Oakland Educators in Seattle To Talk about Successful Discipline Program

This fell off my radar when I saw it weeks ago but the City invited Oakland educators who have a proven program to help solve the issue of disproportional discipline for minority students in a holistic way.

The four speakers are from Oakland School District including a public safety officer.

There are two public forums tomorrow, Friday, July 17th.
  • 11:30 am-1:00 pm at City Hall  (no lunch served, bring yours with you)
  • 5:30-7:30 pm at South Shore Pre-K-8.  There will be food at this event, starting at 5:30 pm with the program starting at 6:00 pm.
If you want to learn more:


Lynn said…
Weird. How and where does the city intend to use the information they get from Oakland? The city doesn't run any schools.
Anonymous said…
The city doesn't run any schools. The city does have committees on race and social justice. They sent some of these people to Seattle Public Schools. Some of them were installed as members of the Positive Climate and Discipline Advisory Committee. This was a way of insulating the district from actually doing anything. The committee's agenda was driven by people like Pat Sanders, and she was effective in that she prevented the committee from actually addressing any issues that they wanted to address or providing them with any meaningful information. Loaded with white people and a few people with Asian American heritage, aka peacenik drummer circle types, there was no collective fire in the belly to get anything done and no means to hold the district accountable. Supt Nyland disbanded the committee at the beginning of the year and has stonewalled on any further action.

Apparently an African American male think tank has been assembled. Who knows who these people are and if they are also similarly bound hand and foot by the district? Or if they have been given a pre-assigned agenda which doesn't involve any parents or students' agendas?

Oakland parents were able to rise up and demand action. The district was able to work out a deal with the DOE to resolve their OCR discipline disproportionality investigation within a few months. Not so Seattle. We're now at 3+ years. We lack the will. Banda met with Mark Niles, the former Dean of Seattle University School of Law as well as, the ACLU, and brought john powell up here, the lawyer from Berkely who worked on Oakland's voluntary resolution. But we're too polite, Too quiet. And way too white. Most of us don't care and most tellingly, we won't put our money where our mouths are.

Programs to end discipline disproportionality cost money. There needs to be district-wide training which the district refuses to engage in or pay for. Until OCR takes the district to court, we will continue to get dog and pony shows from both the city and the district.

Kids in this district will continue to suffer until that happens. Until Nyland or someone on the school board gets a spine and decides to make it a priority, nothing will change. Suspending suspensions is only one step. It's hiring more teachers who are black. It's training the teachers and putting programs into place that will really make a difference. This is where the rubber meets the road, and this is where if the city is serious, it should put its money.

Anonymous said…
For another perspective, you may want to read, "New discipline rules make schools less safe."


n said…
Misbehaviors need consequences. Those consequences need to take into consideration the offense, the student, and the student's age. Children can be very manipulative and the longer you work with them, the less inclined you become to treat them like little darlings. I love my work and my kids but I also know them. Several times parents have intervened on behalf of children they don't even know because they judge with little information. We have a new secretary who was a parent of mine who actually intervened improperly with a student I had calmed down and who was taking responsibility for his actions because she knew him in K and thought she could do better. He was crying and blaming others again before he even got off the playground. Now that she works with them all day long, she realizes that kids are not innocent, frail or naive. They are pretty darn smart.

Poverty and race do not mitigate having to follow the rules. But the rules must be just and applied fairly to all children. If more poor and/or minority kids end up getting consequences, that's a societal problem and not a school problem.

I agree there are school staff who do not always apply consequences fairly. But just because the numbers are slanted in one direction or another doesn't mean that one group is getting picked on more than another. Man, it's like a fine balance where you have to know all the actors involved very, very well. But students' actions speak for themselves and no one should be afraid to levy deserved consequences whatever it looks like to outsiders. The parent who mishandled the first grader in my above anecdote was an enabler more than a helper or teacher.

Early in my teaching career, I was one of three subs who refused to stay at a school in Seattle. An out-of-control fifth grade class. Funny because I was a favorite at Cooper which had a large Samoan population. Yet at Leschi, the school at which I refused to remain, was totally out of control, disrespectful, and even physical. Had the school taken out the couple of really disruptive kids, I think the rest of us could have had a pretty good learning experience. but the few jokers made it impossible to have any kind of management. And I was a pretty strong manager from the beginning. Perhaps I should have had the courage or knowing to call the principal and get them out of there. I never thought of that being an option at that time. Since I was the third sub who refused to stay, you'd have thought the principal would have been already involved.
Anonymous said…
Real discipline improvements will take more counselors or assistants in classrooms to work with disruptive students. Otherwise, keeping kids in class who are distracting others will not benefit anyone.
Does the district have either the resources or the will to do this correctly? Call me skeptical.
S parent
Anonymous said…
No one wants to do anything but kick the can down the road. As a sub myself the list grows every year with schools I will not go to due to lack of support. Kids don't need to be thrown out but they need guidance and help. The schools admin is to blame the adult in the room so I avoid those rooms.

It would take money and the appropriate training and available resources to implement a comprehensive program like Oakland has and guess what we can't even decide on a math curriculum.

Here are the standard responses when a kid is disruptive:

We need to investigate what led to this
We need you to know when you used this "word" it is a trigger word and the student felt threatened/afraid/etc
We need you to know that you don't understand our children
We need you to do to the "fill in the school way"

Okay I have seen kids thrown in black out rooms, kids taken out in cuffs, kids throwing shit, screaming, kids simply refusing to do anything. And this is after good morning. My favorite was the kid with the squirt gun. Interesting.

Seattle Public Schools is now trying mindfulness. Funny when I tried that I was called racist for teaching anti christian thinking. I got it from the school site itself have sat through it in other schools and this is school is down the street from a Buddhist Temple that teaches it.

I have seen kids run amok and when you touch them to calm them down you are then accused of striking them. The language the schools seem to love is you "touched the child" which implies a whole other kind of touching.

I have said you really need to shut up to a kid when the language and vulgarity got to a point of distressing.. 2 weeks later came the write up.. you said "shut up" to a child. Never found out what led me to say it that wasn't the issue and why as that might be a good question and two weeks later..

All of the schools have haphazard discipline, faux drama and other problems that seem to be ignored when someone has the audacity and temerity to say "excuse me I need help here"

My favorite was another sub in an adjacent class called for help for a student was told he was an angel and she will be investigated but they removed him to the Principals office where minutes later we heard "I need help STAT" and the kid was trashing the Principals office. Guess his wings fell off.

I have had kids returned to hide in closets, under desks behind furniture then come out and say I am going to get you.

Yes it is all my fault and white privilege. My privilege is going on food stamps, eating a churches, not getting medical care or owning a car to earn largely minimum wage with a Masters Degree. It is all my fault. I am very sorry if the SPD would gun me down in the street it would solve many problems.

- Old Timer
Sub, that is very sad. I think discipline is difficult especially if parents don't trust teachers to control their classrooms. But everyone on the district side is afraid of a lawsuit.

I did hear of a case where a young student (like 6 or 7) was being verbally abusive to a volunteer parent, the parent told the child not to speak to her like that and the parent got called out by the principal. I think that is also tough for parents who want to help but also don't want kids being rude.

Anonymous said…
Restorative justice processes seem to have been piloted at Garfield High School this past school year:


Laura S. said…
I work at a mostly white school where white boys are taken out in hand-cuffs, spit, hide, say rude things, etc.. I think it is easy to be white and work at a white school and see this behavior from white boys and not label this as a white problem but see the individual student as the problem. The minute you are in a school with children from a different race, then race gets noticed. But low-income, non-white students, in my experience working on both sides of the track, misbehave as much as their white counter-parts. How have these comments about misbehaving children been added to this thread about racial equity? The real difference I have noticed, and I have genuinely noticed this, is that black students (regardless of race) are more quickly suspended than white kids. Why? I literally have seen evidence of this again and again. I had a black boy who tried to trip a white boy as the boy was lining up from recess. He was suspended. The following year, a white boy tried to trip another white boy. What did he get? A warning. I ask you, why do you think this is?
Laura, that's certainly the point. Why do non-white kids have harsher or longer discipline than white students?
Anonymous said…
I was the one who discussed my experiences as a sub. Never once did I mention race. I have been accused of racism only once and that was at a racially mixed school, a K-8 over the mindfulness lesson.

And the rest were all mixed schools as this is well Seattle. Remember the rape of the girl at Roosevelt a few years back? Well I have been there and had a mixed bag. My favorite was the rolling up of a granola bar and leaving it in the room like a piece of human waste. Charming.. never forget that day that was the same day as Sandy Hook. This was the Drama kids.

I had a drama student at Garfield tell me I should be dead and that I had nothing to say of importance and should be ignored who was hiding behind curtains the entire period. He was white and it was the students of color who massively apologized and were kind to me. When I told the administration I was told "I don't understand their students" And clearly I don't given what I have read on this blog and in the press about "their" students.

As for parent volunteers I was at a Middle School when a student lost it in the cafeteria and she ran out/around the building, the police were called. This was not in the south end. The volunteers were there as they were everyday. They too are exposed to this and you see few and far between a problem schools as well they don't have the luxury of a non working parent but they too see/hear all.

Then we have the odd volunteers that are either p/t employees from the varying groups (what is that one with the red jackets?) who see quite a bit and have no authority nor protections..so they stay clear.

We are in denial about the problems. Denial. I have seen it all in all the schools across the district as I am in them all. Shortage of subs. No. There is a shortage of subs that will go to all the schools. There are over 700 subs classified (got that number from the worthless union and the sub office as well and perhaps we do have 700 vacancies a day) but they pick and choose. And most are afraid to speak up as they are afraid of losing their jobs.

I get it as I am the same but I simply cannot stay here anymore I have no family nor support mechanism such as a husband/wife/fill in the blank. I am not so lucky. I am done. I can't afford to live here anymore as I wait in the same food bank lines as many of the kids parents..they are not the problem. The students of color see me at the Safeway with my food stamp card and say to me "nothing to be ashamed of" Yet students of white kids wish I were dead.

Sorry but again if the Police would gun me down in the streets I am sure that would be welcome.

- Old Timer

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