Friday, September 06, 2013

Horace Mann issues, solutions, and obstacles

There were two issues discussed at the third meeting of the Horace Mann-African American Community Partnerships Task Force. The two issues are not closely linked. The immediate issue is about the Mann building, but that is actually the smaller issue. The Mann building issue was created to bring urgency to the big issue: the failure to educate African-American children in Seattle Public Schools. There isn't much of a natural connection between these two, so it is easy and appropriate to regard them separately.

Bad Faith on the Mann Building

There are solutions available for the Mann building issue, but they don't matter because the District refuses to engage on the question. The District refuses to consider any outcome other than the vacation of the building, eleven months of construction, and then NOVA's return. It doesn't matter what other solutions are available because the District always did, does, and will refuse to consider them. They are resolute.

A couple members of the community characterized this as "bad faith". These folks are, of course, right. It is bad faith for the District to invite these people to discuss possible solutions when the District never had any intention of altering their course. There was nothing that anyone could have said or done in these task force meetings that would have changed the District's decision. Not only is it bad faith, but it is also consistent with the District's entire history of community engagement. They invite you to speak, but they don't listen.

What solutions are possible? NOVA could move to the Lowell building instead of the Mann building and the Mann building could be left as is. Lowell is less than half full right now. Any work needed to make Lowell suitable for use as a high school - the addition of science labs and changes to washroom fixtures - could be done while the elementary school there continues. Since Lowell has been continuously occupied, the full scale effort to bring it up to current code would not be necessary. Lowell is, in many ways, a better location for NOVA than Mann. The cost to renovate Lowell for NOVA would be comparable - if not less - than the cost to renovate Mann.

Here's a bonus to this solution. Calls for a downtown school will always meet with resistance so long as Lowell is sitting so close to South Lake Union with over 300 empty seats. If the Downtown Seattle Association wants any real chance to create an elementary school for Amazon, they will have to close Lowell. The DSA would have an interest in supporting this solution.

Could this work? Could there be other workable solutions? Who knows? It doesn't matter because the topic is closed. The District refuses to discuss it. They refuse saying "That's not what we promised the voters when they approved BEX IV." This rationale is laughable. The District has a long history of changing BEX projects. They have done it in every levy to date, and they will undoubtedly do it in BEX IV as well. Fixing up an old building for NOVA, whether it is Mann or Lowell, is what the voters approved.

Also - and this is the really funny part - the Mann renovation won't use BEX IV money. The money for the Mann building renovation is coming from other capital fund sources.

The Task Force is pretty big - over twenty people. But not one of them is a veteran District watcher with the detailed knowledge to refute this thin rationale. Melissa and I knew these facts, but none of the community members of the Task Force did.

There was some talk about whether the Peace Center could use the space in the Mann building after NOVA returns, but that's neither likely nor particularly desirable.

Instead of considering any possibility that would allow the Peace Center to remain in the Mann building, the District has suggested that they lease other District sites instead. The District suggested Van Asselt and Columbia. The community rejected Van Asselt as too far south, but it is likely to accept Columbia. So, pending a lease agreement, Columbia will be the Peace Center's new home. The Columbia building was, until recently, leased to the Torah Day School of Seattle. I wonder if the lease terms for the Peace Center will be comparable to the terms offered to the Torah Day School. A big difference could spark charges of discrimination and possible litigation.

So that's the likely conclusion/solution for the first issue. It ran exactly according to script. Of course it did. The District has played out this scene dozens of times and they know the dialog and the business. The District refused to authentically engage or consider any outcome other than the one that they had pre-determined.

Bad Faith on Academic Achievement

The second, larger, issue also went according to the District's script. The District is even more experienced with this drama. They offered the community the one thing that they always offer: an Advisory Committee.

The District will form an African-American Student Success Advisory Committee. This will enable them to co-opt the dissent by collecting it all together in one approved place for easy, efficient neglect while preserving the illusion of action. It is a public relations response to an academic problem. The District will apply bureaucracy to drain all of the urgency from this crisis and to systematically lower expectations. The committee will take three months to assemble, then it will meet for six months, then it will produce recommendations, and then those recommendations will be ignored. The recommendations can be ignored for years as the District offers excuse after excuse (our plans for next year are already made, but we can include those changes in our plans for the following year). Finally, the District will say that it will take years for the reforms to result in improvements in student outcomes. That will buy them another three years. This will enable the District to appease the dissenters, create the illusion of engagement, and keep the peace through stalling tactics while they take no action whatsoever on the academic problem. Their stalling tactics are legendary. They may make some promises and adopt some resolutions at the headquarters, but they will never apply any enforcement or accountability to them in the schools. All of the commitments will be personal, not institutional, so thanks to the turnover in the District leadership they will never have to fulfill any commitments. Look at their history. This is what they have always done.

The academic problem is the failure to educate African-American students. It is the academic achievement gap. It is the opportunity gap. It is the school to prison pipeline. The District has acknowledged this problem for over ten years. At times they have named it as their top priority and number one goal. But you will notice that the District has never developed a plan to address it. What kind of organization sets a goal as their top priority but never makes a plan to achieve it? The superintendent was asked - directly - if he acknowledged the problem. He spoke passionately about the problem. Then he was asked -directly - if he has made any plan to address the problem. He admitted that, while he had plans to improve academic achievement for all students in all schools, he had no specific plan to address the under-achievement of African-American students.

So this is how and where it will end. The District has offered the Peace Center the opportunity to lease the Columbia building. They may offer them a preferential rental rate, but they do so at their peril. The District will form an Advisory Committee to address the failure to educate African-American students but, as we all know, the Advisory Committee will have no real impact. In short, the District will roll forward as they always have and do what they have always done. If we are lucky, really lucky, then the efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students - MTSS, academic assurances, CSIPs, etc. - will result in some improvement for African-American students and this will create the illusion that they have made some progress. In truth, this resolution will allow the District to stall any outbreak of real activism and dissent for at least five or six years. The members of the Task Force got played just as every other community mistreated by the District got played. The District used the same tactics and the same script. I see no reason to believe that the results will be any different this time.

Here's a solution to the academic problem: the Peace Center can apply for and receive a grant from the City through the Families and Education Levy to establish some demonstration projects to show how to educate African-American students effectively with culturally relevant curricula, culturally competent teaching, and culturally appropriate discipline based on the culture's social norms. If they show results, then they can continue to receive the grant funds. Then they can apply for and receive more grant funds to expand. Even if they never work inside Seattle Public Schools and even if the District never adopts their strategies, the Peace Center can have reliable funding to do the work they need to do.

82 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It is bad faith for the District to invite these people to discuss possible solutions when the District never had any intention of altering their course."

No, the District said they were clear that the Mann building was going to rehouse Nova and that was their stated position from the start. Banda said this.

The district DID offer other possibilities to these groups that Charlie notes. It is odd that neither the district or the community members mentioned Lowell wasn't or MLK, Jr. building or Coleman.

Considering some of the groups in Mann had suspended paying rent and/or the utilities, I think that saying the district shouldn't charge them more than any other group not valid. I don't think they should be charged more either but I think past behavior should tell the district something about the future.

Why does SPS have to work so hard to find them new locations? Isn't that the way if you lease and then the space is no longer available? Your group is then responsible for finding another space? It certainly is the same for those who lease Cedar Park.

I agree the Advisory Committee could be farce BUT not if it were - as the group asked - directed and lead by community members and parents. But that's a big leap for the district. It is possible, though.

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you, Melissa. I forgot to mention Colman and MLK. I'm sure they were discussed at the first two meetings just as the community centers at Garfield and Miller Park were discussed. Clearly there was something about those locations that didn't work. The District can't really speak for the operators of those sites anyway.

erik tanen said...

Charlie,
To advocate housing a high school with elementary kids is foolish and unwise. Lowell needs to grow on its own and not try and house a high school, special education program and a elementary program together.
Your correct, the district should have not engaged these groups and have bent over backwards to listen to their ranting. They should have shown them the door from the beginning.
The fact that the district would allow a group that has no lease, or insurance to be in the building is scary on its face, let alone letting them move into another space will just bite them in the was. Why can't they move into the two other African American community centers that are nearby.

Charlie Mas said...

erik, you misunderstand me. If NOVA were to move into the Lowell building, the elementary school there would close. I was not proposing that they share the building.

erik tanen said...

Maybe the two other Afican American community centers don't want a group that does not pay its way.

Charlie Mas said...

The District, to be clear, has not "bent over backwards" to listen to anyone. My point, which some may have missed, is that the District is not listening to these people at all.

If the District has policies and procedures for their tenants they should apply those policies and procedures equitably.

As to why other spaces are not attractive to the Peace Center, you'll have to ask them. No mention was made of those alternatives last night, so I don't know why they are not acceptable.

Let's be clear that these folks believe that the District needs to provide the space because it is the District which has the duty to educate students and it is the District which has failed in that duty so it is the District that should support their efforts to educate the children that the District is either unable or unwilling to educate.

Anonymous said...

The last mention I saw of Columbia, it was going to be the interim building for Meany Middle School - beginning next fall.

Lynn

erik tanen said...

Charlie,
Do you believe this group can bring about the changes that are needed and does it have to be in the Mann building. It is the goal of the district to serve all the children in the district and they unfortunately have to make some people unhappy.
I agree that the district only gives lip service to solving the inequities that exist in its marginal population, but this is not the place to solve those issues. I hope those who are passionate about this issue will continue to press the district to come up with solutions that will work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Let's be clear that these folks believe that the District needs to provide the space because it is the District which has the duty to educate students and it is the District which has failed in that duty so it is the District that should support their efforts to educate the children that the District is either unable or unwilling to educate."

I think it's more complicated than that. No other issue - not poverty or lack of resources, etc - was discussed last night and again, this can't all be on the district.

These groups have many legal choices:

- start a charter school and take that district money away from the district

- move to another district leased building

- move to another building for lease

- file a class-action lawsuit against the district

But taking Mann (or any other space) is not an option legally.

Charlie Mas said...

The occupation of Mann is a publicity stunt to bring attention to the real issue. That matter is settled. They will leave Mann - by force if necessary - but they will leave.

Ignore the sizzle, focus on the steak.

What are we - as a community - going to do to end the failure of education for African-American students? The District has never - NEVER - made a concerted effort and certainly isn't making one now. The District has no plan to achieve this, their stated primary goal.

Don't be distracted by the shiny objects, keep your eyes on the prize.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, but we all see this goal.

I think the question is not so much the solution - because there are many things that could be done - but how to get the district there?

mirmac1 said...

...the elementary school there would close."

Excuse me, the students there are some of the more severely disabled and medically fragile students in the district.

Umm. That just makes me want to blow a gasket...!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

@Charlie
Close Lowell? Seriously? So, where would the kids already at Lowell end up? I thought the nearby elementaries (Stevens, Montlake, etc...) were pretty crowded?

SPS is already poised to displace 150 or so students currently at Pinehurst. How does closing another school help with capacity issues?

-been there

Anonymous said...

Queen Anne is bursting, and John Hay still serves all of downtown. If Lowell has seats, we need to change the boundaries of Hay, so that Hay can take on more of QA and relieve Coe. They had to add a 4th kinder atft Coe and move the RR into the staff room. The district gave Coe another teacher to relieve over crowding in 1st &2nd grade but there is nowhere to put another class so the first grades have 31 children in them. The city has said no to portables at Coe.
QA Mom

Po3 said...

The move Nova to Lowell idea is not going to happen and is an unfortunate distraction in this important topic.

Anonymous said...

The more I think on this issue the more ridiculous it all is. Using the same logic, Hamlin Robinson could also refuse to leave. It is a private school that serves children with language/reading disabilities, and their current lease of TT Minor is coming to an end They could refuse to leave, citing years of neglect from SPS in regard to dyslexia. SPS has done a horrendous job of educating children with disabilities, and especially children with dyslexia. They haven't even made a good faith effort in identifying these kids, nor is there a phonemic awareness/phonics curriculum to deal with them if they do find them. Does that entitle Hamlin Robinson to stay at TT Minor? No!! The district should have evicted them from the get go. And they should not be given a lease in another SPS building.
TS

mirmac1 said...

No. It is not like Hamlin Robinson. It is like the Trail of Tears in the name of Manifest Destiny or, uh, gentrification. It is like the utter destruction of native families and villages in non-European countries. It is like the annihilation of the Jews in Poland.

It's like closing a school for severely-disabled students in self-contained classrooms to make space for others. But, hey, what the heck; they won't know any different, right?

And rationalizing the creation of an Amazon Elementary makes it a two-fer! Gee!

TS, I don't care for that analogy in the least, and I care alot about kids with disabilities and their struggles in our district; care enough to spend hours and hours and hours advocating for improvement. I'm alot like Melissa like that. It's not a hobby. It is a mission.

I respect Wyking Garret's devotion and passion. I may not use or agree with his methods (but not everyone cares for some of my gonzo tactics either.) In the end, we are not out to enrich ourselves. In fact, the pay is lousy. That's not what matters.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac - I can't follow your train of thought above. What is like the annihilation of the Jews in Poland?

Lynn

joanna said...

Does anyone ever look at the
http://www.naamnw.org site? Are you aware of the current exhibit and that the resources there that include the permanent collection, exhibits, story trunks and curriculum packets that are available and circulate statewide?
http://www.naamnw.org/exhibits.html

The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute often goes unnoticed as a great resource.
http://www.langstoninstitute.org/

Thoughtfulness is a necessary step here with people actually working together. Much has been known about what all children need to lean for some time and examples of success are also abundant. Fear, anxiety and anger get in the way of learning and thinking for all of us. It is the will to create stable and ongoing programs to address these needs that is lacking. Every individual has a need to be a part of the cooperative whole, and at the same time for some individual recognition. Sometimes it seems like American society tends to reward those with an imbalance to the need for individual accomplishment, as though we accomplish things without others. The idea that individual alone accomplished something or perhaps failed, while generally false, tends to be the narrative. The District has great responsibility in bringing people together to solve this problem. While parents and the neighborhood schools that serve the students need to be at the table, much should be integrated into the curriculum for all students. I believe I heard Pegi say that they are working to further integrate the curriculum for all students (something that I thought was being done 20 years ago). Nonetheless, it is a necessary step and should be reviewed periodically, along with a willingness to recognize that each student comes to us as an individual with talents and challenges and that the job of the school is to provide opportunities for the student to nurture individual talents and learn how to take on challenges while working with other students.

mirmac1 said...

Lynn, I'm thinking of eugenics, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the forced displacement and murder of native peoples in the Americas and Africa, our country's refusal to accept Jewish refugees from Europe during the war, forced sterilization of adults with disabilities and abuse of the mentally ill in state hospitals; all intolerable acts of callous disregard for life, let alone the right to the pursuit of happiness.

Some would say "C'mon, that doesn't go on these days." Well, I remember MLK's assasination, and the murder of four girls in the Birmingham bombing. How about the killing of 11, including five children in the police bombing of MOVE HQ in Philadelphia and the conflagration of a block of homes, allowed to burn to the ground. The rampant unemployment and alcoholism among our native peoples, trapped on reservations. The neglect of the poor, leaving them to die on the floor of the ER waiting room. Heck, our city cops are known to "beat the Mexican piss" out of innocent, but dark-skinned, men or shooting a harmless Native American woodcutter.

Does that help you with my train of thought?

Anonymous said...

"C'mon, that doesn't go on these days."

Seclusion? Restraint? Yes, that happens all the time to students with disabilities. Right now. 2013. They just passed a law in Olympia that mandates that your school simply inform parents when they do this to your kid. Inform you. That's it. (No. They don't have to stop doing it, they just have to tell you after the fact that they did it.) Occasionally you read blog posts to the effect that "this surely never happens here". Oh yes it does!

-sped parent

seattle citizen said...

A trail of tears (of a sort....not of the scale of the Trail of Tears but just as noteworthy and actionable) led away from the John Marshall building (People's School #1) when its Alternative, Special Ed (predominantly Black, and staffed by Black IAs and White teachers), Re-entry (students kicked to the curb out of other schools; staffed by White teachers, natch), and Teen Mother programs were sent packing in 2008. While the school (by Greenlake) had its issues, it might have been re-energized. A group of teachers (four: Black, White, Hispanic, Jewish) designed a sort of community school model with the help and support of various community members. The plan was, if I recall, over 100 pages ling and included standards, digital learning, CTE, service learning, bilingual (Spaniish)...most details were noted, even a guesstimated cost structure. The Ravenna Boulevard Academy, it was provisionally named.
The John Marshall building was closed. Those students walked, in their own tears and those of their staff. Those students and staff walked away, keening in their mourning. The trail of tears led away.
John Marshall will reopen soon, serving the neighborhoods around Greenlake - Wallingford...Phinney...Roosevelt...Wedgewood...

There is a trail of tears, really a continuation of the Trail of Tears, leading away from the Wilson Pacific complex. The Native American students there are walking again. From their burnt longhouses on the western shore of Elliott Bay they walked to reservations or to Ballast Island, the pile of rocks offshore of "Pioneer" Square (the only dry land they were allowed on in the city named for one of their respected men - the city outlawed them from living within it in 1867), they walked, in tears, into Indian Schools where their hair was sheared and their cultures excised snd their mother tongues cut from their mouths, their words banned. Now they walk from Wilson Pacific, singing mourning songs that sound so much (to wasicu, to US) like death songs but are NOT. Not dead. Never. Always alive among us, a part of us, but walking in tears, they walk in tears away from Indian Heritage at Wilson Pacific, away from the sacred spring at Licton Springs.
Wilson Pacific will serve the communities of Greenwood...Broadview...Maple Leaf...North Beach

Pinehurst will walk in tears tomorrow. Tomorrow Alternative School #1 (Pinehurst) will walk. In tears it will join Summit on the road. Students of those schools, alternative students of all "races" in a mainstreamed world, will walk. Will walk. Will walk.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The District has great responsibility in bringing people together to solve this problem."

And Joanna is one of the cooler heads. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well mirmac, I'd be happy if Hamlin Robinson squatted in the TTMinor building too. Not sure why that is any different from the Mann building. And yes, those are all un-served Seattle residents who the district refuses to serve. The district will happily let every dyslexic student rot in classrooms with no hope of ever learning anything. Oh well. That sped in Seattle. Why shouldn't Hamlin Robinson get that building too? At least they do something with the kids Not sure what contribution the squatters in the Mann building are producing. How exactly is it different Mirmac?

If they were smart, they would charterize that one! As soon as possible.

-sped parent

mirmac1 said...

No. A more apt comparison is El Centro de La Raza. Roberto Maestas, a passionate community leader, and others occupied the old Beacon Hill School. After, I imagine, similar outrage, rejection and tense negotiation and accomodation, we are where we are today - with a vibrant center nurturing latino children and reflecting the neighboring community.

Time heals all wounds.

Now, expand your mind, imagine SPS saying Centro you've got 2 months to get out, we need that building. (Forget they own the building now, for this exercise. And forget that they've been there a long time. According to some, that shouldn't matter. If the district needs it, it can take it). Wouldn't the community be very upset? Wouldn't they hope or expect that those professing to care about what's best for latino youth, equitable access, achievement gap, social-emotional support etc, would NOT do something that is counter to those goals?

Anonymous said...

Ha mirmac1, that reminded me of what Bernie Whitebear did in the 70's when the army decided to surplus Ft. Lawton. Various tribes wanted a parcel and it was opposed by the city and Magnolia Community Club at the time. Bernie Whitebear and supporters "invaded" and occupied the land and we now have the Daybreak Star cultural center.

I know there's a BIG difference between surplus land and a school district dealing with capacity issue. I hope the district and the local community will consider all stakeholders needs here and consider alternative approaches to end the opportunity and achievement gaps, especially with our most at-risk young people. I think there's room for "innovation" and partnership here to build on with local community groups that already have established relationships and presence.

long view

Anonymous said...

Trail of Tears for John Marshall? I wouldn't wish that building on any school children. Did anyone read/watch the King5 report?

methinks

Anonymous said...

Well you better tell all the existing schools near I-5 to close too. Guess SPS can sell the land to condo developers who can in turn sell condos to people, including families. While we are at it, lead pipes in all those older homes and buildings. Not to mention asbestos and mold. Don't forget noise pollution. Check out studies on hearing loss among our young Adults. Then there's the obesity, asthma, and allergies issue, espeially when you live in poor housing conditions? How about living and going to schools in the crossfire? Can we move those kids to safer grounds? What about the effect on homelessness on children and their long term health and well being?

step1

Anonymous said...

Exhaust, disel fumes foul schools

Of the roughly 50,000 kids who will attend Seattle schools this fall, nearly 2,000 of those will hit the books in classrooms within 500 feet of I-5. Of those schools, one has an advanced filter to catch the biggest bits of soot — TOPS in Eastlake.

Like John Marshall Junior High, TOPS — formerly Seward Elementary — found itself in the path of I-5 in the late 1950s. The first and second floors were level with the rushing highway and completely unprotected from air pollution until a sound barrier was installed around 2000. That made TOPS a firm “no” for Sooraj Kuttykrishnan when choosing a school for his daughter. Raised in an industrial city in western India, Kuttykrishnan started kindergarten with crippling asthma, terrifying his parents and imperiling the family’s finances with heavy medical bills.

So when choosing where his own daughter would start school, he and his wife Rebecca crossed TOPS off the list.

It didn’t help that Kuttykrishnan, a biostatistician at the University of Washington, had just finished working on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded study examining the link between traffic pollution and cardiovascular disease. Results showing a firm link between roadway pollution and a higher blood pressure and hardening arteries didn’t ease his worries.

“I’ve seen data measured near freeways. It’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t be bad,” he said.


TOPS has both a sound wall and extra filtration to partially mitigate being so close to the freeway. John Marshall has nothing - no physical barrier and no improvements to the ventilation system.

fyi

Not Fooled said...

This is madness. Sane people don't hand over a much needed school building to other people simply because they want it, especially in times of serious overcrowding. It is absolutely ridiculous to even contemplate, no matter how "just" the cause. Why is this discussion even taking place while they are refusing to leave the building?

Add to this scenario a loosely and newly formed group who rode in on the coat tails of someone else's lease, who have only been in the building since late spring of this year, then stopped paying rent or utilities. Their continued occupation of the building is indisputably illegal. Again - why are any discussions being held while this is going on?

They have attached themselves to a glaringly obvious problem, but offer little in the way specific steps to solve it, nor have they worked to bring together other community resources to help solve it. In fact, their statements have been quite alienating to large groups of people. Other groups with similar goals in the area will not rent space to them, which speaks volumes. If other like-minded folks do not want to deal with this specific group based on their past behavior, why are we talking about anything with them other than "get out of the building you have no legal right to be in"?

In short, this is a group with no plan and no money and little indication of community backing ademanding that they be given an entire building, on very short notice, for poorly defined purposes. Other groups want the same things they are claiming to want, yet they manage to act in a legal fashion and work to bring communities together, not take divisive actions to tear them apart.

If they are serious about their goals, the first step for a newly formed group is *get legal* -- move out, legally lease a space, and build community support. If they are just reaching out for a free building and plan to use White Guilt as a means to divert attention from this goal, well then that is a different thing altogether, isn't it?

Not Fooled

Anonymous said...

All this discussion of equity and how students needs aren't being met has gotten me thinking about some of the kindergarten kids who were behind the curve so to speak. I've got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that those kids are not on a track to bring them up to grade level, they are on a track to continue working behind the curve. I know that everybody is not the same but having lived with a brother in SPED I know how stupid it made him feel. I don't want those sweet kids to be tracked their entire school career on the less academic path until they drop-out.

Is there anything that can be done? Especially for the FRL kids who's families might not have the resources to intervene?

GMG

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, the district has spent nearly 20 million diddling with the Mann building. Moving out, fixing (proposed), moving back in. Or, as you suggest, go buy something else for its needed capacity. To now just give Mann away, that would be insanity. They already lost how many millions on MLK giveaway? This is just more Pottergate. Previous injustice, even current injustice isn't an entitlement. Here we complain about a few million special ed students cost - but look at all those moves, endless moves. They add up. So do giveaways. And that's who ultimately pays for the giveaways. Special ed. Minority programs. Etc. Better to use the money on that, than just frittering it away. Even talking about it is a distraction.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

I can see why tracking has come back into favor, whether it is walk to math or reading when teachers have large class size and wide range of abilities along with parental pressure. I agree the kids who are behind the curve may get stuck there.

In some schools, I noticed remediation are taught by part-time instructors funded by the district and/or PTA. The quality and status of these instructors aren't always the same as for gen ed or advanced students who get the full time, certificate teachers. It makes more sense if you are going by ability grouping for these students to have the strongest teachers (good in math or has phonemic traning with reading), and who are experienced in teaching children with behavioral issues and learning needs. But that isn't what happens. Some students do work with counselors and SPED teachers as well, but that isn't the same thing. Maybe that's why these kids get lost. Compounding this is when you have students lacking the home support or parent/guardian to advocate for them in school.

tortoise





mirmac1 said...

"In short, this is a group with no plan and no money and little indication of community backing demanding that they be given an entire building, on very short notice, for poorly defined purposes. Other groups want the same things they are claiming to want, yet they manage to act in a legal fashion and work to bring communities together, not take divisive actions to tear them apart."

Not Fooled, you say all this with such certainty. Where did you get this information? From reading what a few other people posted? Yesterday? You should just as well learn from history where there was a similar effort organized by a radical leader, that has led to a great community resource.

Your use of the terms "get legal" (nice luxury if you can swing it) and White Guilt is telling. SpEd families are very often told to "get legal" or get lost. And told this without a tinge of White Guilt or respect for law even.... I guess it depends on which side the power lies.

Anonymous said...

I have VERY little patience for illegal squatters in buildings, mirmac1. They have no legal claim to be in that space in any possible scenario. They have no lease. They were notified in writing to vacate months ago. They do not pay rent. They were sub-leasees of a group that has already vacated. They were well aware that the building was being renovated for another use even before they moved in.

Everything other discussion about their claim to the building is completely moot under these circumstances.

And the White Guilt issue is their doing, not mine. They have been wrapping themselves in black vs white rhetoric from day 1. It is a smokescreen to divert from the hard, cold fact that they are clearly, unequivocally in the building illegally.

Not Fooled

Leith Kahl said...

As a task force member, I appreciate the thoughtful analysis offered here by Mr. Mas. Unfortunately, I doubt his post will garner anywhere near the reading or posting audience generated by Ms. Westbrook's sensationalized account of our last meeting, complete with its spine chilling headline. With such success in driving cyber traffic, perhaps Ms. Westbrook could pursue a successful career at one of the Fox affiliates.

It would seem to me that the Westbrook - Mas debate can be summarized like this. Westbrook believes that our superintendent has made what "could be the worst mistake Banda could make so early" by even convening our task force instead of summarily terminating the programs that are taking place in the Horace Mann public school building early this summer. She apparently thinks our superintendent has lost control, as she states that her reaso posting is that "pressure needs to come to bear to end this situation (at least at the Mann building". Mas, meanwhile, believes that the district is firmly under control that it is the community's task force members who have made the mistakes, that we have been "played" and co-opted by the district like members of so many task forces before us.

I just want to pose one question to everyone. WHAT IF a reality existed that was different from either the Westbrook or the Mas narrative? What if a down-and-out community that few were rooting for and even fewer were betting on actually DID come together in a leased public school building to build its own strategic plan to close its own achievement gap? What if the programs they had been developing over the last few years actually WERE working for the limited number of mostly (but NOT exclusively) African American students who have participated in them so far? What if these volunteers were not trying to threaten anyone or obstruct public education, but actually viewed their efforts as part and parcel of our public education project, of which the white abolitionist Horace Mann was a co-founder? What if, at the same time, SPS had actually recently hired a decent superintendent, or at least a superintendent who was better than his predecessor, or at least a superintendent who could be given the benefit of the doubt? What if this superintendent, recognizing both the initial success of these programs and the failure of his predecessors to develop a plan to advance the success of African Americans in particular, decided to convene our task force, NOT out of fear, but because it was the right thing to do? What if Banda has NOT lost control of his district, but is taking the necessary time to fully explore all available options before making any irreversible decisions? What if the community in question, in spite of well founded lack of trust, based on generations of actual experience in dealing with SPS, decided in good faith to accept Banda's invitation to form tise task force because that was ALSO the best thing to do? What if it were still too early to know whether the task force members have been "played" or co-opted against their own community, because the discussions were still underway, and the outcomes had yet to be determined? What if the task force meetings, although heated (and easy to write sensationalized stories about)were actually yielding productive dialogue and beginning to identify real possibilities for the improvement and expansion of public education? I know many folks are too cynical to consider such a scenario as anything more than a utopian fantasy. But WHAT IF, just hypothetically, this actually WAS what was taking place?

If, by lucky chance, it were, then it would indeed be tragic to cut it short by raising a hue and cry about bringing pressure to bear "to end this situation". It would also be ironic if that hue and cry were to originate from a nominally pro public education blog called "Save Seattle Schools"

-Leith Kahl

seattle citizen said...

Not fooled - Blacks had no legal claim to use White water fountains. Or sit in front of the bus. Should Ms. Parks have stayed in the "colored" section? Legally, the front of the bus, a public bus, belonged to Whites. Was Ms. Parks a squatter?
Bernie Whitebear (with Robert Maestas by his side) "squatted" on a piece of lsnd in Magnolia he "shouldn't have been on." Was he wrong to do that?
Some would plausibly argue that everyone but Native Americans are squatters here in the Whulj, in what we now know as the Puget Sound area. The dtive-by treaties sessions Stevens conducted were certainly far from ethical or moral or conducted under the spirit if the Law.
It is clear that the treaties were obtained by force, and yet here we are decrying even the slightest hint of force, what appears to be a mere sit-in.....

seattle citizen said...

Lieth. Kahl - I am somewhat on the fence of thid issue. I have heard other boices besides Ms. Westbrook's and Mr. Mas's and I have been intimately connected to both the alternative school community and to oppressed communities in the city for fifteen years.
I just wanted to say that your piece, above, is very powerful.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Leith Kahl,

I think because the task force was formed and met in secret there are interested people who have many unanswered questions.

Do you have a strategic plan to close the achievement gap? Can you share it with us?

Can you describe the programs developed over the last few years and tell us now many children have been served?

How do you know the programs are working (How do you measure that?)

Do you have a financial plan for the programs? How will you pay the rent if you use a district building?

Have you formed a (presumably) non profit organization to manage your programs? (Who will sign the lease?)

Are there active programs being run out of Mann right now? If so, what is your plan for moving them out? If there are not programs using Mann, have you moved out and locked up?

I think being open and sharing facts with us would be helpful.

Lynn

Melissa Westbrook said...

To answer some of Mr.Kahl's comments:

- yes, my version was more sensationalistic. And that's because the quotes - that I neither embellished or created - came out of the mouths of taskforce members. Keep in mind, I've attended and reported on hundreds of district meetings. So I knew the district players for certain even as I had never seen most of the taskforce members. (Indeed most of them introduced themselves as people outside of the district so that I likely why I don't recognize their names.) And I could tell that there was some tension and discomfort in the room.

(Mr. Kahl is also right - there is a need to in the blogging business to drive readers to your blog. Now if I followed SEO guidelines, that would NOT be the headline that would get the most hits on Google. But given that Mr. Banda was presented with more than one statement/accusation of the crisis and abandonment of African-American students, it WAS the most important story, not the Mann story.)

"WHAT IF a reality existed that was different from either the Westbrook or the Mas narrative? What if a down-and-out community that few were rooting for and even fewer were betting on actually DID come together in a leased public school building to build its own strategic plan to close its own achievement gap? What if the programs they had been developing over the last few years actually WERE working for the limited number of mostly (but NOT exclusively) African American students who have participated in them so far?"

First of all, if Banda cannot handle a small group of people who are in a district building - illegallly - and hold up the entire BEX project timeline, yes, it would not look good for him.

Second, Charlie and I have ALWAYS advocated for communities to rise up and advocate for themselves. The district needs input and ideas. No one is against this idea and it's great that it got started in the Mann building. And, Banda said he would support an advisory committee that - as the taskforce said - would be led by parents and community to guide how to close that achievement gap.

That's the route to go, I believe.

Melissa Westbrook said...

But the district, and the public, do have the right to know what the programs are about, who runs them, the data about their work and the outcomes. According to the district, they have repeatedly ask for this information and nothing has come to them.

I honestly do not know what to say to the idea that any group could tell the district, "we know best and you need to allow/enact our plan." I have never seen it happen before and frankly, the precedent it would set would be game-changing (and believe me, others would surely line up for the same opportunity).

If these groups want to try to work - in partnership - with the district to find another district space, that's great. The district did walk through some possibilities and also said it might be possible to have before/after school or summer programs. All these things are possible (and I said this in my original piece).

But I believe the district and the public would be less inclined to embrace a partnership with any group that is not abiding by rules the district has already set up on building use. Somehow that point seems to get missed.

NO one, at any time, has said the district has done enough or had enough real ideas around closing the achievement gap. BUT, I know there is certainly some movement. RBHS has an brand-new IB program with supports. That is a major deal. The high school STEM program is at Cleveland, a largely minority school. The first arts dollars to flow from the City to the district? They go to every single elementary school in the Central Area.

I believe what was stated at the meeting - that parents and community know their children's needs better than most people in administration in the district. I think the district has made the mistake of not listening. (And I"ve said this all before but clearly not everyone who has come to the blog in the last couple of days read this blog regularly).

But Banda and the district staff at headquarters have to think of ALL the children in this district. Pegi McEvoy pointed out that her job was to consider all the African-American children in the district and not just those in the Central area.

Somewhere there's a place to meet in the middle.

Again, I would have loved to have known that the district was looking for members for this taskforce (I wouldn't have applied myself but let other people know via the blog). I would have liked to attended the other meetings but they were not advertised nor their minutes placed on the website. It's an odd thing.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know who is on the taskforce.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

To Leith Kahl:

Charlie Mas started the conversation several months ago with a very "sensationalistic" voice against the movement at Horace Mann. I'm glad Charlie has moderated his voice (he tends to do that when the cards move), but let's not have revisionist history already.

Charlie Mas on August 16, 2013:

"The Fate of the Mann Building
The Horace Mann building at 24th and Cherry was the home of The NOVA Project for thirty years from 1979 to 2009 when misguided District leadership moved the school to the Meany building for no legitimate reason. New leadership quickly decided to move NOVA back into the Mann building and that has been the District's plan for about two years now.

During the brief intervening period the District rented out the building. Many of the programs which leased space in the building during NOVA's brief absence moved in after the District announced plans to bring NOVA home. A tenant, The Africatown Community Innovation Center is now trying to oppose the return of NOVA and retain their occupancy of the building. Some among them say that they will refuse to leave.

The tenants have no legal basis for refusing to leave. The terms of their lease are clear and their lease terminates this month. The District needs the building to house NOVA, the historical use of the building for the past thirty years. The programs now renting space in the building can find other locations - or not. It isn't the school district's problem.

I find the case for the ACIC to retain the building completely without any merit whatsoever. In addition, my daughter attended NOVA, she was there the last year they were in the Mann building, and I feel a strong sense of loyalty to the school. I'm not the right person to express the perspective of those in support of the occupation, so I offer this link to a blog post called "Parents and Students Self-Organize At the Horace Mann School Building".

As I wrote, I find the ACIC's claims to the building to be without merit. What do you think?"


I am a longtime worker bee (teacher) with African American children, and am acutely aware of the crisis and that it is getting worse. I suggest that you should also be focusing your efforts on getting the district to gerrymander boundaries so that segregation does not continue to exacerbate the haves and have-nots.
That is currently the biggest obstacle to equity in this district.

I also have gotten frustrated over the years when I would go to student games and see so many African American men at sporting events but rarely at school. I know that airing dirty laundry in public isn't popular, but there it is.

The tragedy of racism and poverty in this society has created some very dysfunctional and complex results and the children are always the newest casualites.

Until the people with means in Seattle Public Schools stop thinking only about what is best for their own children, these outcomes will continue to manifest.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

p.s. Leith Kahl,

Please quit treating Jose Banda like your whipping boy. He is humane, compassionate, and committed to students and families. Your outrage should be directed toward the legacies of Goodloe-Johnson and Enfield, who were controlled by self-promotion and being connected to the power elite. Sadly, I don't think students were anywhere close to the top of their priorities.

It is very unbecoming for you and others to treat Banda like a feckless wannabe when he is the only ally you have had in years.

Please stop it. It is wrong and looks discriminatory.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

enough already,

As a teacher, you must have spent a lot time thinking about this problem. What suggestions would you make to increase academic achievement in this community?

Is it a problem caused by the concentration of poverty? If a smaller number of children in each class were not meeting grade-level standards, would it be easier to help those kids? Would the necessity of teaching to a wider range of students complicate things?

Would it be as helpful to have greatly reduced class sizes? Maybe the state needs to fund that for schools where students are not meeting state standards.

Is the problem exacerbated by the inadequate funding of our schools? Do you need affluent parents at every school to cover the costs of necessary academic supports?

Do you think we should abandon the current student assignment plan? If so, what would be an improvement?

I'm curious what you think of the complaints we have been hearing about the district's placement of APP at Garfield. People on the Mann taskforce clearly would prefer that segregation there be increased.

I would really appreciate hearing what you think would help.

Lynn

Not Fooled said...

seattle citizen, your Rosa Parks example is another diversion. She and others set out to change racist laws, not steal property.

Are you *seriously* claiming that being required to vacate a building that you have no lease for is something that should be set aside or ignored by the courts? Do you think all real estate law should be tossed because of past injustice? Do you think the owner of a building should be required to give up their legal rights to their own property for a reason such as this?


Not Fooled

seattle citizen said...

NF, Rosa parks staged a "sit in" on public property so that all could use it and benefit. She wasn't trying to steal property. Bernie Whitebear, Robert Maestas, and Larry Gosset (I think: at any rate, some member of the African American community) staged a sit in on public property so that ALL could use it. Remember that when that occured in 1970 redlining had just been made illegal - minorities had been kept from Magnolia by racist law and practice.
Public schools belong to all of us. Yes, of course, policy and procedure is necessary, but let's not forget that policy and procedure has, and can, advance racist/classist patterns.
No one is trying to "steal" Horace Mann. It will no doubt remain a public facility, belonging to us all. I'm not sure which side of this fence I'll fall in the end - Nova "belongs" at Mann and is the most anti-racist program in the district, bar none. But many groups of citizens continue to suffer the degredations of oppression, are legitimately incensed by duch mistreatment, and sometimes non-violent protest is maybe THE only way to get attention, policy and procedure be damned.
Personally, at this point, I believe that Nova should go back home to Mann. There are other facilities for what the community is proposing. But I don't begrudge anyone who stands up and shouts about injustice, even in what some might consider an inappropriate venue. Democracy is messy, and participants aren't required to be fully informed or always thoughtful: Sometimes it's merely the case where you "let resistance be your motto" when you speak your heart.

Charlie Mas said...

Sure.

Maybe the Task Force members are not getting played. Maybe the District is not dealing with them in bad faith. Maybe the District officials on the Task Force made it perfectly clear and openly stated at the start of the whole thing that they had resolutely decided that NOVA was returning to Mann and the programs now in the building would absolutely have to leave. Maybe they were abundantly clear about that and some of the Task Force members had simply forgotten about it by the third meeting.

I can't answer that because I wasn't there for the first two meetings - they were held in secret. Perhaps Leith Kahn can say how clearly the District officials were about their unshakable pre-determination that the programs leave and NOVA return.

And, of course, none of us know the future, so there just isn't any telling yet if the District will actually take any meaningful action to address the crisis in African-American student education.

Don't let the fact that the District has taken no action on this crisis to date as an indicator. Don't presume that the superintendent's inability to see a need to address the crisis in the past is evidence that he won't see any need for this in the future.

I will say, however, that I spent all day yesterday at the school board retreat at which the district leadership determined their primary areas of focus for the year and their most important initiatives. Not once during the whole long day did anyone mention African-American students. Not once.

And it wasn't just Mr. Banda. Ms McIvoy, Mr. Tolley, Mr. Herndon who were all at the Task Force meeting were also at the retreat. Not one of them mentioned African-American students. Not once.

The District's top priorities for the year are 1. Implementation of the Common Core (every student gets the same curriculum), 2. Balancing their budget (not spending any money on any new initiatives), and 3. Capacity management (the smooth execution of the BEX IV plan). You'll notice that all three of these goals are in opposition to the hopes of the community Task Force members.

So we won't know if the Task Force members are getting played or not for another couple years. We won't know if the District is directing the Task Force into their bureaucratic net of inaction. I will say, however, that I know that road really, really well, and the course taken in the third meeting is exactly what the offramp looks like.

Stay optimistic. That's great. Call me cynical; I can take it.

Here's an idea, though: at the next meeting, the one this Thursday evening, ask the superintendent, Mr. Herndon, Ms McIvoy, and Mr. Tolley how the District's response to the crisis in African-American education was discussed at the Board retreat as they set their priorities for the year. Ask them how the crisis rates among the District's priorities.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

That is the best thread label I've seen yet.

Lynn

joanna said...

Mann is not surplussed. The area has many more children than in the past. The area around TT Minor has the fastest growing population of school age children of any area of the city. The area has a high concentration private schools with a high rate of children of all ethnic backgrounds attending private schools due in part to the politicization of our schools, attendance areas, and buildings. This is true for many African American families, as well as other families. All tire of their children being politicized. I will have to request the information again. I do not have the exact percentages, but no one in the District has denied that there is a high rate of private school attendance here. The lack of stable accessible programs with the constant threat that assignments will be changed again and again with no work to engage with the families for stable solutions it is not surprising. It is time to stop selling our buildings and politicizing every site. It is time for solid stable programs that build reputations for excellence for all with integrated curriculum. Good solid integrated curriculum should be the norm everywhere. The families in Director District 5 deserve excellent public schools. SASS, Epiphany, and Giddens all have had to expand recently, with SASS planning yet a new addition. And most have had growing enrollment as schools closed.

The Seattle Police direct traffic around area around 14th and E. Union every afternoon that the Northwest School and SASS are open due to all the pedestrian and auto traffic when school gets out. Not all the students are from this area. However, we have a high percentage of students attending those schools, some on scholarship. Certainly Saint Therese and Giddens serve a diverse population and a number also go out side the area to other schools such as Zion Academy and St, Joe's on Capitol Hill.
This is quick list of schools right here in the area: the Giddens School on 620 20th Avenue S, the Valley School on 309 31st Avenue East, Epiphany School at 3611 E Denny Way,Lake Washington Girls School on 810 18th Ave Seattle, Seattle Girl's School on 2706 S Jackson, Northwest School Seattle 1415 Summit Ave, Saint Therese 900 35th Ave, SASS on 1201 E Union St., O'Dea.

Again Mann is not surplussed. AME, a well-know historic African American Church, has control of the former MLK School property in the CD and the African American Museum has control of the old Coleman School. Neither organizations paid top dollar, and I believe AME was the recipient of some state funds to create a community center.

I did not like the selling of MLK. Since the Feds built a new Coleman on a new site School, surplussing and eventually selling the old building and property was not as controversial. However, I believe that there was some controversy around if the District received a fair price or something and this may have been true for some past properties in the north and south too. And, I don't think it is a good practice for the District to sell or lease on the cheap to any private organization. It quickly leads to patronage and corruption. These belong to the public, the District is the manager on behalf of the taxpayers.

The staff prepaations on programs etc seemed weak. I a bit worried and nervous that Superintendent Banda is not getting to the heart of some of the matters as well as he should.

We need our schools for schools.

Anonymous said...

I have not posted re this matter eventhough I think it extremely important, because I do not know the schools and neighborhoods in the CD well enough to have an informed opinion. I have been attending BCDI's conferences every spring for several years though, so I know how
bad the situation has been for the AA community, especially with young males and the school to prison pipeline. A few years ago, there was a guest speaker, Dr Joseph Marshall, who was most impressive with his insights on why things are so much worse now than it was in the late 70's and 80's. So I want to ask the taskforce if the programs you have at
Mann are based on his Omega Boys Club and Alive and Free? Because if it is, people here can look up info about Dr Marshall and the success he has had helping the AA students get into college and succeed in school, and I think you would receive a lot of support. Certainly there are people who are only concerned with me and mine only. But I think there are many more who see the injustice and the waste of it all, and would advocate and work for change if we could. We just don't know what would work as we do not understand what it is like walking and living while black. The institutional racism you have to face all the time and the realities of your lives. Recently, someone here said I should be ashamed of wanting to force AA children to leave their neighborhood schools to go up north, just to assuage my white guilt. I thought it amusing since I was bused down to the CD for many years and thought it great, also my family came here latterly, so no white guilt re AA and Native
Americans, tho I am sure my ancestors did many evil things in the former colonies in Asia and Africa, I do not feel guilt for other people's actions. I just believe no man is an island, and a rising tide lift all boats. So if you have solutions, please tell us, perhaps we can stand with you.

CCA

Anonymous said...

Rule of law kept Africans in chains for centuries. Rule of law took two continents away from the native people. Rule of law annihilated Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden. Rule of law let our waterways get filled with PCBs and other toxins.
Rule of law means an orderly and coherent way for the ruling class to do what they want to do and then justify it. When the ruling class wants the rules changed, they are changed; but not until then. Unless of course there is a revolution and then a new ruling class takes over.
Pressure groups like M4M are always there in the back or foreground agitating for obvious justice. Sometimes they get some attention when the ruling class wants them to help move an agenda. Like now.
The agenda is what?
Maintain the status quo. This manufactured crisis over the Mann site distracts and dissipates energy from the real issues of poverty and unequal and unfair distribution of goods and services .
I don't know Mr. Banda but he is by any measure no radical. I'm not implying he is coconut, but I do believe that he and most of us have the philosophy that "the poor are always with us."
Disregarding the misinterpretation of this Jesus quote, it is a gut level feeling we as a society have that we can't get rid of poverty, ever.
That why there is never a stated goal to eliminate poverty or eliminate the achievement gap. It is by definition impossible. I think the M4M people have a different take on things. They know that crushing poverty is what distorts life for their constituents. That the prevailing mindset that labels their constituents is a gigantic hurdle. They know the system is rigged against success for their clients.
Just like white Americans, god- fearing, law abiding Americans, could tolerate slavery for hundreds of years, the power wielding class of today can sleep at night with full knowledge of the hellacious conditions of our poorest citizens.
Horace Mann would have been with these people, 100%.

Kyle Smithe
.

Anonymous said...

Kyle,

Do you think the More 4 Mann group is advocating/planning to correct the unequal and unfair distribution of goods and services?

Which specific laws do you think need to be changed?

What injustice will the programs the group have created remedy?

What do you think the school district can and should be doing to eliminate poverty?

Several people have asked for descriptions of the group's programs and plans and have received no response.

It appears that Wyking Garrett tried unsuccessfully to convince Hamlin Robinson to share space at T.T. Minor with him. Next at Mann, he tried to "Reclaim the space for the community" in November 2011 with his Hip Hop Occupies group.

He has needed space for quite some time now. I would think in that amount of time some concrete plans would have been made. Why not make those plans public?

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn, the number of questions you ask on this blog number in the hundreds. It is a very interesting style of dialogue but could be construed as adversarial.
I can't speak for Mr. Smithe, however, I would like to respond to your questions although I suspect they are actually rhetorical and not sincere inqueries.
1. I think the M4M folks are intent on bringing awareness to the issues of: white privilege, economic privilege, ingrained and institutional racism, historical racism and economic injustice, poverty, the school to prison pipeline, the districts failure to educate poor people, the failure of the district to educate people of color, and others.
2. Obviously the drug laws that send people of color to prison in high numbers need to change. Even moderates like I presume you to be advocate that. I personally would like to see rich financial people held accountable like small time criminals and I would like to see polluters go to prison. I would ban guns, and political contributions and provide single payer health care and free day care and humane care for the elderly. I would personally ban meat eating as well.

3. The school district could take strides towards reducing poverty by:
Providing healthy food to FRL kids, not that plastic wrapped excuse for food. They could hire real poor people to work in schools as tutors by foregoing credential requirements, a classic hurdle put up by the ruling class. They should teach kids about our distorted economic system that counts GDP as one of the indicators of success nationally even though it includes all kinds of destructive activity from weapons production and maintaining our armies to destroying our air and soil through commercialism to our horrendous prison system. The district should explain to children how oppressing animals and eating them debases us all.
And finally, if you want all these answers why don't you drive down to Mann, ask your questions and report back.

Thanks,
Joseph

Anonymous said...

Lynn, where are you getting all this info about these people? Your questions are very valid and thoughtful, but I think perhaps you might get more engagement from the taskforce if you did not start out with accusations. I know it is the American way to be aggressive, like that character in that comedy show from 10 years ago, we all want to have HAND. But we are trying to understand people whose lives are different than ours, who are surely sick and tired of being prejudged because they are black or brown or Native American or poor, A little respect offered, and a little willingness to listen without preassuming the worst would benefit us all. I realized we are all suspicious because of Silas Potter and AME, but perhaps those situations happened not because of their intention to cheat and steal, but because they have less resources available to them to succeed because of institutional racism.
JP Morgan Chase' CEO stole a lot more money from people than Mr Potter, and lost billions of investors' money, yet no one is calling him a crook or trying to put him in jail. He didn't even lose his job. How much was his salary and bonus last year? Why do we judge him less harshly because he is white and rich? Just saying!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:04 is me, CCA, sorry I forgot to sign.

CCA

mirmac1 said...

Thanks Joseph and CCA,

I'm glad I'm not the only to notice that the inquiries are merely passive aggressive dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Joseph,

Your ideas for how the district can help reduce poverty, while noble, are not something the district has the ability to do.

Free and Reduced lunch is paid for by the federal government, not our state or the district. The food is abysmal, but given how little the district is reimbursed for each meal by the federal government, we can't expect much more. It is an issue that must be taken to United States Congress, not SPS.

As for hiring poor people to tutor in schools. Washington State sets the requirements for teaching credentials, not SPS. If you have issue with the the rules, take it to the legislature, and OSPI. But I must say, poor children need more credentialed teachers, not minimum wage tutors with zero training.

Free childcare would be the ultimate solution to bridging the achievement gap, but again, it's not like SPS can just make that happen. The state and federal government would need to not only fund it, but build it.

As for what is covered in an economics or philosophy class- that IS something the district can do. A really great teacher at Center School was recently reprimanded and moved for taking on such issues with his classes, after many years of successfully doing so, because he made ONE STUDENT uncomfortable. That is a serious problem and the district still hasn't made it right!! It is a fight that we must continue, and an issue that SPS does have authority over.

I too am confused about what they are currently doing in the Mann building, and how it is helping the AA community. Why will their organization be less effective if they move across the street or anywhere else in the CD?

TS




Anonymous said...

Yes - mirmac - I can see that you prefer outright scolding of other commenters to my endless questions.

I do want answers to all those questions. I am not very patient - and a tendency to assume I know how someone will answer is a bad habit of mine. So I ask a question, and ask another in response to how I think they will respond. I can see it's not very pleasant for the rest of you and I'll work on it.

Some of my questions are generated by posts by enough already who sounds like he or she has some experience here and might have some ideas to offer.

Several people have described the programs at the Africatown Innovation Center as absolutely essential to save children the district is failing. Nobody seems able to describe the programs. I'm a pretty concrete thinker and this inability to offer information leads me to believe this is all bs. They obviously don't have to answer my questions - but Charlie or Melissa reported that they won't provide the data to the district either.

I did look into the program CCA described (Alive and Free) and it looks fabulous. They have very good success rates in getting students into and through college. I could support a program like that. I will note that they do not have their own building. They meet at a community center a couple of evenings a week.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you will never get the answers to your satisfaction here because it takes understanding of the community, the politics, and the people involved. This isn't an academic exercise on white guilt and black righteousness. If you have been following this topic on multiple threads, you will know it's complicated and many decades in the making. That means it takes active learning to get your answers which can't be done from the computer. Get involved, show up at meeting, and volunteer here for the up close and personal experience and you'll understand why people are passionate. This isn't a genteel discussion over advanced learning. It's about reaching kids we are losing to gangs, prisons, street corners, wheelchairs, and early graves. What can schools and community do to hang on to our young people, keeping them on the straight and narrow, safe, and giving them the kind of future YOU would want for your own child?

Longview

joanna said...

Typos seem to be numerous in my last posts but will only repost where they may lead to a misunderstanding.

I was listing private schools:
Private schools, such as SASS, Epiphany, and Giddens, all have had to expand recently, with SASS planning yet a new addition. And most have had growing enrollment as public schools closed.

Certainly some private schools, such as Saint Therese and Giddens, serve a diverse population and a number also go out side the area to other schools such as Zion Academy and St, Joe's on Capitol Hill.
This is quick list of private schools right here in the area: the Giddens School on 620 20th Avenue S, the Valley School on 309 31st Avenue East, Epiphany School at 3611 E Denny Way,Lake Washington Girls School on 810 18th Ave Seattle, Seattle Girl's School on 2706 S Jackson, Northwest School Seattle 1415 Summit Ave, Saint Therese 900 35th Ave, SASS on 1201 E Union St., O'Dea.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One other mystery is where is the League of Education Voters? Stand for Children? DFER? This is all right up their alley - why don't we see/hear about their efforts around the programs at the Mann building?

Not Fooled said...

Longview, are you actually claiming that the reason you refuse to state what the plans for the Mann building are is that it is too complicated for non-disadvantaged people to understand?

*Every* time someone asks the obvious question -- what is your plan -- the diversions spring up. They mostly have been very large statements about past injustices, with lots of famous people's names sprinkled in, but this is a new one.

If your cause has a solution, then please tell us what your specific plan is. If your plan has widespread support, tell us who else in your community backs your plan. If you have the community behind your plan, then tell us why you cannot or will not rent from a landlord with available space.

We are all ears here. We all want to know which is more important to you -- your cause, or taking someone's property?

Not Fooled

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I say, Not Fooled, are you God? If not, why should these people have to prove themselves to you? All your posts have been so blooming rude, calling people thieves and criminals; who on earth is going to engage with you! All the
people you are so suspicious of are using their real names. Even I am using my initials. YOU, on the other hand, are posting under Not Fooled; what does that mean anyway? Are you calling all of us liars, or are you only calling black community activists liars? If you are, I do think you should have the courage to use your real name!

CCA

Anonymous said...

Still no answer to the most basic questions- what exsctly are they doing and why can't they do it somewhere else in the CD? It can't be that large of s program, as there is NO information about it anywhere. Still very confused.
TS

Not Fooled said...

Anyone who refuses to move out of a building when the landlord has served notice is breaking the law. This is especially true when they have no lease with the rightful owner of the building.

Take as much umbrage as you wish. You are still breaking the law when you do this.

It really is this simple- do you want to help your cause, or do you want to help yourself to someone else's building? Lots of people can and do get behind the first thing. The second one? Not so much.

Not Fooled

Web Hutchins - "Hutch" said...

In my 23 years of teaching secondary social studies in the district (Hale, Franklin, South Lake High Schools) I have found found that civics/politics embedded lessons are WITHOUT QUESTION the best way to increase academic achievement among African-American students. If you want a real, proven method to address the problem, get involved now!!! and support the Civics for All Initiative -- www.civicsforall.org

Below is a letter on the race and the school to prison pipeline that I wrote for the S. Times.


Seattle Times: Letters
March 9, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Federal Government Looks Into Seattle Schools’ Treatment of Black Students

"Civics Education Serves All Students"

While race bias in schools is a persistent national scourge, we can thwart this problem where it lives — in the daily crucible of each classroom [“Feds probing district’s treatment of black kids,” page one, March 6].

Civics education is the silver bullet. It improves academic achievement for black students, minimizes unacceptable behavior and makes scarce ugly, racially charged conflict between students and teachers.

When at-risk youth study civics-embedded lessons, they find relevance, empowerment and increased classroom success. Self-esteem grows and disciplinary issues shrink. When lessons lack relevance, grades plummet, frustrations rise and trouble trails ominously. Academic disappointment exacerbated by racial tensions easily leads to explosive behavior.

After 23 years of teaching in Seattle, I’ve seen thousands of low-income black students flourish in classes where teachers frame rigorous lessons within civics contexts. In 2011, successful students like these presented the yet-to-be-adopted Civics for All Initiative to the School Board.

The initiative will fracture the school-to-prison pipeline because all students will be too busy preparing for, say, their biology class’s evolution-versus-creationism debate,their math class’s ethical analysis of marginal tax rates or their history class’s research on race and education.

Would you risk missing these classes just to act the fool?

Neither would our city’s 49,500 young scholars!

–Web Hutchins, Seattle

Anonymous said...

Finally have to comment on this:

If the organization in question was writing a grant application for assistance from any legitimate source, they would need to provide detailed information on their officers, their plans, their other funding, their program and any data they could provide to illustrate their effectiveness. That would be true no matter what "stripe" they are; those are pretty standard requirements.

How is requesting the free use of a Seattle Public Schools building any different from a grant application? Why can't they provide this very essential and elementary information?

This has nothing to do with race or oppression, etc., and everything to do with simple business practice.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

Fair thing to ask if Mann is available for community use and leasing. Is it? The district says no. Have things changed?

I wonder if NOVA would be willing to modify its mission to accomodate the ideas behind AAA or Zion Prep at Horace Mann to draw in more local kids of color. Could a way out be made where community wrap around services with local faces are integrated into the school structure? Those who live there will know the students and where they are coming from. (Unlike the time AAA was moved to Magnolia 1993-2000). NOVA is an alternative school that seem to tke pride on its students' independence and willingness to take charge of their learning. That can be a real draw, but some of these kids will need structure, healthcare, tutoring, mentoring, small class size, and support services. Can NOVA (and SPS) provide these things on its own?

Cultural competency is indeed a two way street. Kids who raised themselves or don't have good adult support along the way need to learn to trust people, especially the adults again. Letting their guard down means they can get hurt or be disappointed again. That cycle is the hope and soul killer. Someone posted on this blog, perhaps in another thread, about parents influencing kids of color to see the world as being racist and always against them. Well when life doesn't seem to get any better, it probably feels that way to the kids. And if they feel it when they are 5 or 7, by the time they are teens, it may not be obvious why they should trade in street cred for HS credits if they see their future as uncertain and one big roulette. Even when people achieve the middle class dream, you still talk to your kids about DWB or how to handle yourself in stores or in public to lessen the chance of being profiled. That's part of our civics lesson.

The district will prevail because the law is on its side. If no one made a stink about this, would people be talking?
Sometime a jolt is needed to remind people of the urgency here. And here's the thing, for those who are clamoring for local people to find local solutions and take responsibility for their own community, people are trying to do just that. Despite the negative portraits, the majority of people living here are law abiding, have jobs, give back to their community, and are good neighbors and citizens of Seattle.

Longview

Charlie Mas said...

While NOVA's structure and operation is certainly flexible enough to accommodate anything that the ACIC would like them to include, I don't know if the ACIC really wants to do their work primarily at the high school level.

Anything that a student wants to do at the ACIC they could do at NOVA now or at any time in NOVA's history.

Any complaint about the demographics at NOVA can easily be addressed by students from under-represented groups simply requesting assignment to NOVA.

Anonymous said...

But Charlie, the kids at Nova know what they want and need and how to get it. They can design their own curriculum, they have family and other adults in their lives who can help them navigate the complex bureaucracy. Minority kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose parents work two or three jobs or can't speak English, or special ed children, whose parents are often exhausted from caring for them, might not be able to do this. And if Nova is mostly white and middle class, poor and minority kids will not want to go there. I was once heavily recruited by a graduate program, offered a full 5 year fellowship, eventhough I wasn' t even in that field, because they were losing female candidates to other schools since theirs had too few female students and professors. People do not want to stick out, they want to have peers and mentors who are similar to them and can understand, or life gets lonely, you know. Are you not one of the people who says the cohort is crucial? Surely you don't believe this only applies to the APP kids?

It is facile to say minorities can apply for Nova if they want to. The fact is it is not happening. And we have a major crisis that has been going on for over a decade. The prison private industries are doing so well, they are selling stocks! It is horrifying that we have more AA teens in jail than in school. We need to do something. If we don't we will lose to the charter people, who will use the achievement gap to torture and degrade teachers, and yes, STEAL public school buildings, and public money! And they will not ask for just ONE school, they will take them ALL! If this happens, my kids can go to Lakeside or Bellamine as we know people on their Boards, can the rest of you? If not, save your children from the charter widget making machine, and work to save public schools by closing the achievement gap! Clock is ticking, charters were defeated more than once, but they won this last time, the tide is going their way. People are tired of losing their kids and see lives destroyed, and all the glorious potential lost to prison and the cemetary.

CCA

Anonymous said...

"It is horrifying that we have more AA teens in jail than in school."

This is indeed a horrifying statement. What study or statistic do you have for this? Is this nationwide, statewide, or just Seattle? How was this determined? Is is all ages of teens, or just 18-19 year olds? I do not doubt your sincerity, but if true, this seems like it would have been more widely reported.

Inquiring minds

Anonymous said...

Where I grew up, the alternative school was established in the '70s to help catch kids at risk of dropping out of high school. This was an upper middle class community.

Here in Seattle the population is more economically and socially diverse. Perhaps Seattle requires different alternatives, if as CCA says, that some students that might benefit from alternate educational pathways might need more supports in order to succeed.

GMG

seattle citizen said...

GMG, ten years ago Seattle had a thriving array of alternative schools ("alternative" as in democratic classrooms, etc, and alternative programs directed towards struggling students and/or those wanting a different pedagogy.) Since then, we've lost Summit, African American Academy, John Marshall...Nova was moved once and will be moved again, Indian Heritage is being folded into another program, and tonight the district had a meeting at Pinehurst to discuss its possible or probable closure.
Meanwhile, the district has added "themed" schools, which are not alternative but instead teach standards through a theme rather than engage in alternative pedagogy or focus on struggling students....
Some have argued that getting rid of alternative schools clears the way for charters, which is hard to argue with. Alternatives offered, well, alternatives, just like charters do, but alternatives are public, and thus accountable to the public (and have to follow district policies in many ways, including Alternative Policy C54.00 (unless that policy has been erased, as is likely the case.) Oh, and alternatives are union, and so protect the rights of their employees and offer a living wage, while charters are under no such constraints.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign again. Poster at 10:53 is me, CCA. I'm tired, and I find all this depressing. I don't think it is possible to convince people who do not want to believe about injustice; it is too uncomfortable, easier to believe the Romneys and Ryans of this world who insist that poor people are poor because they are lazy and shiftless, and don't deserve better lives. They are hopeless takers who just want handouts. Do you all realize that welfare pays around $500 per month, for a single mom with kids? Tell me, how many of you can live on that? No one would want to be on welfare if they could get a job!

CCA

Anonymous said...

Crazy, bachelors, sigh. I think I'm out. I cried over seattle citizen's post about Native Americans, and I am discouraged by many posters' attitude. Why call people you don't know anything about liars and thieves? On an education blog! I think my energies are better focused elsewhere; no point in futility.

CCA

EyesWideShut said...

Wow...A lot of condescending tones seeping dangerous ignorance/racist bias on these threads related to Horace Mann.

And it doesn't seem like the super sleuths seeking to discredit the good work happening at the building looked too hard for info.

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2013/08/whats-happening-at-horace-mann/

Maureen said...

It looks like Mora 4 Mann and the District came to an agreement: ...Plan Moving Forward...

Eyes..., thanks for that link that described some of the programs offered at Mann this summer. I didn't see any of the earlier posters link to that information.

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

The article you linked to has been updated.

UPDATE: Seattle Schools tells CHS the talks have made progress but are ongoing and that another meeting with the Mann groups is scheduled for later this week.

Lynn

V said...

From Carol....

Space is more than half the problem, but space there is.

The King County Juvenile Correctional Facility at 12th and Alder has 2.7 empty acres that commercial interests are rubbing their hands over. It should go to the children in this city instead where a new school can be built that will accommodate at least another 600 students. The Squire Community should be happy to have a new school since the area is full of school age children.