Thursday, September 24, 2015

Seattle Education News Roundup

I didn't watch all of the Board meeting on tv last night but I did get to see the Board leave - en masse - when one speaker who didn't know the rules, challenged them on allowing her a second slot to speak again.  (The rules are one speaking time per person per meeting, no matter if someone is willing to cede their spot to you to give you more time.)  When she wouldn't back down, the Board just got up and took a break.  It was surprising to see given they generally give security the nod and the person is escorted from the room.

The Board also voted to halt suspension for elementary school students for nonviolent offenses for one year.  Taken out of the mix for suspension are disruptive conduct, rule-breaking and disobedience.  (Seattle has a lower suspension rate than the state average but it still has the issue of suspensions that occur more for minority students, ELL and Sped students.)  This vote still doesn't solve the issue of what else happens if not suspension?  (That's probably where all the dollars that staff wanted in the Action report will go - figuring out what else to do.  I see a consultant in the district's future on this one.)  Given the space crunch at many schools, one comment at the Times does make a good point - if kids are kept in the building, where will they go?

Director Martin-Morris who put forth the resolution said he hoped it would be across K-12 grades eventually (but he won't be on the Board to see that at this rate). I would like to applaud him for this but for someone to be on the Board for eight years and this is one of the few times he ever put forth a resolution seems a bit sad.

In his Board remarks, Director Martin-Morris told the audience that, as usual, he had several conferences to attend.  One, the Council of Great City Schools, he will be attending with the Superintendent.  At least he will leave the Board being consistent with going to more out-of-state conferences than any other director in Board history.

Director Peaslee said something interesting - she said the money was not there for the contract agreed to by the teachers union.  And then she stopped.  I'm not sure I understand her point or if she is correct.

If anyone else did attend the meeting or watched on tv, let us know what you saw.
The Times has started coming out with its General Election endorsements for School Board.  They did a very mixed split of endorsements.  In District 1, they endorsed Michael Christophersen.  Mr. Christophersen must have calmed his rhetoric down enough for the Times editorial board.  It appears the Times picked him over his opponent, Scott Pinkham, because Christophersen was more specific in what he would do to help the district.

But the Times also picked Rick Burke for District 2 over Laura Gramer.  Again it seemed to be an endorsement for someone who knew the district better than the other candidate but while they got it right on Burke, they got it wrong on Christophersen.

As an update, Gramer has been endorsed by the 34th and 37th (both a dual endorsement with Burke).  The 37th gave sole endorsements to Geary, Pinkham and Harris (Geary by a very wide margin and Harris by unanimous acclamation). 

The Times also has an amusing op-ed by former School Board director (and right-wing thinker), Don Nielsen.  Mr. Nielsen, harkening back to the days when he was on the Board with finance guy superintendent, Joseph Olchefske, talks about parents as "customers in public education." 

First, Mr. Nielsen complains about the overturning of the charter school law.  He even said that the AG's office had "helped to write" the initiative.  He further complains about "politics" in the decision when, in fact, the decision appears to be based on the constitution.  (I mentioned in my comments on the op-ed that it would be illegal for the AG's office to have helped to write any initiative and lo and behold there was this:

Thank you for letting us know about the error regarding the Attorney General's office.  We have removed the incorrect information.  Karen Cater, copy-editor chief.  

I'll just say that op-eds are about 600-700 words.  I'm pretty sure that someone read that op-ed and could see - very clearly - what Mr. Nielsen said.  And yet it got printed.  Almost makes you wonder if someone wanted it to go out into the ether for a bit before it got yanked, either via a comment like mine or the AG's office itself.

Nielsen goes on to berate the teachers, seemingly for the underfunding of schools.  Something like that.  He also said that the teachers were working on just "adult-focused" issues and not those which had to do with children and their education.  I guess he missed the part about recess and advocacy for student-teacher ratios for Special Ed students.

Then it's the Board who he says let five superintendents slip thru their fingers.  (I'll note that Mr. Olchefske ran the district into the ground about $32M on Nielsen's watch.)  He says the Board did not start "serious negotiations" with the union during the summer.  This struck me because Director Peaslee - in her Board remarks last night - very deliberately answered many questions about the negotiations that the Board had received including when the negotiations had started.  She said they HAD been talking the whole summer.

Not wanting to miss anyone, he then goes after parents saying they "ganged up" with the City Council to get the strike settled as soon as possible (isn't that what everyone should have been doing?).    He again apparently hadn't heard about Soup for Teachers and their work in supporting teachers, not ganging up on them.

He also charged that nearly all the money gained thru the strike would go to teachers.  I would point out to him that even Bill Gates says the most important thing to public education in the classroom is...the teacher.  Shouldn't that be where most of the money goes?

Nielsen shows that he completely doesn't know this district anymore and if he thinks demeaning directors who hold positions that he himself used to sit in will help matters, he's wrong. 

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Christophersen must have calmed his rhetoric down enough for the Times editorial board."

Wow Westbrook, way to discriminate! BTW, how's that write in candidate working out for your cause? You must still be bitter over his bloging about SPED issues. Have you even bothered yourself to read his blog or better yet, had a conversation with him?

What other stories are going fabricate against Christopherson, maybe you shouldn't believe everything the SPED PTSA president makes up!

P twist

Anonymous said...

The SPED PTSA doesn't need to make anything up. Christophersen writes and speaks his own stuff himself.

How about the email which he sent to the SPED yahoo group with the subject: "Anyone know who the $126,000.00 a year SPED student is?"

How about him making public records requests trying to find out that information?

How about calling other people's children "pervasives?"

--GL

Anonymous said...

Wow SPS is spending $126,000 per year on ONE student. I also would be curious of the circumstances around that.

Are there students with pervasive issues in Seattle public school? What was context in which he used the term?

The diagnostic category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age.

Just facts

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

Wow. I don't think i've ever been more disappointed with the Times. I feel having Christophersen on the board would be a huge mistake. The man is unhinged.

Anonymous said...

It's a conspiracy: the Times has already pre-written its editorials for next year, claiming that the SPS school board is dysfunctional, because Michael can't even sit in the same room with other people without insulting them.

This will allow state/city control, just like the Times always wanted. In an ironic twist of fate, Michael has been prophesying about it on this blog all last year. Or maybe he's in on the fix, too.

I sure wish Pinkham would run a campaign. This is where a Stranger Endorsement might make all the difference.

--GL

Anonymous said...

To Michael and all his aliases/troll names,

"Pervasives" is a derogatory term. Like "Retards". And "Dyslexic Idiots."

--GL

Anonymous said...

Oh no, here come the conspiracy theorist. Get out your tin foil hats.



Prozac time

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what happened with the Admin raises - did anyone watch that portion?

reader47

Anonymous said...

Why is Scott Pinkham associating himself with this group? Is he running a smear campaign against a father fighting for students with learning disabilities.

Wow

Anonymous said...

I see nothing offensive posted on his blog, I find it very informative. Whats the beef? Looks like he has been at it for some time.

--Sam

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the person who wouldn't stop giving testimony is Soup for Teachers' Richelle Dickerson. Betty even called out in her remarks saying it's been the rule for a long time that each speaker gets one spot. The rules seem to be pretty clear, not sure why she thought she should get more time.

Special Snowflake

mirmac1 said...

RE: Peaslee's hint

I understand there is manipulation of Resource Room IAs, and significantly increased case loads in Resource and ACCESS programs. Please look for the SpEd PTSA survey so that we may gather more information on this.

Queue up the labor grievances. Hmmm, as usual there is lots of money for the General Counsel and outside legal/investigators to beat down employees claims.

Peaslee, how about you guys quit losing millions in lawsuits and tech screw ups? Take the money YOU have spent on worthless SBAC testing and actually spend it on teaching children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wow, what "group" are you referring to? Pinkham is running almost NO campaign.

Christophersen has been offensive on this blog (of course not his own). That he modeled its look, name, and URL after this blog should tell you something. He has been much less-than-helpful to the Sped PTSA. I would not want someone that hot-headed and mean-spirited to be on the Board.

I did want to correct my information (as the SPS camera doesn't always show everything) - Director Peters was the only director to stay and then explain to the speaker about the one slot per person rule.

Anonymous said...

It was quite the moment. I'm not surprised the directors all left the room. The speaker started calling Dir. Carr a coward for not listening to her (after Dir. Carr had tried to explain the rules, including that the speaker could have her husband read the rest of her testimony under his own two minutes).

Such a shame to embarrass the Soup for Teachers group with this outburst. No matter our private feelings about the efficacy of the various directors, public meetings are public meetings and have to be run in certain ways, and the rules don't bend, so it's not worth making a fuss about it.

-Keep Calm

Anonymous said...

Regarding the District 1 race, I wish Scott Pinkham would run something (anything) of a campaign! I have heard good things about him from various people, but name recognition counts for a lot in these things, and as you say, Melissa, Christophersen's endorsement by the Times is a mistake.

I was at a fairly non-contentious community meeting where he was present, and I was astonished at both how he derailed that discussion, and how slow he was on the uptake re: several of the points being discussed. I was taken aback to learn that he was running for the school board, and everything I've heard about his behavior since has convinced me that his election would be very bad for the board.

-flibber

Anonymous said...

His blog is not a copy of yours, have you looked at it?

I'm not even sure it's his blog. I don't see his name listed. Only a few post mentioning his campaign.

"mean-spirited" ? I don't see it. Maybe a few of the post by "the good fight" are hyper critical, but the same could be said about many of your post and you followers comments.


--Sam

Anonymous said...

Sam - he revised his blog when he was called on it being an exact copy almost down to its name, to this blog. It looks different now. Before, you wouldn't have been able to tell the two blogs apart by looks.

HP

Anonymous said...

"I was at a fairly non-contentious community meeting where he was present, and I was astonished at both how he derailed that discussion, and how slow he was on the uptake re: several of the points being discussed. I was taken aback to learn that he was running for the school board, and everything I've heard about his behavior since has convinced me that his election would be very bad for the board.
"

Right, good luck with your smear campaign. Scott, if you allow this smear campaign to continue your reputation at the UW is going to suffer.

Trust me

Melissa Westbrook said...

Trust me, you need to either show proof that Mr. Pinkham is doing anything of the sort or stop. Because you cannot comment with no proof.

I will not comment again on Christophersen's attempt to mimic my blog in order to drive readers to his blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Trust Me -

I have never met Scott Pinkham. I am not attempting to smear anyone, merely sharing my observation of Michael Christophersen's behavior. And in any election campaign, we are all allowed to do that. It's called open discourse.

-flibber

Anonymous said...

I was also at a non-contentious community meeting with Michael Christophersen. I was put off by both his tone and content. In my opinion, he came across in an aggressive manner about off-topic issues. For example, at a meeting about school schedules, he argued that all busing for HCC-eligible high schoolers be ceased and that such children be returned to their neighborhood schools. I'd be interested to hear from him if he supports the state law requiring school districts to provide services to highly capable children.

As state law provides, every child in Washington deserves an appropriate and fully funded education. Highly Capable Programs are required by state law and are part of basic education. Has anyone heard Michael Christophersen's opinion about HCC/APP?

--HCC Mom

Anonymous said...

http://saveseattleschool.blogspot.com/

The only differences are the singular title and the absence of comments. Not a one.

Westside

Anonymous said...

"I was also at a non-contentious community meeting with Michael Christophersen. I was put off by both his tone and content. In my opinion, he came across in an aggressive manner about off-topic issues. For example, at a meeting about school schedules, he argued that all busing for HCC-eligible high schoolers be ceased and that such children be returned to their neighborhood schools. I'd be interested to hear from him if he supports the state law requiring school districts to provide services to highly capable children."

Really, another anonymous post about a fictitious meeting where a HCC parent's feelings were hurt, because someone possibly questioned the validity of the cost of a program. And somehow you think that's wrong? If want to be taking seriously why don't you go to one of the forums and confront Christopherson, at least then he could defend himself against your smears.

Crumpets

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, let's see if Christophersen shows up at a forum because as of now, it's not clear if he will be at tonight's or the League of Women Voters/SCPTSA forum on October 8th. Hard to hear someone speak if he is not there.

Anonymous said...

Hey there's also this one http://SPEDseattleschools.blogspot.com/

It has the same post, are you sure you know what you are talking about?

There are probably thousands of similar blogs, because they use templates supplied by google.

Maybe he did it to irritate you, because can be very pompous. At this point you are being ridiculous.

Self reflection

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Crumpets, I seem to have offended you personally. I'm really not sure why you are personally offended by me sharing my experience and asking a serious question. I'm trying to gather information about a public candidate for office. I have to admit that I was a bit offended by your response to me, because you labeled my personal experience at an SPS community meeting as "fictitious." I really hope that we can engage in discourse in anticipation of the election. My question is a real one: Has anyone heard whether Michael Christophersen supports the state law requiring school districts to provide services to highly capable children?

I am going to a candidate forum, but I don't know if public questions will be allowed. Additionally, I don't categorize asking questions of public candidates for office to be a method to "confront" candidates. I hope candidates at a forum understand that asking questions is the very point of having a forum. I'm merely trying to suss out his position and learn about what he would support or attempt to dismantle if he's elected. That's all.

--HCC Mom

seattle citizen said...

Don Nielsen is currently shilling for charter schools as a Fellow of the Discovery Institute. He runs their American Center for Transforming Education. Just as a reminder, the Discovery Institute is the organization that tries to rebrand Creationism as "Intelligent Design" in order to push it into public schools....
ACTE has an active Facebook page. They blocked me when I pointed out that they were the Discovery Institute....Go give 'em heck!

Anonymous said...

@ flibber and HCC mom, do you happen to know whether that comminity meeting you mentioned was taped, or maybe has comprehensive minutes?

HF

Anonymous said...

As a casual observer, I have noticed any thread that mentions Michael Christopherson gets nasty very quickly (in terms of his anonymous supporter(s) postings? Does this reflect the character of the candidate? I don't know him or the other candidates for that matter, but I do know that I don't see the likes of these sort of comments in relation to any other candidates.

Food for thought

Anonymous said...

What we're witnessing here seems to me to be full-on schizophrenia.

MCTrollcandidate

mirmac1 said...

OMG. I just heard the start of Peaslee's comments and it is BY FAR the most patronizing dismissive verbal diarrhea I've heard in a decade. For her to imply that that the public's concerns were "form emails" that were "shame on you... chastising us on all manner of laziness and stupidity", was incredibly dismissive. Can Peaslee just resign now, if she's given up on those who voted her in?

I found it ridiculous that she claims credit for the Peters/Patu hard-fought resolution with respect to standardized testing. What I heard her say was (and I paraphrease) "Uhum! The board decided all that shizz before bargaining. Look it up on our confusing website, dummies"

With respect to her rationalization on a longer school day; where was her expert crew's community engagement on this matter? Oh yeah, we're supposed to be prescient. OMG, we got egg on our face now!

Overall, she had her usual defensive posture on why nobody should fault HER for all the angst, hassle, and damage that has happened under her tenure.

I would take back my vote and support for Peaslee in an instant but let's not dwell on the travesties of yesteryear. When will "election/kick them to the curb day" come around?!

Anonymous said...

mirmac1 - agreed. Peaslee's comments were tone-deaf.

-Keep Calm

Anonymous said...

So my husband went to a Seattle City Council forum last night and asked the District 5 candidates what their position on mayoral control of the schools was and what their position on charter schools was.

Deborah Juarez, according to my husband, was confused by the question and didn't answer it.

Sandy Brown, said that he is against charter schools because they undermine public education and he said that he is for more democratic control of schools, not less, so no he did not support mayoral control of public schools.

Between this and support for the 130th street beach, I will be voting for Sandy Brown.

HP

Anonymous said...

Wow Director Peaslee sure knows how to do the "chastise" thing - but wouldn't it be lovely if she spent more timing worrying abot actually doing her job, then telling people what they should/should not think? I too regret my vote for her.

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sandy Brown appears to have a number of ed reform people on his side like Mayor Murray, Nick Hanauer, Jonathan Bridge, Dexter Tang and Lisa Macfarlane. But he also has some people I do trust in his endorsements. Quite interesting.

Director Peaslee seemingly does not watch the Board meetings after they are over if only to see what a scold she comes across as especially around public engagement.

Po3 said...

I really don't understand comments like Director Peaslee's as they do nothing to move the conversation forward. Does she not understand what her role as a board director is?

Director Peter's comments are intelligent and spot on for continuing the dialog started during the strike. She models what I wish we had in all the directors.

As far as the speakers conduct. Very unfortunate and even more discouraging that the speaker continued the disrespect on the Soup for Teachers page by turning the conversation to Directors Patu's comments. Ironic, this behaviour places this speaker on the same level of Peaslee, not Peters, who they herald as their hero.

Anonymous said...

There's an attempt to rein in Ms. Patu. She's independent and knows her district and its need. People forget there's big politics and payout in this fight. People in her district get used frequently for PR sloganeering. I think SPED people understand what I mean. It's enough to make you a...

cynical voter



Anonymous said...

It's funny - I've been thinking about Director Peaslee's use of the word "scold" and I can't but think that:
a)she's of the "do as I say, not as I do" school of thinking on that because she so often scolds us lowly public souls
and more importantly
b) she seems to have forgotten that she doesn't work for SPS but rather for US, the great unwashed public she so clearly disdains.

Most of us have no other recourse against the behemoth of SPS admin, other than to attempt to get the Board involved somehow. Not to mention those pesky election thingies ;)

That so many of the Board has drunk the Admin's koolaid is disheartening...I sincerely hope at least a few of the newly elected members take a page from Director Peters and employ some respectful (and skeptical) questioning of what's delivered to them.

reader47

mirmac1 said...

reader47

Amen. I have to have faith, or else despair!