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Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Open Thread

Oh boy, what a week.

For the story of the week, look no further than Center School.  Over at the Times, they simply can't seem to get it right.  First, they have a story about the issue.  But they either didn't do their research or ask the right questions because they don't seem to know the investigation did not go according to procedure AND that no students, except the one in question, were ever interviewed by the ad hoc committee.

Yesterday, Lynne Varner got very touchy-feely on the topic of race, veering completely away from the disproportionality issue/Center School into her own raising of her son.  She says some pretty personal things and it comes back at her in the comments. 

Today the Times want you to tell them:

In one word, how do you feel public schools  treat students of color, either your own children or minority students that you know? I’ll start with a few: Gingerly. Awkwardly. Sometimes sincerely.

We are talking about a serious subject and they reduce it to one word?  They also want YOU to tell them how ALL students of color are treated by the district as if you could possible know?

What's sad is that the comments are pretty horrible. Anyone who thinks race isn't an issue in our country is wrong.

Meanwhile, over at Roosevelt, the new girls' softball coach did this:

Last week, the Roosevelt High School softball coach sent members of his team out on an unusual scavenger hunt. The mission: take photos of “cute girls” and bring them back, with telephone numbers, for his perusal. 

Instead of fielding flies, the players were farmed out to snag him a date, according to a string of text messages he sent to one of the young women targeted in the hunt. 

Genius, great way to meet a girl, use my girls lol,” he wrote in another text, patting himself on the back for the scavenger hunt. 

Troy Hennum, 25, was placed on unpaid leave just six days into his new job coaching the Roughriders, Seattle Public Schools said Thursday. He was hired despite the school knowing he had been investigated by his former school district, Lake Washington, for sending inappropriate texts to an athlete in 2012, a district spokeswoman said.

At one point he calls a prospective date "loser."  I'm thinking he should go look in the mirror.

Reminder of Director Community meetings on Saturday:
- Carr, 8:30-10 am at Bethany Community Church Cancelled
- New! - McLaren from 9:30-11 am at the Puget Ridge Cohousing Common House

Update:  there will be showing of silent films at the Paramount this Sunday.  It is great fun for kids and a great experience to see a silent film in a grand old theater with music from the Mighty Wurlitzer

What's on your mind?

34 comments:

Jet City mom said...

Meanwhile, over at Roosevelt, the new girls' softball coach did this

I am speechless.
Who hired this guy?
I think other hires should be doublechecked.

Po3 said...

I agree with Jet City mom. This makes me ill.

In fact all the discrict news this week has left me feeling pretty depressed!

Patrick said...

Likewise, Jet City Mom. What century are we living in?

Dad said...

Wow. That is terrible. How the hell did SPS think he was a good hire?

One thing to remember, the Internet is forever, so now:

Troy Hennum, High School Coach, inappropriate texts

will be forever linked in Google searches.

Maybe the next school district will do better.

Watching said...

Seattle Public Schools has accepted federal dollars in the form of Race To The Top Funding. In doing so, the district has signed away our children's personal information to a research company. See Section 5:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126637116/Data-Sharing-for-Research-Studies

Information sharing will start from the 2009-2010 school year. Do you think signing a FERPA agreement will protect your children's information? No, it will NOT. You can NOT opt-out.

Thanking Dora Taylor for shedding light on this issue:

https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/the-road-map-project-race-to-the-top-bill-gates-a-national-data-bank-wireless-genand-ferpa/

The district has NOT notified parents that their children's personal information is being shared. Federal regulations appear quite loose. Putting a notice on the district's web-site would meet federal guidelines.

Very disturbing. Please consider sharing this information with your PTA. I"m unclear if the board is aware of Banda's action.

I'm also unclear if a one time allocation of federal funds will allow ongoing distribution of information through-out the years.

Peanut said...

I don't think Lynne Varner's piece is touchy feeling on the topic of race. Her family's lived experience with race and racism is different than many of the posters on this board.

We have two SPS race discussions now. This particular opinion piece tackles race, family discussions, and the reality of her son entering a very vulnerable time in his life. White society looks at young black males in all sorts of stereotypical ways. That is her reality and her son's.

Criticizing her for not sticking to a education policy is off target. We may not like someone's policies or political bent, but their experiences are there own.

The elephant is the SPS room is race. We should be able to discuss it. That is, in fact, the point of the Center School class.

Peanut said...

their own.

Serves me right for not re-reading before hitting publish.

Anonymous said...

@Peanut: The elephant in the room? When do we not talk about race in SPS?

It's not the elephant in the room; it's the mold in the closet that will threaten the health of everyone in the house until it's dealt with properly, sometimes by demolishing the house and starting over, building a new one from the ground up, together.

What's sad is that the comments are pretty horrible. Anyone who thinks race isn't an issue in our country is wrong.

Time-out MW: Trolls are ubiquitous in the blogosphere. But to say the comments are "pretty horrible" is not accurate. There are many reasonable comments and questions raised by those less P.C. than ourselves, and only a handful of truly "offensive" comments, and even less I would call "horrible." People get angry when, after working very hard to be good people their entire lives, they still get labeled as racist and get blamed and held responsible for the ills of others.

If we're going to have a productive discussion about race, we need to drop the drama and political correctness already. Varner herself wrote "Guilt is pointless. Understanding the ways history continues to cast a long shadow on today is the better goal." I couldn't agree with her more on that point.

Education and thoughtful discussion, not assigning blame, is the way forward, which our kids are far better at than we, just as we were far better at it than our parents.

Some will see this topic raised and feel we haven't come very far. I see this topic raised and revisited, and see, in reality, how far we've come and where we hope to go from here, despite America's "original sin" continuing to cast it's ugly shadow over all of us.

WSDWG

Peanut said...

@WDWG

I never said we didn't talk about race. I said it's the elephant in the room. In fact, there are many. Race is always there. We, as a society, are still uncomfortable dealing with it.

Sharing experiences and learning to listen to and talk to all kinds of people are not drama and political correctness.

dan dempsey said...

A new national group which clearly will not receive funding from Gates Foundation.

Anonymous said...

Just noticed that Director Carr's meeting is cancelled for tomorrow. She was absent at the board meeting, hope all is well.

Just curious

dan dempsey said...

Rupert Murdock and News Corp want School Money...
..From Ed Week

News Corp has a tablet for schools....

It's the curriculum part that is most troubling. In words reminiscent of those contained in "A Nation At Risk," Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City schools and now the chief executive of Amplify, along with Condoleezza Rice, last year called the state of schools a "grave national security threat." Manufacturing a crisis is a proven way of boosting sales of products and services that purport to address the issue.

But I have a more fundamental concern. It has to do with who determines the public school curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I'd love an update on an earlier post about directors Carr, Debell, and Martin-Morris sponsoring a fundraiser for Tim Burgess's mayoral campaign. Has it been determined whether their attendance violates/would violate the open meeting laws? If so has any action been taken to stop, censure or punish them? And if no action has been taken, what can one do to take action?
-- Disgusted

Anonymous said...

@Peanut: Don't you mean the 800 lb gorilla, and not the elephant in the room? Aren't we mixing up our metaphors? One is seen and felt by everyone, the other is actively ignored, even though it's having a huge impact on everything. I'd say race is the 800 lb. gorilla, not the elephant, but maybe that's what you meant.

The drama and political correctness is not around the issue of race. That comment was directed at MW's characterization of the Times comment section as "pretty horrible," as I felt that was an unfair representation of the commentary there. Some was certainly bad and ignorant, as usual, but much was fair and legitimate, and not given its due by that - in my opinion - dramatic characterization.

WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disgusted, I did check.

No, it didn't violate the Open Meetings Act but it certainly did skirt it. Discussion is considered part of an "action" for the purposes of the Open Meetings Act. Unfortunately, unless someone who was there says at least one of the three Board members WAS talking about district work, there is no evidence to say they did. Attendance is not enough.

I think what you can do is write to the three of them and say that it bothers you that they are having private discussions about Seattle education at a fundraiser for a mayoral candidate.

It is disconcerting that Martin-Morris, Carr and Sundquist all said, when they were running for re-election that they were against charter schools and yet here they all are cozying up to the the ed reform crowd.

Jet City mom said...

Did anyone believe them?

Jan said...

Thanks, Dan, for the great links. Makes me miss Sahila!

This issue (corporate takeover/influence of public education) is a huge one for many. The bizarre thing is that I find myself suddenly aligned with people like Texas legislators, and home schoolers who eschew "government schools" (they sound SO much more icky than "public schools"). I suppose it is no different than the many ACLU supporters and others concerned about encroachment of drone technology -- who turned around earlier this week and found that their new best friend (on drones at least) was . . .Rand Paul! Eeek!

RosieReader said...

I am working on an analysis of the differences between school parent groups that organize as PTAs versus PTOs. I am trying to put together a list of PTOs in the greater Seattle area. I am aware that Salmon Bay School is a PTO. What other schools have opted for that model? Thanks in advance for your help.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City, I try to believe people when they are running for office. For my unhappiness with the performance of Martin-Morris, Sundquist, Maier and Carr, I believed them when they all said they were against charters.

Clearly, Sundquist is either an opportunist or was crossing his fingers when he answered. I don't know what the situation is for the others. But clearly, if you are a host for a fundraiser with other ed reformers, it would make anyone wonder.

Wondering said...

What is a PTO?

Anonymous said...

Rosie-

John Hay was when we were there a few years ago.

Former JH

Anonymous said...

I know when I brought up ALO, its' going to veer the thread off into a different tangent. My bad. In school districts with G & T programs, there are finite seats with wait list. In our district, APP has seats to all if they want it. Spectrum, more inconsistency which is unfair to kids in the program (true for ALO). The track I speak of is Garfield and Ingraham. The only way my kids can access these 2 schools will be through APP. It's an advantage they'll have because that's not their neighborhood school. (An oppoturnity for an IB program and more AP class choice) They'll have school choices unlike non-APP kids. As to ALO, if the district wants to do this, it should screen for all kids with an op-out and not make it a self selection process and by that I mean a parent's choice to test kids in. They should also re-evaluate between ES and MS. I won't even get into the APP blog with all the queries/answers on how to test in and who to go for private testing. I support advanced learning, but I'm going through a lot of self-examination right now and am beginning to question some things I didn't before. And I can be all wrong about thinking/feeling this way.

sigh

Anonymous said...

Sorry, talk about veering off. My above posting was on the wrong thread.

sigh

joanna said...

I am still stuck on what policies are in place to vet school district employees to prevent the situation at Roosevelt from happening. Lucky this guy was so quick and obvious that he is gone. I hope not to be hired as a coach of any team again. However, there were red flags before he was hired, and I am thinking if he had been a more sneaky type, he could have been in a position to do damage to many youth. I've always trusted to District to be pretty good at this type of vetting. Along with the fact that Seattle is large enough, the District usually has some pretty good candidates from which to choose.

Maureen said...

Wondering, PTO just stands for "Parent Teacher Organization." I think Rosie means something other than an org that's officially associated with the state and national PTSA.

Rosie,TOPS has a Site Council and an associated 501C3--"Friends of TOPS." No PTSA. Most of the former alts are like that though I think Salmon Bay may have a PTSA in addition to a Site Council? (RHS and IHS have PTSAs, as I think you know.)

RosieReader said...

Thanks for the leads. I'll follow up on John Hay.

Originally, when the MS and elementary school merged 15-18 years ago or so, Salmon Bay had both a PTA and a PTO. About 10 years ago those two entities merged, opting to become a PTO.

joanna said...

I have less of an understanding PTO compared to PTSA. PTSA (PTA) is the longer running organization that was founded in 1897 by women who could not vote, but who cared about education policy.

PTSA The National PTA is a formal membership organization with history of working for children. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organizations and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits, and they get a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The National PTA maintains lobbies nationally and on the state level. PTA carefully protects its name, so that in theory only dues-paying members of the group can call themselves a PTA. Local PTOs may have formed earlier, but I believe that to some degree they formed in protest to the national PTSA support of desegregation. And then in my experience some of the alternative schools here did not want to be a part of such a formal organization. As a PTSA leader who wanted to support alternative schools that was a little frustrating. There are now resources under the the PTO and some organizational definition, but I do not know any details and doubt that it can require that a group join to use the PTO designation. name:http://www.pto.org/#

joanna said...

I have less of an understanding PTO compared to PTSA. PTSA (PTA) is the longer running organization that was founded in 1897 by women who could not vote, but who cared about education policy.

The National PTA is a formal membership organization with history of working for children. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organizations and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits and a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The National PTA lobbies nationally, and a state PTA at the state level. PTA carefully protects its name, so that dues-paying members of the group can call themselves a PTA. Local PTOs may have formed earlier, but I believe that to some degree they formed in protest to the national PTSA support of desegregation. And, then in my experience some of the alternative schools here did not want to be a part of such a formal organization, as was also true of other parent organizations across the nation. As a PTSA leader who wanted to support alternative schools, that was a little frustrating. There are now resources under the the PTO name and some organizational definition, but I do not know any details and doubt that it can require that a group join to use the PTO designation. name:http://www.pto.org/#

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

Bit of a topic change . . . open thread, and all that!

Raise awareness for the growing problem of suicide and self-injury in America.

Our daughter and her friends created a petition to the White House about raising more awareness on the topic of self harm. There are currently 1385 signatures -- they need 100,000 by the beginning of April -- and it would be great if you could sign and help spread the word to people in your area. (They were all very excited to find out that author Scott Westerfeld [Uglies] just tweeted the link . . . hopefully that'll help a lot.)

Thank you! Here's the link: White House Petition
Just create an account (it's very easy) and vote!

Thanks for you help,
Andrew

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie, send me a note with your e-mail (sss.westbrook@gmail.com). I have also been considering the PTA versus PTO and I have some research links I could send you.

joanna said...

I see posts above and may have seemed a little short in my description. I did not realize the first one was there and it was an older draft. My statement regarding the alternative schools not having PTSAs, had only to do with the few answers I received when I inquired. I don't actually know the details of the history. I suppose I liked the idea of PTSA (PTA), even though the brand could easily be ruined, due to the fact that it was interesting to interact with the State and National organizations and meet people and find out the issues across WA State and USA. However, I can see through more than speculation a theory could easily be developed that the schools with the more well-off and powerful parents will dominate the local councils and the state and national organizations. There is some truth to that. However, I found that the most well-off parents often were not the most active parents. However, those in poverty also had a difficult time participating. Even in a PTO this type of concern regarding if one small group will be dominate and if it will do a good job of representing the whole is legitimate. Of course, the advantage of the PTO is that the members can focus on just their school and not concern themselves with national and state or even local council policies and any money raised stays within the local school organization. There are benefits to belonging to the national organizations along with responsibilities. It would be interesting to know how different schools make that decision.

In my mind when the State PTA decided to support charter schools this was misstep. However, I also understand why at the national level the PTA would not necessarily take a stand against charter schools since part of the mission of PTA is to empower parents as advocates. That would have to include parent whose students attend charter schools.

Maureen said...

When I was on Site Council at TOPS, the idea of converting to a PTSA periodically arose but was never seriously considered because individual members would have to pay to belong--that was antithetical to our school culture.

Anonymous said...

This March 8, 2013 article is now #6 on the NY Times' most emailed article list.

Advocacy Group to Monitor Reform Efforts in Public Schools

Good Job... Diane Ravitch
======
-- Dan Dempsey