Friday Open Thread

A tough week in celebrity loss - Alan Rickman, Professor Snape from the Harry Potter films, died this week.  One of the last uses of his many talents was doing a voiceover for a viral video to raise money for refugees (and all you have to do is watch the video.) 

In the "awww" department, these Minnesota Star Tribune has this story of empathy about a class of first-graders who wrote/drew letters of sympathy and encouragement to Vikings kicker Blair Walsh (who muffed a field goal kick that would have defeated the Seahawks last week in the final seconds of the game.)  I note that Mr. Walsh took all the blame for the loss but he was also the only Viking to score any points in the game.

Very sad story out of Everett from the Herald Tribune about a family torn apart by their Eagle Scout son's addiction to drugs.  He overdosed in his dorm room at Eastern Washington University shortly before Thanksgving and died in a hospice shortly after that.  He had taken an overdose of cocaine and Xanax.  Drug addiction, especially to prescription drugs and heroin, is huge in this country and has even been a subject of discussion by presidential candidates on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
In 2000, black Americans aged 45-64 had the highest death rate for drug poisoning involving heroin. Now, white people aged 18-44 have the highest rate. The share of people who say they have used heroin in the past year is actually decreasing for non-whites.
Speaking of the presidential campaign, Common Core came up in last night's Republican debate between Marco Rubio and Chris Christie with Rubio using CC as one of the things that Christie "is for." Christie said he was wrong and CC isn't in New Jersey any more.  The Rachel Maddow show, in fact-checking the candidates, said Christie statement is not true.

From the Washington Post, attention high school teachers/administrators:
If you’re an educator at a public high school that closes opportunity gaps, please set aside a couple hours between now and Jan. 20 to nominate your school for recognition as a “School of Opportunity.” The application itself is very straightforward and can be completed online. Any public school anywhere in the United States is eligible if it includes the high school grades and serves at least 10 percent students eligible for free or reduced priced meals.
The applications page is on the project website, where you can also read profiles of the schools recognized last year. We will be accepting new applications until Jan. 20.
From the Times, a good interview with SPS parent and one of the founders of Washington's Paramount Duty, Eden Mack.

SPS heads-up to everyone but especially SPS parents about Aurora/99 - there will be one lane closed in each direction for several weeks.

The following schools could be effected (sic) directly: Licton Springs, Cascadia, B.F. Day, Hamilton, Coe, Queen Anne, McClure, John Hay, Catharine Blaine, and Lawton. 

  • SPS bus drivers will begin their days earlier than usual to ensure buses get to stops on time
  • Pick up and drop off times will remain the same
  • SPS is working with WSDOT and the City of Seattle to proactively plan ahead for all phases of this construction project
This is an interesting field trip that West Woodland Elementary students are taking today (from SPS Communications):
Third graders at West Woodland Elementary School will take a unique field trip tomorrow afternoon, to Nickelsville, the homeless encampment in Ballard. The students are actively experiencing their social studies unit, Democracy in Action, which focuses on communities.

To extend their community learning, students opted to study the very real issue of homelessness in Ballard, focusing on Nickelsville. They took up a collection from the entire school and will walk to hand deliver supplies including bottled water, socks, flashlights, hand warmers, protein bars and more, to the encampment.
Saturday Community meetings; one with Director Geary at the Montlake Library from 11 am-1 pm and one with Director Harris at the SW Library from 3-4:30 pm.

What's on your mind?


Christina said…
I'm surprised there are Seattle neighborhoods where the schoolchildren have to venture out of to find tent encampments. I see miles of tent encampments under freeway overpasses and in several Seattle parks. I itch to correct SPS Communications' use of "the" tent encampment community to "a".

If the problems of affordability and housing remained and worsened a few mayors after Greg Nickels, why haven't the encampment names changed? Am I the only one who perceives much more evidence of homelessness beyond "Nickelsville"?
Jet City mom said…
Ive seen recent collaborations of students with those who are discriminated against in some way, and while I think it is important for everyone to learn and practice compassion, I did start thinkng about what would be even more helpful, because I also see people being divided into fortunate/ unfortunate, when we start talking about divisors of income, race and religion.

My thoughts are that everyone needs to learn, that everyone has a purpose and worth, just by being human, including themselves.
They don't need to be tops in their class, or constantly make their parents proud, to be loved and valued.
When people feel compassion for themselves, they are more likely to be able to show it to others.
( Ive been reading about the cluster of suicides in Palo Alto, in the Atlantic)

Being self indulgent, isnt the same thing. People who are egocentric, actually strike me as being very psychologically needy, because that s an immature stage of development.

While I think it is great that the 8yr olds at West Woodland are helping the folks in the encampment with supplies, it also would be cool if they invited them to work in their food garden, maybe even finding a way to make some raised beds ( using something like whiskey barrels or those horse trough looking things that are every where now), and discover together what are the best things to grow?
Herbs are pretty easy to grow, and can go along way toward making food bank meals more palatable.
Jet City mom said…
Christina, my impression of the various places where we have folks living in unaddressed motorhomes, parks, etc, is that they can be a fairly motley crew, and not a place necessarily appropriate for young children or even where they would be welcomed.

The encampments are sanctioned by the city, and there are regulations and guidelines for living there.
Yes, they could find people living closer to the school, squatting in vacant houses, aleeping in bushes by the zoo, or for instance in the panel truck that houses a mobile chop shop that is now behind Goodwill.
What sort of community response would you envison had the teacher decided to take the children there?
Anonymous said…
Jet City,
First thing people do when diverse communities connect is: make a connection. That is what these 3rd graders are doing. They are opening their eyes to the problem and thinking of a way they can do their part. The idea you have sounds great! It would be a great thing that inter-generational groups could do--build herb gardens or container gardens. Maybe not something a 3rd grade teacher could undertake with 30 kids.
Ballard Worker
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know how to find the last day of the semester on the District Website? I called IT, and they are not in charge of the website. I sent an email to the webmaster. I am sure I could phone and ask, but I think it should be easy to find on the website. All sorts of dates are showing, but that date is very important for getting missing work turned in to teachers.
Weird, NE Mom, it used to always be on the calendar. Is there a teacher who knows?
Lynn said…
Have you looked at the calendar on your school's website? (It's on Garfield's as February 5th.)
Jet City mom said…
Teachers don't always accept work up to the end of the qtr.

It looks like last day of semester is 1/28.
I found a pdf, but I cant get the link to copy on my ipad.

Jet City mom said…
Lets see of this works.

Well kinda.
Lynn said…
That's the calendar published before the strike. (The full week break in February is on there.)
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the Feb. 5 date, Lynn. I posted here on this blog to vent, and because I am sure that SPS reads this blog--maybe they will do something. The pdf did not look updated to me on the website. Don't you think they've had enough time to update after the strike by now? I can follow up with my kids on their homework that is missing or due, but it should be available easily without a long search...equity for all??? Grades can't be changed in high school very easily if at all.
Anonymous said…
Since the change, the school websites are terrible. Most of the information that was there can no longer be found or accessed. I too have been looking for the semester end date and having no luck at Hale's website or at the District website.

Patrick said…
Call your school's office?
Anonymous said…
Yes, Jane Addams school web page shows that Feb. 5 is last day of second quarter/last day of semester.
Jet City mom said…
What the hell is the district doing with money to supposedly update technology and increase admin costs if they can't even have n accurate calendar available, months after changes were made?
Patrick said…
Not just the calendar. The staff pages for each school used to have brief bios and email addresses and phone numbers. Now it's just a name, nothing else.

Sometimes I think the District deliberately paid for the website work to make themselves more opaque and unavailable. Other times I think it's shear incompetence. Either way, it's bad.
Joe Wolf said…
Response to Jet City Mom:

The RV-as-homes parked in a sort of impromptu encampment along 3rd/Occidental (street on the east side of JSCEE) are home to several families with kids in SPS. I see our First Student yellow buses picking them up in the morning.

I don't know the rules/regs at the "official" encampments but it's a fair bet there are SPS students among the residents. Those in Ballard would be (K-5) students at Adams or West Woodland, depending on the encampment's street address.
Watching said…
Our local middle school serves 60 homeless students. The school provides backpacks filled with food for these students/families. The family support worker take these kids for haircuts and provides clothing. It is heart breaking to watch.

The city is about to host some type of educational forum. No doubt, there will be nicely dressed dignitaries shaking hands, eating rubber chicken and wondering how to support high risk students. Another round table. I wish the city would just provide these families with a roof over their head.
Jet City mom said…
Yes, we used to have homeless students at BF day, and there was enough of a cohort so that resources could be offered to better assist them.
Now the district wants to have them split around the city.
Im aware that some kds are lving in rvs. On a friends street in Loyal heights for example, where they are allowed to use a nearby outlet for a crockpot, and are often fed by neighbors.
But Im also aware that some of the RVs are used to manufacture drugs, and I wouldnt want kids to be exposed to the toxins in that environment.

You are probably already aware of Marys Plac?
Jet City mom said…
Its too bad that we also can't pay a little more attention to those who are at risk of losing their home.
For example, United Way no longer supports services that serve the disabled and senior citizens.
but that may be part.of Seattles larger plan, to reclaim single family housing, that perhaps does not fit with the current demographic of the neighborhood, and use that plot to build high cost apartments.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know anything about the school district's proposal to eliminate 19 on-site before and afterschool programs next year? I just heard about this while picking my kindergartener up yesterday. I was told that the district wants to use the space to reduce class size. Of course that is very important. However, affordable on-site childcare is a necessity for many families where all caregivers work. This is the only info that I've been able to find:

I am concerned that not many people seem to know about this. (It was just by chance I became aware.) It's not clear to me which schools make up the 19 that are at risk for program closures. The timing of when centers & families would be notified would likely cause a lot of hardship. Sounds like people wouldn't be notified until later in the spring. I know first hand that there is very little availability of extended care available after initial enrollment periods because my family was unable to accept a spot at a different school we applied for during open enrollment d/t lack of affordable before/afterschool care available for that school.

Curious if anyone knows more about this?

Anonymous said…
People have asked in the past what the Nathan Hale Foundation supports:

Nathan Hale High School Foundation - Annual Campaign

The Nathan Hale Foundation raises money to supplement the gaps in the budget that allows Nathan Hale to support all students to become thoughtful, thinking, skillful citizens. These funds:

Allow the 9th grade academy to continue to create the type of environment that creates a building block of success that three years later turns out one of the highest number of senior graduation rates in the Seattle Public Schools.
Provide library and e-books
Support Writers in the Schools and the Homework Help Center and a drug and alcohol counsel

Funds teacher grants that allow the:

Upgrade of Hale technical equipment such as iPads, digital and video cameras for class projects
Provision of supplies for the nurse and counselors
Purchase additional textbooks and classroom materials and manipulatives
Ability to buy a color printer

The annual appeal has gone out today in the Hale newsletter from the principal (used to be the weekly call but that was nixed by legal).

Tee, we have discussed the 19 b/a school care classrooms here. The district has not put out a list and, as you note, not really said much at all. Board members on the Ex. Ctm have urged them to get out in front of this and give parents and caregivers as much notice as possible.

On the one hand, the district seems to have trouble with enrollment numbers and where the growth is so it may be hard for them to say for certain where they may cut.

On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion this is about pre-k space for the City's Pre-K program (at least for a few spaces.)

If I were you, I'd write the Board and tell them of your concern.

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