Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Open Thread

The month of Ramadan started this week; best wishes to those who are part of the Islamic faith.  I remember when my husband and I visited Egypt in the early '80s on a TWA tour during Ramadan.  TWA told us nothing about Ramadan and we could not believe how all these people - in May in such hot weather - could be so patient and calm about not eating and drinking.  It's a testament to faith.

Interesting story from Good Morning America about a preschool in an elder center in Seattle.  This is a great idea and one that Seattle Schools used to do in several schools.  They used art/music rooms for elders to come and visit with younger students.  The elders would read to the kids and show them how to knit or tell them stories.  But the space was needed for other things so it went away.

From the HuffPost Parents section, "10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12."

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012).

Community Meetings tomorrow: Director Carr in the chapel at The Hearthstone at Green Lake from 8:30-10:00 am (enter on the east side) and Director Martin-Morris at Montlake Branch Library from 11 am-12:30 pm.

We had several heart-breaking and thought-provoking incidents happen this week in our country.  One is the story from Spokane about a white woman who identifies more as a black woman (and all that can mean).  Seattle teacher, Jon Greenberg, wrote this article for Everyday Feminism about race and schools.

Earlier this week, I was helping make plans for my high school reunion next year in Arizona.  I told my friends that I wanted to make sure that we included on the invitation - "no guns allowed" - because Arizona is a state where some people carry guns.  

And now, another shadow has fallen over our country over a mass killing.  It takes people - one by one - to say, "No more." "We are better than this."  "What kind of country allows this kind of killing on a regular basis?"  (That last one is an echo from President Obama's remarks yesterday.)

What will it take?  Remembering and believing that all lives matter and the next time 
- unless we do something - it could be you or a loved one.

Remembering the latest victims: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59. 

56 comments:

Dawn Mason said...

Thank you Mellissa for the names. People live and die as individuals with a name.

mirmac1 said...

My sweet girl went to the ILC! She had just been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and had a hard time with speech, transitions, and social play. The district provided an angel as her itinerant teacher, Faith Sadtler (sp?). I talked about her the other day in my closed session with the school board and Cerqui in discussions regarding my civil rights complaint about isolating special education preschoolers at Old Van Asselt. IDEA, case law, and new USDOE policy calls for supporting our youngsters in community preschool settings. Faith and the ILC staff helped my child, the other children and the teachers learn how to help children with ASD. In fact, the Director at the time came to the realization that her very young grandson was also on the spectrum. She told me she was so thankful to get an early start on how to help him and her daughter.

The Mount is a treasure. It is like its own village with a pharmacy, hair dresser, little store, and church. I so wanted my parents to live there! The interaction between the children and the residents is magic! I'm so glad they've been recognized.

NW mom said...

My nephew went to the ILC as well. It was a fantastic experience. When my daughter was at Green Lake elementary they had a partnership with the Hearthstone retirement home across the street - each first grader had a buddy over there. Not sure if they still do this - my daughter just graduated from high school so it was a while ago.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dawn, the media has got to stop giving any attention to the killers and more to the victims. The Times had a terrible tweet yesterday (that they pulled) about whether the killer was a sweet guy or a time bomb.

Let's honor these people who died and their lives.

Anonymous said...

No more Shakespeare at McClure?

Shakespeare is the only author mentioned specifically in Common Core. And yet McClure is dropping its longtime stellar Shakespeare elective? Doesn't the principal realize that this class is McClure's jewel in the crown?

Hey moms and dads et al - time to step up.

-McClureWatcher

Anonymous said...

Stop the NRA? They've done more than any combination of NGOs to stop these types of situations. They're the standard for gun safety classes, shooting safety training, and police firearms training. They advocate serious jail time for gun violence.

When it comes to race issues....one of the first political issues the NRA took on was advocating that black freedmen stop being denied their 2nd Amendment rights [during Reconstruction]. The Supreme Court went against the NRA left it up to the states. The terrorism of the Klan and other racists was the direct result of NOT following the NRA. Ironic you would pick on the NRA for a racist attack.

Sis

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sis, I'm sure they've done all that but clearly it's not enough.

Race and the NRA:
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112322/gun-control-racism-and-nra-history

http://fusion.net/story/46419/nra-stand-your-ground-race-gap/

I would agree - we need VERY strong jail time using a gun in a crime AND for accidental gun deaths (especially around children). Now, if someone might argue that locking up a parent for being negligent hurts the rest of the family, okay, then a VERY large fine. One that will be a big red flag to others.

Again, what we learned from the OJ Simpson murders is that if you cannot get someone in criminal court, bring them to their financial knees in civil court. That will get people's attention if it becomes the norm. No more of this "they've suffered enough."

Also, I know he was joking but Chris Rock had a segment where he said that the problem wasn't guns (but it is but there are WAY too many of them out there now) but bullets. He said if someone had to work two jobs to save a bullet, well, you see the point (and he said, "There wouldn't be any innocent bystanders, either.)

So let's put a big tax on bullets for everyone but law enforcement. (I'd give hunters a break as long as they are not exploding bullets.)

Make people feel the consequences of bad gun use and they will start giving it a second thought.

Carol Simmons said...

Mirmac 1.

What is the District's response to the OCR civil rights complaint about the isolation of Special Education students at Old Van Asselt?

Thank you,
Carol

Anonymous said...

Last time I bought .45 bullets, they were 40-50 cents a piece. To go practice I need a minimum of 250 bullets per trip to the range. That's not unusual. When I bring the kids and their friends, I need about 1000 bullets. For them, I have .22s which are more like 15 cents a piece. That's a hefty tab just to stay proficient and also have a great neighborhood time.

Bullets are plenty expensive. In fact, I think we need subsidized bullets for families on free and reduced lunches. Too many kids [especially urban kids] are not learning to be part of a responsible gun community and the results show.

I check in with the families of kids I've taught and they all say their kids no longer point play guns at people. By the way, encourage the use of squirt bottles for squirt gun fights.

Spread the practice of the 5 rules for firearm safety.
1] Assume all guns are always loaded.
2] Never point a muzzle at anything you're not willing to destroy.
3] Know what is downrange from what you're firing at [it may be hit as well].
4] Never put your finger on the trigger until your sights are on the target.
and
5] Always lock-up your firearm when you're not wearing or using it.

Guess where I learned those rules? Every firearms class run by an NRA approved firearms instructor begins with at least the first 4 rules. [#5 has just been added in the last 5 years.]

Of course, none of this would have helped with the racist scumball the other day. Nor would another law. Obviously, murder is against the law. But what WOULD really help generally is aggressively fighting against racism in ourselves and confronting others. In my opinion, the apparent mishandling of the Jon Greenberg case is having a chilling effect on that process. Teachers think that if their students get "uncomfortable" during talks about race and privilege they will be punished very harshly.

The old adage holds..."if you want peace, fight for justice". And, in my opinion, that attitude could go a long way to reducing these disgusting acts of violence and creating the future we want for our kids.

Sis

Anonymous said...

"Again, what we learned from the OJ Simpson murders is that if you cannot get someone in criminal court, bring them to their financial knees in civil court. That will get people's attention if it becomes the norm. No more of this "they've suffered enough."

Really, that's what we learned? Come on stop with the non-sense. The OJ Jury would not have convicted OJ even if he killed someone right in front of them.

And why is this "Again"? Did you try this illogical argument before?

Wake up

Anonymous said...

McClure had a Shakespeare elective? Wow. My kids would have loved that. Is the District just methodically doing away with anything that rises above mediocrity?

Related discussion on Shakespeare in the classroom:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2015/06/is-shakespeare-necessary/

Also, Rafe Esquith, the LA teacher known for teaching Shakespeare to his 5th grade students, was apparently suspended for reading Twain in the classroom.

-parent

Anonymous said...

We really never know what drives people to commit heinous acts of violence, but these acts are not exclusive to any one race.

LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Four uniformed police officers were shot and killed in a bloody Sunday morning attack at a Lakewood-area coffee shop, and investigators are seeking a person of interest in the killings, officials said.

Pierce County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ed Troyer said the person they are seeking is Maurice Clemmons, who is a fugitive from Arkansas with a lengthy criminal record.

Investigators now believe the gunman also may have been shot during the cold-blooded assault, as one of the officers returned fire just before he died of his injuries.

Dismissing insanity claims put forward by Monfort’s attorneys, the jury convicted Monfort of aggravated first-degree murder in the Halloween 2009 death of Officer Timothy Brenton, as well as some of the other crimes related to a string of attacks on police that fall.



MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami police said a 17-year-old was arrested and charged for his role in a mass shooting at a business called The Spot.

Fifteen people, between the ages of 11 and 25, were shot September 28, police said.

“He took out a gun and shot that juvenile who’s in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and then he also shot at the crowd as he ran away, hitting another 14 people,” said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.

Police believe 17-year-old Will Campbell was the main gunman at the restaurant, but other accomplices are still being sought after.

“He appears to be a good, clean-cut kid that went afoul,” said Chief Orosa. The 17-year-old had bounced around from high school to high school after getting in trouble at several campuses.

Norway's prison authorities say they have seized over 200 letters from mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik to prevent him from setting up a network outside jail. Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in Norway's capital Oslo and in a shooting rampage on a nearby island in 2011.



Keep in mind --

The purchase, possession, and use of firearms are tightly controlled in Norway, whose laws and regulations were made more stringent with amendments to the Firearms Act in 2009 and the adoption of new Firearms Regulations in that year. Permission to acquire a firearm must be obtained from the local police chief and is limited to persons of “sober habits” who have reasonable grounds for having a weapon. Fully automatic weapons, some semiautomatic weapons, and firearms disguised as other objects are banned under the law. Certain types of weapons not covered by the Firearms Act’s definition of firearms, such as stun guns, are also generally banned. In addition, the National Police Directorate may issue regulations prohibiting the acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms deemed through their design or operation to be especially dangerous or inappropriate for use.

There are also legal provisions, among others, on the licensing of firearms dealers and exporter/importers, the maintenance of a central firearms register, and the mandatory safe storage of firearms. The police have the authority to conduct inspections of privately stored firearms, after notifying the owner.

Nearly 10% of Norway’s populace own firearms, which are used chiefly for hunting purposes. The gun laws were apparently not extensively amended in the aftermath of the 2011 massacre in Oslo and on a nearby island in which seventy-seven people were killed, chiefly through the use of firearms; however, the country’s Mental Health Act has been revised to include a new chapter on enhanced security in institutions that accommodate the severely mentally ill or persons at risk for serious violent behavior.

The common denominator in all these acts would be the weapons used, "GUNS".

Anyone not securing a firearm by impeding easy access by child should be held accountable. I think the NRA supports accountability


Wake up

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wake Up, I miss your point.

Beth Inghram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Sis, I thought your second comment was one in which you were kidding. Apparently not.

Wake Up, OJ Simpson is in prison right now because the civil lawsuit that brought him to his financial knees disrupted his life. And, he got so desperate he tried to rob someone of memorabilia of his.

seattle citizen said...

@Sis-
"We need subsidized bullets for families on free and reduced lunches."

No. Please no.

And spending $125 (plus entrance fee to the range) to fire 1000 .22 bullets is a "great neighborhood time" for an adult, their kids, and their kids' friends? How is this "neighborhood"? Or are you shooting 1000 rounds IN the neighborhood?

I hope you and the kids are wearing masks when you fire all that lead: Many ranges have become toxic. All that hot lead flying around is a health hazard.....

n said...

Guns are dinosaurs. They should be fossils by now. Why anybody thinks target practice with a gun is sport is beyond me. And with so little real wilderness left, I don't see the joy in killing everything that inhabits it. Have some of us just failed to civilize ourselves? My brother is a hunter and he says he loves being out in nature and getting his yearly buck. Whoopee. I wish he'd spend his time camping and loving nature as opposed to killing it. But hunting and eating the kill strikes me as more productive than simply shooting a killing machine at a target with kids. But what do I know. I guess I'm just an old soul who prefers life over death.

n said...

Wouldn't those kids be healthier riding bikes?

Anonymous said...

The Source will close July 2, 2015 to prepare for the 2015-16 school year. It will reopen September 9, 2015.
- ABC

Anonymous said...

"The killing of everything that inhabits wilderness" is an absurd statement.
Most hunters I know are interested in responsible game management practices.
A high percentage of rural residents of Nevada hunt game animals for food.

I see high taxes on tobacco and alcohol and weed.
I fail to see a reason for high taxes on hunters and target shooters.

Significantly lowering taxes on weed would go a long way in reducing the cartels' illegal drug trade and thereby cut down on gun violence. The alcohol industry would likely oppose cheaper weed I suppose - so lowering weed taxes likely will not happen.

There certainly are lots of guns in the cities of the US. Gun violence is a complex problem. Taxing hunters and target shooters is not a solution.

-- Dan Dempsey

mirmac1 said...

Carol, denied of course. Now while take it to US DOE and OCR.

Anonymous said...

My response on 6/20/15 was to the statement made on
6/19/15 at 4:31 PM

"The killing of everything that inhabits wilderness" which was later removed by the author.

Hopefully the author removed it because "The killing of everything that inhabits wilderness" is an absurd statement about hunters.

Thoughtful analysis is preferable to absurd statements in developing solutions to complex problems.

Wasn't it only about 20 years ago that the "Stars and Bars" Confederate Flag was no longer flown above the state capitol in South Carolina?

If Gov. Nikki Haley is interested in an ounce of prevention, perhaps should address the prevalence of that "Stars and Bars" symbol and sometimes accompanying "anti black" attitude in the South. I doubt the death penalty is a preventative measure in situations like this one.

Too many politicians and a shortage of courageous leaders contributes to a lack of substantive solutions in our current oligarchy.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

6/19/15 @ 6:42

It was written: "And with so little real wilderness left, I don't see the joy in killing everything that inhabits it."
========

---- Really??? ... Do you actually believe there are folks who find joy in killing everything that inhabits the wilderness? If there are people like this, I doubt new legislation will fix their attitudes.

-- Dan Dempsey

mirmac1 said...

SEA Bargaining Update

Special Ed Administrators fail to show for bargaining on special education

Our bargaining team was stunned when we were informed upon arrival yesterday that neither the District's special education executive director, Wyeth Jessee, nor any other special ed administrator, would be at our bargaining session. At the District's request, SEA and SPS had previously agreed to share our special education proposals on this date.

"Just another day in the life of special education in Seattle," said Phyllis Campano, SEA Vice President and a special education teacher. "We have to fight tooth and nail to be heard about anything. Whether it's trying to get an intervention team to address dangerous student behaviors, or getting administrators to attend a joint task force meeting, expect the worst."

Making the snub even worse, fifteen additional special education teachers, SLPs, OTs, PTs and psychologists who had helped develop our proposals were also in attendance to be part of what we had expected to be a robust discussion.

Highlights of our proposals:
Real caseload limits for ESAs with an overage pay system that incentivizes the District to hire more staff
Additional staff, both certificated and IAs, for certain categories of self-contained classrooms
Additional pay for writing IEPs as the workload has increased tremendously to meet new compliance guidelines
Commitment to provide a "full continuum" of services
Clear commitment (extra pay and sub time) to support student transitions in the "riser" process
We established a new special education model in our last contract which the District was to have implemented over the last two years. This model laid out a comprehensive "full continuum" to ensure that students receive the quality services they deserve. If your school has one of the new Access or Focus classrooms, you've been part of the roll out. Our team proposed some revisions to that model yesterday, but our main point is that the District must now fully implement that model.

"I've been injured every year by my students," said Kristy McCourt, an SM4/Distinct special education teacher at Whitman Middle School. "Our SM4 PLT all agree that we need a 6:1 ration with two IAs. Having 8 or 9 students has been a disaster. I've had to tell my principal that I can't do it anymore."

mirmac1 said...

cont:

ESAs: organized and speaking up!

"Kids don't make the progress they would otherwise make if we had appropriate caseloads," Doug Allison, Occupational Therapist, told the District on Thursday. His comments were echoed by many other ESAs, teachers, and IAs at our session.

The District agreed this spring on caseload targets, as called for in our last contract bargaining. While the workload is causing retention and recruitment problems, the impact on student learning is profound. The first step was figuring out the caseload targets, the next step is to commit to them.

"Kids are staying on our caseloads longer than they should," said Jon Robinson, Speech Language Pathologist. "Our caseload grows and then kids who should move off, don't, fueling the growth of our caseloads."

Elspeth Trejo-Savani, Speech Language Pathologist, spoke at the school board meeting Wednesday night. After she spoke, a teacher came up to her and shared her story. "She told me that because of an SLP, she was able to overcome her stutter and become a teacher. That was tough to hear. I had a student this year with a stutter who I could not give the one-on-one time he needed."

"The first thing a physical therapist asks about working in Seattle is 'what is the caseload limit?'" said Fran Delaney, Physical Therapist. "Not having a caseload limit means there are much more attractive jobs elsewhere."

What's next

We're scheduled for three more days of bargaining next week. Evaluation and disproportionate discipline are two of the several topics we will be taking up next week. We'll then resume bargaining later in July.

mirmac1 said...

The position I support is the one that brings high quality, research-based services to our students. The adults in the room need to figure this out.

n said...

Are you a hunter, Dan? Yes, it is the mindset of killing that keeps guns such a high priority in peoples' lives. It is the rationale one gives for continuing to place such a high value on guns. A few people say it is to protect us from the gubment. But most rational people still think they need to kill for food. And frankly, some of them do. The poor in rural areas still do. But they don't need assault weapons to do it.

As for "absurd" - I wonder at your over-reaction to my obviously emotional statement and I stand by it. So why your emotional response?

n said...

A case has been made that the confederate flag is a terrorist symbol given that it symbolizes insurrection against the United States of America. That would be on public property only. What do you think of that?

Thanks for the update, mirmac. I know more about special ed in the District now. I've never seen sp. ed. at my school that resembles anything like you describe. Do federal dollars buy these services at the level you describe the need? Is it enough? Or does the District have to add dollars? No judging, just asking.

Anonymous said...

John Stewart has a great commentary on the shooting.

Here it is on Youtube 5 minutes of your time

John Stewart

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think the confederate flag is a terrorist symbol but I think it something that has a historical context and should be in a museum. I have no idea why it's up at their state capital nor why it is affixed (meaning, can't be put at half-staff).

Anonymous said...

While I'm disappointed (to say the least) that the SPED Dept forgot to get involved in the contract bargaining in spite of having agreed the date and content of the meeting, I'm underwhelmed with the SEA's list of issues around SPED. When will SEA prioritize professional development and technical assistance to its members in the classrooms where instruction is supposed to be taking place? How many BFDay and Stevens and McGilvra and Pathfinder situations will have to devolve to the point of desperation before SEA steps up to confront the non-delivery of serious coaching and technical support to the building teams? It's not even on their list of priorities. Dismal. Really dismal. They are more than part of the problem for special ed in SPS

Reader

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, some would argue that centuries of slavery, followed by decades of lynching and other violence, followed by decades of Jim Crow were one, long epoch of terrorism against an entire people. I agree. While some say that a particular style of flag that become popular lately represents "heritage," what, exactly, is that heritage it represents? My father is a Tennessean by birth and upbringing, growing up amidst the segregation of the south, and while he does argue that the "states rights" argument pertains, of course the state right that those states that flew various rebellious flags wanted to maintain was the right to continue terrorizing blacks.

The flag that currently flies over SC represents two things: the "heritage" of having once fought to separate from the union so as to continue enslaving people, and the continued desire to maintain that past, a "genteel" past where blacks knew their place.

Lastly, it is easily arguable that for many (most blacks, and plenty of whites, myself included) the flag is now seen as representing white supremacy. For that reason alone it should be taKen down. The swastika represents many things besides the Nazis, but it is commonly considered to be so offensive that polite society demands it not be displayed. Exactly the same as the Confederate flag.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, that's why that flag belongs in a museum, not over the state capital. I,too, believe it should be taken down. (President Obama apparently feels the same way.)

Maybe a boycott might get someone's attention. (And good luck, Lindsey Graham.)

Anonymous said...

I laughed through this foreigner's view on guns in America. Plus I like his take on the 2nd amendment. Though that 10% he mentioned will need to hit the gun range afterward. (Warning: Funny, but rated R)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/19/an-australian-stand-up-comic-explains-what-u-s-gun-laws-look-like-to-the-rest-of-the-world/?tid=pm_pop_b

Viewer

Anonymous said...

Follow the money...

The South needed slavery to continue the status quo in an economic system based on cotton.
The heritage of the stars and bars is that system.

Large percentages of black males are incarcerated due to the drug trade. The number of people killed annually in drug related situations completely dwarfs the number killed in shootings by crazy folks.

It is time to legalize weed and greatly reduce taxation of weed. It is time to end the illegal weed trade.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
Let's get to work on overhauling the system to save lives.

[[ I do not hunt - I do not own a gun - I do not smoke weed or tabacco ]]

-- Dan Dempsey

cmj said...

Irrelevant to the discussion about guns, but I just saw this article about product placement in Common Core tests.

Anonymous said...

More than 300 SEA members rallied at the school board meeting on Wednesday and presented petitions signed by thousands of members in support of our bargaining goals. From the need for living wages, to the overtesting of our students, team members shared our priorities with the school board. Our team, and our petitions, called on the board and the District to do the work with us to reach an agreement by August 24th so that we can all focus on starting school.

Special Ed Administrators fail to show for bargaining on special education

Our bargaining team was stunned when we were informed upon arrival yesterday that neither the District's special education executive director, Wyeth Jessee, nor any other special ed administrator, would be at our bargaining session. At the District's request, SEA and SPS had previously agreed to share our special education proposals on this date.

"Just another day in the life of special education in Seattle," said Phyllis Campano, SEA Vice President and a special education teacher. "We have to fight tooth and nail to be heard about anything. Whether it's trying to get an intervention team to address dangerous student behaviors, or getting administrators to attend a joint task force meeting, expect the worst."

Making the snub even worse, fifteen additional special education teachers, SLPs, OTs, PTs and psychologists who had helped develop our proposals were also in attendance to be part of what we had expected to be a robust discussion.

Highlights of our proposals:
Real caseload limits for ESAs with an overage pay system that incentivizes the District to hire more staff
Additional staff, both certificated and IAs, for certain categories of self-contained classrooms
Additional pay for writing IEPs as the workload has increased tremendously to meet new compliance guidelines
Commitment to provide a "full continuum" of services
Clear commitment (extra pay and sub time) to support student transitions in the "riser" process
We established a new special education model in our last contract which the District was to have implemented over the last two years. This model laid out a comprehensive "full continuum" to ensure that students receive the quality services they deserve. If your school has one of the new Access or Focus classrooms, you've been part of the roll out. Our team proposed some revisions to that model yesterday, but our main point is that the District must now fully implement that model.

Destroyed by SPS

mirmac1 said...

But according to a member of the bloated administrative staff, the Dir of School-based Services, the new service delivery model or "Access" is fully implemented. That is total BS. Once again SPS does things half-assed that are doomed to fail.

ICS was the SPS half-assed version of the recommendations from the 2008 consultant report. FAIL. Now they've put in place Access lite, without the major component that creates the continuum of placements developed by the Special Education Task Force; without the training and commitment of GenEd teachers and administrators; without anything beyond changing a SM4 to a 4i to an A. FAIL. They have created the costliest delivery model for the students who need it the least at 10:1:3. Administrators have been looking to cut the costs of their latest blunder since Day 1 of its inception in 2013-14.

Who will get the blame for blowing it yet again. Certainly no one at JSCEE. It'll be students, teachers and parents. JSCEE needs to fix this now.

Anonymous said...

Destroyed. You sound like a self-contained special education teacher. We don't need more of that. How many special ed audits must we pay for - before teachers and staff learn we don't want our kids railroaded into a sped room for decades? LRE. Do it. And by richly funding "certain self-contained classrooms", you get more of them. Students get forced into those "certain self-contained classrooms" because that's where the people are. 8:1:2 is current the ratio. (8 students max, 1 teacher, 2 IAs). That is more than ample, it's deluxe. How can a classroom of less than 8 students benefit anyone? Staff who can't hack that, lack skills. We don't need to create retirement homes for staff. Let's fund opportunities for our students in regular education. That's what Access is all about. Also, not sure what you mean by "continuum". That is always used as an excuse. "Sorry can't go here - there's a continuum over there." "Sorry, we're closing your kid's program to make way for the continuum." THat's reality. The continuum should really mean the predictable availability of services to every region in the district. And, to provide a continuum of services for students in every school. Your self-contained kid needs to go to regular literacy? Great - the ACCESS program is available to assist him. That's the result we need from the bargaining agreement.

Special ed fails to show up for bargaining? Predictable. They're all on their way to somewhere else. Looking for the next career move. Interest in special ed? Not at all. They don't care about special ed, disabilities, families or students. They are bungee-administrators. And, they probably would do a horrible job bargaining if they did show up. Sorry to say.

Another Reader

Anonymous said...

Right Mirmac. Instead of trying to beef-up self-contained classrooms, SEA should be looking to pair up self-contained classrooms with ACCESS programs in all buildings that have self-contained programs. That was the proposal of the Task Force. That is why ACCESS programs have an extra IA. The extra funding should support all special education students, including those in self-contained classrooms.

Additionally, when will we be seeing ACCESS in high school? Special ed staff says NEVER. Why not? The model is for everything. More evidence of the district trying to return, as always, to the removal of special education students from normalized participation in their schools and communities - and their deep seeded belief in segregation. Separate is never equal. In the case of special education, it's never good.

Another Reader

Anonymous said...

The special ed staffing needs to be increased all around. I agree with reader that there should be Access programs co-located with all self-contained classes. My daughter is in a self-contained class, largely because the Access program does not provide adequate support (there is no Access program at her school, and the ones near us did not seem suitable when I visited). I really wanted her in a more inclusive setting, but reluctantly had to admit that what is available isn't enough. She would really need an aide all day to be in a regular class, and Access can't provide that. It would not need to be a 1:1 aide, but she can't manage for half the day with 1/28th of a teacher. She does spend part of the day in the gen-ed classroom, with an aide (which SM2 & SM4 specifically provide for), so we are just hoping to increase that time as she gets older - but since there is 1 teacher and 1 aide for 9 kids in her SM2 class, the school needs to have another aide available to accompany her to the gen ed class - neither classroom teacher can leave to do this. Almost all the kids in her class do, per IEP, spend a portion of the day in the classroom, but because the district does not provide an adequate number of aides to make this happen, it is a constant scrambling of schedules to try & make it work, and she is sometimes in the kindergarten class & sometimes in the 1st grade class, when she should always be in the same class with the same kids (the aide usually takes 2 kids at a time, and they are not always in the same grade, hence the moving around).

I also agree with mirmac that the staffing in the self-contained classes may well need to be increased. It really should depend on the particular kids - not every child labeled "SM4" (for example) has the same needs, so realistically not all the SM4 classes should automatically be staffed the same way. There should be room to increase the staff ratio is it is needed for a particular child or group of children. Looking forward, with the advent of the Access program, many of the higher-functioning kids are being moved out of the self-contained classes, meaning that those left will be the only children with more significant issues. Assuming the access program continues & functions as it should, the self-contained classes a few years from now could be quite different than they have been - the average level of support needed by the student in the self-contained classes will be higher, so it is realistic that the staffing may need to be increased.

Really, what is needed is smaller classes all around (or a second teacher in each class, especially the younger grades, since we clearly don't have the classroom space to actually have smaller classes).- That would benefit the gen ed kids, and make inclusion so much more doable. If the staffing ration in the classroom was 1:14 when the access aide left, not 1:28, my daughter might well be able to be in that classroom.

And absolutely, more training for the gen ed teachers - because what makes or breaks an inclusion program is whether the classroom teacher is on board with it, and both wants & knows how to make that child part of the group. And the same of course for all the children with IEPs that are in Gen ed - the teacher needs to be knowledgeable about SLDs, ADHD, and similar issues that are common in the gen ed class.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

"And absolutely, more training for the gen ed teachers - because what makes or breaks an inclusion program is whether the classroom teacher is on board with it, and both wants & knows how to make that child part of the group. And the same of course for all the children with IEPs that are in Gen ed - the teacher needs to be knowledgeable about SLDs, ADHD, and similar issues that are common in the gen ed class."

And where is that on the SEA's list of priorities for Special Education? They don't talk about training at all. Why? More pay for IEPs. Wow, what vision.

Any info as to the baffling no show of the SPED Department? Not sure who has our students' backs these days.

Reader

Anonymous said...

As we saw with Stevens, to fill a sped position the District will not look for the right person, they will look for ANY person. And with BFDay, well meaning and very inexperienced staff are being hired. Look at all the pronouncements about the contingency contracts that have been offered for SPED for 2015-2016 -- how are our children going to cope with all the inexperience? What is the District's plan to support these new teachers? What is the SEA's take on this? Why isn't authentically supporting these new teachers an essential of their bargaining position?

Confused

mirmac1 said...

While on the one hand SPS falls all over itself hiring $$$ Seattle Teacher Residency grads, it continues to crush and drive out experienced caring SpEd educators on the other. It's happening right now. Everyday. And the SEA hardly raises a fuss.

Anonymous said...

How can parents influence the SEA and get them to see the deficits in teaching experience and professional development in their ranks, esp the newbies coming in? When we hear about all these great steps being taken to fill the gaps in teachers in SPED it seems that the District (carefully) fails to mention that by the way these are mostly true newbies to the profession. I've said in on a few interview loops with some of these people holding contingency contracts. I wouldn't want my kids in their care - very inexperienced. Doesn't SEA care about this? Does SEA expect SPS to have a professional development and support plan? Shouldn't this be a bargaining topic?

Curious

Anonymous said...

Mom-of-4. Sure. Everybody wants better staffing ratios, but that isn't going to happen. The district has to pay for all those new administrators and program specialists somehow, and extra support for kids isn't going to create that money. SEA wants SM4 self-contained to have better ratios. SM4 is not the program in most need of "better ratio's", they are already the best funded. SEA would like that program to go to 6:1:x, leaving resource SM1 students at 22:1:0. That hardly seems fair. Worse yet, they make this request by vilifying SM4 students as dangerous and unteachable. You are living proof that the district forces students to the assignments that they have staffed, not based on the kid's need. Your kid is stuck in an SM2 - even though an ACCESS program is what she seems to need. The only reason she is in SM2 - is because the district chose to fund that program.

More training is similarly a non-starter. School staff is overwhelmed by training now. Sped staff don't learn anything from "training". Do you really want your kid's teacher to sit in an office downtown and listen to one of our legions of special ed administrators pontificate about some topic? Training is a rat hole. Worthless and expensive. Not mention, redundant. They've had loads of training already. Really, the best training for general ed - comes from special ed staff, modeling instruction and inclusion. And it's free.

Better to look for service delivery arrangements that can be flexible - like pairing ACCESS with self-contained. And given the inexperience and lack of quality in special ed (like having no teacher at all, or months and months of substitutes), better for families to seek quality time in general ed instead of special ed. Putting kids in first grade one day, and kindergarden another day - isn't inclusive. It means students with disabilities are visitors of lower status to a general ed, at best. Students in self-contained classes are supposed to be general ed first, and they should have a regular seat in a regular classroom, and have access to as much regular education as they can possibly handle. That's simply the law. By the way, your school is fully funded for that. If your self-contained program has no ACCESS pairing, ask your beloved special ed administrator "why not"? Ask why your kid doesn't get to sit in her fully funded seat as often as she should. If the district placed an ACCESS program in your child's school, then there would indeed be staff to support your daughter in her regular classroom. Remember that. HER classroom. The general ed classroom is HER CLASSROOM too. By failing to arrange services in any reasonable way - your student does not receive an LRE.

Another Reader

mirmac1 said...

Amen Another Reader. This is at the crux of SPS' shortcomings. Not RCCAPs or staff shortages. It's SPS' refusal to truly serving our children as first class citizens owed an education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to the child. The Task Force laid out how to do this but the District sticks its fingers in its ears and goes "lalalala, I can't hear you!" and blames funding, blames staff shortage, blames the union, blames the Feds.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Another Reader, I've been called in to clean up the messes of too many newbie sped teachers to think that training (and no, I don't mean downtown sit/gits, I mean somebody working with them while they work with our kids, and monitoring their progress) is a meaningless waste and a rat hole. The SEA should be shouting out for competency coverage of the many newbies who will managing access programs and self contained programs. Like, uh, Stevens? Hello? SEA? And what about drilling down on GenEd teachers who don't think our kids are their customers. Hello? SEA?

Curious

Anonymous said...

No teacher, or any professional, would accept mandatory "training" in the form you suggest Curious. Who would? Do you want somebody following you around all day, critiquing your job performance? Somebody who isn't your actual supervisor? Then, you'd be receiving 2 different sets of priorities - one from your "trainer", one from your boss, not to mention all the parents - who have their own ideas of how you should run your class. No way. These teachers are already certified to do their jobs. Training and special tweaking like that - isn't going to happen. Union wouldn't accept it. Nor would most people. People can either do the job - or not. If they can't, they shouldn't have been certified, and they shouldn't have been hired. The process for undoing a bad hire will have to be endured. One good thing would be to put an end to the alternate paths to certification. Lots of sped teachers come from alternative routes, and it simply isn't good. The problem at Stevens wasn't "lack of training"... it was the lack of a warm body. And that is a huge problem: subs, late hiring, no hiring, unfilled sub positions for weeks or months... rampant. That's a big deal. That was the Stevens deal, and it costs. Evidently, not enough to change practice.

If you think there's a problem with "training" - better to be an advocate at the certification level. That would have the biggest impact.

Another Reader

Anonymous said...

Another Reader,

My child never had a single teacher who knew what research-based SDI was appropriate for their diagnosis. We had 6 elementary school teachers who could not recognize the disability. Most gen ed teachers could not understand the psych ed testing results. Most gen ed teachers did not know IDEA provisions and some who don't believe in ADA. This after 11 years of SPS experience. And you know what, mostly these were very good teachers with lots of experience. And many of these things have changed since those teachers were certified, including IDEA. (Shall I tell you how many had never heard of my child's disability?) So I prefer not to depend on what they learned about sped 30 years ago in college. Did they even have any sped training for gen ed teachers 30 years ago?

-Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Just pointing out the reality. Sending people back to college (or for training)every time there's a new DSM entry, a new regulation, or new or latest fad in educational "research"... just isn't going to happen. And, SEA will never advocate for that, even if parents wish it. So why the gasping with surprise? The district doesn't want more training, and SEA doesn't want it. Those are the 2 parties in the negotiation. Therefore, it won't happen. SPS can always find some research to support whatever it's doing to whatever the minimum legal standard is. The quality of "research" in education is pretty low. The real problem Sped Parent, is that the district doesn't care about your kid. And how do we fix that?

Another Reader

mirmac1 said...

I've worked full time, raised a child with a disability and volunteered hundreds of hours a year on public education advocacy Yet I've educated myself on IDEA and civil rights; on SPS issues, FERPA, public disclosure laws and corporate Ed Reform etc. Not because someone made me, but because I felt it was important enough to devote my time and energy. That's available to anyone.

Anonymous said...

If teachers don't care about kids it should disqualify them from employment with the school district no matter what their certification or qualifications.

-Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Another reader gets his/her point across, but only by grossly overstating things. We've all had it with the teachers who can't manage their caseloads and there are actually a few who reach out and ask for help and don't get it in a timely manner. What is wrong with this picture. Ok, so make principals more responsible for ensuring these people know how to do their jobs or get them out of their jobs. Oh wait, I forgot. They have a union protecting them while they don't do their jobs or invest in figuring out how to do them well. This is the story of special education in SPS, everywhere all the time. And it will be 10x worse once all the newbies come in with their contingency contracts managing access programs and self contained classrooms. Another reader, don't excuse these things. Demand accountability.

Another reader

Anonymous said...

Another reader 2, so your claim is all special ed teachers suck? And all principals are great, except for the pesky unions? And that principals just need to go to a couple classrooms and look at a check box, or test result, or SOMETHING, and do that accountability thing? That's not what I see. The district has to start placing value on students with disabilities. And, we need policies that support students with disabilities. We need adherence to law, eg, equal access, lre, evidence based practice, etc. And we need to hire professionals committed to special education, not resumé padding.

Another Reader 1

mirmac1 said...

Principals have a union too, and one with an outsized influence. Principals don't teach my child and have, in the past, tried to deny her what she needs.

PASS is all about the money. For many of their members, their sense of accountability is school test scores. Period. I can't believe the egos of some principals - one who recently tried to deny a disabled student's right to walk with his class at graduation because... the principal does not understand state law. No surprise there.

So much damage done by some of these clowns. Particularly when they get "promoted" for their ignorance. Look at Sara Pritchett. She deserves to be unemployed - talk about getting rewards for breaking laws and policies.