Sunday, December 18, 2016

Overview Thoughts as We Come to the End of 2016

We don't need to have an expanded discussion here on these various issues but here's what I'll be writing about by the end of the year:


- effects of the Trump administration on public education.  (My advice on all this is to 1) Stay Calm and join the resistance; here's a link to some ideas and 2) believe in this country even if you don't believe in the people who will now run it.  Lastly, this will be a fight - not some polite phone calls or e-mails.

- the continuing mismanagement of this district and the apparent acquiescence of the Board.  As in years past, I continue to not understand either thing continuing on but I'm about done with both.

- the levy cliff.  Spoke to the Governor, spoke to Frank Chopp and folks, get a parachute because anything that does get done to prevent it, will likely come too late.  I don't know if those elected officials are clueless about how school districts plan their budgets but no, this can't wait until the last minute.

And you know what else? There are a lot of legislators who are more than happy to see Seattle suffer (even it if is really children who will be the most hurt.)

But when you have a district whose management has been suspect for years, then it's time for some people down at JSCEE to go take a look in the mirror.

I will continue to advocate for something to get done sooner rather than later but I'm not holding out much hope.

- Advanced Learning.  There were two interesting pieces written - one at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page by an HCC parent and one at Seattle Globalist that needs to be challenged.   There is WAY too much emphasis on this one program as the reason for all segregation and racial problems in this district.

It's a red herring, a deflection by the district and a MacGuffin all rolled into one to be used for gaslighting parents and the public.

Onward.

19 comments:

HCC parent said...

I was happy to see HCC parents advocating for their children on the Soup for Teachers site. HCC parents seek to advocate for their children, but have become the target of public shaming.

ML said...

This has been my sense, that people want to stick it to Seattle. I feel like Inslee is with them. What the heck is wrong with people?

Melissa Westbrook said...

ML, Eastern Washington is very frustrated. They feel the Puget Sound region rules the state and that they are not heard. Is this true? Somewhat but they also forget that the economy in the PS region drives dollars to fund their roads.

It does not help that SPS is not a well-run district and that it is apparent to many outside of it.

Anonymous said...

i tried to find the sites mw but couldn't at both domains. does someone have the actual links.

-nc

Anonymous said...



oh and i would say that using mc trolls "segregation" line is wrong and hate-filled. i would ask you to not use that term. do you think this is the 50's and parents are trying to get their kids into all white schools. that is not anyone's aim in hcc. i want to say that again that hcc isn't apartheid or appartheid. too bad the teachers in the program don't get that.

we have to make sure we have a real grasp of reality. there is not a racial bias. this is just the facts of such a very -ses- diverse city. no one is try to exacerbate this issue but it isn't something sps can solve.

i just want my kids to be taught as they need to be. as the research suggest. but that will not fit the needs of tolley and others as they want to continue to divide and conquer.

-nc /no caps

Melissa Westbrook said...

NC, I will have them in my story.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa, I agree with nc on this. Your original post includes this line re: Advanced Learning: There is WAY too much emphasis on this one program as the reason for all segregation and racial problems in this district.

First, we don't have enforced segregation in this district. We may have de facto segregation due to discriminatory practices such redlining, employment discrimination, etc., but we don't have enforced segregation.

Second, rather than AL being one of the reasons (as your statement implies), it could be argued the reverse. In the absence of AL, whites would likely be even more concentrated in schools that don't have many people of color or FRL students. HCC placement makes schools more diverse in some cases. In other words, not only is AL not THE reason for the disparities we see, it's not clear it's even A reason.

DisAPPointed

alex said...

Boy, it really does feel like Seattle is getting thrown under the bus on this levy cliff issue at the Leg. I would encourage Seattle Reps to be a tough on this one, and agree completely that Western WA is where the money that funds the state comes from, and we shouldn't have to beg for them to take this seriously.

Does anyone have a list or a map of other districts statewide that will be impacted by the levy cliff? We need to reach out to those legislators, and try to encourage solidarity.

I also sort of want SPS to fall on their own incompetence on this one...not all of the $74 M shortfall is due to the levy cliff. SPS knew this was coming and kept hiring and giving raises, etc. and that is just terrible management. So, we are fighting as a result of their mismanagement as well, and that is infuriating.

But, fight I will because Seattle kids should not suffer for their mismanagement.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Alex, I hope to get such a list together soon. Naturally, SPS, as the largest district, will feel it the most.

"But, fight I will because Seattle kids should not suffer for their mismanagement."

And I appreciate that but things will never change if parents do not - in force - push back hard. How? Huge boycott of SBAC testing. Pull back on PTA funding. Refusing to support the next levy.

The district and the Board will not listen to anything but actual power.

Disgusted said...

Why are folks quick to condemn the board and not mention unfunded state mandates? I'd really like to see a tally of those costs.

Disgusted said...

Parents also supported the teachers strike, which contributes $22M to the deficit. Now, some are blaming the collective bargaining agreement on the district. The board just can't win.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disgusted, I'm happy to blame the state (and I have.) But the Board does very little to check the nonsense that passes for work from some staff.

You might also read what former Director McLaren had to say on this subject. The problem is that people are hired to make sure this district lives within its means. They aren't doing that job.

Disgusted said...

Did you not support the teacher strike, Melissa?

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Melissa Westbrook said...

1) Yes, I did support the teachers strike. But the district should have figured out how they were paying for these raises. This spending and spending on adm salaries should have not happened.

MacGuffin was a word that Hitchcock used for something that was a distraction from the real plot.

Gaslighting comes from an old Ingrid Bergman film, Gaslight, where a husband is trying to make his wife think she is crazy. It was set in the 1900s where they used gaslights and he would turn one down as a signal. So to gaslight is to make you think what you are seeing isn't real.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Can you tell I watch a lot of movies?

Anonymous said...

I cannot support the ideas of pulling back PTA funding or refusing to fund the next levy. This sounds an awful lot like what the legislature is trying to do. In both cases this ends up punishing the students and it does nothing to cure the mismanagement of the district.

-Mark

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mark, all I can tell you from watching this district for over 15 years, is that nothing will change with just going to Board meetings and testifying. Sometimes, short term pain IS worth the gain. (PTA funds and levies can always be redone; it would not be the end of the world but the meme of "it's for the kids" has kept this district operating the way it does for a long time.)