Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

Fun at Teacher Appreciation Day at Arbor Heights Elementary.   

I happened to be checking what schools require uniforms (I believe there are only 3-4 elementaries).  K-5 STEM is one of them.  From their webpage, the school certainly has quite a different feel to it.  For example, they have four sections to their Uniforms page and the FAQ is really long and fairly strict.  I can only say that you would have a problem getting most kids on the autism spectrum to abide by these rules (they say they make a case-by-case exception for kids with special needs). 

Also, to put on your calendar, there will be a showing of the film, "Standardized; Lies, Money and Civil Rights, How Testing is Ruining Public Education" on Wednesday, May 14th at 6:30 p.m. at the NW Film Forum.  The movie is free and sponsored by Seattle Education and Parents Across America, Seattle.

The push is on for the NCLB waiver.  I always smile because you can tell when the ed powers that be in Seattle decide it's time for a topic.  First, there was a push at Crosscut where we are told the most important thing to do for Washington State public education, right now, is to get that waiver back.  Then, the Times had an op-ed that said that Hispanic parents would be confused if their children's schools were labelled failing.  I would venture that that would depend on what their school and district tell them the reason for that label is.

The fate of over 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped from a boarding school by terrorists is unclear.    All these girls and their parents wanted was for them to be educated.  The terrorists who have them say they will sell them.  I urge you to write to your US congressperson or senator and ask them to support efforts to find and free these girls.  If you use Twitter, please use the hashtag: #BringBackOurGirls. 

What's on your mind?


Northender said...

The situation in Nigeria is tragic.

Great discussion in the comment section of the Times article on the SEA race for President. Wednesday is the last day for members to vote. We keep getting updates on how many members in each school has voted, and it's running at about 40%. I really hope our next SEA president is chosen by a true majority.

Anonymous said...

Guns and bullying are on my mind…..

An estimated 200,000 victims of bullying bring weapons, including guns, to school over the course of a month, according to the authors' analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control's 2011 Youth Risk Surveillance System Survey. That's a substantial portion of the estimated 750,000 high school students who bring weapons to school every month.

Department of Health and Human Services's Stopbullying.gov website reports that the perpetrators of 12 of 15 school shootings in the 1990s had a history of being bullied.

At the CDC website the data for Seattle shows that in 2011, 11.1% of male high school students had taken a weapon to school in the preceding 30 days (sample size of 951).

We need to address bullying AND the widespread availability of firearms in our communities. Yes, the NRA-gun worshippers will say kids can take other weapons such as knives to school, but the results of a rampaging student with a knife are far less devastating than one one armed with a gun, This was clearly shown in a recent high school incident where 19 people were INJURED by a student with a knife; most didn't even require hospitalization -now picture the result if he had an automatic weapon.

What do you all make of states such a Georgia who, in spite of overwhelming evidence that shows greater access to guns = more gun deaths and injuries from homicide, suicide, accident, are relaxing their gun laws? In Georgia, guns will be Ok in schools (and churches, bars, rec centers - but funnily enough, not in the State Capitol building! Its gonna be like the wild west out there.

Food for thought

Anonymous said...

I have 3 education items I'd like to bring to blog readers' attention. This is the most important to me:

re: the horrific Nigerian school girl kidnapping...please note the self-confirmed perpetrators are from a group named Boko Haram.

The loose translation of Boko Haram?: WESTERN EDUCATION IS EVIL.

Sometimes I think all of us (myself included) forget to "look up"...to acknowledge that US Public Education, for all its flaws, is such an underpinning of our Democracy that obscure militias on the other side of the world lash out at its potential to change the lives of students, and by extension, the trajectory of whole countries and continents.

The action of Boko Haram is a reflection of its fear that Western Education could change the viewpoint and actions of Nigerian children and eventually the course of Nigeria itself.

Damn right it could.


Anonymous said...

Item Two: The Seattle Times now opines that the WA State Supreme Court should stop putting pressure this year on the state Legislature to move forward with the funding mandated by McCleary....that lawmakers have said they'll "get to it" and that next year, with a longer legislative session is a better time to do so. It says the Legislature has done a good job getting started on the funding issues.

I rarely do this, but I call Bull**** pure and simple. The legislature has shown over and over and over that it will solve the funding problem when forced to do so by the court...and not a moment before.

Want to comment on the editorial? Go here.

Anonymous said...

Item three, for those who have followed the crackup of the InBloom database project. I came across this paragraph in NonProfit Quarterly and had to share, because it so perfectly captured my thoughts. Any blog readers know someone at Gates? Pass this paragraph along. The organization really really really needs some self-reflection on the InBloom debacle.

...finding experienced grantmakers like Gates and Carnegie misreading the interests and desires of the parents and educators who were purportedly the intended beneficiaries is surprising, if not shocking. It’s an unfortunate reflection of the top-down approach of some foundations, issuing prescriptions for the benefit of the public even if that public doesn’t buy in. The inability of many funders to see how counterproductive and unpopular their technocratic solutions are with their intended beneficiaries is a disappointingly pervasive trend in much of big philanthropy..."—Ruth McCambridge

Anonymous said...

(Previous 2 posts by EdVoter...sorry...)

Anonymous said...

At Thurgood Marshall tonight, May 6, APP AC meeting at 6:30pm. All welcomed!


mirmac1 said...

As a former BMGF Ed expert, Dept Supt Charles Wright knows someone at Gates. Sara Morris is buddies with Jane Broom at Gates. Actually, seems like ya can't spit without hitting one around here.

Anonymous said...

Very curious to learn who the SEA will choose for its next leader. Voting ends this week but will results be released immediately?

I went and read the Seattle Times story about the race. Thought it was OK. There are pros and cons to both candidates and the choice could be a lot worse.

I do agree that Sue Peters should not have stepped into the race even as a private individual. It looks bad. But didn't think it's a big deal that other politicians or that Melissa issued an opinion. Fascinated that other labor organizations didn't like outside opinions. Myopic viewpoint.

Central Parent

Eric B said...

I thought the ST article on the SEA leadership elections was fascinating. They did their absolute best to make Knapp look like the outsider versus Hagopian who has the political establishment behind him. I'm not sure when Melissa got to be the political establishment, but there you go. Peters probably shouldn't have made an endorsement, if for no other reason than that it looks bad and is being used against Hagopian. That said, I appreciate her willingness to come here and tell us what she thinks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, very droll "Melissa got to be the political establishment." Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Any news on Senior projects being kept or not for next year? My current district sent a survey out asking for feedback (keep it, change it, lose it), curious if Seattle is doing the same. Most of my students were eager to have it dropped…

Glad I left

Anonymous said...

Well well well. This is interesting. Much angst over on the APP blog about a teacher THIS blog championed (and with good reason) last year, Jon Grenberg, late of the Center School. Apparently parents and students are not all thrilled to have to examine race and gender issues and the claim is that unless you agree with this teacher you don't do so well in the class.

Sounds similar to the one family's complaint that got Greenberg moved from the Center School. I can't help but wonder if it's that Greenberg is the problem or his target audience, largely affluent white families.

Nelly Bly

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like they mind examining race and gender. It sounds like they mind the lack of curriculum, especially aligned curriculum, and the possibility that this has anything to do with the weakening of the Garfield history pathway, which they ARE riled up about. I don't think we know what is going on over there. Sure, could be spoiled kids whining. Could be not a great fit, especially if the teacher is bitter about the move. Schools are different; not every great teacher is a great fit for every school.

Could be just two unhappy kids, and everybody else is having a great year.


Anonymous said...

Just read <a href="slog.thestranger.com>The Stranger's blog</a> and it has a longish posting on the SEA race. Very pro-Hagopian, as one might expect of Slog.

North of 85th

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, I screwed up my html. Trying again. Slog

North of 85th

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why next week's Wilson-Pacific community meeting is being held AFTER the School Board vote on the Ed specs scheduled for today's board meeting???

- curious

Anonymous said...

re: SEA election. No endorsements for Knapp. But Chris Eide is quoted and spoke highly of him. Hmmmmm.

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

Sue Peters absolutely should not have publicly endorsed Jesse Hagopian. It is not enough to claim that her endorsement was an act of a private citizen. She cannot recuse herself from her duties and responsibilities as a school director by claiming her position as a private citizen when her action is directly related to her duties and responsibilities as a school director.

This appears to me to be a violation of her signed Code of Conduct and a violation of Board Policy No. 5251, Ethics. While there may not be a conflict of interest (although I think a strong case could be made), there is certainly an "appearance of impropriety."

While I don't believe a recall is in order, I do believe the board president should consider censure proceedings. This is serious business. I believe Sue Peters demonstrated a significant lack of sound judgment in endorsing Mr. Hagopian.

--- swk

Robyn said...


Please write to the Board and ask them to delay tonight's vote for that exact reason! Of course, we all know that the meeting next week will just be a brainwashing session to convince us there was TONS of community engagement on WilPac and EVERYONE loved EVERYTHING they heard. And, they will present really old numbers (that I think must not have included APP kids, but no one at SPS will answer) to show us how crazy we are to be concerned about lack of capacity.

They've yet to mention even once that stakeholders hadn't been identified until after all but ONE of the 'community meetings'.

It's crazy to me that the Board members aren't representing or listening to the people who voted them into office or the taxpayers funding these projects. They seem so beholden to SPS staff that they (for the most part) border on rude and dismissive to us, the taxpayers and constituents.

Please, don't tell me to vote them out as punishment. It will be too late. $112 Million of OUR money will be wasted on this project so Mahlum, the architect, can win an award and SPS can say, look at our cute little "greenish" buildings.

Yes, I am ANGRY about this!

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, where were you when Michael deBell was violating the ethnics? His was far worse. I'm thinking Sue might need to be reminded of how this may confuse people but censure?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I was right there with you on DeBell and MGJ. He should have been recalled. But isn't that irrelevant?

The only relevant questions here are (1) whether or not Sue Peters violated her ethics and code of conduct as an elected school director and (2) whether or not such a violation, if indeed it occurred, is egregious. Whether Sue Peters' ethics violations were more or less severe than Michael DeBell's is not a relevant question.

Furthermore, how the board handled or did not handle previous ethics violations is also irrelevant. To that end, this should be a motion before the board.

--- swk

SeaTeach said...

"Nelly Bly,"

I don't know where you're getting your information.

I know students and their families in Mr. Greenberg's class and they LOVE him. He is a capable, skilled teacher who is challenging them and expecting them to do rigorous work.

Before you start nasty rumors about an excellent teacher who has paid a high price for respecting the intellectual and civic abilities of his students, get your "facts" straight.

I would leap tall buildings to have my child in Mr. Greenberg's class, I would love to teach with him, and I've heard nothing to the contrary from parents whose children are lucky enough to be with him this year, or from his colleagues, who feel like they got lucky.

RPM said...

Stephan Blanford's comments about north-end parents not wanting diversity in their schools is in clear violation of the Code of Conduct. His lack of knowledge about issues he is voting on is in clear violation.

Anonymous said...

SeaTeach, that's wonderful to hear. I supported Mr. Greenberg and I am glad he has landed someplace where he is appreciated. *I* am not starting any nasty rumors, but on the APP blog (which I stated above), several parents are complaining about the subject matter and are saying that if you do not agree with him that you do not do well in class. Perhaps they are in the minority (I hope so!). But there IS some dissension with the topic and not just lack of traditional 8th grade history curriculum, as others are concerned about.


mirmac1 said...

swk, "appearance of impropriety" ain't worth diddly-squat in this district. The threshold is whether the staff/official stood to benefit financially from an action. How the heck would Sue Peters benefit financially from endorsing Hagopian? By the same token, no mayor would endorse a candidate for state office because a city may benefit from legislation or budget decisions.

Anonymous said...

mirmac, the threshold is not solely financial. Sue Peters will be voting on the next CBA and, possibly, with Jesse across the table from her. Sue is one of our elected representatives and she is to serve our interests, not the union's.

Sue knew there was an appearance of impropriety if not conflict of interest in this endorsement because she went out of her way tell John Higgins in the ST that she endorsed Jesse as an "individual" and not as a school board member. Furthermore, on her endorsement on the SEE website, she does note that she is a school board member, but does so "for identification purposes only." I conclude that she is well-aware of the appearance of impropriety and made an effort to draw a line between her role as a school board member and her role as Jesse's friend. I'm suggesting that that line cannot be drawn when it creates a conflict with her elected and sworn duties as a school director.

--- swk

SeaTeach said...

Nelly I just checked out the APP blog and you're right, it's full of angst, but I saw one, maybe two comments about the curriculum at Hamilton and how it wasn't aligned to Washington or, possibly, to Garfield. With the exception of one parent who seemed to have some (valid, but not true) concerns about a teacher being bitter after a forced move, I didn't see any dissatisfaction with Mr. Greenberg. On the contrary, one parent wrote this:

"Anonymous said...
My student took Greenberg Race and gender class. Best class SPS offered...sorely needed in all schools.

Your students are being given an amazing opportunity to learn some authentic US history. And parents want to align with the dry textbook curriculum so their are ready for an AP class.

Consider that Greenberg is driving his point over and over because these students need to have the point repeated.

Oh and my student also took and passed the AP English Comp exam at the end of Race and Gender class...go figure."

Is it possible students can have access to curriculum that's MORE rigorous and interesting than what's offered at Washington? Shocking.

Now that I've seen the strand you refer to I repeat that you are trying to start a rumor, a malicious one, and I don't see what anyone can possibly gain by your doing so. "Well, well, well. This is interesting."

No. It's stupid, is what it is, and not worth repeating. You sound like you're sharpening your chops in anticipation of a feast. Just stop.

mirmac1 said...

Having read enough $expensive$ ethics reports prepared by outside counsel and the Seattle Office of Ethics and Elections, I can predict that the conclusion will be "Peters did not have a fiduciary interest in X" so no prob.

If anyone suspects an ulterior motive for Peters to gain a seat on the school, I'd say they need to get off the pipe.

mirmac1 said...

And that is why I would never read the APP blog, SeaTeach.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, Sue will NOT be sitting across the table from anyone during SEA negotiations. The Board does none of that. Ever.

They only listen to staff explain why the CBA has been successfully negotiated and approve/disapprove. (Interesting, Knapp tried to make it sound like the Board is his boss and yet, he, too, was wrong.)

"Melissa, I was right there with you on DeBell and MGJ."

I'm not sure what that means. On the same page or seated with me? Because while you are certainly knowledgeable, I feel there is something of a cat and mouse game you are playing and frankly, I don't appreciate it.

Josh Hayes said...

By the way, I've been thinking that the blog has been a little broken for some time -- I've been able to read only the first item or two and then it just stops. Idly, I tried Firefox instead of my reflexive use of IE, and presto, it's working fine.

So, if you're having trouble reading the blog, for the time being you should try a different browser. I don't know what's disagreeing with what, but that there IS a disagreement seems unavoidable. Cheers, all!

Anonymous said...

Shelter in place at Eckstein today. Principal sent this message:

"At approximately 9:30, Eckstein went into Shelter-in-Place. All students and staff were safe. Police reported that there was an Eckstein student in the neighborhood who might be armed. Police apprehended the student at approximately 9:50 and we returned to business as usual. The student is in custody at this time. I would like to thank your student, the staff and SPD for their quick response in ensuring student safety.

Your student's safety is our top priority. If your student texts you that we are in an emergency situation, please do not call the school as we need our communication lines open. I promise you that I will communicate the situation as promptly as possible. Thank you for all you do to support Eckstein staff and students."

Have since heard grandmother called 911 this morning that her gun was stolen and police found a gun in the bushes near the student when he was apprehended, just a few blocks from the school.

Wow. Amazing how everyone - the grandmother, the police, the Eckstein staff - all did exactly the right thing to prevent what might have been a tragedy.

Very Grateful

Robyn said...

Josh, It's not working for me in IE, either, but it is in Firefox.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I meant on the same page with you. I did not intend to act deceptively, in this or any other previous exchange. I believe I conduct myself in a straightforward manner as I comment here.

Is it possible that the colloquialism "I was right there with you" isn't readily understood around here to mean "I was totally in agreement with you." Regardless, I apologize if you think I'm playing games. I am not.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Josh. I know other readers have had similar problems.

Eckstein, very serious but thank goodness for the alert actions of all.

Po3 said...

I also cringed at the "well well well" start to the Greenberg comment and then was amused by the back pedaling later on.

Personally I would give my eye teeth for any of my students to have Greenberg, I think he is a gifted teacher and his work is on race is amazing.

On that same note, does anybody know what happened to his appeal to the district to have the transfer reversed?

Any updates?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of colloquialisms, "get off the pipe" is an excellent one.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

Once again, the Seattle Times takes a dig at the Beach and completely fails to credit the hard work PARENTS did to improve the school, DESPITE SPS' neglect. Of course the "Education Lab" reporter trots out the latest fad among reformers, IB.

Warts-and-all: merging an elite program with a high-needs school

Anonymous said...

Those referring to the HIMS 8th grade APP discussion, I have a child in the other block and the frustration is not with Mr. Greenberg's teaching, but the way he is approaching the issue with students. From what my student and others have said, the one-sided view is being pushed just a little bit too hard. As a teacher, he has been great, but not provided with any curriculum, what is supposed to happen? APP is not an option for most of the students enrolled and treating a class in it like an option school is an issue. Please stop saying anyone is trying to ruffle any feathers, but the lack of a curriculum has in part been responsible for the amount of teacher-specific deviation that has occurred across Hamilton this year.


Anonymous said...

Mirmac1: Isn't it "no pecuniary (financial) interest," rather than fiduciary, which is her legal duty? And I don't think IB is your typical Ed Reformer's idea (sans merit pay, standardized testing, test-score dependent employment, etc.), although it's become a bit fad-ish of late, as we become an ever more "branded" society. And when has the Times ever given due credit? It's always some favorite stuffed shirt they make into a hero, isn't it? Remember Joni Balter lecturing MW on KUOW about how MGJ must be doing something right because enrollment was increasing? And that's as scientific as the Times gets. You don't expect them not to judge from afar, do you?

And to all, if Board Members can endorse board candidates, why can't a board member endorse a union candidate? Maybe they should steer clear of endorsements just to keep appearances clean, but as odd as it may seem to some, I'm having trouble seeing the conflict of interest here. Because it's rallying people to her cause? That's what pols do all day long. What's more, I'm personally interested in what Board Members think about SEA candidates. It's a valid interest to know whether someone is considered favorable or unfavorable to the powers that be, as they'll be working together and some might think it good that people may share interests or go in one direction or the other. Without consulting the rules, I won't opine on transgressions, but on it's face, I kind of like and want to know what the Board thinks of leaders in our schools. Call me crazy, but isn't that worth knowing?


mirmac1 said...

Yep WSDWG. Brain fart.

As to the backhanded compliment to RBHS, the Times and Ed Reform groups have done this of late. It's almost like they want to claim credit for the hard work the PTSA did, like "see Ed Reform can help even the worst school!"

Melissa Westbrook said...

But her visit was not a chance for pro-Beach puffery.

That was a line from the Times' piece on RBHS.

As I said in my comment, explaining how the school has moved the needle and giving credit to the principal and staff and parents is NOT puffery.

But the Times doesn't know how to give an honest compliment nor give credit where it is due.

It's a doggone shame.

Good thing RBHS doesn't need the Times' stamp of approval to keep on doing their good/hard work.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the HIMS issue, there are two teachers that are consistent in their approach to the class. The handouts are headed with both of their names. They have aligned with each other, but not the program at WMS. They seem to be against the use of textbooks, which could explain the dearth of facts being learned, and do seem to be teaching the class with an infused agenda. They have textbooks in the classroom that are not being used. Additionally, neither the teachers nor the principal seem interested in aligning with APP at WMS.


Anonymous said...

Are you talking about the two teachers at HIMS in 8th grade? If yes, I would add one important fact to your really well written description: this is one teacher's second year and the other's first year teaching at HIMS 8th grade (APP) classroom.
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Yes. 8th grade APP LA/SS at HIMS.


Anonymous said...

observer and HIMS parent, can you expand on what you mean by an "infused agenda" and "one-sided teaching"?

It DOES sound like there is some dissatisfaction with Mr.Greenberg and perhaps another teacher that are somewhat concerning.


Charlie Mas said...

The disconnect between HIMS and WMS APP curricula echos the disconnect betwee the Lincoln and T Marshall APP curricula.

This is, of course, exactly what the District promised families would NOT happen when the program was split.

Not one promise made to sell the split was kept. Not one.

Anonymous said...

Our child is doing a book club as part of RWW and students are expected to purchase the book if it's not available at the library. It was not mentioned in the class syllabus. Is this a reasonable expectation, and what is the district's general policy?


Anonymous said...

With my fact I was referring to the 8th grade HIMS LA/SS teachers' experience teaching in APP classrooms.

Also, have you tried the required book in your district library if it is not available in your school? That happened with us a couple of times and then my student asked around in the neighborhood's libraries until she found it.

HIMS parent