Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Black Lives Matter Day of Solidarity in SPS

October 19th Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - front
Update: Sebrena Burr, the president of the Seattle County PTSA said the board unanimously supported the teachers’ action planned for Wednesday.

end of update

(I can't seem to get comment moderation on so I am asking for civility.  If not, then I'll turn off the comments.)

The Seattle Teachers Association has been planning a Day of Solidarity on October 19th for African-American students in Seattle schools.  As well, the teacher group, Social Equality Educators, is part of the planning for this day.

I support this day and I support the district's efforts to close the opportunity gap for all high-risk student groups.  

However, this is may be a charged conversation but I am going to attempt to be clear about my concerns, not for the purpose of the day, but how it will play out.
 Background for October 19th

The impetus for the actual day seems to have come from Hamilton International Middle School teacher, Sarah AveryArvey,, who after seeing the John Muir celebration marred by threats to the school, decided to act.  She went to an SEA meeting and presented a resolution that was unanimously passed.

I talked to Ms. Avery about the day and she said it was for two things: solidarity with John Muir Elementary and  in support of Black Lives Matter in order to support black SPS students.  She said teachers wanted to model for students about standing up for beliefs and especially fighting fear tactics.

Ms Avery said that many teachers were planning lessons around this effort for October 19th.  It seems it will be a teacher decision what the lesson looks like.  

She said she, along with other teachers are working for three "asks" of the district:
  • de-tracking of programs. She they are "disproportionally offered" and that "testing doesn't go out for all families."  She said it "feeds into the social separation of youth."
  • restorative justice around discipline issues, especially disproportional discipline of black students
  • ethnic studies to be a requirement for high school graduation.  
She noted that there are several student groups organizing as well and mentioned Nathan Hale and Hamilton.

The teachers are buying the shirts themselves or getting them thru SEA.  I asked her if she thought perhaps that some teachers might not want to wear the t-shirt but may worry about the perception if they don't wear it.  She said absolutely not.

She said that she hoped the outcome of the October 19th day is "a rising of awareness of the mvement to insure schools are, both on the ground and institutionally, promoting inclusion of all students and saying that racial equity is a priority in our schools."

The District's Initiative

On Friday, after 5 pm, the district sent out a press release about new campaign called #CloseTheGaps.  It begins next week and they are asking for parent/public support.  Here's a link to the new webpage for this effort.  (Normally for something this important most government entities don't do it on a Friday after 5 pm.)  From the district's website:
This work includes the unveiling of the district’s “Four P’s”: Positive Learning, Positive Beliefs, Positive Relationships, and Positive Partnerships. Each “P” represents many of the initiatives we are implementing including: My Brother’s Keeper, a mentorship program; RULER, a social-emotional curriculum; and Everyday Matters, an attendance program.

During our #CloseTheGaps kick-off week, Seattle Education Association is promoting October 19 as a day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of our students – specifically our students of color. 

In support of this focus, members are choosing to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts, stickers or other symbols of their commitment to students in a coordinated effort. SEA is leading this effort and working to promote transformational conversations with staff, families and students on this issue.
The district has chosen to concentrate its efforts on African-American students but with the belief that what they learn about closing gaps for that group can be used for other high-risk groups like Native American, Hispanic and Pacific-Islander students.   The Board had discussions about this tactic in the spring but said yes.

My Concerns

After the John Muir incident, I had some questions for the district.  Here are my questions and their reply:

Me: Who wrote this announcement  (about the John Muir incident) at the SPS website?  I ask because it doesn't sound like SPS Communications.  I do mean the specific person who wrote it and who directed that person to write it.  

SPS: Please attribute to Seattle Public Schools. It is our collective response to the event at John Muir.

I will say that, in tone, this announcement is uncharacteristic for SPS Communications.  It was written in a more impassioned manner than you normally see from the district.

Me: Does the district have any comment on the t-shirts that some Muir teachers wore in support of Black Lives Matter? 

SPS: The t-shirt design is unique to John Muir Elementary. Over this past year, the school staff has been learning together, comparing their data to other schools, identifying practices used by our 12 outlier schools (schools closing gaps for students of color) and in a staff meeting they decided to create a t-shirt to represent their commitment to their students.

Are teachers allowed full discretion on any t-shirt they may wear to school (or, if not, what are the limits?). 

SPS: We respect our teachers' rights and desire to express themselves. Teachers have first amendment rights in the classroom but this right may be limited by a school district, especially if a shirt creates a disruption to the educational environment or is profane.

I asked the district and Ms. Avery about other ways to show their support for African-American students.   I asked the district:

Me: How does the district view Black Lives Matter group?  Is it a political movement? Another African-American group?   

SPS: As a district we are united in our commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps for African American students and other students of color.   

Me: Does the District believe that teachers wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts is the only way that teachers or SPS can "affirm black lives?" 

SPS: Affirming students happens every day in our classrooms and we are working to get better at it. This year we are focused on four key strategies: positive learning, positive beliefs, positive partnerships and positive relationships. On Sept 1 we held the first district-wide professional development day for all teachers in partnership with SEA. The focus was on building positive student-educator relationships. This was also the focus of the events at John Muir and Leshi Elementary. 

I asked Ms. Avery if her group had considered any other slogan to support black students and she said no.

Obviously the elephant in the room is the group, Black Lives Matter.  I have been doing a lot of reading because I really didn't know a lot of specifics about the group.   Obviously, you cannot believe everything that has been reported in the media about any group to understand that group. 

From reading their official webpage, they are striving for several things.  Here's their mission statement:
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
Also from their home page (bold theirs:)
Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.
Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.
So they do say they are a political group.

One concern is that teachers have their own political beliefs.  I have to wonder if a teacher sees that the district is fine with teachers wearing shirts that promotes one political group that then other teachers will wear t-shirts that promote their own political beliefs.  It's a sticky wicket for the district to put school communities in.

Another concern stems from what happened at John Muir.  Of course, it is the right thing to do to stand up in solidarity with Muir.  No school should ever receive threats for any reason.

But, from media coverage of that experience, it appears that not everyone has done their homework on Black Lives Matter.  The general public may perceive the action on October 19th in the wrong way.

And, instead of seeing a district celebrating students in a racial group that has been marginalized and hurt by society, the public will focus only on who it appears to me that the district is aligning themselves with to do so.  I especially worry about the tv coverage because tv stations tend to try to sensationalize stories. 

For many in Seattle, the only real thing they may know about Black Lives Matter - beyond their name being probably one of the most famous Twitter hashtags ever created - is when the Seattle chapter interrupted the Bernie Sanders event.  Again, the optics of that event did not play out well.  So instead of people hearing what the BLM members were saying, the public only saw that thousands of people - many of them disabled who had come to hear Sanders because he was to speak on that topic - have their plans to listen to a presidential candidate derailed.

I worry those same kind of optics may visit the district on October 19th.

I note that Wikipedia explains that BLM has a very loose structure and that chapters are allowed to go their own way on their actions.  
The loose structure of Black Lives Matter has contributed to confusion in the press and among activists, as actions or statements from chapters or individuals are sometimes attributed to "Black Lives Matter" as a whole.[31][32] Matt Pearce, writing for the Los Angeles Times, commented that "the words could be serving as a political rallying cry or referring to the activist organization. Or it could be the fuzzily applied label used to describe a wide range of protests and conversations focused on racial inequality."[33]

Indeed, the BLM website lists chapters but with these caveats:
  • Please note that #BlackLivesMatter is a network predicated on Black self-determination, and BLM Chapters reserve the right to limit participation based on this principle.
  • Please be aware that BLM Chapters have varying membership policies, and may or may not be accepting new members at this time. Also note that membership requirements vary by chapter.
  • Lastly, expect some delay in response to your inquiry.
The Social Equality Educators group is having a press conference tomorrow at the Garfield Community Center.  (Interesting that it's not at Garfield itself.)  It starts at 4:30 pm.

Unfortunately, it is at the same time as the Board meeting and I am unable to attend.   From their press release (partial:)

DeShawn Jackson: Instructional Assistant, John Muir Elementary
Sarah Arvey: Teacher Hamilton International Middle School, advisor for Hamilton Against Racism
Jesse Hagopian: Teacher, Black Student Union advisor, Garfield High School, editor for Rethinking School magazine
Rita Green: Seattle NAACP education chair
Donte Felder: Mentor teacher, Orca K-8
Kshama Sawant: Seattle City Council Member
Jon Greenberg: Teacher, Center School High, antiracist educator who was reprimanded for his courageous conversation curriculum.
In the first action of its kind in the country,  hundreds of teachers, counselor, instructional assistants, office staff, and other educators, will wear “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school on Wednesday, October 18th.  At the time of this release, already over 700 shirts have been ordered by educators in Seattle.

It is urgent for educators to stand up against racism in our society, city and schools.  The Seattle school district has grappled with institutionalized racism and remains a district that is segregated, has disproportionate discipline rates for students of color, and struggles to close the opportunity gap. It is imperative to see that educators continue to fight for the rights of all students and communities, especially those that have a long history disenfranchisement. “For Black lives to matter, they also have to matter at school,” says Jesse Hagopian, Garfield High School teacher and community organizer.  “I’m proud of my educator colleagues across Seattle who voted unanimously at the union meeting to affirm our Black students who are confronted with a school-to-prison-pipeline, disproportionate discipline, a dearth of culturally relevant curriculum, and state violence.”

“We must be bold in addressing racism. If we meter our responses in catering to white fragility, we will always heel towards the status quo of white supremacy,” says Ian Golash, Chief Sealth High School teacher.

As Mark Lilly, Instructional Assistant and leader of Bembe Olele Afro-Cuban Dance Company, states, “This is our opportunity to leverage the power of public education showing the world community that when faced with oppression, social justice, right action and compassion are the chosen response.”

The message is more than words on a shirt.  In addition to wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts, educators are doing teach-ins, presenting Black Lives Matter Curriculum, supporting student activism and leadership, and organizing with community members.
So readers, let us know what you, as parents, have been told about this day - what events are planned, is your child's teacher planning a Black Lives Matter lesson, etc.

It will be an important and historic day in the history of Seattle Schools.


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Anonymous said...

I would love it if there was a broader focus on low income kids of all colors. But this movement is narrowly defined. It leaves out much of America. Can you imagine if the movement was nationwide and included poor whites, Latino's, Native Americans also disenfranchised in many communities? Imagine people understanding what they have in common. I can only dream. Maybe our country would come together politically.
- MT

Michael Rice said...

Melissa wrote: The teachers are buying the shirts themselves or getting them thru SEA. I asked her if she thought perhaps that some teachers might not want to wear the t-shirt but may worry about the perception if they don't wear it. She said absolutely not.

I guess we will find out, because I will not be wearing one.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, would you be comfortable saying why.?

Michael Rice said...

Don't need to wear a shirt to prove that I care about educating students who struggle.

Outsider said...

This whole story reminds me of a passage written long ago by a DWD:

"The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: 'Workers of the world, unite!' Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment's thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

"I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life 'in harmony with society,' as they say.

"Obviously the greengrocer . . . does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: 'I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.' This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer's superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan's real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer's existence. It reflects his vital interests...

-- excerpt from Václav Havel, "Power of the Powerless" (1978)

Anonymous said...

So a Hamilton teacher is spearheading the effort, and one of their three "asks" of the district is that they eliminate tracking? I assume that means HCC, which is over 50% of Hamilton. Nice. Are the few teachers with experience in gifted ed also on board with this, or is a majority rules type thing?

It's particularly ironic given that their press release says "it is imperative to see that educators continue to fight for the rights of all students and communities." I guess that "all" doesn't include HC students, even though state law says that access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is basic education for them.

News flash: eliminating HCC won't have any impact on disparities in outcomes. HCC doesn't make these students HC--they just are. Test scores will still be high, it's just that they will spend a lot more time miserable, disruptive, and hating school because it's so freaking boring.


HIMS parent said...

My well thought-out comment disappeared after I posted so apologies if this is too direct.

I basically said if the HIMS teacher wants to do something to help black kids, she should go teach where, you know, there are actually black kids! I was SHOCKED by how white HIMS is when I was at curriculum night there last week. And, that's hard to fathom given 10 years in SPS at various north-end schools which are also pretty white. It's not the kids' or parents' fault that HIMS is so white. It's a product of where people choose to live in Seattle. It's also obvious SPS draws boundaries that perpetuate this problem.

Can you imagine the one or two black kids sitting in a HIMS classroom where a young, white, Stanford-educated teacher is wearing a BLM shirt while explaining how tough it is to be black? I am not black so I don't know how that kid would feel, of course, but I imagine it could be quite uncomfortable. What if the kid's parents are both doctors and she had been taught she can be whatever she sets out to be? Will she now have self-doubts and chalk every failure up to white privilege?

It's one thing to be aware and supportive of the issue, but it's another thing to think, as a north-end white mom, you know how to solve it....talk about white privilege. If the BLACK community tells us what is needed to help support THEIR kids, I'll wholeheartedly back the effort. I doubt the first thing on their list is to put an end to APP. Maybe it's significantly smaller classes, less testing, music, drama, art, PE, after the bell breakfast, safe and short routes to school, an adult who cares and makes sure they come to school.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

As a mother of biracial children, I have witnessed first hand ugly, nasty racism directed at my children because of the color of their skin, and I fear for their safety when they are away from me. Although I have witnessed it, and been subjected to it myself on occasion when I've been with my children and others, I don't live with the day to day racism that they do. I try to counter racism I am exposed to by speaking up. Another simple way to speak up is to wear this t-shirt and I will be wearing mine proudly. And yes, I will be noticing people who DON'T wear it.

Momma bear

HIMS Parent said...

I meant I doubt putting an end to APP is the first thing the black community would say they need for their children to reach their full potential. That's coming from a bunch of white people who have no clue.

Anonymous said...

She was talking about black parents in the black community; that's the "their." When they list what they want changed, hcc is never on the list, the closest is having more black kids in advanced classes, but disproportionate discipline usually tops it.

But, yes, you are right, some teachers do want to end it, even some who teach hcc (who probably shouldn't be, then).


Anonymous said...

I still don't get what's wrong with tracking - I was tracked in the 60's and it was quite helpful to me. Both the times I was not put in advanced classes and the times when I was. Tracking is similar but not exactly like the former HCC/APP model which is now being dismantled. In my day it meant segregating students of the same ability in an advanced class. The SPS feels that teachers can simultaneously teach students of mixed ability in one classroom which is, of course, a pipe dream. They also feel, erroneously, that children are somehow demoralized by tracking. My HCC kid's experience is that the Gen Ed kids don't want them around frankly. And I don't blame them. It is demoralizing and distracting to have a bunch of kids around who already know the material when you are trying to learn it. I had the same experience in elementary and middle school. All my friends were tracked into advanced math. Without them in class I was able to concentrate and throw myself into the work. Within 2 years I was tracked into advanced chemistry. Back with my friends - but I wasn't trying to get there......the tracking just had a good effect on my studies.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Where did Mr. Moriarty's comment go? It was great. Try again, Mr. Moriarty!


Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting you will assume those not wearing the shirt are making a political statement and not supportive of your child? That is all the more reason why SPS should not allow such political speech in the classroom. By all means, wear your shirt, or encourage others to do the same, that is your right as a parent, but in what kind of position does this leave teachers? Teachers - please leave your personal politics out of the classroom, whether it be BLM or your pick for president.


Anonymous said...

"I meant I doubt putting an end to APP is the first thing the black community would say they need for their children to reach their full potential. That's coming from a bunch of white people who have no clue." - I understand how you're saying this, but didn't Director Blandford essentially say 'end APP to help Black students,' to Director Peters recently?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Momma Bear, your statement about seeing who doesn't wear the t-shirt reflects another real problem.

I know that some believe silence = acceptance.

BLM is a political movement; they say that themselves.

So for some, teachers making the choice to wear the BLM t-shirts are making a political statement as well as a statement of support. Some teachers may not be comfortable with that politcal statement but do, of course, support all the students in their classes.

To make a judgment that they do not support their kids over a t-shirt would seem unfair.

Anonymous said...

As a white person in Seattle, I've been mugged twice by blacks and had my bike stolen by a black man. I have some level of fear when see a black man after dark. My personal experience is mine and the harm done to me by black men has never been acknowledged by the black community nor has anyone ever apologized for those harmful acts. I hear slights about how I'm responsible for the gentrification of the CD and hurtful comments like "What you doin here cracker" or "You must be lost" at least once a month, but I just try to ignore them.

The idea that only white people are racist is a load of crap!

CD Whitie

Anonymous said...

Regardless of where you stand on supporting this philosophy, BLM is a political organization and DOES NOT BELONG anywhere near school. I want teachers to concentrate on teaching my kids how to think, not what to think.

And frankly I am even more disappointed that this originates in my child's school and yes, I am in fact an HCC parent.

-SPS Tired

Anonymous said...

@CD Whitie

Sorry you have had such a negative interaction. Perhaps you now understand how black people feel, minus the mugging.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I've lost all tolerance for these type of "look at me" protest. Let's protest poor education, because that's what drives these type of fringe protest. What's next satanic rituals in the classroom?

I see big problems with this going forward and if it does it will set a precedence for the next fringe group to invade our classrooms to advocate for whatever.


Anonymous said...

@ Westide, Blanford may have said essentially that, but his comments were based on biases and not data. If we end HCC and send all those Hamilton students back to their mostly-white neighborhood schools, for example, do you really think that will increase black students' outcomes and decrease disparities?


Anonymous said...

Is it reasonable to support different political movements within the school setting by intimating that teachers wear symbols of support?

If so, what is the process by which these movements are evaluated prior to endorsement?

Wish there was more effort expended in the evaluation of programs that might produce academic improvement.

This is an unadvised intrusion of "political correctness" into the "Public Education" education process. It would be interesting to have a full explanation as to how this BLM decision was made.

Can I expect any of the following in the future:
"Native Lives Matter", "Hispanic Lives Matter", "Asian Lives Matter", "White Lives Matter", "Gay Lives Matter", "Jewish Lives Matter", "Muslim Lives Matter", "Catholic Lives Matter", "Rural Lives Matter", "Handicapped Lives Matter" , "Urban Lives Matter" , "Fetal Lives Matter", "All Lives Matter".

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I am at WMS and there is a group of teachers who do not feel comfortable wearing the shirt but also do not feel comfortable not wearing the shirt.

Anonymous said...

I teach at HIMS and I won't wear the shirt to school for two reasons. One, I don't believe political statements belong in the classroom, and two, I refuse to be bullied and being coerced into conforming out of fear of repercussion is bullying.


Another Name said...

My first encounter with the Black Lives Matter group was during a Bernie Sanders event. Individuals traveled to hear Sanders, but the Black Lives Matter group took over the stage.
I need to learn more about the Black Lives Matter group, but what I saw from the Bernie event- I'm not impressed. I also question whether the district should align with this group.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat support BLM, although like with any movement I quibble with some of their tone and actions. That is part of my discomfort with wearing a BLM shirt. Agreed overall the movement is adding a needed component to the national discussion.

When I support/recruit for race and gender-based field trips/opportunities/scholarships I am occasionally asked by other student's if that's biased/fair. OK, I'll grant that it is which is why I try to do it as discreetly as possible, but I'm OK and supportive of trying to restore fairer representative balances for underrepresented students. However, wearing these shirts is too direct for me - I hope not too many non-black students feel slighted by the show, and I also hope black students do not feel a lack of support by those of us who opt not to wear them as by no means is that the case.

My support of wearing BLM shirts is also currently tempered by the fact that with the proximity of the election there is no escaping that wearing the shirt has political overtones. Should supporting black students be considered political - of course not! However, weeks before the election I can't shake a recognition it inherently has a political component give the unfortunate nature of the national discussion. Indeed, some nasty mean comments about BLM and Mexicans by a couple FB friends has me seriously reconsidering those friendships so I get the need for the discussion, but I fear this action will not add to the discussion and may draw more lines in the sand.

As a teacher of a topic that occasionally has semi-political overtones I intentionally try to avoid pushing my political views. Instead I try to push student's thinking regardless of their political inclination because that is more important than anything that could potentially appear to be indoctrination. I best learned this observing a teacher for a year who frequently engaged students in political discussions but in a very balanced manner (unique position that year allowed this viewing). The teacher did it so well I eventually guessed that on par the teacher was slightly conservative/right of center... so was I shocked near the end of the year when I learned quite clearly he was very very liberal, but his belief in challenging student's reasoning as the way to build citizenship overrode his political inclinations.

I do fear a little backlash from some teachers about not wearing the shirt, and although it's rare that I hear black student's point to race as a reason why they're in trouble with a teacher (occasionally), I also worry that many teachers wearing the shirt may cause students to wonder about why some teachers didn't.

Michael Rice - totally agreed with your comment. Thank you.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I want to note that I heard from the district about this thread and was told that the district is not aligned with BLM as I wrote. You can see I changed it to reflect that is my opinion of the situation.

However, two directors at the School Board meeting very much made it sound like the district is aligned with BLM on this day. So I have written to the Board for clarification on this issue.

I pointed out to the Board that the district could have suggested to the SEA another saying on the t-shirt that would not have a direct political message. I do not believe they did that.

I do believe this Day of Solidarity came about organically and may have needed some thinking thru. I did suggest this to a member of senior staff and the Board especially around what parents should be told and understand what the day will be like for their child's school.

Anonymous said...


you forgot one,

Animal Lives Matter

The kids are starting to go Vegan at our school.

Warp Drive

Lynn said...

When will teachers be publicly declaring their support for students with disabilities? Their educational outcomes on the whole are worse than those of Black students. When will Ms. Arvey (a special education teacher) be organizing an action over the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in our district who are relegated to the basement (I kid you not) at TOPS.

Lynn said...

Thanks Outsider. That's a great description of the creepy feeling I get from this movement. (Also the "unanimous" decision by Garfield's football team to protest the national anthem and the "unanimous" support of staff at Garfield for ending honors classes.) There is some serious bullying going on in a school where all decisions are declared to be unanimous.

layla said...

If you'd been following the development of this you would know that teachers at John Muir, a school with a larger Black student body, decided to wear these shirts to show support for those students and send a message of unity with the "we stand together" sentiment. Those teachers received racist vitriol, threats, and horrible violent messages. The rest of the school district decided to show support for those teachers because of what they faced. If anti-Black racism wasn't such a widespread problem none of this would be necessary. This isn't about saying only Black Lives Matter it is about drawing attention to the fact that Black lives often matter less in this country. Just listen instead of reacting as though what is being called out isn't real.

Anonymous said...

I think you may have mixed-up the title of your post

A storm is coming is a better description for this post.

Jill s.

Anonymous said...

No offense, but I believe the threats were a hoax perpetrated by a member of a group pushing this agenda. They succeeded in generating more press and are now following up with a much higher profile protest. It fits the MO of past BLM or BAMN actions.

I have no proof, but it's highly suspicious.

I also believe this will cause more harm than good, harm that will take years to repair. I understand BLM members express support for charter schools for African Americans and this disruption regardless of any positive outcome will provide one more opportunity for charter sympathizers.


Anonymous said...

Lynn -

The 2 Kindergarten classes, 2 first grade classes and a second grade class are also "in the basement" at TOPS. It is really a third floor of the school with more classrooms than the main floor. You make it sound like DHH is all alone "in the basement" - not the case.


Anonymous said...

My HCC student at HIMS claims the special education students there are treated like slaves so perhaps Ms. Arvey should be fighting for their lives as well.

Anonymous said...

I'll just point out that it is entirely possible to believe that black lives matter and to be committed to racial justice AND decide to not wear a shirt AND disagree that racial justice somehow requires taking away advanced learning options from kids.

Dealing with race and racism is scary, especially for whites, who are taught that if they get it wrong that there can be very real and negative consequences. But the truth is that you don't have to let anyone else tell you how to think or how to act or that there's only one way to be anti-racist.

It's OK to say no to people who want to end HCC. That doesn't make you a racist. It doesn't make you a bad person. Stand up for yourselves and your children. Don't pick fights and don't be dismissive of acts of racism. But don't let anyone else tell you what is best for your child.

el gaucho

Anonymous said...

I will proudly wear the t-shirt next week. It's the least I can do, and a gesture like that can mean a lot to all of our students.

As for Lynn's question "When will teachers be publicly declaring their support for students with disabilities," speaking for myself I'll say EVERY DAY. (Lots of overlap between the two groups, incidentally, what with the disproportionate number of African American boys in special education.)

In my classroom we have frank conversations about social justice from a variety of perspectives. Race is the one that comes up the most because, I think, my middle schoolers are more comfortable identifying by race than by their disabilities. But we also talk about IEPs and how to advocate for themselves. And I'm on a mission to have them all stop using the 'R word" in my classroom. Baby steps.

- Ms. Lemon

Lynn said...

I'm trying to imagine how these discussions will feel for Black students at Hamilton. Did teachers talk to the students to find out if they want this? (I realize this would be kind of difficult as HIMS has just one Black student for every two classrooms.)

Lynn said...

Ms. Lemon,

What subject do you teach? I'm trying to figure out which middle school course's learning standards cover social justice.

The point I want to make is that for me this kind of discussion crosses over the line between the school's mandate and a parent's rights and responsibilities. If you want to expand the mission of our public schools and teach moral lessons, you should be required to get parental buy-in first.

The shirts themselves aren't a problem for me - though they seem as authentically meaningful as the movement to "take a knee" during the national anthem. I'd be livid if I worked in a school though and was pressured to wear one to prove that I belong.

I don't believe there'll be any presentation of a Black Lives Matter curriculum at my child's school - so this isn't likely to be on his radar at all. We'll see how other parents feel next week.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher. I support Black Lives Matter, but I'm not going to be wearing a t-shirt.

BLM is a political movement. I don't believe that teachers in their role as teachers should be aligning with a political movement. I agree with you Melissa about how it would have been better if the district/SEA came up with a shirt that supported our students, but did not align with a political movement.

I loved what you wrote RJ.
Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

BLM is a very loose organization. The BLM protestors who took over Bernie's rally do not represent all BLM members. There were many BLM members who were not happy with the protest of Bernie and there were others who supported it. BLM has no central organizing structure.

I don't see BLM as a political movement because it is too loose. I see it more as a rallying cry for black unity and to point out that All Lives Matter will not be true until Black Lives Matter.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"No offense, but I believe the threats were a hoax perpetrated by a member of a group pushing this agenda."

Don't make that statement and say "no offense." Of course, it's offensive because you are making a pretty big accusation.

"My HCC student at HIMS claims the special education students there are treated like slaves so perhaps Ms. Arvey should be fighting for their lives as well."

Did your student really use the word "slaves?" Because in the context of this thread, that's a very charged word. Perhaps you can clarify.

HP, you may not see BLM as a political movement but that's how they define themselves. I have to take them at their word.

I do believe in BLM because I think African-Americans in this country are treated differently (and worse.) And in SPS, they are disproportionately disciplined. However, for academic outcomes, in some categories Latinos do worse and in others Native Americans do worse.

Again, the district says this action does not align them with BLM but I think that subtle distinction is going to be lost on the general public.

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

I have some strong feeking about this campaign. I feel that this is forcing a conversation that my young child is not ready for. He is still finding out who he is and part of that includes the color of his skin. Instead of getting to frame it in a positive light for him I am having SPS bring the idea of Black Lives Matter into the schools making me have a conversation about police brutality and systematic oppression that my five year old is simply not ready for. Do I agree with the movement as a whole? Yes but the particular Black Lives Matter faction I find to have some very hateful speech included in their ideals. My child will see his role models promoting this all while being told, hey kid do you know you don't achieve as high of scores as your neighbor? Now full disclosure, my kid is mixed race, while this is targeted at strictly black and "other" minorty students apparently... but guess what? Despite what the statistical box SPS looks at, society sees him as a black kid and he may internalize this idea of underachievement before he even gets his foot in the door at school. This whole campaign may be a good idea in theory but I am very weary of the execution. This is a much better suited topic for high schoolers not every level. But I guess since my kid is going to a public school I don't have much of a choice.

Anonymous said...

As part of its achievement gap targeting work, SPS has a new Eliminating Opportunity Gaps campaign, complete with the “Four P’s” below. First of all, there aren't four P's, there's just one, "positive," that they repeat four times. Pretty lame, if you ask me. (Hey, a new "P"!) But more importantly, are the things listed under their 4 P's really the most important things to improve academic outcomes for low performing students, or is this just window dressing? Where's the focus on kindergarten readiness and intensive academic interventions to help bring students up to grade level? We know the CSIPs are a joke, and nothing else under P #1 seems likely to turn the tide.

The Four P's:

1. Positive Learning: A focus on student strengths, needs and success
-Continuous School Improvement Plans (CSIP)
-Practitioner's Academy
-Continued PSAT/SAT access for all
-Everyday Matters Attendance Campaign
-Expand summer learning access

2. Positive Beliefs: Changing hearts and minds
-Moratorium on non-violent suspensions
-Principal development
-New employee orientation
-Equity and race teams
-On demand 24/7 professional development

3. Positive Relationships: A caring adult for every student
-Whole child support: RULER, Positive Behavior Intervention Support
-Trauma Informed Learning
-District-wide professional development focused on relationships
-My Brother’s Keeper: Success Mentors Summer Institute

4.Positive Partnerships: Engaging families and community partners
-City Partnership and Mayor’s Educational Summit
-Labor partners
-Listening campaigns and convenings
-Family University and Family Connectors
-African American Advisory Committee
-Professional Development for Education Partners


Anonymous said...

" Students of color, particularly Black students, need to see their lives, histories, and families validated by their teachers precisely because the existing politics that are at play do not do that. "

Anonymous-- I don't really understand why this statement "particularly for Black students". Why would it be more important for some students to see their lives, histories validated more than others? For " black students" over kids with disabilities, "other students of color", GLBT, low socio any race which includes low socio "whites".

P.S. Also, "white" in the US is a broadly contested term, a manufactured historically changing/evolving category which actually includes a broad category of ethnic group origins/histories in the U.S. I hear that N African & Middle Eastern people may soon get to check a different box than white. But other groups such as my own ethnic origins actually don't fit neatly into any box.

-SS Major

Anonymous said...

According to Nyland's recent letter to school leaders (incl. as an attachment to the Oct 7 Friday memo), "the Seattle Education Association is promoting October 19 as a day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of our students – specifically our students of color." Apparently he sees this as tying in nicely to the district's launch of the EOG campaign that week.

However, according to Melissa, the "Social Equity Educators" group (subset of SEA) who are behind the 10/19 event are pushing for things like detracking. So...is SPS implying they support detracking as well? Or are SPS officials just clueless about the agenda the group they are supporting is pushing? What's really going on here? Is SPS promoting this group so they can point to them when they eliminate HCC?


Anonymous said...

No Lynn, the DHH kids are not "relegated to the basement at TOPS I kid you not". Stop with the disinformation. Have you ever stepped foot in the school? Apparently not.

Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

This quote is from the press release about the SEA event on October 19th:

“We must be bold in addressing racism. If we meter our responses in catering to white fragility, we will always heel towards the status quo of white supremacy,” says Ian Golash, Chief Sealth High School teacher.

I'm not comfortable with the pairing a district-wide tshirt campaign with this charged language. Does SPS support this statement?


Anonymous said...

We will be keeping our kids at home on the 19th.

End PC

Anonymous said...

"“We must be bold in addressing racism. If we meter our responses in catering to white fragility, we will always heel towards the status quo of white supremacy,” says Ian Golash, Chief Sealth High School teacher.

Really?, I think this teacher's career in SPS is doomed.

End PC

Anonymous said...

Free speech rights of public school teachers in Washington State, by the ACLU:


Do I have free speech rights as a public school teacher?
Yes, but there are many limitations, especially for a K-12 teacher. Generally, the First Amendment protects your speech if you are speaking as a private citizen on a matter of public concern. However, if you are speaking in an official capacity (within the duties of your job), your speech will not have the same protection. What you say or communicate inside the classroom is considered speech on behalf of the school district and therefore will not be entitled to much protection.

...In general, you should exercise caution so as not to give the appearance that you are advocating a particular religious or political view in the classroom....you can probably wear a necklace with a religious symbol on it. However, a court has ruled that a school may ban teachers from wearing buttons supporting a current political candidate, as this could be considered “disruptive.”...Courts have also upheld discipline for teachers wearing T-shirts with political messages or slogans.

...Example 5: You are instructed not to discuss with students your personal opinion on political matters. In a classroom discussion on racial issues in America, you let your students know that you have recently participated in a Black Lives Matter demonstration. This “speech” may not be protected. Courts have found that teachers can be disciplined for departing from the curriculum adopted by the school district, and inserting your personal experience as a protester could be considered such a departure. This is because school districts have the authority to control course content and teaching methods. It is not as clear whether the First Amendment would protect you if you had not been specifically instructed not to share your political beliefs.

-quoting ACLU

Anonymous said...

Whenever anyone talks about "white fragility" they're really saying "I am right and if you are white, you reinforce racism merely by disagreeing with me." That is bullying talk from a teacher and it should have no place in a truly anti-racist movement or in our schools. You all should feel free to stand up to him and tell him he is wrong. It does not make you a racist to do so.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I think in all cases the goal should be to start a conversation and not silence anyone. I think white people do have to truly consider their position in society. As well, there is a need to examine reasons why people might not want to have a conversation about white privilege/fragility. There could be more than one reason.

On the other hand, for those who have educated themselves (or are making the effort to learn), it's hard to continue a conversation if you have a different interpretation of the situation and yet feel concern for expressing that interpretation.

But teachers are people and they get to decide how they want to support the students in their classroom. It is unfair to interpret not wearing a t-shirt as a sign a teacher does not care or want to see change in the district. It will create division in schools if that happens.

I have to wonder what principals think of this day. It certainly puts them in a difficult spot.

I still await for the district/schools to explain to parents what this day will look like at their child's school. I think that is important if this is a district-wide action.

Anonymous said...

Reposting for anonymous above
It is fascinating to see so many comments about how "politics don't belong in schools". Since when? Politics are present in schools every day. They are present in how we teach History, civics, English, even Science. And to pretend that this isn't the case is to be blind to the biases that exist in our education system. Students of color, particularly Black students, need to see their lives, histories, and families validated by their teachers precisely because the existing politics that are at play do not do that. One of the purposes of public education is to raise "good citizens" and that can't be done without politics. At least with this choice teachers are showing students that it is good to stand up for each other and for what you believe in. Stop claiming that somehow the class room is free of politics just because this particular bit of "politics" makes you uncomfortable.

10/13/16, 8:18 AM CapHill Parent

Anonymous said...

We will be keeping our kids at home on the 19th.

End PC

10/13/16, 9:55 AM

End PC - I am disappointed to read this. Your kids have a great opportunity to learn something - about civil rights, public engagement, bad ideas, good ideas, positions with which you or they may disagree. How can we educate our kids if we shield them from reality and multiple perspectives? I will be sending my child to school and then discussing at home. - NP

Cap hill said...

Melissa, I need to disagree with you. White people (whatever that means) not not "have" to do anything other than follow the laws of our nation/state/city. The great thing about america is nobody can tell you what you need to think or think about. It so happens that in a highly educated, liberal city like Seattle, you'll find a large number of people who voluntarily will wish to do so, which (on occasion) makes this an interesting place to live.

For some of us Seattleites with kids in SPS, we get to listen to a high-volume barrage of two sides of the same coin each day. Trump and his extreme racist rhetoric in the national news and these local jokers with their extreme PC rhetoric in the local news (lets let the homeless camp everywhere) and in SPS (white parents are fragile, the system is completely racist).

Neither one is having a conversation and both are totally consumed with broadcasting a set of views that are in general, pretty narrowly held. Both feel justified that whatever tactics they take are justified by the fact that they are right. What gets missed (as our great president said in his town hall last week) is the conversation. And my personal experience is that extreme views are generally highly correlated with, well, more extreme views rather than highly effective, functioning institutions. And let's be super candid - SPS ain't exactly starting off this discussion as an effective, functioning institution.

And to Ian Golash: congrats, dude. You've chosen the one job that you can't get fired for insulting your customers. Ironic that your big campaign is against racism and yet you feel very comfortable characterizing 70% of the population of the city as "fragile". Clearly not fit to teach.

Anonymous said...

Cap hill, +1 to your comment. Well said.


Watching said...

Braska shares my sentiments:

"I have some strong feeking about this campaign. I feel that this is forcing a conversation that my young child is not ready for. He is still finding out who he is and part of that includes the color of his skin. Instead of getting to frame it in a positive light for him I am having SPS bring the idea of Black Lives Matter into the schools making me have a conversation about police brutality and systematic oppression that my five year old is simply not ready for'

I'm not sure what the children will be told. Will 5 or six year old children be told about police brutality- or- will there be lessons that all should be treated equally despite their skin color.

Braska writes: "He is still finding out who he is and part of that includes the color of his skin."

My child is of a minority race (not AA). When he was in first grade, he began comparing his skin color to other children. What does this movement mean to 5, 6 and 7 year old children with dark complexions.

I'm starting to think this has not been well thought out and bringing Black Lives Matters into the picture muddied the waters.

Dora Taylor said...

I think the basic assumption that the BLM movement is purely political is incorrect. It has to do with race and the inherent racism of our systems, one of those systems being schools.

The BLM movement is participating with Native Americans on the Dakota Pipeline as well as showing strength in their unity in actions around the country.

This is about more than just one school, group, or organization, this is about how minorities are viewed and treated in this country.

I have seen both sides and can attest to a need to stand up and say Black Lives DO Matter.

Dora Taylor

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, what you say is true. I was trying to help folks understand it is a political movement, not just civil rights. That is from BLM's own website.

Cap Hill - when I said white people "have" to do anything, I meant if they want to engage in the conversation around race. Of course, no one has to do anything at all.

Anonymous said...

"as our great president said in his town hall last week" I think there are many people who disagree with your statement. I would like to see you defend your opinion with a few examples of why you think he is great. I disagree with your opinion and I voted for the guy...twice!

In reference to BLM, I was told by the central office,

"BLM is free to hold public rallies on private property, but they are not allowed on SPS property. Any BLM member openly demonstrating on SPS property will be dealt with appropriately".

Thank GOD someone at SPS is putting their foot down.


Anonymous said...

"Dora, what you say is true" No, what she said you think or believe to be true.

Dora Taylor has personal affiliations with the radical action group BAMN.

BAMN is considered a hate group and many of it members are street children recruited by BAMN to perform violate acts of civil disobedience including felony assault.


Anonymous said...

I'm all for talking about race and discrimination and biases in school, when teachers have been trained to do it in an age-appropriate manner, objectively, and in a way that doesn't belittle people. But clearly that's not the case now, or teachers wouldn't be throwing around terms like "white fragility."

I'm not uncomfortable talking about race, but I AM uncomfortable with the idea that these teachers promoting BLM are also pushing for the elimination of tracking. Supporting BLM and frank discussions about racial biased and systemic racism does not--and should not--also require that you give up on providing appropriate education to students who are working way above grade level.

Are there other types of "fragility" or is that just for whites? What about people who get very uncomfortable with the fact that a small percentage of students are academically gifted and need accelerated/enhanced instruction, people who worry that it makes everyone else feel bad? Is that some sort of gen ed fragility?


Anonymous said...

Why am I paying for this?


Anonymous said...

"The message is more than words on a shirt. In addition to wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts, educators are doing teach-ins, presenting Black Lives Matter Curriculum, supporting student activism and leadership, and organizing with community members."

Doing teach-ins....really!

Just WOW

Anonymous said...

Is wearing a BLM t-shirt in the classroom considered "openly demonstrating?" What makes one a "member?" Wearing a t-shirt?

Talk about mixed messages. Based on MW's post, SPS did not seem to be discouraging the SEA created event. Which way is it, SPS??

Does SPS know Soup For Teachers Facebook page has links to unvetted "curriculum" for teachers to use in the classroom if they want to discuss race and social justice issues?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yikes, I was told last night that when the SEA decided to help support the event, the district thought it was a good way to support their new closing the opportunity gap for African-American boys plan. So as far as I know, the district was always on-board. I did express concern to the Board and one senior staff person and I asked what the plan was for lessons that day in class. Still waiting.

Anonymous said...

If solidarity with black people is bad for SPS to be part of then so are Memorial Day activities.

War being the ultimate political tool and the use of the military an overt political act, my kids have heard many vets rationalize the mass killing involved, by definiton, in war at assemblies.

I don't want soldiers explaining the "neccessity of war" to elementary age children. So shut it all down, anything political. For goddess's sake, recycling is political, pledge of allegiance; the US flag means oppression, death and destruction to millions around the world: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraqui mothers and some at home who don't easily forgive and forget slavery and the subsequent treatment of black Americans.

The list is long of victims of the US, natives, Jews, women, the poor. So ban the flag too, it offends me and others.

Or show some respect for a group that suffered a horror unprecedented on our soil, modern industrial age human slavery. The only thing worse would be our treatment of animals.


Anonymous said...

10, you're free to leave anytime.


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

"I'm all for talking about race and discrimination and biases in school, when teachers have been trained to do it in an age-appropriate manner, objectively, and in a way that doesn't belittle people. But clearly that's not the case now, or teachers wouldn't be throwing around terms like "white fragility."

This is my concern, We have a lot of highly paid Executive Directors. Perhaps they can get a handle on the situation. Talking to K-1 students is quite different than talking to high school students.

monkeypuzzled said...

>>The only violent, negative experiences I have had in my lifetime revolved around black lives not caring about anything. My young daughter and my son both have had negative encounters with blacks. They are violent. Plain and simple. Our fear of blacks stems directly from our interactions with them. The only racism I see time and time again and have experienced is FROM blacks.

Racist begone!

Sarah Arvey is my HCC child's special education case manager. It makes me really sad that she is advocating getting rid of the program that is the single best intervention my kid has ever had.

Carol Simmons said...

I totally commend the BLM organizers, participants and supporters. Thank you.

BLM said...

According to a blog post, teachers will be presenting Black Lives Matter Curriculum. It is time for the district to step-in.

"The message is more than words on a shirt. In addition to wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts, educators are doing teach-ins, presenting BLACK LIVES MATTER CURRICULUM, supporting student activism and leadership, and organizing with community members."


Anonymous said...

"The only violent, negative experiences I have had in my lifetime revolved around black lives not caring about anything. My young daughter and my son both have had negative encounters with blacks. They are violent. Plain and simple. Our fear of blacks stems directly from our interactions with them. The only racism I see time and time again and have experienced is FROM blacks."

To the poster above, I am sorry your kids had negative encounters with someone of the black race. There are many black who have also had negative encounters with the white race & the white race also dominate the institutions in the US . It would benefit society and your family if you had a deeper understanding of racism and institutional racism in the US. It is also really not accurate and it is bigoted to state "they are violent". This is not true and it is hateful. How would you like it if someone made the same statement about your race? These comments do not bring us together as a nation. If you are white, I also suggest you reach back into your own ethnic history, were any of your ancestors poor immigrants? Was there a time when the same comments were made toward your ancestors?
-SS major

BLM said...

Has the district staff reviewed Black Lives Matter Curriculum and has this curriculum been presented at the C&I meeting?

Anonymous said...

"Sarah Arvey is my HCC child's special education case manager."

Ok now I get the SPED references.

BTW Sarah Avery, Dyslexia awareness week was 3rd-9th October, but I didn't see you wearing a Dyslexia awareness t-shirt?

I guess you only protest skin color related discrimination.


MapleSugar said...

"The only violent, negative experiences I have had in my lifetime revolved around black lives not caring about anything. My young daughter and my son both have had negative encounters with blacks. They are violent. Plain and simple. Our fear of blacks stems directly from our interactions with them. The only racism I see time and time again and have experienced is FROM blacks."

Ithink if you wanted to see racism in white people you could.

Listen to a Trump speech.

Or read you own post.

Anonymous said...

Black lives DO matter and it's both good and important for SPS parents and teachers to participate in this if they wish to do so.

Just keep in mind that you're not a racist and you're not saying Black lives don't matter if you do not believe that one must eliminate advanced learning in SPS in order to achieve racial equity.

Invoking "Black Lives Matter" does not end a conversation, does not invalidate anyone else's opinion, and does not mean one side wins an argument and another side loses. We are all partners in anti-racist work and we will - and I'd say we should - debate, discuss, and disagree how we best achieve racial equity. It's OK to say we can have advanced learning, even HCC, and have racial equity too.

Let's embrace this solidarity action. It's the right thing to do at the right time.


Anonymous said...

A Hamilton teacher is leading the charge to eliminate tracking. The Hamilton PTA should be on top of this! Are they? Their constituency includes a large number of HCC and Spectrum parents. If school staff are going to be fighting against the best interests of academically gifted and/or high performing children, the PTA needs to do some serious PTA membership engagement, pronto! They should also demand that the principal address the issue with families directly, so people can understand whether this represents the school's overall attitude toward advanced learning or is just a minority opinion. This sort of thing shouldn't be condoned at an HCC pathway school. If the teacher is so opposed to advanced learning, she should go work at a school that doesn't have it.

Racial equity does not require neglecting the needs of students who need more.

Bad idea

BLM said...

Black Lives Matter and my child's life matters, too.

If there are physical threats being made towards our schools, our children's lives need to be protected. Take your fight to the street and stop putting our children in line of fire.


Anonymous said...

I'm an elementary school teacher and we are not presenting any BLM curriculum.

I wish that the district and SEA had worked with teachers a little more about this so teachers could be clear about what is going on. A vote was taken at an SEA mtg, but only the reps voted on it. Usually something this potentially divisive would have been discussed at buildings before a vote was taken.

I support BLM for the most part, but I won't be wearing a t-shirt. If the district/SEA had worked with the teachers, I think that we could have presented more of a united front or a message that we all could agree upon. Most teachers I know would agree that institutionalized racism is an issue and needs to be addressed. However many teachers don't support wearing BLM t-shirts. I don't believe that the message that we support our black students needs to be so divisive, but instead of focusing on our students we're arguing about wearing t-shirts.
Elementary Teacher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bad Idea, the issue of some principals and some teachers not supporting/liking gifted programming has long been an issue. There was one principal in the south end who would refused to put out application forms because she "knew her kids best."

I don't know what to say when the district has a program - part of which is mandated by the state - that teachers and principals can try to throw a monkey wrench in and think that they can decide what parents do or don't know about it.

B, the "fight" is everywhere so I'm not sure what your meaning is.

I would ask that people try to be civil during this discussion.

BLM said...

"I wish that the district and SEA had worked with teachers a little more about this so teachers could be clear about what is going on. A vote was taken at an SEA mtg, but only the reps voted on it. Usually something this potentially divisive would have been discussed at buildings before a vote was taken"

I've noticed that PTA board supports the action, too. There is at least one PTA board member that has been advocating to take- down advanced learning. What type of outreach was done to it's memberships. This is a good question for PTA's vice president Liza Rankin.

Are we just looking at a cozy little group that seeks to dismantle advanced learning and put our children in danger?

I'm calling BS

Anonymous said...

gifted program as bad as they come:


they did have hazing at Garfield with HCC kids and the maligned Mr Howard seemed to have stopped it even after being called a n----r by students

but no need to address race or the HCC


Dora Taylor said...

Anonymous, apparently you are an outsider because people in the Seattle education community know who I am. I'm not aware of the group you are talking about but it looks like folks outside of the area are tuning in. They are also sending hate mail to the school district and board about people wearing tshirts that show their pride inwho they are.

Melissa. you've got some trolls here.

Also, Melissa, I must not understand what you mean by "political". Racism is not political. It's born out of ignorance and an unfounded hate of others who are different. Fighting back against racism is not political. It's a right.

Dora Taylor said...

Wow, a lot of anonymous posters today.

Melissa, I thought you weren't going to allow that any longer.

Seattle Public Schools believe students and teachers have a right to free speech which includes the wearing of a t-shirt as long as it does not include profanity.

Rest easy all of you anonymous folks, this is simply people using their constitutional right to free speech.

Dora Taylor said...

One more comment and I'm done. This post has been taken over by people who appear to be racist and hateful of others who are different.

This hatred and bigotry began during the time of slavery when black folks had to be seen as animals to justify the horrid conditions that they were placed in.

Some people have not been able to leave that part of our ugly history behind.

What happened is that the press release announcing the BLM action made it to a Blue Lives Matter Facebook page and is now receiving the unwanted attention that this town does not deserve.

I think reading these anonymous responses shows that the BLM movement is more important now than ever and includes supporting our children, no matter what their skin color so begone racists, begone!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher at Hamilton who specializes in gifted education it is sad for me to see the basic misunderstanding of what gifted education is and what identification issues have been tacked onto our local gifted education program.

As a youth gifted education was for me a literal life saver. It was the few times a week that I didn't feel crazy for being academically and in other ways asynchronously out of step with my peer group. Gifted Education is an intervention service for students who have a diagnosed need for acceleration or other asynchronous instruction. Providing those services in an educational setting is most effective in a cohort.

To the real issue of diversity in the testing for the program we use the most expensive method possible as well as the most unweildly to identify our students. We should be using two phases of screener handouts which includes a wide battery of non-traditionally academic questions and practical displays in art or music to then have students take the CoGAT exam.

My main issue when I teach the highly capable is the issue that teachers don't believe in the need for an intervention such as this. Teachers then end up expressing that by not believing in the students and giving in to the myth that students who test one or two deviations above the norm can simply receive an education based on benign neglect or outright hostility and that somehow that is ethically or professionally acceptable

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Neither the school district nor the teachers or for that matter the PTA or the union have the right to push the BLM agenda on our children. This action violates district policy and our children's right to FAPE without intimidation.

Parents, your children's minds are not owned by these BLM agitators and frankly your children are being put in danger by these BLM zealots. If this farce is allowed to happen and we all know it's a farce, it will create a permanent hostile environment for those with dissenting opinions, that includes both students and teachers. That hostility might remain for their entire school experience or career and is exactly what BLM wants.

The BLM movement has aligned itself with the group "By Any Means Necessary" (BAMN)(Please research this very dangerous group).

There are several key players here in the Seattle area with ties to BLM and BAMN. One of those commented here today, Doris Taylor. Here is MS. Taylors website link,


Ms. Taylor's past and present activities with BAMN are documented on her blog and other sites on the web.

The second notable player with connections to BAMN is Seattle school district board director Sue Peters.

Ms. Peters involvement with BAMN is similar to Ms. Taylor's, but it's certainly not clear if Ms. Peters take recommendations on official district business from Ms. Taylor or BAMN, but considering their relationship it's very plausible to believe Ms. Peters just might be under some sort of influence of Ms. Taylor.


Just Saying said...

I'm not sure why Wayne Au is on a campaign to get support from around the country.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Moriarty. Your experience as a teacher and student match mine as a parent--for some children gifted education is essential to their health and well-being. That some people want to remove this type of intervention in the name of "equity" shows me how uninformed they truly are about the very real issues and challenges faced by extremely academically advanced children.

Should it be a goal to increase diversity within HCC? Absolutely. But the way to do that is to help provide the up-front and ongoing support that historically underrepresented children in order to qualify for the program in more representative numbers. The elimination of tracking will not magically make all children academic equals--it will just put them in the same classrooms, which will work less well for most.

It's a shame that the organizers of the October 19 day have decided to conflate their concern about achievement disparities and systemic racism in SPS with the completely separate issue of gifted education and the need for greater supports to help promising young black students gain the skills and experience they need to qualify for HCC in equal numbers.

I'm curious to know what Principal Blish thinks of all this.


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

Liza Rankin has also been on a campaign to dismantle advanced learning. I want to know the amount of PTA outreach that was done before the PTA board supported the Oct. 19th event.

The Oct. 19th event will bring Black Lives Matter (who ever they are) curriculum into our schools and the event will be an attempt to dismantle advanced learning.

What a botch job this has been.

seattle citizen said...

FYI, many of us know Dora (not "Doris") Taylor for years and you, FYI, are simply ridiculous. Lying propaganda will not make your case. What a load of hooey.

Anonymous said...

@Seattle citizen

You free to discredit my evidence with your own, begin.


monkeypuzzled said...

Thank you Mr Moriarty. We had to fight to get my 2e child access to HCC but it has absolutely, without hyperbole, saved her life. I support Black Lives Matter and it makes me so sad to see students pitted against one another.

Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...

By the way Anonymous, By Any Means Necessary, BAMN, at the time, was a group of students and teachers in Chicago fighting back against the closing of schools. As it turned out, the closing of schools, all in minority communities, was a means to gentrify black neighborhoods and create charter schools.

I and others throughout the country, including Diane Ravitch who you are probably not familiar with,stood in support of keeping the public schools opened.

Do you have a problem with that?

White BLM Teacher said...

I think the HCC parents are misinterpreting. Getting rid of tracking refers to getting rid of tracking black kids into Special Education programs which occurs at a disproportionate rate.

The Civil Rights Movement was political and was fought in classrooms along with the streets. Of course, any movement advocating for real change makes people uncomfortable.

What, you think you are going to ask for a big change like this and not have the narrow-minded posters on this blog uncomfortable?

But, good news, Martin Luther King's movement was considered a "political movement" and now not only are we teachers allowed to wear his image on t-shirts but we can also put his picture up in our classroom and teach about this political movement without people going "tsk tsk, it's political". Oh, and we get to also say he was right. Yes, we teachers get to take a political stance in saying MLK was right.

The movements that demand real change do make people uncomfortable. When was ending oppression and changing the way people think ever a cake walk?

As a white teacher and member of the human race, whenever any of my darker brothers and sisters are disproportionately discriminated against to the point where they are shot at a higher rate than others, jailed over twice the rate as their light skinned brothers for committing the same crimes, incarcerated at a higher rate, suspended at a higher rate, I will stand up and say this is wrong. And if it takes a shirt, just tell me where to get it so I can wear it.

Where does one get the BLM shirts anyway? I want to buy one but it won't come in the mail by Wednesday. No one in my building seems to know where to get the shirts and we all want to wear them.

Does anyone know?

P.S. I shop-lifted make-up when I was 14, didn't even have to go to court but went to a community advocacy group where they said I was a good kid, not to do it again. I didn't even have to do community service. I was a white girl. I read about a black boy who was choked to death because they thought he was shoplifting a pack of cigarettes that turns out were his own. We were the same age but what a difference that gender and color made. How is it you cannot see how wrong this is and how it is our duty to stand up for what is right? The black community cannot do this on their own. We as a collective community need to stand up and stop this. And it needs to end now.

Dora Taylor said...

Hmm, interesting that my post was removed. To reiterate to anonymous,I am co-editor of the Seattle Education blog, President of Parents Across America and in my second term, contributor to the Progressive on the subject of education, co-writer of two books on education and a proud grandmother.

Google any and all of this.

So, do you have any other issues with me?

And Melissa, why can an anonymous writer try to defame me but when I defend my self, I am deleted?

Please explain.

Dora Taylor said...

Awaiting your response.

Teacher said...

Anyone on her know where I can get some BLM t-shirts for myself and teachers at my school by Wednesday? I thought SEA way buying these for all of us with our union dues...sigh... If I order them on-line, they won't get to us in time for Wednesday. Do you think a black shirt and fabric paint would work?

Lynn said...

White BLM Teacher,

Nope. We're not misinterpreting. Did you see Melissa's notes from her conversation with Ms. Arvey?

She said she, along with other teachers are working for three "asks" of the district:
de-tracking of programs. She they are "disproportionally offered" and that "testing doesn't go out for all families." She said it "feeds into the social separation of youth."

Dora Taylor said...

I have been seeing a lot of conversation here about APP and "gifted" programs.

Let me tell you a little bit about my experience in school back in the day.

In elementary school we had IQ tests. With those results, we were sorted into groups.

I was asked to take the IQ test twice. Once the results were confirmed, I was skipped a grade in elementary school. This is how they handled students who were ahead of the classwork. I fit in fine and that was that. In each grade and class, the reading groups were divided into three groups. It was apparent who was in the first reading group and who was in the third reading group and why. Being in the first reading group, I knew that I was a fast reader who could comprehend quickly. I felt sorry for those in the third reading group because of the stigma attached to them.

We didn't have APP. If you needed a "promotion" you got one without any fanfare.I was once again promoted in high school and took only three years to complete college.

Now there is APP which significantly separates one class from another. I imagine it hurts those who didn't have a chance to get ahead due to factors of health, family or financial status and is frustrating. It looks to students like those in APP classes get special treatment.

Most of the students in APP are white which creates more of a psychological divide.

And, quite frankly there IS status involved. When first moving to Seattle with my daughter, I heard about APP from proud parents but fortunately my daughter attended Nova High School, a school that doesn't believe in stratification of students.

Yes, I understand that students learn at different levels and speed but to so clearly and definitively classify students can be painful and quite frankly, unfair.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, I try to eliminate anonymous posts as quickly as I can but I have a life. If I miss one, especially in a thread with this many comments, that is error, not purposeful. I deleted your comment because you resorted to name-calling.

White BLM teacher, I think it is about Advanced Learning but you may be right. As for the shirt, ask your SEA rep at your school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I checked and I didn't miss any anonymous comments. To understand, some people sign thei rnames at the bottom of their comment and some at the top.

Dora Taylor said...

Teacher, I think a black t-shirt would work perfectly.

You might contact SEE, Seattle Equality Educators, for info on getting t-shirts or contact me at seattled@icloud.com.

I had no interest in getting involved with this but after reading the comments on this post, I feel it's necessary to do so.

Dora Taylor said...
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Teacher said...

I do find Dora Taylor's correlation between IQ tests and the APP test to be very perceptive. Let me tell you about my son. He took the CoGat and did not test into Spectrum, then he took it a second time and tested into APP, he took it a third time (before we got the results) and again failed it. If this is an accurate test, how is it he is not APP twice but by some miracle APP that one time?

I kept him in regular ed where he is happy and fine. I am glad there is no APP at the high-school level but all students get to select AP classes. That is how it should be at all levels. Students (parents, really) can place their child in the advanced classes. If the students thrive, they stay, if they don't thrive, they go back to regular ed. The CoGat is a joke. I taught APP classes and regular ed and anyone who has taught both back to back can tell you what a joke the test is in determining ability. I had to scratch my head and wonder how on earth some students ever passed that test and scratch my head and wonder why other students didn't.

I enjoy reading your blog and articles in Huffington Post, Dora Taylor. Thank you for all you do for education.

There are no t-shirts to be found. It would have been nice whoever organized this to allow enough time for teachers to get shirts. Everyone in my building would be wearing them if we weren't told on Wed. of this week that SEA had them for us and then SEA did not have them for us. It's too late to order them on Amazon.

Maybe just wearing a black t-shirt would be enough...

Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Teacher said...

Okay, I am just going to tell teachers in my building to wear a black shirt and I will do the same.

Can you believe the comments on this blog? I am so saddened by this. I guess I have been living an illusion thinking that my fellow Seattle-ites were not so narrow minded, biased, and self-centered.

See how the thread was taken over by the APP parents? It's fine for their children to live in a moral vacuum--don't teach them to actually stand up for what is right in their community--but heaven forbid you should touch the special APP status of their children.

What do these little-minded people get passionate about? Not the thought of standing up to support a group who are abused within our society but they are passionate about making sure their children are served first.

And you can't help but feel some sadness for them, too, because that kind of person who always is "me, me, me" has no idea the kind of happiness to be found in "you, you, you".

Dora Taylor said...
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Teacher said...

What really disappoints me is that I was excited that we Seattle teachers were uniting to wear these shirts and the only reason I came to this blog was to find out how to get enough shirts for my building since the union dropped the ball. It never even occurred to me that Melissa and bloggers would have anything but positive things to say about this.

I have been wrong about this blog. What did I ever see in it? No wonder so many of my colleagues tell me not to go on this blog.

It's like waking up and realizing what you thought was a beautiful garden is really a dump.

Teacher said...

The battle for equity will be a long, hard up-hill battle. The things I could tell you from what I have seen in my years in other teachers' classrooms. You're right about the need for equity. I don't think people realize just how bad it is. A child's sense of self-worth doesn't just come from home, unfortunately, so much damage can be done to that 5 year old when he enters those halls of inequity.

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Teacher, I pointed out the very real issues that could undermine a great effort. If you read my original post, I said I support this day and I believe in BLM. That I think there are many other ways to show support for students of color and yet the SEA chose just one that has already proven to not have great optics to the general public (who, presumably, you want to inspire as well).

That other commenters (and that's what they are, not bloggers) have disagreements is what this blog is for - open discussion about issues regarding Seattle Public Schools.

I have stood with teachers over and over. I am very proud of my record on that. You can ask Jesse Hagopian about that.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of fear and ignorance in some of these comments, but there always is in the comments section. Ignore the noise. It's beyond important that the district, the union, the principals, and a whole lot of teachers are all united in this action. It wasn't well organized or communicated effectively, but I'm fairly certain that we will be the first urban school district to ever make a statement this powerful. It makes me proud of my city. Imagine how all the African American students are going to feel on Wednesday. Imagine how their families will feel. Imagine how all the students of color will feel. Empowered, supported, and hopeful. When we stand up against injustice it doesn't exclude, diminish, or silence, it unifies. Make no mistake; saying black lives matter, marching for it, wearing a t-shirt that proclaims it, and teaching about it puts you most definitively on the right side of history.


Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Dora Taylor said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Dora, please have the grace to go back to your own blog. You can have your own discussion there.

Lynn said...

Dora - Why is Jesse refusing to provide any answers about the Black Lives Matter curriculum that will be taught in our schools next week?

I think you'd gain a new perspective on the reason HCC exists (it's a necessary academic intervention for students whose needs our general education curriculums not designed to meet) if you discussed it with your fellow blogger Sue Peters.

If you want to know why parents are posting about HCC in this conversation, you'll see the reason in Melissa's post. The Hamilton teacher who came up with this idea is lobbying the district to dismantle advanced learning programs. Maybe we seem singularly focused on our children's needs because people like the members of SEE continually drag them into discussions of unrelated issues.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Dora has heard of google, but this what I found,

By Any Means Necessary (BAMN, or formally the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary) is an American militant[1] left-wing civil rights activist group that organizes demonstrations and litigation to achieve its aims, and it organizes primarily in colleges and K-12 schools.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Can we please keep the discussion on the topic? It's not BAMN. It about the Day of Solidarity and the choice to center it around Black Lives Matter.

I wish SEA - as educators - had thought up their own slogan like "Young, Smart and Black" (I saw that on a t-shirt on-line.)

I do concur with Lynn; why is there no explanation about what lesson plans will look like that day?

Anonymous said...

I too get disheartened to read so many comments born of racism and hatred. It saddens me to see how much desparation and fear so many people have about elevating the opportunities and rights of others to be commensurate with those of us who have always benefitted from privilege.

But while my generation appears to be unable to muster the courage to collectively acknowledge the glaring inequities our society propgates, the young adults of today appear to be prepared to surpass us. Most of the teens I interact with aren't shackled nearly as much as we are with prejudices towards different ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, etc. I am not naive enough to think they will be able eradicate the scourge of racism, but I think they aren't afraid to name it and initiate a discussion about it while many of us are busy proving the existence of white fragility while we gnash our teeth about the term and insist it's not real.

I am so encouraged by the emerging generation with regards to social issues and I hope I am not alone in these observations. I believe that their willing to engage on these issues will sow marked changes in our culture over the next thirty years.

So here's to the discussions that are occurring as a result of students, teachers and the district being willing to acknowledge that our society does not currently value all lives equally and may the ensuing discussions lead us toward a more perfect union.


Anonymous said...

I have noticed a common approach on this blog is that when people find something they disagree with the response is always about procedure, rules, "why is there no explanation of lesson plans,", appropriate vetting etc. This tactic is clearly designed to derail any possible change and makes me think it is just a smoke screen because folks really don't like these ideas (supporting BLM, Honors for All etc). - NP

Cap hill said...

Greenlaker, the issue with all of this may not be that most parents don't recognize the inequity, but simply that recognizing the inequity does not provide a blank check to teachers and SPS to do whatever they feel good about to address said inequity. And further, that recognizing said inequity should require SPS and teachers to articulate a thoughtful plan on how to address it (and discuss with community/parents) and do the other things they are tasked to do at the same time. And that finally, just like there are racist trolls who hop on an issue like this, there are irresponsible teachers like Ian Golash who make blanket statements like white parents are fragile. The difference there is that

To wit - my personal view is that talking about race and inequality - yes! BLM as an organization endorsed by all teachers and teaching unknown BLM curriculum in the classroom - not so sure!

Similarly, getting more african american kids into honors and HCC - yes! Eliminating HCC - not such a good idea!

I don't trust SPS, and I have lost much of the trust I have had in the teachers. Attacking HCC and mandating the elimination of accelerated education seems like a sideshow and a feel-good panacea. The institution of SPS seems so fundamentally inept and broken. We have a 25% opt out rate in Seattle - there is probably no better indicator of broken it is. And for the teachers - I know many of them have great intentions. But let's remember that they are government employees and these are our tax dollars at work. The standard for professionalism should be much higher than it is today.

Anonymous said...

@ Dora, so you think those students whose feelings are hurt because they--like MOST other students--didn't score in the top few percentiles and didn't qualify for HCC will feel better if the kids who do qualify are in their classroom with them? I don't get that. It seems like it would only exacerbate the disparities in the range of abilities, making those who are in the bottom groups feel even more behind.

You said separating students is painful and unfair. You know what I think is painful and unfair? Not allowing students to move ahead when they're ready. Forcing students to sit, all year, working on things they already know. Requiring students to not speak up if they know the answer, because it makes the other students feel bad. Making a big production if a gifted student ever makes a little mistake, to try to knock them down a notch. Or not having any real friends, because you just can't relate to your classmates.

Those are just a few of the things my child experienced. I'm sure many others have many other similarly painful experiences they could share. Being so academically out of sync is hard and isolating. Ignoring that, and refusing to address it via appropriate services, is just as unfair.

I truly do not understand why HCC is the big demon here. If we were to eliminate it, what do you realistically think would change? Many students would go back to their not-very-diverse neighborhood schools, where instruction would likely not be that different. Much smaller numbers would return to their diverse and/or high FRL schools, where instruction would also likely not change much. Underrepresented students at most schools might not even notice that HCC was eliminated, since their school populations wouldn't change that much. HCC is not responsible for the academic disparities we see, and doing away with HCC would not erase the disparate outcomes we see.


Cap hill said...

Np, let me try to explain where these questions come from.

What I have seen personally in the Honors for All is that teachers tend to say "we are doing this, trust us" and provide little in the way of additional detail. With all due respect, that program was announced in the newspaper during the summer and it took the school three weeks to post a FAQ, and since then, the school has cancelled all Q&A sessions.

SPS is a government entity, funded by our collective tax dollars. There is a democratic process (school board elections) to give citizens input. SPS theoretically has a process (the CSIP) for schools to communicate to parents well in advance what challenges the school believes it is facing and what initiatives and programs it will be investing in to address them. The timeframe on the CSIP has been 2 years, which if done thoughtfully, should give people opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and understand what they are getting into when they choose a school. SPS on paper has policies regarding things like HCC education guidelines.

In at least the Garfield Honors for all case, this entire process/policy structure has been eliminated. There is nothing about detracking in the most recent Garfield CSIP, meaning that there was no formal process to identify a problem, document and propose solutions, receive feedback and implement. Nor is there any metric of any sort that has been attached to the program. And the HFA is effectively at odds with the SPS policy on HCC.

Trust the teachers or do it the right way? I think you can understand that when there is a public institution that we all fund, there needs to be more of a process than "trust the teachers".

Anonymous said...

HCC does not create achievement disparities in SPS. Rather, it reflects existing disparities--disparities caused by a host of factors, such as parental income and education. Getting rid of HCC wouldn't solve any problems, but would instead create new ones.

The big concern of some posters seems to be that the mere existence of HCC makes some kids feel bad, presumably because they don't qualify. But the reality is the MOST kids don't qualify. It's designed for students who are way at the upper tail of the cognitive abilities curve. These kids are NOT typical. Are kids really so fixated on HCC that they feel awful if they don't qualify for a program that requires you to score in the top 2 percent? What message are parents and teachers sending these kids who score in the normal range to make them feel so fragile?


Anonymous said...

Cap Hill & Mr Moriarity-- You both hit the nail on the head with your posts. I also feel that the overwhelming majority of posts on this thread support affirm the lives of black children in school.

Dora- But some sponsors of this this day have stated in three asks they want SPS to get rid of a program that supports kids who need academic acceleration. How does making an HCC kid sit in a general ed class unengaged and feeling isolated help kids of color? In Seattle large classes, the teacher will always (as they should) focus on the kids who are struggling in this class & will ignore the others. What would have happened to you in school if you were not offered an ability to accelerate? In my opinion, SPS needs opt in honors classes in addition to HCC. They also could take a percentage of the highest performing kids of color on IQ & achievement tests and opt them into HCC. They also could offer a program like Rainier Scholars that targets high achieving low income, as well as kids of color. But a one size fits all approach to curriculum is what parents have concerns about & this is not good for kids of color, low income kids or middle class kids.

Anonymous said...

Yes, opt in honors and advancement is a great idea, but start earlier. I'm thankful for Seattle's pariticipation in BLM awareness building, because love and nurturing for black lives has been scarce. Let's make it abundant! And the fact that somehow a day to celebrate, nurture and support the black lives in our schools has generated yet another circular discussion about HCC should tell everyone that education and learning should not be scarce. SPS needs to step it up in neighborhood schools so students and families get their needs met and the cohort delivery model should return to the days of support Highly Capable students with special education needs because they or so gifted.

Don't blame each other, people. Celebrate diversity and stop scarcity, scarcity of acceptance, learning, understanding, supporting. It's all unnecessary, it just takes thought, bravery, love.

Stop Scarcity

Anonymous said...

SEA was never going to distribute shirts. This action of just wearing shirts that individual staff were purchasing was as far as the voted upon measure went based on what I remember of it. SEA only committed to supplying some stickers if members wanted to wear one. Curriculum and activities need to be voted upon by the relevant school based bodies such as the instructional councils in order to use class time. I believe that the situation has morphed beyond what may have morphed somewhat from the original intent.

Also if the de-tracking piece was about African American students being disproportionately placed in special education then some clarity there would have caused less angst. Though it does bring up a real issue that it does take a large team of staff and parental consent to tecueve services. Which calls into question the entire group of teachers whose job it is to identify and provide services.

Are we seeing disproportionality based on a similar disproportionality of families of color experiencing the extreme effects of poverty? Then let's attack those root causes and really make sure we aren't educationally robbing Peter to at Paul when there is literally enough to go around.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Then let's attack those root causes and really make sure we aren't educationally robbing Peter to at Paul when there is literally enough to go around."

Theo, did you mean "literally NOT enough to go around?"

I will say that even though my thread did contain a statement about HCC, that's the key topic. So maybe we don't need to include it at this point.

NP, it's valid for a district-wide day that is being advertised as learning experience in support of one group of students to ask what is going to be said/taught. From the Social Equality Educators Facebook page:

"Many educators will also use the day to teach about the ways institutional racism impacts education, our nation, and our world.

In addition to wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts, educators are doing teach-ins, presenting Black Lives Matter Curriculum, supporting student activism and leadership, and organizing with community members."

Parents can't ask the district or their school what the day will look like? If I still had a child in SPS, I'd be asking.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I try to help correct what Theo said and I erred in my own comment. Sigh.

I means to say:

"I will say that even though my thread did contain a statement about HCC, that's NOT the key topic."

Anonymous said...

This all seems pretty simple to me:

1. Most Seattle parents support Black Lives Matter and are perfectly fine with this day of action

2. A tiny but vocal group don't like it at all

3. Some white parents who have been nursing resentments toward HCC parents for years are using BLM as a cover to launch their attack on advanced learning

4. HCC parents are upset by this and react by defending services their children need

5. Those who stoke the Us vs. HCC divide are hijacking what should be a moment of unity for Black lives.

I say we not play along with those resentful parents - and instead embrace this action. MLK wanted us to build the Beloved Community, "an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood" in which conflicts are resolved in a spirit of cooperation, not in a spirit of shaming and bullying and silencing.


monkeypuzzled said...

>>See how the thread was taken over by the APP parents? It's fine for their children to live in a moral vacuum--don't teach them to actually stand up for what is right in their community--but heaven forbid you should touch the special APP status of their children.

What do these little-minded people get passionate about? Not the thought of standing up to support a group who are abused within our society but they are passionate about making sure their children are served first.<<

GAH, this is so unnecessarily divisive and awful. Every HCC parent who wrote here said they were in favor of Black Lives Matter. Then they said it's possible to speak up in favor of HCC without being racist. How is that insisting that their children are served first?

monkeypuzzled said...

ps I don't think I'm being overly conspiracy-minded when I say that in SPS' view, driving the top 5th percentile to private is a painless way to reduce the "opportunity gap" without an iota of effort on their part. Too bad for those who aren't able to go private.

Anonymous said...

It would be helpful to have an official statement from SPS on the planned events, as they are now morphing into something beyond what SPS may have originally envisioned. That organizers and participants cannot understand how this is divisive, rather than unifying, is my larger concern as a parent. This would not be the first time a teacher has used their podium as a pulpit, it's just being done on a much larger scale. Most concerning is that BLM is an amorphous group with a fringe membership engaging in and supporting violent behavior. While teachers may say they are wearing the shirts to send positive message X, some members of BLM also have negative message Y. When a teacher wears the BLM t-shirt, they don't get to control the message. Are they anti-police? Are they [pick your hate-filled message]? Thanks to the HIMS teacher, one can now ask, are they anti-AL? Not acknowledging the controversy and denigrating those with concerns is not the way to move forward.

-concerned parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

optimator, you left out a key phrase "in my opinion" because you have zero evidence to back up those statements.

Again, I ask was there NO other way to plan this day than with BLM? I have never received an answer. I believe there was and I wish things were different. I plan on seeing what media access there will be that day and I will be glad to see it play out well. But given what happened at just one school, there's that worry.

And again, this is not about HCC and yet people just keep circling back for their own purposes.

If we can't keep the focus on the main topic,maybe we should end this conversation.

Another NW said...

Hamilton newsletter had a FAQ on the event if anyone is interested in learning more. I agree the whole thing sounds like it came from very good intentions but the very last thing on the FAQ is a note about detracking without any further explanation of what that means. Would like to hear more but have no issues with the spirit of the event.

So Done said...

As I understand it, Black Lives Matter is a $100M political organization. BLM was brought in during the John Muir event to "sharpen the pencil". The political organization put their signs up through out the John Muir neighborhood.

No one is able to explain the "curriculum".

Organizers received support from a bunch of building reps. Where was the outreach and discussion regarding the manner in which to move forward?

Organizers seek to bring national support and they national press. Organizers cold have done this quietly. Yet, they seem hell bent on creating a national stir, which, in the past resulted in threats to our schools. These same organizers don't mind putting CHILDREN at risk.

We're watching a sh$% show.

Anonymous said...

My kid's AP American History teacher wore a BLM shirt recently and had a good talk with the class about all sorts of issues related to BLM, civic responsibility, and U.S. History. Nothing there about HCC. From my kid's perspective, it was a positive, informational, and thought provoking discussion. - NP

Melissa Westbrook said...

NP, that's great. I don't think teachers would talk about HCC. But especially for the younger grades, I'd like to know what the discussion will be.

Anonymous said...

By making a press release and involving BLM, the organizers purposely brought attention to this event. Now they are concerned they have negative attention? What did they expect?? The Blue Lives Matter Facebook has a link to the story with some 3000 posts. Holy Cow! Did they not think through the possible negative repercussions for the children they are putting in the middle of their now very public demonstration?

As for HCC, it is the HIMS teacher that brought AL into the conversation, with the "ask" about "an end to academic tracking in SPS." The day of the demonstration just happens to be on the same day as the PSAT - the test students take to potentially qualify for academic scholarships.

From the HIMS facts:

Q: Isn’t this a political action and do political actions belong at school?
This is a consciousness-raising event. School is part of society, students and staff are part of society, and so what is happening within our society deserves and demands attention. This is a “teachable moment” for the Seattle Public School community.

What a bunch of doublespeak. How does that answer address the concern about it being a political action??


So Done said...

"Did they not think through the possible negative repercussions for the children they are putting in the middle of their now very public demonstration? "

I do believe organizers have good intentions, but clearly this is a botch job. I put this in the irresponsible category.

I'm unclear if teachers will be teaching about police brutality. Have organizers thought about young children whose parents are in law enforcement? What type of a message is being sent to these children.

This is not a district sponsored event. The district is responsible for the safety of students- organizers are not.

Anonymous said...

I will be keeping child home on Wednesday the 19th and after that looking into alternatives to SPS going forward.


Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been thinking that for awhile...you alleviate capacity issues and close the opportunity gap. It's a...
Two for One

Anonymous said...

There are multiple "Blue Lives Matter" Facebook groups and the one referencing the Seattle event (posted Oct. 12 at 2:40 pm) now has around 3600 comments and 2500 shares. Comments mostly run along the lines of fire the teachers, pull your kids from public schools, blah blah stupid, blah blah morons, blah blah liberal Seattle, and on and on.


Little Birdie said...
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Little Birdie said...
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Anonymous said...

This is bordering on irresponsible, SPS. This is not just one school. Are you going to have security at all schools - you know, those folks in blue? Why do you think we have guidelines for public school teachers about political speech in the classroom? Wayne Au is commenting that the board has received some 400 negative emails, "including some threats."


Anonymous said...

I think that the HIMS FAQ is clear that supporting BLM is also a statement against tracking. HCC is a form of tracking. I can certainly understand that teachers would have varying professional opinions about that educational objective. I think it is unfair for one teacher to railroad a bunch of other teachers into supporting that under the guise of a completely issue. Didn't we learn that this constitutes a "rider" in civics class.


Anonymous said...

.....completely different issue....


Anonymous said...

Melissa, why do you say this is not about HCC? The HIMS FAQ very clearly indicates otherwise. It reads:

Q. What are the goals of the Black Lives Matter to Seattle Educators rally at Washington Hall on the evening of October 19?
1. Social Equality Educators organizers are calling for three changes with Seattle schools: Restorative Justice in every school;
2. Ethnic Studies for every student; and
3. An end to academic tracking within Seattle Public Schools.

While you're correct that the issue of showing solidarity with black SPS students and encouraging discussion about racism and social justice should be a separate issue from tracking and HCC, unfortunately the organizer of the end has intertwined them. Showing support for the BLM movement now also implies support for eliminating needed academic services for academically gifted students. Downplaying the link between the two here does a disservice to families of advanced learners, because many are BLM supporters and don't realize the hidden agenda.


BLM said...


We are not looking at a SPS sanctioned event. We are looking at a group of activists bringing attention to the Black Lives Matter event.

An individual made a good point. How many police do we have in the city and will they be able to patrol our schools? You know, those same cops that are horrible people.

BLM said...

According to organizers, SEA supports this action.

I'd like to see a statement from SEA in regards to the threats. They absolutely have a role in this matter.

Anonymous said...

Clarifying that the # 3 was not specific to special ed. The HIMS principal was contacted for clarification. People are reading the # 3 correctly, many teachers at HIMS feel a self contained cohort of white, Asian students in HCC is problematic.
In addition "many feel there are barriers for students of poverty as well as color & it favors those with more economic privilege. Many staff may not agree with the full agenda that the SEE has put forward, but want to make a public statement about wanting our African American students and other black students to feel that they are honored, welcomed, respected, and that our schools are places that they belong – in the face of a cultural/political environment that sends different messages."
- CL

Anonymous said...

I believe, based on personal experience, that neither Garfield High School (the HCC pathway high school) or Hamilton International Middle School (one of the HCC pathway middle schools) wants HCC kids under their respective roofs. We did not choose Garfield High in part because of the hostility we felt during the Garfield school tour. But there was another reason.....We studied the "science" projects of the general ed students at Garfield. They reflected a fourth grade understanding of Biology, at best. And these were proudly on display in the Garfield hallways. We realized that the rumors were true - Garfield High was a school within a school and the presence of a motivated subset of kids enabled the school to effectively ignore all the other kids. I would be embarrassed to attend such a school. And when we questioned the teachers on the weak textbooks and poor curriculum, we encountered hostility. I get it, it was late and the teachers are tired but please...education is important.

I think that Garfield High, the SPS administration, and many of the BLM activists are shooting at the wrong duck (tracking) and not noticing the way the academic programs are failing students. These activists are hiding behind "tracking" as the enemy - which is easier than having high expectations and solid curriculum for all kids. Do I think that "Honors for all" is going to change this? No I do not, because the Garfield faculty already had years of opportunity to educate these kids.

There are better ways to fight this fight than scapegoating tracking. How about supporting a rigorous math curriculum for all students at the middle and high school level. How about fighting against watering down or avoiding Math in Focus in the elementary schools. How about coming up with a solid district-wide science curriculum. Social studies, writing and language arts need oversight as well but in general struggling students of color are raising proficiency in those subjects by leaps and bounds since 2004.
Why is that - what lead to those positive changes? Elimination of tracking? Don't think so. How about finding out what works and enhancing it. Oh wait, that might entail some work. SPS central office doesn't "do" work. Only reactive platitudes. And eliminating "inconvenient" programs that require work (and good teacher training) to implement. I personally do not support this distracting BLM movement as the SPS has put it forth because it does not help raise academic standards for struggling students.


Anonymous said...

I believe any student who is interested can take HCC classes at JAMS. Is this true? Seems like a great way to go.

Stop Scarcity

Anonymous said...

Bottom line, I think we should embrace a day to support students of color. Research demonstrates feeling connected to school & community is paramount to support kids of color and black kids to do well in school. The same for a culturally relevant curriculum. The message should be very clear to the students on the intent of the day. It should be about supporting kids period.

The HCC program controversy, as far as I can tell is not part of what kids will be hearing at the school. But I guess we don't know for certain. It would be terrible for HCC kids to hear teachers at their school do not support their program. A program some kids really need. Then some kids are being targeted while others supported and that is a terrible message for kids. The day should be positive and affirming for black kids.

I wish they would have used a better slogan that also includes poor kids of any color. Using the slogan BLM is bound to create issues due to being misconstrued in its intent. Based on the group being political, children of policeman etc. may receive a different message at home.

Anonymous said...

"many teachers at HIMS feel a self contained cohort of white, Asian students in HCC is problematic"

This is SO stupid. The kids who are at HIMS under NSAP are WHITER than HIMS HCC kids. So ridiculous for an affluent white neighborhood school to be crying racism. Their school would be even whiter if the HCC left with most of the Asian kids. The white neighborhood schools they returned to would INCREASE in diversity.

open ears

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, good to see I can get it from all sides.

The Day of Solidarity is NOT about HCC. That's pretty much the thread topic and so I would like to take HCC out of the mix. In the interest of full reporting, I included all that I learned. This is part of a larger, ongoing effort so that's the time to talk about that.

Please DO not make wild accusations about people without documentation or saying how you know what you know.

distractors, how can some science projects that you perceive as low-level mean this:

"The presence of a motivated subset of kids enabled the school to effectively ignore all the other kids."

Also, that would mean that Mr. Howard and the majority of teachers were effectively ignoring the bulk of students at Garfield. That's just not true.

"Using the slogan BLM is bound to create issues due to being misconstrued in its intent."

KM, that's my point exactly.

Anonymous said...

It's Arvey, not Avery.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people would like the anti-tracking, anti-HCC message out of the event being organized for Wed., MW. Yet, educators have intentionally included it in the message - it's part of the resolution put forth by the HIMS teacher (and clearly not supported by some other HIMS teachers). Asking readers to not talk about it is somewhat silly given it is part of the HIMS FAQS on the event.

hello, SPS?

Est said...

Imagine a left-leaning teacher were in a school where the politics were completely different than Seattle, and the teachers "democratically" voted to wear pro-Life or WWJD t-shirts. Perhaps the principal is a devout Baptist who did a missionary stint in China for a few years.

Now our left-leaning teacher must fear the perceptions of students, colleagues and her administrator for not publicly endorsing a particular view. Perhaps her administrator will "take note" and suddenly her evaluation will not be nearly as good this year as it was last year. Parents ask not to have their children placed in her class.

THAT is the reason that this BLM day is coercive and divisive and it is the reason that most sensible people would not ask teachers to shill for a political movement in their workplace. Because none of want to be forced at risk of our livelihood to endorse a political or religious view.

Anonymous said...

HIMS has been hostile to the presence of HCC since the split from WMS. Greenberg spent his exile from Center at HIMS.

MW, you can say that THIS event is not about that, but when you're inside the building, yes it is. Why are SEE making it one of their top three tenets?


open ears

Anonymous said...

How is caring about Black and brown lives a left-leaning political movement?

Stop Scarcity

Melissa Westbrook said...

Est's comment made me think about who might benefit from the Day of Solidarity going well or not going well. That would be SPS.

I mean, what district would have a focus day where the district has no real idea what is going to be taught in their classrooms. Isn't even asking to see lesson plans. (Or, if they did, mum's the word.)

If it goes well, then SPS gets to say, "Yes, we supported it as part of our Close the Gaps initiative."

But if it doesn't go well, they get to say, "It was all teacher-driven,teacher-led." Makes the teachers look bad and yet the district's hands are clean because they had nothing to do with it.

People at JSCEE are not dumb; they know what the optics of this could look like.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, respectfully, why do you continue to insist the 10/19 Day of Solidarity is not about HCC? Here's another piece from the Hamilton FAQ:

Ms. Arvey says this event is about more than just words on a shirt. In addition to wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirts, educators will be doing teach-ins presenting Black Lives Matter curriculum, supporting student activism and leadership, and organizing with community members. The event will culminate with a Black Lives Matter to Educators rally at Washington Hall where the day’s teachings of leadership and unity will be put into action.

As noted earlier, one of the goals of that rally is to end to academic tracking within Seattle Public Schools.

Not trying to be rude here, just curious why you keep saying they aren't related...


Anonymous said...

What about the children during a day where many of the teachers are wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts?

What would a elementary student whose parent/sibling/relative is a police officer feel if their teacher wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt to school?

They probably would have heard worried discussions at home about BLM protests around the country, many of which resulted in police officers being injured, or at least screamed at and spit at. They also probably have heard about the sharply increasing number of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty in the last 18 months.

How would that student feel in a classroom of a teacher wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt? Would they feel emotionally safe with that teacher in the future? How would it impact the way they feel about going to school? Or would their stomach be twisted up in knots trying to figure out how to deal with all the conflicting messages in their lives?

If we care about all our students, we should definitely consider how the school-related actions of the teachers affect all of our students. This political message could have be strongly detrimental to many students.

We should honor law enforcement officers in our community and teach students to look up to them as public servants. And like any individual, if they do wrong we punish the individual and we do not demean an entire group for one person's mistakes.


Anonymous said...

Why not measure every student's progress, rather than the opportunity gap which is divisive and sends the message they want to limit growth of high performers, raise growth for low performers and let everyone else coast?

Progress notGap

Anonymous said...

Dismantling educational tracking is actually supported by HIMS PTSA. Not out of any concern for black or brown kids, but because most of the affluent neighborhood kids don't qualify for a program that serves the top 2% of testers and so they feel bad.

Oh, and this is the school where Special ed kids clean up the lunchroom after the others, so...are we getting rid of tracking for ALL the kids?

open ears

Est said...

Anonymous said...

"How is caring about Black and brown lives a left-leaning political movement?"

BLM is a political movement because they say so on their website. If you want to make a claim that BLM is centrist or right-leaning, go ahead and prove your point.

As I said, I do not care what the slant of BLM is. I am not shilling for anyone's political cause on my job.

The people pushing for the BLM day think they are right about their cause. I could care less. Everyone with an opinion thinks they are right.

What I really care about is the utter arrogance of people who feel they have the right to manipulate and bully an untold number of teachers into putting on a political t-shirt at risk of the career-destroying accusation that they are "racist" or "uncaring" if they do not. This is intimidation and everyone knows it.

This is a freedom of speech and freedom of conscience issue. It is not about the cause itself. It is about whether the workplace is now a place where people will be forced into some sort of Maoist struggle session if they hold differing opinions from their colleagues or simply choose to be apolitical on the job.

Anonymous said...

@ open ears, is that something the HIMS PTSA voted on, and if so, do you know when? Was it put before the entire membership, or did the board do this?

About half the students at Hamilton are in HCC, so their parents obviously support tracking. And I suspect that the HIMS PTSA membership is even more heavily weighted toward HCC families. The PTSA's support for detracking doesn't make sense, unless it's a top-down decision by a few.

PTA member

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop, I'm not sure who are you asking your question to but I only stated BLM is a political movement because that is what they themselves say at their website.

I will say that the leaders of this event say that teachers do NOT have to wear the shirts and that is fine. Only teachers will know for sure.

As I updated on this thread, the SCPTSA board voted to support the Day of Solidarity.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting reporting from The Root:

"The Seattle Public Schools district respects the teachers’ right to express themselves. A district spokesperson told KIRO 7 that the T-shirts are a good visual, and they hope that the message inspires people to do the work of eliminating opportunity gaps, an effort the district itself is focused on. A campaign highlighting the district’s efforts is also planned for next week."

The t-shirts are a "good visual?" That's one way to put it. I'm not sure that's how SEA thinks of it.

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

If there is a row of houses and one us on fire, the fire trucks won't spray water on all the houses, they'll just spray the one that is on fire.
Of course the other houses matter. But they're not on fire.
BLM is not "an organization" (though one or more groups of peop k e may claim to be a BLM orgsnization): BLM is a bunch of disparate individuals of all races pointing at the burning house.

Est compares the wearing of a BLM shirt by a publuc employee to the wearing of a WWJD shirt by a public employee, yet of course these two shirts aren't similar at all. One, the WWJD shirt is expressly prohibited because it preferences one religion over another, which isn't right for a person on a position of power. The other says that yes, black lives matter.

Don't they?

Little Birdie said...

Wayne Au is one of the main BLM organizers. Here is what he had to say on Soup for Teachers facebook page:

"Wayne Au Over 400 negative emails to the board within 24 hours of the press conference, including some threats."

Au, according to his facebook page, is soliciting support from around the country.

I find it interesting that Au is bringing national attention to this effort. I also think it is interesting that Au acknowledges threats have been made. Our children are in these schools and I would like for the organizers to publicly acknowledge they are moving ahead with an effort that is not being conducted by SPS and our children are being put at risk.

I wonder how many parents would be supportive if they knew threats were being launched at our schools and children.

Little Birdie said...

I find it interesting that the PTA president and VP are at a press conference with Wayne Au and Jessie Hagopian. Again, this is not a district sponsored event. Why is the PTA participating in a non-district sponsored event?


How many parents are of the belief that SEE's event is a SPS sponsored event?

Anonymous said...

BLM might have been founded by blacks, but the movement requires money to operate — for protest signs, bull horns, and transportation of protesters to protest sites. The national scope of BLM requires an infrastructure, which includes regular communication among BLM activists. Who pays for their phone calls, faxes, iPhones, and Internet? How can BLM activists do all that if they also work at a regular job? And if they don’t have a regular job, who is paying for their food and lodging and transportation?

In other words, who actually fund Black Lives Matter and therefore are responsible for the violence, deaths, and injuries of BLM protests?

The answer: two groups —

Democracy Alliance, comprised of very wealthy Democrats.
Freedom Road Socialist Organization, funded by big corporations and foundations.

1. Democracy Alliance

Kenneth Vogel and Sarah Wheaton report for Politico, Nov. 13, 2015:

“Some of the biggest donors on the left plan to meet behind closed doors next week in Washington with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and their allies to discuss funding the burgeoning protest movement … at the annual winter gathering of the Democracy Alliance major liberal donor club, which runs from Tuesday evening through Saturday morning and is expected to draw Democratic financial heavyweights….”

The DA, as the club is known in Democratic circles, is recommending its donors step up check writing to a handful of endorsed groups that have supported the Black Lives Matter movement. And the club and some of its members also are considering ways to funnel support directly to scrappier local groups that have utilized confrontational tactics to inject their grievances into the political debate.”

According to Politico, “Democracy Alliance was created in 2005 by a handful of major donors, including billionaire financier George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay to build a permanent infrastructure to advance liberal ideas and causes. Donors are required to donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups, and their combined donations to those groups now total more than $500 million. Endorsed beneficiaries include the Center for American Progress think tank, the liberal attack dog Media Matters and the Democratic data firm Catalist, though members also give heavily to Democratic politicians and super PACs….”

As it's said, FOLLOW THE MONEY


Anonymous said...

So now teachers are making BLM buttons to pass out to their students. It's not right to put that kind of pressure on children to declare their support for a political group.

Off Course

Rufus X said...

Huh. I find it interesting that there was not a peep from @Little Birdie when the GHS football team, cheer squad, band, other GHS teams, students & parents were on the receiving end of similar online & email threats when the football team started taking a knee during the national anthem a month ago.

Remind me again, Little Birdie: Do you have children in Seattle Public Schools?

Little Birdie said...

Yes, I have children in Seattle Public Schools. At one point, the swat team was in my child's school due to a threat.

If Wayne Au, Jessie Hagopian and others want to start a movement, they should take their fight to the street and not put Seattle Public School's children at risk.

Not sure why you are making this personal, Rufus. I am simply acknowledging Wayne Au's own words and admission that threats have been make after he and Hagopian had a press conference.

Anonymous said...

According to Soup for Teachers, WMS students can bring blank shirts and have them screened at school.

-star bellied

Rufus X said...

@Little Birdie - After having a couple of comments deleted and then asserting your opinions that haven't been deleted, you posted general statements/questions:
*I wonder how many parents would be supportive if they knew threats were being launched at our schools and children.
*Why is the PTA participating in a non-district sponsored event?
*How many parents are of the belief that SEE's event is a SPS sponsored event?

and then offer "I'm just simply acknowledging..."

It's not personal to ask about your investment in SPS when the story has gone national and all the online nutjobs are out in full force. To say I made it personal by asking about the origin & motivation of a noob's comments who's all "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'" after this has hit the national press - well, that should to be expected.

BTW I'm sorry your student had to experience "the swat team (was) in my child's school due to a threat." That has happened to my children - multiple times. It's frightening.

Anonymous said...

@seattle citizen. I'm a teacher. I support decreasing the achievement gap. I support having a day to draw attention to the achievement gap. I support focusing on black children specifically (your burning house idea). I don't support wearing BLM t-shirts. BLM is a political organization. Why couldn't SEA have come up with something else for people to wear to support addressing the achievement gap? BLM tshirts are divisive when what I think we really want is people coming together. I read the letter from Nyland about no pressure to wear shirts.Yeah, right (sarcasm). It's not like that at my school, what about your school?

@Melissa, district is requiring schools to turn in what they are planning on doing on Wed. I don't think lesson plans have to be turned in, but the district is tracking school activities.
Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

Since you brought up Garfield, Rufus, it's important to make the distinction between students exercising their free speech rights (generally accepted as long as schools don't consider it a disruption), and teachers using their position in the classroom to further a political agenda (generally not accepted in a public K12 classroom). While many people would fully agree that black lives matter, they would draw the line at public school teachers using their position to support BLM, the movement, in the classroom. Violent and hateful acts have been perpetrated in the name of BLM, and students are not in a position to discern the good from the bad when all they see is a t-shirt. It further muddies the water that some renegade teachers thrive on the media attention for their causes. Not only do parents have to wonder what political message teachers are sending their children, but they now have to wonder what the negative attention may mean for the safety of their children at school. What kind of threats are being sent to the school board? Threats of litigation, or threats of violence? We don't know! Thanks to the organizers, unwanted attention has been brought to our schools.

-concerned parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous commments - give yourself a name):

"How about this visual:


"The high school student was beaten after making pro-police comments on Facebook. The school had been on lockdown after threats of violence. SPS needs to wake up and understand the implications of not just allowing, but encouraging BLM messages in classrooms."

Little Birdie, the SCPTSA participates in many non-district events. There's no big secret there. So if their Board voted to support this, then their participation at any event linked to it is no surprise.

I am aware that BLM has received funding but this?

"In other words, who actually fund Black Lives Matter and therefore are responsible for the violence, deaths, and injuries of BLM protests?"

No. I do not believe, in any way, shape or, form, that anyone is funding BLM to foment violence or injuries. And, if you have solid proof that is the goal, then bring it forward. "Confrontational tactics" is very in keeping with the civil rights movement.

Elementary teacher, thank you for that update about activities that day. I'll have to ask if there will be media availability as I would like to visit several schools.

Anonymous said...

Is the event being organized by SEE, Seattle Equity Educators, or SEA, the Seattle Education Association? SEE, not to be confused with SEA? Or both?

-what's what?

Est said...

"Est compares the wearing of a BLM shirt by a publuc employee to the wearing of a WWJD shirt by a public employee, yet of course these two shirts aren't similar at all. One, the WWJD shirt is expressly prohibited because it preferences one religion over another, which isn't right for a person on a position of power. The other says that yes, black lives matter."

If SPS teachers can wear BLM shirts to proselytize for a political organization, then why can't teachers somewhere in the Bible belt wear "Fetal Lives Matter" t-shirts? Such shirts just say, yes, fetal lives matter, right? It's neither political nor religious, really. Just a statement of fact and it should not bother you to send your middle school child to a school where 90% of teachers had them on. Hmmm? What if "most" of the parents and teachers agree?

People who are in love with their own opinions never understand this. If teachers who love BLM want to push the boundaries of professional dress so that they can advertise their cause, then it sets a precedent that everyone else can too.

When I go to work, I dress in neutral clothing. My lessons are informative, but carefully non-political. Everything is catered to the people I work with and for: children. My job is not about me and my own self-gratification. What kind of selfish adult would use a captive elementary school class as a political soapbox?

As far as what individual schools are doing, my school cannot figure out WHAT to do. Staff were flummoxed at the meeting we had. We are being asked to produce a plan, but we were still in the discussion stage regarding whether the BLM slogan is appropriate at all. One naive teacher said, "Maybe we could just do a day with the slogan All Lives Matter", and it needed to be explained that that would be considered racist and incendiary. So, that's where we are. We are sure to waste more time on this divisive and confusing political issue.

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