Franklin High Students Asked to Sign "Convenant"

This apparently happened yesterday and the reactions are quite interesting.  The document is below this text.

From the Soup for Teachers Facebook page:

  - Meg Richman I teach at Franklin. This was clumsy. It is a part of an initiative to focus on the achievement gap that hurts African American students the hardest. There was an assembly to get buy-in from the kids for an extra push on everyone's part. Lack of foresight about how it would be received, but it came from an honest and caring place. 
Teachers BTW were not consulted.

Really? The district and schools don't know this is a sensitive issue and aren't clearly thinking these things out?

- reaction at Facebook

KT Jones But that's the inherent problem, right? Good intentions are great but the actions are damaging. This letter sends the message that black parents don't know how to prepare their students for college. It is beyond insulting and it is a crying shame that the teachers were not involved in the decision. There could have been outreach from the teachers to the community to ask the parents if they needed support and what they needed support with. Instead they were left with insinuations and degradation.

Odetta Owen Exactly. I can't grasp the mindset that says this is helpful or respectful. On the eve of a BLM event where families and PTSA's were not invited to collaborate with the District and SEA this is bad timing and shows lack of insight. While I believe the words that intentions were well placed I am worried about the lack of understanding possessed by the decision makers. Equally disturbing is the consistent pattern of attempting solutions without inviting parents/families to the table.

Ms. Owen is right... for so many issues, not just the opportunity gap.  This district has a real habit of believing they know best and it seems to backfire a lot.

From 100 Black Parents:

So there is a letter/agreement given to African American Students at Franklin HS that is being shared tonight. After talking to some folks and getting MORE BACKGROUND and CONTEXT here is what it is: 1) The letter that is being shared is being taken out of context. 2) It is not from the PRINCIPLE (sic) but rather a part of an overall program: Keeping It 100: GET SMART that is seeking success for STUDENTS OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR and 3) It is just one of MANY Community Partners in the building (see List) 4) If you are a PARENT IN THE BUILDING have not seen this paperwork, then you need to be more involved in the building or at least call the school to see what's going on. The program CLEARLY seeks to involve BLACK PARENTS by asking them to check their child's grades in the Source. Once again we prove that we are the BEST at being #REACTIVE but have a ways to go in being #PROACTIVE

This is all fine and well but again, the principals and the district should be working together and if there are outside partnerships, everything should be vetted thru the district.

- KING 5 story
One parent, Timika Anderson, said her 17-year-old daughter brought the form home two weeks ago. Anderson said her daughter was upset that the form was passed out only to black students. A similar form was sent home for their parents to sign, but the words “African American” were left out, making the form appear to be more general.
Parents and students tell us African American families were invited to an assembly after school to explain what the staff is doing to improve graduation rates at school. 
The principal, Dr. Jennifer Wiley, declined an interview with KING 5.
Seattle NAACP President Gerald Hankerson said the covenant, on its own, is particularly troubling in the way it appears to put the onus on the student, not the school.

"The problem is, if you're going to have straight talk and a conversation with these families and these kids, but you're not willing to admit your failures as an institution, that's where the problem begins," Hankerson said,
Late Tuesday, Seattle Public Schools released a statement, that read, in part, "After meeting with senior students, Franklin staff discontinued the covenant as it proved to be a distraction from their original intent which is to increase efforts and support for African American students and ensure college readiness."

"In addition, a parent/community advisory group is under development to increase the school’s collective wisdom, inform their practices and build capacity to reach the goal of 100% of African American students college ready."
My question is - who's on first?  How does the district allow this kind of mistaken thinking to happen?


Anonymous said…
As a former Franklin parent, I am not surprised at all. My daughter graduated last year and the "well intentioned" missteps by Dr. Wiley we oberved and were directly impacted by had a huge negative effect on her during her senior year. Her leadership at the school, from my viewpoint, was extremely ineffective and it seemed like many of the teachers either didn't respect her or didn't feel supported by her. As a parent of a black student, I would have been absolutely offended and incensed by this convenant. And according to my daughter, who is still very connected to FHS current students via social media, the kids are pretty offended too. Frankly, I would like to see her fired but they'll probably just promote her to ED, if anything.

~(former)Franklin Parent
Anonymous said…
She (principal) seems anew like a total ideologue. Espousing either/or platforms like this suggests that she has to be retired.

Jet City mom said…
I like Jennie and I was on the original committee that hired her into the district, as a principal for Summit-K-12, ( actually I voted for someone who was much experienced, he had been a superintendent for a district in Eastern Washington, but the fact that he also was a minister, although I was confident that wouldnt be a concern, seemed to throw the others on the hiring committee- but he reminded me of Mr Rogers- who also had been a minister) Who would turn down Mr Rogers?!?

But, I did feel that she cared about the students, however she made multiple very bad decisions during her tenure at Summit, that affected many students. Some might have even gotten her fired in another district.
It's a shame.

She has always felt strongly about Franklin, in fact her resume that we recieved from the district, named Franklin as the achool she wanted to work at. But frankly, I attributed her earlier issues to youth and inexperience, but 15 + yrs later, it sounds like she is not learning from her experiences.
Jet City mom said…
The probably was in reference to the suggesting of a promotion.
who will go to Lander first?
THIII or Jennie?
Anonymous said…
I think it's time for the board to remove Nyland, these type racial faux pas by the district are not acceptable. Come on school board do your job and fire Nyland!

Fire Nyland
Elsa said…
Episodes such as this are bound to continue as long as her E.D. is Sarah Pritchett who should be fired with Wiley. We suffered through 3 years of the lack of leadership at Franklin and tell others to avoid it.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Whoa! First, I have heard many good things about Principal Wiley.

Second, yes, this "document" is not good and I don't get why someone didn't think it thru.

Third,we don't name-call so that last comment is gone.
Anonymous said…
I heard, people have told me, I have read..

Hmm who says that a lot....

- Left of Center
Anonymous said…
How come the calling for staff to be fired isn't namecalling?

You should be fired Melissa.

Namecaller, because it's talking about their professional performance. You can disagree.

As for me being fired, there aren't a lot of benefits to this work but not having a boss or funders is one of them.
Anonymous said…
This blog is famous for its witch hunting under faux activism.. you are a blogger not a journalist or an investigator for any law firm or organization yet you have repeatedly named names and called people out.. free speech and all that I guess or hypocrisy take your pick

- Name Called
Yes, it is called the First Amendment.

And, for the most part, this blog is a place for free expression that you will not get almost anywhere else.

I have never said I was a journalist - I'm a citizen-reporter. (As for investigator, I actually did do a brief stint as that.)
Anonymous said…
I am often confused about the question of whether Melissa considers herself a journalist or not. I appreciate the clarity with "citizen-reporter." Melissa, you often write about frustration with not being issued media access to SPS events. Can you say more about this? I wondered if SPS wants to have some assurance of the reporting standards for the people/organizations it grants press passes to, and if the "gray area" of your journalism status is the stumbling block. Or is there a set of standards/protocols (appropriate to your medium and standing) that you follow? I wouldn't be surprised if watchdog and citizen reporter bloggers had created some common guidelines for their work.

Trying to learn about "New Media"
Anonymous said…
Yes I am quite aware of your "stint" as a Public Defender investigator. Was that for here in King County and which division. I have a friend who is in fact an investigator for the PD unit and she has never heard of you.

Then we have blogger.. of which many have claims to fame. Andrew Sullivan is one, Erick Erickson and others whom have made successful forays into Television journalism and some print medium.

And you are who exactly?

- Name Called
Anonymous said…
Name Called - get over it. This is a privately-run blog by Melissa and Charlie. They both do a tremendous job collecting information and attending meetings of the Seattle School District. They have their biases - as do all of us. They do not need to defend themselves to anyone.

If you don't like their point of view or the other people who comment here, you are free to not come here. You are also free to create your own blog and distribute your own information.

Anonymous said…
But seriously, this principal's actions are quite ominous. Who goes after an entire group based on a physical characteristic? It shows me that whatever her commitments are to equity and social justice, her toolkit has failed and she is floundering. She is falling back on ideologue behaviors as others have said in this thread. So in the end sure, let's just blame the students.

I am just really surprised/concerned that there is not more activism on this blog on this matter. Thank you for posting about it originally, Melissa and Charlie.

Charlie Mas said…
There are certainly smart ways to go about closing the opportunity gap. The smart ways provide additional support where it is needed without calling people out or labelling them.

This pledge - without the words "African-American" - could have gone to every student. And, if it had, it would have been recognized as worthless, meaningless, lip service and ignored completely. By including the race-specific language and distributing it exclusively to the Black students, it is recognized as not only worthless, but stereo-typing and derogatory. Yay team!

Aren't all of the items in this pledge already listed among the Student Rights and Responsibilities?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
New Media, I had an issue several years back when the district did not want to allow me into press events. Other reporters (actual journalists which I have NEVER called myself) took up my cause and I have been allowed in ever since. Because blogging is part of the media landscape, many government entities recognize bloggers as media. Naturally there are many more well-known education bloggers than me.

I will note that Senator Murray and other legislators have allowed me into their events (indeed Murray's office secured a press pass for me to go to an event for President Obama) and former Mayor McGinn allowed me into press conferences (I only went to ones that had some relationship to schools.) But Mayor Murray does not allow me in nor will the press office answer any questions. I guess it depends on who is in office.

This issue this week around allowing media into any school event around Black Lives Matter day was not just me - it was everyone. But you'll see from the Friday Open Thread that Ann Dornfeld at KUOW asked Highline SD and she got a powerful piece from it.

Name called, move on. I don't have to explain or justify my work to you or anyone else.
Anonymous said…
SPS is focused on an African American achievement gap more than an achievement gap of income. But research that has demonstrated the black/white achivement gap has narrowed past 30 years, while an income achievement gap has grown wider. Reardon (Stanford)
But additional research shows that the gap varies between whites/blacks depending upon where they live. So in affluent cities (Seattle comes to mind), the gap between blacks/whites is wider. This is likely because whites are richer in these cities. Important research with wide implications for small town, rural America, small cities versus large rich cities.
"Richer places have bigger achievement gaps than poorer places, all else being equal--which is quite striking and disturbing, since you'd hope that those places that have the most resources would be most effective at reducing the gaps, but in fact they seem to have the largest gaps," Reardon"
Anonymous said…
""Richer places have bigger achievement gaps than poorer places, all else being equal--which is quite striking and disturbing" Funny, I'm not disturbed at all.

In richer places people dive more expensive cars and live in more expensive homes.
Some people work for a living, perhaps they might have started out mowing lawns. In other places people take end-less government handouts all the while complaining. They never seem to take any responsibility for their own situation.

Broken record
Anonymous said…
So signing your name to a promise is "lip service?" Good to know.

-Always learning

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