Monday, October 28, 2013

Operations Committee Meeting

Will have a more full report later but there is one new item to the agenda (but sadly, no handout):

Columbia Annex and Mann Portable Lease Agreements Resolution

This should be interesting.  

Also quite the discussion about students who bring/show weapons at school and how they should be treated.  There is an RCW around this (one year required suspension for a firearm) and they are trying to proceed from there.  There is both a School Board policy and Superintendent procedure around this issue.


As I said in the first post, a lot of talk around weapons brought to school by students.  I found this a baffling discussion but it has to do with the concern around suspended students and what happens to their education.  Director DeBell drily pointed out that if a student brings a firearm to school, he probably is going to be more concerned about the other students (and staff) and their safety.

The issue also is that for students who get suspended (for all reasons), the need to continue their academics and the budgetary issues of providing that to them.  Interestingly, Pat Sander (who has had many roles at SPS but I believe her current one is Interim Executive Director, Coordinated Health Services) told the Committee that the number of students suspended over the last three years has decreased by 600 even as the district enrollment has gone up.  She is going to send me that data.

There was some uneasy tension about whether the Board should even be questioning this as it is a Superintendent procedure around a Board policy.  Chairman Peaslee said that she felt there needed to be alignment between the two and asked if this was okay.  There was a long silence before legal counsel, Ron English, said it was an accurate statement  - as a general rule the Superintendent should listen to Board input - but that the Superintendent HAD been hired to be the CEO.

There was quite a long discussion about student data privacy (that I found less than complete and depressing ) but I will write a separate thread on that.

Now to the Columbia Annex and Mann Portable Lease Agreements.

Now I know what Pegi McEvoy looks like and sounds like but I truly did not recognize the person who was addressing this issue as Pegi.  She really left out a lot and hedged and bobbed and weaved.
- She did NOT clearly explain what is happening at the Mann building.  (Which is that it is in use and I strongly suspect the district is not receiving any rent/lease money and is paying for the utilities.  It occurred to me that all the district really has to do is shut off the electricity and the water.)

-   I would venture to say the district has no idea who is in the building or what they are doing.  (I did let the district Risk Manager know of the many, many risks to having this go on.)
- Pegi talked about how these 18 different groups are doing "very good work."  How she knows this is unclear because there is no documentation to what they are doing. She referenced a fashion school for teens with sewing machines and a group teaching computing to teens (which is strange because every middle/high school has classes). 

- She spoke of the groups as "partners" when, in fact, there is NO partnership.   There may be an informal one but again, given no documentation, there isn't one.

- Pegi said the BAR is not complete for the next Board meeting and they will have a "draft BAR" as a placeholder.  No.  Staff cannot introduce an item that is mostly not complete and that leaves the Board AND the public in the dark.  Because what will happen is that you will get the final BAR right before Action  at the next meeting and then be told you have to hurry and vote on it.

- Pegi also told the Board members this - the lease agreement to use Columbia Annex has to get done quickly.  No, it doesn't because this district has no legal agreement or partnership with any of these groups.  If they do have a legal agreement, I have repeatedly asked for evidence (and filed a Public Disclosure request for anything) but I doubt it exists.  She said in the meantime, the groups will use the portable until March when the contractor finally needs the entire space.  It is STILL unclear when anyone will leave the Mann building. 

She also said that Bernardo Ruiz, Manager of Community and Family Engagement, uses the Columbia Annex for various activities and meetings.  She said that some of the groups "might" be able to use some other classrooms (beyond the space rented) if he wasn't using them. Wait, what? 

Director Smith-Blum asked about payment and Pegi said well, there's a simple rental rate and a "partner" rate in the district so it would depend on their status.  She also said they would pay for janitorial.  

- we are told this won't hurt the BEX IV cycle.  Really?  I'm now confused because the district said everyone HAD to be out by September 18th to get state capital dollars.  That didn't happen.  Did the district lose those dollars? 

- Director DeBell and Director Patu pointed out the obvious (thank goodnesss) - what is really going on here?  Director DeBell asked "to what extent is this a neutral arrangement?"  Is this about services to students "versus a way to extract ourselves from the problem of groups illegally occupying the building?" Finally, the elephant in the room got stated.

Pegi's answer: both.   Director DeBell also seemed troubled that the district has long-term relationships with other partners who had proven their worth and yet these groups seem to just be walking into the situation.  Pegi said "Well, we think they will help with the Strategic Plan goals and disproportionality."  That's not much to hang your hat on.

Director Patu chimed in to ask why these groups were being allowed to stay on until the move to Columbia.   Director Patu also pointed out that there are African-American students throughout the district and worried about efforts for one area with groups only from that area.  She wondered how does that really serve the process for better and more culturally relevant academics for ALL African-Americans students?

- Pegi said that the Nova students might work with whoever the students are that these groups allegedly serve and create murals.  I was a bit dumbfounded as where are these murals to be stored while the building is renovated?  What is the point to do this before the renovations?

- When asked about these groups coming back into Mann, I heard Directors Peaslee and Smith-Blum say no.  But Pegi said that well, some might serve middle school students and so be allowed back in.  So the district treats Nova as the moveable feast.  Move them out, move them in, make them share their space.  I thought Nova was going to be a 6-12 school - how can they do that and share the space? 

It is all quite confounding but it is clear that the Board understands that people are in the building illegally.  So does the staff including the Superintendent.  How that is okay with them is beyond me.

It's a good thing that there are other authorities to turn to who oversee these kinds of activities.

New Update:

I forgot to mention that I broke the Board rules at this meeting; I got up and spoke out of turn.  I was that upset.  I told them that the Mann building was NOT closed and it was being used by many other groups that are not K-12 academic based.

I immediately left and went home and wrote an e-mail of apology to the Board because it was wrong to do and I won't do it again.

Joanna Cullen, a long-time Central Area advocate, stayed on and relayed that after I left, Directors asked if what I said was true.  Pegi said it was. 

Ron English admitted this is costing the district in construction delays, about $1,000 a day (and DeBell called that low). 

There are no leases signed but the resolution (which I assume is to allow access to a portable at Mann and a lease agreement at Columbia will to go to the full Board). 

Apparently, though, some Directors think there should be no more access to the building or via a portable.  But it was also disclosed that the district promised them a port-a-potty for the portable that the district will pay for until March.

Again, illegal use of the building, BEX IV delays causing construction costs and the district is not only NOT going to evict anyone but promising them new space. 


Anonymous said...

This level of incompetent management makes me think that maybe it is time for the city to take over the Seattle Public Schools. I am outraged that Mann's utilities have not been turned off and the squatters evicted.

- Enough is enough

Anonymous said...

Never, ever thought I'd say this, but I agree. If the District allows a group without a single public document and a track record of nonpayment and refusal to vacate is allowed to move to another publicly owned building, then its time for the city to take over.

It also makes me wonder just how far and how deep the corruption and nepotism is intrenched in SPS. Someone must be signing a sweetheart deal for a buddy on this, just like the MLK building.

It is also time to bring in the State Auditor. Again.


joanna said...

Don't be too quick to say the City should take over the schools. The city gave them at least one grant for $17,000.00. During the Mayoral primary, Harrell was the only on to tell them what I thought was the truth. Mann belongs to the SPS. Somewhere there is a video of the forum. I don't see any evidence that the City would do anything really different.

Anonymous said...

Just how deep is the corruption in this city then? Are we the new Chicago? Is there no common sense left, or has it all been sold to the highest bidder?


Anonymous said...

This is baffling.

Public Ethics law clearly states that public assets cannot be used privately for gain.

Even if it is a nonprofit, even if it is in the service of children, vulnerable children, still, the public asset cannot be used in this manner. The superintendent should know this, or, he should not be in charge of public schools.

I realize there are passionate supporters of this occupying group, and I appreciate that hearts are in the right place, in solidarity with vulnerable children and at-risk youth. However, that does not mean that property rights and good governance get flushed down the toilet.

Shame on the Superintendent for not addressing this in a more "leader like" fashion. Clearly delineate the facts, specify what must be done, set about doing it in a transparent and consistent manner, but then also come in with some kind of conciliatory gesture if you think that the occupiers point or case is worthy of attention. Holding the line on governance of the rule of law and stewardship of major public assets does not preclude one from creating culturally-sensitive, creative solutions to address the needs espoused by the "squatters".

Technically, I wonder how risk management is coping with this fact pattern. What if somebody tripped and fell and broke a leg, who would get sued? What if there was a fire? Whose insurance would cover it? What if negligence caused the fire, who would sue whom?

I cannot believe Superintendent Banda hasn't shut this down immediately. Unacceptably weak leadership. Maybe the ethics violation at play here will shut the whole thing down. That would be ironic.

-free rent

Melissa Westbrook said...

As I said, I reported this to the District Risk Manager. Maybe he will let us know (or better yet, tell the Superintendent).

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm remembering incorrectly, but Umoja/ACIC/More4Mann (why so many different names) never had a lease with SPS, right? They called themselves "partners" of the Amistad School who was subleasing from the original lease holder (Work it Out), and they moved in weeks before the actual lease holders moved out. Do I have that right?

Shouldn't the district be holding the Amistad School liable for back rent and utilities? They allowed this group to move into the building under their sublease, and they have not moved out, thus breaking the term of their sublease.

And somebody (can't remember who) alerted us to the fact that this is not the first time members of this group have tried to occupy the Mann building (they tried unsuccessfully in 2011), so it's possible they bamboozled the Amistad School to get in, or maybe they really were partners?

Either way, isn't the actual lease holder responsible here, financially speaking? Is the district going after the Amistad school for back payment?


Anonymous said...

omg. $1000 a day, really? we have that kind of money? no.

Melissa, you wrote "It's a good thing that there are other authorities to turn to who oversee these kinds of activities."

Who are these authorities. What can we do? this is appalling.


Melissa Westbrook said...

TS, no one is going after anyone for back rent or utilities. I doubt if any rent has been paid in months (except for some token $100 in August). That is yet another mystery.

Uncertain, you could certainly write to the State Auditor. He has no power to do anything but they can certainly investigate and I'm pretty sure this story has a lot for them to chew on.

Another mystery - did the district think they could keep this on the downlow and no one would ever say anything? How were they going to explain the construction delays? Were they - as they were told by at least one group and Mr. Garrett - going to let the contractor know about the situation? Because if the district can't set foot there without problems, what will await the contractor and construction workers?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was possible to use school property without paying rent if it's providing an educational service for children like clubs, language classes, theater,etc. At our school, we have many before/after school clubs and activity groups using the facilities. Some of the clubs are run by staff, parents, and outside groups. I pay for my kids to be in these clubs as language teachers don't come free. I don't think they pay rent and not all of the groups are run through the PTA either. Has there been a change?


Win-Win said...

Looks like the African American children and community will come out a winner whichever way it goes between the district and the community groups.

Any escalation will likely bring more national media attention to the lack of progress and lack of plan to address the underlying issues of African American students in Seattle Public Schools.

-Hats Off

Anonymous said...

State Auditor's Info:

Submit a report to the citizen hotline, online:


Charlie Mas said...

I just submitted a report on the hotline.

We'll see what happens.

weactuallyknowblack said...

Seattle is one of the most progressively small minded towns in the United States. Here you are again with the "white folk" angst over the pittance for African American children getting some relief from the heinous discriminatory practices of SPS district. These children who attend summer programming, extended after school programs, etc. at Horace Mann and their love ones are called squatters, inferred to have weapons and other ridiculousness necessary for some whites to feel "like they are somebody". And as you and your colored allies waste time over the crumb basket of African American children in one of the most racist school districts in the country, your own children become less educated every year, less competitive on an academic/economic world stage, slaughtered in their classrooms, devouring by the street drugs, raised with the same bigoted maladies and many of you are too focused on your nurtured dislike, disrespect, and abhorrence to dark skin children to recognize that your own children are being destroyed from the very hate that breeds in you. And guess what "self-determined black folk" in the Mann building just trying to squeak out some positive programming for SOME black children DIDN'T SCREW you or your 'lost' children. And if you spend more energy in addressing the folks that are screwing ALL the students in this nation, you would leave black children alone, (little Melissa) and actually really help your own children instead of abusing ours. But in the meantime, White Seattle. none of you are going to turn our boat around. Black Children will be saved from SPS, racial hate, and yes even from a city that prides itself on forward thinking but acts as backwards as any small town in Washington!

Anonymous said...

Amistad School whose board included one sitting SPS Principal at the time (now former Chief Sealth Principal Chris Kinsey)? I am betting no one ever addressedthat conflict of interest.


Seesaw said...

The thing that kills me is that the people who claim to care about the children so much, are causing delays in construction that will ultimately affect the children of Meany. You know, the children they claim to care about so much. Arg. This self-centered single-minded stance is so frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Past video from a "motivational" speaker that recently visited (Umar Johnson, pictured on More4Mann Facebook):

Who is spewing the hate? This is will not reflect favorably on the community. Divisive discussions will not bring positive media attention. Actions that lead to a $1000/day loss to the District will not bring positive media attention. The District's complicity will not bring positive media attention.

Anonymous said...

Charlie & Melissa:

You are very concerned about stewardship of district resources.

SPS corruption is in the news again

If you really want to uproot corruption in the district you will do an expose on SPS General Counsel RON ENGLISH. He has been in every scandal from Queen Anne School sale to developer, Olchefske $36 Million missing scandal (no arrests), Colman school sale to Urban League, Martin Luther King School sale to , Small Business scandal and who knows what else. He's the TEFLON DON!

-Go Team!

Anonymous said...

There's a lot more going on. The many questions posed about why this group, AEIC, could not use other community buildings like AME owned MLK school or the Coleman building are good ones and big hints. There's animosity among these groups with deep roots. AME bought MLK school with taxpayers money. By doing so, it was supposed to open at least 50% of the building to groups working in youth educational services. This isn't what is happening and given a recent Seattle Times article, AME free use other public facility is being called into question. It's an old, well respected and well connected institution. (Should re-read Seattle Times article on their investigation into MLK sale, the comments by state Sen. Adam Kline I think reveals why SPS appears to be taking the position it is today.)

You get a hint of this enmity from the stranger's Nov.2011 article, "Occupy Seattle fails to occupy Horace Mann building" by Cienna Madrid. The last several comments revealed a rift that I sensed for a while now within this community. At some point in time, interests diverged as did access to downtown power and taxpayer coffers. It's been a battle since over who gets neighborhood and Ed levy grants to sustain the many non profits in this business of youth services and education. One side has more access to public money and resources.

None of this is big news if you understand the world of non profits. Many do good works, others get grants, but the RTI for taxpayers were always questionable.

This is why Pegi McEvoy along with SPS are ducking and bobbing. It's quite a sandpit and as a regular reader, I'm struck by the intensity of the comments when this topic comes up on this blog. (The Farrakhan reference stokes.) Since the departure of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the district is still cleaning up after the many controversial decisions under her admin. The district is walking a tight rope and in trying to do the right thing will be blamed.

I fear some are being sucked in for fear of NOVA's fate. Go back and read the going ons at Mann when it was shuttered as a school. It's also interesting the city did a fairly extensive neighborhood development survey earlier this year. Whatever redevelopment plans coming to the CD are bring strategized, like Yesler Terrace, there's big money. While I can't be sure of all the relationships involved here, there's much politics (and curious DeBell is asking the tough questions in this one matter), so it's not a straightforward matter of getting rid of "squatters".

My interest in this topic is less about the building than about NOVA. My daughter is interested in attending NOVA. It's one of the last best alternative schools for kids like her.


Lynn said...

What was the scandal in the sale to the Urban League? My understanding is that the building could no longer be used as a school after the I-90 tunnel was built.

Anonymous said...

So groups who have been, & continue to be, illegally discriminated against, mistreated & undereducated in this district have the moral obligation to take common property in recompense to use for their own programs? I can't wait for the next sped PTSA meeting. Maybe we would like the Mann building. Do we get to do a throw down on who has been treated worse? What should we use, graduation rates, test scores, discipline records, misuse of funds, numbers in segregated programs or not allowed in school at all? We may have to let the Native American advocates in on this. It was their neighborhood to start with.

-sped parent

More4SpEd said...

Sped parent-

African American students are way over represented in SpED yet still do not get the benefits of the extra dollars they bring to schools. Isn't the district is under investigation about that too?

Start Somewhere said...

"Director Patu also pointed out that there are African-American students throughout the district and worried about efforts for one area with groups only from that area. She wondered how does that really serve the process for better and more culturally relevant academics for ALL African-Americans students?"

We develop programs aimed at serving specific populations of students in SPS all the time. For example, Communities in Schools ran a program at RBHS and CHS that was aimed at developing community schools.

The 21st Century Learning Center selections were also based on demographic information. These were only in select schools but not all schools-though federally funded, I believe.

Director Patu ran a program at RBHS in the back portable that was just for Pacific Islander Students. That program was only at RBHS. Why is that acceptable but a program in Mann with Nova for black students is not?

Reality is we need a better model for serving African American students. People seem to be afraid to address the obvious racial dynamic that is pervasive in Seattle Schools and honestly, Seattle at large.

Maybe the More4Mann team can develop such a model!

It is hard to get into the school district as a partner. M4M is a group of parents, community members and black educators who know their community and their children and could likely help develop an effective model that could be replicated across the district.

Districts run pilot programs all the time. Why not try this one?

Please stop calling people "squatters" unless they really are "squatters"

"Squatters" LIVE on the land they are trying possess. M4M is running programs, not developing a home stay.

Not to mention the school district has said publicly multiple times that they are partnering with M4M. This can be found in numerous statements.

In contract law public statements from leadership of an entity can actually count as evidence of a contract/agreement.

"Interestingly, Pat Sander (who has had many roles at SPS but I believe her current one is Interim Executive Director, Coordinated Health Services) told the Committee that the number of students suspended over the last three years has decreased by 600 even as the district enrollment has gone up. She is going to send me that data."

When she sends you the data I suggest asking for all of the aggregates to be pulled out.

One could have a decrease in the total number of suspensions and the disproportionality could be the same as it was before or even HIGHER.

Lastly, why are we so afraid to try something different?

If the District would prepare some space for M4M until Mann is done and really seek to partner with them then maybe we could develop a national model that could be replicated!

Put Seattle on the map for being a city that developed a successful model to address the needs of black students. Put Seattle on the map as the city who stopped being afraid of the race conversation and dove head first into addressing the problem.

(Not to mention then they could move to their new locale and construction could start.)

Instead of trying to dismantle what this contingent of black parents and educators is trying to do for their children, why not help them do it? Help them develop a powerful model that could decrease the opportunity gap?

Try to imagine being a black parent. Imagine all of the national uproar around young black boys, the suspicion of black men and the opportunity gap. Imagine the impact of the changes to the Voters Right Act this summer. Imagine watching the Zimmerman trial. Imagine for one moment that your student is one of those students impacted by disproportionality.

Education is so important in this society. One unfair instance outside of you and your child's control can unfold in catastrophe for your student. This is a very startling reality for many black parents (and parents of color in general).

Ok, so maybe the first year of the program is a pilot and helps a smaller number of children. We need to start somewhere!

Lynn said...


I think most of us understand the background here. I just don't think it's relevant to the current situation. The district had plans for that building. When they became aware unauthorized use of the building was taking place, they should have taken steps to evict the trespassers. The Work It Out group or the Amistad School should have paid any costs related to the eviction. There is no way the Superintendent can come out of this looking good. Now that the Board has publicly been informed of what is happening, they're at risk too if they do nothing. Directors Peaslee and Smith-Blum are absolutely right to say that these groups can't be allowed back in the building when NOVA returns. Can you imagine anyone in their right mind renting space to them?

If FAME is not living up to the public use agreement in the sale of the building, the district should take it back. Maybe Bush still wants to purchase it from the district. We could certainly use the cash.

Anonymous said...

Recapping the sale of MLK to First AME:

Voting in favor of the sale - Carr, DeBell, Maier, Patu, and Sundquist

Voting against the sale -
Martin-Morris and Smith-Blum

Lynn said...

start somewhere

If a community service group wants to start a program and use district property out of school hours, there's a process for that. This is not that process. They are required to sign a building use agreement, to acquire insurance and do background checks (through the district) on all staff, and pay fees to cover the costs of their use.

If they want some kind of a partnership with the district, any group would have to come with a written plan for that program and some evidence of it's success in helping the district meet it's goals.

What is the obvious racial dynamic in the city of Seattle that the district must address? What is the model the groups at More 4 Mann believes would be more successful in educating black children? All I've been able to find is that they don't want middle class white woman teaching black boys. Do they want to use district assets to run a boys-only school with racially discriminatory hiring? Who knows? Why would you give them the benefit of the doubt? Did you watch that video linked in the 8:06 am comment?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I'm not sure how the district can simply take back MLK from AME. This decision is very much a political one. I'm not a big fan of SPS admin overall, but I do think despite lapses (depending on which Board and superintendent), it has maintained its independence from city political machinations, which is why I fear mayoral takeover.

For you, this may appear a very easy decision for the district to make. However, what happens if this group is providing the youth services that AME should be doing. In all of this mess is the NOVA community and its principal, a person who I think has deep integrity.

If I can make a wish, I like the group to move out of Mann and use the facility SPS is offering. I believe they are genuine in their intent to work for the best interest of Seattle school children (especially hard to reach youths). By doing so, they will prove their mettle and persevere.


Anonymous said...

I do not believe Betty Patu’s comment was an attack on More4Mann. I believe she just like many others are in need of more information and an understanding.
Start somewhere said … Is correct. Betty Patu’s program for Pacific Islanders at RBHS. She saw a need and addressed it. The program was successful.
Win-Win is correct. “Any escalation will likely bring more national media attention to the lack of progress and lack of plan to address the underlying issues of African American (AA) students in Seattle Public Schools.” And we need to keep the discriminatory issues surrounding AA in the attention of the media; until the district owns and addresses the problem.
More4Mann saw a need for AA students and is addressing that need.
Why is there so much opposition to the good work that these folks are doing?
This is exactly the adversity we at RBHS PTSA faced when fighting the district for their continued discrimination and neglect of our school, students, families and our community. And look at us now… 2012 White House Champions of Change and 2012-2013 Highest positive growth out of all SPS HS. Where’s the talk and positive publicity about our accomplishments?
Why is it that when Blacks mobilize their community to do the work that the District is supposed to do we get backlash from folks who claim to have the interest of ALL students at the forefront.
Too many folks are making assumptions without knowing what More4Mann is about or who they serve.
My recommendation is for you to meet with More4Mann to learn more and for More4Mann to go to the School Board to talk about their program, its success and their vision for the future.

Rita Green, RBHS PTSA President

joanna said...

Anonymous, All the Board members voted "yes" on selling MLK. I would remember if anyone voted "no." I see the meeting minutes are only easily found on the website beginning in 2011. Those for Oct. 20, 2010 are not in the archives and so would have to ask for a copy etc. But, I would have remembered.

While Smith-Blum said something to the effect that she questioned the wisdom of selling schools and did not generally approve, she recognized that the deal was too far along in the process to stop. I believe Martin-Morris always supported the selling it and to AME. I do not remember him questioning it at all.

Lynn said...


What makes you think they are providing services to youth? If they are, they're not publicizing them. They are holding meetings a couple times a week (for adults.) I've seen African dance classes a couple times (for adults.)

I would like to hear why you think they've come up with a successful plan for educating poor urban black youth. Do you think this is something they can achieve with after school and summer programs?

If they are reasonable people who only want to work to support the district in educating their children, why haven't they moved into the portable they were offered? There must be room in there for their meetings.

Crownhill said...

I too submitted a citizens report. Whatever the issues might be, (and yes, I get them, I'm just past caring anymore) this district does not have $1000 a day to spare. Seriously. $1000 a day.Are grownups running this joint? Your job is to manage the resources of the district Mr. Banda and board members. Do it. That's my money you are pussyfooting around with.

Lynn said...

Ms. Green,

I have to admit I have not been following RBHS news for long. Can you tell me what kind of opposition your PTSA faced from the district and what you were trying to do?

There might be a lot less opposition here to More 4 Mann if they would publicize what they're doing. Are there ongoing youth programs meeting at Mann? There are documents on the district website that claim they have refused to provide any meaningful information to the district. I have no reason to believe they would provide it to me.

Were you at the meeting with Dr. Umar Johnson?

joanna said...

Oops I misspoke misstated--Smith-Blum and Martin-Morris did vote "no." I see the minutes are on the next agenda. I am a little surprised that the rest of the Board did not defer to them more since it was in their Districts.

Jet City mom said...

""Anonymous said...
I thought it was possible to use school property without paying rent if it's providing an educational service for children like clubs, language classes, theater,etc. At our school, we have many before/after school clubs and activity groups using the facilities. Some of the clubs are run by staff, parents, and outside groups. I pay for my kids to be in these clubs as language teachers don't come free. I don't think they pay rent and not all of the groups are run through the PTA either. Has there been a change?""

Whenever our parent group hosted an event we were liable for paying staffing costs ( janitor- security) as well as utilities.

We were even liable for paying staffing costs to a " security" person who we did not realize was working the event. Considering that somethings were stolen during the auction, he certainly did not do a very good job, but SSD being what it is, he is now providing security at the Stanford Center!


Here again is a yackity yack of Seattle, a lot of talking and nothing produced. O.k. Seattle has won the award for the most process oriented city in the country, when will you actually decide on outcomes. The mire of civic corruption has destroyed the perception of efficacy in services to black children period. If you are white ultimately you WILL NOT have a say if our children achieve, or not. The LIE is out and the GAME is over and the most salient FACT mention in all the above comments, IS THAT WHITE PEOPLE NEED NOT APPLY WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING BLACK CHILDREN! YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED!

Jet City mom said...

The money the parent group raised went to fund teachers, and scholarships for FRL students for various after school classes BTW.

But the district still made sure to get their cut.

Why this other group is getting this special treatment, I can only assume can be blamed on the racists in Seattle bending over backwards to pretend they are not.

Lynn said...


So you are planning a school with a volunteer teaching force? Or a homeschool resource center?

Anonymous said...


That is exactly my point. Sped students are routinely discriminated against,undereducated, have their funds misused, are forced into segregated classrooms, are denied access to after school activities, & face much higher rates of suspensions & expulsions.

When you take common property you are not only taking it from the privileged students in the district you are also taking it from other groups who suffer as much or more than your group. Twenty percent of NOVA students are sped students, many of whom are steered there by other high schools who don't want them. They are of various races, so many would not qualify for you help. Are you one more group that tells them to just move along, don't stop here? What provision have you made for other oppressed groups that loose out when you take this building?

Should all these groups go take their own building from the district? What if they took a building that had African American students previously attending. Would you support that?

The Native American program at Wilson Pacific has lost their space. Are they more deserving of the Mann building than your group? I believe they predate you in this neighborhood.

-sped parent

Bi-racial family said...

Wow. This reads more and more like an episode from the Daily Show than anything else.

So the key arguments seem to be. A black group steels a building. It is social justice. Robin Hood sticking it to the man.

A non white woman writes about it but it's racist because only black writers with pseudonyms are qualified to write about this issue. Not white is now equivalent to white.

It doesn't matter if anyone else's children are harmed because of this. Because the kids being helped are the most harmed children ever.

It doesn't matter if other groups also care. The only way to demonstrate caring is to give this particular building to this particular group.

Did I miss any key points?

Jet City mom said...

1.6% of classroom teachers in Washington are black. ( compared with 5.3 % of students)
Are you planning on increasing class size?

Lynn said...

Bi-racial family,

Nice job - that sums it up.

mirmac1 said...

Start Somewhere, not to put too fine a point on this but for there to be a contract there must be an offer and acceptance, with exchange of "consideration". The "consideration" is key because otherwise this can be viewed a gift.

I would like to see a formalized MOU outlining an exchange of consideration, spelling out the mutual benefit of an arrangement. Because I want the most students to benefit! And I believe that a non-profit made up of parents and community, that is not in Gates' pocket or on the Burgess/Miller dole, CAN provide benefit/consideration.

mirmac1 said...


I call you on your passive-aggressive questioning of my BFF Rita. You'd have to be living under a rock NOT to have witnessed the hard work Rita, Carlina and others have done at RBHS the last few years.

Just because one supports what ACIC is trying to do (as I do) doesn't mean s/he embraces Dr. Johnson.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The issue of groups using space is not the same issue we are talking about. PTAs don't have offices and programs that they run daily,9-5 and beyond.

They may have a cabinet in a building somewhere. They provide after-school programs and activities but those are limited days/hours.

We are talking about groups using an entire building. These groups have no official partnership with the district.

Comparing this to PTA using the schools is not an apples to apples comparison.

What is confusing to me is that it appears that some believe only African-Americans can teach African-American children and there should be separate programs for those students.

So what about AAA?

letsbereal said...

Let me sumarize what I have read here today;

1. Two or three people whinning about some alleged $1,000 a day loss when the District, and the City, and the State did not prosecute the District executive who stole, embezzelled, or lost track of $34,000,000 of taxpayer $$. Not much mention about going to Hawaii to get our money back. By the way; $34M is $1,000 a day for 34,000 days or nearly 100 years so go do something about that. It has been more than 10 years.

2. I heard some of you respond to the District's efforts to try and negotiate with the group fighting to maintain space for African American after school programs by suggesting that the District go back and take away some of the space that they have previously given to African American groups for community programs so fairness in education for black children are evidently far from your desired results. Just so we are clear who is on this blog.

3. I heard some say that the District should just evict them. If so, then first go evict the 3 other predominately white organizations that have been given multimillion dollar District properties with little or no out of pocket cash. Start in West Seattle with the school building that was given to the white grup there.

4. We heard the hard core racists who just wanted the District to take away anything that they have ever provided for the African American community. Evidently, you are the community that got SPS in this hot mess in the first place and they would be foolish to continue to follow your suggestions.

5. Then I heard the let's go back to the Good Ole' Days person who suggested that the Special Ed Community should go take the Mann Bldg from the African American group that has occupied it. That person must be blinded by their own racism because if they could see, they would have noticed that the racist Seattle Public Schools has put far more Black kids in special ed than White kids. Go ahead and mobilize the special ed community to take the Mann Bldg that would still serve the African American community by disproportionate numbers so we welcome the alliance.

6. I heard another one of you Good Ole' Days people want to go back and give the Mann Bldg back to the Native Americans. OK let's do that, but you must also give back your house and your business to the descendants of the Native Americans who your forefathers stole that land from before selling it to you. Clearly, you are also a racist just like those who shut down our government they would just as soon deny services to their own families cause of their blind hate for a Black President. j

Clearly, we recognize the voice of this blog and for the SPS to think that the loud voices here will absolve this School District of racisim, discrimination and punitive abuse of AFrican American Children they are sadly mistaken.

7. Finally, I heard a few honest people say that there is nothing at all wrong with a few people, African American or otherwise, starting an after school program in an abandoned public building. Many schools house after school programs at no cost, house weekend churches at nominal costs, and should be a resource for the community. These were the few who truly care about the African American child, fairness in education and equity in educational practices and the rest of you really don't matter. NOT THIS TIME!

Lynn said...


I really didn't mean to be passive aggressive. I feel a bit stupid because just after I'd posted, I thought to search here for news on the RBHS PTSA. I can see how hard they worked and how the district was not initially helpful. They didn't use ACIC's tactics as far as I can see - they were successful eventually by bringing concrete ideas to their neighborhood school.

I'm glad you posted - I do want to know how ACIC supporters feel about Dr. Johnson - who professes some ideas I wouldn't have thought any reasonable person would support. I could not deal with a group that supported that - no matter how much I admired their goals.

What do you think of the claim that black children in Seattle Public Schools should only be taught by black teachers? I know I'm asking more questions than you'd like. Could you maybe share what the groups at ACIC are doing that you think is working?


yourefired said...

So if 1.6 teachers are black and black students make up 5.3% of the population, the haters on this blog represent the over 95% of adults terrorizing 5% of black children just trying to receive a fair and just education.

yourefired said...

To Lynn,

No the black community is not going to explain anything to you or anyone else on this blog. When the white community decideS to create educational enhancement program for white children that are clearly segregating, they do not explain anything to the black community. In regards to your question regarding Dr. Johnson, that is a distraction from the focus of EQUITY AND FAIRNESS TO AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN! In regards to iF African American children need only black teachers, if we were to do an historical analysis, the answer is ABSOLUTELY yes. AFRICAN AMERICANS HAD THE HIGHEST AND FASTEST IMPROVEMENT IN LITERACY IN THE U.S. IN THE Early 20th Century. This was a time when black children had teachers who valued them as human beings, understood them culturally, and no hidden racist agendas, were NOT fearful of even playing fields and knew these children were relationship driven to respond to high expectations, care, love and kind considerations. It has been decadeS and the 93% white U.S. teachers have failed these children dismally. So no matter how the white community preceive the call out for BLACK TEACHERS ONLY FOR BLACK CHILDREN, We don't really care! ENUF IS ENUF!

Lynn said...


My point on the MLK building is that I hear complaints that it's not being made available for use by the community. If that's true, they're not abiding by the terms of the purchase agreement. If it's available to the community - there is no reason to take it back. If it's available though - why isn't ACIC using it? My impression is that it's mostly empty.

Which white organizations have been given schools for less than fair market value? Especially in West Seattle - I would be surprised to have missed that transaction.

Mann has never been abandoned. It was closed for a short time - as expensive renovations were required and the seats were not needed at that time. It had been leased out during much of that time - providing revenue to the district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Letsbereal, we have complained about district misused of funds since this blog started (and Charlie and I long before that). Absolutely dumbfounding and yes, still going on.

But it's not just a $1000 per day and two wrongs don't make a right.

#2 please. That's just nonsense.

#3 if you are not specific, we don't know what you are talking about. I'm not sure what you are referencing.

#4 We don't call names here so this is your first and only warning and then all other comments with this action will be deleted.

#7 - No one has ever given a list of the groups, their activities, number of children served, etc. The building was CLOSED, not abandoned and there's a difference. As well, there was one sole tenant, not multiple ones and the lease said the district had given permission for any subletting.

Yourfired, again, no name-calling or you will be deleted from comments.

"This was a time when black children had teachers who valued them as human beings, understood them culturally, and no hidden racist agendas, were NOT fearful of even playing fields and knew these children were relationship driven to respond to high expectations, care, love and kind considerations."

I agree that is the goal. But when was this time?

And again, the district has sent HR to job fairs to look for teachers of color but they are scarce. I know other districts struggle with this as well. With the demonization of teachers currently in vogue, how do propose finding and training more teachers of color?

yourefired said...


no name calling, but when institutionalized racism such as SPS is operating, those who implement the practices intentionally and unintentionally have condoned and participated in racist acts. Now I understand the truth is difficult but this blog will not stop nor influence the fight for racial justice in Seattle for black children and youth. So delete me if you must. The truth is painful, especially when harm is done to children and adults convince themselves they are innocent. Perhaps you don't recall but black children were once respected, successfully taught in their neighborhood schools, perhaps you are not part of the African American community, if you were you would recall. Once black children were placed into school building with white female teachers it was the start of their education demise. Why don't you tell us a time when these teachers were successful in the achievement of black children? If you think this is a time when teachers are being demonized than you are 5 decades too late.

Someone said...

I for one would feel exactly the same way about the possible misappropriation of public funds/property whether the groups in question were white, black, native American, Asian or Martian. Race isn't the issue here for me. The handling or mishandling of past allegations is not the issue either. What is SPS going to do, right now, about THIS potential misuse of public property.
Clearly this isn't a pleasant situation for any of the parties involved. But take away the emotional rhetoric and what's left? A legal issue involving the use of a public asset. Period.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yourefired, that is your point of view. The point of view at THIS blog is no name-calling.

By your view, nearly everyone is participating in racism whether intentionally or not in the public schools.

"but black children were once respected, successfully taught in their neighborhood schools,"

Again, I ask, when was this?

And again, there have been African-American superintendents, the new deputy superintendent is black, our superintendent is Hispanic, the legal counsel who spoke at yesterday's meeting was African-American - what are they doing or not doing that you think they should know, as African-Americans (or people of color)?

Also, again, what about AAA?

Charlie Mas said...

My view is that the issues regarding the use of the Mann Building are separate from the greater issue of the mis-education of African-American students in Seattle and across the country, gentrification, and the Mann building's historical significance in the neighborhood or the African-American community. Yes, those other issues form part of the context of the issue of the use of the Mann Building, but they do not dominate the issue. That's my view. I don't claim that it is the only one or the objectively correct one.

I'm sure there are people who believe that these other issues do, in fact, dominate the question of the use of the Mann building. That's their view. They can adopt that view if they like - I won't deny their frame of reference - but they should acknowledge - as I have - that it is not the only frame nor is it somehow the objectively correct one.

There is no objectively correct frame of reference here.

I am troubled by the inability of so many people - who ostensibly came here to openly and freely discuss the question - to acknowledge each other's truth. I also find the shouting and name-calling unproductive.

Plain speaking is fine. Call out hypocrisy if you see it. But let's not pretend that we have an understanding of other people's motivations or their hearts if they have not disclosed those motivations or beliefs. I don't like be told what I believe by people who don't know me, and I don't suppose anyone else enjoys that either.

So if you have come here to have a discussion, to share thoughts, to advocate for a position, and to learn more about other views then you are welcome here and we all want to read your words. If you're here to make blanket accusations, to lambaste honorable people who have reached a different conclusion, or to troll, then please take your attention and effort somewhere else.

letsbereal said...

Hi Melissa;
Thank you for the warning on name calling; I should have recognized that I was responding to people in Seattle who often don't actually say what they really beiieve, but color it with niceties. So I will be nice also, since the naked truth seemed to hurt too much.

Unfortunately, I did not see on the blog thread where you also equally cautioned; free rent who on 10/28/13 @ 10:25 pm called the More4Mann group a nasty, incorrect name of "squatters" .

On 10/29/13 @ 8:05 AM ; seesaw called the More4Mann group; "self-centered, single-minded", which is also derogatory; but I was not able to find your caution to them either.

Finally; on 10/29/13 @ 11:02 AM; Bi-racial family inferred that the More4Mann group were criminals by saying that ; "A black group steels a building." I think they actually meant steal, but they apparently aren't very good at spelling.

I'm sure you are fair minded, and I just missed your cautions to the other side; please confirm by posting those cautions too so we can see that you are not just representing one side of this issue and skewing the passions of the Seattle community one way.


Let's Be Real

Melissa Westbrook said...

Letsbereal, those were descriptions, not namecalling. Squatters is up for grabs as to whether it's descriptive or derogatory.

As Charlie says, there are differing opinions and people are entitled to all of them.

FYI, I don't like Seattle nice but that's not what I'm asking for here.

yourefired said...


you children have NEVER been respected and taught in the white public school system.

Glad we agree! Now will you leave us alone and let us educate our own children without your interference.

Have a great day!

Jet City mom said...

Where did the money come from for Summit to offer arts programs, dance programs, music programs outside of instrumental lessons for 4th & 5th graders?

How did they offer these programs & more - during the day- to a K-12 population?

Through the work of community & parent volunteers as well as a handful of teachers who were still committed to a school with an arts focus.

If a school community wish to have these offerings hadn't they better let it be known by putting their backs into it?

I hear people saying we dont need charters because we already have avenues to support interests beyond traditional or STEM.

Summit was an all city school with a high % of Underserved students.
Not all underserved students in this district are African American.

joanna said...

For me really, this is about good property management of a public resource, not about which group is most righteous and moral. Is it FAME NWAAM, or 4Mann or maybe another or many? Yes, there is always trouble where anyone group of people believe that one answer or their answer is the solution or the righteous path for all or for anyone group of men, women or children. Each group is made of individuals with individual talents and dreams, and yes, all want to contribute to the whole.

Lynn said...

Jet City mom,

Earlier in this discussion I think underserved was used to mean children who were not getting their fair share of district assets/services. When you talk about a high % of underserved students is that what you mean?

In my mind, all SPS students are underserved. (Inadequate funding and poor math curriculum as examples.)

Anonymous said...

The word "squatter" is not a nasty, incorrect name.
Check out the 2nd entry from Merriam-Webster:


It is simply accurate in this case.

I do hope that everyone realizes that some of the same people now illegally occupying Mann also illegally occupied the Northwest African American Museum for many years. Should we be surprised that FAME and NWAAM apparently want nothing to do with them, despite the lofty goals?

-Enough is enough

N Mom said...

yourefired, my white son has a black teacher. What should I do?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like what "yourefired" wants ("....Now will you leave us alone and let us educate our own children without your interference." etc etc) is to appropriate the Mann building for an AA charter school (administered by AAs, exclusively for AA children, with only AA teaching staff). I don't even know if that is a possibility but I can't see the point of all this unless that what they are after. Could that be it? All this raging against the institutionalized racism that is SPS (in their view) and the occupation of a public building is not going to achieve any change in educational outcomes for AA kids unless the group(s) actually have plans for a school or substantial program with actual teachers, a curriculum of some form, students to attend it, and some way of measuring its outcomes/efficacy.
It is not up to SPS to right historical wrongs or all the current failings of the educational system with regard to AAs (which is not unique to Seattle) - of course it should address the issues of disproportionate discipline and try to improve outcomes but not by giving in to these tactics. This is a public building - it does not belong to SPS use to appease any disgruntled group. It belongs to all Seattle taxpayers and should not be be used for any purpose other than as a much needed school building (have you heard of the capacity crisis at all folks?) or as an asset with which to obtain revenue to offset the cost of educating all our kids. Anything else is a misuse of public resources.
In some ways I don't blame the groups that are occupying Mann - it's their prerogative to push the envelope I guess. The onus is on SPS to show some competence for once and resolve the situation in a way that does not involve giving a group something for nothing. How can SPS get away with this ongoing mismanagement of the situation (especially after all the past scandals/financial mismanagement/nepotism).

I must be a racist because I disagree with you

Melissa Westbrook said...

"you children have NEVER been respected and taught in the white public school system.

What? You referenced - twice - that black children HAVE been taught well in SPS and I'm asking, when was that?

I Must be a racist...please follow the name guidelines (two words or less).

Anonymous said...

Yikes, enough is enough, you didn't want to go there with the Coleman School, now housing NWAAM with Urban League village apts managed by Quantum (transformed with the help of $2.5 million, courtesy of Wa state). All people need to do is look up Coleman school on history link or Wikipedia. It brings up more property dealings that are best left shhh...

This is as bad as the APP FB sideshow.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I do want to go there...

Colman School on History Link

- Enough is enough

Anonymous said...

I know, but you know $1.8 million of SPS funds, state audit, Urban League, Mr. Kelly. No, you don't. Sigh!


mirmac1 said...

What an unseemly discussion. This is almost as bad as some APP/Spectrum threads. Self-absorbed naval gazing and "I got mine!" This epitomizes the need for cultural competency among adults in this district. My "favorite" board member DeBell questioned the benefits of cultural competency. I would direct him to this thread and others like it.

Charlie Mas said...

If the word "squatter" is a problem then other words can be substituted.

Let's not let the language detract from the point.

The point is that there are property laws - whether we like them or not - and that the District owns that property - whether we like it or not - and therefore the District has a number of rights regarding that property - whether we like it or not.

So far, the District has not asserted its legal right to have the building vacated. This is an indulgence to the people in it - whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. However, their gratitude for this indulgence has not extended to the point that they will leave the building or even, it appears, prepare to leave the building.

To be clear - they have no legal right to be in it. They claim a moral right, but they cannot claim a legal one. Moral rights have not proven as meaningful as legal rights with agents of the law - whether they be sheriffs or Courts.

The occupiers (I hope that word choice isn't seen as pejorative) haven't left because they still don't have what they came for. They still do not have any sign of change from the District that will lead to improved academic outcomes for African-American students. The District has been pretty soft on the building, but when it comes to the real issue, the important issue, the historic and continuing mis-education of African-American children, the District has been a stone wall. They have utterly refused to negotiate.

Here's the funny thing. There is no one on this blog who is not with the Africatown occupiers when it comes to that issue. That issue is not in dispute here. Everyone agrees on that issue. Funny that some folks here can't see that. They think that anyone who doesn't agree with them on the building issue must also disagree with them on the equity issue. That's not so.

The issue of disagreement is the current occupation of the building. Not even the future use of the building. There has been little or no argument on that. The NOVA Community has reached an agreement with some of the Africatown folks on future use of the building and everyone - at least the parties - is satisfied with that agreement.

So here is the question in a nutshell:

Should the building occupiers vacate the building in the absence of any good faith negotiation with the District? Should they willingly and peaceably vacate the building even though they have not achieved their aim. Even though the District continues to refuse to address the mis-education of African-American students in an authentic and effective way?

Kind of hard to suggest that they should, isn't it?

Of course, that doesn't mean that the District shouldn't also use the force of law to push them out. The thing about civil disobedience is that you're not supposed to get away with it. You're supposed to go to jail or suffer some other sort of loss. It's not supposed to be done without the expectation of sacrifice.

So, for my part, I think the Africatown folks are exactly right on the moral issue, the big issue, the issue of the academic needs of African-American students, and that they should do what they have to do: fight to stay until the District can convince them that it will addresses its failures.

I also think that the District is exactly right on the narrow legal issue of the building, and that they should do what they have to do: call the cops and have the building physically vacated so construction can begin.

I would like it if the District would also do the right thing on the bigger issue and take real, meaningful, effective, and convincing steps to address the horrible mis-education of African-American students. But I'm not holding my breath.

This provides us with a springboard to a more promising discussion: what can be done to encourage the District leadership to directly and meaningfully address the historic and continuing mis-education of African-American students? And to do it right now.

Anonymous said...


'It has been decadeS and the 93% white U.S. teachers have failed these children dismally. So no matter how the white community preceive the call out for BLACK TEACHERS ONLY FOR BLACK CHILDREN, We don't really care! ENUF IS ENUF!'

Is Disproportionality solved by segregation?

Disruption is two-edged toward. Your disruption (a word so popular in the tech world) might not help you win the long game. Your disruption can easily be used against you. If your goal is sincere, you'll play the long game by gaining allies. You're pushing a lot of potential allies away with each day you occupy a building with threats.

If you cause is just, gather allies. I see a potential solution for you, if you're willing to look long. It's called charters.

If you want to shame the powers that be, don't diss the parents gathered here, who are more than willing to gather with you, until you roar racism and not much else.

Shame LEV, Chris Korsmo, the Seattle Foundation, the Gates Foundation? I know for a fact that Microsoft employs far more people from African nations than African Americans, and it's not for a lack of recruitment.

I'd start there and get 'your kids' what they need. But really, beyond your take over on the back of the liars and thieves at the Stanford Center for Excellence, are you working for what kids on the edge really need, or just for yourself?

Come correct. Be honest.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie takes the pragmatic and realistic view.

I would have slightly less unhappiness with this situation if the building was to remain empty and the district simply wanted those groups out.

That is not the case. The district absolutely NEEDS the building for current students in a program that is highly successful for those who enroll in it.

The building NEEDS renovation and the longer it is occupied, the more it will cost.

But, to Charlie's point of what could be done? I can think of a few things:

- name one or two African-Americans who have REAL respect/stature among other African-Americans in Seattle. Not among the power elite but within their own community. Two people who most could agree with as their leaders. (If you read some of the websites that I have researched, there is division among many blacks in this town.)

-appoint them the head of the Superintendent's taskforce with full power to name more than half the people on the taskforce. The other half the Superintendent chooses.

- Stage some forums and ask AA parents - what is missing? Not a litany of what has or has not been done - no more time for that but what should change.

- Like Moss Adams, prioritize the top items with highest to lowest priority and cost and efficacy. Tell the Board and the Superintendent THIS is what the community believes will help their children the most to start closing that gap.

- get community groups to get on-board with helping to support - with resources and bodies (for mentoring or tutoring). Go to the Mayor and City Council and tell them, "You say you want to help? Here's how."

= Set a timetable for this and get started. Have a report on this taskforce work at every - single - Board meeting so no updates can be bypassed.

Westside, if you think charters are your children's salvation, I can think of some cities where you should call parents and ask them about charters and children of color. For a few, it has been great and grounded them and given them a great education.

For most of them, it's segregated, heavy on discipline and military-style days and, of course, you get exited on a whim.

It's a crapshoot but maybe it sounds/seems better than what we have.

Charlie Mas said...

I have started a new, moderated thread. The productive discussion can move there.

Anonymous said...

"Westside, if you think charters are your children's salvation, I can think of some cities where you should call parents and ask them about charters and children of color. For a few, it has been great and grounded them and given them a great education."

That's not what I want.

Real disruption. I think this was discussed her before the charter law was passed last year. What if. What if teachers who want to do the work they're prevented from doing, like writing their own lesson plans, giving their students what they need, doing what was done at The Center School, before one family complained?

Instead of holding a building hostage and daring the district to kick them out (because they know the district is vulnerable to many forces that want to displace it, from reformers to for-profits, to More4Mann), if a group that advocates for kids is serious, they'll use any legal means necessary to rally to their cause.

Instead of having for-profits take over schools and suck away public funds to starve the mismanagers that take that money right now, turn the law upside down. Have real people, and real teachers, not corporations, take over their schools. Not easy, but entirely possible.

That's why I asked, is this action at Mann really for kids who don't have what they need, or is this just another hustle? The people who make money through lack of regulation, who attack any form of regulation (like unions), take advantage of distractions as much as they disrupt. The mere mention of Pegi McEvoy avoiding a full accounting of what's happening at Mann has led quite a few people here to say they'd consider a city takeover instead of more institutional incompetence. And that's what I think this district has practiced for years.

If you want lasting change, I agree with you Melissa. You don't threaten and name call. What if the energy going into taking over Mann was channeled into legally taking it and joining forces with every other group that's been kicked around?

That's what I'd get behind. Without hesitation.


yourefired said...

It appeared that a nerve was touched when I suggested that black people should be teaching black kids what they need to know. Someone asked what should they do for their white child that has a black teacher, the answer is nothing. But if 93% of that student's teachers become black THEY BETTER DO SOMETHING QUICK. The child will lose touch of his identity, his way of responding to them will be foreign, and as the teachers begin to treat him differently, he will react with hostility and/or opposition and either drop out, be thrown out, place in special education for severe whining disorder..

Charlie Mas said...

Perhaps our schools should not be places dominated by White culture or Black culture, male culture or female culture, or any other racial or ethnic culture but become places that cultivate their own culture, their own values and norms and their own etiquette. Is that possible? Can a place intentionally design its own culture to suit its needs and purpose?

youretired said...

To Charlie Mas,

culture exist where people exist and 'the school' has a culture. It is primarily anglo dominated, white female pedagogy, monolingual, competitive, independence, white male controlled, teacher centered, test driven, rote memory vs. critical thinking, few 21st Century literacy skills, punitive, isolationist, hegemonic values and total failures on the global stage. This is the Americanized culture of the school in the U.S. And as we attempt to try to find alternatives for African American students, if more Anglo Americans stop focusing on the demise of our children and start helping children in their own communities perhaps even their children can go into the global economy in the next ten years and find a job. But not if they are still teaching these children to speak English only, read only watchdog textbooks, not to have a critical thought, not to know how to problem solve or to bully colored, gay and disabled kids on playground instead of conflict resolution skills. Don't hate us cause we want something different for black kids that the "culture of the school" threw away. We know that white kids look like they are achieving when black kids fail, but the scam is up and ALL of our KIDS no matter, race, gender, creed, etc have paid a BIG PRICE.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm sure Davis, Wright, and Tremaine are going to ride up on their pro bono white horse just like they did with their lawsuit against Seattle's use of racial tie breaker.

real world

mamos206 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mamos206 said...

Hi Melissa, I criticized your stance on Africatown here:

Here is an excerpt:

Melissa Westerbrook, over at Save Seattle Schools blog, is no supporter of Africatown. In fact, she seems highly anxious about the fact that Black folks are taking matters into their own hands; she is particularly upset they are refusing to leave the Horace Mann building until the district meets their demands. She seems to suggest this is a threat to law and order and is advising the district to crack down. She doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of the political controversy that would erupt if the district and/or the mayor order in cops to colonize and displace people from the building. The images of the police brutality involved would quickly spread across the country, mingling with images of Chicago and Philadelphia youth protesting school closures in Black neighborhoods. Melissa chides the district for not asserting proper control of the situation; maybe the district politicians understand better than she does just how angry people are about the current state of our public schools.

A liberal is someone who asks the question: “is it legal” instead of ”will it bring us closer to freedom?” By that definition, Melissa is definitely a liberal. I wonder what she thinks of the lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights movement which straight up broke the law, or the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast programs which were public resources run by everyday people, not by the state bureaucracy. These sorts of efforts tend to fill liberals with fear because they cannot be controlled. They also send a clear message to everyone in society that direct action gets things done much faster than waiting on lawyers, politicians, or PTSA and union bureaucracies.

Melissa seems especially concerned that other people might get the idea that they can just take over schools if the district doesn’t do the right thing fast enough. She writes:

I have asked but have not seen any kind of temporary lease agreement (but now, it’s onto public disclosure). What seems to be the case – outwardly – is that the district is allowing whoever to stay in the building - probably for free - until the district finds them another space (I read Columbia Annex).

I’m done with asking the Superintendent, the staff and the Board about this. Clearly, no one is in charge.

Note to Pinehurst; hunker down and refuse to leave. It seems to work well for others.

Maybe Pinehurst folks should take her advice? She probably means it sarcastically, but I think it’s actually a good suggestion, one that might be effective in the current political climate. What if Pinehurst supporters refuse to leave their own school until the district meets their demands AND the demands of the Africa-town Innovation Center?

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, I have never heard More 4 Mann suggesting a school. Ever. So this is news to me.

Second, what police brutality? Why would asking people to vacate a building that they are illegally in lead to violence? What's funny is when I suggested it might not be a friendly "ask" if the district asked the police for help, Julia Ismael said - here - that I was the one suggesting any violence could take place and that couldn't happen. Go figure.

Third, I support black parents and communities rising up together and bringing about change. That I don't agree with some tactics that Africatown is choosing is not being against Africatown. There's a difference between those two things to me.

We have differing ideas about civil disobedience - I don't recall MLK,Jr.'s EVER involving violence on his side's part.

Big laugh out loud at the idea the district listens to my suggestions - boy, if only that was true.

I note that, once again, no proposal or plan is available nor is any temporary lease agreement.

What I dislike is that if I am not on-board with every single idea, I'm against all ideas. Not true. That if you don't agree, you're a racist. Also not true.

I (and everyone else) clearly have no power to what the district does or doesn't do so things will play out as they will.

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Russell said...

Clearly the tail is wagging the dog...only in Seattle does the city council, SPS, and any authority allow unauthorized occupation of public facilities. I am sure everyone is paralyzed by common sense, which no one in SPS has shown evidence of having. As a 30 year resident of Seattle and zero years of having my children attend SPS I am happy with my choices.

Anonymous said...

mamos206 -- first, I consider myself a liberal but I don't seem to fit your description of how liberals think as far as being worried about legalities and being fearful of things that are not in control. To me that seems more in line with a conservative way of thinking. I'll be turning that one over in my mind for a while.

But in any case, you just put your finger on something I was thinking -- which is that one reason the district is not using "law and order" as a tactic is because they know what the optics would look like, especially in a school district already under fire for disproportionate discipline against black students and in a city where the police department is under Justice Dept. oversight for racially biased policing. The best case scenario would have police in riot gear physically removing people from the building, and that's bad enough from a PR standpoint.

Melissa, you seem to be suggesting that police brutality or any kind of violent confrontation would only happen if it's provoked by the M4M people. You said, "Why would asking people to vacate a building that they are illegally in lead to violence?" That's an almost unbelievably naive -- or more likely passive-aggressive -- question. How about the students at UC-Davis? Cops in riot gear order peaceful students to leave, they refuse, then get maced, thrown on the ground, dragged away, etc. That's only one out of countless examples of the same dynamic. And I do think the district knows that police brutality would be a very real, very possible result of them trying to force M4M out with the help of the PD, and it's not M4M that would end up looking bad for it. I think they'd rather tippy-toe through it, putting up with citizens' requests for public disclosures and complaints to the state auditor, than risk that kind of bad PR. One ends up discussed on blogs and maybe gets a small mention in the Times, the other ends up on the front page and makes news across the nation.

~Garfield Mom

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yourefired said...

What's next are black children so hated that SPS or the forces against the education and well being of these children going to send the disruption to HORACE MANN BUILDING to justified the police presence needed against a community just working to save their own children. Perhaps this will happen today, tomorrow, next week for surely it appears there is a fraction of whites in Seattle deeply disturbed about black parents, community members, black educators, and the very children themselves working to correcting the wrongs of SPS Board, Administrators, principals, teachers, etc. who were mandated by State and Federal Law to give these children an Equal Educational Opportunity!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Funny how if you are not good with something - charters, Mann building, etc. - you're "fearful." I never said I was afraid of anything. I said, given the rhetoric, that I didn't see a good outcome but do I "fear" any part of this?

I do not.

I didn't know that More4Mann wouldn't leave if police came. That's not passive-aggressive - that is based on Julia Ismael saying - at both the Taskforce meeting I attended and on this blog - that it was wrong to think anyone wouldn't leave or would refuse to leave quietly.

Anonymous said...

I attended the press conference today at the Horace Mann building. Melissa, you attended a portion of that conference. Will you report on the portion you heard? Another white person at the meeting took notes throughout the meeting. if that person supplies his notes, would you publish them on your blog?

I found the presentations at the press conference remarkable, and worthy of summary here. Unfortunately, I did not take notes so cannot provide an adequate review myself.


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