Friday, June 07, 2013

Friday Open Thread

Update:  hadn't realized but the national parks are free this weekend so if you are thinking of getting out there, you're in luck.

Tomorrow there is a community meeting with Director Carr starting at 8:30 am at Bethany Community Church.

The Special Session of the Legislature is probably working thru the weekend towards its June 11th cut-off date.  What they passed has huge ramifications for our district and every other one in the state.

Interestingly, on the Times' blog, there is this opinion from three of the editorial writers at the Times on the special session:

Consider what’s in the best interest of the children who will make up Washington’s future work force. This means the Legislature should take a good look at its current budget breakdown and make full funding of education a top priority — 45 percent of general funds should be dedicated to K-12 public schools; 9 percent for higher education; and additional investments in early learning.

Lawmakers must meet in the middle. Accept that some things — including certain treasured reforms and spending priorities— may have to be saved for another day.

A tempered Times?  That's something new.  


The Times says that the district "stumbled" in its handling of Center School teacher, Jon Greenberg.  Their latest editorial starts off strongly:

The Seattle Public Schools would rather deal with outraged teachers and students at the Center School than confront race head on.

Eighteen Center School teachers had signed a letter urging Superintendent José Banda not to accept the transfer. Greenberg is a highly respected teacher. On the rigorous, four-tiered evaluation, Greenberg was ranked ”innovative,” the highest level.

It is too bad that rather than lead a courageous conversation about race and inspire students to think about the difficult and uncomfortable topics, the district is silencing conversation.  

What's on your mind?

42 comments:

Watching said...

Reuven Carlyle is the Chair of the House Finance Committee; a powerful position.

Carlyle runs along corporate ed. reform lines and supports privitization of public education.

This article indicates that there will be $50M "fuzzy" dollars for education:

http://crosscut.com/2013/06/07/olympia-2013/114857/house-democrats-push-their-budget-plan/

The Senate and MCC are pushing ALEC backed ed. reform initiatives. Please contact Reuven Carlyle and ask him to hold the line on ALEC bills. I'm fearful he will further the privitization effort and claim to be held hostage to budget negotiations. Here is Carlyle's contact info:

http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/Pages/carlyle.aspx

The 36th District Dems signed a resolution opposing I 1240 and he needs to respect his consituents.

mirmac1 said...

An update on bell times:

Operations Friday Memo

School Bell Times

mirmac1 said...

No agenda yet for interesting Board Work Session on Monday. Subject: Board Evaluation. Of course no public testimony allowed. darn.

Broadview Big Blast Family said...

Heartbroken but so thankful a Broadview Thomson 1st grader is ok after being hit by a car in the crosswalk at the 130th & Greenwood intersection. We've been afraid of this happening for years.

dan dempsey said...

More on Math in the Seattle Times => A letter published in support of Everyday Math.

====

Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

Everyday Math works

The pendulum swings again [“Bring back real math to Seattle,” Opinion, June 5]. I have taught Everyday Math for four years at three different grade levels and it strikes the perfect balance between teaching mathematical concepts in different ways (including the traditional method) and providing plenty of computation practice. This is real math.

It should not be labeled “discovery math” because mathematical concepts are systematically taught. To address multiple learning styles, each concept is approached a number of ways so that students can choose to use the method that makes the most sense to them. There is plenty of computation practice through the math boxes in each lesson and calculators are used sparingly.

Do we really want to go back to students memorizing formulas and then forgetting them as soon as the test is over?

Tia Rizk, Seattle
=====================

Typical of supporters of inadequate district programs -- Not a shred of data.

See my comments at the Times for data.

dan dempsey said...

More at the Times

===
June 7, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Seattle Public Schools stumbles on race, teacher Jon Greenberg

Posted by Lynne K. Varner
====

June 5, 2013 at 6:12 AM
The No. 1 math teacher
(Ted Nutting)

Posted by Bruce Ramsey
=====

mirmac1 said...

The Times piles on. Seattle School district should allow high-school seniors to discuss the tough issues that affect their lives.

Where was the Times when MGJ and Enfield were placing politics and personal relationships at the forefront. Sure, Potter got busted (after investigations were going to be released) but there were many other poor staffing and investment decisions made on their watch. If I recall, there was an equally raucous crowd at the board meeting that terminated MGJ, but the Times had nothing but warm fuzzies. <3

It is obvious to me that Times management is quite happy persecuting Jose Banda, whereas his predecessors could do no wrong. How do they think students will gain if he is driven out? They won't, but Gates and his minions will. That's all that matters.

BTW, my comments have nothing to do with the merits of Jon Greenburg and his situation.

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Krom said...

Always nice to hear from Dan Dempsey. He is the math expert (along with Cliff Mass and Ted Nutting), that the SPS should listen to.

On another subject, my son had Jon Greenberg as a teacher several years ago at Center School. Jon is an excellent teacher and mentor and my son and his alumni friends are very sad at this decision.

Another PR blunder by SPS that is inexcusable. I thought Banda would be smarter than this.

G. Krom

Po3 said...

"I thought Banda would be smarter than this."

I think he is, so what's behind the curtain?

Anonymous said...

I think it's difficult for some K5 teachers to see the whole picture and just how far behind EDM leaves some students come middle school.

EDM did not work for our kids. Don't trust the spiral.

-dump EDM

Anonymous said...

After reading Varners column and some of the comments I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the writing.this could be good move for Greenberg .
He will have to tone down his message working with middle schoolers. But younger kids are actually more open to a positive influence and he could become a better teacher for all this. I would generously assume that mr Banda is in fact interested in promoting racial harmony, fostering an enlightened student body and helping mr Greenberg grow as an educator.
Funny Lynn mentioning his "innovative" teacher evaluation, a four out of four. So the rating system works in this case and he must be getting a merit raise in salary.
And finally and most ironic of all, Hamilton is now getting a dynamic celebrity teacher who is going to teach the APP kids about white privilege!

Crackin' Up

TechyMom said...

A well-researched article about envy and gifted children, which reminded me of discussions I've read here.

Ed said...

We will find out whats behind the curtin when Banda leaves, like we did MGJ.

Its not pretty. Corporate ruling never is.

He's a simple guy who had NO idea what he was getting into and he proves that every day.

dan dempsey said...

Dear TechyMom thanks for the link. It has great cartoons also.

Anonymous said...

Crackin' up,

Where did you hear that Mr. Greenberg would be placed in APP? Any kid at HIMS (which draws from the predominantly white Wallingford and Laurelhurst neighborhoods) would benefit from such deep discussions from a stellar educator. And as we keep pointing out, HIMS APP is no whiter or more affluent than the area from which it draws. Plenty of APP families can't afford a house in Wallingford. And as if the Center School is diverse? Look at your own assumptions, Crackin'.

I also dislike the insinuation that the APP population needs to learn about privilege more than the rest of the school. Are they privileged because they test high and need accelerated curriculum? So you're looking forward to Mr. Greenberg rubbing the children's noses in it?

open ears

Anonymous said...

dear open,
who knows where Mr Green berg will be placed. I just thought it ironic that the app north group, arguable the biggest statistical example of white privilege in the district, is getting the teacher who seems to make a point of challenging the underpinnings of such unfair advantage. I would hope that due to the high level of education the parents of APP students would have versed their kids in the vexing legacy of racial injustice in this country and the sins committed against Africans and First Nations people in this country of ours, but I don't think there is much difference between parents of the gifted or normal in this regards. I guess I do hold APP parents to a higher standard.

CU

GreyWatch said...

Am guessing this was sent because of rumors regarding APP moving.

June 7, 2013

Dear Hamilton International Middle School community,

As many of you are aware, enrollment is on the rise throughout our school district, including at Hamilton International Middle School. At every school we must balance the safety and security of our students with the need to ensure all of our students receive a high quality education.

For the 2013-14 school year, we are planning for 1,100 students at HIMS – an increase over our current enrollment of 975. We believe we can serve this number of students in our current space. We are not planning to relocate any 6-8th grade students to other schools for the upcoming school year. The maximum capacity of the building is 1,294, and we will continue to work with the City of Seattle to ensure we are meeting all the safety codes.

I know supporting this increase in students will present some challenges, so we are working with HIMS staff to ensure there is enough space to continue the quality teaching and learning. We have already increased the staffing allocation for HIMS, so the necessary teachers will be in place for the start of school. If needed, we may also add staff such as hallway monitors. We will also work with the City of Seattle on traffic safety in the area, and look at solutions for staff parking and drop off/pick up for families.

In addition, any students who are testing into APP during the summer will be placed at Hamilton only if there is space available. All current APP students who live in the Hamilton APP pathway will have a seat at HIMS for the fall.

For more detailed information about enrollment at Hamilton, please visit: http://bit.ly/HIMS2013capacity

I want to thank Principal Cindy Watters and the HIMS staff for their ongoing work to ensure the needs of students are met. I know they will do an excellent job next year serving and supporting all of our students.

Sincerely,

José Banda
Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said...

Techymom, thanks for that link.

TC

Anonymous said...

I thought this piece on summer vacation/ lengthening the school year (or the school day) was really interesting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/sunday-dialogue-a-new-school-schedule.html?pagewanted=1&tntemail0=y&_r=1&emc=tnt


-sps mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Crackin Up, you said:

"I would generously assume that mr Banda is in fact interested in promoting racial harmony, fostering an enlightened student body and helping mr Greenberg grow as an educator."

Based on what? Mr. Greenberg's class on race is really geared for older students. So I would think by moving him to a school with younger students, it would either stifle it or dial it way back. And how does this help Mr. Greenberg grow as an educator?

Anonymous said...

Based on his chosen profession. Yes, Greenberg will need to change his approach but not his message, so it will enlarge his quiver.

CU

Anonymous said...

But CU, there is no class on race and equity at Hamilton, so no real place for his message.

You could argue that perhaps he can subtly infuse "his message" into another class, but will parents and students really go for that? Would it be appropriate to weave his message into a math class? Science? Language arts? Social studies seems the logical best fit--if he ends up as an LA/SS teacher--but remember, there is a set curriculum. Hard to see how the message isn't stifled, for the most part.

HIMSmom

mirmac1 said...

Gates Foundation looking to make nice with teachers.

For every teacher conclave at ritzy resorts, Gates sets up 20 more faux grass roots Ed Reform groups and think tanks, and continues to mine our childrens' data.

Anonymous said...

As white privilege permeates our society, I think an innovative teacher could find ways to discuss it any class, for PE to band to Algebra. And hopefully Mr Greenberg lays it on his colleagues as heavily as he does his students. This city is built on white privilege, heck, ask kids if they know what a restrictive covenant is and if they think they ever had them in Wallingford.
On MLK day, talk about the first black teacher(1953) and first black principal(1973) right next door at Lincoln. Maybe talk about Lincoln's attitude towards blacks.
I dunno, teachers have time to chat once in a while with students.
I think integrating social awareness into every class would be a great thing for student.

CU

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gee CU, after all that Greenberg has gone through, and being moved to a school he likely does not want to be, how will that encourage him to talk about race and social justice?

I think quite the opposite and I'd bet it's one of the first things the principal will let him know.

Anonymous said...

Unless it's part of the stated curriculum, then it should really be left out of the classroom. If it's incorporated into the curriculum, it needs to be presented objectively and appropriately. Teachers have come with other agendas and mistakenly believed it was okay to use class time to present what were fairly one-sided stances on issues. Let's hope he's wise enough not to "lay it on."

parent

hschinske said...

I would consider a social studies curriculum that DID NOT include any explicit consideration of such issues to be grossly incomplete. Ms. Shadow used to have a final project in which students had to choose which of the societies they had studied they would prefer to live in, if they could not choose their sex or social status. That forced students to consider such issues in a holistic fashion that I think is entirely appropriate and desirable.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Helen, do you believe this should be part of the curriculum, in middle school?

http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/Equity_Coaching_9_27_11.pdf

Brought to you by Portland Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

A similar class in a Wisconsin high school is under evaluation:

Class Lesson Draws Ire

Anonymous said...

There is something I don't like about Creative Conversations and its the requirement that participants feel uncomfortable. Sounds too much like Clockwork Orange reeducation. I hope Banda gives this issue the time it deserves and we do get race on the table more than we have in the past. With the NSAP, many north end schools are under, even way under, 5% black or Hispanic. With Seattle's bad record on race, from Chinese dislocation to Japanese internment to north-south legally enforced segregation of housing, a lot needs to be talked about, just in our city. Then there is our national heritage of slavery, Jim Crow, racial ghettoes and barrios, miscegenation laws, sports segreagation , etc.
I hope the Center School affair will provide the impetus to work on a district-wide effort to integrate race, class and gender issues into all schools. And as was stated earlier,, tolerance should be seen only as step towards true acceptance.

CU

hschinske said...

The Portland thing is obviously for adults, and full of sometimes-ridiculous jargon, but the basic concepts, sure. I mean, how do you even begin to teach history without looking at some of this stuff? It's not something you can just add on later. Not without lying to kids.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Jim Crow laws, segregation, neighborhood covenants and redlining, the Japanese internment, the mistreatment of native peoples and immigrants alike (Italian immigrants had curfews, too) - the list goes on, and hopefully these issues and more get discussed in the course of American History lessons.

...then there's the teaching of white privilege. Isn't this where Banda is drawing the line with Greenberg? A recent news story from Wisconsin (again) where diversity literature suggested white students wear white arm bands to remind them of their white privilege:

PolitiFact Wisconsin Truth-O-Meter

Anonymous said...

But white male privilege does exist. It allows my white 17 year old son to walk home from the movies at Northgate to Meadowbrook without worry. Something my daughter cannot do. Something my neighbor's black 17 year old son cannot do.

It allows my white daughter to shop without being tracked at a store at University Village. Something her black friend cannot do.

My children have seen first hand how their peers of color are treated differently, even in Seattle. And Seattle is better than elsewhere in the country.

HP

Anonymous said...

The question is how such discussions should be handled in a public school setting. Is the "Portland thing" similar to the unit covered in Greenberg's class? Yes, it's geared toward adults.

Anonymous said...

I was at a SPL branch with my children last weekend, and saw a display of books that were banned at different times. Aside from the ones I had heard about, Huck Finn and Catcher In the Rye, etc., there were some unexpected ones, To Kill A Mocking Bird caught my eyes right away. That is one of my two favorite books of all times, it taught me so much, and made me think. It is one of the transforming books that made me the person I am today. Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath were also on the list.
If we all were to decide what is taught to our children in school, then what will be left that can be taught? Everybody has something they feel uncomfortable about. Last year it
was Brave New World and The Hunger
Games, this year it's white privilege. What
shall be next? Evolution? Global Warming?
Sex Education? Slavery? The Holocaust? The Iliad? How about Oedipus and Titus Andronicus? How about The Color Purple, The Handmaiden's Tale, Fahrenheit 451?There are lots of things people might find
uncomfortable in those plays and books.
Where does it stop? Great literature and
great art and music and theater are great
because they touch you in the heart and
mind, make you feel strong emotions, make
you think. That is how you learn and grow
through life. Should our children just read
twitter feeds and People magazine, and
spend all their time talking about Bieber,
and Taylor Swift and the Kardashians and
football? If we are to censor schools and
libraries, how long before our firemen start
burning books?


CCA

Anonymous said...

Sorry about weird spacing, don't know what happened.

CCA

Anonymous said...

From SEA bargaining agreement:

2. The principle of academic freedom for employees shall not supercede the basic responsibilities of the employee to the education profession. These responsibilities include:

a. A commitment to support the Constitution of the United States;

b. A concern for the welfare, growth, and development of children; and,

c. An insistence upon objective scholarship.


No one is saying you can't teach the classics...so I'm not following the argument? Teachers do have an obligation to "objective scholarship," and one could argue that teaching critical race theory is less than objective.

Anonymous said...

Everything is subjective, we are humans, we interpret everything according to our past experiences. Just look at all the pundits and "experts" that are trotted out for the news and for court. Look at the Supreme Court, the Vatican. Today, with the internet, anyone can find some group of people who agrees with him/her on any subject imaginable, no matter how ridiculous the belief. Oscar Wilde went to jail as a deviant, almost no one considers him a deviant these days. Who is right? There are probably many beliefs that are generally held as truth today, that will not be thought so in the future. Remember when the world was flat and the sun revolved around us? The point of education is to teach children to THINK and REASON for themselves, not to spoonfeed them with our beliefs as absolute truths. If you do not find the latter practice harmful, think of all the children who dies because their parents
believe they can pray to God and cure their
children's medical problems that way.
And who to decide what the classics are? If the many, many fans of Fifty Shades of Grey say that piece of drivel is a classic work of literature, shall it be taught in school instead of Kafka's Castle? I assure you that there are a lot more people who have heard of or read 50 Shades than there are people who know
who Kafka was.

CCA

Anonymous said...

I am reposting this in case it gets deleted for lack of name - it's too important to lose.

From SEA bargaining agreement:

2. The principle of academic freedom for employees shall not supercede the basic responsibilities of the employee to the education profession. These responsibilities include:

a. A commitment to support the Constitution of the United States;

b. A concern for the welfare, growth, and development of children; and,

c. An insistence upon objective scholarship.

No one is saying you can't teach the classics...so I'm not following the argument? Teachers do have an obligation to "objective scholarship," and one could argue that teaching critical race theory is less than objective.



--Northend Teacher

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel like the school district is part of a Kafka novel.

HP