Sunday, April 17, 2016

Field Trips and Mayoral Takeover of the School Board; From the Times

The Times had two items of note this weekend; one is an editorial and the other is an article.

The article is about field trips and how difficult it is to write a comprehensive policy that everyone can understand and cover.  I feel like this commenter, Teresa A., at the Times:
"Without clear guidelines, some teachers and parents say, districts and individual teachers open themselves up to liability."

This is all that is really needed.  IF students know what the expectations are AND they know with absolute certainty that the teacher will check on them  and enforce those rules AND they know with absolute certainty that they will immediately be sent home (at their parents expense) if they violate the rules AND they know that no amount of whining will change the teachers mind, then 99% of the students will follow the rules with no problems.  That is all that any reasonable person can expect.

Students are going to try and break the rules, that's part of the young pushing the boundaries and that's a good thing for a our society.  However, as adults it's our job to make sure that they are safe in how they push those boundaries and to only let them push so far before we stop them.  This does not always lead to being the "popular or fun" teacher.  I imagine, from the many problems they have there, that Garfield has a culture of "fun" field trips where the rules are not enforced. As someone who now has to do more paperwork for my field trips as a result of these mistakes, I say that it's way past time for that culture to change not just at Garfield but across the district.
Naturally anything can happen if you have kids who choose to break the rules.  But, yes, if the adults, both teachers and chaperones, have followed the guidelines and rules, then everyone can say they did their jobs and the students chose to ignore the rules they were given.  But the adults are the ones who set the tone for a field trip so it starts with them.

The editorial is about the Mayor's looming education summit.  I say "looming" because there seems to be a ramp-up to this event (which is fine but that no one know what to expect is troubling. I also note that the district and board were not the only ones left out.  I went to Councilman Mike O'Brien's community meeting on Friday and he said there was no communication from the Mayor's office to - at least - his office on participation.  Hmm.)

Here's what the Times thinks:
Broadening that role to governance — granting the mayor power to appoint School Board members, for example — should be added to the topic list. But Murray says he’s not putting that “on the table,” and seems weary at the prospect of the political battles that would ensue in Seattle and in the Legislature, which would have to grant that power.
Here's what I said in the comments section on that:

Times, please stop with the takeover of the school board and take your cue from Murray.  It would be a very unpleasant fight and one that would not serve him as mayor or our city.  I hope the mayor keeps that idea completely off the table.

Also, the Times claims the only "role" the city has in "improving Seattle Schools" is the Families and Education levy.  What?  First, they seem to have forgotten (or are unaware) that the pre-k levy has become quite a large conversation in SPS to the point where it appears childcare is being pushed out for pre-k in some K-5 schools.

Two, the education conversation meeting I attended named several things the City could be doing to support families (which supports students).  It's things like getting their own policing of youth in order, health, safety around schools, housing and jobs for youth.

The City has ALWAYS had a role in public education in this city.

The Times also reported that Murray mentioned a couple of specifics the City could be doing like "...could help ease the district’s capacity crunch by offering city land for new schools."  That would be great but as I reminded the Times, the initial HALA report had said any space in city buildings that might be used for education would go to charter schools.

Now after I called that out, that word "charter" mysteriously disappeared. I couldn't find anyone who could tell me how it got there in the first place or who pulled it.  Now it just says "public schools."

So I'm a little wary of who would get what city land.

The final upcoming education conversation meetings ( I think the ones at Garfield and Hale should be great if the students are running them):

• Tuesday, April 19, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Garfield High School, 400 23rd Ave. To be facilitated by students.
• Wednesday, April 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nathan Hale High School, 10750 30th Ave NE. To be facilitated by students.
• Tuesday, April 26, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S Myrtle St. Sponsored by Seattle Education Association.
• Tuesday, April 26, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Ave. NE. Sponsored by Seattle Education Association.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An annual, overnight field trip to Camp Orkila for 5th graders at Stevens Elementary was cancelled today because of a stated "procedural snafu". This field trip has happened for 14+ years and kids start hearing about the moment they join the school. It's complete bs. All the paperwork has been in for months. Parents have paid. Kids were planning on hopping on buses in two short weeks and then a cold email from Principal Archer--who has been MIA--with no apology just this year it ain't happening and talk to my boss.

The whispers tell a different story which is that the teachers had concerns over the behavior of a few students. They asked the administration for help. There was a lack of support from admin and SPS... a refusal to develop safety plans or appropriate support for students struggling with severe behavior challenges and viola, the solution-- cancel camp and make kids cry. Bravo SPS, you never do fail to disappoint.

I hope somebody looks into this charade a bit deeper.

-not impressed