Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Looking ahead, there's a great talk on public education coming up at Town Hall; it's Ed Boland and Inside America's School Systems based on his book, The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School.  It's on Tuesday, June 28, 7 pm.

As organizations like Teach for America face growing criticism and charter schools come under fire, author Ed Boland gives a personal account of the desperate need to reform America’s education system. Leaving his cushy job as a non-profit executive, Boland went to work in a tough New York City high school. He came away a year later not with “Stand and Deliver” stories of success, but rather an understanding of the appalling reality of his students’ lives and the hobbled education system unable to help them. He’ll tell stories about  those he taughtthe teenager who ran a drug ring, the student who was homeless, and the aspiring reader who couldn’t go to college because he was undocumented. Boland will also draw parallels between his experience and the state of our education system as a whole, offering a compelling case on the need for change in our schools.
The Lake City Neighborhood Alliance has sent a letter to Superintendent Nyland and the Board about issues concerning the district boundaries for Cedar Park and Olympic Hills and equity issues. 

In Long Island, NY, Common Core testing opt-outs have hit 89,000.  I'm hearing that in SPS there is not as big a groundswell but opting out has become more widespread.

A big Happy Birthday! to author Beverly Cleary who turns 100 years old today.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

"Charitable Plutocracy: Bill Gates, Washington State, and the Nuisance of Democracy."
From current Nonprofit Quarterly on Bill Gates' funding of Charter Schools movement in WA State. Gives a history of our state's charter movement and the influence of Gates and others' big money.



Anonymous said...

Jazz soloists from Roosevelt HS, Eckstein MS and Jane Addams MS win awards at Monterey Jazz Festival.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, -reading. That's a very interesting website.

Here are some other links from the site that some might find interesting:




Anonymous said...

Nothing like blaming the kids when the great white savior fails.

He comes from the same mindset as TFA. Not seeing this as a great talk about public education from a 1 year "teacher" with a white savior complex.


seattle citizen said...

Thanks, reading - that article about Gates et al pouring money into charters pretty much describes the whole debacle. Millions and millions and millions, showing policy down our throat, suggesting that those who oppose charters are pesky obstructionist getting in the way of his Vision....How very undemocratic

Anonymous said...

We don't have a democracy... do you understand that?

12 steps?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Non-Profit Quarterly usually has a fairly balanced view but, for the Gates article, I agree with them. And note that Gates likes working with cities who have "one person" (namely, a mayor) in charge of schools.

On Boland from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Boland stresses his book is not a how-to for new teachers since he never figured out how to himself. “Anyone who reads this book would be the sadder but wiser. I wish someone had told me it was going to be tough and celebrate every victory you have because so much of what is in front of you is outside your control. “

I am hoping to read the book but, from the reviews, the point is that it is VERY difficult to teach and learn to be a good teacher. I think the fact that for the second year in a row, TFA has not met its enrollment goals AND is trying to revamp itself speaks volumes.

There are no saviors; just many, many teachers who work very hard.

Anonymous said...

I read Boland's book and it is awash with stories that are well missing in action, such as Administrators, actual Teachers who supported him and the confusing issues about Unions which is not for.

I know a teacher here who moved from New York City and taught for years in that same city where she actually felt respected despite the press that has seemingly made Teachers into chattel. Well she managed one year in a districts on the Eastside the supposed "better" cohort, and had nothing good to say about the system and how Teachers are "respected" here and treated. This I would say "hey at least Seattle can't own that too!"

As for Bolan, he had all the supposed pedigree and training including family members who are SPED teachers, but he seemed to have lacked actual support, true Teacher training and taught in a faux charter within a public school (as the book is all pseudonyms he was outed in the press wit the name of the school and their problems were legend - admin turn and burn, student poverty, supposed "international" school) the parallels were obvious that we have the same bs here.. a school that calls itself one thing on the front while in the back it is every man, woman and student for him/herself.

Gee just like many Seattle schools. So no matter where you go there you are..

- Calls it Like Sees it

Josh Hayes said...

A friend and fellow teacher (though she is much more experienced than I, and probably the most amazing teacher I have ever met!) posted this on Facebook, but I found it potentially useful. I've read only three of these, but I want to read them all.

Ten Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read. Enjoy! (And to all my friends in SPS, enjoy the break this week while we in the Lake Washington SD trudge back to work after our break LAST week.)

PM said...


I thought that this was interesting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

PM, that is an interesting article with some good history I didn't even know.

However, he completely leaves out the issue of cost which, of course, is the driver of most things the district does.

I observe that the change in enrollment plan was driven by both cost and desire of parents to have a neighborhood placement.

"The sudden flurry to efficiently help poor kids resulted not in a radical reinvention of schooling, but a ratcheting up of tasks and stress. "

When I read that sentence, the first phrase that came to mind? Charter schools. Want to see segregation? Look at the divide in many charter schools and who they serve.

Outsider said...

I was puzzled by an apparent fork in PC orthodoxy, leading down two incompatible paths.

1) Everyone blows on a fool like Boland who thinks he can go into a black school and do anything for the students other than annoy them. White people are just hopeless fountains of microaggression and cultural incompetence, who can't effectively teach black students. Black students need black teachers. You see memoirs by black adults describing how much they hated the time they spent in integrated environments when they were young.

2) Integration is the solution to all problems of black students, as in the Stranger article.

I could explain the paradox, but only in a way that would have the PC police breaking down my door. Can anyone explain it in a PC-acceptable way?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Black students need black teachers."

That's true but how do we get more teachers of color when the teaching profession is getting beaten over the head left and right? We need students to want to become teachers.

I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at. Why couldn't you have more teachers of color in more integrated schools?

Or, are you asking if it is better to have kids of color all together at one school with many teachers of color versus better to just have integrated schools?

Anonymous said...

Outsider, I think your two "paths" are not incompatible if they are described as

1) Clueless white people who want to be heroes can't effectively teach black students. (See the book list that Josh posted for more details.)

2. Integration is good for all students. Didn't you notice in the Stranger article, the author thought he (a white student) had benefited from integration?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I think all kids benefit from integration (the research shows that.) How you get there is another thing.

The Supreme Court said that you can't use race solely as a factor but it could be rolled into a number of factors. I'm not sure what is happening in other districts here and nationwide but I suspect that since that ruling, many districts are very wary of trying it.

I know a couple of schools in NYC are using socio-economic status for a pilot diversity project.

By "clueless white people," I"m assuming you probably don't care for TFA.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big TFA fan. http://www.theonion.com/multiblogpost/my-year-volunteering-as-a-teacher-helped-educate-a-28803

On the other hand, I think that someone who starts with TFA, and then continues on as a teacher shouldn't be disparaged for the rest of his/her teaching career.