Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

 UPDATE:  If you’re the parent of a soon-to-be middle-schooler, mark your calendars for this Thursday, January 29th. McClure Middle School is hosting an Open House and Tour to help families learn more about Queen Anne’s neighborhood middle school. Incoming students can learn more about their new school and parents can learn more about what McClure offers its students.

Check out the flyer below for all the information you need to know:

http://mcclurems.seattleschools.org/

End of update

If you are a member of your PTA, you might consider weighing in on the issue of hybrid mayoral control of the school board to both your unit (if they are taking a stand) and to the SCPTSA

President – Katherine Schomer, president@scptsa.org

Legislative Chair – Eden Mack, legchair@scptsa.org

I think my stand is pretty clear; no.  It's not democratic, it questions voters abilities to make their own choice, there is no proof that the current mayor has any real credibility in this area and there is no solid proof that hybrid boards do any better.

I understand that there will be a hearing on the Pettigrew-sponsored bill at the Education Committee in the Legislature.  I have no problem with that because let's a have a full airing of the issues and allow committee members to see the flaw in this thinking.  Folks complained previously that some ed issues never made it to even a hearing - well, now's your chance but I would believe it will be a tough sell.

What's rather interesting is the lack of interest from other media like the Times and Crosscut who very much lean to this kind of ed reform.  You have to wonder, "Why so silent?"

In other ed reform news, the state Democratic Party committee has voted to REJECT Common Core.  This from my colleague, Anthony Cody's blog, Living in Dialogue.  

The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.

In other local ed reform news, a lengthy story from the Tacoma Tribune over the rising tide of parents opting-out of testing.  It features many parent activists I have worked with like Sandi Strong.

These standardized tests are among the more than two dozen — both state- and district-mandated — that Tacoma Public Schools will administer at various grade levels this year.

Tacoma Superintendent Carla Santorno is paying attention to the growing discontent, and she understands the limits of standardized tests.

And she worries about what will happen if too many high-performing students opt out.
“That skews the data,” Santorno said.

Hamel said standardized tests provide “a narrow and incomplete picture of the students we see day in and day out.” He said they rarely give teachers information they don’t already know about their students.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/24/3599718_tacoma-area-parents-join-movement.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/24/3599718_tacoma-area-parents-join-movement.html?rh=1#storylink=c

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/24/3599718_tacoma-area-parents-join-movement.html?rh=1#storylink=

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/24/3599718_tacoma-area-parents-join-movement.html?rh=1#story

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am looking for the full text of the Roosevelt Special Ed learning lab case, citizen complaint 14-70. Does anyone know if it is posted anywhere? I have seen the Friday memo summary and excerpts in the news, but not the full text.
Wondering IEP parent

Greenwoody said...

Has the hearing been scheduled yet on Pettigrew's bill?

Anonymous said...

HB 1497, Pettigrew's bill, has not yet been officially referred to the education committee; therefore, no hearing has yet been scheduled.

You can keep track of this bill (as well as provide comments on this bill) at HB 1497.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

I saw the OSPI 14-70 decision posted on this blog. Where did it go?

I think you can call OSPI and ask for a copy.

Peanuts

Anonymous said...

Find it here:

OSPI 14-70

reader47

Anonymous said...

Pettigrew's bill may be a trial balloon floated to test the impact that The Seattle Times and other regional newspapers have had on public attitudes after a solid year of Ed Reform propaganda, including, most notably, the "dysfunctional school board" meme. This is offered up as a fixer for the broken "dysfunctional" system we have, solely because it doesn't serve the Ed Reform crowd's interests well enough.

The irony here is how fascist such attitudes are, portraying that anyone who disagrees with a particular group think ideology, is simply wrong, and thus, must be eliminated or disenfranchised. How undemocratic so many democrats are in practice. WSDWG

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I was disappointed with the recent contract offered to Dr. Nyland. A number of Board members have been vocal on their concerns over superintendent turnover so it seemed logical the contract would be crafted in a way to promote retention. Instead all we get is a simple rehash of the Banda contract! Why was this opportunity passed up?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why? Because Nyland is the perfect figurehead that the powers that be and senior management want. Nyland, a bright and competent administrator, gets someone else to give the direction and he goes along with it. And, he walks away in less than 3 years with almost three-quarters of a million dollars for retirement.

Everyone's happy. (apparently)

Transparency Please said...

The city will hire prek teachers, and there is talk of prek teachers looping in to K. Knapp has indicated that the prek teachers would have the ability to join SEA.

So we have the city hiring prek teachers..with a thought of these teachers looping into K. Thus, the city enters into hiring agreements related to K-12.

Question: We're looking at a possible prek-k involvement with the city. If prek teachers join with SEA, would the city be included during SEA contract negotiations?

Anonymous said...

Howard Zinn in HCC 8th grade classes at Jane Adams?

Why shouldn't all 8th graders study him?

Doesn't seem equitable to a teach the socialist perspective to only a small group. Is the district rationing social awareness?

commie

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Zinn's work may have problems, but the question is why do "advanced","gifted", "highly capable", whatever is today's label, why do those students get exposed to something very different from the standard history while others of the same age don't?

Does one need to be of a certain IQ to understand Zinn's perspective?

Maybe he is taught in some gened 8yh grade classrooms, anybody know?

commie

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teachers get to use curriculum they create. (At least this is my understanding.) The teacher is probably supplementing with Zinn's book. I doubt that it has anything to do with who is in the class but who is teaching the class.

Anonymous said...

Wait...are you suggesting Zinn is somehow better or more advanced than what other students are using? That really changes the conversation. Students will learn very little history if this is their primary text. Zinn's history has been described as "simple ideas for simple minds." Everything is reduced to a simple narrative that supports the author's ideology. I wouldn't consider it advanced. They might even be using the "Young People's" version, in which case it's very simplified.

Is there a standard US history text used for middle school?

curious

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

Pretty sure my kid has read and discussed Zinn in her general ed social studies class. Depends on the teacher...

8th grade parent

mirmac1 said...

I would love it if my child was exposed to the historical events that Zinn writes about. Otherwise it's all manifest destiny, robber barons etc.

Anonymous said...

Zinn's People's History was written around 1980. At the time, it challenged the conventional narrative in the K-12 history texts. Fast forward 30 some years, and you will see a much more balanced and nuanced narrative in most adopted texts. They add many more voices and go well beyond the "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," narrative.

Zinn did not set out to present a balanced view of history and when used as part of school curriculum, it needs to be presented as such. It's scholarship has been questioned by historians on both the left and the right. It has its place as a supplement or comparative text, but falls short if it's being used as core text.

I'm not aware of it being an adopted text within the Seattle Public Schools.

curious

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago, I remember a thread discussing if individual teachers had the ability to project their political beliefs in the classroom. Isn't the use of the Zinn textbook a perfect example of this? Choosing as supplemental material a book that sacrifices scholarship in favor of pushing a political agenda is wrong unless opposing viewpoints are also presented in comparable detail.

There's probaly little push back on this because a lefty teacher is pushing a lefty viewpoint in lefty Seattle. I can only imagine what would happen if a teacher use an Ayn Rand book in the same way.

Fairness

mirmac1 said...

I don't disagree that it shouldn't be the sole text. But it fills in huge gaps in our texts, many dating from the 90's. I believe our students must learn about worker's rights and laws, civil rights and laws, our indigenous peoples and their rich history, blacklists, US incursions in other countries in our hemisphere and elsewhere etc. Not to say Zinn covers it adequately or all that well. But it's as much a part of our history as the rest.

Anonymous said...

mirmac1,

Someone viewing the same text from the right wing point of view would probably see other omissions in the standard text. What supplemental material is assigned that covers these concerns? Or are only the socialist concerns worth addressing?

Fairness

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Howard Zinn, I think there's more political slant in text books than there would be in his own study of American history. Set aside his political affinities and the facts remain.

Westside


mirmac1 said...

Fairness, turn on Fox News.

Anonymous said...

Fox News and Howard Zinn's history are similar in that they both contain slanted misinformation. They don't exactly balance each other out. There are two sides of the same coin.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Fox News and Howard Zinn are both slanted. However, only one of them is taught in Seattle Public Schools as the "truth".

Fairness

Scared said...

A man in a silver 3- door sedan approached a student walking to school and attempted to lure her into the car. The man was exposed. She was 1.5 blocks from the school. The girl ran from the car and into the school's office.

Please have your children walk to school in groups and proide important safety lessons.

Anonymous said...

On Monday, Eckstein is getting a new principal: Treena Sterk. Ms. Sterk was, until today, the principal at Cascade. Cascade now has an interim principal, Dr. Terry Meisenburg, who has been the Director of Employee and Labor Relations for the District. He will be supported by Owen Gonder, who will step in as Cascade's head teacher just as soon as a substitute is found to teach his fourth grade class at View Ridge. According to a letter from Larry Nyland, Mr. Gonder will be in place at Cascade to help move to it's new building on Queen Anne in mid-February. Yes, this is all happening in the next two weeks, in the middle of the school year.

Crazytown

Anonymous said...

Crazytown:

It makes no sense that the district would pull a principal out of a building in the middle of the year. Was there an explanation as to why they decided to do this instead of put an interim at Eckstein?
And especially before the big move?

Who makes these decisions?

-Confused

Anonymous said...

@scared - can you provide more details? What neighborhood and school, age of girl etc. Are the police involved? Description of perpetrator? - NP

Anonymous said...

Went to JAMS middle school info night tonight. Super impressed with the positive spirit of the staff and teachers. It's clear people want to be there. Such a breath of fresh air!!

Looking forward parent

Anonymous said...

The man attempted to grab the girl near to Whitman:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/2015/01/28/report-man-grabbed-student-near-whitman-middle-school/

Whittier Parent.

Anonymous said...

Have all the private school kindergartners who signed up for testing through advanced learning taken the CogAT? Has achievement testing started for kindergartners?

Late?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fairness, are you sure that Zinn is taught as "truth" or another point of view? I think it's great if students understand that history is written by the victors and that perhaps multiple viewpoints allows greater understanding.

Anonymous said...

@Commie: Unless you've been told that your child will never study Zinn, there is nothing inequitable about HCC studying him in 8th grade. They are supposed to be doing 10th and 11th grade work in 8th grade HCC, and 10th graders always get headier work than 9th graders, regardless.

Is it the course content (i.e., some get to study Zinn, while others don't), or just the fact that some kids are studying Zinn before others? The first instance would be inequitable, while the second clearly wouldn't be.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Is it the course content (i.e., some get to study Zinn, while others don't), or just the fact that some kids are studying Zinn before others? The first instance would be inequitable, while the second clearly wouldn't be.

I'm not sure "equity" is the issue here re: curriculum. Unless teachers are using a set curriculum, you're not going to have "equity" in what's covered. If teachers are free to choose the materials they want, why would we expect all classes to use the same books? We don't have an adopted curriculum to which teachers are required to adhere. Is it inequitable when English teachers select different literature books for kids to read?

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Using your logic, I assume that you would have no problem with a teacher using a supplemental text that espoused creationism as "another point of view"?

Personally, I'm much more comfortable with keeping teachers' ideologies out of the classroom.

Fairness

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fairness, I don't think that's "logic" that you are speaking of. History is a very different subject than science.

Anonymous said...

I think creationism would be very appropriately discussed in a religious history class or study of cultural origin myths. But it is not related to the study of science so would be inappropriate there. Conservative and liberal perspective on historical events, however, is integral to the study of history. There is no one way things happened, and we constantly rewrite history to fit current ideological norms. I absolutely think kids need to learn about that!

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Signing myself, "very scared"

What is going on with Middle School in Seattle? So far this year, a kid was hit by a car walking to HIMS, an adult tried to abduct a child yesterday as she walked to Whitman, and today a child was robbed at gunpoint as she walked to Denny? Kids should be safe as they walk to school. It is NOT WORKING for SPS to not provide transportation for kids who live less than 2 miles from school and to provide NO crossing guards or other support.

This is from the Seattle PI today:

An eighth grade student of Denny International Middle School was robbed at gunpoint on her way to school Thursday morning.

The 13-year-old girl was walking down the staircase connecting 20th Avenue Southwest and Delridge Way Southwest near Southwest Holden Street when a man believed to be in his late 20s pointed a gun at her and ordered, “Give me everything you’ve got,” according to police and school district reports.

The robber patted down the girl in search of a cell phone and money, but finding neither, he took her backpack and left the scene, Seattle police say.

The student finished her trip to school and reported the incident to school authorities.

She described the assailant as muscular, wearing a purple bandana over his face, a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

Responding police could not find the suspect or the girl’s backpack during a search of the area.

School officials say police and school security will be present at Denny International Middle School after school Thursday and again before and after school on Monday.

Police advise anyone with information about the case to call 911.

Anonymous said...

Is it the course content (i.e., some get to study Zinn, while others don't), or just the fact that some kids are studying Zinn before others? The first instance would be inequitable, while the second clearly wouldn't be.

I'm trying to understand how studying Zinn is somehow better, and the source of some kind of inequity. It's an indication that the teacher may not place a high value on historical scholarship. I'd argue the use of Zinn is academically less rigorous than a class that analyzes and interprets historical documents, essays, and speeches (Ain't I a Woman?), or reads from books such as Up from Slavery or Bury My Heart on Wounded Knee.

just me?

Ragweed said...

Letter that went out to Center School students and families today:
________________________________

To: Students and Parents at The Center School

From: Larry Nyland, Superintendent

Date: January 28, 2015

RE: Student Petition



On January 12th a delegation of Center School students came to my office to petition against a staffing decision. That petition made many good points–most notably the importance of having staff in place at the start of the new semester on Monday, February 2, 2015. Students demonstrated their commitment by engaging personally in issues that are important to them– great life skill.



Although I am not comfortable discussing a staffing issue with students, I will share some of my thinking:



Civic Engagement: First, I would note that many civic processes are part of this decision:

-Laws have been passed by our legislature, including laws on collective bargaining with teachers and student issues such as Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying.

-School board members have been elected by Seattle voters.

-The Seattle Public Schools has negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with Seattle Education Association. That agreement has been approved by a vote of both the teachers and the school board.

-The courts have decided 100s of cases around how teachers are to be treated when there is a disagreement.

-School board members have voted to approve board policies–many required by law: ... in this case Policy 3207 on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying.

-School board members vote on and select a superintendent to carry out the policies and the collective bargaining agreements.



In this case, there was a disagreement about several issues. The school district and the teachers association agreed to submit the disagreement to an independent arbitrator for “final and binding arbitration.” The arbitrator is not a judge, but does have extensive training in fact finding and dispute resolution. They hear testimony, listen to witnesses, and weigh the laws and policies and collective bargaining agreement. In the end, they make a final and binding decision.



I have read the 28 page decision by the arbitrator and have taken steps to do what the arbitrator directed. The arbitrator made a split decision–he decided some issues in favor of the teacher and some issues in favor of the district. One could say that no one is happy with the decision. It is however, the decision making process that was agreed to by the parties. Somewhat like a judge’s decision, it is the decision that we have –based on many laws and policies.



In this case, my responsibility is to take steps under one set of laws and policies to protect the rights of teachers and under another set of laws and procedures to protect the rights of students from Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying. I take both responsibilities seriously. Your comments and concerns certainly have weight and deserve to be heard and acknowledged. My job as superintendent is to uphold my legal responsibilities as I also consider the interests of constituents – including students, teachers and parents.



That said, I do agree, and will ensure that we start the second semester off on a positive note with teacher and students in class and ready to learn. Mr. Greenberg will be allowed to start teaching students at The Center School on February 2, 2015.



Again, thank you for your concerns and advocacy in support of issues about which you feel strongly.



Sincerely,

Larry Nyland

Superintendent

Geesh said...

13 year old Denny student was robbed at gun-point while walking to school. The robber patted her down looking for a cell phone.

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2015/01/delridge-middle-school-student-robbed-at-gunpoint/

Earlier in the week, an exposed male tried to lure a student from Whitman Middle School into his car.

WTH is going on?

Anonymous said...

@ dawg
That was exactly my point, are 13 and 14 year old gened students unable to grasp the concept of multiple viewpoints?
Should gened or HCP kids at non-HCC sites,or anybody in SPS,wait two years after the HCC kids to learn the "heady" topic of socialism and the fact that history is skewed by the creator of that history?
You might win me if you said the HCC kids might go "deeper" into Zinn, but to say "regulars" aren't able to handle Zinn's critique of standard history is ridiculous and inequitable.

commie

Anonymous said...

@Commie: Why haven't you taken your complaint up with your child's teacher or principal, and see what they think of your complaints, before you go into the blogosphere and start throwing "inequity" darts at HCC kids?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Nyland's letter to Center School: He's not comfortable with discussing staffing issues with students but he's totes okay with saying Harassment, Intimidation AND Bullying THREE TIMES, in case some of us are BLIND and missed this factoid the first two times he wrote it,(capitalized and all).

Who is really doing the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying here? I guess SPS' Sups don't have to hew to any Employees' Privacy Laws or Libel Laws.

Yep, the School Board picked another winner here. Aren't we blessed.

CCA

Anonymous said...

Inequity is not weapon, but is a state. One can't hurl inequity. One can only shine a light on it, complain about it, seek to eradicate it, but use it as a weapon, against students?

I have no knowledge but that a parent stated their student was studying Zinn in 8th at JAMS. I wondered if that was only for the HCC as I've never heard of Zinn being taught anywhere else and I like the thought, Zinn's radical and we do have real Socialist in city government and our president is called one every day, so I thought all 8th graders should get a go at it.I really am a,

commie

aggie said...

Alternate perspectives are always important to recognize

http://citizenshipandsocialjustice.com/2015/01/29/given-my-10-day-suspension-how-is-it-possible-that-im-returning-to-work-on-monday/

Anonymous said...

Greenberg is way over the line and will be terminated soon. It's entirely clear what is wrong.

He used students to bully the one whose family complained, he used students to shut own any further complaints or even any real discussion of his actions.

Now, he continues to enlist students in his battle with the district.

Wrong, so very wrong.

So messianic.

I wouldn't let my kids near that guy. The district tried to help him, to show him the maturity level of students coming into high school, but to no avail.Greenberg needs to go.

SpaceNeedle

Ragweed said...

Zinn’s scholarship will hold up with most historians writing for a popular audience (which would include most textbooks). Which is to say that there will be some things he oversimplifies, some things he gets wrong, and some things with which others disagree, as with all historians. Most of the criticisms of his scholarship focus on attacking one or two of Zinn’s sources, largely out of the context and without addressing the additional evidence he presents to back up his position (and the accusation his work is socialist propaganda is just tired red-baiting). You can pick apart any history book that way. And unlike many historians, Zinn is upfront about the fact that he is presenting a position at odds with other views.
But the larger point of Zinn is not his factual narrative, but that he gives priority to the underdogs of US history. He is not laying out a socialist viewpoint, so much as saying that the perspectives of the ordinary people who lived history are as important as the perspectives powerful (just as we should value the perspectives of students, parents, and teachers to understand what is going on at SPS and not just the official reports from JCC). That isn’t socialism, it’s human reality.
To be sure, a rigorous 8th grade history class should include reading from original sources and original narratives, and go beyond any one textbook or any one narrative of history. It should include reading slave narratives, debates in congress, etc. Good history teachers I know, including ones who use books like Zinn or The Story of Us, do so. In fact, the Zinn foundation provides loads of lesson plans and other supporting material for exploring primary sources and doing first-hand historical research.
History, like science, should not be taught as a collection of facts, but as a process of examining evidence and drawing conclusions from that evidence. But it’s funny how this is rarely raised with books other than the ones by Howard Zinn.

Anonymous said...

Wow, quite a letter. Denying the "fomenting of racial hatred," but then repeatedly calling out the "white family" for blame. Would that they had surveyed the students taught during his year of "exile" at HIMS - he may not have the unquestioning support he thinks he has. How you talk about race and gender issues in a public school setting is not so simple.

signed,
no name

hippie said...

Gotta love the kids wearing the shirts with the Superman-like logo containing a G for Greenberg.

It's not hard to imagine him going over the line and making students very uncomfortable, even afraid.

White advantage is real, as is male advantage, wealth advantage beauty advantage, height advantage, and of course, school preparation advantage.

I'd submit SPS is a very socially aware district with the vast majority of employees working towards a more fair world. It's the grandstanding, Greenberg needs to simply separate his job at SPS from his more strident political beliefs. He can do all he wants outside school, but needs to temper his zeal at school.

Just like the inter-agency teacher.
He can smoke weed and hang out with teenagers if he wants, just not the students with whom he works.Like Greenberg, he meant well, he may have done good things for many students, like Greenberg no doubt has done, but rules are there for reasons. Reasons like protecting young minds from overt personal ideologies.

Suppose a teacher with strong Christian beliefs emphasized the power of Jesus in the work of MLK Jr.?
Would we not look askance at a teacher expressing sympathy for southern slaveholders who believed God approved of human bondage in their interpretation of the bible?

How about.. well there are many absurd examples. We would tolerate none of them and Mr Greenberg needs to do his job and not be the Mark Driscoll of social justice, not in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

@ no name, to which letter were you referring? I saw Nyland's letter above, but nothing with the phrases you referenced. Is there something else--a letter from the students or teacher, perhaps?

And I'm inclined to agree with you re: the one-year stint at HIMS. Seems like there was a mismatch in teaching and learning styles, as well as too much focus on ideology at the expense of core material coverage. It sounds like the Center School is a better fit.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Go Greenberg's self-glorifying website:

http://citizenshipandsocialjustice.com/

illin"