Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Real Issue at Horace Mann

Let me begin by setting a foundation. EVERYONE agrees that African-American students have been mis-educated by Seattle Public Schools and by public school districts across the nation. Black students have been presented with inadequate and inappropriate academic opportunities, they have been denied equitable access to programs and services, they have been disproportionately disciplined and disproportionately referred to Special Education. The outcomes have been academic under-performance, the "school to prison pipeline", and the continued economic and political disenfranchisement of a significant portion of our nation's people. It has been a tragic shame. It has been happening since the start and it is continuing. It is an ongoing emergency that urgently demands a response.

No one disputes this. Well, no informed and responsible person disputes it. This is not to say that other members of our community have not also suffered, but no one's suffering negates anyone else's. We are not here to negate or discount anyone else's oppression or to determine relative suffering. That is a fruitless pursuit.

Following the occupation of the Horace Mann building the District formed a Task Force to discuss the various issues. At the meetings of this Task Force the District has acknowledged their failure, but they continue to refuse to directly and meaningfully address the problem. They have stonewalled the Africatown community. They have not indicated any willingness to change a single thing they are doing to improve outcomes for African-American students. Despite the fact that Seattle Public Schools has claimed that closing the academic achievement gap is their top priority for over a decade, the District has never made a plan to achieve that goal. And refuses to make such a plan now.

The District has proposed the creation of an Advisory Committee. It is unclear how this Advisory Committee will be any different from the previous Advisory Committees that have been convened over the past several years. All of those other Committees met, discussed, and made recommendations. Those recommendations were accepted with great fanfare and then immediately and persistently ignored. Advisory Committees are clearly not the path to improvement. Anyone who thinks that it will be different this time isn't paying attention to history. There is no reason to believe that it will be different this time. None at all.

Here's the funny thing. Everyone knows what needs to be done. It's not a secret. It's not a mystery. The solutions are well-documented. There are examples of success that can be duplicated here. There are the recommendations from the previous Task Forces and Advisory Committees that can still be implemented. The answers are known.

That's where we are. It's an abridged version, but all of the critical elements are there. Surely there is no one who is satisfied with this situation. Surely everyone is on the same side in this conflict. Get it? We're not arguing among ourselves.

The tactic used by the Africatown community to lend urgency to the crisis has been the occupation of the Horace Mann building. Not everyone is happy with this tactic. Well, if you don't like that tactic - and there is no need to tell us about how you don't like it - then please, by all means, suggest something else that can be done to encourage the District leadership to promptly, directly, and meaningfully address the historic and continuing mis-education of African-American students.

Go ahead - what do you think will work?

Notice - off-topic comments will be deleted. Off-topic is anything that doesn't address the question: how can the District be encouraged to promptly address the historic and continuing mis-education of African-American students?

67 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

My previous comment:

- 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.

Anonymous said...

My previous comment, a response to Melissa:

"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 here before the charter law was passed. 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 in answer to the Olchefske's and Potters that find such opportunity in schools), 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 if this action at Mann is 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. They thrive on it. The mere mention of Pegi McEvoy avoiding a full accounting of what's happening at Mann has led 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.

Westside

seattle citizen said...

1) Money (gain OR loss; directed funds from an internal or external source OR the threat of loss through litigation)
2) Large numbers of people acting in an organized fashion through a) protesting en masse at JSCEE; b) organized communication with elected officials (informational AND threats of voting against the official as a bloc if results aren't forthcoming); c) media and lots of it (see a and b above for media opps.)

That's it: those are the two ways to get a large bureaucracy to change direction substantially in a way it doesn't want to go. We've all heard the example of the battleship: Commanded to do something, someone orders a course change. As the massive behemoth slooowly begins to turn, many of the officers and crew are replaced as they switch ships, retire, etc. The replacement crew gets new orders from on high and slooowly starts a different turn, and so the lumbering dreadnaught zig-zags across the stormy sea....

Money and organized citizenry are the only way to yank the wheel sharply. But who, really, will join in the effort. Most people are content with their child's education, busy with life, and (so far) relatively unwilling to aide others who are suffering. So those stay-at-homes must be connected to the greater cause, and how to do that? Therein lies the rub.

Examples said...

Are there examples of meaningfully addressing this problem in other districts we could discuss? The best example I know of is Harlem Children's Zone, but that required a lot more money to work, nearly three times as much as we currently spend per student in Seattle. I'm all in favor of more money, but that's a big thing to ask for, and would be a huge impediment to promptly addressing it.

Are there other examples of successfully addressing the issue? If we have some ideas on what might work, it would be easier to talk about what might get the district to promptly, directly, and meaningfully implement it.

Lynn said...

Here's an article from the NEA on educating black boys.

Black said...

"how can the District be encouraged to promptly address the historic and continuing mis-education of African-American students?"

1. the School District needs to stop responding to the racism within the Seattle Community against African American Students
2. The School District needs to stop employing individual from outskirt areas who were not raised to respect cultural differences, especially African American children and their culture.
3. The School District needs to stop employing black people who have internalized their own oppressions and dislike black children who do not 'act white' and care more about what white people think than fair treatment of black children.
4.The School District needs to hire expert in cultural relevant competencies that can discuss more than white privilege and actually know how to infuse cultural responsive content in the curriculum, instructional methodologies, assessment and classroom management.
5. The School District needs to find trainers who can incorporate anti-bias professional development into teachers training.
6. The School District needs to develop a certificate requirement that their educational personnel receive
awareness, knowledge, skills for diverse student populations
7. The School District need to stop being invested in ethnocentric education that give some kids a false sense of superiority while others feel inferior lies, myths, and censored content
8. The School District need to hire African American teachers for African American Students and identify the few white teachers that are capable of truly genuinely bonding with black children and viewing them as human beings.
9. The School District needs to remove the 'stereotype threat' from the classrooms of African American children (stating stereotypes in the curriculum of the classroom)
10. The School District needs to require that all teachers have high expectations for ALL students"; use best practices in Sped screenings and referrals, refer black children to gifted programs who are truly gifted
11. The School District need a board that actually invests in kids and not real estate.
12.The School District needs to visit the 75 schools throughout the U.S. that provide quality education for African American Students.
13. The School District needs to stop listening to people who have a vested interest in the failure of African American Children before the total public school system is shut down.
These are just a few items.
5.

Anonymous said...

We have one successful program in Seattle already via Rainier Scholars. They work hard to improve educational outcome of the students in the program. They seem like a good model to start looking at as well.

Observer

Anonymous said...

Show movies and TV shows and read books that explore the history of white/black relations throughout the last 500 years.Do it in LA classes in middle school.
Ingrid

Patrick said...

Black, could you say something about "the 75 schools ... that provide quality education for African American students"? Which schools are they, and what are they doing?

Anonymous said...

As a volunteer in middle & high schools I see a system stacked against all kids who are not easy to educate using the dominant cultural experience. I don’t think this is a racial issue but a cultural one. Not to say that there aren’t racial issues too, but I see this affecting minority, ELL & poor students disproportionately.

One of the biggest cultural disconnects I see is the expectation that large amounts of education will happen at home. If a child doesn't understand a concept or needs extra practice or is missing a prerequisite skill, the school largely expects that the parents will notice that when looking at the homework or grades & will remedy that at home. Great amounts of learning are expected to happen with homework which is often not accessible to kids without adult help. When you tell a kid to go home & make a brochure, who tells the child what a brochure looks like & what it includes? Who acquires the art materials or shows them how to use a graphics program in tri-fold? When you stop teaching multiplication in school how many parents will understand that means they will have to teach it at home? When they get to middle school and can’t do fractions because they can’t multiply will the teacher have the weeks it takes to teach that skill individually? And if your child has special needs, then any chance of meeting their potential will include lots of home intervention & advocacy at school. Educated parents of the dominant American culture get that, and I think that our school system gets away with it because they can depend on a certain part of the population to make it work. Many other parents assume that the school is taking care of all academics & think their kids are foundering because they aren’t great learners.


I would like to see all kids get what they need to succeed at school, while they are at school.

- old parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Examples said...

Rainier Scholars and Harlem Children's Zone are examples of meaningfully addressing the problem, but both are very expensive, $30,000 or more per student per year compared to the current spending of around $10,000 per student per year. While I personally am very much in favor of more funding for public education and higher taxes to make that happen, depending on tripling the funding does not meet Charlie's goal of promptly being able to address the issue.

I also don't see how either Melissa Westbook's or Black's proposals meaningfully, directly, and promptly improve academic outcomes for African American students in Seattle Public Schools. Neither made any attempt to link their proposals to improvements in academic outcomes or establish that anyone who had tried what they proposed in the past achieved improvements.

Does anyone know of any examples of districts that have been able to promptly, directly, and meaningfully improve academic outcomes for African American students without spending a lot more money?

If the only way anyone has been able to do this is triple the funding, I am all for that and for organizing to try to raise taxes to do that, but it is important to know that is the primary issue to solve.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Black, I like your examples especially:
"4.The School District needs to hire expert in cultural relevant competencies that can discuss more than white privilege and actually know how to infuse cultural responsive content in the curriculum, instructional methodologies, assessment and classroom management."

This rings true to me as the most across-the-sytem need.

Examples, there is no "promptly" to anything that needs to be done (except for discipline). This is not going to happen overnight.

Also, good question about finding districts who have made meaning change with better outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Old Parent,
Very well said. That is the issue I see with my own child's school. The expectation is that ALL children have parents who can and will spend a great deal of time working with their children on academics each day. If parents aren't doing that, they are lectured, like that will somehow change things. It is tone deaf and destroys any and all hope of a home/school partnership. This lack of awareness and sensitivity, coupled with the increasing difficulty (and breadth) of the standards, only makes the achievement gap (which is large and present upon entrance to kindergarten) grow wider, year after year.
I am unaware of district that has bridged the gap without a great deal of money. There are schools here and there touting success without lots of extra money, but they have high attrition, or only accept certain students. Does Rainier Scholars accept all students?
QA Mom

Someone said...

I thought these 2 suggestions were pertinent and doable w/o a lot of funding requirements - how "prompt" the outcomes might be is questionable, but starting somewhere is better than nothing at this point:
The School District needs to find trainers who can incorporate anti-bias professional development into teachers training.

The School District needs to develop a certificate requirement that their educational personnel receive awareness, knowledge, skills for diverse student populations

Someone said...

I also thought "old parent" was on to something re: expectations of what happens at home. But that's not an easily fixable problem is it? Other than to perhaps encourage teachers to be more consciously aware of the issue and alter assignments so that less "at home" stuff is required? Not sure that really gets at what Charlie's point is though.

Anonymous said...

When I first moved to Seattle 14 years ago, there was a meeting down the street at Mercer Middle School about improving the achievement gap. Although my child was only a toddler at the time, as a majority parent of a minority child, I wanted to see what this district was all about. People around the room were called on to make suggestions as a facilitator wrote them down on a large easel. Many of the suggestions were those I see on this blog from time to time.

When he was called on, one older gentleman stomped to the front of the room and pounded on the paper with all the suggestions. "I went to a meeting like this 20 years ago when my son was in school. Now HIS kids are in school and we're still talking about the same things! Stop having meetings and DO SOMETHING!" There was applause.

It's a nice exercise, having people post suggestions about what to do, but this district has had information on what to do, directly from minority parents' lips for decades. But very little changes.

As for us, we tried. We tried neighborhood schools (lacked academic challenge), we tried Rainier Scholars (we didn't qualify), we tried private (talk about rigidity!). In the end we gave up and changed districts.

I won't say it has all the answers, but Federal Way seems to come much closer to serving minority students. There is wide-ranging Pre-AP, Pre-IB, AP, IB, Cambridge and more PLUS traditional gifted ed. They don't use Everyday Math. There is no MAP. And there seem to be more minority teachers and certainly more cultural competency.

My nutshell suggestions 1)cultural competency is a KEY, 2)higher expectations as well as higher level offerings to ALL kids who want to try them 3)more traditional math, 4)more varied history and LA assignments beyond the very Eurocentric offerings of most schools 5)a refusal to blame "poverty" for everything-not all minority students come from poverty yet they are STILL underserved across Seattle.

I just hope that my teenager won't be sitting in a meeting in Seattle 20 years from now when some other elder gets up and pounds on the board about the same discussion being help without improvements ever happening.

-older parent

Lynn said...

I'm reading an interesting article For Public Schools, Segregation Then, Segregation Since from the Economic Policy Institute.

There is a lot of analysis of NAEP scores from the 1970s through 2011. The conclusion is that while there are things we can do now, to really have an affect on the achievement gap, we need to end the isolation of black children in high-poverty schools. To do this, we need to end the isolation of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Short of changing housing patterns in the U.S., the author suggests:
For low-income African American children, continued improvement will most likely be accomplished by addressing the socioeconomic barriers the Coleman Report identified a half century ago; by providing high-quality early childhood care, staffed by well-educated professionals who can expose children to sophisticated intellectual environments like the ones typical middle-class children enjoy; and by providing high-quality after-school and summer programs in which children can acquire background knowledge and noncognitive skills that predict high achievement. Other social and economic improvements could also help—stabilizing and improving low-income families’ housing opportunities, and ensuring that children can come to school in good physical and emotional health, able to be in regular attendance and to concentrate on lessons.

Anonymous said...

Reading past some of the more extreme language in Black's suggestions, the list seems to boil down to a few key things that sound reasonable and valuable:

1. Cultural competency - need for a more culturally relevant curriculum, as well as culturally competent teachers. This would also include anti-bias training.

2. Teacher diversity - need for more African American teachers. It seems to me that the idea that only black teachers can teach black kids is extreme, but having more black teachers in schools will help a lot. Minority kids will benefit from seeing more teachers of color, families of color will feel more welcome and able to express their concerns, and teachers will be able to collaborate on effective strategies, curriculum ides, troubleshooting, engagement, etc. This isn't an easy problem to solve though, if the pool of black teachers is small.

3. Increased rigor - high expectations for all kids, in all classes. I don't think this is unique to the African American population, and students across the district would benefit from this.

4. Improved screening and referral policies and processes - whether for SpEd, advanced learning, discipline, etc. This has been a huge problem in SPS, leading to all sorts of problems. Time to get a handle on these things, and with greater transparency.

5. Adoption of best practices - SPS needs look at evidence-based or promising approaches used elsewhere, and learn from them. If folks can cite specific examples of programs/districts that have succeeded in reducing the achievement gap without huge amounts of funding elsewhere, that would be helpful to hear and valuable in advocating. The district has not been good at adopting best practices in other areas.

HIMSmom

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. Lots of great ideas about what the District or the community can do to improve outcomes, but that wasn't the question.

The question was what can we do to get the District to take meaningful action without further delay.

What is the spur we can apply to their flanks to put some giddy-up in their step?

What will create the sense of urgency they need to stop talking and start acting? Some folks are occupying a building. If there is no better suggestion then maybe that's the solution we should support.

Someone said...

Serious question - has the District ever responded to something like this without a "push" from an outside entity? ie State Auditor, Fed. Gov't wrist-slapping etc? Seems to take a mighty big sledge hammer to move this particular mountain, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphors.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, if you want the district to take notice, you need to either offer up money via a federal or foundation grant (which come with the necessary strings to achieve change), or you file a lawsuit.

You've been around long enough to know this district will not respond otherwise.

Observer

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board seems to be doing the Casablanca thing "we're shocked this is happening" even though I personally have been keeping them in the loop for months.

What will be interesting is the next Board meeting where some kind of undercooked agreement will be placed before the Board? Are they going to question this? Ask some pointed questions of the Superintendent and staff? And who will show up for this meeting?

Someone said - to my great and abiding happiness, I can say YES, the State Auditor's office DOES follow up. I don't know about this new guy but I'm sure they will as I know they take all hotline queries (both from government whistleblowers and the citizens hotline) and go over those every Thursday.

I know that because of me and others who pushed on Silas Potter, they looked into that.

Now that all takes time and the Auditor has nothing to enforce with. But the current situation might take more.

A lawsuit might come to mind but someone has to be willing to do that.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that this either stays how it is, with a small group of people occupying a building for the presumed benefit of their immediate community, or it needs to become a large, cross-district and cross-racial group effort. Some of the language and exaggerations thrown out in the heat of the passion have tended to serve as obstacles to the latter, but I would think that's still possible if folks could agree on clear identification of the problem and some solutions.

We saw how the MAP protest grew, right? The presentation of a well-reasoned argument made it easy for folks to get on board, and as it grew, the district could no longer ignore it. The More4Mann folks have succeeded in getting the district's attention, but the anti-white rhetoric and their narrow focus on the Central District make it hard to grow the coalition. I would think a much broader coalition--with parents/advocates across the city saying "SPS, you need to address these clearly laid out key issues NOW!" would have greater change of long-term success.

The big question is, however, what's the stick? We will all opt out MAP and/or MSP tests? We'll boycott school? We'll show up as an angy mob at school board meetings? Perhaps if we were able to create a cross-district stink, it might get more national media attention and shame the district into actually doing something. Might shame local ed philanthropists into action, too.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

"Some folks are occupying a building. If there is no better suggestion then maybe that's the solution we should support."

Charlie, you just filed a report against this group yesterday, and said so on this blog.

Are you going to rescind your filing now that you think Black children's education is an emergency?

(This should not be deleted since I'm directly responding to your comment. I moved my comment you deleted to the open thread.)

--enough already

Examples said...

Charlie said, "Lots of great ideas about what the District or the community can do to improve outcomes, but that wasn't the question. The question was what can we do to get the District to take meaningful action without further delay."

Just when I thought we might be getting somewhere, you have now thoroughly confused me, Charlie. What is meaningful action if not action that improves academic outcomes for African American children? What is meaningful about any action that does not improve outcomes?

Someone said...

@HIMSmom - exactly - what is the stick? I too am troubled by the rhetoric, but ultimately the message is important. At the very least we should all be emailing the board and Mr. Banda that this is an issue we are making note of and we expect positive action. Doubtful we'd all agree what that "action" might be...sigh...

Anonymous said...

Older parent mentioned an important point about Everyday Math being so inadequate. Parents have complained for years, UW professors have criticized the math skills of incoming freshmen, a lawsuit was brought about over math and yet nothing has been done. Except for a few schools that were able to get waivers, this math is still the standard at most elementary schools and the discovery approach continues through high school.

I am also an older parent, with kids out of college. I attended a fundraiser just to meet Superintendent Banda and ask for better math. It would benefit so many students, especially those who struggle and need a more direct approach with examples to follow.

The new math committee continues to study it and now has to align curriculum with Common Core — another unacceptable delay.

Sue Peters has emphasized math as part of her campaign so that is a place to start.

S parent

Lynn said...

Charlie,

Maybe occupying a building will get their attention (not working so far though.) I don't see how it could lead to taking meaningful action without further delay unless Wyking and the rest of the people at More For Mann have a plan they'd like implemented. Do they have that plan? If not, this is a waste of their time and energy. If they have a plan, and there is evidence it will begin to solve the problem, I will support them. So far, they're not sharing it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough already, and Charlie has said -several times - that he does not believe the takeover of the Mann building and the emergency for black student achievement are to be related. I agree with him.

Examples, Charlie may be meaning a cold shock to the system comes first and then laying the groundwork comes after. This "instant" change is NOT going to happen. A shock to the system could.

Carol Simmons said...

I served on 3 of the Disproportionality Task Forces in the eighties. There were recommendations made and adopted by the School Board. These Recommendations were never implemented in the Schools.....there was no monitoring by anyone in District administration or on the Board to see if the recommendations were being implemented in the schools. Principals had them tucked away in their offices. They were in neat binders and all Principals had been "told" to implement them. This did not happen. Since then there have been two more recent Disproportionality task Forces with different names that dusted off previous DTF's recommendations and made minor revisions and recommended them to the District and Board. They were never adopted by the Board to my knowledge. A previous Superintendent eliminated the Department of Equity and the Administrator's position who chaired the 4th or 5th DTF.
If the DTF recommendations are approved by the Board..then monitoring must occur. The DTF recommendations made in the eighties exist, are not dated and still relevant. They have been adopted by a previous Board. They need to be implemented in the schools and monitored.

Anonymous said...

Carol sums up neatly what the older gentleman was yelling about in the late 90's at the meeting I posted about above. Nothing's been done, nothing's changed. It's not unique to Seattle, but it's been known for a few generations at least what can help with the myriad harms disproportionality causes.

Honestly, does ANYONE really wonder why people of color get so angry that they do things like take over a building? How many generations have to suffer? Certainly begging for change has done nothing.

-older parent

Anonymous said...

Lack of oversight of the schools is a constant thread of so many issues discussed on this blog. We have about a billion managers in this district, but it is not clear who they are managing. The endless task forces come up with suggestions for improvements that are ignored and never implemented.

The district needs to come up with a plan and enforce it in the schools. Principals cannot be allowed to do as they please (ie advanced learning). In order to see if fixes are working, they need to be done in a trackable and consistent way.

-oncelot

Anonymous said...

QA Mom—FYI, Rainier Scholars does not take all applicants. It is specifically for high-performing 6th graders of color. There is an application process similar to that of an exclusive private school that 5th graders have to go through. The program has school on Saturdays and through the summer. It is a ton of work, but it yields great results.

It is a fabulous program, and does a lot to help already-motivated kids get a better than good education. Many end up in private middle and high schools on a full scholarship. However, it really does nothing to address the issues that Charlie and others are discussing here.

SolvayGirl

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol's comment brings up a HUGE point which is that this district has gotten good work and direction from several taskforces:

- The Disproportionality Task Forces
Why weren't they listened to?
-the CAICEE taskforce in the '90s that Sherry Carr (among others) served on - they also did great work providing a road map for the district. Shelved and ignored. (And, for the record, one the best-written documents I've seen.)

-the Moss-Adams report (and hey, our tax dollars paid for this one) which was a clear, department-by-department map of what to do, the priorities (high, medium, low) and the costs (high, medium, low). Ignored.

Charlie Mas said...

Would More 4 Mann welcome allies? Would they accept participants in a larger movement to push the District?

I don't think it is necessary for the More 4 Mann folks to have a plan, although I believe they do have one. Here's the thing - it doesn't matter if they have a plan that's ready to go or not if the District isn't going to implement the plan anyway. There's all kinds of plans lying around. The District can pick any of them. It doesn't matter much which one they do so long as they do one of them.

And to enough already, the More 4 Mann people have to do what they have to do. And the District people have to do what they have to do as well. If there is no outside agency spurring them to take action they will continue to be inactive. If the State Auditor steps in that could be the kick in the pants that the District needs.

It's not as if the occupation of the building is a secret. It's not as if the More 4 Mann folks don't know that the District has a legal right to forcibly remove them. This wasn't all hush-hush until I reported it to the state auditor.

I don't happen to believe that the report to the state auditor was an action against the More 4 Mann effort. Let's get to the exciting climax already. The sooner it comes the sooner we can advance to the next stage which, hopefully, will be District action.

Lynn said...

Melissa,

The link to the CACIEE Final Report on the blog is broken. Do you know where I can find it?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christina said...

Lynn, I'm not Melissa but I know where to find the Feb 10 2006 CACIEE Final Report. Weirdly, a record for it doesn't seem to be retrievable from SPS Archives and Records Management's open database.

http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2344796030_community_advisory_committee_for_investing_in_educational_excellence

Title: Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence
final report, February 10, 2006
Publisher:[Seattle, Wash.? :, The Committee,, 2006]
Characteristics: 60 leaves :,ill. ;,28 cm
Notes:Cover title
Additional Contributors:Seattle Public Schools
Branch Call Number:SEADOC XS3.9

Go to the 10th floor of the Seattle Public Library's Central branch to see it.

I have replacement links for many dead links on the right. On July 8 2013 I sent a list of outdated URIs and replacement ones, solicited, to the e-mail supplied on the Blog page, but if there's sufficient interest from readers I can post updated links where available upon request.

paul heckel said...

Charlie, my comment here is not for publication. I take strong exception to your claim that, “No one disputes this. Well, no informed and responsible person disputes it.”

I have decades of credentialed teaching, teacher training, as well as education administration experience plus years of working abroad where I was a minority (based on race, language, perceived religion, and/or national heritage). My experiences with discrimination are first-hand. So, I believe you would consider me “informed” to a greater degree than average.

Yet I disagree with the position you’ve taken.

You and Melissa have shown yourselves to be very reasonable people over the years I’ve viewed this blog. So I respect your opinions. There are other opinions, though, one of which is that the cultural heritage of students should be part of but far secondary to a basic education (socialization) in American culture.

I disagree with the notion that K-12 has the room to kowtow to sub-cultures and still meet the needs of basic education. So the idea of addressing African-American needs rather than poly-racial American socialization is esoteric and a source of chagrin, if not disheartenment, to me as a teacher accepting people as humans, not a race or identifier that marks them as ‘other’.

As an aside - I worked for SPS from the General’s reign through MGJ’s administration. And I butted heads with Central Administration until I realized they have a business, not an education/public service mindset. They honestly believe everyone is self-serving in dealing with SPS. That translates to every man for himself, telling people what they want to hear but never intending to do anything but stay employed. Talking, even in sensible presentations, is worthless in their eyes – except to justify their employment by showing they were “on the job, listening to parents and teachers”.

Good luck. Stay strong and hopeful.



Paul Heckel

Ed Lambert said...

I agree with Carol Simmons and others that point out that the district has ignored every plan that has been created and adopted.

The district continues the ploy of putting the burden of effort on others, while they take no accountability.

The folks at More4Mann are using the occupation of that building as a forcing function to call attention to this urgent situation.

Given that nothing else has worked, I support their actions 100%. Every ounce of pressure that can be applied should be applied. Business as usual must be actively disrupted.

Since it sounds like many of you agree that this problem DOES need to get addressed, I implore every one of you to please stop criticizing the efforts of the AIC and instead show solidarity and support them in any way that you possibly can.



Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Ed, so what's the answer for World School? Nova? the kids - Central Area kids - who are supposed to go to Meany?

What about all the capital needs that will go undone because the district lost state capital dollars when the building wasn't emptied? Or the lost capital dollars for every day the building isn't emptied?

What's the answer to that?

Anonymous said...

I've lived as a "minority" in another culture too -- a couple of times, actually. It is not the same thing AT ALL.

I was occasionally discriminated against due to my minority status. And yeah, that sucked. But I would never assume that that experience means that I understand what it is like to be, from birth, part of a minority group that has experienced hundreds of years of history of being enslaved, oppressed, killed, imprisoned, discriminated against in employment/housing/finance, marginalized...you get the picture.

Mr. Heckel, you just demonstrated why there is such a need for cultural competency.

~Garfield Mom

Anonymous said...

Charlie says:

"I don't happen to believe that the report to the state auditor was an action against the More 4 Mann effort. Let's get to the exciting climax already. The sooner it comes the sooner we can advance to the next stage which, hopefully, will be District action."

So,you filed a report to the state auditor against the Mann movement in order to help them and the education of Black children?

Again...priceless!

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

Oh, you're right, enough already. If I hadn't filed that report - a report that was actually AGAINST the District - then no one would ever have known what was happening at Mann. It was all a big secret before I filed that report.

Again, the report was about what the District is doing which is illegal, not More 4 Mann. The State Auditor doesn't review More 4 Mann's activity; they review the District's activity. It is the District who will be in trouble with the state authorities for their actions, not the More 4 Mann coalition.

Charlie Mas said...

But by all means, enough already, please do keep trying to make me the issue instead of inequity, the occupation of the building, or violations of law. I forgot that it really all about me.

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Charlie Mas said...

Paul Heckel writes:

"I disagree with the notion that K-12 has the room to kowtow to sub-cultures and still meet the needs of basic education."

Fine, but that isn't what I wrote, so you're not disagreeing with me; you're disagreeing with an invented argument of your own.

Here's what I wrote:
"EVERYONE agrees that African-American students have been mis-educated by Seattle Public Schools and by public school districts across the nation. Black students have been presented with inadequate and inappropriate academic opportunities, they have been denied equitable access to programs and services, they have been disproportionately disciplined and disproportionately referred to Special Education. The outcomes have been academic under-performance, the "school to prison pipeline", and the continued economic and political disenfranchisement of a significant portion of our nation's people. It has been a tragic shame. It has been happening since the start and it is continuing. It is an ongoing emergency that urgently demands a response."

So which part of that do you disagree with, Mr. Heckel?

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Lynn said...

If we assume that the district will not implement a plan, what is the point of occupying Mann? What improvement in the schools can come of it?

I think they are planning to stay until the police force them out, and then call for a boycott of one or more schools in the Central District as a protest. I'm hearing though that this is an isolated group - it may be that they can't convince many families to join the boycott. Someone else might have been able to carry this off - but with their extremist views, I don't think this group can. So, a lot of time and energy with no reward.

paul heckel said...

Charlie, I didn’t intend to disrupt the thread . Hence my clumsy effort not to have it posted after you read it. But my objection remains as, for one thing, your EVERYONE appears to lump all black students together as if no black kid ever succeeded in school or all black kids are the same, with identical personalities, skills, and experiences. Of course you don’t believe that. But I’m tired of seeing black kids lumped together even by adults with the best of intentions.
Secondly, I’ve seen no indication of the “mis-education” you claim. Perhaps such exists according to a standard I never encountered. But it certainly can’t apply to all black students as many of them have succeeded in colleges and their chosen careers across the country.
Thirdly, I question your claim as to “academic under performance”. By what standard? The individual’s? A vaguely defined, unmeasurable state outline of what constitutes adequate performance?
I don’t know because you don’t say but simply expect me to accept that EVERYONE agrees on the matter.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"EVERYONE appears to lump all black students together as if no black kid ever succeeded in school or all black kids are the same, with identical personalities, skills, and experiences."

Absolutely not true. I have been asking - as have others - about all the OTHER African-American students in this district and what their families think? We were reminded that no group is monolithic and I believe that to be true.

I think your statement untrue and frankly, disrespectful because no one here has voiced anything close to that.

A vaguely defined, unmeasurable state outline of what constitutes adequate performance?

Have you not seen what the state of public education is today? They measure everything and everyone. There is nothing vague about it. Now is the worth of a student and their knowledge all in a couple of test scores? Nope but that's the direction we are going.

Ed Lambert said...

Melissa,
You asked me "Okay Ed, so what's the answer for World School? Nova? the kids - Central Area kids - who are supposed to go to Meany?

What about all the capital needs that will go undone because the district lost state capital dollars when the building wasn't emptied? Or the lost capital dollars for every day the building isn't emptied?

What's the answer to that?"


Frankly, I reject the social control device that says those that report problems are responsible for fixing them. Specific people at the district have botched space planning for years. The district is accountable for that mess, not me. Accountability means not blaming the victims or putting the burden of effort on those that complain about their misdeeds.

I agree with the AIC that the problems faced by the African American Community is a CRISIS. That issue needs to be put at the forefront and solved FIRST. It should not relegated to be dealt with after dealing with the logistical heap left behind by years of poor facilities planning.

While I do support both Nova and the World School, I don't think that the world will end if they do not move into a building on schedule. I DO think that lives are being impacted every single day that the Seattle School-to-prison pipeline continues.

I am suggesting that we stop putting other things ahead of that problem and address inequity in Seattle Schools right now. Implementing the plans that were already approved would be a good start.

Lynn said...

Seattle Times article Squatters Must Vacate Horace Mann School.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I love that Lynne Varner is just NOW getting involved in this conversation. I notice she is quite careful in separating her support for the "vision" of Africatown versus what is playing out at Mann. And then there's her long soliloquy on what she thinks Banda should tell the group. ("I and my bosses" - get this woman an editor.)

That she doesn't not know the history between some of the More 4 Mann leaders and the Northwest African American Museum proves just how completely out of touch she is. It's not a pretty story.

But I note she offers no real solutions on what could/should be done for African-American students despite her frequent columns on being African-American. Strange.

Charlie Mas said...

This drama illustrates an feature of our culture: the desire for a simple conflict narrative. Everyone is expected to choose sides. On one side is More 4 Mann. If you support them in any way then you have to support them entirely and totally oppose the District. The District is on the other side and if you support them at all then you have to support all of their position and utterly oppose More 4 Mann.

That's just silly. We can each see things we like or support in each perspective without having to "pick sides".

I absolutely agree with the More 4 Mann folks about the District's need to immediately take the necessary steps to improve academic outcomes for African-American students. I also think that their tactic of occupying the Mann Building was an excellent way to inspire a sense of urgency in the complacent District. The More 4 Mann coalition has to do what they have to do.

And the District has to do what they have to do as well. The District has to act as stewards of the public assets put in their care. The Board has to act in a fiduciary role to safeguard the District's assets.

And the State Auditor's office has to do what they have to do. They have to determine if the District has broken the law and if the District officials have properly fulfilled their duties.

This is not a simple story in which we all have to align ourselves with one side or the other, declare our side good all the way through and the other side evil to the core. That's childish and silly.

Anonymous said...

Au contraire, Varner (the great TFA defender) knows the history. She would like to make More 4 Mann group out as a bunch of loonies. This undermines their legitimacy. Keep telling people to play it safe within the system and they'll get to the promise land. Problem is, admittance is for the very few. People can tune out, give up, roll over, and disappear into the dismal statistics. It would be very convenient for many in this city for the Mann group to do just that. Their cause, intentionally or not, peeled back scabs. But it's time for people to search their conscience and weigh what they have given up by playing along and getting along. They gain much in stature and political power and connection. The NWAAM is a wonderful museum like SAM and deserves support. But so does the effort of the Mann group. They reach kids and families who don't make it to NWAAM or SAM except on rare occasion when a school field trip gets them there. What More 4 Mann wants is a safe and supportive place for kids who are on the verge, give them positive, creative outlet, and mentoring so they stay in school. To be there for them every day. I don't think it's all hype and loony talk here.

There's a place for both sides and it would be far better to be allies and pool the resources. That's what Ms. Varner should have said.

reader

paul said...

Melissa, confusion has arisen because I didn't write a fuller sentence such as - "In setting a foundation, Charlie appeared (at least to me) to be lumping black kids together." I wanted it to be clear that all kids are individuals and should be approached as such. My apologies for causing you confusion.

Another point where I caused confusion was in writing "state" rather than "Washington" when I wrote "A vague, unmeasurable state outline ..., ." I was referring to Washington State's failure to specifically define "basic education" let alone define such an education in ways that can be measured.

I'm consternated to see your reference to some nebulous "they" measuring teachers, student learning, and school "success". This wasn't part of Charlie's topic or my comments. So I don't know why you threw it in. I sure as heck don't like the mixed, muddled attempts at measuring what hasn't been defined or agreed upon as "success".

TechyMom said...

Their programs last summer looked interesting. If this is about programs, why not the former Islamic School next door, or Garfield Community Center across the street, or rented space like Coyote Central does, or the Douglas Truth Library, or FAME-MLK (that one is bit farther away), or a church basement, or PRATT or some other space I haven't thought of? There are a lot of nearby spaces for community activities, and many of them are inexpensive. If the goal is to provide programming, there are a lot of options. So, why this building?

If the goal is to attract attention to the problems African American kids face in SPS, then holding up the construction plans that will uncrowd Washington seems to have been a pretty effective tactic. Washington isn't in that bad of shape (compared to Eckstein, for example) so the slow-down may not hurt local kids that much. Losing the construction matching money is a real issue, but seems like a low priority in comparison to the concerns of this group for their kids' education.

I'm guessing the goal is not about the programs, and that's why no suggestions about other locations have been interesting to the occupiers/squatters (take your pick of term). The goal is about raising awareness. It seems to be working.

(btw, I personally really want NOVA in there, because I'm crossing my fingers they'll have middle school by 2015, but this isn't about me. I have other options.)

Ed Lambert said...



This is a comment from the Seattle Times op-ed slander piece today that deserves wide reading:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/11/01/is-seattle-schools-superintendent-jose-banda-too-nice/


"I find it difficult to believe some of the things that Lynn Varner has written about this subject because she knows that parents like myself has been contacting her for quite some time about the inequities that exsist within SPS. I'm the parent that cried on your shoulder about the mistreatment that my son was recieving at Garfield High School. In fact she set it up for me to do a segment on Brian Callahan's show ( Seattle Channel) because she couldn't even believe the injustice. Well my son graduated this past June, and I have one more child and I refuse to allow SPS do to her what was done to my son. She fails to mention the fact that this is an education initiative guided by expert and accomplished black educators in partnership with parents and community stakeholders. I was forced to remove my daughter from SPS and she is now being homeschooled by members of the MORE4MANN coalition, who are tutoring her daily. I seriously don't know what I would do without Wyking, Omari, and this coalition because SPS, the district, nor Lynn Varner could help me when I reached out to them.

You told me Ms. Varner that by doing the Seattle Channel segment would prompt school officials to contact me to rectify some of my concerns. Well guess what? No one ever did. In fact I think it only infuriated them (SPS) because I feel like the inequities got worst after that. If it wasn't for the space at Horace Mann, ralyling behind me and my children, I can't imagine where my daughter would be, certainly not thriving as she is now because of their assistance. Africatown Center for Education & Innovation bringing solutions for a mother who has been pleading for a very long time about the school to prison pipeline that exsist for students of Color, and no one at the schools, District or even going to the media, did I find a solution. Only at Africatown Center, my child is now getting an education that I am pleased with. Everyone needs to check their sources before calling names and accusing people that are saving lives. I just regret that Wyking wasn't there when my son was getting put out of class for no reason, other than being a Black male in their coveted AP classes."

Anonymous said...

"The District is on the other side and if you support them at all then you have to support all of their position and utterly oppose More 4 Mann."

Charlie, you broke the Mann story on this blog by "taking sides" and stating that, as a former NOVA parent, this group had no basis for being there and should vacate immediately. You have continued that position--even filing with the state auditor this week. The linguistic gymnastics you are using at this point are beginning to sound like, "It depends on what the meaning of is is."

Like many privileged people, you reacted to my calling you out on this hypocrisy with narcissistic vicimhood. No, this issue is not about you at all. As a teacher who has spent my career with families whom Mann is advocating for, rest assured--it's no about you.

However, doublespeak, jargon, and subterfuge are some of the insidious ways in which injustice is perpetuated, and I won't hesitate to you call you out on it when you do it.

--enough already

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