Tuesday, June 04, 2013

School Board Meeting Testimony List

Update:  I am told there will be some kind of protest/gathering before the Board meeting tonight over the issue of the Center School teacher.  I believe there will be some media presence including tv.  I'm not sure this is the best way for the district to end the school year (this being the last Board meeting before the last day of school) but that was someone's choice to have made.  

Should all make for an interesting evening.

End of update.

As predicted, the speaker list for the School Board meeting is filled to capacity with what may be a record 28 on the waiting list.

The majority of speakers will be about The Center School and the possible transfer of teacher, Jon Greenberg.   I really think this could be a rookie mistake for Banda (a la Enfield and Principal Floe).  I hope they just quietly let this one go.  

Also, a few speakers on Special Ed which is good and I hope someone gives them a cheerful earful.  One person who many of you might not know but consistently shows up, cheerful and ready to help is Joe Szwaja.  Joe ran once for School Board and is a huge (and very informed) person on green issues.  I note he is speaking on "sustainable cafeteria silverware." He's a teacher at Nova. 

I also see a number of speakers on the waitlist to talk about "reinstating Catherine Blaine teacher."  Anyone know what that is about?  I know there had been some issue around the principal not wanting to allow a FEAT committee (parent engagement) at Blaine but I don't know what this issue is. 

33 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I don't think superintendents get involved in transfers. Perhaps only if the represented employee appeals. I think Banda is ill-served by some of his staff (e.g. Ron English, Marni Campbell). He would do well to listen to his customers, as he has on other contentious issues this year.

kgroth said...

There are a few people on the testimony list speaking on "Co-locating Pinehurst K-8 at Broadview-Thomson". It is unfortunate that the District overcapacity issues have the unintentional effect of pitting schools' needs against each other when we should be working together and collaborating. It causes a domino effect with overcapacity at Eckstein kicking out Jane Addams K-8, who kicks out Pinehurst K-8, who then might squeeze Broadview-Thomson K-8 for space on their campus. All our kids have to go somewhere.

On the testimony list is a parent from Pinehurst K-8 speaking on a petition by our school to retain our threatened program by co-locating us at a portable village on the Broadview-Thomson campus. This is an idea proposed by the District as the last possible option to save Pinehurst since all the other ideas discussed have been exhausted and deemed not feasible. We were asked by the District not to contact Broadview-Thomson until feasibility was completed since we fully intend to work with them to find a solution that is mutually beneficial to both our K-8s.

Then today a parent was very concerned while picking up his Pinehurst K-8 4th grader at a City of Seattle Big Blast After School program at Broadview-Thomson when he saw leaflets at the school protesting Pinehurst at Broadview-Thomson. He has a valid concern that his son could see the leaflets and feel unwelcome at the school. He is requesting that the Big Blast program remove the protest leaflets.

We reached out to Broadview-Thomson today even though feasibility is still in process so we can discuss and address their concerns. They empathized with our plight and are agreeable to meeting with us. We hope to forge a solution to retain the 40 years of alternative education of Pinehurst K-8, formerly AS#1, and provide an option school in Northwest Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Evidently, a special education teacher at Blaine was canned after a medical leave, or rather, was replaced while on leave. That's the issue at Blaine - according to rumor mill.

Magnolia parent

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read about Marni Campbell and how she is perceived as a staff member. She is still greatly missed by many at Nathan Hale. Apparently she was a wonderful principal.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

About Marni, I liked her when she was principal at Eckstein. I heard from students - both at Eckstein and Hale - that she was much more liked by staff/parents than students.

Given what I have seen at various district staff meetings over the last several years, I think she is a more effective principal than staff member (that's certainly true for Special Ed). Given her principal skills (and the need for better principals), I wish she was at a school.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac - makes a good point, in that it seems quite unusual for the Superintendent to be involved in a teacher transfer. This looks more like a legal settlement to me with attorneys for the complainant, district, and union involved. I am sympathetic to the Center School students, but Greenberg's cultlike status makes me more than a bit queezy.

NCG

Po3 said...

What really bothers me about the Center school situation is that one family was able to orchestrate the removal of curriculum and now a teacher from a school. And have successfully kept both the complaint and their identities from being made public, mostly likely by hiding behind threats of lawsuits.

Where is the paper trail demonstrating a history of intimidation?

Where is the paper trail demonstrating due process was followed?

Why is the super taking such unusual steps?

I don't see the "cult like" following but a group of students rallying against a social injustice, practicing what they have learned.

I hope they prevail.

Krom said...

My son thought Greenberg was a fabulous teacher and mentor. He deserves to stay at Center School

G. Krom

Broadview Big Blast Family said...

Big Blast is the onsite Broadview before & after school childcare program run by the Bitter Lake Community Center. It serves many families who receive DSHS childcare subsidies & also offers scholarships. To my knowledge, there isn't a comparably sized childcare program within walking distance of Broadview that also serves these families.

The 'protest leaflet' is a half sheet of paper next to the Big Blast adult sign in/out binder that no kid there pays attention to. None are posted on walls or doors.

The flyer states that locating Pinehurst here would result in the "Loss of Big Blast child care services and the Little Gym" among other concerns.

If this is true, Broadview Big Blast families have the same right to contact the School Board with their concerns as the Pinehurst community does.

mirmac1 said...

At the board meeting. Not appreciating SEA and members using special education and students as leverage in bargaining. I've heard nothing that differs from past protests, essentially no inclusion without "resources".

So our students get to be the pinata between Duggan Harmon and Jonathan Knapp. Somehow I'm not convinced that our students' welfare and rights are at heart.

mirmac1 said...

As for who blicks first in Olympia: the Democratics of course. Cave on tax breaks and B&O extension. Propose $750M less for McLeary. Top Republican says, meh, cut more.

mirmac1 said...

Teacher protest has more to do with ratios and overload, than actually fixing special education. That's not vision. That's reducing our students' right under law to bean-counting.

Carr says "You heard what just happened in Olympia. We can't do it because we have no money." SPS stands to lose $10M if they don't comply with the spirit and letter of the law. To date it's aimed for the latter. Where is the leadership for the former?

Parents, write your state elected officials and tell them to get off their butts.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry for the frequent posts, but it was an eventful board meeting.

As has been his nature, Banda has reached an amicable agreement with the talented artist of the W-P murals to preserve them.

No word on the fate of the Indian Heritage HS, but Banda said the rules regarding facilities use will be changed to make W-P available to the Native-American community.

Anonymous said...

In their response to the Center School issue, several board members said something positive but then said something to the effect that they rely on Banda's wisdom. What is the point of testifying to the board if they don't use that information? Once again, it appears that they don't know that THEY have the final say.

- probably wasted 3 hours going there and sitting.

kellie said...

@ Broadview Big Blast

The Broadview Blast folks raise an interesting point. They are concerned that the Bitter Lake Community Center runs a program at BT that serves many families who receive DSHS childcare subsidies & also offers scholarships. This seems to be a unique program for that area.

Concerns like this are truly the heart of the capacity problem and highlight once again why the capacity issues do eventually impact every single family.

There are many community services offered district wide that are somehow tied to district property. Some of these programs come from the years of excess capacity and some of them are just core parts of before and after care programs. District wide, as the district needs to reclaim space for classroom usage, these programs are being displaced.

While it is really clear that direct instruction of students should trump all the other uses, there doesn't seem to be a way to daylight the displaced programs and / or to work with the city to find alternative spaces to replace or relocate these program. All of that just seems to be an after thought, or a community problem.

BT is not alone is losing some or all of their before and after care programs due to growth.

But here is a big challenge for the Big Blast program. In many ways, it doesn't matter if Pinehurst is relocated to BT or not. If Pinehurst is not relocated to BT, then some other population of students will be placed at BT during the boundary redraw program in the Fall. All of the north end schools are out of space and many schools are out of room for portables. This means that a school like BT that can absorb multiple portables will absorb multiple portable for one program or another.

I aplaude the advocacy. You should advocate for a good program to continue but you should also know that Pinehurst is not the issue. The issue is the 1500 students per year of growth and the 30-35 new portables that are placed every year.

I sincerely wish the City was working on this in some way if for no other reason that to get ahead of all the community services that simply will no longer exist as schools continue to expand.

Just Saying said...

I'm hearing the Center School teacher had kids signing petitions in class. If this is true, he should be disciplined.

kgroth said...

@Broadview Big Blast Family -

I have seen the flyer protesting Pinehurst co-locating at Broadview and unfortunately so did a Pinehurst student while attending the Big Blast after school program. According to his parent the flyer is prominently displayed on a message board.

First, it is my understanding that the flyer is in response to an online petition by Pinehurst though never in the petition nor in any meetings with the District were they any mentions of impacts to the Big Blast program. How sad that a baseless rumor could alarm families attending the Big Blast program by providing a false threat of closure. Pinehurst would benefit from an on-site before and after school program that we don't have currently. Also note that Pinehurst shares similar demographics as Broadview-Thomson in terms of diversity and FRL.

Second, the District forwarded us a Land Swap document stating that the building used by the City of Seattle Big Blast program is actually owned by the City of Seattle. The City allows the School District use of the building during school hours in exchange for paying for the maintenance. Therefore neither the Seattle School District, Broadview-Thomson, nor Pinehurst could legally take over the building 24 hours as they don't own it, it's owned by the City.

We requested that the alarming, ill-informed flyers get removed though as of this afternoon they are still posted. I understand there is a PTA meeting this evening to lead the charges to stop the proposal. How sad to alarm 700 families based on a rumor, not facts. Hopefully the voice of reason will prevail and Broadview-Thomson has open, productive conversations with the School District and Pinehurst.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Saying, I believe that is true. I agree he should be disciplined.

But taken out of the school where he was a founding teacher? Where he is teaching students and making a real difference? Where he offers to read every Common app essay?

Ding him in his personnel record but I do not see removing him from a school (and school level - high school) where he is so effective.

That seems punitive.

Also, the Board has zero, no say over where teachers go. So yes, you can testify, they can tell the Super what they think but they can't tell him what to do on this point.

Just saying said...

Melissa,

YOu make good points. It is also important to recognize when an issue is a distraction from learning.

We have an escalating incident. The teacher didnt help by having kids sign a petition in class. Very inappropriate and unprofessional.

It is time to move on and get back to learning.

Anonymous said...

By moving him it increases the distraction. From what I understand, the students started the petition and passed it around in class. He was a aware of it and didn't stop it but didn't encourage it. Frankly, he shouldn't have allowed it and it should be noted on his personnel record but he shouldn't be removed from the school. I foresee many more petitions and protests if he is moved.

HP

Anonymous said...

Greenberg was not in the classroom when the petition was circulated.

Students rights to circulate a petiton covered under is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Pretty sure Greenberg understands what his students right are.

-For the record

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarify For the Record and your right, he shouldn't be punished for something that he wasn't even there for.

HP

Anonymous said...

"Where he offers to read every Common app essay?"

I am sorry, but this is not right. In fact it is weird. No one teacher at a school should be reading every common app essay for those students headed to college -especially since they are also students of his in a required class. Too much control in one person's hands.

Contrarian

Anonymous said...

In the fall of 12th grade students in Greenberg's class write drafts of college their essays, both students and the teacher give feedback.

It supports the college application process, especially for students who may not have access to any support outside of school.

-For the record.

Maureen said...

Contrarian, you are very contrary aren't you. Why shouldn't an LA teacher OFFER to read his students' college essays? Many HS Sr. LA classes require kids write essay drafts during the fall semester. Why is that weird? And what kind of control are you talking about (the teacher is already responsible for helping them learn to write and for grading them.) It sounds great to me (especially for kids whose parents didn't go to college.) No one said he required them to submit a final essay he approved of.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa. My high school teacher, many years ago, had us write college app essays as a required assignment. However, our teacher had no control over whether we actually applied to college, or what we sent if we did. Our teacher's comments on our drafts, were useful, if for no other reason than it made us step back and think about our essays from a different perspective. In my case, the instructor told me I'd never get in if I used the essay I had come up with, citing a host of reasons and providing numerous suggestions for a total rewrite. I disagreed with him, and sent the essay essentially unchanged...and ended up getting accepted everywhere I applied. Input is not the same as control.

HIMSmom

Louise said...

So is it a done deal? Is Mr. Greenberg going to Hamilton?

Carol Simmons said...

imnundHi Mirmac,

Would you please elaborate on a post you made saying"but Banda said the rules regarding facilities use will be changed to make W-P available to the Native American Community" do you know what he implied?

This sounds encouraging with regard to returning Indian Heritage to the W-P site.

Any more info?

Thank you

mirmac1 said...

Hi Carol,
i listened as hard as I could. This announcement was made right after the students' video.

That's nearly word-for-word at the conclusion of his remarks. I was listening for, but did not hear a reference to the Indian Heritage HS.

My interpretation was that the building would be made available for the native-american community to have gatherings and events at the W-P building.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Contrarian, weird? For an LA teacher to offer(not required) to read any student's college essay?

I think you're just having some fun and really, I'm not sure it's all that funny. But it's an open forum even for "weird" ideas.

Anonymous said...

Contrarian,

It's actually pretty normal. My Garfield senior tells me they definitely worked on their essays in LA class for a couple of weeks in the fall and got feedback from the teacher as well as peer input. I was grateful for the free coaching through the process. It's kind of an equity issue don't you think? Why should that level of support be available only for those who can pay for consultants and application polishing?

sidneyd

Anonymous said...

@Kellie-

Thanks for your insights. I have to say that it is very sad that we have apparently reached the point where the capacity of our schools is being based, in part, upon the size of their parking lots.

-North End Mom

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