Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Open Thread

Better late than never.

Anyone attend the SCPTSA meeting last night with Dr. Enfield and Director DeBell?

And this in from a reader:
Betsy Ross said... Hey, I know this isn't on topic but there's no Tuesday open thread. Happened to turn on KIRO radio when Dori Monson had a parent from JSIS on, complaining that the "left-wing" parents wanted to have the Pledge of Allegiance used only as as a topic taught in history class, in deference to the immigrant students, some of whom are undocumented. This angered her and her husband, and a huge blow-up happened on the parent email tree, apparently. She came pretty close to saying that the undocumented kids should just sit down and shut up as should the offending left-wingers.

Has anyone heard a more...balanced account of this? She implied that the "left wingers" were trying to control the principal on this. I don't know any parents with kids there but I'd love to know more.

--Betsy Ross


"It seems a parent sent an email to other parents, complaining about the pledge. She writes that many of the students are the children of foreigners or undocumented citizens, so "asking them to pledge to a republic with liberty and justice for all is asking them to pledge alliance to a republic that does not consider them or their families equal before the law."

"She goes on to complain the school is improperly "imposing an ideology and form of worship, albeit for a flag." She suggest the pledge should only be taught in history class."

I guess I would like to know how she knows these students are undocumented - Washington isn't Alabama.    I think it is probably harder for young students to not say the pledge even if they are not obliged to do so.

What's on your mind?


RosieReader said...

State laws require the daily recitation of the pledge, though I know many schools ignore this law. I've always thought the reasonable compromise, for those schools that think that complying with State law is a good idea, is to have the pledge come over the loudspeaker in the morning, and then for teachers to encourage students to stand and say the pledge or be respectfully silent.

WS said...

I heard recently about out of area kindegarten kids getting into over subscribe school. I am wondering how this happens? is it because the child was living in a boundary of another school that was oversubscribed? is this the district trying to level set the over enrollment by choosing to allow some kids from outside the boundaries in?

PS. this is the north end of West Seattle.

Anonymous said...

RE the Pledge of Allegiance -

How about the school in Texas where a teacher recently required a Spanish class (the language not the students) to memorize and recite the Mexican Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Mexican National Anthem?

That caused a hullabaloo.


Floor Pie said...

"[M}any of the students are the children of foreigners or undocumented citizens..."

I'm thinking probably not that many under the NSAP, right? And even so, did they want this parent to speak up on their behalf? How do the actual foreigners and undocumented citizens feel about it?

"She came pretty close to saying that the undocumented kids should just sit down and shut up as should the offending left-wingers."

Which sort of go against the whole "global village" thing JSIS is all about, doesn't it? Is this what happens when we restrict global villages to Wallingford?

As for the Pledge, I'm okay with it as long as students aren't forced to say it, and it sounds like they aren't (based on our discussion about this in Friday's open thread).

WenD said...

This sounds like another undocumented bit of churn from this show. Remember Seattle Schools and the "Spring Spheres?" I don't think that one was ever confirmed:


I'll take this seriously when JSIS parents and teachers with real names talk about it. Otherwise it's ratings bait, that stuff Roger Ailes produces in place of real news. (Conservative talk is a dying format. Dori must doing poorly and yet he can't search key words Silas Potter + Maier?)

Betsy said...

No, they never did prove the spring spheres, but the parent he had on today mentioned several emails and Dori was reading from one of them. They had a call in to the principal and were waiting for a reply. It SOUNDED more "real" than the spring spheres ever did. In this case there's an actual school being named.

The impression I got was that the original email came from a liberal parent concerned, on her own, about immigrant kids. That was replied to by this conservative family and it all blew up. Still would love to hear from an actual JSIS parent.

Anonymous said...

'when fascism comes to america it will be carrying a bible wrapped in a flag'

I can think of 100's of things that are just as unimportant, stupid and ignorant and this stupid and ignorant flag waving - but - I'm too busy to


seattle citizen said...


dan dempsey said...

On October 20, 2011 Joy Anderson will file in King County Superior Court:

An Appeal of Seattle School Board's approvals seeking

Conditional Certificates for Teach for America corps members to teach in the Seattle Public Schools

LINK to current draft of the initial filing of appeal.

anonymous said...

Readers and Writers workshop is an absolute sham in middle school. Guess I'll be home schooling this year. Argh.


dan dempsey said...

More on the TFA appeal =>


Anonymous said...

How do you go about homeschooling LA when it's linked with Social Studies? Do you have to homeschool for both? We're so tired of Readers and Writers Workshop. Our child's writing skills actually seem to be regressing.


Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but I miss the old format already. This format is too hard to find my way around on. I can't see the other comments when I comment, which is a big setback.

The calendar's an improvement, but overall, I prefer the other format. Sorry guys & gals. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Good morning, I wanted to share the response I got from 7th Generation in response to my letters about their donating a portion of laundry soap proceeds to TFA. The responses were sweet, but rather a pat on the head for being a poor soul from Seattle.

Part of my letter---

> I repeat the question that another urban teacher already asked,
> I wonder why you did not launch a campaign to help urban students in
> low-income neighborhoods by supporting experienced, qualified, veteran
> teachers.

7th generation letter---

Thank you for taking the time to share your very well written thoughts about our partnership with Teach for America. I'm not sure if you live in the Seattle area but I have spoken with others there about the problems they are facing.

Like you, we believe that there is no more important issue facing our country today than the need to dramatically strengthen our educational system and give every child the absolute best possible start in life. I, too, have a degree in Education. I appreciate and respect the points you have made in your e-mail.

We are extremely grateful that you care enough about this issue to have taken the time to express your concern. This passionate dedication to what’s right is something that the world needs much more of, and we’re glad that you think enough of Seventh Generation to apply it to us, too. It is only through efforts like yours that we can be the company we want to be. Thanks once again for writing and keeping us on our toes. We appreciate both a very great deal.

Your opinions are important to us, and I will make sure that you are heard by the company.

Best Wishes,

Seventh generation letter---

Thank you for your e-mail of October 8 and the link to the thought-provoking article from the National Education Policy Center.

In these tough economic times, it is hard to know what to do as educational budgets are cut & taxpayers are unwilling or unable to take on any further burden. There is no easy answer.

I hope those of you in Seattle will be able to find a solution that, in all cases, keeps the welfare of the children in mind. As the saying goes "a mind is a terrible thing to lose."

Your passionate dedication is something the world needs much more of as we look for answers to the issues we are facing in regard to the funding of education for the next generation.

Thank you, again, for caring enough to share your thoughts with us. We are grateful.

Best wishes,

Customer Service


RosieReader said...

Wow, both our girls had terrific experiences in Readers and Writers workshop in M.S. Curious to understand why you think it's a sham?

Josh Hayes said...

WSDWG, I'm finding the new format quite similar to the old one vis a vis navigation and viewing posts and so forth. You might find it easier to use if you use Firefox as a browser (that's what I use)?

And FWIW, when I was a kid I refused to say the pledge, but cut a deal with my (ex-Marine) homeroom teacher to stand quietly while everyone else did it. Fine by me. So far as I know, neither of my kids has EVER said the pledge or been asked to in their SPS schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"As the saying goes "a mind is a terrible thing to lose."

Yes, if especially the saying is "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."


Anonymous said...

For those interested, the JSIS principal's letter dated Oct 12 and then her undated 'Response from the Principal' letter provide more background regarding the Pledge of Allegiance at JSIS. They can be found on the JSIS website. Families were not included in the discussion.


Anonymous said...

"It's a terrible thing to lose one's mind;

er not to have one." - W


Anonymous said...

Ok, this New Yorker piece has been floating around today, and it seems quite relevant to the whole JSIS Pledge of Allegience brouhaha. Enjoy!


Recovering preschool co-op mom

dan dempsey said...

LINK to JSIS principal's letter on the pledge.

Nice to see that she is interested in fulfilling the requirements of the law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Recovering, I saw this and was going to post it. Great fun! Everyone should read this New Yorker piece on Day of the Dead.

Yes, Dan is right. The JSIS issue over the pledge is a legit story and the principal went through a long process to hear all voices.

Bird said...

The JSIS issue over the pledge is a legit story and the principal went through a long process to hear all voices.

I'll just add as a JSIS parent, I didn't hear about this until after the "long process to hear all voices", and it was announced on the website.

It sounds like she took this to the BLT, but, of course, the BLT is composed of a small number of parents, and, as far as I know, the BLT members didn't reach out to the wider parent community.

Anonymous said...

Readers/Writers depends on the teacher and possibly the school. If it is done well, it can elevate the level of a student's writing substantially. If done poorly (looks like much of what was taught before with teacher provided topics and mind maps, in my daughter's case), then it most likely kills the writer in most human beings.
What is difficult in my case is that I was trained and do it well. My kid's teacher, on the other hand, calls what he is doing "Writers' Workshop," but I have never seen any of the garbage my kid is sent home to do presented EVER in any training. My first clue was the lack of topic generating done by students. He provides the topics (bar lowering maneuver #1). I can't wait to see how the rest of the year goes.

Anonymous said...

Legal or not, I am absolutely thrilled that the Pledge is not used at my son's school. It is absurd, anachronistic, and dangerous.

I'm going to remain somewhat anonymous because I don't want anyone to figure out which school it is and then start cracking down!

Proud Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

Teacher mom,

Do you teach in middle school? Do you feel that Readers/Writers workshop prepares kids for high school classes?

In my child's high school classes they read assigned books that are a stretch for many students, not 'just right reading level'. By 10th grade they are expected to read, analyze & learn information from college level text books that are not fiction. They are graded on use of spelling & grammar in their writing. They write almost no personal narratives, but many research papers, essay exams with no rough drafts, oral arguments, dialectic essays, and lab notes. They have to know parts of speech in their foreign language classes. Their teachers expect that they know how to do this writing. They complain about the kids not being prepared. I did not see these things taught in my child's middle school readers & writer's workshop classes. Are the high school teacher's wrong about the preparation?

High school parent

Anonymous said...

New principals announced for Lawton and Whittier. Christine Helm is taking the VP position at Whittier and Dr. Neil Garrans will take over as Principal at Lawton.


Anonymous said...

re: 7th generation - grab the barf bag, dorothy!

Chris S.

Haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haley said...

I'm so happy to see that people are talking about this issue. Echoing what someone else said, parents did not hear about the principal's plans to enforce the pledge of allegiance policy until this past Sunday night, despite that it's been debated since the beginning of the school year. This is NOT a battle between parents as Monson and the woman he interviewed tried to portray it as on his show, and it's a sad attempt to distract people from the other concerns we have raised. Many of us have emailed the principal and requested that she begin dialogue with parents by holding an open forum meeting/town hall so we can all discuss this issue (she has not obliged). For her to try to suddenly enforce such a policy without consulting parents, and at a school that really benefits from a lot of parent support and has such dedicated teachers who have also opposed this, is beyond me. I have much more that I could say about this issue. Please do contact me if you are also dealing with this, or if you have concerns yourself and would like to work together to ask for the principal to not choose the issue of the pledge of a allegiance as her first big issue to tackle as a new principal. We need time to discuss this sensitive matter and if after that point the policy is still enforced then ok, but we need the time to process this and talk about this as a community first. My email is haleyselassie09@gmail.com. Thank you.

No dog in the hunt said...

When I was in high school I had a teacher who had escaped from a communist country with her family. She read us a short story called, I think, "The Children's Hour". It was written by someone whose young child came home announcing that she had finally memorized the Pledge. When he asked her what it meant, she had no idea.

In the story, the country has been taken over by the communists and a new state-appointed teacher comes in and basically proves to the kids that the pledge, simply recited as rote, means nothing. My teacher's point was that you have to truly understand it for it to matter, and of course, that PEOPLE matter, such as the people running the country, like those her family escaped.

I tend to agree. Having every kid in every classroom repeat words that becoming meaningless over time does nothing. Why rail about schools no following state law? I think it would be far more meaningful for kids to leanr the whys and wherefores of the Pldge, as part of our nation's history. That said, the principal at the school in question is going to get slammed from both directions and parents are already pitted against one another. I don't see any answer to make everyone happy.

Anonymous said...

On the Readers/Writers Workshop:

I thought it was designed as a K-5 curriculum, so why is it being used for middle school?

In early elementary, it has its place because it gets kids writing. It's very prescriptive, however, and once kids achieve basic proficiency in writing, I think it actually does a disservice to kids to continue with the program.

There needs to be balanced instruction that includes spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as writing that extends beyond personal and self-selected material. Our child's teacher wouldn't even let kids reach for the dictionary during writing time. And then sitting on the carpet - in middle school - to get directions, well, it's almost demeaning.

Here's a link from an earlier thread (from the Core Knowledge blog by Robert Pondiscio):

The Trouble at My Old School

doubtful parent

Anonymous said...

Related info on the Pledge in schools, from the ACLU:


It deals mostly with a student's right to opt-out of the Pledge, without repercussions. It made the point that it's the student's choice, and not the parents.

What about the flip-side: can parents opposing the recitation of the Pledge keep a school from saying it? What about parents or students that want to say the Pledge? Are their rights being violated?

a reader

dan dempsey said...

School Board meeting of October 19, 2011 is now availalble

Video here=>

Charlie Mass is at 10:45 ... don't miss it.

dan dempsey said...

School Board meeting=>

Note the MAP action was tabled until next meeting ... WOW elections must be close.

At 136:00 is the Discussion of the Superintendent's evaluation instrument began.

DeBell starts out with its late, its different, its about goals and the four pillars, the expectations are delineated by time line.

We we looking for clarity and a narrowing down of items.

"Intro/and Action" all at once ... because we did not get the work done as quickly as needed. We have a necessity to get this work done.

As Charlie pointed out ... this received about two days worth of notice which amounts to ZERO public engagement.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon at 5:05
No, they are not wrong to worry. I saw plenty of my colleagues in other schools who used the "Readers'/Writers'" work to make an excuse for having a bar set low. So, I do not doubt the observations you and others may have made about the programs in the schools where your students attend. I see it in my own student’s school. It seriously disappoints me because I know what the intention behind the theory and how well it can work in practice.
In my own classroom, I set my bar high and helped my kids make it over it via the workshop model and strategies (full inclusion- differentiated). High expectations are the key to ANY program working well. Without the high expectations part, a teacher has nothing. Kids will rise to the level you set in front of them. My high bar caused me a lot of grief. But I never lowered it and still won’t even after changing schools.
I advocated at the district level for the last semester of 8th grade to be about "getting ready for HS". TC's curriculum calendars for 8th grade are all about HS preparedness. The goods are there. A school just has to use them as they are meant to be used – to help kids grow as readers and writers, not use them to help make excuses for why the work is so easy and irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Please, forgive any errors above, I am in a hurry to meet my husband for dinner.

dan dempsey said...

Here is the current draft of the appeal of the Board's actions in regard to conditional certs for TFA.


To be filed on Friday October 21, 2011.

Anonymous said...

What a dumb issue for the new JSIS principal to take on so early in her tenure! I have an idea for her: take a look at all the ways that our District isn't complying with special education law and maybe take on that one.

Regardless of how you feel about the pledge, the process sounded terrible (Melissa, I don't know where you got your read on the situation). It did, however, sound very familiar — their new principal sounds very consistent with our district.

-i don't heart SPS

Haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haley said...

I've been told that the Pledge of Allegiance controversy at JSIS resulted in the SPS sending out letters to all the schools in the district to remind them of the policy regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. I can't validate that, but I wouldn't be surprised considering the fact that many schools (and reasonably so in my opinion) choose to not enforce this policy. At the very least, I hope this brings to light the question of whether or not it's actually important to enforce or to even have a policy that stirs up so many questions and concerns, especially when there are so many issues that demand attention.