Thursday, November 07, 2013

From the Live Blog thread, The Mission of this Blog

A lot of discussion arose in the live blog thread about the nature of this blog and the needs of the community. This blog can be the place for people to connect all across the District. If you have a thread that you would like us to start, then you are free to suggest it. We get a lot of such requests and typically fulfill them. There are open discussions twice a week. Please let us know how we can make the threshold even lower.

People discuss what they want to discuss. If it leans more in one direction than another then that's what happens. You are free to discuss sparsely mentioned topics, but I know of no way to compel other people to discuss your topic of interest if they don't share that interest. I guess you can just work to make it more interesting for them.

There has been discussion here of the decision to make Dearborn Park an option school, discussion of the proposed attendance area changes for Kimball, and the re-shuffle of the Mercer, Aki Kurose and Washington feeder schools. We don't typically cap discussion unless it gets out of hand, so I don't suppose there was anything left unsaid about that. If there is, then you are free to say it.

I have seen more discussion of common core and Special Education here than anywhere else. Anyone who has more to say about these topics - or any other - is free to do so. Yes, participation requires access to a computer and the internet, but they are available in libraries and they can be borrowed. We don't require people to pay, to register, or even to provide their real name. We have a short list of rules, but we don't even enforce those 100%. We do not suffer from over-regulation.

No one had a better discussion of the Mann building issues than we did here. We had the news sooner, more frequently updated, and more diverse than anything else I saw. A diversity of opinions means that there will be voices that don't share your perspective or agree with it. That's unpleasant for a lot of people. It means that people will challenge your perspective and opinion. That's also unpleasant for a lot of people. I cannot offer any balm for this unpleasantness other than to remind you that other people are full human beings, you know, just like you, and they have their own ideas and right to voice them.

The Mann building issue was also complicated because some saw it as a mix of multiple issues - the crisis and failure to adequately educate African-American students, the control of property, the choice of the ACEI as partners with the District, and more - while others saw it as a unified issue in which the acknowledgement of the crisis and failure in education is synonymous with support for the occupation and the selection of the ACEI as district partners in addressing the failure. In that perspective any wavering of support for the ACEI or questioning of their tactics was perceived as denial or dismissal of the crisis. Others believed that you could agree that there is a crisis and we need to address it immediately without presuming that the ACEI are the best choice of partners or that the building occupation was the best tactic. That division of perspective appeared here because that division of perspective exists in the community. Again, I can offer no balm for the pain of an opposing view.


mirmac1 said...

Perhaps you could have twice weekly open APP threads?

And, perhaps, if you or Melissa know that you will be strongly stating your opinion on something, add "Editorial" to the heading?

These are just some suggestions to respond to some of the criticisms or gripes about threads. I get so much from this blog and read it everyday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa & Charlie for the amazing amount of time, care, effort and love you put into this blog.

It is the "village square" for k-12 education for Seattle.

It is an enormous public service.

You don't and can't control who stops by and participates. Ergo, it is perplexing that frequent criticisms are lobbed because commenters feel there are "too many northern parents participating, or insufficient numbers of southern parents participating, or disproportionate attention paid X as compared to Y (X and Y could be Special Ed, racism, nutrition value of hot lunches, CTE, lack of PE, insufficient language arts curriculum etc., you name it!).

Instead of criticizing, folks should just say their peace and fan out to capture other participants to kindle a robust discussion about topic X or Y.

So, thank you. Thank you for all that you do. Please never give up, know that this is an incredible resource for all.

I don't know that you hear that often enough.

-Scared & scarred

Someone said...

I've often thought this blog was the working example of that quote about "but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

It's just human nature that people will always have a burning passion about the things that most directly affect them. Should it be different? Should we all share the same righteous indignation about the same things? That's an impossible task, of the tilting against windmills variety.

I appreciate this site for allowing disparate views to be heard, but I certainly don't come here expecting everyone to be interested/agitated about the same things I am.

I too greatly appreciate the time and effort that Charlie/Melissa dedicate to it. There's nothing stopping those unhappy with its content from starting their own blog, is there?

Anonymous said...

I read this blog regularly & appreciate the news & debate that I get here.

I wish there were more diversity of voices.

I wonder about recruiting people from different areas or groups to submit stories, even if they can't commit to regular blogging? Impressions from a PTSA meeting or a sped teacher or a city year volunteer, would be very interesting. (Micmac1, I would really appreciate some education about the sped issues in SPS. Could someone talk about what their African American teenager feels like at school-defensive, supported, defeated, engaged?) Maybe some student newspaper articles from around the city could be posted with permission?

I realize that I am just asking Charlie & Melissa to do more work. So I would understand if they don't want to take it on.


Anonymous said...

Previous two commenters say it well. I think you already know this, but please don't have twice weekly APP open threads. Keep on doing what you're doing. Your own judgment hasn't failed you yet, in this reader's opinion.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, it was "Scarred and Scared" and "Someone" that I agreed with.

Thanks and sorry for the double post.

David said...

There are some trolls among the commenters, and discussions can get heated, but most of the commenters are contributing usefully and often even insightfully, I think. There is a big hole to fill in news about education in Seattle since the Seattle Times and what's left of the Seattle PI don't do a good job of it anymore. I find this blog to be a tremendous resource and very useful. I wouldn't change a thing if I were you, Charlie and Melissa, you are doing a great service providing this blog to the community.

emily said...

I would love to see a thread about the Downtown School Feasibility Study. I feel like the information in this report is important to the growth boundary discussion, particularly since downtown is one of the areas being significantly affected by the changes.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a thread about the Downtown School Feasibility Study. I feel like the information in this report is important to the growth boundary discussion, particularly since downtown is one of the areas being significantly affected by the changes.

Ed Lambert said...

Charlie and Melissa:
I am curious if the post above indicates a change in your editorial practices.

For example, do you still plan to remove policy-compliant posts about events at the AIC posted in something labeled "Friday Open Thread"?

This happened here:

Melissa Westbrook said...
Note: I took out the comments on the Mann Building. I do not support this effort and am not giving it space here unless I hear directly from the district or have my own report.
10/11/13, 3:34 PM

The comment left at that time, and subsequent reporting since, indicates a clear editorial bias against providing or allowing others to provide information that does not align with the blog administrators point of view.

Are you stating that you are changing your editorial practices?

WRT discussions of the AIC, I am not expecting you or your readers to agree with my personal support of the AIC and what is happening at the Mann building.

However, I am personally disappointed that the very real issues of racial inequity and injustice that are happening within our city are not at the very TOP of your editorial priorities and that they are not the most frequently discussed items on this blog.

Ed Lambert said...

BTW, one other point on the AIC - as one speaker stated last night, “would the district even be addressing these issues of racial inequality if people had not refused to leave the Mann building?”

Rather that provide a lengthy comment in this thread, here is a link to current information and analysis on the AIC:

Charlie Mas said...

There actually is an APP discussion blog, for the folks who want to discuss APP issues in greater depth.

I presume that there is also a Special Education blog somewhere.

More 4 Mann, of course, have their own web site with some opportunity for discussion.

These sites may have additional information and a better understanding of the issues, but they tend to lack a diversity of voices.

Charlie Mas said...


As I wrote, we don't have many policies and we don't even enforce the ones we have 100%. We typically do not remove comments based on content or perspective but we have done so in a variety of circumstances. It's not a hard and fast rule.

We have deleted comments for being abusive and we have deleted some for being off-topic. Melissa has closed discussions when she felt they had devolved and become non-productive. We delete commercial messages.

I understand that you think it was wrong of her to delete some comments regarding the Mann building, but I am not disappointed with the volume of content related to the Mann building that I find here.

There is not, as you suggest, any editorial bias against information that does not align with the blog administrators' point of view. There is ample evidence of disagreement here. You have one instance to the contrary. It is not representative.

BTW, I have written, on a number of occasions that the occupation of the building was an effective tactic to give the District a sense of urgency around the mis-education of African-American students. I don't think anyone disputes that. That doesn't mean that the ACEI are the best partners for the District for the work ahead.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Ed. I do thank this blog for the discussion on the matter. It certainly generated lots of hits. I've followed the story here from the beginning and it's not pretty. There is a bias leaning from the get go. It may have moderated over time, especially with pushback from well known and respected voices.

Personally, the whole conversation and experience pretty much sums up the emotion and frustration with being a minority voice in a school full of like minded, well educated, Seattle nice people. It's one reason why some have pulled our children out of SPS because what I saw happened to other children like mine, the fights we parents put up with, going through the proper channel, but getting no where, dealing with a school culture that loves gossip, stereotypes, and cliques, patting itself on the back for a fundraising job well done. Yet can't improve the educational disparity of the children who don't fit in the school's majority demographics because you know, who can fix poverty. After all, the school's already doing penny harvest, canned goods for food bank, and bought a goat for some poor family in Africa.

Lots of sympathetic, liberal sounding excuses, but really at the end of the day, the action that mattered didn't happen. Too much a burden and inconvenience, creating social awkward situation, and holding up the train. So yes, people sound like they understand and sympathize, but they don't want constant reminders. Brings the whole day down. Yeah, my children got the message. My family's lucky. We worked hard to get out of the way and not get run over.


Lynn said...


Could you share the changes you wanted to see at your school? It would be easier for me to understand if I had concrete examples to consider.

Anonymous said...


Thank you saying it all--clearly and powerfully.

The beauty of the Mann movement is that it is forcing inconvenienced people to be constantly reminded--at least for a little while.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

No, there is no SPS Special Education blog. But there is the Special Ed PTSA listserve with great exchange of info, that parents may ask to join by emailing:

Anonymous said...

I'll take a contrary view.

If activists about the education gap weren't discussed Mann issues, would they instead be focused on Lambert? whether or not TT Minor becomes a neighborhood school or not and where the World School (which absolutely serves people of color) finds a home? Beacon Hill as a whole and the crazy disruptions there? Dearborn Park, cutting families of color out of their neighborhood school y making it an option language immersion?? the Maple neighborhood where Julie Van Arcken points out she was the only person to submit a comment, not one of the majority of her school, people of color, were aware or able to do so during the first round of comments (not of course b/c they didn't actually care).

Maybe those activists and all the energy and conversation about Mann would have coalesced into action on the other topics, and would have actually achieved something that would help many students of color.

There's a heck of a lot of people of color outside of the CD - and not involved with Mann - but those few seem to be dominating a conversation.

Are the Mann AIC groups doing a lot of advocating for others of color? I didn't really hear much of that Wednesday.

Signed: wondering

Anonymous said...

Said Lambert just above. Meant Kimball. Duh.

Signed Wondering

Anonymous said...

Said Lambert just above. Meant Kimball. Duh.

Signed Wondering

Lynn said...


It is my impression that the Africatown groups are solely focused on providing services to African-American children - not to other people of color, recent immigrants or English Language Learners. I did hear them say at the board meeting this week that they will not turn other children away.