Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Showdown Tonight (and Other Education News)

 Update:  The Superintendent has asked that the Mann Building item be pulled from the agenda.  I'm not sure if I'm glad or sad but I do know it's not good.  I suspect that the Mann building is NOT cleared so there may be some other news about this in the next couple of days.  Whether the Superintendent goes forward with these leases or not, he still needs to clear that building.  

End of Update

Between the Growth Boundaries Intro and the Mann building, it stands to be quite a night for a School Board meeting. There are 63 people signed up to speak (they will also 25). The majority are about the Mann building and I expect some pretty fiery rhetoric. (I plan to try to split my time - 1 minute whole minute on boundaries and one whole minute on Mann. I note that Charlie is also speaking and he's always entertaining.)  One tip: whether you speak or not, the Board likes to have your comments in front of them. 

The Times has finally gotten around to weighing in on this issue. They did have two recent editorials - one was by Lynne Varner and one she wrote on behalf of the entire editorial board. Hers was decidedly more nuanced but I think that was before she understood the gravity of the situation.

This morning, in an effort to cover all bases, the Times had another "opinion" about all the newest education news.

They mentioned the School Board races, saying that the Peters/Dale Estey race was too close to call. (This is amusing because the Maier/Peaslee race - which was even closer the night of that election - that one they called for Maier. No matter.)

They said that Dale Estey and Blanford have both worked inside schools without noting that Green and Peters have as well. Then, to my mind, instead of being gracious about all the people who did have the courage to step up to run, they decided to get in one last shot saying "Many people have opinions about education, few have devoted professional and personal time to improving it."
Then they get to the Board meeting tonight and get tough about Mann.

The project's contractor has had a crew standing by to start work on Horace Mann since Sept. 18th and estimates $100k in cost delays already.

School officials from the facilities and security departments along with outside contractors went to the Mann buidlingon Monday about 8 am and were surprised by six people who blocked them from moving through the building and threatened them physically. Are these the people Superintendent Jose Banda wants to enter into a partnership with?


At this point, talks about a district-Africatown partnership ought to be off until cooler heads prevail. If the group wants to get serious, get rid of the fringe element horning in on what could be a promising community partnership.

I know the district made another effort to secure the building again yesterday but I have no idea how that turned out but I can guess.

The Times also notes the loss of a near-$1B tax hike effort in Colorado that would ostensibly serve more poor schools with at-risk students. Sounds great but guess what? Outside interests like Bloomberg and Gates were in the mix and you know what that means. The issue was a whole lot more complex than just more money for public education. From the NY Times:

The vote was a major defeat for teachers’ unions and the state’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, a Democrat who campaigned heavily in support of the measure to provide $1 billion mostly for educational improvements. It was also a blow to charter-school advocates and a group of deep-pocketed philanthropists who had supported the effort as a rare opportunity to infuse new money into poor and struggling schools. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York contributed $1 million, as did Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation is a major contributor to education projects.

In other education news, Bill de Blasio won for Mayor of NYC and I expect something of a different tone on public education there. Chris Christie in New Jersey won again for governor. Not sure if you missed his patented hissy fit when a teacher, Melissa Tomlinson, approached him recently at a campaign event.

She asked him: “Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?” His reply: “Because they are!” He said: “I am tired of you people. What do you want?" They argued briefly before he told her "to do" her job and got on the bus.


You people.  Note his ever-smiling wife next to him.

Ms. Tomlinson's reply.

What do “we people’ want, Governor Christie? We want our schools back. We want to teach. We want to be allowed to help these children to grow, educationally, socially, and emotionally. We want to be respected as we do this, not bullied.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

A question about signing up to speak at board meetings. I've heard from a couple people who called precisely at the earliest call-in time, and they were told there was already a waiting list. Does the Board have a Ticketmaster-like system for taking lots of simultaneous calls and entering their data (hard to believe)? How do the speaking lists fill up so fast?

- Wondering

Lynn said...

Did you know Nova is celebrating Gender Fluidity Week?

It's Nova’s Celebration of gender identity, expression, and the freedom to be however you want to be!
Nov -4-8

Make-up and Mustache Monday: Have fun with your face! Mustaches, mascara, beards and blush.

Heroes and Villains Tuesday: The world is under attack by the gender binary! Heroes and villains must band together to fight stereotypes and be fabulous.

Gender Warp Wednesday: Mix and match gender coded clothing!

Thoroughly Colorful Thursday: rainbows, rainbows, rainbows.

Fierce Friday: Dress to feel powerful. Whether it is red lipstick or your favorite sweatshirt, come to school feeling strong

I am concerned about the LGBTQ students who attend Nova. It is such a safe, welcoming community for them. I do not know if the More4Mann organizers espouse the homophobic and discriminatory views of one of their recent invited speakers. I do know that they posted only positive comments about his visit and the advice he gave them, and that this anti-homosexual rhetoric is foundational in his criticism of public schools.

I want ALL of Nova's students to feel safe and valued at their school, during school hours, after school, on the weekends and in the summer. If you want this too, please contact the board.

Anonymous said...

It would be fabulous if someone who actually made it on the speakers list could cede time to a Pinehurst speaker. There are a couple Pinehurst speakers on the wait list.

Do action item topics get priority over introduction items? It looks that way.

- North-end Mom

Lynn said...

The Superintendent had requested that the Columbia and Mann lease agreements be removed from tonight's agenda.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wondering, I don't know. You might ask the Board office staff how it works.

Yes, Action items do get priority over Intro items (but Mann is Intro/Action so that is likely how those speakers got priority as well).

Thanks, Lynn, will update this post.

cpvmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

I would guess emails clocked at 8am may get in before calls (that can only be answered one at a time.) And remember that, if the topic is an action item, the speaker will get a slot before anyone addressing an intro item. Thus, despite my 8am email, I'm on the wait list.

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

FYI:
Good morning,

We are writing to let you know that the Superintendent has requested that the Columbia Annex and Mann Portable Lease Agreements Resolution item be removed from this evening's agenda. The Superintendent's request will be discussed and voted upon prior to Board action on the Consent Agenda, and public testimony.

While this request will not impact the order of public testimony speakers as posted yesterday, we wanted to bring this requested change to your attention. If this request affects your decision to speak this evening, please let us know as soon as possible.

Any known revisions to the testimony list will be posted with the final agenda by 3:30 pm this afternoon.

Thank you,

Theresa Hale
Board Office Manager
Seattle Public Schools

- North-end Mom

Corina said...

I would like to ask people to PLEASE email the school board today asking them to write an amendment to table additional sites for south-end APP until after the Advanced Learning Task Force has had a chance to do its work. When asked why the plan for south-end APP hadn't changed at all in the 3 proposals, a district official said that they "hadn't heard from people about south APP"! It is a relatively small program, and we need more voices to speak up or these changes will become policy simply through default.

Additional, "optional" south-end sites distract from the burning capacity crises, and will do more harm than good in terms of equity and cost. (The new sites would be tiny programs -- less 100 kids -- with no additional funding or support, for some of the kids in the district who need the most support, and would compromise the strength and cohort size of the whole south-end program. Since this proposal does nothing to solve the major capacity issues facing the district, it should be tabled until the AL Task Force has had time to establish a district-wide plan for advanced learning.)

Thank you!

Corina
mom of 2 south-end APP kids

PS Are there other simple amendments communities could propose that could dramatically improve the plan and that we could all pull for? I am thinking of Beacon Hill and north-end middle schools...

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The Superintendent's request will be discussed and voted upon prior to Board action on the Consent Agenda, and public testimony."

This is quite unusual in that I can't recall the Board ever discussing the Superintendent pulling an item AND then voting on it. I'm not even clear what the vote would be on - letting him withdraw it or what.

More drama.

Corina, I attended the Advanced Learning Taskforce meeting yesterday and I'll have a report. It was a great meeting but sadly, there seems to be no urgency to their work. I think it unlikely the Board would hit the "pause" button (even though they should).

Eric B said...

One possibility on pulling the motion while still voting on it is that the Board is going to tell the Superintendent to either sign the contract or to take action to evict the tenants for failing to follow agreements.

I would hope that if M4M and Nova move in together and anyone from M4M caused a problem based on anti-LGBT bias, M4M would be evicted in a hot minute. I know that's a lot of if's and hopes.

kellie said...

And an amazing side effect of this decision is that all of the folks who wanted to testify on the intro item of growth boundaries are after the folks who are testifying about an action item that is no longer an action item.

Anonymous said...

Anti-LGBT bias? Huh? I'm still getting used to the Farrakhan association on the other thread. Anything else? Before this ends, this group will be the most reviled group evah. Banda will be well smeared too.

fox watcher

Anonymous said...

Are there still people in the Mann building? If so, which group?


SMH