Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Situation At Emerson Elementary

I will be writing a separate post about some other principal issues at other schools but this churn speaks to a big problem in Seattle Schools - who's on first?

Many of you have asked this question as have Board directors.  What is the list of things that principals can decide on for their communities and what is mandated district work that all schools have to do?  It is unclear and I firmly believe this is hurting the district and undermining the work at schools.  Parents need to know this information. 

There is quite a swirl of stories and rumor around what is happening at Emerson Elementary.  Here are some things that are clear:

- Emerson has had four principals in the last five years.  That is never a good sign.

- The current principal, Andrea Drake, just started last year.  Dr. Drake is African-American.

- Emerson had been on the OSPI "state priority" school list last school year with continuing low test scores.  During the summer, that was dropped to a "superintendent intervention school" which allowed the district to tell teachers that there would be a new course of action at Emerson that they could stay and follow or take a job somewhere else in the district.  My understanding is that nearly 80% of teachers chose to leave.

- The replacement teachers were hired knowing Dr. Drake's vision for the school.

- The principal, Dr. Andrea Drake, was put on paid leave two weeks ago but will be back at Emerson next week.  Apparently no explanation was given to teachers or parents.

- There was a disciplinary investigation of Dr. Drake by the district and she was found to have used bullying/intimidation against a staff member.  (To note, the staff member was non-white.)

- There is now a second staff complaint against Dr. Drake being investigated, saying that she was using bullying/intimidation against another non-white staff member, alleging  she asked about the person's age and when he/she might retire.

- Director Patu says that she frequently asks the region's Executive Director, Kelly Aramaki, about schools in her region.  She says he raised no issues to her about Emerson.  But apparently after Drake was put on paid administrative leave, some staff met with Patu and she was surprised to learn Drake was going to be removed.

- Update: the number of certificated staff requesting to be opted out of Emerson for school year 2016-2017 is 13. 

- The main issue - An academically troubled school now beset by division among parents and teachers by a principal who appears to have staff troubles.  None of this is good for kids.  

Less clear:

- Update: during school year 2015-2016, Dr. Drake had teachers sign a "commitment contract" and said it was "designed by the district."  Instead, for school year 2016-2017, teachers would have work with the SEA and Dr. Drake to "collaboratively build a new 'Emerson Commitment Contract.'"  I again state - this is similar to what KIPP charter schools do.  (But also, if a school is in "intervention" status, staff have to "commit to make any adjustment in curriculum or instruction as required by SPS and reflected in the CSIP adopted for the following academic year.")

- Dr. Drake is apparently molding Emerson somewhat like KIPP charter schools with uniform attire enforcement (the uniforms were already a part of Emerson) and attendance enforcement.  It seems these two issues got a lot of play at the Curriculum night over academics which made some parents unhappy.

- It was noted elsewhere by a teacher that Dr. Drake made it clear they would only be doing reading, writing and math.  When teachers pointed out that science had to be taught as it would be tested, she reluctantly agreed.

- There is an accusation that Dr. Drake refused to allow staff members to wear BLM t-shirts on Unity Day.  I am told by a staff member who says that is not true.

- It seems there was an incident of a white Emerson parent putting hands on a black Emerson student and that SPS security was called in to investigate.  I am awaiting more information on this issue.

-There are some who say Dr. Drake has mismanaged "levy" funds (which I assume to be Families&Education funds from the City.)  I am awaiting more information on that issue.

- Update: There was some kind of teacher survey that the district did at Emerson last year.  In the free response about what would make feedback more helpful, the main word used was "negative" feedback and not constructive/positive feedback.  There were words like "critical, cold, harsh, scolding, demeaning" used.  As well, there was concern over trust issues, and unprofessional talk in front of teachers,. Only one person on staff did not feel one of these emotions: anxious, stressed, overwhelmed.

- Update: there seems to have been a decision made last year that the school would use no parent volunteers.

Given what I see, the issue seems to be more around leadership style than racial issues. But I'm not in the school so I cannot say for certain.

The Seattle Weekly had coverage of this story (much better than the Times) and said this:
Either way, the Seattle/King County NAACP has gotten involved, raising concern that Drake is not being treated the same way that white district administrators are when parents launch complaints against them. For example, another Seattle elementary administrator has been under investigation for some time for allegations of racism made by 75 parents of color, says Rita Green, education chair of the Seattle/King County NAACP. That person has not been suspended. “You tell me there’s not a problem with that. It’s part of the current and ongoing institutional racism within Seattle Public Schools. If you are parents of color, you are viewed as lesser. That’s why your complaints don’t get as much priority.”
Of course, this could be a separate issue from what is currently happening with Dr. Drake.  I am going to contact Ms. Green to get clarity on what other school she is referencing.

There is to be a rally for Dr. Drake outside of JSCEE before the Board meeting.  I don't see any Emerson folks on the speaker list.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

These two points seem to be the most salient:

"- Dr. Drake is apparently molding Emerson somewhat like KIPP charter schools with uniform attire enforcement (the uniforms were already a part of Emerson) and attendance enforcement. It seems these two issues got a lot of play at the Curriculum night over academics which made some parents unhappy.

- It was noted elsewhere by a teacher that Dr. Drake made it clear they would only be doing reading, writing and math. When teachers pointed out that science had to be taught as it would be tested, she reluctantly agreed."

Dr. Drake is a committed ed reformer who is using Emerson's genuine needs to impose an extremist and flawed vision for how to fix the school. She's one of these "my way or the highway" people who seems to think that turning a school into a prison, with a narrow focus on test scores at the expense of the whole child and a broad curriculum, is the way to do it. In reality, these practices reinforce racism and inequity. She clearly does not respect teachers.

Melissa's right that there's a bigger problem here. SPS is deeply hostile to parent involvement and feedback. The Executive Directors exist to insulate the folks at JSCEE from parent pressure. So when you get a principal like Dr. Drake whose methods are unsound, there's really no good way for parents to respond.

Bad decisions and poor policies should never get a pass because of someone's racial identity. If Dr. Drake is trying to turn Emerson into a KIPP school, she has to go. We cannot allow that kind of curriculum in SPS schools no matter who the principal may be.

No KIPP

kilngoddess said...

Thank you for this Melissa. There are many families and teachers from Emerson (both white and POC) who feel very overwhelmed by the NAACP organization efforts, and have spent so much time trying to get heard that they are incredibly discouraged.

It's my understanding that there are five people on the public testimony list speaking in support of Ms. Drake. They are listed under Amendments to Growth Boundary plan. There are three names I recognize that are definitely there. One parent who has a different view has supposedly obtained some speaking time from someone else on the list.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thank you for your efforts to follow up on this, particularly re: the NAACP's involvement. While the Seattle Weekly article and Rita Green's statement made it sound like a clear difference in how allegations of racism are treated, as you pointed out, it's not even clear that racism is the issue here. Or that parent complaints were the precipitating factor. Assuming racial motivations is easy in the current climate, but to do so when it's not borne out by the evidence only increases racial tensions.

rumor mill

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The comments in the Seattle Weekly article are damning of Dr. Drake. She sounds like a horrible person who should not be allowed anywhere near a classroom. It also shows the Seattle Weekly made a major error in not getting both sides of the story and rushing to paint parents and teachers as racists when in reality they have serious concerns about Dr. Drake's poor leadership that is likely violating multiple laws and policies - not to mention denying kids at Emerson a good education.

No KIPP

Po3 said...

The Center School principal was put on leave after a student brought a molotov cocktail to school. Several students had previously reported to the principal that they were concerned about this student and no action was taken. That principal still works for SPS

Then you have the QA Elem situation where the principal was fired after not doing teacher reviews.

There is no method to the madness in SPS.



Anonymous said...

Is no one else drawing direct parallels to a previous Seattle African-American hardcore Ed Reformer who truly believed in bettering the outcomes for SPS students but was a supreme disaster? Everyone including the school board tip-toed around the fact that she was a nightmare in part because of concerns around institutional racism. The introspection about what was "off" about her leadership was necessary and right. Our district has a long history of doing wrong by our minority communities.

But no, at the end of the day, in this case her detractors were right. And it wasn't about race. It was about a tone-deaf, destructive, arrogant leadership style that alienated the vast majority around her.

Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I can see giving a principal a lot of freedom in trying a radically different educational approach as long as the system gave parents the ability to choose whether their kids participated in the experiment or stayed in a more traditional academic setting. But how can this be justified in SPS? Kids are assigned to schools based on geography, and capacity constraints rule out alternatives. This is crazy.

Crazytown

Melissa Westbrook said...

This blog does not like cryptic comments. If you have something to say about someone in SPS and their professional behavior/work, you can state that.

kilngoddess said...

There are some very vocal parties weighing in on this issue and promoting today's rally who are either not a parent or teacher at Emerson and/or have no connection to Seattle Public Schools - but are representing themselves as such on Soup for Teachers and to the media.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kilngoddess, why do you think that is?

kilngoddess said...

Apparently there are people personally affiliated (not through SPS) with Principal Drake - who have decided to get involved, and were instrumental in getting the NAACP involved.

Anonymous said...

Yup, sounds like MGJ all over again alright.

DistrictWatcher

Cap hill said...

+1 to the comment "SPS is deeply hostile to parent involvement and feedback." In my experience, it really doesn't matter what your race is, there is just no sense of accountability to parents or PTSA's.

It should be a massive red flag that a school is not using parent volunteers at all. Unless there is a safety concern, I cannot think of a single valid reason why a school would create a policy like this.

Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

@ kilngoddess, do you think people are trying to present an issue that's really about education as a racially motivated issue instead?

You mentioned earlier that a lot of parents and teachers are speaking up but not being heard. Is there anything outsiders can do to help?

rumor mill

kilngoddess said...

Why they are choosing to represent themselves as members of the Emerson school community, I can only guess.

kilngoddess said...

Rumor Mill, it seems there are two issues on which they are focusing. 1) SPS'a approach to administrator is racially biased. POC Administrators are treated differently. and more harshly than white administrators. Their position points to a SPS principal who supposedly has 75 complaints against them and no action, yet Principal Drake was removed with much less. I cannot speak to the validity of this claim, but I think SPS has very badly handled the situation.

2) They are claiming it is only a few white parents who are unhappy with Principal Drake. This is false, but they've stated this to the media and on FB several times. Parents who have spoken out have been harrassed by members of the pro-Drake group, labeled racists and feel they are being marginalized in the discussion.

I don't know what outsiders can do. I'm not an Emerson parent, but have contact with them and have been aware of the problems since the last year.

wsmom said...

I'm outside the school so I can't speak to the two sides but not letting in parent volunteers! That seems anti-community building and as a parent that would really upset me. Even if I was a parent who couldn't come in and volunteer just the idea of we don't want you in the building would make me really suspicious.

Jennie Nichols said...

I am the parent of an Emerson student who volunteered almost weekly in the classroom last year and am volunteering again this year. It is untrue that parents aren't allowed to volunteer. More generally speaking, I have always felt welcome as a parent at Emerson.

Former Emerson Teacher said...

I just want to say, I taught at Emerson last year and 2 years prior to that. It is true that Andrea Drake tried to enforce a no parent volunteer rule. But many of us did not cede to that rule, and that is why parents like Jennie Nichols volunteered there and continue to. I left after all the abuse last year, but I had a regular parent volunteer too- she came in whenever I needed, and still does! And now people are slandering her name and calling her a racist online and in public at the school board meeting. Andrea Drake and her husband and their blind followers should be ashamed of their actions.

udubgrad said...

Although Emerson may see like an extreme case, this kind of principal despotism is not unusual in Seattle. Genesee Hill has a very similar problem with a principal who demands all teachers use a scripted program. Imagine demanding a master teacher teach like a first year novice! That's got to hurt.

If it is true the principal is excluding arts, that is a huge mistake and is a symptom of a reductionist mindset. If it is true that parent volunteers are discouraged, it demonstrates a frightening lack of appreciation of the importance of the family. Parents should always have easy access to their children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the fact that Dr. Drake is not supportive of parents in the building says a lot.

But again, where is the district in all this? MIA

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Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for the two anonymous commenters (NO anonymous comments; please give yourself some kind of name):

Dr. Drake has used her status at her church to gain supporters who do not know the real situation. Her countless grievances filed against her for bullying speak to her actual leadership style. Her reputation is spreading throughout the district which is why she can't fill all her staff positions or keep them filled.

11/2/16, 9:58 PM


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous,
"Dr. Drake should be ashamed of herself for pulling the race card and getting her church involved when they have no first have no first hand knowledge. I enjoy every day at my new school that I am not afraid to be at work and not afraid to ask questions. I am not sick to my stomach driving to school or in constant fear that I'm going to get screamed at. I like that I can be open and honest with parents. I like that kids are allowed to laugh and smile and read books they enjoy instead of working on their 5th year of the same intervention reading program. I like that kids do art, science experiments, social studies, and have class celebrations. These kids did nothing wrong and they are suffering."

Anonymous said...

MW you have been dox-ed over on the Seattle times comments. You better get over there and get the stuff removed.

--Ron

Elsa said...

Thank you Melissa for getting voices heard here through the "racial" chatter. This is a HUGE problem at SSD and Executive Directors are the enablers of it. Public attention is actually 15 months late.

Anonymous said...

Sharyl Brown

I am the parent who put my hands on a student who happened to be black. A large group of parents and teachers were at the pick up area when the teacher was telling the student to back up. She said this a number of times and there was no movement. I walked up to the student, placed my open palms on his clavicle area and "pressured" him back. Some say I pushed. Putting my hands on him makes it sound violent. The child's parent was right there and did nothing. Yet afterwards, she approached me and yelled at me. I understood her feelings and I apologized numerous times. She continued yelling.

Days later I was in the foyer at school waiting for some work to do and the child and parent entered to the building. I said hi to the student as I had nearly every day since the incident. I had previously apologized to the student and he seemed to have accepted my apology as he had said hi to me as well. After saying him the the student, the mother verbally attacked me again yelling. I stayed seated and again told her sorry and explained that I had apologized to her son. She did not care and told me never to speak to her son again. I agreed.

The following day, I was called into the office to speak with Mrs. Moore. She addressed the issue with me and told me not to speak to the child again. I agreed as I had with the parent. She then told me not to intervene in the future which I also agreed too.

I am amazed so many people think I may have hurt this child. That is not something I would do.

I taught for 20 years but have become disabled therefore no longer work. I advocate for all children in and out of Emerson. My vocalizations have been about my child twice but all other conversations with Dr. Drake, Kelly Aramaki, and Betty Patu have been for the general benefit of Emerson. I volunteer to help the teachers so they can plan during their PRP time rather than make copies. I have decorated doors to increase morale at the school of both staff and students. I had a food bank willing to donate 50 bags, and more if necessary, of food once a week at Hutchinson Park behind the school. Unfortunately, that is indefinitely on hold dUe to "lack of communication" (permission) from the school. Please note, the park is not school property and the school has no say of the use of the park, especially after school hours. This was to feed hungry kids. HUNGRY KIDS.

I upset a parent and some teachers. The parent has addressed me but the teachers have not. I understand that one of them actually posted it on his Facebook. I own both my good and bad choices. I do much much more good for Emerson than bad. Our opinions on the issues at Emerson differ but our goals are the same. Now it is time to figure out how to close the gap and get back to teaching our kids.

Sharyl Brown



Charlie Mas said...

Here are a couple facts that can be confirmed:

The Emerson Staff Climate Survey shows woefully negative results. Only 32% positive overall compared to the District average of 66%. Instructional practice only 33% positive compared to the District average of 62%. Professional culture only 31% positive, district average: 70%.

When you dig deeper the results are even worse. 0% - ZERO - responded positively to "I receive the support I need to differentiate and modify instruction for my students."

There was another zero for "I feel included in the decision-making process at this school."

These results should have triggered a serious response from the District. Apparently they did not.

Emerson has a CSIP. There's a lot to it, but statement made by staff and former staff suggest that the action items in the CSIP are not being followed.

Ed said...

And the Director has been in denial for over a year.

He and the rest should go as they are symptoms of the real problem at SSD= too many layers between school board and kids.

And Education Directors who merely enable the culture of lawlessness. Then the administration "pulls the wagons into a circle" and throw out claims like its "racial".

kilngoddess said...

And now the Family Support Worker at Emerson has publicly posted an attack on one the parents who expressed concern about Principal Drake - on the Soup for Teachers Facebook page. She deleted it since, but several us took screenshots.

"I spoke to some Emerson students and they told me that your son told them "My mom got Dr Drake fired with a letter she wrote." Now are you calling the children a liar because more than one student told me that...?"

This is the kind of unethical and intimidating treatment these families at Emerson who have expressed concerns about Principal Drake are experiencing from those who support her. That they are getting it from a SPS staff person whose one mission it apparently is to "eliminate all barriers to academic success for ALL students" is unacceptable.

I am shocked this SPS employee is so irresponsible as to publicly post a "some kids told me your kid said blah, blah, blah" to a parent at her school, on Facebook, considering the already toxic situation at Emerson.

Anonymous said...

Soup for Teachers has gone off the deep end. I blame the current administrator. Lecturing people on racial equity from the comfort of your 2% Black, less than 10% FRL neighborhood school is not much of a challenge.

Meaningless drivel

Anonymous said...

There's a certain irony in a group of predominantly middle class white women lecturing everyone else about racism without ever examining why more POC are not actively part of their group. Some of them definitely have a bad case of the savior complex. Watch them squirm when actual black people show up and they realize they don't always agree like has happened with Emerson.

SocialMedia

Rita Green said...

As usual Melissa has posted incorrect information.
The truth of the matter is there has been no findings and what we have here is an overzealous White parent who is not happy the positive changes Dr. Drake is making on behalf of ALL Emerson students. This parent has put her hands on at least one child of Color, this parent along with another has set up shop in a separate place within the school instead of in the Parent Room that the Family Support Worker set up for ALL parents. Change is hard, but if we want to improve Emerson EVERYONE needs to get on board or get off the boat.

Lynn said...

Kind of hard to get off the Boat when we have an address-based Assignment System.

The school has to serve all students. Requiring teachers to use a reading intervention program with successful readers is evidence that they're not.

kilngoddess said...

Rita Green - Melissa's information isn't the the only narrative out there that disputes your claims. It isn't even the most compelling. There are more and more accounts coming out, from white and non-white members of the Emerson community that speak to a very different environment than the "positive" one you present. This absolutely not one "overzealous white parent" not happy, and the fact that you continue to push this narrative is beyond the pale.

Your whole campaign has been very targeted. Ms. Drake's supporters - the loudest of which are not even SPS families or educators - were instrumental in getting you involved. You have marginalized anyone at the school who disagrees with you. You got the media to tell your side of the story first. Persons under your coordination are suddenly joining SPS-focused FB pages and blogs, and belligerently attacking everyone who deigns question or disagree with them. You are showing no care for Emerson or SPS. You only seem to care about winning and making a point about a clearly questionable administrator. That Ms. Drake herself is allowing this is beyond concerning. That SPS has so badly handled this situation is worse.

I'm horrified that this has been touted as a racial issue within the school - a claim that has horribly damaged and divided the community, instead of focusing on the systemic inequity in action that Emerson has experienced from SPS overall.

You want to address Seattle Public Schools handling of this matter? Go for it, the majority of us are with you. Ultimately, what has happened at Emerson, and the actions taken (and then taken back) regarding Principal Drake is indicative of the district's continued reactive, rather than proactive thinking, lack of cohesive strategy for community involvement, and failure to make any real improvements in equity access at their schools.

But the fact that you, those working with you, and members of Emerson staff are continuing to sow division within the community at a school that has been ridiculously under-served by Seattle Public Schools for so many years is completely irresponsible and has damaged your credibility.


Sent from Yahoo Mail. Get the app

Charlie Mas said...

@Rita Green,

Ms Green, you seem to have some actual information that no one else has. You wrote: "The truth of the matter is there has been no findings"

The District hasn't said anything one way or the other, so what's your source for this statement?

"what we have here is an overzealous White parent who is not happy the positive changes Dr. Drake is making on behalf of ALL Emerson students."

What is your source for this statement? Are you saying that a baseless complaint from a single parent at the school caused the District to suspend the principal for two weeks? That doesn't seem credible, so I want to know where and how you got that information. Also, how can other student families duplicate this sort of clout? My experience has been that the District is significantly less responsive to complaints - let alone complaints about positive changes made on behalf of all students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rita, I can send you the documentation on the findings (there are now two of them.) You know me and I would never say that if it were not true. Why Dr. Drake is denying it, I don't know.



Anonymous said...

I have attended many School Board meetings, but I have seldom witnessed such disrespect for the Board or for the public testimony procedure. Multiple speakers signed up under the growth boundaries topic, but spoke about Emerson, instead. Most of these speakers were Emerson staff. They continued to speak about personnel issues, even after being reminded repeatedly by the Board that such testimony was against the rules.

There was a long wait list of people who had signed up to speak to an issue that was important to them, and never got their chance.

Here is the link to the video of the public testimony portion of the meeting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeWF--347U0

-RESPECT

Melissa Westbrook said...

Respect, I was not aware until late in the day that this would be happening. It certainly is against the rules to sign up for an agenda topic and then not talk about it. The Board office will probably have to figure out what to do in that case.

kilngoddess said...

Well, there's always the option of starting your comments with something like "I was going to speak on Growth Boundaries, but since it's been taken off the agenda and there are so many other speakers on the topic, I'll talk about this other pressing issue."

I will say, when I first started signing up to speak at board meetings, I was given a lot of conflicting messages. I was told if I didn't put something specifically on the agenda as my topic, I might get moved off to the waiting list. I was told if I put a topic on the agenda, there are primarily people signing up first who also have that topic, I might get moved to the waitlist to make room for people with other topics Unfortunately the system is never clear, equitable, or consistent.

Charlie Mas said...

The staff survey results make it abundantly clear that those who claim that Dr. Drake enjoys broad support among the staff are peddling a false narrative. This is not a case of a few, loud malcontents getting a disproportionate amount of attention, but a case of dangerously low approval for the school leadership among the staff.

Concerned Teacher said...

I think the stories people are sharing about Dr. Drake say everything. I think staff running like hell from Emerson last year speaks for itself. Dr. Drake blatantly lies about most topics whenever it suits her. Her dishonesty has been proven many times because she can't keep it all straight. The only time she responded to her email last year was when someone emailed out a recipe. She never responded to important concerns about SPED, ELL or serious behavior incidences. You could send the same email 5 times and she would not respond. If she cared about the children she wouldn't have fired City Year. She would let them be kids and she would learn their names. If she cared she wouldn't badmouth staff to other staff or ask teachers to throw away student work because it wasn't to her liking. If she is making a difference why did Great Schools take Emerson's rating down to a 1 after last year? She fails as a leader but is a talented actress and victim. I wouldn't trust her to manage a Taco Time.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunate (and avoidable) series of events resulting in extreme dysfunction:

1. No school in SPS should have this level of FRL students. Period. The district is largely affluent, and there should not be such extremes in student demographics simply because of the complacency of the neighborhood assignment plan.

2. There were red flags in the staff survey that were waving frantically. Due, probably in large part to #1, they were ignored. The district has a long history of paying attention to the squeaky wheels and those in power while ignoring the rest.

3. A "neighborhood" school is being run like a KIPP school or the former African American Academy. Both of those are/were choice programs. Assigned students whose parents may not like the military atmosphere may wind up not being fans. Try this approach in more affluent neighborhoods in Seattle. It would be cut off in a NY minute. Why is it okay for children living in poverty? Isn't the school-to-prison
pipeline the current district rallying point?

4. The NAACP has involved itself in a personnel matter, which is fine. The circumstances of the principal's departure and re-emergence are very strange and atypical. There is potentially treatment of this principal that is more severe and unusual than other cases of principals. It is the role of NAACP to monitor and advocate for fairness.

5. Calling the removal of the principal a result of a "White" parent is both provocative and ridiculous. That type of argument weakens the legitimacy of NAACP
if there are actual circumstances of of unfair treatment of the principal.

6. Is there overlap in the advocacy of this principal and personal relationships? That is why recusal is the expectation in the legal system.I don't know the networking involved, but recusals should be maintained in the case of defending when there is a prior personal relationship.

7. It all goes back to #1. These highly impacted schools statistically lead to poorer outcomes for students. Everyone knows it, but nothing is being done.

FWIW

seattle citizen said...

FWIW nails it with #3:

"3. A "neighborhood" school is being run like a KIPP school or the former African American Academy. Both of those are/were choice programs. Assigned students whose parents may not like the military atmosphere may wind up not being fans. Try this approach in more affluent neighborhoods in Seattle. It would be cut off in a NY minute. Why is it okay for children living in poverty?"

NESeattleMom said...

I agree with FWIWs comment. SPS gives lip service to 'every child/student every day' but in reality allows dysfunction to reign when nobody advocates for normalcy. There are many stories from teachers and the staff survey. There must be something going on. The people who live near the school don't have choices of where to go, and also may not have points of comparison with other schools.

Anonymous said...

seattle citizen, it seems a little inappropriate of you to cherry-pick FWIW's list to fit your own anti-reform narrative. I think FWIW's point is that all these issues in the list are interrelated and that no one of them alone led to the dysfunction that is Emerson.

--- mp

seattle citizen said...

-mp
I'm merely echoing that point, that it is inappropriate to have such a school as a neighborhood school, where students are stuck in it without a choice. The program there is a very specific type of program that should be a choice (if it is even a valid model, which I dispute.)

As FWIW wrote, a program that insists on uniforms, that focuses (exclusively?) on the three Rs, that appears to use a remedial reading program to teach reading to ALL students would never fly in a wealthier school.
This is a question I've asked for years: why do poor students get these regimented, almost militaristic sorts of programs while wealthier students don't?
And what happens to the many students who don't need or want such a program but HAVE to do it because it's their neighborhood school?
Nothing inappropriate about highlighting that truth.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oddly, I agree with most of what FWIW wrote. I don't agree with number four because the only evidence given is that another school has many parents who don't like their principal and nothing is done. That may be true (and I'm still trying to get clarification on that) but it didn't point to a pattern of African-American principals being treated differently than white principals.

What I find troubling is that Ted Howard has had many serious problems and yet he's never gotten pulled out of his office.

What the NAACP wasn't told by Principal Drake is that the district had a finding (via a complaint from a staff member) that she had used bullying/intimidation against this staff member. A second such complaint was also filed and upheld by the district's investigation. It had nothing to do with race but with her leadership style which really seems to be the issue here.

But as FWIW and the rest of us have pointed out, the district has dysfunctional ways of handling issues and it hurts school communities.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

#4 is about due process, which should be granted to every employee.

Your infusion of information you say you have and invoking the name
of another principal are irrelevant to the rights of this principal
for due process.

If NAACP suspects this employee's rights have been violated, they are
doing their job by advocating.

#5 questions the rhetoric being used in this effort.

FWIW

Melissa Westbrook said...

FWIW, yes, if the NAACP believes this principal's rights have been violated, they can and should stand up for her.

But Ms Green of the NAACP says "there are no findings" and that is not true. There are two findings by a district investigation that hold that Dr. Drake used bullying/intimidation against two different employees at Emerson. You can either take my word for it (because I don't really want to post the documents even redacted) or you can file a public disclosure request to the district and see for yourself.

Richelle Dickerson said...
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Richelle Dickerson said...

Richelle Dickerson11/6/16, 1:08 AM
Melissa & FWIW - I'm reading it that you both are basically saying the same thing - in terms of #5? Am I missing something?

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Ed said...

I think the word Melissa is looking for is impunity.

That seems to be what Ms. Green is seeking for principals (of any color as her argument can apply to all).

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do not believe a single parent's complaint about a principal could get the district to act (especially without an investigation) unless there was a danger to the school community.

I think it is not a good idea to try to find linkage from school to school per district actions because it is always hard to have exactly the same situation. I would not say one single situation is a pattern.

Ed, I'm not agreeing with your assessment but again, I think that it is important to not immediately believe it is possible to make an assessment of a situation in a vacuum of knowledge (especially if the main player is not being entirely truthful about the situation.)

I think at this point, the district needs to issue a statement - not Ex. Director Kelly Aramaki's carefully shaped statement released late Friday - with a plan of action.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where they drummed up those "teachers" who spoke at the Board meeting in favor of Drake.

Were they even teachers at Emerson?

Something is fishy smelling.

obsidian

Richelle Dickerson said...

Obsidian - those who actually spoke at the board meeting to support Principal Drake were indeed all (new this year) staff and educators at Emerson.

However, it has been outside interests, including the NAACP and other parties that have no substantive connection to Emerson or the SPS community, who have been driving much of the rhetoric surrounding her support since she was put on leave. At least one of those parties suddenly appeared this week on the Soup for Teachers Facebook page, and did falsely present himself as a member of the Emerson community.

I have no issue with those who wish to take the district to task for their spectacularly incompetent mismanaging of this situation. However I cannot tolerate persons who come into our school communities and effectively drive a wedge between parents and staff in order to push an agenda that is clearly not working, ultimately, for the good of SPS educators and families.

Anonymous said...

NAACP may have a valid point that principals (and teachers) are not all treated equally in SPS, but it's certainly not at all clear that there's a racial reason behind the differences in disciplinary measures. There have been white principals and teachers harshly disciplined for offenses that didn't seem to merit such extreme actions, and there have been black principals who never seem to be disciplined despite a never-ending stream of scandals and controversies.

rb

Ed said...

Ms. Green is headed for a hard fall if she keeps believing Drake.

Richelle Dickerson said...

Update on Emerson

Kelly Aramaki sent a letter to families on Tuesday saying Principal Drake would return to the school on Monday, December 21. In anticipation of that, a community meeting was held at the school last night for parents and guardians to "share our questions and concerns, as well as our hopes and dreams for our children at Emerson Elementary." According to two parents I've spoken with who were there, the meeting was mediated by a person who introduced himself as having coached Principal Drake since June, which immediately put into question his appearance of impartiality. It was also attended and hijacked by Rita Green (NAACP), Several members of Ms. Drake's church, and Kevin Amos, the activist who has taken to social media and showed up at the school board meeting to harass and intimidate anyone who is questioning or disagreeing with Principal Drake. He was allowed to speak nearly first at the meeting, and then continued to try and grab the microphone when others were speaking.

According to one of the translators present to assist the large contingent of ESL and non-English speaking parents & guardians, they were all were intimidated into silence - and told the translator they wanted to speak but felt uncomfortable doing so.

This is so completely unacceptable. If an outside group came to a predominately white English-speaking school and hijacked a community meeting, it would not be tolerated by the community or SPS representatives. This school has been in crisis for so long, prior to Drake - what the heck were they thinking??? Are we supposed to believe they care AT ALL about the families at Emerson? What were they thinking?