Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

A Mercer Island student newspaper did an interview with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (who hails from Richland, WA).  As I like to say, if it's not rude or illegal, it never hurts to ask.  The Times does a good job on this story and it's fascinating.  (Also, the student, Teddy Fischer, brilliantly noticed,in a photo of a Trump bodyguard carrying a stack of papers, that there was a Post-It with Mattis' phone number on it.  That got the ball rolling.)

The Times is endorsing Chelsea Byers over Director Betty Patu.  I'll have more to say on endorsements soon as The Stranger will be dropping their endorsements this week as well as ballots going out this week.  The Times' blaming Patu for the $74M budget deficit is laughable.

They also cite votes they claim she made against the City's Pre-K program.  Absolutely wrong.  She never voted against it.  It would help if the Times would actually get that kind of info right.  Shame on them.  Byers has a good background - if all you cared about was STEM - but knows very little about this district.


Those of you who DO know this district can understand that means a huge and long learning curve for any new director when Patu not only knows the district, she's been there for eight years as a voice of reason and justice for it.

The  Washington Post is reporting that Facebook, Google and other websites may look different tomorrow because of messaging about net neutrality rules.

Large round-up of states' education laws here, including:
  • Florida law will now require school districts to share property tax revenues with charter schools.
This would be a disaster for our schools but, with the Supreme Court ruling here that charter schools are not "common schools," they can't share in property tax revenues here.
  • Oregon - Lawmakers passed a bill that would require schools to provide lunch to all students, whether they could pay or not. It also would bar schools from identifying children who couldn’t pay by giving them a different meal or making them wear a wristband, KATU reported.
  • Legislators also will again consider a bill that would bar transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus blocked final passage of the bill during the legislature’s regular session, citing opposition from business interests. He also told The New Yorker in a recently published article, “I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”  
On that last one - about transgendered students and bathroom use - note the "opposition from business interests."  The key to that is Texas is losing a lot of convention/corporate tourism because of the possible passage of this law.  That the Speaker also had the compassion to consider the real outcomes of the issue is moving.

What's on your mind?

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Girls and boys should not give up their bodily privacy rights in the public schools. Students with gender dysphoria should get appropriate accommodations, but that should not take away the rights of all the other students to have locker rooms, bathrooms and showers with only members of their own biological sex.

Many students are now being told to "get over it" when they're uncomfortable changing or showering in front of a student of the opposite sex. That's not right.

As someone else said, "It is not a basic human right for males to shower in the girls' locker rooms. It is a basic human right for girls to say 'no'."

New feminist

Maje said...

Small edit - Mattis is from Richland, WA. My Mom is there any they're all VERY proud/excited about it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Maje!

donnab said...

School Board minutes say Patu did vote against some funding for preschool program: http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/15-16agendas/081915agenda/20150819_Minutes.pdf

Anonymous said...

New feminist, they aren't of the opposite sex. They are the same sex. Your prejudice is showing. Luckily most kids aren't like you.

HP

NESeattleMom said...

I have only read the ST excerpts of the interview, but I thought Mattis' responses were really thoughtful and inspiring. Kudos to the students at Mercer Island High. The amount of learning that came from that project was inspiring to me. It took a lot of planning and coordination as well as focus on the goal.

Eric B said...

The Times endorsement of Byers over Patu was particularly galling because they basically said that Patu couldn't clearly articulate reasons for the budget gap and what the solutions are. They then shifted over to talking about Byers and there was NOTHING about the budget gap or solutions. I guess getting a degree from the London School of Economics gives you all the info you need to find solutions.

Anonymous said...

I have found Director Patu to be a thoughtful and down to earth individual. I appreciate her hard work for all kids. I think we are lucky to have her.

Queen Anne Mom, also a gardener

Melissa Westbrook said...

donnab, Patu vote yes for all the PRe-K votes except for one amendment that didn't pass.

The Times is wrong and it's wrong that they are putting this out there.

disgusted said...

Melissa gets it right. The Seattle Times owes Director Patu an apology.

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

Chelsea Byers, has no ties to the community or Seattle Public Schools, no children in Seattle Schools, and moved into the neighborhood in April. No amount of economics degrees can force the state legislature to fully fund public education. What Byers does have ties to is Teach for America, Inc., and the online education industry. TFA works closely with charter schools. In fact, the CEO of TFA, Inc. Wendy Kopp is married to the CEO of one of the largest charter chains, KIPP Inc, Richard Barth. These efforts to divert public control of public funding to private charter management firms and unelected boards should be a red flag to anyone who values local, elected oversight of public schools, qualified  teachers, and taxpayer funds remaining in the public, not private, domain. Voters should be wary of such a privatizing agenda.

Disgusted said...

"School Board minutes say Patu did vote against some funding for preschool program"

Patu voted for an amendment was would not allow the city to take over existing classrooms, but add classrooms. That was an amendment that did not pass. There is nothing in the amendment that indicates Director Patu did not support funding.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Editor's note: I deleted the comment about Patu, not because it against her. The commenter used name-calling. Please remember; you can support who you want and give reasoning for that. You can't name-call.

Anonymous said...

" I have found Director Patu to be a thoughtful and down to earth individual. I appreciate her hard work for all kids. I think we are lucky to have her."

I agree Queen Anne Mom. I have had conversations with her and Betty Patu is also honest, sincere and hard working. She really thinks about the impact of decisions on the kids and also understands our district.
-a NW parent.

Disgusted said...


"School Board minutes say Patu did vote against some funding for preschool program"

There is nothing in the amendment to indicate that Director Patu voted against funding. As a matter of fact, if you do the research, you will find that the district is providing FREE space to the city's prek- and the district is busting at the seams. As well, the district is at risk of loosing money because the city holds back 25% funding. Yet, Director Patu voted for the city's prek program.

The Seattle Times does not do their research and/or provide all facts. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

In the last election is was acceptable to point out the flaws of the district and blame the incumbents(even though we all know one person can't control this district). Based on that logic, PATU's 8 year tenure must make her the MOST responsible member for the current issues.

Will PATU get a pass just because of her minority status?...probably.


I'm not going to tear her down because of her lack of leadership skills or issues with communicating to the whole SPS community or even her racist comments, but in reviewing her whole record and her awkward stint as president...I respectfully think it's time for someone new to hold that critical seat.

End PC

Melissa Westbrook said...

End PC, you were okay until "racist remarks." What and when?

As for leadership, Patu isn't a typical leader and rarely tries to draw attention to herself. Her communication style, as well, isn't typical but the number of times she cuts thru the edu-jargon and BS and gets right to the point has saved many a meeting.

Carol Simmons said...

The Times most definitely owes Director Patu an apology. The reporting is totally incorrect regarding her votes against programs designed to help the children she represents. She has consistently voted for programs, policies and practices that assist underserved youth.

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify...

At several south end meetings Patu would frequently cast a wide anti-white anti asian net. If that is her way of cutting thru the BS then it's a perfect example of her poor communication style.

Like I said, I'm not going to go blow by blow but I grew tired of Patu blaming all the SPS problems on white/Asian racism. She also tended to put down people who suggested the minority communities should take on more of the responsibility for their problems and to stop blaming the entire city.

Somehow when she talks about the achievement gap it comes across as she thinks whites and Asians only excel in SPS due to racism. I don't know if she really believes that or is just giving the audience what they want to hear.

I don't think I'm alone in this criticism of Patu.

End PC

Anonymous said...

@Carol Simmons

The board members should represent ALL students. There are a few who tend to forget that.

End PC

Anonymous said...

Possibly I should post this in a previous thread where it was addressed but the title is "Tuesday Open Thread" so this is what's on my mind...

We received an offer today for a spot at a middle school to which we applied and for which we were wait-listed. NOT Whitman and NOT an option school but instead Meany, and we are currently assigned to Washington which also has a (much longer) wait list. We were quite surprised to get the email as we were under the impression no middle school lists would be moved, but there you are.

Now of course we are unsure what to do. We have 48 hours to decide.

FNH

Racial Equity? said...

The Seattle Times has now endorsed Alec Cooper. They talk a lot about diversity. Are they trying to create an all white board?

Anonymous said...

People should be concerned on a candidate's vision not the color of the candidate's skin.

--My God

Lynn said...

FNH,

Why did you apply for a seat at Meany? If that reason hasn't changed, I'd take it. Washington's going to be a very different school next year and I don't get the impression the principal is up to the challenge.

Eric B said...

FNH, How did the district contact you about the waitlist move? Was it like regular school announcements where all phone numbers were called and all email addresses used, or was it just to home email?

Thanks!

Real News said...


The Seattle Times Editorial board should be careful of their source. He isn't that smart The Seattle Times apparently doesn't have the capacity to digest district documents, either.

The Stranger gets it right:

"Betty Patu is a goddamned legend. As a South Seattle high-school teacher and tireless advocate for minority students, Patu waltzed into local gang meetings to get her students to go back to class and once even barked down a student who held another peer at gunpoint. NBD! Patu has long supported the movement to implement ethnic-studies courses, including tribal history, in Seattle schools. As a teacher in the early 1990s, Patu, who is Samoan, created programming to better support Pacific Islander students. Her work directly lowered high-school dropout rates in the community. Despite spending nearly a decade on the school board—seen by many education advocates as the soul-sucking home of single-issue candidates—Patu hasn't wavered in her commitment to equity."

http://www.thestranger.com/news/2017/07/12/25280819/the-strangers-endorsements-for-the-august-1-2017-primary-election#DeWolf

Anonymous said...

Eric B, my husband and I both received an email yesterday afternoon. Thank you Lynn for your input. We applied to Meany after discovering the rezoning in late spring, all our prior due diligence thrown out the window. We presume the rezone will effectively remove many upper-average performing students from Washington, the area of the curve where our child would most likely land. In particular though it was the Leschi to Meany rezone that spurred us into action as we are right at the Leschi/Meany/Washington boundaries. I'm not sure we would have submitted the application if Leschi continued at Washington.

FNH

Please Retire said...

If you are looking for a person who looks out for their own then Patu is a good choice. She tends to be anti-white and anti-Asian. She emits a lot distaste for the north end and it's schools.

If any white person on the board would behave the way Patu does they would be run out of town.

Patu's view of special education in SPS is straight up frightening. She believes SPED is used to control or punish children of color. I believe she is unfit to continue on the board.

Anonymous said...

@Please Retire AKA End PC AKA ???

Where's your evidence Dir. Patu said any of that?

Truth be told, it sounds like you're describing the attitude of Dir. Blanford. He displays nothing but disdain for most SPS parents, especially white parents or anyone in the north end. In that recent KUOW post he basically dismissed families in his district as racists for wanting to move off a wait list or let their kids go to school with their siblings. Instead of listening to their concerns he justified his inaction by slandering them all. If there's anyone on the school board who's shown no interest in representing ALL students it's Blanford.

Get Real

Please Retire said...

Why did Patu abstain on the strike vote in 2015?

"The vote to seek legal action was 5-1, with one abstention. The opposing vote came from Sue Peters; the abstention from Betty Patu." source, Seattle Times

There was also some funny business around a family member being awarded a no bid contract.

I have a hard time understanding Patu whenever she responds to complicated questions. It was sometimes very painful to watch her try and conduct the board meetings.

I think we need a fresh look and some fresh ideas.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Please Retire, I reject your assertions without actual evidence. I have been to many Board/committee meetings and have not heard this. I think that "distaste for the north end and it's (sic) schools" is not true but Betty knows the history of not as much attention paid to some areas of the south end.

On SPED and Patu, citations, please. Where did you hear/read this?

Anonymous said...

Looks like many have selective memory when it comes to Patu.

Here's an idea, why don't you interview her and ask her thoughts on white privilege, HCC and SPED.

Cut to the chase, yes?


End PC

Melissa Westbrook said...

End PC, I did talk to her. I didn't ask about white privilege because I didn't ask the other candidates. I did ask her about HCC and her concern was that the district was not finding all the students of color who could do well in that program. She would like new ways to find these students. That said, she doesn't like self-contained programs (but I note she has never made a single move to change that).

As for SPED, she said she had many conversations with Wyeth Jesse and that she believes there have been changes for the better in the program whereas before it had no real classroom structure and less learning for students in the program. She also thinks SPED programs should not be moved around at will.

I again call out statements that have NO backing evidence. They are an opinion and that's fine. Vote how you will on your opinion but if you don't have the time/ability/willingness to back up that opinion, then you might understand why people don't heed your words.

Anonymous said...

Patu said, she believed students of color/black were being over identified as SPED to remove them from the gen ed classroom. It was one of the most ignorant statements ever made by a school board member. She insinuated a wild conspiracy was being perpetrated against black students and SPS ran it's clandestine program just to remove problematic black students from the gen ed setting.

She insulted the entire SPED community, especially the SPED teachers. "students in the program" She believe the program? there is no program, there are services. So she based her new understanding on conversations with Jesse --Give me a break.

She has to be the most disinterested, ill informed person on the board when it come to SPED.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

"her concern was that the district was not finding all the students of color who could do well in that program"

Really?

Tell me is the district finding all the white children who could do well in that program.

Unbelievable BS

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable BS-- You think more deeply than the average person and I agree with you. I also think there are many kids who are White or Asian who also are not being identified, likely lower income kids especially. Low income whites and asians should have an advocate, class can get ignored in these discussions. People just make assumptions about a group as a whole based upon race & not even ethnicity either.

However, black and some other kids of color are very "underrepresented" as opposed to "whites" and Asians in the SPS program. This underrep is also correlated with poverty, same as it would be for whites and asians.
-YB

Eric B said...

"It was one of the most ignorant statements ever made by a school board member. "

Even if Patu said what you say she said, that's a bold statement given some of the crap we've seen from board members.

I'm an upper middle class white guy from the north end with a kid in HCC and I'll be voting for Patu.

Anonymous said...



"I'm an upper middle class white guy from the north end with a kid in HCC and I'll be voting for Patu."

WOW, so since you're better than the rest of us we should follow your advice.

Wait everyone the white UPPER middle class male has made his decision.


Weaponized autism

Anonymous said...

Hold it Eric

You forgot to mention your sexual orientation or lack of one.

Weaponized autism

Eric B said...

OFFS. The entire discussion above was about how Patu (purportedly) hates white people and can't possibly represent them. All I was saying is that I think she does a pretty good job. I don't think she's perfect, but who is?

Anonymous said...

"As for SPED, she said she had many conversations with Wyeth Jesse and that she believes there have been changes for the better in the program whereas before it had no real classroom structure and less learning for students in the program. She also thinks SPED programs should not be moved around at will."


I remember PATU attending one SPED PTSA meeting and at that time she was only concerned that the district was over identifying black male students for IEPs.

She believed the district was using IEPs to move disruptive black male students out of classes and into special ed classes.

Patu wasn't interested in any other aspect of SPED, in fact she got up and left the meeting after being ask why she wouldn't help address SPED issues.

Patu is no friend to SPED students, her record is very clear on that.

LBM

Melissa Westbrook said...

LBM, you have offered one example. When was that meeting so I can ask to see the minutes?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting that people have "heard" Patu say all these things but not one person can say where or when. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you go directly to the source and ask her (Patu) if she did attend a meeting where she said those things. To be honest I think it sounds like her, but I haven't been to one of her meetings since 2014 maybe she has changed.

Easy peasy

Melissa Westbrook said...

Are you asking me, Peasy? Not my job as I'm not the one making the accusations. If people have evidence, then document it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I wasn't really paying attention to this thread. I can't tell you the exact date of the meeting but it was when McWilliams was still employed with SPS. There was many many comments on your blog about Patu's shocking lack of respect for SPED issues.

Everything the women does revolves around her twisted views of racism and how every single problem in SPS is somehow caused by whites. Sometimes she makes off handed comments or won't condemn anti-white / anti-asian comments made by others at her meetings. It's a consistent pattern with Patu and over shadows what ever positive things you think she has achieved in her long 8 years on the board.

You either have a poor memory or are simply scared to address Patu's biases out of fear your liberal supports will call you out.

White bashing is very popular in district 7.

LBM

Anonymous said...

JHC can't people remember these thing!

Here you go,

Mary Griffin said...

Michael, what Betty Patu was talking about at the last SEAAC was over-identification of minorities. This is a priority of the Federal Government that boils down to requirements that OSPI needs to follow when dispersing federal money related to IDEA.

Seattle continues to have significant dis-proportionality in the identification of children of color in certain categories, such as students who are black are over-identified as having an intellectual disability (formerly called mental retardation) 3.06 times more than students who are not black. Even more alarmingly, students who are identified as Native American are 7.02 times more likely to be identified as intellectually disabled. The rate for all disabilities is 29.9% of students who are Native American are identified as qualifying for Special Education.

It can be argued that what is being identified/overidentified is poverty, but there is also good evidence that there is cultural biases, especially with giving students of color diagnosis of intellectual disability and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Labeling children as disabled when they really are not leads to unwarranted services and reduced expectations.

Betty may also be concerned because the five to 21-year olds, the state Special Education allocation is 93 percent of the district’s average per-student general apportionment
allocation, BUT it is capped at 12.7 percent of the resident K-21 full time enrollment. The allocation for students with disabilities aged birth to 5 and not yet enrolled in kindergarten is not capped. In other words, the state provides no allocations for the percentage of students who exceed 12.7% of the K-12 population. In Seattle, the K-21 percentage is 12.87%. This amounts to a difference of 91 students that aren't funded, so about half a million dollars. There's motivation there to not over-identify minorities, too.
6/6/14, 6:46 PM

JHC

Anonymous said...

I think one of the major issues with Patu is she has a hard time communicating. I don't think she meant to come off so brash and uncaring at the SEAAC but she did. It really wasn't the time or the place for her to act like she did. Storming out of the meeting didn't help either. From my understanding she has never attended another SEAAC or SPED PTSA meeting since 2014.

Most people at the meeting where trying to get ample provisions for SPED students, she was implying the whole system was setup to screw over black students by mis identifying them as in need of services. It was really insulting to us and very embarrassing for her.

SEAAC member

Melissa Westbrook said...

LBM, you can make statements like until the cows come home but Patu has a written/video record so please show us where she said these things. I'm still waiting for a single person to do that. I'm not scared of anything; I just believe in Betty's skills and abilities.

SEAAC Member, I'll ask you. Could you provide a link to the minutes of that meeting? I'm sure something happened as several people say it did but I'd like to read what the minutes reflect.

You can't make other people do all the work to back up your statements on a candidate.

Anonymous said...

Well that's strange the SEAC site is gone and so are all the PDF files containing the meeting minutes. This is where the link used to be: http://www.seattleschools.org/families_communities/committees

I'm not sure if they kept the minutes and where they would be stored. I believe the group has been dissolved and as you can see the website turned off.

How convenient I think it happened when SPS switched to a new website?

SEAAC member