Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Can't remember if I posted this before but here's a research page from the SPS Archives.  The first story is about Japanese-American clerks at SPS during WW II who resigned from their jobs.

Below that is a history of SPS levy/bonds that many of you may find useful.   The reporting drops off towards the end before BEX IV (and a listing of all the work done on the buildings in SPS would be great), but a good primer.

2019 - The Year Children of Color will be the Majority.  Lots of stats and info here from the Children's Defense Fund.

I found this page at Stand for Children where a $10 donation "can help send a parent to a school board meeting."  Is that for gas or to pay them to be there? 

Still no bids on the Federal Reserve Building.

What's on your mind?


Po3 said...

I think the two week suspension of Greenberg gives more insight into how Nyland will lead. A thoughtful, forward thinking super would have had put this issue behind us and the Center School. Instead his decision puts it back in the press, creating more distraction at the school and reminds the public once again that the complaint one white family has powerful consequences. Given the climate of this nation right now with how our black men are being treated by police it is tone deaf.


Lynn said...

The presentation for Wednesday's board work session on Process Improvement/LEAN has been posted. It's a follow-up to the October 29th work session (agenda and presentation here and minutes here.)

There was a focus in October on the poor scores central office services get from families and principals. From the minutes it sounds like Charles Wright wanted to blame that on funding cuts - and directors were having none of that. They noted that the dysfunction existed before the recent budget cuts.

I think the information on the presentation is promising. If every department went through the process in the example provided we could see some real improvements.

Anonymous said...

"Harrison" Middle School? Should read "Hamilton" Middle School. It's a pretty one sided article about what is a personnel matter. No one will ever know the details unless Greenberg himself releases them. When is one complaint enough and when is it not? Is that for us to decide? We don't know what the issue actually is.


Anonymous said...

reminds the public once again that the complaint one white family has powerful consequences

Pure racism, oh wait its ok your white bashing.

please stop

Anonymous said...

A teacher friend of mine said thousands of petitions by teachers were being delivered to SPS to reinstate Jon Greenberg at the Center School. They are asking for support, instead of punishment, for an excellent teacher.

The Center School and its staff should be nurtured by this administration. Instead, the leaders show how petty, intolerant and nasty they can be.

If SPS does not support its schools, then charters will come and take its students away. I am not supportive of charters, but these dumb decisions give me pause.

S parent

Greenwoody said...

What's on my mind is the need to elect (not appoint) new members of the school board this year. Peaslee, McLaren, Carr, and Martin-Morris are all up for re-election. All of them hold public opinion in contempt and have stood idly by as district central staff run the schools into the ground.

We need candidates to step up and run. Winning isn't the hard part - being willing to put in the time is really the main challenge.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like 'whatever' and 'please stop' would benefit from taking Jon Greenberg's class themselves.


Jamie said...

HP - exactly.

I do think it's problematic that the complaint of one white student feeling uncomfortable transfers a teacher and eliminates a program when 100s of students of all colors came out in support of it. Call me white bashing I don't really care.

Po3 said...

My point wasn't to rehash the Greenberg case, but to point out that Nyland made a conscience choice to suspend him, knowing that it would create another press cycle and disruption at the school.

His choice tells me that he still isn't paying attention or he is trying to send a message. Either one is not encouraging to me.

Greenwoody said...

Joel Connelly had a brilliant takedown of SPS board and central staff over the Greenberg case: http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2015/01/12/seattle-schools-slap-reinstated-teach-with-two-week-suspension/#12899101=0

"Students, parents, alumni and faculty from Center School showed up at Seattle School Board: They were praised for speaking out, patronized and stonewalled."

Praised, patronized, stonewalled. That is the board and central staff's basic MO for dealing with parents, teachers, and the public.

Anonymous said...

Any news or progress on later bell times for secondary students?


Krom said...

This was my letter to Nyland and the board:

I am appalled by the continued punishment of Jon Greenberg, the excellent teacher of The Center School. What message are you sending?

• Teachers should be very afraid of any complaint from an affluent family since it could derail their careers.

• Parents should not expect great teachers to stick around. Even if they have hear wonderful praise of a program that has been in place for years, SPS will find a way to ruin it.

• Current students get a substitute instead of the teacher they admire, since it helps soothe the ego of someone in the administration who lost at mediation.

The Center School is a small school that deserves to be nurtured instead of punished. Jon was an iconic teacher who inspired our oldest son to go into education as a profession.

This is a petty and unnecessary decision that achieves nothing but bad PR for the district.

It reflects badly on the beginning of your term as superintendent.

Georgi Krom, parent of graduates from the Center School and Ballard H.S.

Anonymous said...

It's all conjecture without the facts. It's now been established that a teacher can't be involuntarily transferred as a means of discipline, but a teacher can be suspended. We don't know what specific actions justified a suspension, as it's a personnel matter. Even good teachers can make mistakes.

For all the complaints about the District not following rules and procedures, and then asking why they are following procedure, well, which way do you want it? If parents want to write letters of support for a teacher they value - great - but without more facts you don't know whether or not the punishment is unduly punitive.


Anonymous said...

whatever have you been paying attention from the beginning of this mess?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Nyland made a conscience choice to suspend him, knowing that it would create another press cycle and disruption at the school.

And you have to wonder why?

Given what has gone before and the huge outcry, what could Greenberg have done to merit this?

"An arbitrator ruled for Greenberg, saying that Seattle Schools could not use transfer as a disciplinary weapon — but that the district could suspend Greenberg for two weeks."

That's what Connelly said in the PI. Interesting how the district seemingly DID find something to suspend Greenberg for.

Or maybe you wanted to send a clear message to teachers - before the new CBA?

Again, ONE family has this power to throw an entire system into such a uproar? Given how many other parents - both singly and in groups - cannot get traction, that's one powerful family.

Po3 said...

And if you asked Nyland why, I am afraid he would just shrug.

Anonymous said...

Greenberg is free to speak


Melissa Westbrook said...

Kim, c'mon, Greenberg cannot openly speak (just as the district can't). If he's in this kind of trouble for NOT saying anything publicly, I can only imagine what would happen if he did speak out.

As SWK said elsewhere, there are two sides to every story but the district's public side does not come off well (especially with contract talks coming).

cmj said...


Thanks for posting the presentation on process improvement.

I was looking at the example -- the school enrollment process -- that they used. It looks like there was a lot of great work done. For example: Mapped and redesigned the end to end process: Reduced 69% of process steps (from 84 to 26).

Under the Results section, there's a note about Increased funding by $560,000. I'm assuming that they were able to cut costs by improving the process, rather than improving the process by increasing funding, but the language is a little ambiguous.

Anonymous said...

I think you're wrong about Greenberg.

He can say anything he wants unless it's libelous; he has 1st Amendment rights like anyone.He can be punished only for his work, which was judged to be performed in violation of his terms of employment.

The arbitration did not find error in the district's assessment of Greenbergs job's performance or the district's decision to punish him, only the breach in the labor agreement regarding the form of punishment, i.e. the transfer to Hamilton. (what makes Hamilton a punishment anyways?)

There is nothing in the contract or in the law against discussing one's own disciplinary record with the district.


Lynn said...


It's possible they actually increased revenue. There's $5.9 million in tuition revenue in the budget this year. I think I recall there was some outrage a few years ago when news got out that many pay-for-k parents weren't actually paying.

Anonymous said...

TWO new downtown administration jobs posted ... both come with salaries over $100k.


N by NW

Anonymous said...

Just got an early dismissal call/reminder for March 26th...do you think they meant it to be for today?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

A follow up message apologized for the error and stated today, January 21, is an early release day....

Anonymous said...

Oops. And then double oops. They just sent out a correction to the correction.

Patrick said...

All these emails are for people who don't read the district's calendar sent out at the beginning of the year, or the monthly emails, or get the robocall each week.

Anonymous said...

An interesting viewpoint on diversity in academia from a group of social scientists:


Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

@Seattle Parent, What is your point regarding the issues of Seattle Public Schools and the relative dearth of libertarian/politically right-leaning professors in social psychology?


Anonymous said...

I'm interested into looking at capacity issues specific to my neighborhood (Ballard) and don't know where to start. Any suggestions?

Looks like the district capacity page hasn't been updated since 9/2013. Is that correct? Anything else on seattleschools.org I should be looking at?

Thanks! Laura M

Josh Hayes said...

It's probably because I'm a "hard" scientist (biology), but I am trying to understand how ideology has any impact at all on research in academic science. Science is about understanding the real-world nature of the world around us, and the universe doesn't give a damn whether I'm conservative, liberal, or a member of the Very Silly Party: it is what it is.

To be sure, research in the social sciences often has an underlying structural bias. But this particular issue seems to me to have nothing to do with elementary and secondary education: the curricula are so restrictive that there isn't really room to argue persuasively for any particular ideological perspective (unless you regard evolution as an ideological perspective, in which case, we have nothing to say to one another: see my remarks about the universe above).

So I guess my question is, what does this have to do with Seattle schools?

Anonymous said...

@ Josh, I had to chuckle at your statement that "the curricula are so restrictive that there isn't really room to argue persuasively for any particular ideological perspective."

I've been trying for several years now to get information from SPS Teaching & Learning folks, Advanced Learning folks, our principal, and teachers re: WHAT exactly the APP/HCC middle school LA/SS curriculum is all about, but apparently I've been asking the wrong people. If you can outline it for us, I know there are a whole lot of APP parents (and probably teachers, too) who'd be happy to have it!

Also, I have to disagree with that statement overall. My child's middle school LA/SS class last year spent a whole lot of time being lectured to on race and gender issues--not b/c that was the curriculum, but b/c it reflected the teacher's personal interest and/or expertise. They spent very little time on US History, which was supposed to be the topic. Curricula, to the extent they even exist in SPS, are only considered "guidelines."


Anonymous said...

Josh, I am surprised that you are so naive about what happens when a teacher closes his/her door. While there may be state-mandated academic standards (e.g., Common Core) and district-prescribed textbooks, there is virtually no limit to a teacher's ability to promote his/her ideology to the students. And here in Seattle, generally speaking, a liberal/progressive ideology is very rarely questioned.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Re: liberal bias in education, I don't think anyone could really argue that. I don't believe people are very concerned about it here in SPS however, as that ideology matches the majority of the student population.

Our son is in AP Government this year and he recently made the observation that he believes there are several kids who have never even met a Republican face-to-face. That made me laugh out loud...

I don't think its a good thing to never be exposed to anyone who disagrees with you. Discourse breeds (or should breed) good conversation and expose areas of agreement as well as "agree to disagree".

That obviously doesn't happen in our current government due to the far-right/far-left wing of each party but I think it is definitely the ideal.

We recently went on a college visit to the Claremont Colleges in California. One of the students noted that Claremont is one of the few colleges (based on admission data) that has a roughly 50/50 split Liberal/Conservative. He mentioned that this diversity in Ideology results in very candid and intellectually stimulating discussions in class since you are hearing both sides of an issue.

I certainly don't want our student indoctrinated into any one point of view - I believe that the idea behind teaching is to teach critical thought and allow the students to access both sides and make a decision based on their personal understanding and beliefs.

Its not a perfect world, however.

-GHS Parent

Josh Hayes said...

I see your points, above, though I stand by my suggestion that science classes are essentially ideology-free for any reasonable definition of "ideology" (that is, if you are a climate-change denialist, and regard teaching the reality of climate change as "ideological", then we'd disagree about that).

That said, I'm sure there are opportunities for slant in LA classrooms and the like. What would you suggest to ameliorate this? Should schools be sure to hire a conservative for every liberal? A libertarian? A Commie? That'd make for interesting job interviews: "Mr. Hayes, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" "Um...no." "Damn! We needed one of those!"

Anonymous said...

I don't believe people are very concerned about it here in SPS however, as that ideology matches the majority of the student population.

There are people concerned about it, but they seem to be in the minority, so they either bite their tongue or fight in vain with the district - except, perhaps in the case of that "one complaint." It's still public school and teachers have an obligation to present a variety of viewpoints and allow for voices of dissent.

Read some conservative commentary on the changes to APUSH and you will hear some of the same issues. The comment at the end could have just as easily been written by a parent in Seattle.


I think the best teacher is one that leaves you guessing about their political ideology, because class is not about them.

Aghast said...

Why do I think there is a high ranking individual trying to create the impression of chaos instead of doing his/her job?

Enough said...

There is a new document that identifies issues with in the district that need fixing.

So, why is one of the top three initiatives on the Strategic Plan:

•Commit to early learning as the foundation for future academic success


Early learning is not part of the K-12 system.

WTH? said...

This information was taken from the above link. Who is the Hillyer group?

•Are new alternatives available and/or preferred by families?
•Product development activities – is the district a leader or follower in product innovation?
•Are alternate venues gaining share?
•Demographics – is the organization measuring change?

WTH? said...

"•Participating or distant – is the civic and business community supporting management or removed from the daily operations?"

cmj said...

Thanks, Lynn, that makes more sense.

On Greenberg: I haven't been following that case much, but I find it hard to believe that JSCEE disciplined a teacher just because a student -- even a white student -- complained about being uncomfortable in class. I think there's something more going on here.

SPS is not known for bending over backwards when parents complain. Yes, you'll get more traction and better treatment if you're white and/or wealthy, but you'll still get ignored and brushed off. Consider the fuss over Interagency: some white and wealthy parents complained (I believe some may have threatened to sue) -- and the district made it very clear that they were still going to put the school there. It was fortunate that public sentiment turned in favor of the Interagency school -- but I do not doubt that SPS would have put the school there even if the neighborhood unilaterally opposed it.

I'm not sure what happened with the Greenberg situation -- but I have difficulty believing that Greenberg was punished just because a student was uncomfortable. Unless that student was from an incredibly wealthy (think Bill Gates wealthy, not average Magnolia wealthy) or well-connected family. If that were the case, I'd expect the student to be at a private school, not going to public school.

Maybe the school's principal hated Greenberg and wanted to get rid of him -- and then JSCEE upheld that decision, even after the public outcry, to avoid making the principal look weak. Maybe Greenberg annoyed some people at JSCEE. I don't know what happened, but I don't believe that this was just a matter of one white student being offended during an elective class.

Anonymous said...

I like the observation by GHS Parent's son, that some high school students think that they have never met a Republican. That is the assumption of many in Seattle, and there are many actions and attitudes within SPS that assume no one worth listening to could be politically or socially conservative. This can be quite hurtful to students whose parents' views are different from the teachers or administration.

For example, in my daughter's elementary, the music teacher was passionate about the peace movement, during the beginning of the Iraq war. She was so passionate about it, refusing to allow that U.S. soldiers could be serving our country honorably, that it was a painful situation for young children whose parents, relatives or friends were in the military. That's not right to not allow students, especially elementary students, to have a different viewpoint/belief than the teacher. Thankfully, the principal let her go.

For another example, frequently the MLK Day assemblies skip over Martin Luther King's life and accomplishments to spend most of their time on presentations by the GSA (Gay Student Alliance). Much of what is asserted by GSA speakers would be controversial in a politically diverse crowd, but their speeches assume that any caring person would agree with them wholeheartedly. It's not right to push one viewpoint as the only non-bigoted one and MLK assemblies should teach students what Martin Luther King Jr. actually stood for.


Lynn said...

It's the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Anonymous said...

Not sweating over Greenberg's "liberal" POV. He's a good lightning rod to hide this " liberal" city ever growing disparity. It's getting whiter and richer and less welcoming of its poorer and middle class citizens. Can check out this trend with OSPI SPS data along with Kent, Renton, and Highline SDs. Linda Shaw wrote an article describing the changes in a 2008 ST article.


The trend is being noted in mainstream media.



And don't underestimate parent groups. It was a QA/Magnolia parent group that brought an end to SPS racial tie breaker after all. Remember this SSS:

The QA protest over Interagency is a good example of the paradox which reflects the tension within this city. So don't sweat Greenberg's influence and his courageous conversations with his students. He's a dinosaur of past epoch. Liberal or conservative POV doesn't seem to matter much when it comes to color of money and upward mobility.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Aghast, well that's one tactic. Make things look so bad/chaotic that "someone" has to do "something."

As for that reorg of the Strategic Plan,more to come but BEWARE - senior staff think they can reorg w/o Board approval (ie say "this is what we decided needed to be done").

Aghast said...

"Aghast, well that's one tactic. Make things look so bad/chaotic that "someone" has to do "something." "

Yes, Melissa, I agree. Did I mention that the report was put together by Charles Wright??

Frankly, IMO, it looks like a guy that can't get the job done, but certainly, one must consider an alternative motive.

Ahast said...

Lastly, Charles Wright's salary is $200K per year plus $25K benefit package. Add Nyland to the mix and these two individuals cost the system HALF a MILLION dollars per year and they should have answers and get the job done.