Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tuesday Open Tread

Many of us are thinking of Melissa and her family today.

What other thoughts are you having?

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are. My deepest sympathies to Melissa and her family.

HP

dw said...

I hesitated for a moment to comment, because Melissa likely didn't enable comments on her post for a reason. But I think if there's one place (here), maybe it's okay.

I'm at a loss for words, because I didn't know about any of this, and Melissa has continued tirelessly working on behalf of kids in this city throughout what I'm sure has been an extremely difficult time personally.

Whether or not you choose to come back here (and I hope you do, whenever you're ready), know that you have made a difference across our city's education landscape, and beyond.

I wish you the very best getting through a difficult time, much love and hugs to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Very much thinking about MW and her family today. And considering her sacrifices to help our kids, I'm that much more appreciative of everything she's done while dealing with her husband's illness for several years.

We can all talk a good game, but there are few who can do, or have done, so much for so many in our community. We're lucky to have you, MW.

Be well in this rough time and know you're loved and appreciated by thousands throughout the city.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I am trying to think of a way to appreciate Melissa and her family - The best I can come up with is a gift to the UW's Dream Project. Any other suggestions from those who know them better?

Chris S.

Watching said...

My thoughts have been with Melissa and her family. I hope our thoughts bring Melissa and her family sense of comfort and support.

I'm here for you, Melissa.

Anonymous said...

Heard on NPR today that teachers are leaving Idaho in droves due to poor treatment by Republican lawmakers and poor pay. You talk smack about teachers long enough, you are going to lose your best teachers to places where they are more appreciated.

http://boisestatepublicradio.org/post/teachers-leave-idaho-districts-hope-higher-pay-will-help-lure-them-back

HP

Anonymous said...

Memorial Info says,
I don't know the family, but
https://news.cs.washington.edu/2015/02/01/remembering-gaetano-borriello/
has info on a UW fellowship in his honor.

Mary G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary G said...

I am reposting and editing my link.

@Chris S. and others wishing to make a donation in honor of Melissa's husband, Gaetano Borriello,

The UW's Computer Science & Engineering department has established the Gaetano Borriello Endowed Fellowship for Change, honoring Gaetano, the UW’s Jerre D. Noe Professor of Computer Science & Engineering. You can read about more about the work he did in improving the lives of under-served populations through the use of technology here: http://bit.ly/1CX1GOs as well as a link where you can make a donation to the endowment fund.

Longhouse said...

So sorry to hear about your loss Melissa.

I hope you know that we district employees value what you do soooo much. You are the only we have of knowing what's actually happening in our district.

You have been a tireless, effective voice of fairness and transparency.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dear Readers,

I am checking in and grateful for your support.

A fellowship has been started in my husband's name and could help students who support change for the world.

The Gaetano Borriello Endowed Fellowship for Change

https://news.cs.washington.edu/2015/01/31/the-gaetano-borriello-endowed-fellowship-for-change/

That would mean the most to me and my family to continue his work.

Melissa

(Or donate to any scholarship fund at your school in his name - for field trips or scholarships for college. My husband was all about helping students and I would be grateful for any extra support you could give to SPS students.)

Watching said...

I had the opportunity to watch testimony related to HB 1497; the bill which allow the mayor to appoint two school board members.

Pettigrew argued that there was only ONE school board member that served more than one term and that was Betty Patu. Wrong. Michael DeBell, Harium Martin Morris and Sherry Carr served- or will serve- 8 years. As an aside, I've always thought it is interesting that board members work for, essentially free, and superintendents leave after a few years. Pettigrew claims we need- " A new perspective." What perspective would that be? The board and district have access to all kinds of consultants. Pettigrew feels that an appointed board member would tie into the school district. We already have individuals serving on the Family and Education Levy.

Lisa McFarlane from DFER signed-in to testify in favor of HB 1497.

Individuals that testified against HB 1497 included Larry Nyland, Martha McLaren Catherine Ahl from the League of Women Voters, WEA and WSDA. Larry Nyland testified that he was "delighted" to work with the board.

When is Pettigrew going to research his bills and provide accurate information?

Po3 said...

Melissa - You and your husband lead lives beyond measure.

Your sons must be so proud of their parents accomplishments.

Thank you for everything you have done for students - parents - educators.

We are all keeping you in our hearts.

Charlie Mas said...

Mr. Pettigrew's poor familiarity with the facts comes as no surprise. I'm disgusted that someone with so little knowledge presumes to make policy.

Anonymous said...

Pettigrew wants a DFER or LEV perspective on the board. He needs those campaign contributions, after all!
But I agree, his grasp of the facts and inability to do research are pathetic at best.

CT

P.S. All my best, Melissa.

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,
I stumbled upon this blog in the middle of a sleepless night last Fall (2014). My kids are elementary age and enrolled in SPS. I have found the quality of education to be absolutely terrible. As a single parent, I struggle to make it through each day and there is nothing left for "advocacy." I spent a number of years feeling as if nothing could be done. As a result of your contributions, I have come to see that I need to do something. I'm not sure what it is yet but at least I am not alone in my desire for all of our children to be inspired in their learning. As you pause from your work here, consider the baton passed in some small way to an overworked, but very concerned, parent. May light and love sustain you during this time. Sincerely, WS Parent

Yikes said...

I recently learned that Eric Pettigrew (D) 37th LD supports predatory lending.

Anonymous said...

My heart broke this weekend when I read Melissa's post. I had no idea that she was going through all this, yet at the same time, continuing to do yeoman's work on behalf of children and families in SPS. Melissa, my thoughts are with you and your family. I am sorry beyond words for your loss.

--Fedmomof2

Mary G said...

The video of the hearing on HB 1497 is at http://bit.ly/1HXQsxQ beginning at about 1:30. Eric Pettigrew's defense of this bill was weak. The testimony from everyone else was strongly against, except as Watching note, Lisa McFarlane who was representing herself. She testified in support of dropping the number of directors, but not in favor of mayoral control. I loved the testimony from Supt Nyland, Director McLaren, and the gal from the League of Women Voters.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You have made a difference for my family. I admire your work immensely. Thank you for being a force for good, and for your inspiration.

The tide recedes, but leaves bright seashells in the sand. May you find solace.

Southend Girl

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link, Mary G. You just reminded me it was time to send a donation into League of Women Voters as well.

CT

andrewr said...

I wanted to thank Chris S. for mentioning
The Gaetano Borriello Endowed Fellowship for Change
. It seems like a great way to honor Melissa, her husband, and her family. Those looking for additional donation possibilities might also consider Donors Chose. You can fund a Seattle classroom project or help a local teacher with much needed supplies.

I've been primarily lurking here for the past 6 years -- we left the Seattle Public Schools after 4th grade -- and I'm constantly impressed with the thought, desire, and unbelievable amount of work that Melissa puts into this day in and day out. It's a thankless task, in so many ways, and it's exasperating to see her advice, and the advice of so many others here, being ignored time and again. That said, I feel there are so many more things that might have gone wrong with the system had Melissa not been here knocking on those doors and rattling those cages.

Thank you for your tireless work and your undeniable care. Our condolences to you and your family. We're honored to make a contribution to the Fellowship and encourage others to give as well.

Andrew

Anonymous said...

After the struggle...peace. My wish for your whole family including your beloved husband.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

"It may be a governance issue, it may be a money issue, it may be an administration issue, it may be a finance issue — I don't know," Pettigrew added. "All I know that is we've been doing the same things over and over again for 30 years, and have seen very little change." (From KUOW article)

I don't know. I DON'T KNOW! Well gee, Mr. Spicoli, will you graduate? I don't know!

Somebody needs to bang some checkered Vans against Pettigrew's head, because apparently, he's so wasted! But seriously, that's an accurate quote from a very, very confused and clueless person. No kids in SPS, yet he wants to tear it apart. What theater! What hypocrisy. Yes, Eric, I do hope you are reading this and feeling ashamed right now.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Melissa, My deepest sympathies to you and your family. Hold the best memories dear. Peaceful passing.

Westside

marcob said...

My sympathies to Melissa and her family. I want to thank you for your passion and fair opinions in being an advocate for our public schools

DeFER said...

I think it is ironic that Lisa McFarland of Democrats for Education Reform testified in favor of appointing school board members. Perhaps Lisa and her ilk should consider the shenanigans played during the last school board campaign. She was amongst the individuals that were involved in forming a PAC and distorting the views of a favored school board candidate. If she wants people to run, perhaps she and others such as Matt Griffin should consider their antics and the same goes for Sarah Morris.

TechyMom said...

Thank you, Melissa, for everything you do for the families of Seattle. Take care of yourself and your family. We'll still be here when you're ready.

mirmac1 said...

SOUL JAMBALAYA THIS SATURDAY - FEBRUARY 7th @ 7:00 PM

This Saturday will be the Chief Sealth HS annual Black History Month celebration of Jazz, Blues, Funk, and R&B. The event begins at 7:00 pm in the Chief Sealth Auditorium - 2600 SW Thistle St.

We will feature musical performances from the Total Experience Gospel Choir, Septimus, Westside Blues, as well as the Chief Sealth International H.S. and Denny International M.S. Jazz Ensembles. Please help us show our appreciation for our amazing guests by packing out the house!

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I look forward to your eventual return because I so respect and admire your integrity. I look to this blog to find out what is happening in the district I work for: without the information you shine a light on I would be in the dark.

Respectfully,
Sped Staffer

Andrea Ptak said...

MELISSA: Thank you for continuing to fight for the children and families of Seattle while you were gong through a heartache we can only imagine. I am more in awe of you than ever.

Take all the time you need—we're grateful for your inspiration and will work to continue the fight in your absence.

Catherine said...

The City Neighborhood Council (http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoodcouncil/) is in the process of recruiting for our Youth, Schools, and Education Committee in 2015.

As a past District Council chair, and a long time representative, I know we get very very few education updates from either elected officials, district personnel, or other education groups around the city. We would like to change this. Realizing that education is critical to community, and volunteer time precious, we are open to different approaches to kick-start the communications without significant amounts of additional time commitments from anyone. An approach we are interested in gathering reports/information from various existing committees, groups, individuals already active in education advocacy, and create a consolidated briefing type report. We’d love monthly or quarterly briefings in person at the CNC meetings, but not (last Monday evening of the month in city hall), and/or a report that we could distribute.

With all the bits and pieces flying about - charters, down town school, preschool for all, new super, state funding, class size initiative passing, capacity issues, etc, I think our broader community would do well to get more information than we’ve historically been getting, from people closer to the issues.

Are there any individuals or groups that you think we should approach, or that you might send our way? Any particular reports, blogs, etc. we should be aware of to include? Please contact us through: seattlecnc@gmail.com or you can post below and we'll watch for them.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I feel deep sorrow for the loss of your husband, and gratitude for all the work you have done for SPS students & parents over the years. Please know that everything you have done has affected more people than you could ever know.

You have had a direct effect on my family over the last couple of years. My husband became involved in SPS math education directly as a result of your blog. He couldn't have done it without you.

We also feel much more aware of what is really happening behind the curtain. We have one child in an SPS school, and one child soon to enter public school (or not, we are still deciding). We feel a lot more empowered by your information, and glad that you have been fighting the fight.

I hope that we can keep this fight up.

-Parent of Little Ones

Lynn said...


9 of the 11 people signed up for public testimony at tonight's board meeting are going to talk about Leschi's request to drop their Montessori program. I'll be interested to hear what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

I only became involved in an SPS committee b/c I discovered this blog, and learned from it about the request for applications.

Despite the often uphill battle, I think the committee contributed in a positive fashion as much as we could - and I was proud of my involvement.

All made possible because of Melissa's thoroughness, openness, and frankness.

I am in awe of her ability to keep going, and I feel even more impressed with how much of herself she has shared with the public even while facing such personal challenges.

Take care of yourself now, and your family - don't feel torn. You have served.

(Just heard Garrison Keillor read George Washington's words upon hearing he was nominated President, about not wanting to leave his quiet home after so long in the public service.)

Signed: Math Counts

ChangeTheRhetoric said...

Pettigrew's claims are false. During the last school board campaign- in addition to Sue Peters- the candidates that registered for Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia were a former mayor and business developer.

The candidates in District 5 were weaker, but the voters picked the strongest candidate.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa for your unstinting dedication and tireless work for public school. So very sorry about your great loss, I wish I knew what to say that would help during these painful days. Courage. Time does heal, sort of. Grieve your way, don't let anyone tell you how it should go.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, forgot to sign.
Thank you Melissa for your unstinting dedication and tireless work for public school. So very sorry about your great loss, I wish I knew what to say that would help during these painful days. Courage. Time does heal eventually, sort of. Grieve your way, don't let anyone tell you how it should go.

CCA

Sigh said...


Utah proposes bill to appoint ENTIRE school board.


http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SJR005.html

Anonymous said...

Both of you have done so much and I've learned so much from you and this blog. A reminder to me how truly amazing people are. I'm going to try to remember that when people work tirelessly for a cause, what they need is not just words of thanks, but fellow soldiers. I will try my best.

zb

mirmac1 said...

Kind, sympathetic words from board members for Melissa and family last night.

As for me, I have no words...

I do have tremendous admiration for Gaetano's and Melissa's strength and contributions to make things better for young people.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go to the school board meeting? Anything new to report? All the Montessori speakers, how did they feel about what is going on at Leschi?

HP

Anonymous said...

School Board meetings are archived on the Seattle Channel (the 2/4/15 meeting is already posted, see part 2 for public testimony):

http://seattlechannel.org/SPS

The testimony is in support of the blended model at Leschi(speakers include current teachers, parents and PTA).

parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa, so very sorry to hear about your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you and your family Melissa.
You have created a wonderful resource here and your advocacy much appreciated.

I have a question to readers - how does one find out about middle and high school course offerings ( and sequence) at SPS middle and high schools. The SPS website "academics" page, curriculum section just links to OPSI state standards and the individual schools I have glanced at provide very limited listings of their subjects, if at all and no information about what subjects are prerequisites etc for subsequent ones etc. Contrast this with the Bellevue School district which has an impressive 64 page booklet you can download that describes the courses and sequence into high school etc in great detail! How is one supposed to plan and make choices in this district??? Can anyone suggest how to obtain this info without having to wait to attend individual school open houses. Is there no umbrella information for the uninitiated at all or am I looking in the wrong place.

Searching

Anonymous said...

The best plan would be to leave the district, because SPS will be under federal control soon and the first order of business will be trying to get the district back to basics. It's estimated to take at least 4 years to fix the basics before SPS can even think of doing the things Bellevue is now doing.

Giveit toMarshawn

Anonymous said...

Melissa & Charlie made my journey through SPS so much easier with all the information they have disseminated through the years. Thank you for all the hours of meetings, advocacy, followup & institutional memory that you have contributed for us. You have made such a huge difference.

Melissa, I am so sorry that you & your sons are going through this tragic time. I hope you will find the solace that you need.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Searching,

I think that most high schools have course descriptions & graduation requirements on their websites. Try looking under the counseling depts.

The problem with planning is that things change. Graduation requirements are different every year & different school to school. Course offerings change as demand changes, programs move & teachers retire. Some courses may be straight forward like math pathway, but others are not so static. And as schools get more crowded, scheduling can affect what courses you can take too.

Do you have questions about specific subject areas?

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss Melissa. Take care!

KT

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the kind words about Education Lobby Team member Catherine Ahl's testimony against HB 1497 and the League of Women of Voters -- a natural next step for women and men who have cut their democratic teeth volunteering for PTAs and school governance. We invite you to check out the monthly LWV Seattle-King County Education Committee. The League is a truly grassroots, volunteer-powered organization advocating on many many local, state, and national issues. Check us out at seattlelwv.org.

Mary G said...

Thanks you to the previous anonymous poster at 8:48 pm (use a a name or pseudonym or risk deletion). I am reposting here:

Thank you for the kind words about Education Lobby Team member Catherine Ahl's testimony against HB 1497 and the League of Women of Voters -- a natural next step for women and men who have cut their democratic teeth volunteering for PTAs and school governance. We invite you to check out the monthly LWV Seattle-King County Education Committee. The League is a truly grassroots, volunteer-powered organization advocating on many many local, state, and national issues. Check us out at seattlelwv.org."

Here's a little more about Catherine Awl: http://pugetsoundblogs.com/league-of-women-voters-kitsap/2013/05/03/catherine-ahl-gets-liberty-bell-award/.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, my heart goes out to you and your family. Your husband sounds like an amazing man, and you - well, we knew you were amazing, but when I think of you doing all this work even during what must have been a harrowing time (did you really do 9 blog posts last week? Amazing) - I stand in awe.

It's trite to say "time heals". It doesn't, not wholly. It makes them bearable. Take all the time you need. Be gentle with yourself (that's a hard thing to do). And know that many of us love and admire you for the difference you have made and the fights you have fought.

Holding you in my thoughts.

-flibbertigibbet

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,
My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

--OldSchoolMusic

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to send my deepest condolences to Melissa and her family. I am so very sad for them. I am also very grateful for this blog and the work that she and you have done on it. Thank you!

Roosevelt Mom