Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

The bus strike continues.  What are you seeing/hearing at your school?  From the district:

As the bus strike continues, we want to acknowledge the burden on Seattle families. More than 12,000 of our 54,000 students ride a First Student bus. The strike hits these families hard. We hear your frustration. 

We have been asked what the district can do. 

Student safety comes first. The best way forward is for the union and First Student to quickly settle their dispute. Until they do so, the safest transportation option remains with what families and their communities of support can provide. 

Some First Student drivers have decided not to strike. As they report to work, we are asking First Student to prioritize bus routes that serve students in special education and those in underserved communities (e.g. Title I schools). As of Monday, Feb. 5, about 70 of the 395 regular First Student drivers had completed approximately 260 daily routes (including both bell tiers). 

For now, the best course of action is urging both sides to find middle ground. We will use the website and social media Facebook and Twitter pages to provide regular updates. Thank you for your continued patience.
The district is looking for volunteers for their Family Engagement Task Force.

Seattle Public Schools is seeking members for the Family Engagement Task Force, which will convene from February until May 2018. The application deadline is Feb. 19, 2018.

The Family Engagement Task Force was formed to bring the district's family engagement work into alignment and identify areas for additional support. 

More information about the task force and application is available online and can be translated with the dropdown menu on the top right corner of the website. If you have questions, please email familypartnerships@seattleschools.org
From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page:

 The much-needed Equity for HiCap bill (SHB 2927) is in trouble.

Our best chance is making PHONE CALLS to the following two people (script below):
Please call before 10am this morning if possible, but still call even if it's later in the day.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, Chair of Appropriations committee, (360) 786-7946
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Chair of Education committee, (360) 786-7944

Script (speak politely but with passion, feel free to edit or just read it as is):
I am calling in support of SHB 2927, Equity for HiCap, and ask that it be heard in appropriations today. This bill is essential to pass this session, it is a social justice issue. Without this bill, districts can continue to discriminate against low-income students, english language learners, homeless and migrant students, students of color, and students with disabilities - who are more than twice as likely to NOT be identified for highly capable programs, even if they have the SAME level of achievement. This bill mandates equitable practices for districts - and they really work.  Please pass SHB 2927 through appropriations before the deadline. Thank you.
Please drop what you are doing, and make a quick call right now.

What's om your mind?


Anonymous said...

To call this bill "Equity for HiCap" is one of the most ridiculous, cynical things I've ever seen. Access to a label and separate track is not equity. Access to a good education for all students IS equity. This bill is misguided and expensive!

Be ashamed

Melissa Westbrook said...

How is this a separate track?

Anonymous said...

@ Be ashamed, avoiding labels doesn't make these kids any more like their typical age/grade classmates--it just makes them less likely to receive appropriate services. I suppose you think identifying ELL students as such and providing them special services is also inequitable? Or special ed services?

"Providing access to a good education for all students" requires acknowledging that not all students need the same thing.

But yes, the proposed bill would be expensive, and it's vague enough that it might not accomplish the intended goal anyway. If it doesn't pass, perhaps they can focus on strengthening the cheaper components, such as requiring local norms based on specific criteria (rather than the current vagueness).

Not ashamed

Anonymous said...

MW, I'm waiting for your commentary on CM Sawant's letter to the district on the bus strike. You get outraged at the prospect of mayoral interference in the district, so I'm expecting you'll show the same level of outrage over city council interference.

I won't hold my breath, though.


Anonymous said...

What is the deadline for teachers to enter and finalize grades at the end of each semester?


Michael Rice said...

@wondering - Deadline for grades is 02/07/2018

Melissa Westbrook said...

Francis, a letter is not trying to take over the district. It's stating an opinion (and just one CM's at that). Mayoral takeover is quite a different thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to rant a bit here about how at our Elementary School, Black Lives Matters has become oddly intertwined with Transgender issues.

First the connection is fairly weak. At the end of the unit, the kids are going to discuss how being transgender and black is less privileged. And let's leave alone why of all the issues being picked this was the only one: not general LBGTQ awareness or bullying or discussing any other ethnic group in the district.

But more troubling to me is there going to show a video about a family that transitioned there very young child. And this is where I get super uncomfortable. I am very troubled by the decision to use hormones and surgery on young non gender conforming children.

I just finish reading this essay by one such girl that I found persuasive:


In essence, are we rushing to tell our non gender conforming children they must alter their bodies to be accepted?

This is very much to me a morally ambiguous and murky area that I don't appreciate the school entering into.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, @Troubled. We are having similar concerns, related to some teachers pushing controversial materials and viewpoints that 1) are not unambiguously tied to course standards, 2) may not be age appropriate, and 3) fail to respect a wide range of family values. I would not consider elementary school an appropriate age for the video you mention. High school, maybe, but in what context? Health class? Also, were parents notified and asked for signatory permission?

outta control

Melissa Westbrook said...

Troubled, and this is why I have loudly said that parents need to be told - in advance -what will be stated, how and when. Then, you can decide for your own child if you believe it is developmentally appropriate and/or is your family values.

This doesn't mean you are against anything - it means you want to know what your child is being told in school by educators especially on a sensitive subject. I think that is a right every parent has.

That this seems to not be happening is indeed troubling.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday - 4th-5th grade BLM lessons from SEA:


Was the video above the one you watched and the one to be shown, @Troubled? It seems like something to be watched by parents and teachers, as a means of opening the conversation about gender, but somehow not geared to elementary students (13 minutes loooong, with lots of parent talk). The child is very young, so surgery and hormones are not really part of the conversation, but they briefly discuss suicide and that's where I think it pushes the boundaries in terms of being appropriate to student sensitivities at that age. It's like it puts an idea into a young child's head - suicide as an out to adversity - that maybe didn't even cross their minds previously. And more importantly...it's BLM week and the video is profiling a white family's experiences with gender identity. Just odd as a part of BLM week.

mixed messaging

Anonymous said...

Now that high school boundaries have been settled, planning for open enrollment. For those capacity experts out there, I am wondering thoughts on waitlists and potential movement for 2019-20. With opening of Lincoln, do folks think there is any possibility of waitlists moving for the more overcrowded schools (Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt), given that they did not seem to budge this year? Or, was there additional capacity that could have accommodated waitlisted students, but they just did not move? Thanks

Time 2 Plan

Anonymous said...

As part of the preK-3 BLM curriculum, students are to learn the terms "cisgender," "gender-expansive," and "transgender." Grades preK-3.

Not kidding

Anonymous said...

The high school BLM curriculum includes a unit on the "meaning and urgency of Environmental Justice."

SWBAT compare the impact of droughts to immigrants and farm workers in contrast to
privileged, white workers.

Important terms to know beforehand:
● Affluence - wealthy.
● Entitlement - access to privilege and/or deserving of privilege.
● Immigrant farm workers- hired farm workers coming from Mexico, and are usually

Students, in their groups, using their findings from the readings, video clips, and discussions will create a list - “Environmental Manifesto of Action” - of practices, beliefs and values that exhibit ways of counteracting “environmental racism” in the midst of climate/environmental catastrophe impacting people of color/low-income communities.

mixed messaging

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

An African American administrator for the Seattle School District in Ethnic Studies pushed back hard against the inclusion of "Trans-Affirmation and Queer Affirmation" in the Black Lives Matter week. She also protested the lack of communication to parents and families regarding this curriculum.

On both issues, she was ignored and overruled by her superiors.

Seattle Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Mom, I would be interested in following up on your comment if you can give me more info. sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

If there is a curriculum associated with the BLM week, why no curriculum adoption?

Did SPS Directors or administrators vet the instructional goals and materials before approving districtwide participation? What was the process and who voted for what? Or did they just blindly accept that the hatever it was would be good and appropriate? Where's the accountability here? Activist teachers can easily cross the line if left unchecked.

Oversight Please

Anonymous said...

The PreK-3rd grade curriculum for the Transgender curriculum today as part of Black Lives Matter week is: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1SPTzPGw0K24QN707cnEboAUQPmwvO7mS

"Explain that gender isn’t always so easy to identify. If our doctor and our parents assign us a gender and it matches what we feel inside, then we can say we are cisgender. However, we
may look like what society says a girl or boy should look like, but inside, we feel something
different than just boy or just girl, we are somewhere in between, we can say that we are
gender-expansive or transgender."

Seattle Mom

kellie said...

@ Time 2 Plan,

I think it is very unlikely that there will be more waitlist movement in 2019.

The decision to open Lincoln with only grades 9 and 10 means that the most crowded schools are only going to see very minimal capacity relief in 2019. It is possible that some of the extra portables could be removed at Ballard, Garfield and Roosevelt. That is not likely to trigger a significant number of choice seats.

Choice seats at those schools will be largely dependent upon Ingraham and Lincoln. Both Ingraham and Lincoln will have extra space. 2019 Choice seats will most likely be proportionate to students who opt to leave Roosevelt, Ballard or Garfield for Ingraham or Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

Today's high school lesson for BLM: "Impact of 1984 Crime Bill on Black Families and Communities"

Students are to watch short videos - one a grainy clip of Bill Clinton at a recent NAACP convention, another of a senator apologizing for signing the bill, and the third, a trailer for the Central Park Five. Students are to make a speech to persuade the Senate for or against the 1984 bill (can you guess which perspective most students will take?). They have not read the language, been given alternative viewpoints, or been provided with much in the way of statistics. Is the topic worthy of discussion? Absolutely. Are students being given balanced info, or simply being told how to think? That, perhaps, is the bigger question.

review needed

Anonymous said...

My child told me last night that, as part of the Black History unit, they are spending two days in math class watching the movie, Hidden Figures. That's absurd!

Garfield Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well it is about bright black women who excel in math and was a story long hidden.

Ridiculous said...

Maybe it could have been homework to watch the movie. Missing two days of math is hard in middle school much less high school. For my kids, BLM week is something to make fun of...it's sad. I remind them the privilege they were born into, but it's hard to disagree with the things being said/"taught" at school. Unfortunately, it is having the opposite effect from the intentions for many kids. And, I feel really bad for the children of police officers.

The SEE and Soup for Teachers groups don't seem realize they are creating "enemies" who were previously like-minded. It's a shame that this has become a game of whoever can be the furthest left, most progressive is somehow better than everyone else. I see it eventually backfiring badly, unfortunately.

Once again, we are fairly like-minded around here. People would rise to the occasion if asked, but instead this crap is forced on parents and our kids. It's not well-thought out. No one is trained. It's how Trump ended-up getting elected. Instead of uniting, dividing is the rule.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ridiculous, not sure I agree with all you said (but I don't have kids in school so I don't know how students are reacting).

But yes, this division among progressives is really sad and yes, it helped to elect Trump.

Anonymous said...

My kids don't make fun of BLM week. We view it as important and relevant. I also don't argue the merit of the movie Hidden Figures which tells an important story long overlooked (and which we saw as a family in the theater). I question the wisdom of it being screened for two days during Math class vs. Advisory or Social Studies.

My middle schooler, by contrast, had to write a biography, in French, on an influential African American historical figure of his choosing for French class this week. THAT is an appropriate way to integrate a particular topic focus into classroom teaching objectives.

Garfield (and Meany) Parent

Eric B said...

Time 2 Plan, I agree with Kellie. The capacity "relief" for Ballard, Garfield, and Roosevelt will be those schools going from 200-400 over capacity all the way down to 100-300 over capacity. OK, maybe a little lower than that, but pretty close. Plus, they aren't going to want to move waitlists into those schools much anyway to keep Lincoln enrollment propped up so that the school starts well. I'm not 100% convinced that Ingraham will open the addition with space, although there's nothing that says the HAVE to take away the portables if they don't want to.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kellie and Eric B.
Time 2 Plan