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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Police Chief Candidates and Public Schools

The Mayor's office was kind enough to allow me to go to the media interviews with the 3 candidates for police chief.

First up was Interim Chief John Diaz. Low-key is definitely the by-word here (maybe even anemic). There is no doubting his sincerity and commitment to SPD. However, when I asked him about his thoughts on policing in the school district or programs to curb youth violence, I got a whole lotta nothing. I followed up, thinking maybe he didn't understand me, but it was just a lot of blah, blah, blah about working with the district. For my narrow perspective, it was disappointing.

Second, was Chief Ron Davis from East Palo Alto. After Diaz, it was akin to "now for something completely different". This guy was very open, very charming (maybe too much so) but he really answered questions. He said that he has a close relationship with his superintendent. He stated that a lot of youth violence, before it hits the streets, shows up at school so it's good to catch it early. He also talked about a 13-week curriculum from the Justice Department about gangs, he spoke of a Youth explorer program (interning) and he supports truancy officers. (This came up right before the media event when Councilman Burgess was on KUOW and mentioned that possibly some of the Families and Education levy might go towards truancy officers.)

Last was Chief Rick Braziel from Sacramento. He is an easy-going, friendly man, also very enthused about coming to Seattle. When I asked him about schools and his office, he just had a lot to say. I mentioned that Councilwoman Bagshaw had mentioned the schools in Sacramento that had a police training element to them.

He said that they had 4 magnet academies that had a class on law enforcement with uniformed officers. He said it was popular and they were expanding to a 5th school. He also mentioned they were opening a 6-12 charter school with a public safety emphasis for firefighting and police work. He called it "growing his staff". He also mentioned testifying to the state legislature about truancy and that public education is about public safety. He created a youth advisory committee made up of students from private, charter and public schools to get input from them. He said that his concern was that many efforts are directed to high school when he feels kids need to be reached earlier at 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. Impressive.

So, from a public education perspective, I think both Davis and Braziel have good ideas and good attitudes to offer our district. As for whether either are the best person overall for the job, I don't know.

It struck me that picking a police chief is somewhat like picking a district superintendent. They need to lead and inspire a corp of people (cops and teachers), they need the support of their leaders (the School Board and the Mayor/City Council) and they need the belief in their abilities from the people they serve (parents/community and the public).

18 comments:

seattle said...

"He also mentioned they were opening a 6-12 charter school with a public safety emphasis for firefighting and police work. He called it "growing his staff"."

Sounds like a great way to use a charter. I'd love to have something like this in SPS.

dan dempsey said...

"They need to lead and inspire a corp of people (cops and teachers), they need the support of their leaders (the School Board and the Mayor/City Council) and they need the belief in their abilities from the people they serve (parents/community and the public). "

They also need a clue as to the basic operations at the ground level. Whether it be the streets or the classroom.

Too many top level administrators are great at advancing their careers but little else (Santorno and MGJ spring to mind).

Hope whoever is selected that they do a great job.

tbjohnston said...

Completely off topic

Did you see Danny Westneat's article in the times about Everett schools?

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2012063202_danny09.html

Sahila said...

"He said that they had 4 magnet academies that had a class on law enforcement with uniformed officers. He said it was popular and they were expanding to a 5th school. He also mentioned they were opening a 6-12 charter school with a public safety emphasis for firefighting and police work. He called it "growing his staff". He also mentioned testifying to the state legislature about truancy and that public education is about public safety.

Social control and police state BS - more Orwellian 1984 stuff... get to the kids earlier and earlier... some of us oppose military recruiting in schools, I oppose this too... very dangerous place we are going with ideas that:

"public education is about public safety"... NO, IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT....

Hippy Goodwife said...

Sahila, would you prefer that we not have firefighters and police officers? Both are legitimate career choices. Are children not to be exposed to either except in a crisis? or under arrest? How is a student supposed to know about such things if they never see it? At what point is it acceptable for a student to consider these careers?

Would you feel the same about a school focused on medicine? law? business? Classes are routinely visited by these professionals. Why are police and firefighters different?

Is there a set list of acceptable career options somewhere?

seattle citizen said...

Braziel, the candidate from Sacramento, just pulled out of the process, he's no longer interested.

Sahila said...

routinely visiting schools as part of community engagement and safety education is completely different to creating magnet academies or a 6-12 charter school that focuses on training and recruiting children into para-military jobs...

And yes, exposing young impressionable minds to these (or any) career choices at that age is unethical...

Give kids time and a chance to explore by themselves, without exposing them to propoganda....

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, how is talking about careers to kids in grades 6-12 too young? Sahila, sometimes you really hurt your arguments with being a little too bombastic.

Sahila said...

Grade 6 - how old is that... 12 or so?

Give kids a chance to be kids before forcing them to make decisions about the rest of their lives... give them a chance to try lots of things, have many different experiences before pushing them to commit to one path... they have plenty of time...

Even Grade 12... give them a generalist education and world view before asking them to specialise... studies have shown (and I'll find them later - gotta go do the school run thing now) kids who have a wide ranging liberal arts education are much more 'employable' than those pushed down one track too soon...

Hippy Goodwife said...

So when is it ethical? Middle school? High school? College? When exactly should students know about careers beyond the scope of their families and close friends.

I agree that a generalized education is a good thing. But I see nothing unethical about allowing kids to have direct experience with a variety of careers,at all ages. In developmentally appropriate ways. How better to know what one does or does not want?

Sahila said...

Interesting pieces on liberal arts education as they benefit technologists/scientists and creativity....

http://www.rbs0.com/college.htm

and

http://www.rbs0.com/create.htm#anchor444455

Oh, and Melissa - my opinions are not bombastic. I very rarely put forward any perspective without a solid backing of facts, stats, research, so I am confident in my assertions.... Other people might interpret that confidence in a negative way, but that's their perception, not the reality....

seattle said...

Sahila said "And yes, exposing young impressionable minds to these (or any) career choices at that age is unethical..."

How is this any more unethical than letting kids choose to go to Jane Addams Environmental science school, or STEM, TOPS social Justice school, or Bio tech at Ballard, or Finance Academy at Franklin, or travel and tourism academy at Ingraham?

Then Sahila says "Give kids a chance to be kids before forcing them to make decisions about the rest of their lives"

First of all, lets be clear, nobody is forcing any children into anything. These are choice schools and kids that are interested CHOOSE them. Isn't that THEIR right, or do you think it your right to choose for them?

Not everyone has the same philosophies Sahila. While a general education might work very well for your child, another child may know fairly early on that he wants to study medicine, or law, or fire fighting.

Chris S. said...

There's been a debate for a long time about career education slash tracking. What sounds like a good idea has often been used to sort students by social class.

One of the facts that has stuck with me from Diane Ravitch's 2000 book was that the origin of the "junior high" (previously there were K-8s and high schools) was to lower the age at which tracking could commence. Now middle schools push growing up down a year.

I may be a little biased, having put off choosing a career as long as humanly possible, but I do not consider it developmentally typical to have a career in mind in 6th grade. I see my 6th grader trying on career ideas like dress-up clothes - and isn't this what adolescence is all about?

So I believe middle-school (& high-school for that matter) should be exposed to career ideas, preferably considering some involving college, without having to limit their options.

And yes, I am familiar enough with the military-industrial complex to be a bit paranoid that poor children from "desparate families" will be prepped for military service. Supply and demand, you know.

WV knows what I'm thinking: fortcoe, wherever that is.

Jet City mom said...

Unfortunately Braziel has taken himself out of the running- as he sounded the best- ( didn't we have something like that with the last supe search?)


Anyway- my take on occupations and education is that kids are often very practical and concrete.

BF Day has Village Day- where each classroom takes a business to study, visit & build and on Village Day , you can see all their hard work.

When my younger daughter was small, she wanted to be a fire fighting police officer who was a ballerina in real life. Pretty cool huh?

I think a school who attracted students who were interested in public service is a great idea.

Paramilitary? ( you say that like it's a bad thing)
;)

Maybe you should try living somewhere that doesn't have fire fighters or police officers.

Dorothy Neville said...

By concentrating so much on funneling every child directly from high school to college though, we do lose some kids that would be much better off learning a trade. Not all kids are developmentally ready for college at 18. Wny spend all that money if the student is not mature enough to appreciate it yet? Given how long the life expectancies are these days, it makes sense (for some students at least) to put college on hold for a few years and try some jobs, some trades. Get some experience, some cash, some perspective, and then choose college.

So by ignoring trades and a variety of career options in school, we perhaps doom more kids to choose military as their only viable option to college. In fact, in the descriptions of STEM, seems to me that they are preparing kids for EITHER college in the Sciences OR a direct out of high school career option in sciences and technology.

One doesn't need college to be a fulfilled life long learner. One doesn't need college to read fiction and non fiction for pleasure, to attend theater and music events, to participate in community, to stay engaged intellectually.

Chris S. said...

I had another thought this morning, which is: The era of the life-long career is over. I'm on my second, due to a combination changing economic opportunities, solidifying of my values, and my adult relationships.

Young adults need to have a flexible set of skills, the most important of which is the ability to learn new stuff on one's own. Back to liberal arts education, anyone?

There's nothing wrong with giving a kid a chance to become a firefighter and make some money getting out of school (money helps you change careers too.) But if we make kids into firefighters we should be careful not to short them on other stuff.

And the other thing about charters of this flavor or that is they do tend to be offered to the disadvantaged. It's totally OK to offer poor neighborhoods something better than they've got, but that doesn't let us off the hook for giving them something as good as what the rich neighboorhoods get, which is generally a rich liberal arts education.

I don't have any problem with CTE in comprehensive high schools in the last two years of high school.

Jet City mom said...

There's nothing wrong with giving a kid a chance to become a firefighter and make some money getting out of school (money helps you change careers too.) But if we make kids into firefighters we should be careful not to short them on other stuff.

ITA- I was horrified when the vocational arm of SPS was trying to push out lib arts classes in order to make room for " the high paying field of child care", et. al.

However- for some kids- chemistry may be alot more accessible if you use cooking, photography or metal shop to do so.

Use an auto shop to teach physics, a program on urban farming will teach geology, chemistry, biology that can be transferred to higher classes.

Every class should require writing- even P.E.

Being upper "class" doesn't mean they are a linear learner. Many people need hands on applications to comprehend.

Washington , unfortunately does not have any polytech universities although schools like WWU has a great vehicle research program and I believe Seattle Central CC is starting an urban agriculture program.

of course the Aviation high school has been in the news with their senior projects.

WenD said...

SPD might be getting a new chief the same way SPS hired MG-J: via default. In both cases, the more popular candidate bowed out.