Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Well, there's a pending showdown over a strike in Seattle Schools.

An investigation into the shooting at the high school in Marysville has come out, this via the Seattle Times.  The 15-year old former girlfriend of the gunman and her lawyer had sought to block the texts and other messages between them leading up to the shooting.  It's sad reading.  While I know this is probably tough for her, justice requires that all involved, including the public, know not just what happened but why.  But it might be worth a discussion with your child about text messages that worry them and when to go to you or another adult.  Kids say a lot of wild things under duress - when should a kid take a friend (or significant other's) anguish seriously?

What's on your mind?


42 comments:

Anonymous said...

At the SEA meeting, people were fired up. I'm seeing pride in the SEA in a way that I haven't since I joined the union in 2007.

I'm reminded of the old labor saying: management is the best organizer. There are a number of factors involved in the long, slow return of the association, but SPS's atrocious management has to be one. And now the chaos, incompetence, and disrespect we've come to expect from downtown administration is reflected in its bargaining team.

The key to ending this is steadfast unity among SEA members and massive, demonstrative, overwhelming support from the parent community.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Pictures in the Seattle Times of teachers excitedly voting to strike won't help with parent support.

Citizen Kane

Anonymous said...

Just heard a story on KIRO that mentioned that preschools and day cares housed in SPS facilities will also likely close if a strike occurs. Hmmm.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Citizen Kane, I think parents are smart enough to consider the Times' wanting a shot of the action and the action was at the SEA event. I think that parents who have been active or aware of the issues for teachers around Sped, testing, recess/lunch and bell times know and understand the strain on teachers and on their schools.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Melissa. Just to illustrate the "strain" you speak of, let me relate some of the things I heard at the meeting last evening.

Right now, the district doesn't directly reimburse clerical workers for the long overtime they put in. One office manager related how she worked $14,000 in overtime. Yet, she only put in for $6000 of it. The reason is that this overtime has to come out of the school's budget. Our office managers care about our schools and our students, and so they're put in the position of asking for overtime pay that comes out of money for school supplies and other expenses. What kind of sick administration puts people in that kind of position?

And do you remember how the district recently wanted to cut the number of clerical workers in our schools?

The district, in so many ways, large and small, is disrespectful. I would strike for that issue alone. I would also strike for the unlimited caseloads that some of our support staff are burdened with. How do you think it feels to be so overburdened that you can't get to serving students in a reasonable amount of time? How does that help students? I would also strike for increasing substitute pay. I can't count how many times we've received emergency emails asking for teachers to give up their planning periods to cover for teachers who are on sick leave and can't find a substitute because the district can't attract enough of them to work in the district. Do you realize how giving up planning periods puts a strain on the teaching staff?

Enough. I will strike for nurses, for office managers, for substitutes, for school psychologists. I will strike for children who only get ten minutes of recess a day. I will strike for teachers who can't afford to live in the city. I will strike to rid ourselves of test scores tied to evaluations. And I will strike to reduce the number of standardized tests.

I will strike and strike and strike until the district shows us the respect we deserve for the countless hours we put in to support the students we care about. Who is Dr. Larry Nyland to say that I am not putting in enough hours of instructional time? What does he know about the hours I devote to supporting students with their extended essays? What does he know about the countless hours of time I put into emails to answer student questions about homework, about their essays, about upcoming IB assessments? What does he know about the time I put into reading and commenting on my students' Theory of Knowledge essays?

I will strike and strike and strike to stand with my coworkers and for my students and their parents. And yes, I will publicly testify to it and sign my name to it.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

I think the SPS top down administration methodology is a disaster. We can only hope perhaps the new board will being to dismantle it piece by piece.

Go Rams!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to SDOT for the very nice new safer sidewalks at
Viewlands elementary. I can't believe it 55 years to get this done. Next, the eastside of 3rd.


NW Voter

Anonymous said...

About youth suicide in high school:

MW wrote " But it might be worth a discussion with your child about text messages that worry them and when to go to you or another adult. Kids say a lot of wild things under duress - when should a kid take a friend (or significant other's) anguish seriously?

Amen to the above discussion.

I had a senior student at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane commit suicide.

A day before she had discussed her suicide on the phone with another student, who sadly failed to disclose it.

-- Dan Dempsey

NW mom said...

David Edelman, thank you - you said it all. And thank you for all the work you do. I stand with the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Citizen Kane,

If you think that, you haven't talked to many parents of current SPS students. I have talked to many families at our school, in our neighborhood, and via email & social media to friends in other parts of the city. To a man (or woman), they are supportive of the teachers' action. You'd be hard-pressed to find an SPS parent who isn't fed up to the back teeth with the lies, corruption, weasel-words, ineptitude and dissembling of the district.

You can find the opinions of just a few parents on SPS's facebook page, if you care to look.

-flibbertigibbet

Watching said...

I fully expect contract negotiations to be completed in the 9th hour- as it was last time. I believe a sticking point will be around testing.

David makes a good point about office staff. Many PTAs fund office staff.

Anonymous said...

Teachers,

What's the median wage in Seattle? What's the median for Seattle teachers? Many workers have not gotten COLAs since the Great Recession. Many have been forced to take temporary or part-time work, or change to less lucrative careers. Only the elite have seen earnings rise. Central SPS is an example. Teachers don't seem like they are doing any worse than many around here.

That said... The way the elite are sucking profit out of our schools, at the expense of our children is criminal. Teachers, I don't think you necessarily should get raises. There should be twice as many of you. You should never be called to substitute, you have your own students to attend to. We voted to reduce class size. Our children need support staff, librarians, nurses, counsellors, all with time to help our children. We can do without central staff and administrators.

By the way, you might not need as much planning time if you had reasonably sized classes. How long does it take to read, proof, and critique an essay? Your classes are to big.

I am inconvenienced by your strike, but stand with you.

AWestParent

Anonymous said...

"too big."
West

Anonymous said...

@Flibber, I am an SPS parent and have talked to a number of fellow parents over the past week or so and, to a man (or woman), they say a pox on both their houses. Most of my circle include parents of middle and high schoolers and we're a bit jaded and a bit removed from the "oh, my child's 4th grade teacher is the most wonderful teacher in the whole wide world and my child's school and school community is the most supportive community in the whole wide world" phase. We've all had our share of terrible teachers and received our share of terrible customer service from downtown.

There's plenty of blame to go around between the district AND the union.

Besides, this whole thing is most likely maneuvering by the WEA to try to influence action by the legislature on McCleary.

Citizen Kane

Anonymous said...

PTAs should stop enabling central staff, and legislators. Basic education includes office staff, librarian, nurse, custodian, arts, PE, office supplies, school supplies, custodial supplies, building and grounds maintenance. I have already paid for these things. I have paid my taxes. I have even passed levies. PTAs need to stop! I got a $200 list of back to school supplies that I was expected to purchase for the school year. Where is the school funding, Nyland? Murray?

Enablers

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Besides, this whole thing is most likely maneuvering by the WEA to try to influence action by the legislature on McCleary."

What? How do you get to that from striking in Seattle?

Anonymous said...

Just read the most asinine Seattle Times editorial on the strike. Here it is. As I figure out how best to respond without using 4 letter words, other bloggers here should take a swing at it.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

"Besides, this whole thing is most likely maneuvering by the WEA to try to influence action by the legislature on McCleary."

This is a bad thing?

My family will fully support teachers although I worry the WEA leadership isn't strong enough. Seattle isn't Chicago. This district grows more top heavy with people who do nothing to help students. Get rid of them. My kid doesn't get a do-over.

Westside

Joseph Rockne said...

Charter schools are unconstitutional.

opinion just handed down.

I'm shaking, I can't read the details.

Nice win for friday.

Joseph Rockne said...

This case is fabulous.

Here is a link: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/897140.pdf

I am a lawyer. there are cases you win. cases you lose. but most come out somewhere in between. This case, on the other hand, looks like a complete victory for those opposed to charters as well as those of us who want to rely on clear language in our constitution and case law.

Conclusion from the case: "These provisions are not severable and render the entire Act unconstitutional."

mirmac1 said...

Hallelujah! There is a Gawd.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Our Supreme Court is standing up for public schools in a big way! Thanks for defending our children!
West Seattle

Anonymous said...

Holy crapola. Possibly the happiest day in the life of the SEA. Bureaucrats on the ropes at state and local level. The legislature deserves this smack. It really does. Now go solve public school funding before getting your knockers in a knot over a handful of charters being stopped in their tracks.

I do feel mightily sorry for the students currently at the charters. This is not their fight. Public schools need to reach out and embrace them all, with extra effort, immediately.

But ex-SPS director and charter school guru Steve Sundquist and his pals at the Gates Foundation can take a flying leap. Right into whatever cocktail hour they were planning to attend.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

""These provisions are not severable and render the entire Act unconstitutional."

Hooray !! Hooray !! About time.

Supreme Court slams the big boys as the justices "rely on clear language in our constitution and case law."


Elated Mind

Anonymous said...

er, knickers not knockers. sticky key on keyboard = unfortunate typo. But that, and the charter students, are the only unfortunate things about the issue.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

er, knickers not knockers. sticky key on keyboard = unfortunate typo. But that, and the charter students, are the only unfortunate things about the issue.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

"But ex-SPS director and charter school guru Steve Sundquist and his pals at the Gates Foundation can take a flying leap.

So Steve Sundquist is now the main man of a defunct commission. That will look interesting on a resume.

Look for Gates Foundation to employ Steve in some new role.


Elated Mind

mirmac1 said...

Elated,

Clear language, not bogus BS and slick marketing. It is a good day.

District Watcher,

Knockers makes me laugh! : ) Maybe they need more knockers in the legislature...?

n said...

Thanks, David! I wanted to applaud you after reading your post! Such passion and we all have it!

AWest Parent, I might agree with you if all the other things you said were currently true. But they are not. In the meantime, I'll strike for pay because it seems to be the only thing I can get. Me, I'd prefer more planning time... Elementary and MS/HS may differ on that. So far, I just don't see negotiations that differentiate between elementary, MS/Hs. That's a problem with the union. If I'm wrong about that, I wish someone would tell me. But, having said that, there is too much money going into admin. It doesn't take rocket science to know that John Stanford has become a black hole financially.

n said...

Just opened a new email from our secretary - all of us are working today! Now we get one trash can per room and one recycle can. I guess custodians agreed to pick up recycle (they never have before) but only if we reduce the number of trash cans by one. Can you imagine a first-grade classroom with one trash can - probably in the wet area? I guess that means teachers don't get a trash can by their desks anymore. Or if I do, I'll have to empty it every night into the larger can.

I guess me walking my trash can to the larger trash can shouldn't be a big deal. But does that really make sense? How many of you who work in offices have to do that?

That is one strong union.

Lynn said...

There are two legal settlements on the agenda for the next school board meeting totaling $1.2 to $1.36 million. If the district were a better steward of our tax dollars, we could pay our teachers what they deserve.

(I just posted this on the district Facebook page.)

Patrick said...

N, as a matter of fact UW went through that last school year. No one in offices gets the trash cans by their desks emptied anymore, unless they work in one of the areas with private (i.e. nonstate) funding including a flunky to do dirty work for them. Maybe they can get a postdoc to do it. Couple of years before that, they moved most of the night shift custodians to day shift, so they could save big bucks (ha!) on the shift differential, and get ten times as many burglaries into buildings that are now empty at night. But it comes out of the campus police budget to respond to burglaries, and the campus maintenance budget to fix the damage the burglars do breaking and entering, and the departments' budgets for stolen items, so Custodial Services can still report a cost savings. Oh, and the fed-up star faculty members who for some reason think emptying trash is beneath them and start looking around.

n said...

Well, misery loves company I guess. I feel better now, Patrick. I don't think I said emptying trash is beneath me. I have a full private-employment record before teaching and honestly part of the respect afforded me by my private employers was the perk of not having to dump my own garbage. But what the heck, I'm having to clean the desks and clean the kids cubbies every year now. No big deal. After all, I'm just a teacher. I can take all that extra energy if have at the end of the day to do the laundry as well. We do have a washing machine at school. Why not? Bring it on. Oh, and why not a little vacuuming? After all, my kids and I make the messes. That would save the schools a lot of money. I wonder if Nyland dumps his own trash?

Partly, you missed the point that one garbage can is not enough in a primary classroom. One by the sink and at least one more in the room on the opposite is necessary and more better. Kids are kind of messy.

My school's custodian sits in his office most of the day. He does leave a lot of work for the cleaner at night. I like our cleaner and he works hard. In fact, everything gets foisted onto him. I make sure my kids clean the floor every single day so that he'll not have to bend over to pick up stuff. He even said my classroom is one of the cleanest. So, I guess I'm just ranting but I can understand your colleagues feeling that there are people who get paid to dump trash. So why don't they?

Oh, I'm such an elitist! :)

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

Yes, one trash can in my staff area isn't enough... I went to UW Surplus and bought one of the confiscated trash cans for $1, some trash bags, and now I have a trash can by my desk again. Some times you have to do stupid pointless things to continue being productive in a bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

Received this yesterday from the principal at Hale:

Dear Families,

Welcome to the 2015-16 school year. We are excited to get learning started. However we know you have completed your summer reading and we are excited to hear about the books you have read.

Even though the Seattle Education Association have approved a strike, Raider Day on September 8th will still happen as planned. Come prepared to purchase your ASB card, yearbook, pick up your updated schedule, get your yearbook picture taken, and purchase logbooks to start the year off right. 9th grade should be here from 9 am to Noon. Meet us in the performing arts center at 9 AM. Parents and guardians are welcome to join us.

•10th grade arrive at 10:30 AM
•11th grade arrive at 11:00 AM
•12th grade arrive at 11:30 AM
For more details please go to our website.

This year our school day will begin at 8:40 AM and finish by 3:10 PM every day of the week. Due to new state standards of increasing instructional time we will not have late starts on Tuesdays. We are working on adding back late starts hopefully by mid-October. We will keep you updated via our school bulletin and website.

Please note that there will be no Friday phone calls as we are no longer allowed to call families without approval. We are working on figuring out how to gain access for phone calls in the future. For now, please make sure your email contact is correct.

We are looking forward to the start of the school year.

Sincerely,

Jill Hudson, Ed.D., Principal
Nathan Hale High School
206-252-3685



So Raider Day is a go, no late start Tuesdays and no more Friday calls!

I am the most upset about the no Friday calls. At the roundtable discussions they had with Banda at Hale, people overwhelming said they liked the Friday calls at Hale from the principal. Hale parents encouraged the district to have other school principals make Friday calls too. So what does the district do? Eliminate the one thing that parents overwhelmingly supported and liked as a community builder.

HP

Anonymous said...

Last night was the first football game of the season at Hale. I talked with many parents at the game and they all supported the teachers in their strike. No one wants a strike but everyone understand why the teachers may be forced to strike.

At Hale, we support out teachers and staff. The teachers at Hale are the best!

Also, I have to say that the custodians and night cleaners at Hale are awesome. Very helpful and friendly. They go out of their way to do a great job.

I do wish the school could afford to get some landscaping upkeep done. It is such a weedy mess.

HP

Anonymous said...

To HP @ 9:33am
Re: end of Friday calls to parents from principal

As a Hale parent myself, I also appreciated the weekly calls.

I work in a SPS school office and we were informed in mid August that the decision to end use of SchoolMessenger robo-calls was due to a new FCC ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that requires opt-in consent to call families. Just because all schools have parent phone numbers in our database does not meet the requirement of consent. Apparently consent is not required for emergencies "affecting health and safety of consumers" however Legal is looking to see if attendance and weather closures qualify as emergencies. And they're also working to create ways for parents to easily opt-in. So in this case, the district is responding to federal law.

Hale Parent/SPS Emp

Anonymous said...

Hale Parent/SPS Emp

Just curious ... so no more robo-calls for now ... did you hear anything about blanket e-mails from the school to the parent community?

N by NW

Anonymous said...

How do I stop Nyland from sending us his emails? The man thinks we're idiots. First the vile bullying and threatening emails about SBAC and opt outs last spring, now the stream of misinformation and outright lies demonizing teachers!

If the teachers do go on strike, I think we should march with them carrying signs saying NO to those useless and discriminatory tests.

CCA

Anonymous said...

N by NW

Email messages via SchoolMessenger are OK and can continue to be sent to entire school communities as evidenced by Nyland's bargaining updates to all SPS families.

Hale Parent/SPS Emp

RightOnQue said...

From the board agenda:


"5. Approval of Compensation Bulletin for Management Staff – (A&F) Approval of this item would approve the Compensation Bulletin for Management Staff and authorize staff to increase salaries on the salary schedules by 1.8% starting September 1, 2015, and an additional 1.2% starting September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2017. "

It should be noted that highly paid administrative staff usually request raises during SEA negotiations.