less than human
Human: ethical, moral, compassionate

Tools of dehumanization:
Brainwashing:
media, culture
Government policy:
racist laws and policies
Economic systems:
Reduction of all things to commodities (or numbers: The scientific rationalization of evil, see Rubenstein)
Family and community:
The tolerance of prejudices and hate

= base and evil beliefs and behavior

WV say that this is, I swear, trubl

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Of course, this discussion about teenage dancing has been going on for decades. Does anyone remember when Ed Sullivan would not show Elvis performing from the waist down?

Kids keep pushing the envelope for sure, but I can't help but believe that some of this vulgar dancing is a direct result of the vulgar dancing shown in music videos COMBINED with the fact that we no longer teach teens how to dance more respectably. (Which, BTW is just one of the reasons we don't have cable...though I realize, of course, that it's all available on YouTube.)

My daughter is taking Social Dance as an elective this year and she is finding she LOVES to tango and swing dance. The class also teaches contemporary dance, including hip-hop.

It takes no dance skill to grind, and for many kids it's all they know, except perhaps the more evolved hip hop that requires true athletic dance skills that are probably beyond most kids.

Unfortunately, with few schools offering much in the way of PE (which is where kids of my generation learned to dance), I don't expect to see Social Dance on the curriculums of many public schools. As with so much else in our society, the kids are learning how to act at a dance from their peers, with very little input fro adults.

I also agree with Melissa's idea about mixing up the music. There's tons of contemporary electronic dance music that is plenty danceable...and it does seem that the kids are all fascinated by Michael Jackson these days. Teach them all the Thriller dance!

adhoc said...

"Finally....not to be mean, but merely to make a point...raise your hands if you've chaperoned a dance. "

I chaperoned 3 of my sons MS dances. He was horrified at the thought that I would chaperon his first HS dance too, so I agreed not to chaperone this time....... but many other parents did.

The dances at the schools my children have attended (Kellogg MS, and Nathan Hale HS) do not happen without parent chaperones who, along with staff, also do it "on their own time, free, to provide dances for students"

In the case of the Hale dance, there were plenty of parents, teachers, a security guard/police officer, and the principal chaperoning.

I have also noticed at the Hale football games besides the many parents that attend, I see many teachers, and the principal has been there with her family for every game! There are also 2 police officers assigned to the event.

Having successful dances, and large scale events like football games takes a community effort that involves staff, students, the community, security, and plenty of parent volunteers.

seattle citizen said...

adhoc,I'm glad to hear that you have seen parents/guardians/others volunteering to help at these events. And, of course, you yourself!

It's a good thing.

I asked the question somewhat rhetorically, to suggest that many people DON'T volunteer, many people hold schools accountable for behavior that is rooted in the community, that many community members expect that the school should just take care of it.

I suspect that many involved with this blog are also involved with supporting their schools and communities...but there are places with little support out there.

adhoc said...

Actually in the schools my children attend parents are eager to volunteer.

For the past two years I have NOT BEEN ABLE to chaperone my sons school camping trips, because they got so many volunteers they had to draw straws to see who would go, and my straw didn't get pulled.

Parents also chaperone field trips, work on their schools auction committees, hold seats on the PTA, bake goodies for teacher appreciation events, organize fundraising, work on school committees, help write grants, organize carnivals and talent shows, hold seats on the schools BLT teams, on site council, volunteer in the classrooms, or as art docents, or as science fair coordinators, as lunch time and recess chaperones..... The list goes on and on and on an on.

Don't underestimate just how much parents do for and in their kids schools. Saying "raise your hand if you've helped chaperone" is insulting to the many of us who volunteer endless, and I mean endless, hours in our kids schools.

seattle citizen said...

adhoc, maybe insulting to you, who do so much, but not to those who do very little. You're lucky: active parents, supportive community. Many aren't so lucky (probably not too many in Seattle, but nationally there are absolutely schools with little or no support.)

At any rate, I apologize for any insult. It was not intended, as I said I was asking rhetorically to make the point that some schools aren't supported. But I do apoloize if I wasn't clear.

adhoc said...

No worries, SC. I know you have taught in some very challenging schools that probably had little to no parent support, and that must have been very very difficult.

I wish schools in those situations had a way to call on the greater community of parents to "help" out. I don't have any extra money to donate, but I have plenty of time. I would be happy to chaperone, tutor, organize events, be an art docent, at another school, just as I would in my child's school. I know there are many other parents out there who would do the same.

seattle citizen said...

adhoc, that is an incredibly generous offer.

I wonder if there IS any sort of central clearing house, at district level, where schools needing volunteers and volunteers can be connected.

I don't think there is.

Any district readers? THIS is an incredible idea...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, the district has a volunteer department http://www.seattleschools.org/area/vol/contact_us.xml
that does coordinate volunteers.

reader said...

Just as horrible and brutal as the assault and murder of the Tuba Man. A murder committed by three 15 year old Cleveland and Garfield students. This following Garfield's homecoming dance at Seattle center. The teens faced no more than 72 weeks detention. No witnesses would come forward.

The boys in the gang rape are being tried as adults and face life in prison, some of them are 15 yo's. How can 72 weeks be ok for murder? Those boys need to be put away for life too. Wonder why people go to private school? That's why.

seattle citizen said...

Reader, this happened outside a school, not in. yes, it we negligent, but to exapnd this to say that a thing like this is why people go to private schools...I'l repeat, schools are some of the safest places.
You want to get away from this sort of thing, don't look to changing schools, look to changing cities, are joining a gated community...It's a societal thing, not a school thing. Instead of going gated and hiring armed guards, maybe we could work to fix society....

reader said...

SC you're making no sense. Sure, everybody realizes the murder the Garfield/Cleveland kids committed was off campus. So what? That isn't the point. The recent rapes were on campus. That doesn't seem so safe. Are you saying that murderers and rapists are ok, and will be good, so long as they are in the really safe school venue? Ridiculous. No, you don't have those kind of kids in private schools. No, you don't have them at any work-place either. No, you don't need to move or leave town... you just need to avoid public school. Isn't that obvious?

Maybe you're saying that if you live in a horrible neighborhood, and you're pretty clueless yourself.... well the school is safer than home. Again, so what? Private school won't be an option for that person either... most likely.

seattle citizen said...

Reader, the rapes at Beach were an anomaly. My point is that the community outside the school is much more dangerous than that within. Of course the kids (and adults) outside will still be criminals or whatever when they come inside...but chances are others will be safer.

" you don't have those kind of kids in private schools. No, you don't have them at any work-place either. No, you don't need to move or leave town... you just need to avoid public school. Isn't that obvious?"

Wow. What bubble do YOU live in?!

You don't think there's rapists in private schools?! None of "those kind of kids" at various workplaces? Who, pray tell, are "those kinds of kids," and why, exactly, aren't they at provate schools and in every freakin' nook and cranny of this free society? Of course they are: Rape has existed since before the idea of schools even formed in some scholar's head. Private schools harbor criminals just as publics do. But oh, yeah, I forgot: Private school students who get caught are kicked out...Don't fix the problem, just cleanse your own house and send "those kinds of kids" back to publics.

Thanks! Publics want to help children, even when they've been kicked out of some private school who doesn't want them.

adhoc said...

All of the crimes may not happen on school campus but the ones mentioned are being committed by SPS students. Do you want your kid in Cleveland with the thugs that murdered the Tuba Man? Do you want your kids in Garfield after two of their football players robbed and assaulted 2 innocent people a block away from school? Do you want your kid at Hale where kids are routinely busted and suspended for dealing drugs, and where kids followed a special ed student to his metro stop and assaulted him? Do you want your kid at RBHS where a rape happened and was not reported to the police? Or at Ballard where there was a drive by shooting and an innocent girl was killed? Or at Ingraham where a female student was a member of a gang and was murdered - her body was dumped in a lake?

Most of these incidents happened off campus, but were committed by the students in our high schools. That is not very comforting. Schools may be safer than the streets, but they are not safe.

My son sees drugs sold regularly on campus, he has seen a student with a handgun on campus, and he has seen several fights in his few short months at his new high school.

Like it or not, fair or not, private schools kick out the "bad" kids, the trouble makers, the kids who get caught with drugs, the bullies....

Those kids get funneled back into public school making the public schools disproportionately worse.

Parents are willing to pay big time for the shelter that privates provide. Can you really blame them?

adhoc said...

SC, you keep saying that the attacks happened "off campus". It seems that you are defending teachers - the crimes happened "off campus" so it wasn't the teachers fault - there was nothing they could do about it.

But, I don't think Reader was blaming teachers at all. I think he/she was merely pointing out that our schools are full of unsavory, sometimes violent, students and that in itself makes the schools unsafe.

It has nothing to do with staff, or the location of the crimes. It has all to do with the fact that your child may be sitting next to one of these violent students/drug dealers/gang members and there is not much you can do about it in a public school.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, you keep saying these children are "students, not "children of the community." That's the disconnect.

YOu write:
Most of these incidents happened off campus, but were committed by the students in our high schools...committed by SPS students....Garfield...football players robbed and assaulted 2 innocent people...a female student was a member of a gang and was murdered...our schools are full of unsavory, sometimes violent, students and that in itself makes the schools unsafe....your child may be sitting next to one of these violent students/drug dealers/gang members and there is not much you can do about it in a public school

In every instance above, you write that it was "students" committing thse crimes, even off-campus. The poor girl who was murdered was a child of the community who happened also to be a student (thank God.)

It's not STUDENTS doing this, its kids.

I'm not defending teachers, I'm talling it like it is: There're kids everywhere who have fallen (or been led) to the precipice, living violent lives IN THEIR COMMUNITIES. The schools are not the guardians of tehse kids when they're outside doing whatever...

Private schools will save you? I went to a very fine public high school, all the students APPEARED to be fine, upstanding citizens, yet this one boy stabbed a girl in the library because she wouldn't have him.

I wonder if Bernie Madoff went to a private school?

I wonder if Ted Bundy did?

You think a private school will protect children out on the streets, from the children left ot suffer because gated communities and private schools allow people to bail on their communal responsibility to children?

The children are sometimes students, public and private. Soem children are in trouble, and cause trouble. It's all around us, not the product or responsibility of those darn public schools...the trouble wasn't "committed by the students in our high schools," it was committed by troubled youth generally. It was also committed by studens kicked out of private schools who didn't have the wherewithal to try one more time in publics: They gave up, and are on the streets with the public dropouts. Way to go, privates, kick those kids back to the streets.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, Reader...I'm sorry if I sound defensive around public schools...I am. I know that every parent wants their kids safe. I apologize if I got all gloom and doom, and criticized your desire to keep your children safe...I just see the problem as more outside the schools than in. Yes, schools DO make it easier for kids to get drugs...It's a problem. I suspect private schools have kids selling drugs, too...maybe more expensive drugs...But I hold to my position that a kid is safer against rape, against assault, inside a school. Robbery, too. NOT theft, there's lots of stealing...But not strong arm robbery, not in the halls.

I'm just afraid that it's everywhere, provate, public....gated communities, city streets...Plenty of abuse and crime has and does go behind closed doors; plenty of addicts get their drugs in the 'hood and take them back to Broadmoor (or just havce their doctors prescribe them, and Johnny raids the medicince cabinet...heck, have the doctor prescribe to Johnny, now Johnny is selling his drugs in school...

It's the community, it's the world, we need to fix these things instead of running away.

adhoc said...

SC, you look at things from a purely philosophical stand point (IE we must save the world)! I admire that. And when it doesn't jeopardize whats in the best interest of my family and kids I generally view things in the same way.

While I believe in, invest in, volunteer in, and generally work hard to support our public schools (IE save the world), if my kid were in a public school that I felt was unsafe, out of control, or could not meet his academic or social needs, I would get a scholarship to a private school or home school- immediately (IE best interest of my kid)

There is shelter in private schools. It's not that kids in privates are "better" (there are plenty of troubled kids in privates too), but the environment is much more intimate, and the "troubled" kids get identified pretty quickly. And when they get caught doing something wrong (taking drugs, fighting, skipping school) a private will kick them out without a second thought and enroll another student in their place the next day. And in that way there is shelter in privates.

And many Seattle parents (60%) are very willing to pay dearly for that shelter.

seattle citizen said...

In a philosophical, save the world vein, adhoc, what happens to the kids who are kicked out of the private schools?

Why don't the provate schools work with the "trouble"? I know some do, but the common assumption is that that is one of teh "great" things about privates, is that they have little trouble because trouble walks.

Why can't they keep the "trouble" and deal with it?

And the idea of "sheltering"...Churchill said we having nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear driving one to shelter will also lead to a fearful life.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Adhoc said;

"And many Seattle parents (60%) are very willing to pay dearly for that shelter."

Are you saying that 60% of school-aged kids go to private school? If so, where did you get that figure?

adhoc said...

Brita Butler Wall and Harium have both used the 60% figure in reference to percent of families living in Leschi, Madrona, Madison Park neighborhoods who choose private schools, and thirty five percent for N. Seattle families.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Actually...the private schools I have been involved with do not kick kids out that easily. The student has to be a pretty serious problem before they are asked to leave. At my daughter's schools there are kids with various issues, and the teachers and schools work to help them achieve despite those issues; that is what we're playing for after all.

With that said, it would be pretty rare to find the kind of behavior that MKD described at RBH, or, the high school in California. Are their kids who do drugs? skip class? etc.? I am sure there are, but they can't be as blatant, because they can be expelled more easily.

jwhite717 said...

Anecdotally, there are 8 school age children on my block in Madrona. Four of them go to private school.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

I was shocked last year when I realized that 5 of the 12 kids on our sons baseball team went to private schools and 1 (my son) went out of district, and this was not a "select" or "elite" travel team, it was just a neighborhood rec league team. Families were driving to Shoreline, Capitol Hill....

It was eye opening to think that 50% of our baseball team did not attend Seattle Schools.

On my block we have two home schooled kids, three private school kids, one out of district, and 8 SPS kids. That's 45% not attending Seattle Schools - and we live on a very modest block, right off of Lake City Way, with low income apartments on our corner -

And this is in the NE where the public schools are pretty decent for the most part!

I'm not saying that number is representative of the entire NE cluster.....it's just what I have observed within my community.

seattle citizen said...

That IS shocking, adhoc....I wodner what can be done to bring people into publics?

If the perception is out there that public schools are "dangerous" because dangerous kids go to them, I suppose nothing can be done until the world becomes safer and people aren't concerned about the safety of their children in publics.

Of course, some things could be done to help, before that mystical moment: Better intervention, and response to intervention, including, perhaps the district's new "response to intervention" model (tiered, increasingly urgent respones as need escalates.) This, and support of teachers who kick students out of class (see Dan's postings on this, and on the laws around it) would be helpful. While I maintain schools are pretty safe, I agree that they can be quite disrupted. I'm sure this is part of the reason people go elsewhere (though I wonder if out-of-district publics have some of the same disruption problems...Privates, maybe not, as we've discussed.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

That's right...it's more about the disruption--the idea that there might be enough kids who don't value school in every classroom that the teacher's time will be spent on discipline and classroom management rather than teaching.

It's also about us wanting classrooms where the majority of kids are at or above grade level. Too many times, schools in neighborhood with high populations of struggling kids become all about lifting those kids up—a great thing for sure, but not when it comes at the expense of less attention for kids who are at level. Since tracking is evil, we expect teachers to differentiate to some pretty vast expanses of levels and skills. Combined with large class sizes, some kids are going to get short-changed. As many of us do not want struggling kids short-changed either, we go elsewhere to find a means to get our children the education they need too. That means private, out-of-district or home-school.

The kids who are trying hard at Rainier Beach would definitely benefit from being in a classroom without the rabble rousers. Why is it considered unjust to make it so? The hard-working kids certainly aren't seeing justice under the present system.

reader said...

SC, it may be true that some kids are safer in a public school than at home.... it's totally NOT true for my family, and totallly NOT true for anybody I know. My kid is safer at home than at any pubic high school in Seattle. No doubt about it. That's not to say I wouldn't send them to a public high school though. We're back to that concept of the "poor others". I'm sure that many public high schools are reasonably safe... but not if they've got murderers and rapists running around in them. Private schools do take on some level of "trouble", and perhaps more of the low level of trouble than some public elementary schools.... but not the murder/rapist/drug-dealer/law-breaking type of trouble.

The totally tracked systems bear much responsibility for the current behavior problems. (not the rapists and murders though) The whole notion that some sort of track or remediation is going to make up and close some gap. Exactly the opposite happens. Instead they create a system of 0 expectations for many of our "tracks" and instead add to the problem. EG, behavior problems segregated out of some classes, and concentrated in others. Interestingly, NPR has had a series recently on this very issue. Sure RTI might help... RTI is statewide initiative btw, not a district one. But, I haven't seen anybody really doing any RTI though. Have you?

adhoc said...

I have said many many times. The district should ask every single family that does not enroll their kids in SPS why they don't? Or at the very least they should ask every family that leaves SPS why they are leaving.

They could do an exit interview, or a survey.......but they need to ask. They need to find out what families thought was better about the private school? What caused them to home school? What did the neighbor district offer that SPS didn't offer?

Here is what I hear most often from our friends here in the NE (and not in this particular order).

Class size - way to large. SPS is competing with privates that have 15 or so kids per class.

Schools over enrolled in the NE - families are not getting into their neighborhood schools. The schools are so crowded that they have classrooms on their stages, in their science labs, in teacher break rooms.

Lack of access to high quality schools (especially our friends in the Mount Baker area and SE Seattle)

Unpredictable access to popular alt schools like Salmon Bay and TOPS.

Constant chaos, turmoil, changes, uncertainty, and instability at the district level. Families don't "trust" the district.

At the upper grades...peer groups can play a big role (lack of motivated kids, many drugs in HS, violence)

I know a couple of families who drive beaters, shop at Goodwill, and live in small modest houses, just to put their kids in private schools. It's that important to them.

Personally, we have felt fortunate, and feel that our kids have had a fantastic public school experience, though not always in SPS (we sent both of our boys to Shoreline Public Schools for MS)

We have been humbled by some of our kids teachers, they have been so great and inspiring! And despite some lousy curriculum (EDM, CMP2, Discovering, Writers Workshop) my kids teachers have always made it work! And. the icing on the cake is that my kids LOVE school! So public school has worked superbly for us! I wish it could work for everyone....