Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Loyal Heights Parents Fired Up Over Staffing

As I previously reported, Loyal Heights is roiling over staffing uncertainty and on Saturday packed Director Pinkham's community meeting.  Here's what appeared in the parent newsletter:
As you may know, kindergarten classes are overcrowded with 31, 29 and 28 students per classroom (the new state recommendation is not to exceed 22). The district is considering not meeting our staffing needs based on our overall school enrollment and funding. Instead, the district may ask us to "absorb" the additional kindergarten students by creating multiple split classes throughout the entire school. This will impact every student and staff member at Loyal Heights. There would be a split class at every grade level and many students would be reassigned to a new classroom.
I attended a rally this morning at the John Marshall building where Loyal Heights is being housed as their new school gets built.  There were at least 40 parents marching.  When I arrived, the PTA president, Julie Giebel, was in a meeting with LH principal, Wayne Floyd, as well as Jon Halfaker, the Executive Director for the region and SPS Communications' Luke Ducey.   So I spoke with some parents.


One parent is Anna Rogzski who, along with her husband, Brian Jones, organized the rally.  (It was not PTA-sponsored.)   It was interesting to speak with Anna because she and Brian are the people who donated $70K last year to Alki Elementary because that school was losing a teacher.  (They did not have a child at Alki but now have a first grader at LH.)  Mr. Jones said last year that he was donating the  money to:
“shame the administration and the legislature and the mayor, for the fact that a private citizen and parents are putting up money to support children, because they’re doing nothing,” according to KIRO News."

And now this issue has come to their child's school and no, they are not putting up the money again (on principle.)

I have to say that on top of being in an interim building clear across town that currently has no security system (see photo below) and at least one bus has been late every day since school opened (with one pulling up with kids as young as kindergarten on it more than 45 minutes late when I was there), asking every classroom to split seems like a lot.  Not to mention the fact that the teachers did not even have time to prepare for this event.  It sounds like a recipe for a lot of confusion and lost learning time.

Here's another interesting fact - the district's enrollment number on Loyal Heights was nearly right on.  BUT, that's only because 4th and 5th grade was underenrolled while kindergarten was overenrolled.  So why so many students leaving the upper grades?  Parents I spoke to said that they believed it was the crosstown commute coupled with some degree of chaos over the last few years that sent other parents to private schools.

But if those 4th/5th graders hadn't left?  The school would get a new teacher.

The principal did come out and talk to the meeting as well as Mr. Halfaker.  Mr. Jones tried to ask Halfaker a question as the media got settled and Halfaker refused to answer and we were told the media has deadlines.  (Later on, Halfaker did take questions from parents.)

Mr. Halfaker did make the statement about the district's projected number for LH being almost right on and noted that the district only has 140 students than they had projected (also very close.)

He said it was a challenge for a public school system because they have to take everyone who comes thru the door and it can't be predicted.  Except that Michael Tolley said this to LH kindergarten parents on Sep 6th:
"On paper we have up to 30 students signed up for each class.  Not all will be in class on the first day but all have a space reserved at this time.  I am working hard to get these numbers in the proper range."  If the numbers stay where they are, he goes onto say he "hopes" to hire a 4th kindergarten teacher "ASAP."
I'm guessing they didn't know the 4th/5th grade would be underenrolled but it seems wrong to tell parents one thing and do something else.

He said that headquarters staff would be making the staffing decisions this Friday, the 23rd, and sending that decision to principals on Monday, the 26th.

I asked about mitigation funds, given LH's situation at John Marshall but he said those funds are not built in.

He went on to say that there are other schools in the system also affected and that they have an "equity toolkit" lens that they view all of this thru.  I asked him if LH was a Title One school, would this kind of drastic schoolwide impact be happening.  He didn't quite answer my question but said that staffing considerations happen at all schools.

I reminded him of the $2M left over from last spring's budgeting that was still being talked about as late as the last Board retreat a couple of weeks ago.  He said he didn't know.  Halfaker conceded the Board did have to power to decide how to use that money.

One parent said she was considering a private school and this whole thing "felt like this is being done to me."

I did get to speak to PTA president, Julie Giebel, who let me know that the PTA funds a half-time counselor and school secretary. 

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

And the level of chaos on the city streets around LH in the morning as the middle schoolers, high schoolers AND LH kids scramble for buses is significant.

Stay safe everyone!

-SPSParent

Ballard Resident said...

Some families went to North Beach.

It is simply inappropriate to disrupt an entire school. Inappropriate expectations are being placed on teachers. Teachers need time to prepare for split classrooms. Loyal Heights should absolutely receive mitigation funds.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Hazel Wolf K-8 received staffing above what would have been dictated by the WSS when they moved to John Marshall in interim. Some families decided to transfer to surrounding neighborhood schools rather than take the bus to the John Marshall building.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

When my student was at LH, the school received far less in funds than most schools in the district, low FRL. Their PTA raises alot of money, but perhaps overall less than what high FRL schools receive through Title I and other funding. They needed the money for PTA basics that were covered at other schools. SPS is focusing on reducing class sizes for elementary schools with high FRL populations due to state mandate. I don't think SPS are concerned at all with kids at schools without high FRL.
-another ballardite

Anonymous said...

"equity toolkit" means, sorry your school is too white...get over it!

BAMN TIME

Robert Cruickshank said...

Glad to see these parents standing up for their teachers and their kids. A shame that SPS central staff continue making excuses rather than focusing on solving problems. And I would note that the salary of an Executive Director would pay for at least one teacher, maybe two, in each of their regions.

Ensuring every child has a small class size should be a top priority for SPS leadership.

It also feels to me like there is a LOT more activism this fall around the usual SPS mismanagement problems. I think that's a good thing. SPS should view parents as partners in addressing ongoing issues, such as staffing and capacity. It does nobody any good to try and push parents aside, as the senior staff at the JSCEE often attempt to do. Seattle is blessed with a community that cares deeply about every child getting a good education. SPS staff need to embrace that, rather than insisting on an "our way or the highway" approach.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this how things usually are, at schools all across the district? They give you funding based on the number or kids in certain grades, and then the principal figures out how best to arrange classes and teachers? Sometimes they fit into neat little packages that correspond with right-sized grade-level classes, but often not. In this case, shouldn't the principal have known ahead of time that they had a lot of incoming K students signed up an that they were losing a lot of 4th and 5th graders? Maybe it would have made sense to plan on splits in the upper grades, if that is preferable to large K classes. Many schools end up with split level classes. Is the LH situation really that unique?

Splits Happen

Anonymous said...

"Ensuring every child has a small class size should be a top priority for SPS leadership." Yes, but that seems to not be the case if you are at a north end high school facing severe overcrowding or a school like Loyal Heights with low FRL. The high schools are facing 45 student classes, students not getting enough classes to graduate & some are sharing desks! LH parents are not the norm, my child attended, they are a very active bunch. We can hope that perhaps more parents will stand up for public schools kids. Enough is enough is enough. Parents....
-another ballardite

Anonymous said...

Maybe you need Sawant to show up with her clown posse? Oh wait your school is too white for her.

BAMN TIME

Anonymous said...

I would like this very much not to be about race. I am sorry the official brought up the Equity Toolbox. I think it is not truly the reason for any decision being made - I think it is just another layer of bureaucracy for SPS to hide behind - another reason for dragging its feet. And if the comments are any indication, this straw man is working.

The principal did know of the 4th/5th enrollment issues. We entered the year with a 4/5 split. He also knew of the K numbers. He tried to hire a teacher. SPS told him there was a process and he had to wait. He tried to hire a substitute to at least start a classroom while we waited for a new teacher. Only then were we told we that we didn't qualify for a new kindergarten teacher. Splits are an answer, but splitting multiple classrooms one month after school has already started is less than ideal.

I wish I had a school district that viewed my kindergartner as a small human being rather than a pawn to be used for more funding.

LHE Parent

Anonymous said...

Splits Happen,

Nowadays, the District dictates most everything. How many classrooms per grade level, how many teachers overall. They even dictate where there will be splits such as your school will have a 4th/5th split. The only input the pricipal has is which teachers will lead which classroom - nothing else. Funding is by overall school enrollment, not on an enrollment by grade basis.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

@ LHE parent, if the principal knew of the 4/5 numbers ahead of time, and knew of the K numbers, and presumably knew all the other numbers and the expected level of staffing, the "least bad" class configuration could have been worked out a month ago, right? Or are you saying the district promised the principal an extra teacher then reneged, or told him LH qualified when it didn't?

Splits Happen

Anonymous said...

The district promised us a kindergarten teacher. It just wanted us to wait until the final headcounts were in (Fri 9/16 - two weeks after school started), then wait for the appropriate paperwork to be processed (Fri 9/23), then we could start the hiring process. Then last week, based on overall school enrollment, the district reneged.

LHE Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"In this case, shouldn't the principal have known ahead of time that they had a lot of incoming K students signed up an that they were losing a lot of 4th and 5th graders?"

Nope, because many people don't withdraw from the district so no one would know how many are leaving.

Yes, there are splits in schools throughout SPS but every single classroom in the school except K? Not that I know of.

Michael Tolley said they would get a new kindergarten teacher if the K numbers held but didn't go on to explain what that would mean.

kellie said...

Last year at this time, there were very aggressive building wide teacher cuts and the excuse was the instability of the teacher strike.

Then at the end of the year, there was massive underspend mostly from the teaching and learning budget.

This cycle needs to be broken. There is a WSS for a reason and the WSS is supposed to be the guaranteed floor on staffing.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you get the MEMO ? Folks the number one priority of SPS is the black male students achievement gap. Your problems mean nothing to the disproportionate discipline these boys are suffering. Please put away your white privilege and let the district execute its plan.

Muffin

Anonymous said...

Muffin-- I can't tell if you are being facetious. The gap between low income students and those that are more affluent is a super important issue and a big issue that schools alone cannot fix. SPS should be focused on this issue. It is also unrelated to this discussion. Let's stay on topic and hold SPS accountable. However, the state mandate prioritizes low class sizes for K-3 beginning next year. This issue at LH should warrant another teacher this year, as they should have additional funding clearly for this very purpose next year. It seems SPS is not planning ahead. Or they do not plan on the money trickling down equally to ALL elementary schools. They should be getting additional money from the legislature FOR THIS PURPOSE. They also have a considerable surplus this year, although not sure the plan.
-another ballardite

Anonymous said...

another ballardite

What are "PTA basics"? Can Title 1 and other restricted use funding be used for PTA basics? Pray tell.

Wants to know

Anonymous said...

Alki Elementary had the same issue two years ago with 30 or more in three Kinder classes. The School ended up getting a new Kinder classroom teacher by the beginning of December. Until then the school made the best of a crowded situation. I don't understand why the same cannot happen with LH. Alki now has a number of split classes - but at least the teachers knew at the beginning of the year.

Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted with the race baiting here, though not surprised by Muffin and BAMN TIME.

Another parent

Jan said...

Thanks, another parent --

You speak for many (including me).

Jan

Anonymous said...

Just pointing out that there bigger issues the staff needs to focus on and every time there's a minor issue at LH or QA parents raise a huge stink. Could be the white privilege syndrome, just maybe?

Muffin

Melissa Westbrook said...

Muffin, you are off-base here.

You apparently don't understand the situation; every single classroom except K will split. I don't think any parent at any school would want this. Especially weeks into the school year AND when teachers had no opportunity to prepare.

Anonymous said...

Melissa you should check out Bagley. Splits at every grade.

Oh split!

Melissa Westbrook said...

That does not make the situation at LH any better. I know there are splits in many schools (but I didn't know Bagley had them at every grade,) And did this happen in the same manner as LH?

Anonymous said...

Leschi also has splits at every grade. Bagley and Leschi are both Montessori and split classrooms are a core aspect of having a Montessori configuration: Montessori philosophy requires split classrooms as they allow for a variety of achievement levels in one classroom and children to learn from each other at their own pace. Some splits are more then two grades, there are 1/2/3 splits as well.

Montessori Fan

Anonymous said...

Ah wait, what?

Read all about it "Loyal Heights Parents Fired Up Over Staffing".
Fired up are your words not mine.

fire up. 1. Inflame with enthusiasm, anger, or another strong emotion

I'm thinking you meant anger, yes? Ok then, I'm right on point then. It appears the Ballard hipsters are "fired up" because the students at LH might get a little taste of some of the treatment others have experienced and so the parents want a RED ALERT with people email bombing the board. Apparently they do not trust in giving their elected school board director time to attempt to work it out. Mr. Pinkham do you understand who you are dealing with here? These parents can slap you on the face with $70 grand anytime they choose!

Apparently they didn't like Mr. Pinkham's demeanor for not also getting "fired up" or just maybe they wanted an old school style Sue Peters blown horn tantrum?

Come on you have to admit it all comes off with a "White privilege" smell, yes?

Muffin

Anonymous said...

Everyone and I MEAN EVERYONE should be fired up! I bet most every elementary school in SPS has at least one split level class. I believe one reason is because of limiting class size in K-3 grades. So fourth and fifth grade classrooms don't have huge numbers of kids - schools are choosing to have split level classrooms. This isn't ideal just like pulling a teacher from a different grade and having them teach kinder. Especially if every student will be shuffled around. BUT that said, better now than in November or December. I don't think the stink is "white privilege" And even if it is - good. Email bomb the board. Promises were made to teachers and families and now the district is basically saying - you want smaller class sizes - well here ya go - but you will also have split classes. As far as the $70 grand goes - the guy who gave it was making a documentary - so there was a purpose to that madness. Education is a privilege and bravo for these parents getting fired up and TRYING to make a difference for their school. Maybe if their being fired-up makes it difficult for the district - then MAYBE the district will not mess with other schools.

Green Lake Parent said...

Montessori Fan,

I completely agree that there are lots of benefits to multi-age classes. But there is a big difference between a thoughtfully planned intentional multi-age program and suddenly having to rearrange a whole school into split classes where teachers abruptly find themselves faced with teaching two grades at once.

Green Lake Parent

Luv2teachseattle said...

I'm still not sure I understand what the magic formula is for class size at KG? I thought it was lower than 22. Can you please clarify Melissa? Is it 22 at all schools or is it different for schools with FRL or does it change with the years? I can't seems to get straight answers. Our school is looking at a split because of a similar problem--no one's fault, it just happened. But the longer people wait, the worse it gets. I'm sorry for the teachers and the students at LH, but having taught splits, it is definitely better than having way too many children. The only grade level where I'd never do it again is 4/5.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to an explanation of the class size calculation: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Budget/Budget%20Development%202017/classsize_crosswalk17.pdf

Eric B said...

Splits are one thing. They work out for some students but not others. LHE has historically had split classes in many grades, including K-1. As the school grew, they had 3 classes of students per grade (on average) and not 2.5, so the splits gradually went away. What's egregious is not splits in general, it's splits being imposed with a massive reorg of students a month into the school year.

Anonymous said...

I wish district parents would email bomb the board or picket when SPED students get F-ed over. As pointed out, Sue Peters will show up with a megaphone or a parent will come up with $70k over a racial issue, but SPED is treated like it's leprosy. I'm sorry people are stressed out, but please understand there are much worst things going on.

Reality bites

Charlie Mas said...

So we have this thing now, whereby some folks dismiss all complaints - other than those about disproportionate academic outcomes for minority students from low income households - as "White privilege". According to these folks, there is one, and only one, legitimate complaint allowed and all other complaints are just the whining of spoiled babies.

I don't buy that and neither should anyone else.

Stronger Together said...

Raising public awareness and demanding change in public schools is not a zero-sum game. When parents get involved in supporting their local public school and teachers by standing up to ridiculous policies or demands from on-high, the district is forced to confront the reality that the school community 1) knows what's going on and 2) is not ok with it. That doesn't mean the district will always be responsive to parent requests or listen to parent suggestions (bwahahaha), but it is an important, public reminder that members of the larger community are interested and want to be taken seriously. This is a good thing! And it can lift up other kids whose parents may not know what's going on or be able to make themselves heard as effectively.

Every time a specific issue is discussed on this blog, someone has to chime in about how another issue deserves even MORE attention, or "what about the white kids?" or whatever. Why do we play this game? It just divides us and distracts us from the bigger issue, which is that the district needs to be held to higher standards and pushed to make KIDS a priority. All kinds of kids: SPED, HCC, failing, thriving, white, black, Asian, you name it. We should be thrilled that there are so many parents focusing on their kids' needs, whatever they are.

And FWIW, plenty of privileged folks lay it on the line for kids far needier than their own. Probably not enough, but it does happen. That Loyal Heights dad didn't write a 70K check to his own school (and as far as I know, that wasn't a "racial" issue, but a school that desperately needed a teacher).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Muffin, your tone is disrespectful. If you bothered to read, no, no parents nor the PTA are going to raise the money for the teacher.

Again, I would say this about ANY school this might happen to. Green Lake Parent nailed it:
ut there is a big difference between a thoughtfully planned intentional multi-age program and suddenly having to rearrange a whole school into split classes where teachers abruptly find themselves faced with teaching two grades at once.

My understanding is for K-3, the class size should be 22.

Reality Bites, I think that, overall, there certainly are more high level problems like poverty, disabilities, etc. But I'm not going to negate other issues as if they don't matter. Charlie and I have consistently spoken out on the high level issues but they are larger than just within the school system (especially poverty.)

I also am not buying into this "equity lens" thing that the district is now using to dismiss any issue they don't want to deal with. Equity is important but the district would have to prove to me how dealing with other issues makes for less equity.

Good thoughts, Stronger Together. The district needs to know that parents, in every corner of this district across a variety of issues, will be rising up to advocate.

Anonymous said...

Wants to know-- Sorry, I meant basics. Not PTA basics. They were using funds to pay for math curriculum, a 1/2 time counselor when my child was there & 1/2 time office person among other things.
another ballardite

Anonymous said...

Agree with Charlie's post completely.

"So we have this thing now, whereby some folks dismiss all complaints - other than those about disproportionate academic outcomes for minority students from low income households - as "White privilege". According to these folks, there is one, and only one, legitimate complaint allowed and all other complaints are just the whining of spoiled babies.I don't buy that and neither should anyone else."

Well said Charlie. Muffin, how about caring about crappy situations that affect all kids like most of us posting on this thread?
-another ballardite

Anonymous said...

Excellent comment "stronger together" - SPS frequently makes incredibly poor decisions on every level for every student. They need to be reminded often that every student counts. Every. Single. One.


maisy

Anonymous said...

I prefer "Make SPS great again" The term "stronger together" reeks of corruption.

Reality bites

Meg said...

Am I missing something?

If Loyal Heights has almost exactly the number of kids expected, but w/ fewer 4th & 5th and more K, it does seem like Loyal Heights should probably be getting MORE teachers, not the same or less; K staffing ratios in non-poverty schools are supposed to be 22:1, compared to 27:1 for 4 and 5. And SPS supposedly has a policy of rounding UP to the nearest 1.0.

These ratios are not just state recommendations - they are part of SPS's weighted staffing standard models.

Btw, for non-poverty schools, the WSS ratios are: K = 22:1, 1 = 24:1, 2=25:1, 3=25:1, 4=27:1, 5=27:1

It seems like it's pretty reasonable for the school community to advocate for their students in this case. In the case of Loyal Heights, it looks a lot like SPS administrators are refusing to provide the school with adequate staff - using the guidelines THEY THEMSELVES set as a staffing minimum.

Are there other schools getting kicked around, maybe even harder? Yes. It sucks. And the Loyal Heights students should still receive the minimum staffing level set by the district.

Anonymous said...

Let's just pretend for a moment that the situation at LH was dire. Your telling the community that parents at your school are so affluent to be able to donate 70 thousand dollars to anther school to fund a teaching position there, but you guys can't fund one for your own school? Is this some form of martyrdom to gain attention?

Reality bites

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said...

Sigh.

1) apparently the donors thought last year was an one-off crisis. now they are SPS parents and recognize it as systemic and needing change at that level.

2) split-classrooms are difficult and suboptimal unless done intentionally (Montessori) with smaller classes and committed, trained teachers. The district never liked them until they became necessary.

3) the super-annoying thing about this is that splits usually happen when you have LESS than a whole class of extra student. Here, there are more than enough extra students for a whole classroom. And the district strung the principal along.

Anonymous said...

Typically people in Seattle do not get involved unless they are directly affected.

If the district acquiesces to the LH parents it's going to start similar demands at other schools and the appearance of privilege for LH if other school are not treated similarly.

2Cents

Anonymous said...

I do hope that being forced to consider what is best for the LHE kids leads the district to continue on with that consideration for all other kids at all other schools within Seattle. And then make a reasonable policy change to ensure that it happens. A girl can dream.

I think it shameful that instead, we live in a district that the central admin nickels and dimes the schools rather than does its best to give every student what he/she needs to achieve his/her best potential. And the only way the district will reconsider its decision is when there is a loud, organized uprising that screams at the school board and media. Wouldn't it be nice if we could simply appeal a decision, meet with a representative, present a reasonable case and be heard?

LHE parent

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

Former LH parent here. Definitely not the wealthiest parents in Seattle at that school. This is not Madison Park. Not FRL, but knew many families with single parents etc. But they are an active bunch, many believe in supporting public ed. That is one family who donated the money.
-another ballardite

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reality Bites, I would not call LH affluent. The parents who did the good dead last year for a school not theirs did it to be nice but ALSO to shame the district so things like this didn't happen again. Little did they know it would happen at their own school. How is that martyrdom? There's nothing that says any parent or parent group has to fund a staff person.

I don't want this situation for ANY school. It is not possible to put out all fires but when it's one that's on the district, I think they should provide the water.

LHEparent, I agree. I wish there were a better way.

Anonymous said...

LH parents might not be the "wealthiest", but judging from a very low FRL rate (6.4%) they are not hurting by any accepted measurement.

I would also add in that having a parent with the financial capacity to give $70K to help out another school is striking and extremely rare. It's also interesting that a mere 1.7 miles away is one of the poorest schools in district 1 with a 45% low income population vs LH's 6.4% While Northgate, Olympic Hills have even higher rates >70% FRL they are not geographically close to LH.

From the outside LH seems to sit in a pocket of affluence with this protest giving off the appearance of a White Privilege.

Hipster parade

Anonymous said...

Splits are different than programmatic multi-grade classrooms. Montessori is multi-grade. Splits, are splits for the students in contemporary at Bagley.

Oh Split!

Anonymous said...

Yawn.

-Specious

Ms206 said...

Does SPS have any procedure for transferring teachers/staff in order to account for actual enrollment? In the School District of Philadelphia, where I work, there is a procedure called "leveling" that occurs in October. Leveling takes place in order to provide staffing that reflects actual enrollment. The contract between the PFT (educator's union) and the SDP has some provisions regarding whom is transferred during leveling. Is leveling a perfect process? Absolutely not. It can be difficult for schools that lose teachers. It is also difficult for the teachers who have to move. I don't know all of the particulars of the leveling process, but it makes sense for it to occur in larger school systems.

Anonymous said...

"The parents who did the good dead last year for a school not theirs did it to be nice but ALSO to shame"

Wow, I can be shamed for only $500, where do I go to pick up my cash?

LOL

Anonymous said...

Well you know Charlie, white privilege is the thing that's about to blow this country up, so maybe other stuff like a split class is seen as whining by comparison.

door

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will again say that the role of this district is to support every single child.

Charlie Mas said...

So let me get this straight, only those living in poverty have a right to complain? Only people of color have a right to complain? Is that the message?

TechyMom said...

Public school is not charity. We are all together, paying for an essential service of our society. This shabby treatment isn't acceptable for anyone. It is coming to light that many members of our society have not had adequate service. That is something we must fix. We don't fix it by saying "oh, you people who have been getting mostly adequate service? Yeah, that's got to stop." We fix it making sure that every student has not just adequate, but good, service.

Anonymous said...

Hipster parade-- This thread is about the school district's responsibility to implement policy regarding ratio of students & teachers etc.

But you want to turn it into another issue. BTW there are MANY parents struggling to make it who do not make the FRL cutoff. Have you heard about the disappearance of the middle class? What makes you think all these parents are affluent? I am not & I had a kid at the school. And so all the working class & middle class kids in our country in public schools should suffer because only certain kids and only one issue matters? I don't think that is very good for our society & think that view is not representative of America.
-another ballardite.

Anonymous said...

And I think it is sad that when one parent who has the ability to send money to a struggling school is SW Seattle is used as an example that all families attending LH have white privledge. Way to thank the man for his generosity and encourage more resource sharing!

Never Enough

Anonymous said...

My kids are in a very over-crowded high school now.

Between them they had splits as !st graders with Kinders, 2nd-3rd splits as 2nd graders, class size of 33 in 5th, yet nobody picketed.

The parents and staff worked together to make it work and it worked.

In many ways I think it brought the school community closer and the kids saw that parents could transcend their urge to advocate for their own. The kids were brought together in a way that wouldn't have happened in a well-funded tidy system and the effects on those kids was positive. They learned about human nature, about selfishness vs. selflessness. About adults, about staff, about being a real community, not a fake one. They saw the rich parents working with poor ones to make the school work for all the kids. Life lessons they will use forever.

Good citizenship is about how we act towards each other in adversity.

All this picketing stuff started when that field trip was canceled and that incident was, again, predominantly whitish parents, teaching their kids about flexing the privilege muscle.

When mistreated SpEd, ELL, FRL, and homeless parents have the time, money and energy to picket, we will have an equitable system.

Until then, protest like the LHE parents are staging ring as hollow as Bertha's tunnel.

Green Lake

Charlie Mas said...

@Green Lake,
AH! So now we have a new test for who has a right to complain. If you have the leisure time to protest, then you have it too good to protest. Of course, by that reckoning, there can never be any protest.

I believe that the families at Loyal Heights are advocating for their entire community, not just for their individual children. You can say that they aren't acting for all children in the district, but that finish line has no end. If they were acting for all children in the district someone else would say that they aren't acting for all children in the state, in the country, in the world.

News Flash! People will protest what they want to protest in the way they want to protest. They will sit or kneel at the national anthem if that's their choice. They will march or picket if that's their choice. Here's another news flash: you are not their intended audience, so no one cares what you think of their protest. Rings hollow for you? So what. Your whining is empty of everything but mean-spiritedness.

If your response to getting shafted by the District is to just suck it up and suffer, then you will always get shafted by the District. If your response is to come back to the District and demand better, then you just might get better.

You write that good citizenship is about how we act towards each other in adversity. Well these folks are experiencing adversity and look how you are acting. I guess that means you're not a very good citizen. Also I notice that when your kids were in split classes you and your school community only worked for yourselves, not for the whole district. How selfish.

TheGoodFight said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Mass wrote -"News Flash! People will protest what they want to protest in the way they want to protest."

For example, they will assault others, destroy private property, destroy public property and disrupt innocent peoples lives and livelihoods.

In contrast, I welcome pickets and emails.

--North End

Anonymous said...

@outside observer--I think you're off base. Charlie was simply giving props to anyone who advocates for their children or all children vs those who accept the status and get screwed. To toss bombs over the fence at any parent group for advocacy is wrong. Perhaps the media should show clips of parents across our community and state and not just the LH demonstration? I'm sure they weren't the only ones out advocating for their students this year. When all the negativity just because of their zip code? It's not like they're asking for caviar for lunch--they want follow through on promised reductions in K-3 class sizes.

Go LH!

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

"Between them they had splits as !st graders with Kinders, 2nd-3rd splits as 2nd graders, class size of 33 in 5th, yet nobody picketed."

And they did this at your school right after it started with no prep time for teachers?

Also, I'm not having personal attacks on people or their personal lives,so that needs to stop. It has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

Anonymous said...

Why would @Greenlake respond after being ridiculed and belittled, Melissa?

Mike

TheGoodFight said...

How is this not a personal attack on Green Lake?

"You write that good citizenship is about how we act towards each other in adversity. Well these folks are experiencing adversity and look how you are acting. I guess that means you're not a very good citizen. Also I notice that when your kids were in split classes you and your school community only worked for yourselves, not for the whole district. How selfish."

Seriously, for those of us who have fought for change, we have always thought that deficiencies or policy violations we point out at our schools would automatically be subject to corrective action district wide.

I think we all known this rarely happens if ever. The point of having a large centralized administration is to have the bandwidth to equally and fairly enforce district polices at each and every building. What we have in SPS is arbitrary and capricious application and or enforcement of policies.

I believe it's time to turn the model on its head and give back more autonomy to our buildings and teachers with vigilante accountability.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mike, I said nothing as you describe. I assume you mean Charlie.

But again, a reader can make a point of comparison but make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Of course, there are splits all over the district but did they happen school-wide two weeks into the year? I'm just asking a question.

Also, please readers, if you are referencing a comment, then speak to that person because the rest of us don't know who you are speaking to.

GoodFight, what is "vigilante accountability?"

Ballard Resident said...

I was at the board meeting. Did Stephan Blanford really accuse Loyal Heights parents of being immoral?

Anonymous said...

My point, and I am sorry that I was cloudy, @Greenlake was ridiculed and might not want to dialogue.

Mike

Anonymous said...

@Ballard Resident--what?!! That's crazy. Is the meeting taped so I can watch?

Total Chaos

TheGoodFight said...

vigilante- a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.

I believe when a building is enforcing good policies or driving change then the need for vigilance is minimized or hopefully eliminated. Do we want to count how many examples of a building wanting to follow policy and do right by it's students only to be stepped on by JSCEE administrators?

When school principles and staff are free to do what's best and have the funding to do so then I believe we will see better outcomes for everyone.

Anonymous said...

This story is about Loyal Heights. Even ST used Loyal Heights. It's an easier story to write about. It's out there and organized, ready to be interviewed and heard. It has heroic, generous parents who can donate 70,000 dollars. Makes work easier for the reporters. Writers can use this case to embrace all of Seattle or Seattle metro facing similar problems- large class size, teacher shortage and growing enrollment. It might not be the most accurate way of reporting. It might even be stretch and scratch the surface reporting.

Oh, the shortfall of profiling. The pesky details. Pickets and emails, knee bending and sitting it out and violence taking over the coverage. Fascinating how news media and people respond to each act of protest.

News Reader














Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow. Protesting what? Are these kids really getting "shafted?" I have over 20 years experience as an elementary teacher (Not Seattle but a neighboring district in a high needs school). Classroom re-configurations happen all the time, due to enrollment, boundary changes, etc. It's public ed! These things happen! Do you think your elementary-aged kid is really going to be traumatized because they have to go to a different classroom after 3 weeks or be in a split? Charlie M says, "shafted?" Give me a break. Maybe assume positive intent instead of thinking the district is out to make things miserable. It's a large district. Seattle has absorbed a huge influx of people. If the school doesn't have to ship any teachers away and can re-configure grade-levels to preserve the current staff, then you should feel fortunate. What is the big deal if teachers have to move teach a different grade level or a split classroom after a couple weeks? It's happened to me! It survived! It ended up being fun! Look at it as an opportunity to do something new, positive, different, whatever. The teachers are all certified to teach elementary, so they should be able to handle it. You should feel fortunate if staff don't have to leave the building. Look at schools like Daniel Bagley, in which a majority are splits. If you really want to put your energy into something positive that will actually make a difference, drop your signs and head over to a high-needs school and volunteer your time reading with kids.

Priorities

Anonymous said...

Huzzah, Priorities, huzzah.

apple pie

Anonymous said...

Clearly Priorities doesn't get the HUGE disruption this will have on families. If we should assume our children will be subject to this, and other diruptions like NOT being grandfathered into their current schools, than what if any rights do our children have in public school? Is it too much to ask that a child be able to stay in the same school for the duration of their time? Is it too much to ask that a month into school they don't get a new teacher with new classmates? Our children aren't ID numbers without thoughts and feelings. Regardless of race or income these decisions do not help children learn. And I don't think what the parents are asking for is unreasonable
Seattle should have a student bill of rights because without it, the district will run over any child in their way.
-Hit and Run

Charlie Mas said...

Its one thing for Priorities to suggest that the trouble caused to the Loyal Heights community - students, teachers, and families - is small and bearable. Of course, that's up to the Loyal Heights community to decide for themselves. Priorities suggests that while it isn't anything that anyone might choose (including the District officials who made it necessary), the community can accept it and make the best of it.

It's something else for Green Lake to call them selfish in a illogical, self-contradictory, and sneering comment that offered only contempt for all advocacy. It's something else for Green Lake to say that anyone with the time to make a protest has it too easy to have anything to protest about. It's something else for Green Lake to characterize not just the Loyal Heights community as privileged, but all who advocate for their children as privileged. In this context "privileged" means "undeserving, pampered, and spoiled".

And Mike, if you think Green Lake was "ridiculed and belittled", then I suggest you re-read what Green Lake wrote. If Green Lake can dish it out, then Green Lake can take it. Sometimes things are mocked because they are mock-worthy. I didn't have to belittle Green Lake's comment, I only had to point out how little it was to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I love when Mas pulls the skirt up over his head in his usual histrionics about someone who disagrees with him. HEELARIOUS. Does Mas still even live in Seattle?

- Laugher

Anonymous said...

Charlie wrote: "the District officials who made it necessary" THIS.

To those criticizing the LH families, take in that statement written by Charlie. The LH situation is NOT an "act of god," something that came from nowhere. This is a human-created problem, the kind of which happens over and over and over in this district.

The lack of money from the state, coupled with the poor decisions of JSCEE, creates situations like this all the time. It does not have to be this way, and we shouldn't be resigned to it.

-catfood

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good points, Catfood.

I have to wonder at readers who make everything personal. We can all benefit from being careful in our responses but if you have nothing more to add than to attack me or Charlie, I have to wonder.

Priorities, again, did you work in a school where every single classroom, save kindergarten, was split 3 weeks into the school year? You have no sympathy for the work that the teachers will now have to double-time to do in order to teach that split class? It's just that easy to walk in and start?

No one is saying it cannot be done. I'm sure LH teachers are professionals. But it does not serve the teachers, the school or the community to do it in this slap-dash manner and I think it will likely slow learning down.

The ire should be directed at the district, not the school.

Anonymous said...

"I have to wonder."

Me too

Anonymous said...

It seems like there should be better planning in the school administration to prevent these changes so many weeks after the start of the school year. There has got to be a way to ensure these changes happen earlier in the summer so the school year can start with the right amount of teachers in each building.
NWmom

Anonymous said...

"The lack of money from the state" For SPS that not the root cause.

Reality Bites

Anonymous said...

50 questions and a tirade! Bonus Friday.

JJ