Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rainier Beach High School

There has been much conversation about the happenings at Rainier Beach High School. As we head into the final couple of days of the school year, I feel compelled to comment on what is and what is not happening at RBHS.

As of right now, there is no principal at RB, even though the timeline was to have someone hired by the middle of May. I am not on the interview team, but the last update I received is that no one is even under serious consideration at this time. I have met the candidates in the informal "meet and greets" that the district organized. I have to say that I was summarily unimpressed by all of the candidates except one. The one candidate I was impressed by was the assistant principal from Foster. I think in a different situation, he would have been a very good candidate for RB. He understands the school and the students, but at this time, RB needs to hire an experienced principal. This cannot be someone’s first principal assignment. The gentleman from Foster will be a principal soon and the school that hires him will be very glad they did. My feeling (and this is just me, I have no "inside" information), is that an "interim" principal will be appointed because the district will be unable to find anyone. The hiring process has been poorly managed and the concerns of the community have been ignored (again). The fact that there has not been any consistency in the interview committee shows just how flawed the process has been.

From my vantage point, the first thing any new principal must do is change the climate of the school. Many (and I mean a large number) of the teachers don’t feel safe. They don’t feel supported when dealing with the disruptive and disrespectful students who make it difficult, if not impossible to teach. Other schools do not put up with this sort of foolishness. Students who are disrespectful and disruptive need to be counseled that maybe RB is not the place where they can be successful. RB needs to get away from being concerned about enrollment numbers and be more concerned about educating the students who are there and want to learn.

EDIT: One other observation that I would like to add is the impact of the new teacher evaluation system that all the other schools will be using next year. The feeling among the staff at RB was that the evaluation system was used as a weapon against the teachers and not as a tool to help them become better. It has added to the distrust that many of the staff felt toward the administration. The faculty felt that the evaluation system was used in a planned and systematic way to get teachers to leave. Teachers who were considered to be less than proficient were not given the support to become proficient, but were left to twist in the wind and pushed out the building. It came across as very planned and deliberate.

I was BLT chairman this year. I made a strong effort to check in with as much of the staff as possible to see how they were doing. I will not comment on any one person’s status for next year, as that would be inappropriate and a violation of trust. However, at the macro level, I count 31 faculty members that break down like this:

Department . . # of Faculty . . # Leaving . . # Staying
Business . . . . 1 . . . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . 0
CTE. . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . . . . 1
ELL. . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . . . . 2
Fine Arts. . . . 3 . . . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . 2
Health/PE. . . . 2 . . . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . 1
LA . . . . . . . 4 . . . . . . . . 3 . . . . . . . 1
Math/Math Lab. . 5 . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . 0
Science. . . . . 3 . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . 1
SPED . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . 0
Social Studies . 3 . . . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . . 2
World Lang.. . . 2 . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . 0
-------------------------------------------------------
Total . . . . . 31 . . . . . . . 21 . . . . . . .10

This is a very large number of people leaving in one year. I have a theory that this is exactly what the district wants because the district wants to make RB, its Teach for America experiment. The conspiracy theorist in me says that the district wants to get TfA in here, start the IB program, get the increase in test scores that will come from having IB caliber students and claim TfA a success and say that the reason RB was not doing as well before was because of the teachers that were there before and use it as a bargaining chip against the SEA.

As for myself, I am transferring to Ingraham. This was a very hard decision for me that I did not enter into lightly. I really like teaching at RB and I will be forever grateful to Dr. Gary and Ms. Lessig for taking a chance on me. However, I live 17 miles from RB. I live 5 blocks from Ingraham. I also student taught at Ingraham and still have relationships with the math teachers there. I spend upwards of 90 minutes a day commuting and that is starting to wear on me and my car. When I started at RB in the fall of 2005, I weighed 210 pounds. I now weigh 280 (and that is down 10 lbs). At 51 years of age, I am a heart attack waiting to happen, so I have to make some changes in my life. I will be using that time I used to spend commuting exercising and getting healthy again. That being said, I was really surprised, how hard it was for me to tell the students who I am close to, that I was leaving. I think the last time I got misty eyed in front of a 16 year old girl was when I was a senior in high school and my girl friend was breaking up with me!!!

I will continue to post when I feel that I have something to say that is relevant and may move the discussion about SPS forward. Thank you to all of the people who have read what I have written and took the time to comment. I very much appreciate your insight, wisdom and passion for the SPS.

36 comments:

dan dempsey said...

Mike,

Thanks for the report. ... It seems you are now following the Student Assignment plan ... and teaching at your neighborhood school.

It is interesting that TfA is apparently moving into RBHS ... and yet there is no principal in place. Has the UW CoE received permission to have a TfA program yet? Since there is no teacher shortage, who would care to sponsor this lie (other than Stritikus and Enfield).

The thrust for IB at RBHS shows the district has likely no plan for struggling HS students.

The Promotion / non-promotion policy D43.00 was revised to match the fact that the district has failed to follow policy and provide interventions for struggling students... It looks like with Cleveland having a STEM emphasis ... and the district continuing its k-12 math program disaster ... that struggling students will not be well served at Cleveland (much like so many other NTN schools).

With an RBHS transition to an IB school .. it seems the District ... has made sure that struggling HS students in SE have only Franklin to assist them.

... or perhaps traveling to a Renton HS.

-- Dan

dan dempsey said...

"From my vantage point, the first thing any new principal must do is change the climate of the school. Many (and I mean a large number) of the teachers don’t feel safe. They don’t feel supported when dealing with the disruptive and disrespectful students who make it difficult, if not impossible to teach. Other schools do not put up with this sort of foolishness."

See RCW 28A 600.020 ... just another law ignored in the SPS. ...


(2) Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first. Except in emergency circumstances, the teacher first must attempt one or more alternative forms of corrective action. In no event without the consent of the teacher may an excluded student return to the class during the balance of that class or activity period or up to the following two days, or until the principal or his or her designee and the teacher have conferred.

(3) In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems. Such procedures shall provide that students may be excluded from their individual classes or activities for periods of time in excess of that provided in subsection (2) of this section if such students have repeatedly disrupted the learning of other students. The procedures must be consistent with the rules of the superintendent of public instruction and must provide for early involvement of parents in attempts to improve the student's behavior.

Jan said...

Thanks for posting, Michael. Your input has been so valuable here. I have really enjoyed your insights and analysis. I hope that your new position (and your exercise regime) continue to leave you time to share your thoughts and observations from time to time. Losing you as an "inside voice) at RBHS is a loss indeed.

I also think that your conspiracy theory makes (unfortunately) a lot of sense. I will take your words as a reminder to refocus (again) this year on the District's continuing failure to provide RBHS with a viable plan for providing its students (both those who struggle academically and are far behind, and those who don't and are not) with the educational opportunities that they need to succeed.

Rita Green RBBHS PTSA VP said...

Many teachers are leaving because they did not belong at RB. Many are leaving because they were fired by the District. At least two of which should not have been fired. Others are leaving for career growth opportunities.

Rainier Beach is a safe place and some students are disrespectful to those who disrespect them. Many of the new teachers at Beach do not have cultural competency and for this reason are not able to properly educate our students.

My son has a 3.5gpa because of my involvement and insistence that teachers do their job. Without my involvement I am sure that my son would be failing due to teachers who do not care about the success of students of color.

I will also remind you that Raineir Beach has the highest graduation rate of students of color in the district and sends the highest percentage of students off to college and these students stay in college and graduate.

Come to the school and check it out before posting incomplete information.
What we need are teachers who respect our children and appreciate their differences.

Rainier Beach is the best kept secret in the SPS for Students of Color.

Anonymous said...

Rita: I appreciate your advocacy for RBHS, but I don't see you putting any share of the blame upon students. Do you really contend that all of the problems with disruptive kids and feelings of an unsafe environment are the fault of inappropriate, culturally incompetent, or disrespectful teachers? I can't believe everything is the teachers' fault. And if that's the mantra, I can't see things changing much for the better anytime soon.

While kids deserve respect, I think we often carry that too far at the expense of FUNCTION. The class, teacher, other students, curriculum and school have to function in harmony. When we get too hung up on respect and other personal matters, it causes learning to come to a screeching halt.

We've all seen this happen, and I'm not blaming one group or the other, but I wish we were all better (parents, teachers, and students) cooperating and moving toward common goals, instead of having to reset with new teachers each year, or get bogged down in "you first" or "tit for tat" contests. I'm not a big "get over it" advocate, as I think both sides need to be heard, but I believe we often lose sight of our common goals as we argue over who's right or wrong.

If teachers feel unsafe (a subjective belief), right or wrong, wouldn't it be better to accept and validate their feelings and see what you can do to alleviate their worry, instead of dismissing their claims outright? If a person feels unsafe, they feel unsafe. Telling them they are safe, or they would be if they were nicer or worked harder doesn't seem to be a remedy to me. My two-cents, for what it's worth. WSEADAWG

seattle citizen said...

Rita, I honestly wonder what you mean when you write that "Many of the new teachers at Beach do not have cultural competency and for this reason are not able to properly educate our students."

I've been interested in the idea of "cultural competence" as it relates to education for years, if not decades. I'm interested in how a teacher teaching, say, Math concepts is not able to "properly educate" a student due to some failing of the teacher's understanding of the students' "culture."

Math is math: What sort of cultural adaptations should a teacher make in order to "properly" teach students?

I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm genuinely curious as to what that looks like: Each child is a universe unto her/his self, a myraid complexity of "cultures" (particularly in this modern, internetted world). Is the idea of cultural competency that teachers are able to pick up on ALL the various and sundry cultural aspects of each child, and react/teach accordingly? Is it that a teacher "respects" that each student has a different way of expressing him/her self, and reacts/teaches accordingly?

Yes, teachers (and everybody else) should be respectful of diversity, I mean, we're all plenty diverse, but what is the math teacher to then do, once they recognize that each child represents a diverse l'il human bean? Teach in many culturally-specific ways? Wouldn't that be presumptuous? (How would a teacher DARE assign a "culture" to a student?) Or just allow for different modes of expression?

I'm interested in what anyone has to say about cultural competency...

Po3 said...

Rita, Blaming the teachers plays right into TFA teachers being placed at your school. Look for about 15-20 of them this fall. Good news is that if you don't feel like they have what it takes to teach a RB, no worries, they will be gone in two years. Downside is that TFA teahers are not experienced with the IB program which the school is trying to launch.

Anonymous said...

Pof3, Rita & All: I share Pof3's concerns about bashing teachers, as it creates the openings that opportunists will exploit for their own gain. I think we should dig deeper and discuss the problems more carefully, in hopes of developing meaningful, grass-roots solutions in all of our schools.

When we broad-brush and vocalize our displeasure, without offering solutions or being specific, we create a vacuum that will be filled by more Ed Reformers and profiteers hawking their magic bullet solutions.

If Beach is a well kept secret, then I'd think you'd want to keep what works, and fix or get rid of what doesn't, but stay on course. Heated rhetoric, even when justified, telegraphs dissatisfaction to JSCEE, and I've yet to see the wonks downtown help RBHS in any meaningful way in a long, long time. I fear they'll exploit it instead. WSEADAWG

Understanding Rita said...

If any of you had been at the recent meeting between Dr. Enfield and parents of color at the Boys and Girls Club you would understand what cultural competency is. Parents told story after story about kids of all ages being mistreated because of their color by teachers, administrators, and even substitutes.

An example-sitting a 1st grader in time out all morning because "you've got to come down hard on these black boys so they don't join gangs later." His crime? Playing with his pencils.

It's not about how one teaches math, SC. It's about treating kids of color with respect-which they often aren't. It's about teachers seeing a bored Asian kid and recommending APP and a bored black kid and recommending remedial work-without bothering to see what's going on. It's about suggesting that a black kid look into vocational school while helping the white kid look into college.

I have been involved in education for over a decade and I heard parents saying the same kinds of things about some S. Seattle teachers and admin back then to the superintendant at the time. And to the one after that. And the one after that.

While there are kids who act up, there's a long history of a need for culturally competent teachers and administrators-at this meeting a few weeks back, one person said he'd been saying the same thing at district meetings when his now 30-somethings were kids!

And honestly, this fear of TFA-would a few of them be any worse than a teacher who assumes a 7 year old is a future gang member because he plays with his pencils?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Understanding Rita, why would TFA act or be any different? You might hope that might be true but you don't know.

Thank you, Michael, for your compassion and understanding and hard work at RBHS.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
In the trenches with you said...

Mike, thank you for sharing. At the end of the day, though teaching and supporting students is our passion, we must look out for our personal well being. SPS is a hard place to be a teacher in these days. It's sad considering the progressive city Seattle is supposed to be. What is hopeful is that a number of us continue to fight for kids.

Love him or hate him Michael Jackson once said,
"There's nothing that cant be done if we raise our voices as one."

seattle citizen said...

Understanding Rita,

I hear you accusing some educators and admins of racism, but nothing about what cultural competence IS. Is it just treating each kid as an individual, recognizing their successes and needs, their boredom and therir struggle, recommending APP or developmental classes, or gen ed, based purely on the individual student's needs? That's what I hear you saying (putting aside the racism you suggest is going on.) If that is true, there's nothing about culture in that: Each kid SHOULD be recognized as an individual; if a teacher supposes some sort of cultural attribution to a student, isn't THAT racist?
So what is cultural competence?

If educators are being racist, this should be brought to admins and dealt with...immediately. Racism IS treating students as if they are merely part of one particular culture, rather than as unique and diverse individuals...or am I missing something?

I think you are saying that cultural competency is treating people of different cultures with respect, but how is a teacher to know what different cultures are contained within an individual student? Yes, relationship is key with every student, but that relationship shouldn't be based on a cultural attribution by the teacher, should it?

I'm still not clear. Racism is racism, but what is cultural competency?

dan dempsey said...

I sometimes see the cultural competence piece as being put in a position of central importance to the exclusion of other important components for a successful school.

The math materials and pedagogy pushed by the district remain an absolute farce.

Check out the following film
Kindergarteners showing off their math skills

It is a 28 minute video.

Developing methods and curriculum for culturally disadvantaged children ... was the original task. This film is simply a demonstration by children of what they know and how they operate.

Are they interested? Are they serious? Do Seattle's kindergarteners look like these? This is an experimental program with many of the advantages of experimental programs ... but would Everyday Math produce results like this by even grade 4 and these are Kindergarten students.

Division is happening at minute 15

Factoring 10 out of a polynomial at minute 22.

More Algebra at minute 24

Engelmann is still at it today. You can see some of his thinking in 2008 2009 and 2010 in interviews at videos here.

Again Project Follow Through research clearly showed what to do for educationally disadvantaged learners in grades pk-3 and the SPS Flat Out refuses to do it.

=================
State Law: "Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first. "


Has the SPS done the following:

In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems.


=============
The SPS has been pushing Crappy instructional materials and practices for years and avoided providing the Effective Interventions prescribed in District policy .... This coupled with the complete failure to follow state law RCW 28A 600.020 is the legacy of South East Education or lack thereof in the Seattle Schools.

When a large percentage of students come from educationally disadvantaged situations ... the district's failure to "preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students" is inexcusable. The creation of that environment is a k-12 responsibility. One of my sons just completed student teaching at a high poverty elementary school in Tacoma ... like many high poverty urban schools the term "Beneficial learning environment" is an unlikely to be realized school goal. .... to begin a plan for creating a "Beneficial Learning Environment" in high school is too late. ... But this district seems to believe that Algebra Skills can be taught to students without arithmetic skills .. so bizarre thinking is pervasive in many areas .. and accountability non-existent for administration.

Understanding Rita said...

SC-parents HAVE been bringing teachers' racism to administrators and district officials' attention for YEARS, YEARS! When GRANDPARENTS are standing up and saying that they were telling simmilar stories DECADES ago, how much plainer does it need to be that it's still going on?

And it's a white thing to say that it's racism to treat people as if they're from a specific culture. What's racism is when it's made to be less than, NOT that it just IS.

Cultural competency includes not assuming active black boys have ADD, that every black kid is a future gang-banger, not assuming (as seen in some of the "teen reads" thread recently) that "classic" or "good reads" are primarily by whire authors. It means not taking down the posters of notable blacks once February is over, if they're even put up at all. There are so many examples.

Melissa, everything I have read about TFA says a main goal is to address the achievement gap. If you're signing up to do that, one would HOPE that you're not coming in assuming you have future gangbanger 7 year olds.

If anyone wants to delve into "Stuff White People Do" and how that can play so heavily in education, I direct you here: http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/06/think-that-black-people-are-wasting.html

But any of the posts are worth a read.

Oh, and Anonymous at 8:06-you're a prime example of the above.

Anonymous said...

Come to the school and check it out before posting incomplete information.

Gee. I thought Michael Rice was AT the school and in a position to have great, and complete information. Probably for many more years than Rita. Or, does Rita even know that? What gives? So. OK. Drive him off. Blame the victim. If you want TFA, you got it baby! And great job with that GPA. We know that means everything!

--Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Since I have often pooh-pooh'ed the benefits of cultural competence as a means to student academic achievement (what school could possibly have been more culturally competent than the AAA, and how was the academic achievement there?), I absolutely value it as necessary to teacher/student relationships.

There are a wide variety of cultural norms. What is perfectly acceptable and polite in one culture can be intensely insulting in another. When people from these cultures cross paths, there are people giving offense and taking offense all the time when no offense is meant.

Cultural norms vary in conversation styles, non-verbal communication styles, personal space, expectations for dress, the respect given to elders, to teachers, to parents, the way that respect is expressed, and more. Pretty much every single thing that everyone says or does in relation to every other person is shaped by a cultural norm.

Imagine a situation in which a student behaves in a manner offensive in the context of the teacher's culture. It is possible, however, that the behavior is not offensive within the student's culture and no offense was intended. A culturally competent teacher would know enough about that student's culture to recognize that no offense was meant and be able to take no offense.

It is not, however, a one-way street. The students also need to learn cultural competency so they don't unnecessarily take offense at actions by other students or teachers who are behaving within the norms of their cultures.

Charlie Mas said...

It's more than that. It's also knowing that some cultures expect a lot of parental involvement in schools and some cultures don't.

It's knowing that students from some cultures will not speak up in class or will not speak up in without invitation because that would be outside their cultural norms.

There's more, but cultural competency is more than just not being racist. It's even more than just not being ethno-centric. It's about being specifically knowledgeable about other cultures and their behavioral norms and how those norms might cause friction or create barriers in school.

klh said...

Thanks, Charlie. That was a great explanation - I didn't really know what cultural competence meant either.

Sounds like a challenge - but a worthwhile one for everyone.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Melissa, everything I have read about TFA says a main goal is to address the achievement gap."

Yes and no. They WANT to help but that is not really their goal.

TFA has not closed the achievement gap in any school or any district. Anywhere. They do well compared to other conditionally certificated teachers and occasionally, in math, do better than a regular teacher. But it is very hit or miss.

They are not, in any significant way, creating more teachers. It's a drop in the overall bucket.

What they ARE doing is creating an army of alum to go out and pitch a vision of public education. Read their website.

Now, is it better to have an eager teacher in the classroom with TFA's patented "relentless" focus? In the life of a child for a year, maybe. But see, the constant churn that IS TFA with a revolving door at these schools leaves kids with no consistency. Is that teacher leaving in one year? two years? Replaced by more who also leave? You do not create a solid teaching corps at a school with that kind of movement.

Godspeed! said...

What'd the big deal. Let TFA permeate RBHS and let's see what those seeds sow. If it's a change in the achievement gap, Great. If if ain't, back to the drawing board. We are currently in our third major wave of reform since the early '70s when the first laws forced schools to desegregate. First it was how teachers deliver a lesson, then it had to do with school infrastructure (small learning communities, etc...), and now we are headlong into curriculum battles. IB at RBHS; AP at RHS; APP at WAMS and HMS... yabba yabba. Part of conforming to curriculum will be insure teachers are 100% submissive to admin directives. Well, with TFA, we buy submissive teachers. They are untrained, untainted, and unsustainable -- the perfect ingredients for submissive. Gone will be the teachers whose entrenched notions and ideology present roadblocks for ambitious (but sadly untalented) administrators.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of the community speaks with their feet. They have spoken by sending their students everywhere else.

Looking for teachers who are competent in the current school dysfunction seems ridiculous and harmful to students. Teachers that enjoybeing cussed out, marginalized, ignored, and constantly treated disrespectfully creates an environment that breeds those traits. So you want to choose exactly the opposite when looking for traits in teachers.


Maybe the district should conduct paid confidential exit interviews with the staff to get detailing information to work off of?

- Curious

Disgusted Said said...

Disrespectful and rude students cross all cultures and permeate the district; particularily at the middle and high school level

These are disruptive and interfere with learning.

Frankly, I"m sick of it.

seattle citizen said...

Understanding Rita,
I hear much of what you're saying. I'm not sure I understand or agree on the idea that it's not racist to treat people in ways based on assumptions of their culture.
I appreciate Charlie's points, too, but similarly, I wonder what "culture" it is that teachers are to be sure to be aware of, and how is it not racist to ascribe those culture's characteristics to a child based on...How they look? How they act?
Say we have a boy in class who LOOKS "black." His skin is darker, his hair nappier...Does a teacher ASK that boy what his "culture is? Wait for the boy to evidence some behavior that is supposedly related to a particular culture? What culture? "African American"? What IS that culture? People I know who are "African American" come from all sorts of generational backgrounds, exhibit all sorts of actions and words...Is a teacher to assume that a child is "a certain way" because they look a certain way?

I see the point about celebrating a variety of cultures (posters on walls, etc) but even this has its pitfalls: Do these posters celebrate the blackness of the heroes thereon? Or their common humanity?

How many "cultures" should be represented on the posters? How many "cultures" are there that should (indeed) be respected?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but after years of trying to understand the race issue in society and in schools, I keep banging my head against this:

To "fix" racism we seem to be required to continue it. How do we get to the place where each individual is honored and respected as a unique, diverse, individual if we continue to call them out or recognize them in little boxes: "Black," "White," "Native American"...
Yes, we should recognize and celebrate the huge variety of ways of living, but are we to expect teachers to somehow know or assume things about a kid because they look this way or that?

Me, I'd get rid of the "categories" on school registration forms completely. What purpose do they serve, other than to classify children by race, something that we should NOT be doing.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Said: It is not, however, a one-way street. The students also need to learn cultural competency so they don't unnecessarily take offense at actions by other students or teachers who are behaving within the norms of their cultures.

I couldn't say it better Charlie.

I can also attest, without trying to malign anyone, that the rate of parental participation at conferences and school events correlates directly with students' performance. At our school, the participation rate of parents in their kids educations, such as at conferences, is sharply divided between the high performing and low performing groups.

Some families just don't value and treat education like other families, and that's not a cultural competency problem with teachers.

I lament the lost opportunities to build cultural competency when parents don't get involved. If you want a teacher to understand your kid better, then for heaven's sake, go to the parent teacher conferences, call or e-mail your teachers, or schedule a face-to-face meeting. This can best be achieved one kid, one parent, and one teacher at a time.

Instead we'll get classes & conferences for teachers to attend, where they'll learn about how to reach a broader swath of kids as diversity grows, but how, specifically does that help Mr. Teacher get along with Johnny if Mr. Teacher never sees & builds a relationship with Johnny's parents.

Again, I don't wish to malign. But I've seen the incredibly disparate parent-participation rates at our schools, and to me, it's the easiest, most direct, low-hanging-fruit solution there is. I know some parents work nights, and such, but a teacher can do so much more with a kid when they know and understand his family dynamic, and was his non-school environment is like. If all we harp on is cultural competency, without harping on parental involvement at the same time, we're whizzing in the wind. It takes both sides. WSEADAWG

WV Says Ignat said...

I would like to know why Anonymous at 8:06's post is being allowed to remain even though this blog's ONLY posting rule is that you cannot post anonymously?? It's an offensive post and far less inflamatory ones have been pulled far quicker on other threads. Be consistant, people!

Rita Green RBHS PTSA VP said...

Charlie thanks for spelling out cultural competency as many people do not understand the full details.

Melissa, I am not saying I support TFA. In fact I agree with a comment Charlie posted some time ago "TFA threatens the professionalism of Teachers."

But... What I do know is I do not want a teacher that walks into the building before school starts and states, "I hope this student and that student does not show up at school today."

Nor do I want a teacher that states "It is not their job to have a relationship with their students."

What I do want, are teachers who believe in and inspire students students to do their very best every day.

By building positive relationships education flourishes.
Teachers are essential in shaping students lives.
Do you remember your favorite teacher?
How did they impact your life?
I have two favorite teachers. (Mr. Nagy, my 6th grade Math teacher and Mr. Dowling my 9th grade Math teacher) Because of them I grew to love Math.

Yes, students have to share in the accountability and it is our job as adults to teach them how to be accountable in a positive manner. Teachers should not prejudge or antagonize students as this sets them up for failure.

Anonymous said...

I think the back and forth on this thread is a metaphor for what is wrong at RBHS.

I taught in this area for many years and was loved by parents because their children achieved.

Rita, put your energy into getting parents involved in the school. Kids need to know that parents and teachers are on the same team. Kids know the game--they know how to play it--when parents and staff have animosity.

Deal with individual teacher wrongs when they happen (and they certainly do happen)--blanket criticism is destructive.

By the way, trashing the teachers in one breath and then saying RBHS is a great place doesn't jibe.

-Been there, done that

Anonymous said...

Personally I think teachers should be sensitive to a child's home culture, but ultimately it is up to the student to be culturally competent in the school culture. However that culture manifests itself. I don't care how you dress it up or what you call it. A student who curses at a teacher, is disruptive or any host of other bad behaviors is out of line and should be removed. Exactly which culture says that is ok? And how are teachers supposed to be sensitive to it?
sign me, fed up with bad behavior that masquerades as cultural norm.

SeattleSped said...

Understanding Rita,

I hear you. What else could account for the SE phenomenon? The water? gremlins? There IS a lack of understanding that permeates SPS and to some extent families. Those who say "I don't want those special education kids in my son's class! What a waste!" Or a principal who bars the door to children with special needs. There must be a holistic approach to educating the child and improving a school, and it's NOT TFA, it's NOT ed reform, it is genuine cooperation and respect.

Charlie Mas said...

People mystify me. Really. You would think that being a person would give me some insight into their behavior and motivations, but it's not much help. I can't tell you how many times each day that I wish I could just stop everything and ask someone why they did something.

Why did that driver change lanes?
Why did that person choose those clothes?
Why did that person say that rude thing?

Even if I could ask the question, I'm not sure I would get an answer. I often couldn't explain my motivations and actions, let alone explain the motivations of others.

I have spoken with folks about the rudeness and disruptive behavior described by fed up... Sometimes the student is totally at fault. Yes, students need to learn and to respect the cultural norms of the school. No doubt about that. But there are also a surprising number of cases in which the student is responding to an (unintentional) insult by a teacher or other staff member. Not all of the time, but a lot more often than you would imagine. That's where cultural competence would come in handy - on both sides of the experience.

dan dempsey said...

Given our interim Supr. is the former Chief Academic Officer and thinking about Mr. Tolley led me to question the SPS administrative direction over the last few years at its effect on RBHS student performance in math.... RBHS had UW College of Ed Math Education Project help ....

So what about results and accountability?

High School Math Annual testing via OSPI... in 2010 Spring 2010 the HSPE results for RBHS ...

Number of students passing = 11

Number of students tested = 78

Number of males passing = 9 and females = 2

Number of Black students passing = 2

Number of Asian/Pacific Islanders passing = 6

Black students enrolled 54
White students enrolled 4
Asian/Pacific Islanders enrolled 15

.............. Well Math Program Director Anna-Maria is out ... and CAO Enfield is Superintendent ...
accountability? ...
Accountability may come as four school board members seek reelection.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that Bree Dusseault is in charge of hiring the RB principal.

APP Parent

StopTFA said...

Great. Let's them both go down in flames together. Is this another one of the many things she does so frickin' well that she's the Exec Dir of Elementaries AND RBHS AND principal hiring. Is HR that f*cked up?

Charlie Mas said...

Nu?

It's Friday. Where's the announcement of the new principal?

Charlie Mas said...

Boy, that Dr. Enfield sure knows how to build the suspense, doesn't she?

There's about one more hour left for her to announce the new principal at Rainier Beach.