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Monday, June 03, 2013

Center School Saga Continues On

I had heard about this but had no real info but our friends over at The Stranger have written this:
(bold theirs)

Rumor has it that the Seattle School District is punishing the high school teacher at the center of a controversy earlier this year—concerning his award-winning race and social justice class—by transferring him to another school.

Greenberg heard from the district this weekend—after chaperoning prom on Saturday night—that he'll be sent to Hamilton Middle School next year. 

Current teachers have sent around a public letter saying they "stand categorically opposed to the proposed transfer. Jon Greenberg is an outstanding, award-winning teacher and a seminal member of The Center School staff; his transfer would be a huge loss to the school."

Asked to respond to the rumors, (district spokesperson, Teresa )Wippel says only that Superintendent José Banda is now "considering the appropriate action" after the same family filed a second complaint alleging that Greenberg retaliated against their student for complaining. The district's investigation, says Wippel, found in fact that he "did not retaliate against the complainant," but that he did violate a "harassment, intimidation, or bullying" policy by allowing some students who were organizing to save the curriculum to distribute their petition in his classroom "when the complainant was in the class."

Reporter Anna Minard says this:

If the district genuinely thinks their staff member is breaking the rules, they should work with him or fire him. But if, as their own investigations keep showing, there is simply a problem between this teacher and this one family—and the student in question is a senior who won't be there next year—how does transferring him away achieve anything other than punitive action that will be then be an ongoing detriment to the school he leaves behind?

I'm with her.  Ding the teacher in his evaluation but don't move him from a school he loves and where he is (mostly) appreciated.

I'm thinking those speaker spaces at Wednesday's Board meeting are going to fill up.  

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well this story certainly shows how easy it is to get rid of a problem teacher IF and when the district wants to. All it takes is an irate family who understands law suits, and voila, teacher is punished. (Contrast this to SPED families' plight). Let that be a lesson learned. It's all about who you know and the power that be, who has it and how to use it. Obviously those poor parents and kids at W. Woodlawn just didn't know how to go about a shakedown.

Ugh

Anonymous said...

Power and privlege: Upclose and personal.

UHG2

mirmac1 said...

I'm very unhappy that our principal at Madison will not be returning this fall. Our middle school is a great example of full inclusion and bully-prevention.

I am very sad.

mirmac1 said...

Re: Mr Greenberg. Yet another assassination by "investigation". McCarthyism is alive and well in SPS HR. And to think the powers that be threatened and imposed their version of professionalism on our district's Human Capital department, ala M. Honig.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the great "ombudsman" for which everyone had such high hopes. Shouldn't he be working to resolve this problem fairly?

-not impressed with district "solutions"

Anonymous said...

Mirmac,

Not really sure why you're giving the principal credit for that. Is generally incredibly ineffective and everyone is very aware of his relationship with a staff member that requires the staff member to be reassigned. I guess it's a step up from his spelling his name wrong on his application issue several years back.

-Not sad

Anonymous said...

SPS is gun shy especially over a lightening rod class like race and social justice. Old timers can recall this, but go back a bit and remember when SPS lost its use of racial tiebreaker criteria for school selection when we had school choice. Even after the district dropped that policy, it was pursued by the parents and their pro bono law firm, DWT, all the way to the US Supreme Court. Worse, the district lost AND had to pay $800,000 to DWT for their pro bono work (during the time the district was closing down schools because of of a $26 million budget gap),of which after the bad publicity DWT gave $150,000 to A4E. No wonder this kind of thing has got our poor district whipped!

For some, it's about academic independence, due process, teaching kids how to advocate for themseves, think critically and discuss about sensitive topics. For others, it's about not wanting kids to be uncomfortable in a class like race and social justice, especially if they have differing POV from the rest of the class. And when you start using words like bullying, retaliation along with the teacher's mercurial personality and what appears to some, a class with a political, possibly liberal, bent, well..... it's trouble and time to shut it down! The district was hoping for a quiet admonition that would appease the family, but teachers and students didn't follow the script. So it goes.
ugh

Anonymous said...

Well heck, let me be the first to welcome Mr. Greenberg to HIMS. We need good teachers at our school. I welcome him!

Anonymous said...

This district is supremely cowardly. They will run at the first sight of a stern discussion. Broad over application of terms like bullying...when you have gangs in many of the schools whose member-students create a far more intimidating environment than even the most United Nations sternly worded letter.

One Snowflake and a set of parents immune to the fact that their child once 18 will have to cope for themselves and they won't be able to advocate for them because colleges don't care and legally can't disclose information.

This is cowardice of the highest order and the reason we see so much mediocre teaching because great teaching or the attempt at great teaching is punished.

However, district officers can screw up from here to Timbuktu and never be held accountable for their crap.

-Cowardly (commenting anonymously)

Anonymous said...

Total score for HIMS.
Complete loss for Center.

More shame on the district!
Guess they kinda like it that way.


HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...

My son, a 2007 grad of TCS, sent the following email to Supt. Banda today (I couldn't be more proud!)"

"Superintendent Banda,

I am writing you this letter in solidarity with the education community of The Center School, in regards to the transfer of Jon Greenberg. I would like to start out by stating that his transfer is outrageous and insulting to many current and former students of his, including myself. I am by no means a representative of any of my fellow alumni, but I do share many of their views on this topic. Removing Jon Greenberg from The Center School will prevent future students from having access to the types of education that allowed me and students like me to think critically about the world we live in. Jon's Race and Gender units were the two most powerful educational experiences of my life, and I say this honestly. They eclipsed, in importance, even the education provided by The Evergreen State College, which is renowned nationwide for its liberal and critical teachings. To remove Mr. Greenberg from The Center School community is to do a disservice to every student who would have gone through his programs, and I am quite frankly shocked that such a drastic move has taken place. On what grounds is Mr. Greenberg being removed from the Center School environment? Is it because he chose to challenge established notions of race and gender in a classroom of Juniors and Seniors? You yourself stated that these units are more appropriate for adults, but what about students who are 18 years old? They have a legal right to vote, and can be sent off to die fighting for their country. What right do you have to deny them a complete and critical education, especially in today's global society? I with you would reconsider your choice to transfer Jon Greenberg out of an environment where he can do (and has done) the most good for furthering the education of Seattle's youth. There was a time, when I was in Mr. Greenberg's class, that I recognized the power that the Seatttle Public Schools had to inspire positive change in the world. But this move goes against everything that your district represents.

Let me finish this with a quote from the Seattle Public Schools own website:
Academic Vision

We are focused on improving academic achievement for all students and committed to ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and life. We strive to provide excellent teachers in every classroom, set high expectations for every student, meet the needs of our diverse learners, and prepare our students to excel.



Mr. Banda, it turns out that you are not, in fact, focused on providing excellent teachers in every classroom, as you are taking away an excellent teacher who sets very high, but reasonable, expectations for his students. You are demonstrating, by transferring Jon Greenberg from a place where he can prepare students for college, careers, and life, that you don't value what the district you represent stands for. As a former student, and future educator, I am disappointed in the path you have chosen to take in this matter, and I hope you take my words to heart. Please strongly reconsider your choice to transfer Jon Greenberg from the place in which he has inspired amazing and positive change in the world."

Concerned Teacher Educator

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for sharing your son's letter. Understandably you are proud as your son will make an outstanding educator.