Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thought-Provoking Article on KUOW on "White Liberal Racism" in SPS

 I don't have time to write a full thread on this article but it certainly seems written to be incendiary (including that headline which seems to me, a non-journalist, not the most objective headline they could have used).

Some of Blanford's and Geary's comments also seem a little-less-than-nuanced.

Is this just Laurelhurt or symtomatic of the district?  Are parents not entitled to opinions about what happens at school (particularly if there was no advance notification on an event and support for what to tell your child)?

Another one of those things that make you go, hmmm - a lot to unpack here.

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get the need for a black lives matter movement. However, I also understand that there are diverse groups including disabled, poor kids of any color etc who are just as marginalized as well. Having a movement that supports black kids who are often but not always also lower socio, does not discount this fact. We just need more movements.
-IMO

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to feel that vilifying parents in stories like these is a good distractor from the other endemic problems within the district like a lack of challenging straightforward curriculum for all students, administrative fiscal waste and lack of responsiveness, too few teaching FTEs and lack of respect for teachers as professionals. The big bogeyman for the district has always been parents. If parent credibility can be destroyed then the district is free to do whatever it wants. The media is the best place to do this as well.....a lesson learned from the POTUS.

IMHO

not mc t said...

sure geary, conflate blm movement with the anti hcc movement. nice. yet you don't seem to mind the hcc program too much for your family. resign please.

Anonymous said...

Well MW, there you have it. Somebody else with a different viewpoint outlining the underpinnings "that bad bad principal" at Laurelhurst. Instead scapegoating excellence, the velvet bigots at Laurelhurst and in other high SES neighborhoods need to accept that public school is diverse. Really diverse. That means, the good, the bad, and the ugly... from your own perspective. The wealthier it gets, the more homeless and disenfranchised are created by unequal wealth. And yes, they will be in your classrooms, even at a "good" school like Laurelhurst. The ones who are kicked out of your classrooms, you will see in the halls, lunchroom, and auditorium. They will not behave according to your norms. They may threaten you, or your child, to get a rise. And yes, they probably resent people with money. That's you Laurelhurst. Private school is where you get to pick your cohort.

Proud Ranter

Anonymous said...

"incendiary"? More like a reality check.

If this segment was a surprise to you, you've either been in denial or maybe abetting the marginalization and privilege in SPS.

This blog is highly biased toward the privileged, which may help explain why this segment was perceived as incendiary.

mc troll, Geary may be hypocritical, but that doesn't mean her message isn't true.

Delete Me?

Anonymous said...

Someday those who stand by silently while the school system becomes more and more a tool of indoctrination rather than education are going to regret where we end up.

1. There's no guarantee what we'll "teach" all the students once we've crossed that line. Imagine politic opponents gaining control of the school board and now explaining to your children why your politics is immoral/evil etc.

2. Parents with the means will flee and in large numbers like what has happened in most other large cities if they fear the education system is broken. What we'll be left with is a network of charters and disadvantaged schools. People need to appreciate how rare Seattle is. Most cities of this size are much worse off.

3. Equity/Racism make a fine pretext to hide behind when the rest of your performance has been decidedly lackluster ala Blanford who has never challenged a single staff decision and is a solid yes vote for anything they propose. Literally every other board member I've talked to including Geary has complained they cannot work with him. Likewise, the publicly virtuous Moms on FB are always eager to decry racism and never examine their own schools or the lack of diversity in their own ranks.

- Blech








Anonymous said...

Blech, let me correct something for you. You say, "People need to appreciate how rare Seattle is. Most cities of this size are much worse off."

Seattle has the fifth largest achievement gap between white and black students of any large city in the nation and by far the largest of any city in our state. So, yeah, Seattle is relatively rare. There are not many cities of its size worse off than Seattle.

It depends upon the lens with which you view these things. But I guess I'm just using equity/racism to hide behind.

Frederick

Melissa Westbrook said...

Delete Me, I'm sorry that you're new and have missed the countless times Charlie and I stick up for everyone, especially low-income and at-risk kids.

I said "incendiary" because "white liberal racism" seems like more of a judgment than a technical term that a media outlet would use. But, as I said, I'm not a journalist.

And again, this seems like evidence that principals should consider - when approving a school-wide action, whether by students or staff - to explain to parents, beforehand, what is happening. That is especiallly true with elementary students. The little girl in the piece whose father works for SPD was likely left very confused. That didn't have to happen.

Frederick, I think Blech may meant overall for large city measurements, not the district. But yes, not good.

Anyone who thinks Black Lives Matter isn't a valid viewpoint is not paying attention. The latest not-guility vote of a police officer out of Minnesota is proof of that.

I just think that schools and districts need to make sure that parents understand messaging, when it will happen and why. I don't think that's asking too much.

Anonymous said...

I love how the article quotes Jennifer Harvey, a religion professor in Des Moines, Iowa: “As a white person myself, I hear and I know how white people think about race..."

Yes, please, tell me how all white people must think. I assume that applies to those who spoke out both for and against the Laurelhurst BLM event? And all white parents at all our other schools? Nice.

While racial tensions and disparities and white privilege are topics that merit discussion and awareness, they also need to be handled with sensitivity--not for the sake of sparing white feelings, but for the sake of actually making a difference. Accusing people of being racist because they happen to be white isn't likely to win anyone over. Making blanket assumptions is not the way to go. It's also not the way to teach.

Teaching young children about these societal issues is important, but has to be done carefully. Too many times the message that comes across is that you're inherently bad for being white. Or that cops are all bad. Or if discussing sexism, that men (thus, boys) are bad. You can argue that the messages aren't so black and white, but the messages GETTING THROUGH to kids often ARE black and white. Their takeaways are not what we want them to glean from these conversations, unless these conversations are particularly well-done, probably as part of a much larger, ongoing conversation that helps to set things up for them, gives them more context, allows them to see all sides of an issue, helps them understand that things are not always so clear-cut. When teachers don't know how to do this well--as most probably don't--it may do more harm than good. I recall my own middle school student, complaining about the relentless messaging from Jon Greeberg, saying that while he'd initially agreed he was starting to rebel against those ideas because he was getting so sick of hearing them pushed upon them. I think different messages are appropriate at different ages, and it's important to help children understand the issues, not tell them how to think. If teachers don't have the expertise to appropriately share appropriate messaging, then they shouldn't be doing it. And if it's "messaging" that they are sharing, it seems that parents should be informed of the message beforehand.

Of course (!) Geary found a way to bring HCC into it. I disagree with the article's statement, however, that the sticker's message was that "the gifted program is overwhelmingly white." I the stickers said "HCC is overwhelmingly white" would people have been upset? It's true. But the sticker wouldn't have had the same impact if it left it at that. It instead went further, and clearly that was an attempt to vilify HCC students and families.

Geary said. “They were upset their kid was being shamed for being in HCC. I think that’s the same instinct.” Is she suggesting that it's ok to shame students for being in HCC? Do highly capable students "matter"? Or would the response be "of course you matter, that's why you have a special program, but because you have a special program it's ok to shame you, and by the way, we want to eliminate your special program because you really don't deserve it"?

I have a highly gifted, white, male student in SPS. I must be a bad, bad mom. My student is seen as the bad guy here...but if we go private, we're even more evil, right?

Bad mom

Anonymous said...

"Seattle has the fifth largest achievement gap between white and black students of any large city in the nation and by far the largest of any city in our state. So, yeah, Seattle is relatively rare. There are not many cities of its size worse off than Seattle."

@Frederick- One cannot throw out this statistic without also correlating the statistics of how many (near 30%) send their kids to private school in this city. I would like to see the achievement gap correlate socioeconomic status.

The current educational achievement gap research coming out of Stanford (Reardon) has correlated achievement gap and socioeconomic status. It is greater than a black white/gap which has actually gotten smaller over the years. The real issue is a socio-economic gap. If we identify this issue, perhaps we can address it in society.
https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/reardon%20whither%20opportunity%20-%20chapter%205.pdf
-GF

Anonymous said...

"I have a highly gifted, white, male student in SPS. I must be a bad, bad mom. My student is seen as the bad guy here...but if we go private, we're even more evil, right?

Bad mom"

It's really what kind of adult your child turns out to be. SPS would like to "indoctrinate" your kid to be aware of the reality of the world with its racism and unfairness.

Is that so wrong?

Mom

Lynn said...

Maybe that's a laudable goal. It's very much about teaching children how to be good people though and I am not certain that's something I want to entrust to teachers with no oversight and no curriculum. The state learning standards define what children should learn in our schools and for teachers to add morality lessons to that list without a curriculum or agreed upon learning outcomes is inappropriate.

Blanford was elected to represent all students and all families in his district and if he can't overcome his preconceived notions about families and their internal motivations, he's not capable of doing the job. Why didn't he choose to send his children to his assignment area school? Was it the 80% poverty rate or the 24% special education rate he was avoiding?

Anonymous said...

Without even discussing the content of the KUOW piece, does it seem odd that someone requested the emails? I know emails sent to a public agency are part of public record, yet...

-1984

Developmentally Appropriate? said...

The story referred to a small five year old standing in front of his class. This leads me to believe K classes are having conversations around the issue of police brutality.

Is it developmentally appropriate to expose five year olds to the harsh reality of police brutality?

What do child psychologists think of this issue, Jill Geary?

Anonymous said...

"...for teachers to add morality lessons to that list without a curriculum or agreed upon learning outcomes is inappropriate."

You're serious? So telling kids it's wrong to judge others by their color, religion, gender, etc.is inappropriate?

That is an interesting view.

Mom

Be Afraid said...

KUOW is getting e-mails between parents and principals, and publishing?!

Carol Simmons said...

Quotes from Directors Blanford and Geary in this article make me wish they both would remain on the Board...........and as far as Melissa is concerned, she is and has always been a voice for the underserved.

Thank you

Sandy said...

My kindergartener's class attended a Black Lives Matter assembly, which the kindergarteners understood to be "about the police arresting black people." The kids were fascinated with this idea of arresting people. They wanted to know all about getting arrested. What is it? Why do you get arrested? How long are you arrested for? Do kids get arrested?

This is going to take more than one assembly to teach! And who knows what parents heard about these BLM assemblies. 5-year-olds are not necessarily very informative when you ask them what they did at school today.

Anonymous said...

Found this article in the WaPo about Andrew Jackson, one of the president's favorites of history. It recounts an ad he placed for the return of one of his slaves.

"“Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804. The future president gave a detailed description: A “Mulatto Man Slave, about thirty years old, six feet and an inch high, stout made and active, talks sensible, stoops in his walk, and has a remarkable large foot, broad across the root of the toes — will pass for a free man.…”

Jackson, who would become the country’s seventh commander in chief in 1829, promised anyone who captured this “Mulatto Man Slave” a reward of $50, plus “reasonable” expenses paid.

Jackson added a line that some historians find particularly cruel.

It offered “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”
The ad was signed, “ANDREW JACKSON, Near Nashville, State of Tennessee.”

and more:

"The ads often describe in detail the runaways: their skills, missing teeth, height, weight. They give insight into how enslaved people lived and carried themselves. The ads also provide a sense of resistance and defiance, along with harsh punishments. They describe recent beatings, scars and fingers cut off. In an ad dated June 5, 1788, that ran in the Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser, a woman named Patty, who was about 18 years old and 5 feet tall, is described this way: “Her back appears to have been used to the whip.”"

I hope to heaven ALL kids learn about this, maybe not in K, but in high school.

rainy day

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you don't need a curriculum or "oversight" to teach morality lessons. I certainly hope teachers are teaching morals to the kids.
-NP

Be Afraid said...

Too bad KUOW exploited the confused reaction of a NINE year old child.

Lynn said...

NP, I've encountered teachers I would not consider to be good people and who should not be teaching morality lessons.

A teacher's role is to provide a good example to their students and to ensure inappropriate behavior (including discrimination based on color, race or gender) is not allowed in their classrooms. The history of civil rights in America is appropriately covered in the curriculum.. You must see that giving teachers free reign to discuss the black lives matter movement however they see fit is problematic, particularly with young children who may have no exposure to these issues.

Salvador said...

Lynn's right. One of my teachers was fired for using cocaine while teaching. Another of my teachers was secretly living at school and having a sexual relationship with a 10th grader. Just being a teacher absolutely does not mean you're free of prejudice or a good candidate to teach morality to children. Teacher education programs are NOT divinity school.

Plus, our district teaching staff doesn't reflect the demographics of the students in the district. According to this paper, if Seattle Public Schools wanted to hire enough Black teachers so that the percentage of Black teachers in the district equaled the percentage of Black students, they would need to hire 387 new Black teachers (or 48.8% of all Black teachers in the state working outside of Seattle).

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Lynn on this one.

Teach about the struggle for women's suffrage as written in the curriculum but do not go one inch into treating female classmates with respect or discussing pay equity or sexual harassment.

Don't mention to American Government classes that the president bragged on a hot mic he assaulted women. It's not in the curriculum.

I had a bad teacher once too and I don't trust any of them.

snarko

Lynn said...

Teachers should enforce treating all students in every classroom with respect. On the other hand, my nine year old should not be taught about sexual harassment at school.

Trump's behavior is relevant to the curriculum in an American Government class. You must be capable of seeing the point here.

Anonymous said...

Fully capable, I do not agree.

If I wanted merely a teacher for my child who spouts state-approved curriculum and does not provide guidance on the morals of my community, I would use on-line learning.

True, I don't want bible-thumpers spouting religion, or racists spewing hate at my kid but I do want progressive and socialist ideas not incorporated into the curriculum as part of their school experience.

I also draw the line at any sort of personal messianic behavior, however, I encourage social justice talk. The more the better.

Damn the curriculum.

snarko

PS the president's behavior seems very relevant and I believe current events are considered curriculum in most if not all classes, so I'm glad we agree here. As far as 9 year olds learning about sexual harassment, I think my child learned about that in pre-school. It was city run, so maybe that's why.

Anonymous said...

snarko wants socialist indoctrination of kids in public schools. And I assume would support some "re-education" for those children (and their families and extended families) who don't get with the program.

Comrade

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, Comrade!

We are all getting re-educated on the wonders of capitalism as we speak by the republicans as they try to force tens of millions off health care, sell billions in weapons to the most women, gay and dissent hating regimes on the globe, and enrich the most corrupt American administration ever.

More power to the banks! More power to polluters! Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition! Republicans would have us living under the rules of conservative christianity!

Methinks a nice Socialism like in Norway would be awesome.

Look up how Norway treats it's people, from birth to death.

snarko

Anonymous said...

a few choice quotes from:

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

"The United Nations World Happiness Report 2013 shows that the happiest nations are concentrated in Northern Europe. The Nordics ranked highest on the metrics of real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption.[11]"

"George Lakey, author of Viking Economics, asserts that Americans generally misunderstand the nature of the Nordic "welfare state":

Americans imagine that “welfare state” means the U.S. welfare system on steroids. Actually, the Nordics scrapped their American-style welfare system at least 60 years ago, and substituted universal services, which means everyone—rich and poor—gets free higher education, free medical services, free eldercare, etc. Universal totally beats the means-testing characteristic of their dreadful old welfare system that they discarded and that the United States still has.[51]"

Wow. Education, health care and elder care for all.

Please re-educate me!

snarko

Anonymous said...

@snarko,

u forgot childcare is free too


Mom

Anonymous said...

I think these are hard but necessary conversations. Talking about them isn't always easy, but ignoring them is worse. Kuddos to KUOW and Melissa for starting the conversation.

-NW Mom

mirmac1 said...

Lynn, no "morality" lessons necessary. Let's have teachers just talk facts. Not Fox News facts. And I disagree that ALL nine year olds should not learn that sexual harassment is wrong and that every person of any gender deserves respect, or there will be consequences.

It seems to me that children would not be traumatized if, in fact, their parents have been discussing issues of inequity in policing, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, and our rights under the Constitution, etc. For K, it need only be Innocent until proven Guilty. Or Be Patient and Calm.

I'm sure teachers would LOVE to be relieved of the need to teach so-called morality. I applaud the BLM day in SPS schools.

mirmac1 said...

I agree snarko. Haven't received the Scholastic newsletter for a while. Has Trump been featured as the honorable leader of our country, the protector of our nation's security and laws? If so, that is indoctrination by a for-profit enterprise who controls much of what children read in K-5.

Witch Hunt said...

Who gave Isole Raferty the tip? It seems odd that Laurelhurst was singled-out?

Why was Blanford contacted? He isn't the director for Laurelhurst. Why did Blanford send Raferty to talk to Geary. Shouldn't a reporter would have the capacity to to figure-out the director for Laurelhurst.

I would like to see one person defend Raferty going after private e-mails between principals and parents. I would like to see one person defend Raferty for publicly going after a confused 5 year old and 9 year old.

Jet City mom said...

Snarko, its hard to read sarcasm online.

http://kjonnsforskning.no/en/2017/04/norwegian-courts-discriminate

Jet City mom said...

I agree that 4th graders can be introduced to the notion of sexual harrassment. But I dont think that teachers should be introducing it on their own.
Id like to see it as a part of devolpmentally appropriate and prescreened health curriculum.

Grouchy Parent said...

Right, Witch Hunt? Plus, what's up with the whole people-in-NE-Seattle are evil thing in the first place? There's a lot of white people living in some other parts of town, too. Where's the rage at Magnolia? And Ballard? I'm sure there's plenty of racists in Seattle. 8% of the city actually voted for Trump!!!. But SPS has to educate the kids, regardless of their parents views (or race or income or kooky ideas).

Jet City mom said...

Washington standards are so verbose & full of jargon thst it gave me a headace, but I think these topics are a good place to start.

https://www.pobschools.org/cms/lib/NY01001456/Centricity/Domain/59/Elementary%20Health.pdf

Anonymous said...

When taught history, all white students should at some point think "Is it bad to be white?" I see that as a normal part of confronting one's privilege. I hope all progressives can agree that the "All lives matter" is an unacceptable response. It is possible that both the reactions of white parents are rooted in bias and white fragility and that there could have been better communication.

This seems like a great topic for school board candidates to discuss!

--B-Rig

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

My main point is that the handling of issues at Laurelhurst does not seem to be going well. A good leader knows how to work with all types of parents especially around highly-charged issues. Talking with parents before an event is happening at school goes a long way.

I'm not defending any viewpoint but asking the question of couldn't this have been handled better?

Anonymous said...

"White fragility" is a made-up theory from Robin DiAngelo. It is a dumb idea, not based in reality but promulgated as a career building meme that benefits her and her alone. I would be disappointed if our school board wasted time discussing it. There are other more difficult and more important problems facing the district.

DistrictParent

Anonymous said...

When taught history, all white students should at some point think "Is it bad to be white?" I see that as a normal part of confronting one's privilege.

@ B-Rig, really? Students should wonder if it's "bad" to have been born a certain color, something they had no control over? I assume the appropriate answer in 100% of those cases is "no," that it's ok to be white. You do not need to make students feel bad about who they are in order to help them understand their privilege, but unfortunately many teachers seem to push the guilt factor. I think that can do more harm than good.

Should non-white students think "thank god I'm not white, because it's bad to be white"?

If we are talking about, say, gender pay inequity or domestic violence, do we want all males to think they are bad at their core, that they to constantly battle their evil urges to hurt women, because surely that's what's deep inside them?

Is it bad to be born to parents with money? Good to be born into poverty? Should academically gifted students question whether it's bad to be so, and maybe try to tamp down their intellect?

I think we can help students see unfairness and inequity and inequality wuthout making them feel bad about who they are. We can teach about historic and current events, for example, in which many whites have behaved terribly, and we can teach about whites who spoke up or acted admirably. Let kids see the range of behaviors and characters so they can decide what type of person they want to be. Just don't shame them into being what others want them to be.

Bad mom

Anonymous said...

@B-Rig- "When taught history, all white students should at some point think "Is it bad to be white?" I see that as a normal part of confronting one's privilege."

Being considered "white" is one privilege in the US. However, heritage is very complex and the white box is also very ethnically diverse. My relatives are very brown skinned and check the white box. We are not all anglo saxon or N European with middle class ancestry. History and privilege is alot more complicated than many people realize and there are socioconomic and many other privileges as well. You cannot look at someone and make assumptions about their history or privilege.
-BT

seattle citizen said...

Blech asks us to "Imagine politic opponents gaining control of the school board and now explaining to your children why your politics is immoral/evil etc."

No need to imagine: Just open pretty much any textbook and see a Eurocentric view of the world, a view that often patronizes others or downplays the downsides to capitalism and/or colonialism. Those textbook writers, and out society that buys the textbooks, delights in explaining to children how other people's "politics" (ways of being) are "immoral/evil etc."

It was worse in the past, of course, where entire groups of people were denigrated "separately but equally" or shipped off to schools in order to "beat the Indian out of them." But it continues today.

But by all means, continue to believe that somehow schools will some day be taken over by a group that wants to explain to children that some other children or peoples are immoral/evil...

seattle citizen said...

Bad Mom wrote, "I love how the article quotes Jennifer Harvey, a religion professor in Des Moines, Iowa: 'As a white person myself, I hear and I know how white people think about race...'
Yes, please, tell me how all white people must think"

The professor isn't TELLING anyone how to think, she's listening and hearing what white people think about race. Your response is, no disrespect intended, telling: you ASSUME it was someone telling you how to think, when really it was merely a person suggesting they had heard others, heard different perspectives. This sort of knee-jerk defensiveness is counterproductive.

seattle citizen said...

Lynn writes that "The history of civil rights in America is appropriately covered in the curriculum.."
Please tell us how. What texts, when, etc.
You seem so sure that the loooooong history of civil rights (and the abuses of them) are covered. Please tell us how and when.

Eric B said...

So what are the actual number of questionable emails we're talking about? Just from long experience, there are almost always a few voices saying really really inappropriate stuff about any topic you like in SPS. If there are a few here and many in opposition, I'm not sure why this is even a story.

TL;DR: There are loud jerks (and loud racists) everywhere and maybe it's not accurate to assume that everyone is like them.

Anonymous said...

@ seattle citizen, you misread what I wrote. I didn't say she was telling us how to think. I said I wanted her to tell me how I do think--since she "knows how white people think" and wasn't surprised to see apparent racism. I guess because white people are all racists, or at least don't understand racism (except for her). When you start making such broad statements like "white people think or feel x", it's problematic. Most/many/some white people? Fine. But "white people"? No. Same with stereotyping blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc.

Bad mom

Andi said...

That was a weird article. Written by an Irish immigrant. About a t-shirt day at school. There's Seahawks day, pajama day, and apparently now BLM t-shirt days. An "outcry" by 3 parents, one at Bryant, one at Sand Point, and one at Eckstein isn't really the same thing as a plague of raging white racists infesting an entire quadrant of the city. The NE quadrant of Seattle, by the way, includes title one schools and plenty of public housing and plenty of non-white people. Plus I'm not sure how the journalist determined that those parents were liberal? Or even if they were white? If the names were blacked out and the journalist didn't interview the people who wrote the emails, how does she even know what race the people who wrote them is?

The BLM movement is important. It's going to take more than a t-shirt day. It's going to take a kind of revolution in the way we address social justice (in and out of schools). And the revolution has been significantly slowed by the election of Trump. If Black Lives Matter, we all need to vote. And run for office. And it wouldn't hurt if way more POC became educators. And maybe we can get our ridiculous state legislators to do their constitutional duty and fund education.

Anonymous said...

So the progressives are resorting to public shaming of parents. Boycott KUOW for sure.

Disgusted

Anonymous said...

These parents are to be applauded for standing up. All they're asking for is some consideration for their kids and some actual plans as to where all this is going.

The "equity" movement is a total dead end for undoing racism in America. It has no theory of change. It has no end goal. It has neither strategy nor tactics for actually ending racism. It relies on the flawed and discredited idea that personal actions can undo structural racism. News flash: wearing a BLM shirt doesn't undo 400 years of oppression.

Rather than figuring out how we build a society free of racism, they want us to see humanity in racial terms. They believe that forcing everyone to believe there's only one way to do "equity work" is good and use that as a justification for attacking others.

This movement also believes that nothing will change until whites feel guilty, attacked, and "called out." But that's bad organizing and will merely turn people off and drive a lot of people away from doing any anti-racist work. Yelling all day about someone's privilege does nothing at all to actually end racism. It's just a way for people to justify attacking longstanding enemies - which is why it's so easy to turn HCC into an "equity" issue.

Then you have the do-gooder white parents, who are so scared of being seen as not on board with "equity" that they promote it with the zeal of the converted, happy to stop waging war on mommy blogs and instead wage the way against other people's children. It's sickening.

All of us should stand up to the bullies and for our kids. We don't have to shame children in order to end racism. We need a new strategy that calls everyone in, makes all kids feel good about themselves (because, yes, all lives matter). Until we get such a strategy then we will fail again at actually ending racism.

NW Dad

Anonymous said...

B-rig,

You seem to be employing "white fragility" yourself by using it as a weapon to silence people of a certain race without any attempt to understand them. I understand dissenting opinions are uncomfortable, but enmeshing yourself in all the higher ed critical race theory phrases is a door slammer in initiating an open, honest conversation. Be humble by not assuming the worst about people you've never met.

Truthful


Outsider said...

I am surprised that Melissa considers the KUOW article incendiary. On the surface, it seems like standard PC rhetoric that would surprise no one. But she is right that the article is ominous, if you step back and consider it from a slight distance. First of all, notice that BLM is treated as settled doctrine, not for discussion. If you don't agree with having BLM in elementary schools, you are racist, period.

In any thought-policed environment, people begin to hide their true feelings. Just like in the old Soviet Union, where what you might say to trusted friends over vodka was quite different from what you said when the Party was listening. That's frustrating to the PC police. In American society, we have passed the point where hectoring people on race does any good; nor is anything gained from yet another "conversation on race" which is a thinly disguised "lecture on race." If anything, the PC police are actually losing ground lately. The Soviet experience -- where you have to constantly affirm things you don't believe to protect your job or educational opportunities; engage in ritual confessions of your bourgeois tendencies which you are struggling to overcome; rat out your neighbors and acquaintances to curry favor with the party; etc -- is caustic to the soul and it's starting to show. The PC crowd always talks like Trump caused this coming apart, but really the coming apart caused Trump.

The article in Seattle Pravda (a.k.a. KUOW) is a predictable attempt by the PC police to tighten the screws, by publicly shaming dissidents and threatening their jobs and careers. The message is unmistakable: make un-PC comments to school officials, and you might be outed in Seattle Pravda, and then what will happen to you? We didn't get the names this time, but next time maybe we will. It doesn't matter that they cited only three emails. The point was not accuracy in depicting NE Seattle. The point was to raise the perceived cost of dissent and drive it even further underground. It represents doubling down on a strategy that seems to be already failing, but totalitarian impulses always lead that way.

So keep your mouth shut, check your privilege, and next time Pravda comes around begging for money (which won't be long, ironically calling themselves "news you can trust") forget to give them any. Also be sure to condemn educational vouchers whenever everyone else is doing so, but if you ever happen to see one of those awful things within your grasp, maybe grab it and run.

Anonymous said...

I also find it disturbing that at least one of the emails contained identifying details about the family. It's obvious if you go to that school who that student/family is.

cargopants

Anonymous said...

Stopping my "green membership" with KUOW.

I want more backing in stories. Three emails? Out of how many families?

Glad I can say I did not vote for Geary.

- I'm "brown"

Anonymous said...

"Blanford was elected to represent all students and all families in his district and if he can't overcome his preconceived notions about families and their internal motivations, he's not capable of doing the job. Why didn't he choose to send his children to his assignment area school? Was it the 80% poverty rate or the 24% special education rate he was avoiding? "

100% agree with Lynn on this statement. Many black middle and affluent educated people (like Blanford) do choose to send their kids to private and/or low poverty public schools. Hmmmmm.....but if "white" or East Indian or Asian this is...... racism?
- real issue

Anonymous said...

"We didn't get the name this time".

We don't know if they (KUOW) have the names or not. There have been 100s of incidents where SPS violated FERPA,HIPA and other privacy laws by sending out non redacted information. We also don't know who KUOW may have on the inside at SPS.

We know that many SPS employees do in fact know the redacted names as well as other people's names not included in the story. We know that SPS employees talk to each other off of the official SPS electronic systems which means these names could be spread all over the internet by now.

This certainly rings of harassment and intimidation by KUOW and seems very similar to the tactics BAMN uses. There's at least one maybe two board members with affiliations to BAMN along with other SPS employees.

I can't tell where Geary lands here, but she's definitely a polarizing person.

Concerned citizen

Anonymous said...

I voted for Geary too and holy shit do I regret it.

District Six

Anonymous said...

EricB

Since when have you been concerned about public requests? Usually they aren't directed TO the privileged but BY the privileged.

Seems like some in this district are waking up to shaking up the real power brokers, who have long used their school auctions, blogs (like this one), emails to principals, school board members (Sue and Rick for HCC) and whoever else they have on speed-dial to run this district.

That 30 percent in private mantra is getting to be an old excuse. These are the ones that fled during busing and haven't come back. Plenty of district have large percentages in private schools.

Few keep using that as excuse whenever some justice is being addressed.

Delete Me?

Anonymous said...

As far as Jill Geary goes...she's not doing the power-broking as advertised and voted.

Good for her. Maybe she got on the board and got all those massive emails from the same people/region and realized that she would represent everyone.

Who knows?

Delete Me?

Chairman Mao said...

If Isolde Raftery lived during the Cultural Revolution, she would have put dunce caps on these parents and their children, hung signs around their necks and paraded them around the streets for all to see.

Has public shaming of children and their parents become KUOW's new MO?

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

Outsider, always elucidative and interesting.

T

Anonymous said...

O grow up Outsider, your scare tactics and name-calling are as dated as your "Soviet" references. It's 2017 bro!

rat out your neighbor? to whom? the secret police, the stazi?

Anybody who knows anything knows that an email to a public entity like SPS is fair game for the media. This blog has obtained thousands of parent emails and sifted through them for juicy tidbits of scandal.

Like I said it's 2017, not 1984.

The persecuted anti-PC warriors. Cry me a river, man.

I check Breitbart and Fox regularly and I don't see any cowering. Just vicious hate, racism, sexism, white supremacy and misogyny.

No, free speech is alive and well. Just because some monuments to those who fought a war to keep slavery intact are being removed from public places frequented by descendants of those slaves doesn't equate with stifling dissent.

You're just afraid that public opinion is seeing through the white power illusion and the unfair, historic hate towards and oppression of "people of color"(I know that phrase just boils your blood).

melon man

New Low said...

KUOW intercepted documents between parents and principals. As cargopants points out, two of the emails contained identifying details about specific children and their families. If you attend that school, it is very that individuals can identify the child and family.


Very disturbing.

Anonymous said...

@melon man

At least we agree on one point "white power illusion". You know you can't sell advertising without a boogie man. Looks like they are starting to feed on their own kind.

JJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Delete Me? thanks for the laugh. If you think I have much sway in the actual district, you'd be wrong.

Reprinted for Anonymous (give yourself a name next time). I found your comments interesting and compelling; I'll have to look into this.

"Delete Me, something for you to consider.

On June 14th, the board held a work session to evaluate the superintendent (and by extension, the performance of the district). In the 205 page self evaluation the district provided (yes, 205 pages), there was a single statistic on the opportunity gap - the fact that the gap on graduation rates have narrowed. Nothing regarding the failure of the district to meet 2017 targets around opportunity gap test scores. Nothing about the gap on some tests actually increasing. Nothing about the failure of the district to meet 19 of 30 2017 goals. Nothing about community engagement scores nosediving. As a matter of fact, the district rated itself as proficient in all areas and distinguished in some. I haven't seen any of the directors address this. They should, because they own it.

Two days later, KUOW runs a story where they have clearly gotten access to parent emails from the district. Maybe from a FOIA request, maybe not. The emails are from 8 months ago. Would be interesting to know the backstory there. Directors step up and comment extensively.

Nobody reads the 205 page document and then double checks the district scorecard to see the lack of progress. The KUOW story is a 2 minute read and gets people stirred up that white liberal parents are the problem. Gesture politics all over again.

Meanwhile, the real questions don't get asked or answered. What would it actually cost over how many years to close the gap? What specific services have evidence that shows that they are effective? Are we on the right track to actually help these kids succeed, and if not, what do we need to do differently?

Just something to think about."

Melon Man said this."This blog has obtained thousands of parent emails and sifted through them for juicy tidbits of scandal."

Actually, I have never asked for parent e-mails (maybe once) - I ask for SPS e-mails on topics/district personnel on issues that I believed to be important. We are not looking for scandals but sometimes that's what comes out. I guess you'd be happy if Silas Potter had not been exposed? Or the chumminess with Teach for America?

Fact Checker said...

Geary now states she does not support public shaming. Let's see how she walks this
$%*@ back.

Constituent Says: said...

Geary's take on her constituents: "“There’s a portable on the playground, and we are arming ourselves to get rid of it,” Geary said. “I hate to say it, but that is privilege amplified.”

Anonymous said...

Geary really comes off like a fool. I've read many of her SPS emails and I believe her actions don't match her words or her public positions on so many issues.

I don't see how she can salvage her reputation once the other emails are published.

--Darwin

Heartbreaking said...

So, the gap. All children should have the opportunity to learn and progress at every school. Learning outcomes should not be determined by the color of a person's skin, or their religion, or their ethnicity, or their gender... We have a long way to go on that, Seattle.

And yet for the life of me I cannot comprehend how we expect the children of single parents who have struggled with housing/job insecurity for years, not to mention mental health issues that are insufficiently supported and treated, to do as well on tests as children who do not face those challenges. Children shouldn't be expected to do that. Teachers can't just - BOOM! - make that happen. Funding shouldn't depend on that.

Test scores must not be the measure of a child's worth. And attempts to close equity gaps need to take into consideration the things that affect children's lives OUTSIDE of school. Kids are only in school 6-7 hours a day. The other 17-18 hours matters.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking, agree 100%. And yet test scores and attempting to close the gap (in a quantifiable way) remain a focus. I'm going to be depressingly cynical here and posit that perhaps educators/the district understand that there will always be kids for whom life will get in the way of improved test scores, and for that reason the focus shifts from lifting all kids up to pushing all kids toward the middle. I hope I'm wrong about that.

Flummoxed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Director Geary on Soup for Teacher Facebook on this story:

"Unfortunately my final observation is not quite right and has more violent imagery than I would have used. The parents organized to fight the portable several years ago and I may have said they were up in arms. I was trying to explain that the district had made some bad decisions around the school, hadn't supported them well, and those failures had inflamed people generally. That has exacerbated an us/them mentality that has been generally harmful to the school with the us/them divide splitting several ways. It has been a tough few years and the district has some culpability in the dynamic. I liked someone's suggestion that we get some training in the school to help folks understand their biases. I hope the PTA will prioritize this for its community - I know it is something they have interest in - as I said in my email. I also want to add that during my interview, I did say that I did not think shaming was going to be the way we move forward on this issue. That was not the message that was conveyed however."

From the same Soup for Teachers post:

"Karina Kunins Look.. this is a super unfair assessment of our community... and I believe we are getting singled out. I am on the Laurelhurst PTA as the Communications Chair and I spoke to this reporter. From my perspective, we were supportive of BLM. I told her that I wrote an article for our newsletter explaining that our teachers were focusing on teaching "age appropriate" examples of equity and fairness in the classrooms - and I received ZERO complaints from parents/community. The principal (who incidentally is the subject of a current petition for her removal) is highly suspect. I think the narrative of privilege came from the district to spin our protest of the portable which didn't get placed ultimately because it was illegal as well unsafe.

I also want to add that I don't condone nor give a pass to the emails/opinions in this article. I think they are offensive and appalling. I just think it's a shame that the opinions of a few represent the whole of a community."

One commenter did say this and it's a good question:

"What's odd is the timing of this article-one week after the change.org petition asking to remove the principal."

Yes, months and months after this event and now here's this story? (And I do public disclosure all the time and it never takes this long.)

Anonymous said...

"What's odd is the timing of this article-one week after the change.org petition asking to remove the principal."

Bingo

New Low said...


"What's odd is the timing of this article-one week after the change.org petition asking to remove the principal."

Interesting. I thought it odd that KUOW would seek out the e-mails of a few. The BLM event was district wide and we not seeing e-mails from any other school. It seems to me that an insider had knowledge of these few e-mails and tipped-off a reporter.

I do expect that the board would speak-up and call attention to the lack of privacy a nine and five year old experienced.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the KUOW community did not think the SPS community was being divided quick enough over social justice issues and decided to give you all a little push.

I'm very confident that SPS has a leaker/s working directly with KUOW. Oh and yes it can take over a year to receive a completed FOIA request from SPS.

You may request the Public Record Request log (PRR log)from SPS and see who has been requesting what. If you obtain the log, you might see if in fact KUOW or one of it's operatives did a FOIA request but perhaps someone else did the request and then passed on the information to the press.

If you see a completed request in the PRR log you're interested in then it very quick turn around to receive a copy of the information associated with the request.

MJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Readers, sometimes it takes me a while to process and consider and here's my main issue;that headline and its impact to the story.

Reporting means gathering facts and presenting a story and allowing the READER to decide what to think.

That headline - from the get-go - placed the readers where (someone) wanted their minds to be when they read the story.

The e-mails do not reveal who is white so how does the headline know that those e-mails came from white people?

The reporter gives no context to the story, not explaining this was not a district action. This was a teacher-driven action and the district provided no curriculum or talking points to schools. Most schools were pivoting off what? Parents didn't know. Some schools didn't tell parents what would be happening at their schools.

Certainly, you can read white privilege in some e-mails. Certainly some parents think "All Lives Matter" is good enough. It's not.

But all parents have the right to express concerns about what happens at their child's school to their school's principal without an NPR radio station judging them racists. Especially when that radio station did not give the full story.

Anonymous said...

Have people called KUOW to complain? Perhaps it would be a good idea.
-Justa Thought

Anonymous said...

KUOW said they would love to hear from more parents for their next public shaming story.

Little Kic

Anonymous said...

1) white fragility is made up? @DistrictParent, come on now.

2) I do not think white students should feel bad about themselves. I am making the point that every white person, as they learn the true history of this country, will have to confront some really uncomfortable, tragic, terrible things. The outcome isn't guilt but I do think it is a normal and important stage to go through. @BT

3) @Truthful, I'm not fragile, you're fragile! Ha.

@MW, I agree the situation could have been handled better. Let's not pretend though that this issue (and arguably this thread) isn't at least partially about most white folks' extremely low tolerance for race-based stress..

-B-Rig

Wondering said...

B-Rig, What age do you think it is appropriate for children to be exposed to race based stress?

Anonymous said...

"the true history of this country" Oh pray tell

Cork it

Anonymous said...

@ Wondering,

My point exactly. Children or color are exposed to race-based stress and violence right away. White children being insulated from this stress leads to expectations of comfort among white folks. When small amounts of racial stress are experienced (relative to high levels of stress, violence, etc experienced by children of color), then, it leads to extremely disproportionate reactions.

Children of color are losing family members to police violence, and you want sympathy because there wasn't enough advance notice about some T shirts?

-B-Rig



Rufus X said...

^^THIS^^^A thousand times THIS.

Thank you, B-Rig.

Anonymous said...

@ B-Rig, it doesn't sound like anyone "wants sympathy b/c there wasn't enough advance notice about t-shirts." But you know that. People are upset that their kids received a message that "white people are bad" and/or "cops are bad." Having had advance notice of the lessons to be taught might have allowed parents to better prepare their children for them, and/or to help ensure the messaging wasn't too biased.

Are you suggesting we need to expose young white kids to more race- based stress to help even things out? Should we increase exposure to other negative factors as well, also out of fairness?

B-Fair?

Wondering said...

I am not a fan of childhood trauma. I'll check with a child psychologist.

Wondering said...

Shall we stress five year olds about the ravages of war, Otto Warmbier's story, too?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Children of color are losing family members to police violence, and you want sympathy because there wasn't enough advance notice about some T shirts?"

I'm not sure sympathy is the right word; transparency is the one I would describe. This takes nothing away from the experiences of children of color, particularly black children. Many parents of color have complained to me that they seem to be the last to know what is happening at their schools. My argument is that all parents deserve to know what is being said and taught at their child's school.

And that how we talk to children, in a developmentally appropriate way, is important. It should not have been left to teachers to do this on the fly. Because, as is being pointed out, it's a subject too important to ignore.

Anonymous said...

B-Rig,

White children and adults aren't immune to violence, rape, incest, poverty, suicide, mental illness, disability, poor education or even racism. There are proportionality differences, but to say "white people are insulated from stress" diminishes the credibility of your argument.

You seem to be unaware that "White" includes people of Middle Eastern origin. So are you saying that Iranians, Iraqis,Turks and Armenians don't experiencing racism? Really? Hispanic is an ethnicity, so Hispanics may be of any race including White, and they certainly experience racism.

I grew up in a truly diverse city and I'm not White, so I've been aware from an early age that racism is present within everyone of every race and ethnicity. It requires constant brave and honest conversations in the everyday, not pseudo theory delivered with a smug, self-satisfied lecture.

Racism is very real, but "white fragility" is marketing, pure and simple. Read Diangelo's own words on why she created this new term to secure more attention:

"I think we get tired of certain terms. What I do used to be called "diversity training," then "cultural competency" and now, "anti-racism." These terms are really useful for periods of time, but then they get co-opted, and people build all this baggage around them, and you have to come up with new terms or else people won’t engage."
http://www.alternet.org/culture/why-white-people-freak-out-when-theyre-called-out-about-race

By the way, Diangelo feels like "white privilege" has reached it's over saturation point, so be on the lookout for the newest cudgel you can use to silence people.

Truthful

Anonymous said...

""White children and adults aren't immune to violence, rape, incest, poverty, suicide, mental illness, disability, poor education or even racism. There are proportionality differences, but to say "white people are insulated from stress" diminishes the credibility of your argument." You seem to be unaware that "White" includes people of Middle Eastern origin. So are you saying that Iranians, Iraqis,Turks and Armenians don't experiencing racism? Really? Hispanic is an ethnicity, so Hispanics may be of any race including White, and they certainly experience racism."

Yes, agree 100% with truthful. People who check the white box in the US have all the same issues. Also, Many dark skinned sicilians, whose ancestry in case you are unaware includes part N African and middle eastern, Greeks, Maltese people also experience discrimination. "White" people also don't all share the same history or ethnicity in the US.
- J

Anonymous said...

And a lot of these white parents you're complaining about have spouses/partners who are non-white, kids who are mixed race.

It's complicated

mirmac1 said...

I'm used to skimming through these histrionic threads.

PRA requesters should be able to rely upon the training of agency staff who fulfill these requests. If they don't know what they're doing (and they work in the infinite SPS Legal Dept) than whose fault is that.

Those fools who think their identity is protected when they email SPS...well, they ASSume incorrectly. (ASSume as is the common phrase).

As for transparency then...- who's crying about being outed now? With respect to last year's BLM day, I recall it was last-minute because of pushback, (all-gender) hysteria, Blue Lines Matter distraction etc.

Those who would like to downplay that this is 1 or 2 parents. Puh-leeze. Some of these are the same who have attacked the Laurelhurst Principal (of whom I am not a particular fan) for some years now. So, uh, I'd say the coincidence of the Change.org petition and this report may in fact be linked. There are as many or more parents who do not take issue with Talbot (again, not a favorite so I'm not shillin').

BTW, I'm "White" but that doesn't mean that I stand behind some of these intolerant spewers.