Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Well, we can all just look at the window and see what kind of weather it is.  If you have to go out, I wish you luck with the traffic.

Michelle Obama gave an impassioned speech yesterday and it's worth listening to in defense of girls and women.  It's worth a listen.

A couple of thoughtful reads for this weekend.

One from Education Next about school discipline:
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced this spring that the number of suspensions and expulsions in the nation’s public schools had dropped 20 percent between 2012 and 2014.

The news was welcomed by those who oppose the frequent use of suspensions and expulsions, known as exclusionary discipline. In recent years, many policymakers and educators have called for the adoption of alternative disciplinary strategies that allow students to stay in school and not miss valuable learning time.
 Parents and public discipline: Should you intervene? From the New York Times.

Here's a great listing of Halloween events from The Stranger.  Many are adult-based but there are several (U Bookstore, EMP, pumpkin farms, etc.) for teens and kids.

Great story from Huffington Post on a barber shop that cuts prices for kids who read during their haircut.

What's on your mind?

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did anyone attended the board meeting on Wednesday? Any updates on Growth Boundaries?

- KT

Melissa Westbrook said...

KT, I did and I need to get that up this weekend. Parents need to rise up before the vote.

Lynn said...

There are huge decisions to be made in the next two months and it appears that staff are woefully unprepared to provide the data required to support the board in the decision-making process.

The enrollment planning department must produce updated school by school projections before we uproot 800 children from their communities in a possibly unnecessary game of musical chairs.

The teaching and learning department must produce a plan to support high schools in preparing next year's ninth grade students for the new graduation requirements. Half of them will need to take a world language course next year. What's the plan for finding those teachers?

The twenty minute increase in the school day will force every principal in the district to recreate the daily schedules in their schools. The accompanying early release or late start will require thousands of parents to adjust their child care or work schedules. This initiative must be postponed because district staff don't have the time or resources to address these challenges.

kellie said...

I agree with Lynn completely.

The 2013 Growth Boundary Plan was was too complex and created future boundary changes based on enrollment projections. The real world data does not match the projections so why are we stuck making changes that aren't supported by data.

50% of the changes for 2017 were amended to be removed. The remaining 50% also need to be removed.

This entire process reminds me of the height of the closures. At the peak of the crazy time, the logic was we have to close schools, because we have a plan to close schools and we must execute the plan.

We are back here again with the circular argument. Staff stressed that they need to follow the plan, because it is too late to do anything else. But that is just not the case.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard about the truncation meeting for K8s? Apparently, they are going to make Orca and other K8's K5's without board oversight.


- crazy time

Anonymous said...

Orca, Madrona are two schools that no longer serve a 6-8 population well or sufficiently to continue. Aki has improved so Orca serves that pop and Madrona is adjacent to the new middle school opening next year so bye bye to that 100 kids as their middle school is sad.

The only two TOPS and Salmon Bay seem to maintain levels however Whitman is just up the road and could use bodies.

Then we have the former Pinehurst and that train wreck Broadview Thompson that hold on despite the numerous attempts to dismantle them. I am unclear why any of them exist as they just don't work well in Seattle.

Catherine Blaine needs to be a middle school and the elementary moved to the Magnolia building. They have only existed as there was no space to put anyone in their own hood.

They should consider finding an alt middle school that stands alone. Desperately needed.

-Former SPS'er

Little Birdie said...

I've been concerned about SEE's actions in relation to their BLM movement. As we know, national attention was brought to John Muir and threats were made against the school/children.

SEE is hell bent on calling national attention to October 19th and Wayne Au is asking for support from around the country. He is getting support from people that do not have children in SPS and whose children will be put at risk. He, Hagopian and others will never be held accountable for keeping our children safe.

From Au's facebook page:

"Friends, regardless of where you live, we could use your help in Seattle to overwhelm any backlash against efforts to challenge systemic racism in our schools and affirm that Black students lives matter.
Here's an example of a statement of support, authored by Wayne Au, that is garnering support from educators across the country.
“We, the undersigned professors and scholars, publicly express our support for and solidarity with teachers of Seattle Public Schools and their October 19, 2016 action in recognition of making Black Student Lives Matter in our schools. We hope that these teachers are continually supported by the district, the school board, their union, and parents in their struggle for racial justice in Seattle schools.
Name, Title, & Affiliation (for informational purposes only)”
Thanks to all!"

Make no doubt about it, Au and Hagopian have a history of doing good work, but this time they have gone off the rails. They are not working with district administrators.

Little Birdie said...

Here is some information on the leader of Seattle's Black Lives Matter movement.


The individuals leading the Oct. 19th called in BLM for support during the John Muir incident. Seattle's chapter of BLM is lead by Marissa Johnson.

"Black Lives Matter Seattle chapter controversies[edit]
The Seattle BLM chapter of Black Lives Matter has been criticized while under Johnson's leadership for allowing anti-Semitic remarks at rallies in the vicinity of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle, whose owner was accused of gentrifying a traditionally black neighborhood.[16][17][18]"

More information on the loose organization called Black Lives Matter:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Johnson


Anonymous said...

A previous commenter remarked about the Day of Solidarity: No matter how well-intentioned the staff, and how committed to equity, and how well-crafted the lessons, there is the risk of a teacher getting Greenberged by the white fragility of just one family. Teachers know this.

Wow. So the concern is not that it's simply wrong to bring personal politics into the classroom, but that they might get dragged into a lawsuit when a family objects? Where is the concern about students' rights? Where is the concern about "Greenberging" the students by subjecting them to a teacher's personal politics? It was bad enough during his time at HIMS. Now he and the self formed SEE are forcing it on the entire district of staff and students.

enough.

Little Birdie said...

From above link:

"On August 8, 2015, a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders was disrupted by a group from the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter including chapter co-founder Marissa Johnson[197] who walked onstage, seized the microphone from him and called his supporters racists and white supremacists.[198][199][200] Sanders issued a platform in response.[201]"

Anonymous said...

From Q13 news: About 1,000 Seattle Public Schools teachers will wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts all next week in what they say is a bid to raise awareness about racial injustice within the school district.

All of next week?

Anonymous said...

Where's the draft Highly Capable Annual Plan for 2016-17? This is usually approved for submission to OSPI by now (so we can get our money), but the draft hasn't even been introduced to the board yet. Does anyone know what's up? Are they trying to figure out how to spin Garfield's HFA as accelerated and enhanced?

DisAPPointed



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

SEA member, if you have such an e-mail about BAMN, please send it to me. I'd like to see it. Otherwise, do not make comments that sound like you are trying to whip something up.

Anonymous said...

Have you forwarded the email to the Superintendent and school board? How the *bleep* are parents supposed to help maintain peace when an activist group brought this on and promoted it?

High school students are scheduled to take the PSAT that day. And if they miss it? What the *bleep* I am so tired of SPS *bleeping* with kids' futures.

*bleeping* mad

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

On second thought, if the threatening email seems legit, I'd forward it to Seattle Police. Who knows if SPS would take it seriously.

*bleeping* mad

Anonymous said...

I sent the email to you and the board.

SEA member

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

Ok, it's clear BLM is just causing a disruption like they did during Sander's visit.

This event defiantly needs to be held off of any SPS campus. It seems more appropriate for Capital Hill, perhaps Central Community Collage.

I will be keeping my child home just in case. Better safe than sorry.

SAD

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

I see no e-mail at my sss.westbrook@gmail.com account. Try again.

As I said previous, the district is setting itself up to be an innocent bystander. That is totally true of the Board who was not asked nor told anything as this was being created by SEE/SEA and approved by the district.

Anonymous said...

Crazy Time, Can you share more about the K8 truncation meeting? All I found on the district website was a community meeting about truncating Madrona WITH board approval.

K8 Mom

Anonymous said...

Aaaand...

if there is no need for all the k-8s (Licton Springs), Cascadia will fit at Eaglestaff and Whitman won't need to be decimated and the crazy boundaries...and...

open ears

Watching said...

My sense is that the Black Lives Matter t-shirts and buttons are an attempt to promote the Black Lives Matter political movement.

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

Gee when I was teaching in SPS we were asked to not use district computers, facilites or any public area owned by SPS for political purposes.

As a Teacher in a public school I assumed I had to offer curriculum that covered all perspectives using district approved teaching texts and materials.

I also assumed that being non partisan was essential to at least try to remove any bias or prejudice (in the general not specific sense of the word) towards one philosophy, political party, etc.

This is not easy and we all come to the table with a dish of bias and all of us carry a jug of preconceptions that are stereotypes that can fill that jug with prejudice. And again color is not the only issue one carries. I admire Donald Trump he has hit every group fairly consistently with rhetoric of hate. Even now when asked by students (I no longer live in the white bread Seattle) whom I support, my response is "I do not talk about my personal politics with Students as that is a personal matter."

And here where I live now we have no such hysteria about a political movement. It has a place in discussion regarding current events and even history, as does Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party or any other conservative group that are part of the millieu of America.

This truly is another issue getting way more import than it deserves. Note that none of this ever comes out of schools south of ship canal. The Rainier Scholars did something that benefited everyone - Orca Cards.

So when will the shirts come out for Native Americans, Samoan,Latino - and all that defines by region and culture, Asian - and by specific regions and cultures - Hindu, Muslim (all divisions to be sure to include all), Christian, Hebrew, Women, LGBT, the Disabled, the Overweight, and I am sure I am missing someone/group which will bring out the finger pointers and blame seekers that define Seattle politics.

If you really want to make a difference you need to move to the Deep South.. Read the book by Paul Therox and then tell me all about your HCC kids, your poor kids, your white kids, your black kids, your on and on kids

Teachers are to teach curriculum and in that they can ensure that the kids they serve are being taught to the best of their ability and if that is not possible finding ways in which they can. All the T-Shirts and protests will not change that classroom dynamic as people are just people and they come to the buffet of live with their plates and jugs and we can choose to sample that buffet and reject what we don't like, what doesn't fit and doesn't taste good. We just hope that it does not kill us nor bring us or others harm.

You all need to drink a cup of STFU heavy on the cream - its ironically white

- Former Seattle Teacher

Anonymous said...

And if you were still a teacher in Seattle, would you voice your objection to SPS administration, keep your head down and go about business as usual, or what? When the administration is just as misguided as the participating teachers, where does that leave students and staff who have the same understanding as you about the place of politics in the classroom?

enough.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So the Facebook page for the Day of Solidarity gives this Black Lives Matter Syllabus.

http://www.blacklivesmattersyllabus.com/fall2016/

As I read thru it, my thought was "This is a college-level discussion." Going back, I saw this notation:
"University instructors who attempt to adopt this course without proper attribution should expect to be contacted and reported to their Provost and/or the Department Chair at their home institution."

So I was right. That means that to use this syllabus will take some real work on the part of teachers beyond high school in order to make it an appropriate grade-level lesson and figure out what to use (because it is obviously a semester-long course.)

I also see that some people are saying this is a week-long event which is confusing to me.

Anonymous said...

MW, Soup for Teachers is being used for promoting BLM. They have links to documents for K12 teachers (completely outside of OSPI/SPS oversight) and SEE/Hagopian/Au/Greenberg are encouraging folks to write letters of support to the school board. The warning on the link you provided above relates to intellectual property. Of course there may be other repercussions to bringing the material into a K12 classroom. It's not just about age appropriateness, it's about K12 students being considered a captive audience, hence the restrictions on political activity in the classroom. College classes have much, much more leeway when it comes to curriculum choices.

wiseup SPS

Watching said...

The individuals that are organizing the Black Lives Matter event are politically savvy individuals- make NO doubt about it.

It has been decided to use the Black Lives Matter slogan on T-shirts and buttons. Politically savvy individuals- like the individuals organizing this event- understand that the Black Lives Matter- political movement- has strong opposition from Blue Lives Matter. This is a recipe to call both national attention and threats to our schools.

The organizers of the 10/19 event could have chosen to put a slogan such as "Close the Gap" or "We are united in closing the gap.", but they chose to go with a politically charged T- shirt.

National attention has the capacity to bring threats to our schools and children that are inside the building. At a minimum, the district and Seattle's police will be on high alert. Is this the type of tactic that the Black Lives Matter- political group- would use? They seem to embrace the concept of disruption.

I also question the syllabus and grade level content.

The district had planned a week of calling attention to the gap.

The organizers of the 10/19 event have chosen to do an end run around the district and school board.

Some should be aware that the Black Lives Movement has their own syllabus.

I am calling BS. Organizers of the 10/19 event are acting beyond irresponsibly.

Watching said...

Given all that has happened, I would support discipline actions to the teacher-organizers that are promoting this event. That would involve Jessie Hagopian and Jon Greenberg. To me, this event seems to be tied to the Black Lives Matter political movement.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WiseupSPS, that info from the syllabus I put up was more about that it was university-level material.

Soup for Teachers supports this event so yes, they are promoting it.

Watching, why would SPS discipline Hagopian and Greenberg. Their work around this event is apparently sanctioned by their union and the district so what would they be disciplined for?

Again, I think the district is trying to play dumb here. If it all goes well, they get credit. If the day gets derailed somehow because of BLM protests, then they get to say they had nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

From the closing the gaps press release:

"In the 2016-17 school year, we continue our commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps across our district."

It's too bad that, in 2017-18 (if the current boundary recommendations are approved), the hard work being done at our north-end elementary schools to close the gaps will be completely dismantled, with as much as 50% student turnover at some schools, as they segregate students of color into Cedar Park and re-engineer attendance areas and school communities from Lake City to Bitter Lake.

All this hype over a day when teachers may wear BLM t-shirts (if they so chose) is distracting us from what is really happening behind the scenes.

-North-end Mom

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

Can someone point me to the meeting at which the board approved this? I can't find in in the archives, either for full board meetings or committee meetings. I would like to see how this was presented and exactly what the board supposedly voted on.

HF

Anonymous said...

It's apparent to me that BLM or BAMN or whomever these outside agitators are, intend on making a statement and judging by what has happen at their past events, we should expect a high level of aggression. It's also apparent there are local activist that have a strong association with the outside agitators and these locals are sending out an SOS. Anyone looking to counter protest would be wise not to, because they can get violent.

It's best just to ignore them and let all this blow over.

BLMS

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Mom, yes, you are right and I need to write about the Board meeting and the discussion on boundaries.

FYI, I am the one deleting your comments, not Taylor. If you have a beef with her, take it up at her blog, please.

Anonymous said...

Is closing the gap intended to bring student scores at the bottom closer to students scores at the top, so there's not such a big spread, or is closing the gap meant to bring every student closer to their potential?

Which Gap?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am PROUD to wear my Black lives matter t shirt in support of my African American students and staff, and my own 2 biracial children. Yes, there is a political group, but this is separate from that, as it is a grassroots effort to stand up for our students. Like it or not, our African American students are subjected to racism nearly every day from minor events to huge nasty events that can be physical, and it is hurtful and ugly. This was not something I truly understood until I witnessed it first hand with my own children. With what seems to me to be a rise in the acceptance of racism nationwide, and with all of the recorded videos of black folks being killed for no apparent reason other than being black all over social media, it is imperative that people in African American children's lives stand up and say we support you, we recognize what is happening, and it isn't ok. As MLK, Jr said: our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. As a teacher and a mother, I find I can no longer stay silent.

#blacklivesmatter

Anonymous said...

-enough, since you asked I can tell you from my years at SPS that either head up or head down you draw attention as you can see from this very blog by those who teach in SPS and how they divide their own teams and colleagues as well as students by their own political beliefs.

So I would of course call in sick. And the events leading up to that say whatever you want to whomever asked me and again call in sick

This is the Seattle "process" if you have ever followed this blog and I have over the years as it is a source of info/gossip/witch hunts/histrionics/abuse/exchange/fill in the blank and it truly demonstrates what happens to those who disagree with the consensus/conformity of the concept du jour.

Working in SPS was a landmine, where I work now equally so only truly racist and elitist but no one in their right mind would say a word to anyone about any of it. A culture of fear defines Education regardless of where you go.

I have worked with and for many of those acclaimed Teachers that one week are in, the next week "out" when they step on the wrong toes. And some of them are/were not good Teachers but they were great at politics which again has no place in the classroom yet Education is all about politics. Which explains why I go out of my way to avoid it.

Booker Baker Candle Maker and Chief and a jack of all trades is a master of none. I teach only the subjects of which I am trained, educated and experienced in. I teach the ages/grades that I am endorsed in. My time is spent on those subjects and grade levels, I cannot and will not offer any other time, opinion or beliefs that are my own to either my professional colleagues and especially my students. I will, however, teach them to have the critical thinking skills to find their own beliefs and opinions and respect them for whatever they are.

- Former SPS Teacher

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time believing that "black students in SPS are subjected to racism nearly every day from minor events to huge nasty events that can be physical, and it is hurtful and ugly".

If you are going to make a wholesale dilatory statement like this,then please provide some proof. If you are truly a teacher and you are claiming that your employer is engaging in this type of systemic illegal action, but you continue to stay employed , then you are part of the problem and really have no other option but to resign your position.

BLMS

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Yes, there is a political group, but this is separate from that, as it is a grassroots effort to stand up for our students."

You cannot say that it's separate. BLM is now a known group and even though every chapter has its own way of doing things, I don't see that you can separate this effort from theirs.

Anonymous said...

Politics is a tricky thing. I know I pay my union dues since that's automatically deducted from my pay. The union has a PAC and endorses policies and candidates. Does it represents me? Sometimes. Do I "strike" when my union calls for it? yeah. Hard not to. It's a labor issue. Others call it political and illegal per state law. Whatever.

I'm thrilled when parents and students show up to support teachers. If teachers want to support their students and community, I think that's fair to do.

IMO

Watching said...

"Watching, why would SPS discipline Hagopian and Greenberg. Their work around this event is apparently sanctioned by their union and the district so what would they be disciplined for?"

As I see it, Melissa, there are a couple of issues:

1. SEA passed a resolution, but does SEA leadership know, understand and support a few activists promoting Black Lives Matter curriculum? Has the district vetted the I would like to SEA make a statement on this issue.

I would imagine public school curriculum would include a balanced curriculum - for high school students- to involve curriculum related to both Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter.

2. Organizers decided to use a T-shirt that aligns with a political group. A different message could have been put on the t- shirt. Are organizers using our schools to promote a political agenda? Has SEA released a statement?

I will re-read the syllabus with an eye towards college level curriculum. Thanks to those that pointed-out this information, and the role of the district and OSPI.










Watching said...


If teacher organizers are in violation of OSPI and district guidelines, yes, I would like discipline action.

As I see it, organizers did an end-run around our board and district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I plan to start another thread on this issue. I will say that both SEA and the district seem fine with the Black Lives Matter being the focus of the day and its message. I don't think anyone did an end-run around anyone except for the Board. They weren't asked their opinion on any of it.

Little Birdie said...


Black Lives Matter has picked up the Oct. 19th day of action. Gee, I wonder how Black Lives Matter found out the event??

http://blacklivesmatter1.com/post/5728657/seattle-teachers-supporting-black-lives-matter

This is absolutely a political event. I looked at the SEA resolution. I don't see that SEA supports SEE and organizers promoting curriculum or political activities:

"Whereas the SEA promotes equity and supports anti-racist work in our schools; and,
Whereas we want to act in solidarity with our members and the community at John Muir who received threats based on their decision to wear Black Lives Matter t- shirts as part of an event with “Black Men United to Change the Narrative”; and,

Whereas the SEA and SPS promote Race and Equity teams to address institutionalized racism in our schools and offer a space for dialogue among school staff; and,

Therefore be it resolved that the SEA Representative Assembly endorse and participate in an action wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts on Wednesday, October 19,2016 with the intent of showing solidarity, promoting anti-racist practices in our schools, and creating dialogue in our schools and communities."