Thursday, October 01, 2009

WA Student Bill of Rights

Yesterday at the Seattle Center, students from The Center School unveiled the Washington State Student Bill of Rights, a petition written for students, by students, with support from LEV. Anyone can sign.

Here are links to a description of the event and photos.

31 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Wow! What a collosal waste of time, money, and energy.

The "Student's Bill of Rights" is a meaningless basket of self-contradictory happy talk.

SPSMom said...

Wow Charlie, how you really feel?

Charlie Mas said...

Did you read the thing? It's all goals and no means. Nothing is defined.

It says "Equal quality education must be provided for all of us." What is an equal quality education? What does that mean? How is quality measured? What will happen to the programs that are determined to have excess quality?

It says "Every school has got to be a safe, supportive place for learning." Doesn't that necessitate the removal of students who make the school unsafe or unsupportive? What will happen to those students? Will they get an equal quality education?

It says "We hold leaders accountable for Vision, courage and results." Really? How do you do that? We haven't been able to hold them accountable for anything. And we've been working at it for years and years.

It says "Our diploma must mean we're ready for college, work and life." By what measure will we know that you're ready? What will happen for the students who aren't ready after 12th grade? Will they get a diploma? What will they get?

The very idea that the League of Education Voters is trying to use this happy talk to raise money disgusts me.

emeraldkity said...

I agree with Charlie. There is no there there. It means as much as for the district to say " everyone achieving, everyone accountable" and then not living it.

What the student bill of rights does is open up standards to demand more money and then if more money isn't recieved, they will then put the " accountability" toward the purse holders. ( rather than thinking outside the box to how they can get goals met with what they have)

You don't need a computer to get an education, but you do need curriculum and expectations that doesn't just address linear learners and thinkers, but the spectrum of education, and the way we all learn, which is through art/music and kinesthetically, not just through reading and listening.


It's pretty alarming that over 1000 students signed a petition to get this thing more media play .
Do they really think it means anything?

Dorothy said...

I think it shows they haven't been taught to be rigorous critical thinkers.

Makes me think about the RHS SS Chair and her pro-APHG argument and the RHS principal and his APHG=Success argument. Both arguments specious. Neither contained rigorous critical thinking. And like how the board seems to accept any old presentation and display of "facts" without exercising rigorous critical thinking by asking questions and challenging falsehoods.

And perhaps also, these kids haven't been taught to be cynical enough, to question motives and agendas and consequences.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

And doesn't the Center School have some of the highest WASL and SAT scores in the district?

This from our cities brightest??

Sahila said...

I too think that the document is pretty much worthless - the language is too loose/undefined, it reads in part as a repetition of 'reform' propaganda (anti-teacher, pro testing), where is the bite, what is the mechanism for upholding it, who (what authority - federal, state, local?)is the document aimed at?

BUT I think its a good idea at its core and I think we do not include young people in any of this discussion and change in education, which is kind of arrogant, patronising, disempowering, disenfranchising and disrespectful because after all, they are the ones who have to live it out and live with the end results for the rest of their lives...

I think we parents/community members and the District/Board/legislators ought to include students in all aspects of the education process, including creating and administering the underlying model... The aspects of policy C54.00 that relate to community governance of alternative schools (including children as partners in the process) ought to apply to the entire education system...

And for those who think kids of any age dont have anything useful to contribute/dont know what they are talking about in terms of school system structure, process, administration - you'd be surprised... give them some background information about the issues and they come up with some amazing ideas and some valuable and valid insights/perspectives to which adults usually have been blind...

Dorothy said...

adhoc, I thought I saw mention of specific students' names attached to the "bill of rights" and it included someone from Sammamish. I don't think this is particularly a Center School thing. Now I can't find that paragraph. But I do think this is more LEV and less TCS

Note the AP coverage, I like the wording in that it seems a little suspicious of the claim that this is student written and makes clear it is a marketing strategy.
"THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE — The League of Education Voters is introducing a Washington state student bill of rights.

The marketing campaign to promote school reform was introduced Wednesday with a kickoff at Seattle Center.

The student bill of rights is a list of eight things the league believes every student is entitled to. The organization says the bill of rights was written by students and they are doing their part to promote it."

wseadawg said...

Folks: I've warned everyone over and over about the full court press campaign to knock down the teachers, bust the union, grease the skids for privatization, etc., etc.

This is just one more feather in the cap for phony, supposed "grass-roots support" for so-called reformers to inject the "business knows best" philosophy into our public schools. That the League of Ed voters is aligned with it should not surprise anyone.

Yes, I can get on board with some of what the League of Ed folks want, except the narrow, corporate stuff. Schools are to educate, not to train future corporate cubicle occupants.

It's just more fodder in the campaign for "change." Ask them to define change, and see what you get: Corporate drivel.

And I'm no commie. I run my own business. 100% capitalist in the market, where schools don't belong.

Rachel Maddow would have a field day with this, if she weren't so busy exposing all the fake grass roots groups big pharma and big medicine are creating out of thin air to oppose Health Care Reform.

emeraldkity said...

What happened to teenagers? Don't they read the newspapers anymore?
When I was young- the youth were all about questioning authority,, taking their own lead and they knew that with rights come responsibilties.

The Center school has one of the lowest FRL rates in district. These students were raised with resources and expectations but they seem to live in a bubble.
( I agree that this was introduced at the Seattle Center- but I don't think it is a Center School document)
I look around the world and I see students in other countries who are leading the way for their generation, they aren't waiting for " updated software".
http://www.oneworldyouthproject.org/

wseadawg said...

Its all so the Board and MGJ, genuflecting to the BRT can say, "see, we have all these different groups, a broad coalition demanding change" (So we gave them change alright! Rotten math, standardization, young-inexperienced teachers, mixed cohorts, disrupted lives, stress and anxiety across the district, Broad Foundation management, Public Relations up the wazoo, Rubber-Stamp Directors, and spin, spin, spin!!!)

Just say "it's all about the kids," and one can justify anything. We're closing schools to improve them. We burned the village to save it. And so on.

wseadawg said...

Of course its not a student-created document, EK. Was it just a coincidence the League of Ed Voters were there for the unveiling?

Hello, Dog. Hello, pony.

emeraldkity said...

At Summit we had student involvement.
On the hiring committees, ( including for the principal) we had students, we had students giving reports to the BLT and at the Parent group meetings.

During the winter term we had high school students teaching peers and younger students on the ski slopes and in the classroom during activity Fridays.

Because of the K-12 configuration, we were able to have student mentors for younger students which benefited both, which is just one example of the cross grade participation that I saw.


These things don't always translate directly into raising WASL scores however- although the lower income- challenged family background from where many students came, should have been taken into account IMO.

Other opportunities in the district for students to lead the way was the Global Technology Academy at Garfield. Students were taught to repair and refurbish the computers but the trips taken to install the computers were largely the result of hours of student planning and hard work, not just to raise funds so they could go, but to handle details big and small.
( & of course the district cut the class two months before the end of the school year)
http://www.garfieldmessenger.com/features/
2008/02/15/peace-love-and-computers/

( my daughter is on the end- she went on to raise money to volunteer in India for three months earlier this year and is currently involved in a project to collect books for children in Iraq. What she learned in GTA gave her the skills and confidence to do that. )

When we dictate to students what they should be interested in- or when they do so just because they are so attuned to our expectations and want to please us, we take away their confidence and ability to trust themselves.

Youth need their own voice- not an echo of adults who " know better".

Maggie said...

As League of Education Voters newest staff member (youth organizer) and as the person who has coordinated Student Bill of Rights events all summer, I would like to respond to a few of the comments on this blog.

To Charlie and wseadawg, you’re partially right. This is a document that sets a vision, but not an action plan. We are teaching kids to be advocates for themselves—and to think about what a solid education means to them. How do you do that? You help create something for them to advocate for: a document outlining their rights as students in Washington State. The Student Bill of Rights has been a vehicle for youth across Washington to learn about activism and to learn about our state’s education system.

Watch how kids took ownership of education reform last Wednesday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-93QYPSxkI This wasn’t a dog and pony show—this was LEV providing the stage for students to speak out.

And this IS a student created document. I helped write it myself, along with several other student volunteers last summer after LEV and College Success Foundation helped pass CORE 24.
I’m helping inspire a student movement and I can’t do that with a check-list of “things to do” to fix education. This isn’t a grocery list of how we are going to raise WASL scores, increase graduation rates, or eliminate the achievement gap. If we want to do those things, we need words and values that excite students to take ownership of their education. Engaging teenagers and cultivating activists is a difficult task, however, it’s a necessary one!

First step is get students inspired and engaged, second step is outline the action plan.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Thanks, Maggie, for chiming in. While I agree the Student Bill of Rights is far from perfect, I agree with Sahila that it's a great opportunity to welcome students to the discussion. Watch the videos of the event if you doubt the sincerity of the efforts: http://www.youtube.com/user/edvoters#play/uploads/4/q4Rf_wLQ70w. Sometimes we're all so quick to be critical that we forget we're all in this together.

wseadawg said...

Maggie: Thanks for your comments, and I'll partially retract my cynicism for the moment.

But as a veteran activist and organizer, be very wary of your bedfellows and their agendas, and guard yourself against having your energy and hard work co-opted and used by those who's agendas you may not support or may not have signed on for. It happens everyday. Just watch the Health Care debate, or any election for that matter, and how many of us find ourselves saying, "wait a minute, I didn't sign on for that..." But by then, it's often too late.

Are you ready to have your work and platform used by others as fodder against the teacher's union, for example? And are you fully aware of what consequences may follow? It may sound trite, but seriously, be careful, and very, very aware of what you wish for.

And thanks again for weighing in.

Charlie Mas said...

Maggie, I really admire your enthusiasm.

I look forward to your second step.

SPSMom said...

"Sometimes we're all so quick to be critical that we forget we're all in this together."

That was my thought and was particularly disheartened to read comments like Adhocs about students. And it does appear that the Center school students didn't even write the Bill of rights.

I watched the video clips and was very impressed by the art and poetry presented at the Seattle Center, by students, Center school students who as Adhoc states,

"...from our cities brightest"

Maybe a brief moment of reflection before we start slamming students who are just trying to get the education they deserve.

moneylady said...

You know - Obama didn't win his campaign with specifics and numbers. He won his campaign by setting a vision. It was a simple message that inspired millions and especially millions of young people. YES WE CAN.

That's how you inspire people - with a vision that captures them to hope for something incredible. These students have created that vision for themselves. Yes, LEV helped and I'm thankful they did. We need to get students at the center of the conversation.

When is the last time you asked a young person how she feels about education reform or climate change or anything? When is the last time you took listened to young people rather than talking at them or about them? Exactly.

It's time for the adults to stop talking so much and listen. Students know what they need to succeed.

seattle citizen said...

As Emeraldkitty points out, some notable schools, Summit and Nova spring to mind, have students that are so active (already) in their own educations that they help govern it. Students are part of those democratic decision making bodies, the BLTs, and also work with other kids in leadership positions, are active in other areas of school and community, and are PART of the process.

Thank you, Maggie, for deepening our understanding of the process involved here, in the creation of the "Bill of Rights," but it appears that it was not really written by the students in collaboration with other members of their educational communities (parents, teachers, staff, community) but rather was a list culled by LEV (out of how many student suggestions? Why this list? Where are ALL the student suggestions, may we see them?) and supported by the LEV and others, acting on behalf of the students, not students acting on behalf of themselves.

The Bill contains many instances of what others should do for students, but previous little of what students should do fot themselves, or participate in. It seems very much a product of entitlement: Give us..Give us..Give us..

I would have preferred
a) a Bill rooted in actual rights: how are rights derived? From responsibility. Where's the responsibility here? Rights founded on and connected to basic human rights, for instance, such as those found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)and that are shown to grow out of those rights, with the necessary responsibilities addended.
b)a governance document that recognizes collaboration, not one that comes from just one (or another...LEV?) perspective but is drawn from the interests, abilities and responsibilities of all parties.
c) failing that, I would like to see a Parents' Bill of Rights, an Educators' Bill of Rights, A Legislators' Bill of Rights, and a CEO's Bill of Rights (all with the responsibilities that come with the rights)

seattle citizen said...

I reference to "a" in my previous comment: What are "rights" and can we so cavalierly throw the term around? I'd like the students to tell us where these rights the list are grounded in the human condition.

Not that some of them aren't, but it's pretty easy to say you have a "right" to something; it's harder to explain why.

That said, more power to the kids! I am glad to see them active in their educations, it's rarer than you think.

Dorothy said...

Obama is also all about personal responsibility. Instead of telling parents to expect that great education "must be provided" in a passive voice, he tells parents to read to their child and pay attention, insist on homework and education as a priority at home.

I'd love to see a student bill of rights that showed that students really thought through the issues, and wrestled with ideas. But this? Seriously, I do talk to and listen to teenagers. I have never heard any of them use phrases such as holding leaders accountable. That's a grown-up platitude.

owlhouse said...

I always think of student rights as children's rights, as human rights.

We have laws and a societal expectation that children attend school. We discuss and legislate how many hours they should be in school, which classes/credits they they should be required to take, what level of performance meets our expectation given the investment we've made in them...

In a system solely concerned with the education of youth, there is very little space for student initiative, and not much expectation of it. I'm not particularly inspired by this Student Bill of Rights nor do I have much faith in the motivations of LEV- but if this exercise introduces education activism/advocacy to even a small subsection of students, I'm for it. We adults can talk all day (or apparently for years) about boycotting tests in an effort to hold the district accountable- but imagine it students themselves learned to "flex their muscle". If HS kids organized a strike and set up child care/activities for younger kids... If they called BS on compulsory schooling w/o access to strong, equitable, challenging, supportive schools...

In the meantime, I think it's useful to take a look at UNICEF's 1990 summit for children. For all we can take for granted, the sections about respect for family/care givers, a child's right to her own opinion, the right to a "supportive and nurturing cultural and social context" in which to grow and learn- are applicable to education in our district and our nation.

http://www.unicef.org/wsc/declare.htm

Sahila said...

Thanks Owlhouse for your posting and the reference back to the human/children's rights and the UNICEF 1990 Summit....

And I agree about giving tools/encouraging young people in their activism... here's hoping they do a better job than we adults do...

I've been watching/writing on this blog for almost a year now... and three times its come up about what we can do, as a community, to make our presence felt in this District... WASL boycotts, strikes, rallies, letter/complaint campaigns, rolling school stoppages, collaboration across communities and interest groups...

And in that year, I have seen nothing concrete materialise from any of that talk...

We deserve all the top down reform (we despise so much) that we're getting...

again, to quote Frederick Douglass and thanks to Dora and Sue's blog (http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/) for the quote:

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”

Good luck and my support goes to young people who are working to make their voices heard in this process... again, its their lives (not ours) which are affected by all of this - dont they have a RIGHT to have a say in that?

And speaking about the change process...

There's a group forming to lobby for charter schools in this state... if you dont know much about charter schools, see the Seattle Education 2010 blogspot, listed above...

http://crosscut.com/blog/crosscut/19114/#end-of-comments

Dick Lilly is a fan of charter schools.

Some of us are going to Olympia to impress on legislators that there's no need for charter schools in this state...that we already have in place alternative schools, APP programs and option schools, and that what we already have should enable us to qualify for the Race to the Top funds.

Please pass this on to other parents and educators.

We need to have a stronger lobbying effort than the proponents of privatization of our public schools. Please consider taking about four hours out of a weekday to travel with us to Olympia to meet with our representatives. They need to know where the majority of Seattle parents and educators stand.

If you're interested in joining us, want more information, you can email me at metamind_universal@yahoo.com and I'll link you up with the group...

SPS mom said...
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emeraldkity said...

that we already have in place alternative schools, APP programs and option schools,

I would agree with that in other districts- however you know as well as anyone the lack of support for alternative learning in Seattle from the district, especially at the high school level which is where it should be emphasized even more.

Sahila said...

I'd rather work to ensure that quality alternative schools and programmes are offered through public schools, than allow charters into the state...

We are heading down a very slippery slope right now.... its going to be hard for Gregoire to hold out against charters if she is now saying she is being forced to consider tax hikes, Tim Eyman is putting forward a TABOR initiative that would put in place permanent cuts to education (and other government spending), and at least one Mayoral candidate says he'd think about taking over management of public schools (see what's happened to public schools in other parts of the country where that's happened, and how much influence Broad/Gates etc have had there in bringing in charters).... http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

See this report, if you want to know more about how this kind of 'reform' has failed, and for ideas on what might work better...
"Chicago School Reform: Lessons
for the Nation." http://www.fairtest.org/files/ChicagoReport2007.pdf

The last page of the report says:
"Public education in the U.S. faces a critical and very real choice. We can continue to follow the unintelligent design of business and political interests, or we can demand the right to practice the fairer, more effective strategies that have been evolving quietly over the years in the most successful schools in Chicago and elsewhere. It's up to us."

This report reveals what has been successful - particularly noteworthy is success seen in schools serving largely minority and low-income students. Seattle alternative schools might very well fit in this category of successful schools.

adhoc said...

"that we already have in place alternative schools, APP programs and option schools,"

Do we know that these programs are indeed offered by every school district in the state?

It's true that they are offered here in Seattle, but what all of the other districts?

If the other districts don't offer these "other" options families may be more inclined, and perhaps rightfully so, to favor charter schools.

Syd said...

I don't see anything wrong with a we-the-people-hold-these-right-to-be-self-evident type statements. I think that is what this is, and it should not be trodden upon.

They can work on how after they have their mission statement.

reader said...

Right! If the highly paid, highly educated Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, can whip up a Strategic Plan that basically says: "Excellence for all, hire the best, be accountable, and make most of the kids pass their tests and graduate".... then these high school kids are probably doing way better than the supt! And they didn't need any highly paid consultants to review their work!