Thursday, June 10, 2010

From the "Are You Kidding Me" File

Well, this one takes the cake. The Times has been following the saga of what will replace the Fun Forest at Seattle Center as it renovates itself. Early on, the owners of the Space Needle wanted to put in a Chihuly glass museum which seemed to get a lot of blowback from people who were not wildly enthused given (1) it seemed a bit like merchandising for a guy who already gets a lot (2) there's a glass museum in Tacoma and (3) most people (and I say this confidently) want more green open space in the center of the city.

So the owners of the Space Needle, in an effort to get what they want, sweetened the deal. To wit:

In a second attempt to sell the city and the public on a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at Seattle Center, the Space Needle Corp. is proposing to add an art-inspired playground for kids and develop a partnership to bring more art to Seattle public schools.

And how would SPS be involved?

On the defensive, the new Chihuly proposal seeks to address those concerns. Its proposal includes a letter of support from Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson for a plan to develop an 8th-grade science and art curriculum about glass that would culminate with a field trip to the exhibit, all funded by the Space Needle Corp.

I'm sorry but I don't care what the Wright family pays for. Is learning about glass already part of our science and art curriculum? Just that one subject and oh boy, at the end, a field trip? How does this fit the Strategic Plan? How does it help low-income students? How does this truly, in a global sense in our district, support better academic outcomes?

Look, I applaud public/private partnerships but this is nuts. I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth but is this money, given in this way, for curriculum that yes, the staff would still have to divert its attention to work on, really what we need right now? No, it's not and that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, with all the things in front of her to get done, would take the time to sit down with these people, listen and then say yes and give them a letter of support just baffles me. (And did she ask the Board?)

30 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Will the "art-inspired" Chihuly playground be made of glass?

Sahila said...

I walked across a surface of broken glass shards once, as part of a personal growth, mind-over-matter/focus exercise... bit like the walking on hot coals thingy...

Didnt cut my feet...

Wonder if they think kids will likewise be fine...

Who had the nincompoop idea of mixing fragile glass with boisterous kids? The only fun in that will be counting how many times one hears the sounds of tinkling glass fragments and maybe the ambulance sirens!

hschinske said...

Maybe someone really, REALLY misunderstood our demands for "increased transparency"?

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

Or maybe we should all look at the world through multi-coloured glasses?????

seattle citizen said...

c'mon, Helen, this Chihuly we're talking about. Your comment about transparency doesn't show much glass.

southend girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emeraldkity said...

I must have missed the community forum where we found new monies to provide transportation to the Seattle Center & chaperones to supervise.

I am glad to hear that MGJ is taking recommendations to increase communication seriously and she carefully considered all the options before making a decisions to spend time/funds.

JK

OHHEY
Chihuly is sponsoring a baseball league, I hear- we are gonna use metal bats & hard balls

- but ya know- read any of the articles about the proposed glass museum over the last year- and I bet you can't find more than 5 respondents who are in favor.
But this could work
Glasphemy
But really- how is that gonna open up public space?

wseadawg said...

So why do I have this feeling that MGJ is mostly about raising the profile of MGJ, hobnobbing with the mucky-mucks in the community and climbing the education reform ladder to salaries of 500k per year and beyond?

Why do things like this reinforce my feelings? Hmmm.

zb said...

"So why do I have this feeling that MGJ is mostly about raising the profile of MGJ, hobnobbing with the mucky-mucks in the community and climbing the education reform ladder to salaries of 500k per year and beyond?"

But isn't this the problem with all of them? Is there a superintendent out there we'd like to steal away? Or are we hoping for a pre-corrupted who we can watch being slowly manipulated by the money flood, and then kick out when the process is complete?

I think that's one of the missing pieces that the scions of capitalism haven't really understood, that it's difficult to align incentives with desired outcomes when the desired outcomes (for example, teaching children who don't know that they can learn) don't produce monetary incentives of their own, and when the job can't be scaled up. They think they've discovered the magical hammer of markets and go around pounding everywhere.

seattle citizen said...

So when they go on these field trips, the 8th graders will give their teachers a glass class pass?

wseadawg said...

I read the article. In a word: Disgusting. Call it "Westlake Mall II: Nightmarish City Planning Returns." Anyone remember that 20 year battle? Park! Mall! Park! Mall! Solution (settlement)? Both! A "park-like" mall! Blech!

Commercialism reins supreme, doesn't it? Along with Seattle's legendary and embarrassing wannabeism. We want to be more like.....Tacoma?

The Space Needle has been the biggest joke and worst corporate tourist trap for years, and now the clowns that can't cook a hot meal up there (I swear the food is prepared by robots) want to rain down their brilliance to the ground below. Typical.

Tacoma's already built enough Chihuly edifices to dominate the landscape along their waterway. Now Seattle has to jump on the bandwagon? How original!

So here's one more piece of public space to be stolen away by commercial interests and taken off the map of available land for kids to simply run and play, or stand on. Haven't we wannabes in Seattle ruined enough open space and decent neighborhoods with square plaster andd glass boxes? Anyone else sad to see Ballard and Fremont ruined by modernity? And look at the feeding frenzy: KEXP wants..., The Museum of the Mystery wants..., the Center Foundation wants a commercial kiosk..., and on and on.

Will the ghost of Emmett Watson please appear soon?

Space Needle CEO Sevart thinks people will "get on a plane to fly here to see this exhibit, and when they're done, they're going to want to see what else is in this area in terms of glass." Right. The old "tourism will bring jobs to the area" line. Along with sky high prices, low wages, Subway and Cold Stone Creamery franchises, and a ubiquitous Starbucks. Maybe McDonalds will move from across the street too!

Why doesn't the headline read: "Seattle "grown ups" (fingers in the air folks) who despise kids and families seek to condemn playground for museum to fellate Dale Chihuly more than Tacoma." This would outdo the Sculpture Park, er, well Park? Let's see, kids can't climb on or touch anything, so, we'll call it a park to make nice, while knowing full-well it's not for kids or families. Wannabe losers.

Honestly, haven't we seen enough Chihuly work for several lifetimes already? Mt. Rainer, the ferries, and the Pike Place Market will still kick butt as tourist draws on any silly museum anyways. I doubt one person would board a plane solely to see such a place.

I wonder in what garden these child and family hating morons grow? It needs to be taken out of production for a while.

A city that turns its back on its common and its young and old in favor of its hip and chic is a city without a soul. Are we there yet?

seattle citizen said...

"Space Needle CEO Sevart thinks people will "get on a plane to fly here to see this exhibit"

ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I'm from NY, and I just picture people in THAT city, bored with MOMA, Guggenhiem, et al, have this moment of inspiration:
"I know! Let's go see that incredible new glass store in Seattle!"

ha ha ha ha ha ha!

KBO.

Patrick said...

hschinske, that's the funniest comment I've seen this month.

I don't mind Chihuly, and if he wants a museum/sales floor that's fine... but he should pay commercial rates and shouldn't take away one of the few spaces for families to take their kids that doesn't cost a lot.

The deadline for proposals was last week. Why do the Chihuly people get another chance to change their proposal after the deadline?

emeraldkity said...

The thing about private/public partnerships is there has to be something in there for the public.


We already have one vanity museum as a local newspaper has pointed out- how is that going?

IMO Chihuly has had his 15 minutes- I have been to recent benefit auctions where his stuff didn't even sell-

But isn't this the problem with all of them? Is there a superintendent out there we'd like to steal away?

We are compared with San Francisco quite a bit- expense wise and numbers of children in the city- However, their new superintendent is a gem from what I have been reading.

I think that you’re going to find that I am going to spend a lot of time in schools. I want to have one-on-ones with people when I visit schools. People are pretty honest. Face to face communication is very important – to walk in and have a conversation. I never tell people what schools I’m going to go to. It’s an important role for me to go out there and see what we are doing. To get people’s comments one on one. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable in large audiences, telling you what they really think. Establishing some trust with people, being able to go around. It’s one thing to view you on TV in sound bytes, it’s a different story when people get a chance to communicate and talk with you. And that’s what I’m hoping to do. I think that will establish some mutual understanding of where we are headed.

Carlos Garcia

Sound like anyone we know?

ParentofThree said...

Couple of things to note about this proposal. One, it would create 225 jobs and two it would bring in $24 million in revenue to the city, three the 8th grade field trip would be paid for and five teachers would get paid to write the curriculum. Personally I think 8th graders are mature enough to learn and work with glass w/o getting hurt. Plus, glass is really cool to learn about!

I think these are all potential assets to Seattle and students.

seattle citizen said...

Pof3,
It would create 225 jobs for the time it takes to build the thing. I doubt that they'll be employing 225 people full-time. Maybe...15?

I think the reasons I responded so negatively to this is that the city, the center, the Wrights and Chihuly have already heard, loud and clear, that no one is interested in this thing. That they come back with this...plan...to "bring all 8th graders" (? no 7s? 9s?) on "field trips" is just strange and stinks of a last-ditch sales attempt.

In my opinion, Chihuly is a marketing genius who created a market, what, 25 years ago? but he's had his run, and this new plan almost sounds like he's trying to bring 8th graders out to buy more of the art his employees create.

24 million to the city over twenty years....yes, that's a big chunk of money. Similar to the 4.3 billion offered states under RTTT. But just because someone wants to give you money doesn't mean you have to sell yourself to get it.

I like an idea posted on the comments on the article: A full-time KEXP dj booth, space that is adaptable for different purposes at different times (play area, beer garden, dance venue, whatever. This thing, whatever emerges, should make use of outdoor space. It's what people want, it's OUR Seattle Center, and Chihuly can build his gift shop, uh, gallery on private land somewhere else.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ParentofThree, almost anything they do differently will create jobs. Whether you are talking construction or long term (people did get paid to run the Fun Forest). So how is that an argument for the museum?

How did you get the $24M in income figure?

I see the SPS offering as nothing but a bribe. This is NOT what we need now for the schools. Again, where did you get the 5 teachers writing the curriculum data? Is this in the proposal? I don't have a problem with 8th graders working with glass but we need to work on the curriculum we already DO have. How much more can this district take on and do well?

ParentofThree said...

How did you get the $24M in income figure?
The newspaper article

Again, where did you get the 5 teachers writing the curriculum data? Is this in the proposal?

Not 5 teachers, rather point #5 in the list of what I consider to be pros to this idea.

And really, why is this NOT what our students need right now? If you read the article closely you will see that this could be a very small science project, 2-3 days in class learning about glass, followed by a field trip. That sounds better than anything else I have seen lately.

Sorry, I dont agree with the bloggers on this one. I think the idea may have some merit to it.

seattle citizen said...

Pof3, I would have one question, which I don't know if you could answer:

Who originated the idea of having 8th graders study glass and then do a field trip?

If it was the people who want the facility, then this just smacks of an attempt to get all warm and fuzzy. They didn't have this idea until they needed some good PR?

And THEN who came up with "8th graders"? Did the Chihuly people go to district and say, "quick! we need to come with a "curriculum" to add to this project pronto!" And then who at District took this forward?

Nah, it just stinks of PR all the way around. Maybe Strategies 360 is helping them out.

ParentofThree said...

What if the idea came from a community member who said, "Great idea, but you need to tie in with the school district and then offered up their suggestion?" Would that be OK?

Look, I am not saying this is the best use of the space, I just think it the proposal has some merits. And it forces the other people that want the space to up their ante, which we may see soon enough.

seattle citizen said...

Well, Pof3, it DID get people thinking about how we can form connections in the community to make richer educational experiences, I'll grant you that. And it did inject education into this particular...competition? to see who gets the space. I just hate to see education used as a pawn. If it was someone in the community thinking this might be helpful, sure, but it doesn't seem that way to me. It just smells of PR. I could be wrong. I was wrong once before....1987, I think it was...no, 1988....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent of Three, you could be right that it might be a good idea. That it is forced with a proposal that some wealthy people are just dying to see happen seems suspicious.

Also, the students may learn about glass, both from a scientific and artistic POV, but I'm beyond sure there will be no hands on glass-blowing involved.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, you're right, it wouldn't be hands-on: I'm SURE they'd make them wear those big fireproof gloves. Heck, I'd bet they'd throw in aprons.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ha! Seattle Citizen. I just meant I don't think this district has enough time or insurance to allow kids to use that kind of heat safely.

Maureen said...

Both of my kids have blown glass in a Coyote Central middle school class (*). Very cool and completely age appropriate. But how does glass fit into the 8th grade EALRS? Has any thought actually gone into this? And if Chihuly is interested in education, why doesn't he bank roll the curriculum and invite 8th graders into his hot shop on Lake Union? Does he even have a charitable foundation? It doesn't show up on his website. I would feel much better if he had proposed this science/art program three years before he wanted the land.

(*)Work in a professional art-glass studio and learn the techniques of glass artists. The big focus is teaching you how to blow glass. Through many projects, you’ll learn glassblowing, solid work, sand casting and glass bead making. You’ll be designing and creating your own glass art: glass ornaments, paper weights, cups & more!

seattle citizen said...

Well, there's the question, Maureen: Has he ever brought students to his Lake Union hotshop?

I agree that it is age appropriate (Coyote rocks!) but I also agree with Melissa that the district might shy away from the liability.

Using an interdisciplinary model, one could readily fold some EALRs into such an enterprise.

(Do they allow interdisciplinary studies in middle school anymore? Aren't they out of sinc with curriculum alignment and merit pay? To which teacher would one assign the credit and the bonus? Science teacher? Math? World Cultures? Oh wait, there aren't any EALRs for culture.)

emeraldkity said...

my husband learned how to weld in SPS- but when we eliminate arts focused schools- like Summit K-12, that had been around for thirty or so years-

how is it that all of a sudden we ( MGJ) wanna support Chihuly when we give short shrift to the working artists that have been working with kids already?

wsnorth said...

I asked my kids. Lame as it was, they'd rather have the fun forest. Unanimous vote, ages 6 to 14.

Tim said...

Ug. As an 8th grade science teacher of more than 20 years, I say Ug. Yes, you can make anything at all fit into the "Essential Learnings" and other national standards as well. I have seen lots of public-private partnerships that did. I was mandated to participate, and I gave it my all. But that isn't the point. Classrooms shouldn't be a bunch of disconnected short three to five day units that when summed up hit all the EALRS. They should be continuous, smooth and transition in such a way that kids don't have unpredictable schizoid shifts just to get some private money. Trust me. No matter how good the curriculum, no short experience sticks in terms of the big learnings. Sure, everyone remembers the flashy explosions in high school chemistry, but does that mean they remember the larger teaching points? Teaching for flash and field trips that are disconnected is just a bunch of crap. Field trips can be amazing extensions to good curriculum. But you design the curriculum first, then look for a trip to support it, not build a museum(? showroom?) with public money and then bribe schools to bend the standards to fit.
Every last field trip opportunity will align your tour to state standards - but that doesn't make it a meaningful part of a curriculum.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Tim. That's what I thought but I'm glad to hear it from a teacher.