Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wednesday Open Thread

 On the waitlist vote tonight: I again note that Director Geary will not be at tonight's Board meeting (I believe she's gone on a trip) so it will be six directors.  In my head I was trying to parse how I think the vote might go.

Staff was pushing back over providing some additional analysis that the Board requested and so I expect a pro forma type document from them.  Will that be enough for the Board to say, "Well, they did what we asked?"  Or, will the sheer volume of proof of what they have said in the past versus what they are saying now allow the Board to say, "You can do this next year after a carefully, clearly stated procedure is done.  Right now, we don't have that - we told parents one thing and now another, and we'll have to live with that for next year." That would be a big step towards letting the Superintendent and staff know that they must live up to their words.

The main thing is the district has to take responsibility for its own inaction on the lack of trying to make underenrolled schools more attractive AND its own whiplash statements on procedures. 

I haven't listened to it yet but KUOW has done a piece on Director Blanford.

Congratulations to ‎Visual & Performing Arts Manager, Gail Sehlhorst, who won the award for
Art Administrator of the Year from the Washington Art Education Association. They will host a celebration gala in the fall for the winners.

Apparently the Mayor signed the Seattle Education Action Plan (which I didn't even know was a thing) last week. I see from the document this comes out the Mayor's Education Summit. I'll have more on this after I read the whole thing.

Good school board candidate - a great story from The Texas Tribune on a young man who graduated high school, ran for the school board....and won. He ousted a two-term incumbent.
I have the first-hand experience as a student. I went through the system we have in Pearland for the past 13 years. This is one of the driving arguments I had that nearly convinced everybody that I talked to to support me: A community created this school district using their money. I am the product of that school system — let me show you what works, let me show you improvement, let me show you how we can achieve that improvement. That insider perspective is so valuable and I think that in every school board in the country, there should be a student member.

A quote that I use as guidance is, “If they’re not willing to give us a seat at the table, we’re going to make our own table.” I think that’s what we’re trying to do; we’re trying to make our own table right now. Hopefully young people will take that initiative and we’ll finally get rid of that stigma where the older generation says that young people don’t do anything except for text. I think we’ll prove them wrong pretty quickly.
Booya!

Bad school board candidate(s).  That would be Omar Vasquez in District V and, to a lesser extent, Betty Patu in District VII at last week's Board meeting.  I had seen that Mr. Vasquez was at the meeting with a rather large campaign button on and that he was scheduled to testify.  I assumed he would take it off because it is unseemly (and I believe against Board policy) to testify in order to campaign.

He didn't.  In fact, he seemed to use his remarks on supporting ethnic studies to promote himself, going so far to say, "As a teacher...."  He was a teacher; he is now a lawyer and I think that kind of subtle deception is going to be a hallmark of his campaign so beware.

Director Patu, in her Board comments, spoke of her journey as a Board member and that she was running again.  I give her more of a pass because  she brought it up in connection with a terrible and sad story. She also spoke - with great pain - in saying that her granddaughter had recently been shot by someone she didn't know and had suffered grave injury (but is apparently recovering).  Patu was speaking of the many times she had counseled other parents about teens and was shocked to find herself in that same position.

If the Board doesn't want to see multiple candidates now take advantage of public testimony to promote themselves, they need to check this kind of activity.

What's on your mind?

22 comments:

Eric B said...

I'd give Vasquez a pass and Patu a partial pass. I'm not sure it's great to have any announcements about a political campaign from the dais, but it sounds like there was more nuance than that. I wasn't there, so I can't judge.

For Vasquez, I think it's a pretty low bar to expect that they know enough about the district to get on the speaker's list. I also think it's totally reasonable for him to be there with his name tag on (more on that below). I'd love to see his opponents and candidates from other districts as well. I think a big problem that new directors have is coming in with little knowledge of how board meetings actually work. Showing up helps.

So what about the campaign nametag? As long as he's speaking to a topic on the agenda and not making it a literal campaign event (ie talking about his platform), I don't really see the problem. I would rather that he identify himself clearly rather than only having people on the inside track know who he is. I suppose he could have had the nametag through most of the meeting but not during the spoken testimony, but I'm not sure that really helps.

All that said, I'm not particularly inclined to vote for Vasquez, but I would sure like to see his opponents step up their level of effort.

Disappointed said...

What is going on with KUOW and Ann Dorneld.

First, KUOW takes it upon themselves to publicly shame a 5 year old and a 9 year old child. Then, Dornfeld writes a piece and fails to get more facts, and information. It seems to me that a good journalist would provide more facts.

Patu gets a pass. She is living the life of those for which she seeks to support.

Just Saying said...

"All that said, I'm not particularly inclined to vote for Vasquez, but I would sure like to see his opponents step up their level of effort."

I can assure you that candidates are putting a ton of effort into their campaigns. Just because other candidates are not inappropriately using the podium to promote their candidacy, does not mean they are not putting great time and efforts into their campaigns.

Anonymous said...

Something is going on at KUOW. I suspect there's an editor who is connected with or comes from corporate education reform and is driving this coverage. Would be good to get KUOW on the record (heh) about that.

SW Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

You'd have to see the video with Vasquez; he very carefully describes his background - kinda to support the ethnic studies resolution - and that "I'm a teacher" is very misleading (but he knows that and doesn't care.) All TFA people do that "I'm a teacher stuff" and I find it troubling.

To note, Andre Helmstetter, also in District V, was there and stayed long after Vasquez left (which was right after his testimony). I see much more commitment from Helmstetter who also passed on the TFA candidate event to go to an NAACP event to listen to the ed director from national talk about ESSA.

SW Dad, I see something happening as well but how to ferret that out is the question. I also believe someone at KUOW had a personal relationship with the Gates Foundation woman (on that Local Wonder segment) but management may not have known that.

Jet City mom said...

In the Education Action Plan, blacks & Hispanics are emphasized as needing assistance to get through graduation.
That's well and good, however students with special needs and Native Americans actually have a lower graduation rate, and likely need different supports to help them achieve.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see Gail Sehlhorst recognized for her excellent work promoting broader access to arts education in the district! There is so much that needs to be done to ensure equal access for every student to have music, art and dance opportunities, regardless of which school they go to.

We have an opportunity right now to make huge progress on this issue through King County's Access for All ballot initiative (Prop 1 on the Aug 1 ballot). Unfortunately many people I've spoken with are not yet aware of this initiative which funds free student transportation to participate in curriculum-aligned programs at the region's top arts, science and heritage groups, as well as in-class programming. The accessforallwa.org website has a description of the initiative, and there are tons of postings on AFA's facebook and twitter pages illustrating the kinds of programming that would be expanded upon.

WS Fiddler

NESeattleMom said...

Disappointed, when did KUOW shame a 5 yo and 9 yo?

Anonymous said...

The only one who is a current school board member - ie subject to the state laws related to not using School District resources for campaign purposes of Patu. Looks like she will have some explaining to do to the PDC.


-BTDT

Anonymous said...

"In the Education Action Plan, blacks & Hispanics are emphasized as needing assistance to get through graduation.That's well and good, however students with special needs and Native Americans actually have a lower graduation rate, and likely need different supports to help them achieve."

@Jet City Mom- The superintendent has made African American males in particular his focus. Someone within the district had once mentioned to me that having a narrow focus/goal is intentional in order to be achievable.

However, many other populations including (but not limited to) poor kids of any color, special ed/special needs and Native American kids should also have a focus/goal. There are other populations as at risk.

-GB

Anonymous said...

After watching the video of the meeting, I believe you misquoted Vasquez. At 2:02:00 of the video he said "It wasn't until I became a teacher..." which is very different than "I am a teacher." While he did wear a button, he did not announce that he was running.

He also reserved half of his time for an SPS student, when it would have been easy to take up his second meeting talking about himself as a candidate or something.

--B-Rig

Melissa Westbrook said...

B-Rig, I'll watch the video but my notes reflect what I reported. As well, Vasquez did give up some of his time but positioned himself right by the student so his button would show. I didn't say he announced he was running; he was wearing a badge that indicated that.

I find it in poor taste and now we can expect every candidate coming up to push their candidacy thru Board agenda items.

not mc troll said...


mw i think that board candidates speaking to topics at meetings would be helpful. assuming that is what they do. showboats will be easily identified. can't say anything about this example. maybe we would have been warned what terrible positions blandford and geary would take.

no caps

Jet City mom said...

I agree that African American boys should have dedicated supports, but are they measurable?
Do we have more of a plan than hiring extra ( infamous) counselors like Ray Willis and brand him as a support?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City Mom, I'm going to be writing about that because there are some odd things going on that don't point to anything but a lot of talking and not a lot of action.

Anonymous said...

Director Blanford interview on KUOW: " Parents (white) influencing equity by lobbying school board. Parents caring deeply but only about their individual school. I have heard from lots of angry parents (white) advocating for the district to change policies and move waitlists to fill their school so their school would get more resources. Yet this would hurt other schools. "

He mentions trying to strike a balance.

But that is not the case as it seems the district was not following its own policy. Parents were not advocating to change policy. Also do people believe he is correct that moving the waitlists at these schools really hurt equity at the other schools?
-BK

Melissa Westbrook said...

BK, given his remarks on KUOW and at last night's Board meeting, I would say yes, that's what he thinks. He also (and probably rightly so) made a plea for understanding that some schools are on the upswing but need more students. But Peters pointed out that the district hasn't not examined why some schools are underenrolled. Also a good point.

When the district downsizes a school, I'd have to say that school is not on an upswing.

joanna said...

Many of you have heard my long sad rant before, but as the subject comes up over and over, it opens the wound. Has Blanford or the school board as a whole ever stepped up to represent the students and families here. These assignments have been more politically expedient than practical. Much of the waitlist and then under enrollment at Stevens is due to the mess the District has made of the Central District Schools. I know that the deal with TT Minor is a done deal at least for a long while. Nonetheless, the area and neighborhood around the school represents 800+ students who could walk to that school and will forever be bused to some school. The students are now used and constantly destabilized to fill other schools who need them to keep their schools open. Needs of the schools is addressed, not of the families. Of course, these should not be different but in this game of dominoes it is. First there was the Sloane Foundation, then a year of neighborhood with Montessori, then closure and assignments to Stevens and Bailey Gatzert and grandfathered the Montessori students to Leschi. Then a mistake where too many waitlisted kindergartners from outside of what was the Stevens area made the kindergarten classes too full. This led to the call that no students south of Madison should be assigned to Stevens and reassignment of much of the area to Madrona with no busing grandfathered while students were. Really Stevens still needed these students to fill their school and there continued to be room for the incoming kindergartners so the parents who could drive or bike their children there could still choose the school. Madrona remained underenrolled. Of course, these families continued to follow the siblings and neighbors to a known entity. It was a mistake to make Madrona a K-8 in the 90s and redesign and build the K-8. Now they are moving the middle school students from Madrona to Meany in order to fill that building. (The old Madrona was perfectly fine and nice as it was and now...)Anyway the district attempted to cap Stevens at an underenrolled number to force more students to Madrona. I believe that this area will continue to be used to keep other neighborhood schools open. At the time of the last redrawing, if all students went to Madrona in the area, it would have been bursting and Stevens would have suffered greatly. What do they plan to do with Madrona? I have sometimes think it would be the more logical location for TOPS or our option school than is the location of TOPS now and the Tops space could just as easily serve Eastlake, U District and Wallingford. My original topic was that the families here no matter who they are deserve decent representation. Neighborhood schools were suppose to bring all stability and predictability. All neighborhoods deserve to be treated well as schools are an important foundation of neighborhood and community building.

Shoddy Work said...

Why didn't Dornfeld get a quote from our first Native American board member? Why didn't Dornfeld get a quote from our Pacific Islander board member? Why didn't Dornfeld report on the fact that the district put $4M into mitigation funds for Title 1 schools? Why didn't Dornfeld write about curriculum adoption that will serve Title 1 schools so that new teachers won't have to develop their own curriculum?

Why didn't Dornfeld report that:
-Seattle is one of the first districts to have an Equity Policy.
-The board seeks to support Ethnic Studies Policy
-Seattle public schools sends teams to other districts doing the work to get ideas.
-Work around trauma and behavorial interventions.
-Family Outreach
-African American male initiative.

Shoddy work reigns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Shoddy Work, I think Dornfeld didn't go to Patu or Pinkham because they aren't leaving the Board.

But that is one odd piece of "journalism" that does not pass the sniff test.

And why didn't Blanford say one good thing about the district?

Because that's not part of the plan.

BMGF's Tendrils said...

Never underestimate the tendrils of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The city of Seattle needs some ethical reporters.

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Shoddy Work,

I believe that many think that the District is "trying to do the right thing." However, this does not ring sincere or actually effective to many and for many. The District has never implemented the Disproportionality Task Force Recommendations made in the eighties, and doesn't even know where to find them. They form committees and new task forces that take forever to come up with recommendations, sometimes repeating the original recommendations/resolutions that were previously made and never implemented in the schools. These "new" recommendations are diluted through committee engagement. This is the "buy in" method. When the committee finally makes a compromise resolution it no longer resembles the initial recommendation. It seems that only threats of law suits and media exposure are effective. Only "on line" Data is shared with all stakeholders leaving out many of our families and community members. Until the Board directs the Superintendent to mandate resolutions (often controversial) these will never be implemented in the schools. When the moratorium on student out of school suspensions for non violent offenses for Elementary Students was suggested, some of our most caring administrators and board members were extremely frightened of what could be perceived as "top down management." Until we have a Board and Superintendent willing to take courageous steps to insure the elimination of disproportionality, we will continue to water down initiatives that could be effective and actually will be "doing the right thing."