Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Complaints About Complaints

I enjoy bitter flavors. I like coffee, bitter ale, Italian aperitif wines, and these little red sodas from San Pelligrino called Sanbitter. I also enjoy the bitter tang of irony. There are a few specific ironies that I truly savor. One of them are people in their cars in traffic complaining about traffic. They seem so blissfully unaware that they themselves are part of the very problem they hate. Another irony I enjoy are those who complain about complaints.

Let's be clear. I don't have any problem with a complaint. A good one states the problem, knows its roots, shows the harm it causes, and suggests a viable solution. That's perfectly legitimate. I absolutely loathe whining. Whining has the statement of the problem but rarely knows its roots and never suggests a workable solution. That's the big difference: suggesting a solution. If you offer a solution then you are part of the solution. If you don't, then you're just whining about the problem.

This blog has information and discussion about Seattle Public Schools. The individual schools, for the most part, work pretty well and do a good job providing an academic opportunity to most of the students who arrive prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. The District's central administration, however, is a howling cess pit of dysfunction, incompentency and waste. That's the way it goes. Things don't always work out as you might like.

So what are we to do? Generally we report the facts and then discuss them. The facts about the District's central administration are often sad, and the discussion is often about what is wrong and how it can be fixed. At least that's how it goes when things are working right. When things aren't working right we don't suggest solutions as we should and we end up doing more whining than we should. That's the way it goes. Things don't always work out as you might like.

The blog is open to anyone. It isn't moderated and it is almost completely unedited. Look around. The blog for the Alliance for Education isn't like that. The blog for the League of Education Voters isn't like that. If people want to comment on this blog and write about how the District is a paradise filled with butterflys, rainbows and cupcakes, they are free to do that. Not too many folks are taking that opportunity. If people want to write that the District's budget priorities are out of whack and that the central administration is bloated and useless, they are free to do that. Honestly, it is the more popular choice over unicorns and hearts. Is that representative of the community? I don't know. I can't say. This blog gets over 3,000 page views a day and lots of comments and discussion from a lot of different folks. The blog at the Alliance for Education is more positive, but it hasn't had a comment in a long, long time. I guess folks want to talk about their truth more than they want to talk about the version promoted by the Alliance and Strategies 360.

Some may find all of these suggestions for improvement to be negative. I think it is MUCH more positive than the comments I typically read on the Seattle Times web site. I'm not sure what the whiners want us to do about it since they don't really suggest a solution. Are we supposed to just stop noticing the lies and the broken commitments? Are we supposed to just pretend that the hypocrisies and flawed logic don't exist? I suppose we could do that, but I don't think we will. That's the way it goes. Things don't always work out as you might like.

51 comments:

Greg said...

I don't see it as complaining at all. I see it as providing transparency. People need to discuss what is wrong to see what is wrong. People need to see what is wrong to have any hope of fixing it.

This blog should be seen as helpful to the district, at least for those who care about transparency, efficiency, and accountability in Seattle Public Schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie mostly said it all but my comment is when people say "too negative", "lay off staff", etc. - are you saying the situation of our district administration is not that bad?

LouiseM said...

Not at all Melissa. What jumped out at me about the negative stuff is when Enfield was hired as the interim. Almost immediately folks started jumping all over what she should do, what she did that they didn't like, she wasn't the person they wanted anyway, etc. And the woman barely started.

If the posters on this blog are genuinely interested in improving the district, then I don't understand the logic of piling on Enfield when she just got this job. More bees with honey than vinegar.

mirmac1 said...

LouiseM,

I'm one of the folks who was *^$#@& pissed at MGJ. I have NOT been piling on Enfield. Please don't generalize. That's not to say I won't remain critical of the detritus MGJ left behind, or some proposals coming down the pike. I think if you took a poll, you'd find 100% who hope and pray for success that truly benefits our kids.

As for the blog, well if I wanted to read happy talk, I'd read School Beat.

ArchStanton said...

Seems we have to have a "complaints" themed post every few months so people can get it out of their system. Not a complaint, just an observation.

piling on Enfield when she just got this job makes it sound like she just got off the boat with no previous connections to MGJ et al. Yeah, she's the new SI, but she's not new to the upper tier SPS administration and it's ties and connections. It's understandable why some might have concerns. It's up to her to prove whether those concerns are founded or not.

Peon said...

"If people want to comment on this blog and write about how the District is a paradise filled with butterflys, rainbows and cupcakes, they are free to do that."

Not really. The environment gets hostile. Posters get aggressive and defensive. They really are not interested in hearing opposing views. And I'm not referring to you Charlie.

Here is some more irony. The district gets an organization to host Dr. Enfield's coffee hour. That's no good, people complain about it. But if the district didn't hire an organization to host the event, and they shelled out the money to pay for the coffee themselves that's no good either. They'd be accused of wasting tax payer dollars on coffee. This irks me. It's that damned if you do, damned if you don't attitude. And it's a no win situation. And that is frustrating for those of us who remain optimistic and hopeful that the district can move in the right direction.

I want to give Dr. Enfield a chance and am ready to do so. I want to tackle the big, relevant stuff. I don't want to waste my time splitting hairs.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It seems to me that this blog has changed since I first started reading it. I used to be able to get facts about changes happening in the district that directly affected my kids, or their schools. I still see some post like this, for example how many open seats are available at the high schools, or transportation issues. Does seem to me there are more posts complaining about the district, yet no suggestions from these posters on how to fix the problems. I generally ignore the long winded complaints, but it is getting harder all the time trying to pick through them.
Clementine

Central Mom said...

Anyone read SLOG? Publicola? Blogs about state and local matters...

Seattle Public Schools is a district with a $500+ MILLION budget. It is supported by every taxpayer in this community. A blog discussing its good, bad, ugly, problems, solutions, celebrations is completely appropriate. Glad to have it. The range and tone of comments are par for the course with a blog, but frankly the knowledge of posters and the level of discourse here generally rises above the more well-known SLOG and Publicola.

Does this blog make the "traditional" education establishment uncomfortable? Does most of Central Administration wish it would disappear? No doubt. But this is what on-the-ground democratic participation in a school system looks like. It isn't always pretty, but thank goodness we live in a city where people care so passionately about the performance of their District. This is not the status quo in huge areas of the USA.

Jan said...

Thanks for the post, Charlie. It is always good (for me at least) for something to come along and prompt me to examine my own attitudes (do I whine? do I pile on? do I give people (Dr. Enfield, for example) the benefit of the doubt and refrain from tarring her with the worst excesses of MGJ?). I try and probably fail at times and need to try harder.

Posts like this also give reasonable posters with minority views a chance to hold up a mirror to those whose positions they challenge. While there are a few whose posts only seem snide and snarky -- there are many others whose opposing viewpoints I value, as they challenge me to examine my prejudices, assumptions, and arguments.

Jan said...

Cont'd

I had a moment like the one that Peon describes when the STEM stuff first came out. After all the clamor for the SSD to devote more time, attention, and assets to RBHS and Cleveland, many were totally ticked at the cost of STEM. I think it is entirely possible to both want help for SE Seattle AND to be unhappy with the cost of the STEM software platform, etc. etc. And the argument that Cleveland/STEM may not help the struggling Cleveland kids who were there before has tons of merit. But I don't recall seeing much if any credit given to MGJ for at least siting a potentially popular, potentially high rigor program at Cleveland -- which made it seem like some commenters just weren't going to be happy no matter what.

So I think, Melissa, in answer to your comment on "too negative," it is not that some commenters are necessarily saying district administration is "not that bad," but that a more balanced critique when commenting, in cases where there IS a good side, is both more informative AND more persuasive.

Admittedly, sometimes there has BEEN no positive side (Potter/Stephens, curriculum alignment, closing Cooper, failing to make LI and Montessori options schools.) And it is only fair to point out that some posts (and comments) are 100% positive -- they ONLY complement schools, or programs, or efforts -- so it is not like this blog is all negative or critical, by any means.

Melissa Westbrook said...

How about a meeting with no food? We're all grown-ups, we know the district's financial situation, bring your own coffee. Then you don't need to involve any outside group at all.

Cranky said...

How about an hour with the super in the JSS auditorium without food?

NO ONE should be spending funds on food, Alliance for Ed, etc. while
resources are exiting our classrooms.

This isn't about being positive or negative. It is about being fiscally responsible with resources intended for our children's education.

Charlie Mas said...

I take criticism very seriously. When someone suggests that I have erred I stop and sincerely consider the merit of the statement. I often find merit in criticism. Sometimes the problem isn't so much one of substance as it is one of style. Sometimes the criticism is entirely unwarranted and without merit.

Let me give you two examples of what I regard as criticism without merit.

On the thread about the hiring committee for the new Communications Director LouiseM had the second comment (but the first one that was on-topic). The comment from LouiseM was indignant about the blog writers' dissatisfaction with the choice of parent representatives on the hiring committee. But there hadn't been any dissatisfaction expressed. So what was LouiseM complaining about? I have no idea. The criticism was entirely unwarranted and without merit.

Now, also from LouiseM, we see another bit of unwarranted criticism - a complaint about something that no one did, but which LouiseM presumes people would have done (kvetch about the expense if the District had paid for some coffee) - a complaint about what LouiseM predicts people would have done in an alternative universe. Again, this is criticism about an imagined offense that did not occur in reality.

For the past two years Dr. Goodloe-Johnson hosted "Coffee with the Superintendent". She had about twenty of these meetings. The District paid for the coffee at each of them. I do not recall anyone ever complaining about the expense of the coffee at any of them. The complaint about the imagined offense has even less legitimate basis because, based on the actual track record, there is no reason to believe that the offense would have occurred even in the alternative universe.

I take criticism very seriously and I have made a number of apologies on this blog in the past. Some criticism, however, is just ridiculous.

Peon said...

Clementine, Bingo! You articulated exactly what I have been feeling, but couldn't quite put my finger on it until you pointed it out.

This blog used to focus on what was happening in our school communities and how those happenings directly affected our kids. Now the blog primarily focuses on district affairs, district staff, political agendas, charter schools, reform, and reform supporters -Gates/Broad/Duncan, etc. Couple the culture/topic shift with the constant snipes at the district and, well, it's just not so interesting, and sometimes downright irritating, to read.

Maybe that's why the blog has lost some of it's followers?? Maybe the majority of SPS families do not want to read about reform, charters, and district affairs, over and over again? Maybe families liked it better when the focus of this blog was more on our local schools and the kids in them?

Not to say that important and relevant district and national affairs should not be covered. Just saying that they now dominate the blog. Topics like "Audit response", "As the district churns", "With arms like an octopus Gates reaches in all directions", are not interesting to the majority of families in SPS (though I understand that they are very important to the 10 or 15 people who regularly post here).

SC Parent said...

I think there are lots of helpful suggestions on what the district could do to improve its student-related outcomes, almost all of which are more insightful and brilliant than I could ever hope to develop on my own.

What often comes across as complaining is a necessary byproduct of airing all the facts. Sometime it's hair-splitting, but sometimes it's really dirty laundry. Regardless, it's all important.

I have noticed a tendency to pile on, but I think that speaks to the passion that the commenters feel about education. I also find that they typically have facts to back up what they're saying.

Now would also be the absolute wrong time to "lay off the staff." This time of transition is critical to initiating long-needed reforms (see audit, Potter, budget, student performance, etc.)

Peon said...
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Peon said...
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Charlie Mas said...

I'm totally okay with the Alliance buying the coffee and danish. Heck they can spend all they want on it.

But it shouldn't buy them the authority to manage, format, and control a District event. To what extent was it an Alliance event, and to what extent was it a District event? That's a legitimate question.

Peon said...

"Now, also from LouiseM, we see another bit of unwarranted criticism - a complaint about something that no one did, but which LouiseM presumes people would have done (kvetch about the expense if the District had paid for some coffee)"

I beg to differ Charlie but on March 14, Melissa had an entire thread dedicated to the subject. It was titled "Over $600 spent for bagels and coffee" at an SPS sponsored Summit. She railed on the district first for hosting the summit, then for providing bagels and coffee.

And then in this very thread Melissa posts "How about a meeting with no food? We're all grown-ups, we know the district's financial situation, bring your own coffee. Then you don't need to involve any outside group at all."

The district buying coffee for a "coffee hour" does bother Melissa. Then when they don't buy coffee and let a non profit (that she doesn't care for) buy the coffee, she doesn't like that either.

Louise is not as far off base as you think she is on this one Charlie.

Dorothy Neville said...

"This blog used to focus on what was happening in our school communities and how those happenings directly affected our kids. Now the blog primarily focuses on district affairs,..."

Wrong. This blog got started by a Pathfinder mom not wanting the closures and consolidation plan then in the works. This blog has always been about district politics. Most things that are discussed related to schools and things that directly affect kids are also related to district politics. Not all, but most.

This is a politics blog. As such, it is actually pretty civil.

Melissa was unhappy with the source of the bagel money, Title I. Was that an appropriate use of Title I dollars? Perhaps it was, perhaps the collaboration of the summit was immensely useful. Perhaps not. That's what Melissa was shedding light on.

KG said...

Maybe the District should not provide principals lunch at regional principals meetings at a cost of $12.49 each. I bet thousand have beeen spent on these.
I believe they are big enough and ugly enough to bring their own lunches.

Peon said...

"But it shouldn't buy them the authority to manage, format, and control a District event. To what extent was it an Alliance event, and to what extent was it a District event?"

Really? If I were hosting an event I might want to have some say in the format. Of course Dr. Enfield is in no way obligated to take the Alliance up on their offer to host. If she does not like the format they choose she can simply decline their offer to host.

She obviously liked the format. I didn't have a problem with it either, honestly. I think it's splitting hairs.

basically said...

I don't know how people think this blog is losing followers. I don't post very often, but I read every day. Sometimes more than once or twice. The fact that the district is so mismanaged is of GREAT importance to me.

"This blog used to focus on what was happening in our school communities and how those happenings directly affected our kids. Now the blog primarily focuses on district affairs,..."

The fact that I am not currently worried about my children's current schools being closed, split, moved, quarantined, folded, stapled or mutilated is frankly kind of a relief right now, but as soon as things start moving and shaking again, this will be the first place I will come to for information.

I have been reading almost since the beginning, or at least since the second time they threatened to split APP, and appreciate the consolidation of information. Heck, I don't even mind a little opinion thrown in, I know who I agree with here, and don't, and choose what I read accordingly.

Keep on keeping on, I say. It's your blog (or Beth's, rather) run it however you want. People who don't like it can go start their own, and if they do, I hope they link it here, so I can read it as well.

seattle citizen said...

Peon, as has been pointed out, this blog was started because of a larger district issue, closures, and has always been about ALL students, even though it sometimes (quite often, actually) discusses individual schools.
The focus of this blog is the big picture, always has been, which includes diving in to schools sometimes, but is usually looking at how various policies and actions spread out over the district.
You (and others) are certainly free to bring whatever you'd like to the table (and stand resolute under the whithering slings and arrows of injustice, if they're flung).
The idea that the blog is losing readership is ridiculous: I've seen more new names on here in the last four or five months...Lots of people read it, some make ridiculous comments (tho' NEVER me) and some are focused on the big, BIG picture, which is the attempt by Broad and Gates and Walton and New Schools, national players, to hijack the public education system using race and mere snapshot test scores to belittle individual students and tear apart public schools.
Read me, don't, choice is a wonderful thing.

Charlie Mas said...

Yeah, let's be clear: the problem Melissa had with the coffee and bagel expense at the Title I event was only a small part of her concerns about that event, and the focus of concern on the food bill was centered on Title I.

It is a much poorer example than the actual "Coffee with the superintendent" events that were conducted over the past two years.

And, no, sorry, but the Alliance should NOT have control of an official District event whether they pay for coffee or a full breakfast buffet.

Of course if it is an Alliance event, then they can do it anyway they want.

Which was it?

Jan said...

Peon (and maybe LouiseM and Clementine as well?):

Here is another follow up thought on criticisms of the NEW superintendent (and the new communications person).

Many of us are trying very hard NOT to see Dr. Enfield as an extension of MGJ, and to not view the new communications person through a Strategies 360 lens. BUT -- we cannot afford the time and potential harm of "resetting to zero." In other words, I don't feel like we have the luxury of "assuming" that all commitments will be kept, that all processes are run without problems from staff hired by MGJ (per Charlie's thought -- I don't assume people won't follow through on what they say -- but I also don't assume they will). That would mean waiting a year, or two, and then "checking to see" if the old patterns have been broken, if money is no longer being wasted, if kids, rather than ed reform companies are benefitting from tax dollars spent, etc. etc. And there just isn't time. The really awful "convergence" of Ed Reform (on the national/state level), the Great Recession and the resulting fed/state/local budget crisis, and MGJ's own considerable shortcomings was sort of like walking into my child's room to find a python in bed with the kid. I have never felt this District to be so threatened as under MGJ. We have wasted four years, and spent an absolute fortune doing it. I think part of the "mantle" that Dr. Enfield inherited means she has to deal with the MGJ fallout, and the need to publicly demonstrate, right away, some different thinking and behaviors.

I totally "get" that lieutenants may not be like their bosses. They may have been gritting their teeth sometimes, wishing that things were being done differently, deploring the agenda. They may be vastly smarter, more humble, more intelligent, more communicative. So I am determined to try very hard to NOT prejudge Dr. Enfield or any of her new managers based solely on who they worked for before. And I don't expect perfection. But Dr. Enfield, if she wants to restore teacher and parent trust (at least this parent's trust), needs to start to put some distance between herself and the Alliance (to the extent it is an ed reform lobby, and not just a fundraiser); just as the new communications person needs to establish quickly that her loyalties now belong to the District and the taxpayers and parents, and not to S360 or the tactics and strategy it devised for MGJ.

seattle citizen said...

The district also gives the Alliance hundreds of thousands of dollars (oddly), so perhaps it was taxpayer money whether the district bought the coffee or teh Alliance did.

Whow event was it? District or Alliance? The concern I have is that they are, partly, one and the same and events like this do nothing to assuage my concern (Seattle Citizen complained quietly to himself and his readers.)

Charlie Mas said...

I had a really great meeting with Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center last week. She and I really get along great. We like and respect each other and, while we have significant areas of disagreement, are in agreement on the goals and basic beliefs.

Ms Finne has commented here on the blog and engaged this community forthrightly. She faced strident disagreement. I think she represented her perspective admirably.

I acknowledge that those who put forward minority views on this blog will be challenged. That's the point - isn't it? The LEV blog and the Alliance blogs do not even allow the expression of any views that disagree with theirs.

Those who want to complain about the blog are free to do so. All I ask is that you offer some solution. LouiseM asks folks to give Dr. Enfield a change to catch her breath and get the lay of the land. When does that "honeymoon" period end? Doesn't it end once she starts making decisions and taking actions? Doesn't it end when she states her priorities and makes program placement decisions?

If the blog has too much negativity - whatever that is - then I would be delighted to add LouiseM or Peon as contributors so they can write a bunch of positive posts. Would that address the concern and provide the balance that is missing?

Charlie Mas said...

I remember a meeting I had with a newly hired District staff member.

The new person said "Hey! I'm not the person who had this job before. Don't enter the new relationship with the distrust from the old one."

"Oh!" I said "You want to start with a blank slate?"

"Exactly!" they replied.

"Sorry", I said, "We're all out of blank slates. They were all used up. You have to start with one that has stuff on it. After all, if the past relationship were good, would you be asking me to set that aside and start you with a blank slate? Aren't you only asking for the blank slate because the past hisotry was bad?"

That's the deal. We're all out of blank slates.

LouiseM said...

Charlie, I don't need to be patronized with an offer to be a contributor. I simply want my points to be acknowledged as valid. I shared my view, SOME (not all) folks slammed it as if it's not valid. I don't mind that people disagree with what I post, but folks don't get to act like their view is the only valid one.

seattle citizen said...

I'm surprised few people complain about my atrocious keyboarding and my habit of posting without editing for typos. Melissa has "complained" about it (me) once or twice, and I thank her for her restraint. I vow, VOW, I tell you, to check my posts more carefully. (and copy them before posting, as this infernal machine is eating them lately.)

seattle citizen said...

LousieM, with all due respect, folks DO get to act like thier view is the only valid one. Folks on here get to write what they like, and thank god for it.

Unless you'd prefer that we not.

seattle citizen said...

man, I broke my vow to check for typos on the very first post out...
"their," not "thier."

Sorry! So sorry! Never again, I swear! Nope! Not me!

WV says my keyboarding has gone blewee.

David said...

Wow, the district shills are out in force today.

zb said...

Why are we having this conversation? It's too meta for me, talking about how a blog that talks about the district should be framing its posts.

I want to talk about education in Seattle Public Schools. This is my go-to place for information about what's happening in the district and I know a lot and find out a lot from what I read here.

Patrick said...

Peon, I think topics like the audit response, high level staff changes, and Gates's influence on the District are completely appropriate here. They may not immediately effect individual schools, but they effect what will be happening in a few years. They tell how money is spent and who will be calling the shots; what could be more important than that?

Besides, the individual schools have their own channels of communication.

Remember the old saw about journalism: comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable? Who's going to do that with regard to Seattle Schools other than this blog?

JvA said...

This blog is amazing. Thank you for all the work you do. I don't even have a kid in the district (yet) and I've been reading it nearly daily for a great many months. I like that most posts are not about individual events at individual schools, unless it's something particularly noteworthy. If anyone wants to start a "praise publicly, criticize privately" type of blog about the district, more power to them.

dj said...

I often disagree with what Charlie, Melissa, and many regular posters here post, to the extent that what is being discussed is opinion. But, good luck, if you are trying to find an alternative source in this area for concrete information about what is going on in the district, finding any alternative source that is remotely as useful.

Anonymous said...

zb - many of the comments of some remind me too much of the meta wars on dailykos and other political blogs. Central Mom has nailed it, too.

When you're really clever and really venal, it makes sense to throw around all kinds of labels about angry and negative and cynical and ... whatever to discredit the analysis of others. You don't want them to succeed!

When you're NOT really clever but you're going to defend the bosses turf and be a good lapdog, it makes sense to throw around all kinds of labels about angry and cynical and negative and criticism and ... whatever to discredit the analysis of others. You don't want them to succeed!

For those who don't belong to either group, IF you don't like what someone says, ignore it - putting labels on it only serves to censor, and HOW does censorship belong in a Democracy? IF you want to censor, you should at least get some current or future pay-ola out of attempting to ruin the analysis of critics!

DoubleThink is DoublePlus Good

Peon said...

You know Charlie, I have great respect for you. And 99% of the time I totally agree with what you have to say. I have commented more times than I can remember on how spot on you are.

But sometimes you are just so stubborn (which is probably why I like you so much!).

You said "It is a much poorer example than the actual "Coffee with the superintendent" events that were conducted over the past two years."

OK, so lets just talk about "coffee with the superintendent" then. Lets talk about Dr. Enfield's coffee chat this week. Melissa posted in this very thread that the district shouldn't provide the coffee at the "coffee chats". That we are all grown ups and everyone should bring there own. It clearly bothers her that money is being spent on coffee. Louise is not that far off base here. She's picking up on what Melissa has said previously, and today. I find it odd that you would call her out on this?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but FWIW, I find it spitting hairs, to debate whether it is appropriate for the district to pick up the tab for a couple of pots of coffee at a "coffee chat". There are bigger fish to fry.

Whether the Alliance has a say in the format is worth a discussion, I'll go there. But coffee?

Peon said...

"IF you don't like what someone says, ignore it - putting labels on it only serves to censor, and HOW does censorship belong in a Democracy? "

DoubleThink there is a difference between censorship and feedback. Nobody, not me, or anybody else, has asked for censorship on this blog, or moderation, or anything even close to that. A couple of us have pointed out that we feel the blog has become more centered on district affairs, charters, and reform, than on our local schools and our students. And some of us feel that many posts and negative. That is feedback, not censorship. Most reasonable people, myself included, appreciate feedback and even critique.

seattle citizen said...

Peon, I get the feeling that it is not so much the coffee (tho' every penny counts, and why ARE we buying coffee for these things?) but that it represents tone-deafness. The district is short of money, the state is short of money, we're talking layoffs and students getting fewer services...Coffee is certainly a frill (tho' lord knows I'm addicted to the stuff)

The issue of the Alliance "buying" coffee (with our money...or Gates money; it's hard to keep track) is important: We've all seen how cozy these groups are, and the overarching question is why this is so. Why is the district giving the Alliance hundreds of thousands? Why does Gates give the Alliance millions to give to the district? Why is the Alliance (and other "coalitions" et al) considered to be some sort of co-policy maker along with SPS?

Why is the Alliance "hosting" meetings at all? The district can reserve the library, make an announcement, and we'll all go down there and chat. What purpose does the Alliance serve?

It ain't just about the coffee.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think offering to make someone a contributor to the blog is patronizing. How is that? Was Beth patronizing me when she made me the offer?

Hey, if Mel squaked about the district paying for coffee at some event then I was wrong to say that she wouldn't. I'll give up that point.

I'm beginning to side with zb that this whole conversation is becoming a bit too meta for my taste.

Finally, please don't seek validation from me or anyone else. You don't need anyone else's validation. Your truth is your truth. Of course you are entitled to your view and you are entitled to express it. Thank goodness you have this blog as a space where you can do that.

Anonymous said...

Well, as long as we are complaining... we got 4 mailers from the district today @ 4 pages each, telling us in 5000 words or less that our kids who are not moving or changing schools, nor has the school moved, nor have the laws of physics been repealed, basically telling us our kids need to WALK to school.

My spouse and I - both with advanced degrees - read it, turned it over, practiced our high school Spanish reading a bit, and concluded it was telling us nothing.

It also didn't say anything about riding their bikes, whining to be driven on particularly rainy days, or bumming a ride with the neighbors, so I figure that's still OK, too. Although it didn't specify.

signed: too close to home for my normal logon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 10.43 p.m.,

thanks for bringing up a great example of a district policy that has a vast day-to-day impact on student and family life.

Note the sequence: The district held information sessions about its proposed new transportation guidelines without any available maps, so parents had no clue what was actually being proposed for them, and had no reasonable opportunity to react. After these essentially meaningless sessions, the district then adopted the new transportation guidelines and their accompanying maps (which do not actually follow the wording of the adopted provisions, whose language most emphatically does NOT extend transportation for all attendance area children outside the 1.25 mile radius to their own neighborhood school, despite simultaneous contrary district assurances). After warning us that the results might affect our enrollment decisions, and after adding two extra weeks to open enrollment for us to process this, the district now sends out "Important Information About Transportation Changes for Next Year" which does not tell your family where your actual bus stop is if a change is being made, but instead cryptically describes your transportation eligibility as a "Community Bus Stop." In a separate page entitled FAQs relating to 2011-12 transportation eligibility, you are told that you can now locate your Community Bus Stop by visiting addenda to the same transportation maps that were not available when this new policy was being discussed and adopted. Visiting this latest information for our school reveals a handful of other far-flung elementary schools described as Community Bus Stops that are no easier for us to get to than the elementary school we are attending. In short, they have just pulled our transportation to our mandatorily assigned school. How do they get away with this stuff?

My question is, was this dribs and drabs release of inadequate and unhelpful information just run-of-the-mill mismanagement? Or was it a deliberate move to gag parental reaction and response, student and family welfare be damned? Am I just complaining, or am I seeking transparency on what seems to this family like an outrageous bait and switch? Worth a thread?

Anonymouse

Eric M said...

Skepticism of authority is absolutely crucial. It should be a mandatory duty of journalists and other thinking people.
Schools should teach students to be skeptical, to separate manipulative lies from reality.

The Seattle Times should, for example, be the journalists they want to be, and keep investigating the sale of the MLK school property to Fred Stephens' church using taxpayer money. There's something there. They should be more skeptical than they have been.

If you don't have skeptical citizens, you get the Vietnam War. But without the protests, it goes on. Forever.

Or Maria Goodloe-Johnson and the Broad Foundation. Forever.

So, go Charlie, go Melissa. Thank you for being skeptical. You provide an invaluable service.

Kick asses and take names and tell us about it.

Chris S. said...

I'm sorry LouiseM found Charlie's offer condescending. I thought it was a great idea, especially for Peon who is a well-known long-timer. I think that would be a great addition to the blog.

Peon said...

I actually felt complimented by Charlie's offer. But unfortunately as opinionated as I am, I just don't have the time (or energy) to go to meetings, and do the heavy digging that Charlie and Melissa do.

And just to clarify I am not unappreciative of the hard work that they both do. Quite the opposite, in fact.

But I do speak my mind, and when I have feedback, I give it. Hopefully nobody found it offensive.

Peon said...

Oops, I meant "interested" not "opinionated", though I am opinionated too.

wsnorth said...

Since we are complaining (or not) here's one from my 8th grader and friends.

Today, they had to sign up for classes at a High School many of them have no intention of intending. Either via choice, going to private, Rainier Scholars, etc., they all were making fun of the district idiocy.

As a parent, I'd like to say they need to respect the decisions of public institutions they rely on, blah blah, etc, etc, but all I could do (in all honesty) is agree - yeah, that's a stupid waste of time.

What's the point of this pointless activity? Um, assign first, then enroll. Seems so obvious.