Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Open Thread

We had an issue where a Facebook post was reprinted at this blog without attribution about the issue of disagreement at RESMS over use of the facilities by the Urban Native Education Alliance   Did the author post it?  I don't know.  If not, who did?  Don't just throw something up without explanation.  If the point was to show there is disagreement within the Native American community, I'm not sure that's news.  There's always disagreement among groups.  Please help readers understand your point.

Please read comment rules and follow them. 

I note that there were several speakers, including a rabbi, at last night's School Board meeting over the issue of the first day of kindergarten being on Rosh Hashanah.  This issue of cultural/religious understanding by school districts and school calendars is getting to be a bigger issue.  Problem is, how to balance sensitivity for these events with the realities of getting in the required number of school days for every student.   A story from Maryland:
Asian American parents and students are pushing to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public School District, reported Bethesda Magazine.

According to the report, the push to close schools on Lunar New Year was prompted by a survey sent out by Montgomery Public School officials this past spring. The survey asked students, school staff, and parents about the holidays they observed.

Around 14 percent of the Montgomery County Public School population is Asian American, according to Bethesda Magazine. Yang told The Washington Post that, according to data from the Asian American Health Initiative, three-quarters of that population are foreign-born. She said that recognition of the holiday would help “build a bridge” for those people who feel tied to their cultural heritage.

Several students have been vocal about the importance of recognizing Lunar New Year. Some feel it is important because it teaches a diverse Montgomery County about other cultures. Others also say it is important because it allows students to observe a holiday that is significant to them.
Looking at SPS jobs, I see many openings for Sped teachers.  As well, it appears that the well-liked Executive Director Kelly Aramaki is leaving SPS.  That's too bad as he was a very good principal and ED.

OSPI seems to be putting off creating new rules around school discipline.  A bill became law in 2016 to replacemost suspensions and expulsions with alternatives and yet OSPI still hasn't approved new rules.  Here's an ACLU petition to sign.

The EMode Foundation is having math summer camps for grades 3-5 that have scholarships available.

The Seattle Youth Commission is taking applications. Deadline is July 16th.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I apologize for the confusion regarding the UNEA letters. I posted both second hand - neither is mine. Both shed light on why this is a controversy in the first place, though, and are therefore worthwhile. Shana Brown's letter is long, but informative for people who are not already aware of how native families are served within SPS.

-- Licton Springs Resident

(I can not find a link to comment rules. I hope this is sufficient.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

The comment rules are right above the comment box.

Former Souper said...

Seattle Times article on SEA negotiations:


Negotiations began months ago. There is no reason for a settlement not to be reached. Would the public support a strike if SEA demanded an 18% raise???

The state legislature intended for teachers to receive a 3% raise.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, that may be what the Legislature said but it is in the article that the expectation would be to pay teachers more in high cist cities.

Michael Rice said...

While I am certainly in favor of being paid more, what I think is most important in this contract cycle is increasing the number of counselors, family support workers, mental health specialists, etc. At Ingraham, we have 3 counselors for a little under 1400 students. The contract ratio is 1:400, which is WAY too high. At a maximum that ratio should be 1:250. In fact, the lower, the better.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion of AP classes:



Anonymous said...

I like this comment on the article by I think a teacher,

"AP started as a program for highly elite students and now the top 30% - 50% or more of every graduating class takes these classes because their parents want them to be with the top students.

Then the teacher gets heavily pressured to make sure nobody gets a C (because as HS teachers all know, C is the new F). The only logical way to accomplish this is to dumb the class down and fail to prepare the top students at the level required by the curriculum. Hence massive failing rates (over 50% in AP Chem this year, for example).

AP is now meaningless and I'm encouraging my administrators to dump the class and let me develop something more appropriate for 90% of the kids who actually show up in my AP classroom."

The teachers commenting have some interesting perspectives. If the College Board wants to keep AP classes popular they seem to be failing. Maybe no AP classes is the way to go. I know at Lakeside students take the single subject SAT tests for admissions submissions. Lakeside believes they are much more indicative of subject mastery. Is SPS moving in that direction as well?


Anonymous said...

"The state legislature intended for teachers to receive a 3% raise."

The housing costs in the SEATTLE are rising at the highest rate in the country. The "3% rate" increase would be a much more reasonable raise for those living in areas where teachers can still afford an apartment (much less pay their student loans). The state legislature has to govern in generalities.

SPS teachers, especially those at the lower ends of the scale, can't afford to live here.

An "18% raise???" Yeah, that might help many of your child's teachers make basic ends meet in this city with one of the highest costs of living in the country.


Anonymous said...


"The housing costs in the SEATTLE area are rising at the highest rate in the country."

Once a bad typist, always a bad typist.


Former Souper said...

The bill does away with the old Salary Allocation Model and institutes a new statewide average salary guideline. There is also regionalization factors to consider with potential raises. I highly doubt any teacher will get a 3 percent raise.

Big raises this year will result in RIFs next year.

Anonymous said...

How is it acting in the best interests of children, when SEA challenged the termination of Albert Virachismith - despite him smelling of alcohol on the job, poor job performance and inappropriate physical contact with students (a headlock?) even prior to the rape accusation? There needs to be legal ramifications for both SEA, who fought to keep a clearly troubled employee in his job, and the district for knuckling under union pressure.

"He missed work 21 times, routinely showed up late or reeking of alcohol, disrupted class with loud outbursts, even one time “playfully” put a special-needs student with impulse-control issues into a headlock, personnel records show.

Still, Seattle Public Schools kept Albert C. Virachismith — a man who would later be accused of child rape — working as an instructional assistant at John Muir Elementary School during the 2016-17 school year, pairing him with a special-education student who needed extra help.

In fact, only after Virachismith showed up smelling of booze yet again at the end of that school year did the district seek to fire him — but even that didn’t stick.

After Virachismith and his union, the Seattle Education Association, filed a grievance challenging his termination, the district agreed to a compromise allowing him to keep working with kids as a substitute during the 2017-18 school year.

Within two months, Virachismith had violated that “Last Chance Settlement Agreement” by failing two urine tests and repeatedly missing required alcohol-treatment sessions, records show. Still, the district held off on firing him.

Last school year, Virachismith subbed at seven schools — five of them after his violations came to light — until Jan. 29, when a 9-year-old told his parents about the five to six times Virachismith allegedly sexually assaulted him inside a bathroom at John Muir during the previous school year."



Former Souper said...

Thanks, Troubled.

I'm starting to question SEA leadership.

Anonymous said...

Lakeside doesn’t rely on its “stellar reputation” to forgo offering AP classes. Lakesiders take a plethora of college admissions tests and do exceedingly well. Most years it produces the highest number of NMSF’s, and it always has the highest number per capita in the state, based on total number of students in the graduating class. They also take SATs, ACTs, SAT IIs, and APs. The median SAT score is 1500. It’s not some sort of secret reputation but the actual student performance that informs Lakeside that APs aren’t an especially good offering. AP test prep courses are not offered. Let’s face it. AP courses are simply test prep courses for topics that most college students wouldn’t even take. European History or World History? It’s possible that some college students take this, but certainly not universal nor particularly interesting if you do. It’s so much better to provide the best possible curriculum that aligns with student and faculty interests and talents. It also produces a more unique profile to colleges. Imagine a college admissions officer. They see literally thousands of AP World History with 1000s of 5s. It just doesn’t stand out or say much about the applicant, other than they have mastered the art of test taking. Lakesiders who do take AP tests, prepare for it independently, a concept that appears to be absent from most of these discussions. Highly motivated top students should absolutely be able to prepare for these standardized tests on their own by high school.


Greenwood Observer said...

Another addition to the controversy at REMS. For all interested in the issue, this should not be about Native American rights. Certainly the support of Native American rights should be a concern for all of us. However, the issue at REMS is quite different. The group in question has long held the REMS site should be solely for Native American Education and focused their efforts on the Licton Springs k-8 program. However, the program does not have a significant Native American population and further, the staff at Licton Springs has not participated in the state mandated Since Time curriculum. Hard to justify the use of this program as a Native program when there is not students who are identified and curriculum is not followed.

There is a larger issue with Licton Springs. As Seattle tax payers and constituents should be aware REMS was constructed a year ago. Due to the concessions made to Licton Springs without any concessions on their part, REMS will have four portables to house the overflow of students for the 2018-2019 school year. While at the same time Licton Springs will continue to have four middle school teachers for 16 students and the same space for REMS classrooms of 36. What a great opportunity for some students to have a 1 to 16 teacher ratio and classrooms with soo much space! There is a staff allocation for k-8 programs that is different than comprehensive middle schools, but I have not been able to find a space allocation.
Licton Springs has a right to exist and attempt to grow its program. My wonder is that since it was offered their own self contained school with room to grow which they refused, why do the students at REMS have to be so severely impacted by this program? In addition, I wonder how many of the students at Licton Springs attend the school not because they believe in the program but instead, it is the closest school open to all students. Cascadia is not a neighborhood school as it is only open to HCC designated students.

The issues at REMS are not a disregard for Native Rights it is instead an issue of using resources to the benfit of all students and not making this into a political controversy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've missed it, but WHY exactly is the group's access to RESMS being restricted? Is there another group or activity that needs access during that time?

If so, that potentially makes sense--a need to balance access to limited space. However, one additional factor that needs to be considered, if it hasn't already, is equity. Equity dictates that you don't just split things equally, but that sometimes a needier group gets easier/better access if the other group can still manage with a less ideal set-up (e.g., having to walk over to Cascadia).

If not, then it seems problematic.

Full story?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Troubled, I will have a full thread on the issue of IA at Muir. There's actually even more to the story including the role of SEA and the principal at the school. This would likely hurt SEA negotiations and I can't imagine it would help a strike.

Greenwood Observer, why would school need to make a concession to another school? A Native American program is at issue unless you think the district plays schools off against each other. It's important not to do that.

I've been in LS; it is not a roomy place. Their numbers are growing albeit slowly which is a trend we haven't seen before. I'm not sure what will happen if they outgrow that space. At some point, the Board and Superintendent will need to make a hard decision on LS if it grows or if it stays very small. As you point out, it is costly to run a small school.

Full Story, we can't get the full story. Campbell says they need the space for other groups (without specifying) and never did meet face to face with this group but sent an email saying it was a done deal. Equity should have play a role in this but since Campbell and the ED won't talk, then we'll never know.

The issue I think with using Cascadia or LS is that the Native American program serves middle and high school kids and some of that programming takes the kind of space you only see in a middle or high school.

Anonymous said...

Based on the personnel report included in the Seattle Times article, the teaching assistant seems to have a substance abuse problem. Alcoholism can be considered a medical condition for which the employee may have some protections. Given the documented offenses, it's still shocking how long it took to exit the employee.

truly shocking

Anonymous said...

The problems with overcrowding at REMS is due to moving too many kids out of Whitman. SPS could have prevented this from happening.

Lichton Springs is not responsible for the overcrowding at REMS. I know several Native American kids in LS. The kids are also involved with UNEA. While REMS was being built, some UNEA groups met at Hale. They were anxious to return to REMS because they have a connection to the area, the school, and the murals.


Anonymous said...

The issue I think with using Cascadia or LS is that the Native American program serves middle and high school kids and some of that programming takes the kind of space you only see in a middle or high school.

That's why, if possible--and if the program/service is valuable/effective--they should continue to receive access at RESMS. If the programs or activities that are going to displace them can be instead done at Cascadia, it makes sense to move those other activities instead. If the issue, however, is something like gym space for teams, it would seem a compromise of some sort is necessary.

Whatever the case, it seems that Marni Campbell should have opened a dialogue and tried to find a compromise that worked for all, rather than (apparently) just informing them how it was going to be. If that's the way it went down, it's not cool.

It's suspicious that we can't get the

Full story?

Former Souper said...

Bellevue Teachers Association:

19.4%. That is the increase that BEA members will see across the total salary schedule in 2018-19! We are very proud of the work of our bargaining team to accomplish these life changing increases!
Details of our Tentative Agreement have been presented to the membership and members are voting through Friday to ratify the agreement.
Thank you WEA for your work in funding the McCleary decision! We look forward to seeing more impacts like this across the state!

Bellevue hopes to impact Highline's negotiations.

What happens when teachers want another raise in 3 years? IMO, teachers should have received incremental raises over the next two negotiating cycles.

Anonymous said...

Melissa says:

"A Native American program is at issue unless you think the district plays schools off against each other."

The district ABSOLUTELY does this. For example, on the new campus there are two gyms, and three schools. The district has no policy about how to manage them, so the schools are required to fight it out for access.

It is my belief that a lot of the issues at the new campus could be ameliorated if someone impartial helped the three schools work together instead of against one another. But, we have little space, too few resources, and no transparency of communication from the district, and certainly no one interested in playing an impartial guide. Of course it sucks.

-- Licton Springs Resident

Anonymous said...

Many folks pointed out that the way the boundaries were drawn for RESMS would lead to overcrowding at that school and underenrollment at Whitman. SPS staff DGAF and plowed ahead anyway, with predictable results. The boundaries clearly need to be redrawn to send more students back over to Whitman and allow more space for Licton Springs K-8 to expand.

As to Marni Campbell, she clearly does not take Native American community groups seriously, nor does she take seriously her role as a steward of an historic site for Native American education. The district talks a big game about equity but only when doing so helps them achieve their true goals. When equity gets in the way of the principals' or central staff's exercise of unlimited and unaccountable power, well, suddenly equity doesn't seem to matter any more.

I hope the school board come down like a ton of bricks on Campbell over this.


Anonymous said...

"Former Souper said...
Thanks, Troubled.

I'm starting to question SEA leadership."

I'm starting to question the role of "Former Souper" during SEA bargaining with all of these anti-union messages at this critical time.

Seriously? "Former Souper"? Soup for Teachers is the crowd that came to the table immediately during the strike, and they have continued to have a sustained, valuable and impactful role in this district.

Union busters and the Ed Reform crowd start casting aspersions at critical moments during contract negotiations, and have plenty of money to back them up.

The John Muir tragedy should not have happened. Period. Due process rights should never turn a ticket for ineffectiveness, crime and predation.

I questioned (and challenged) SEA leadership during my entire tenure in SPS. But I paid my dues every year.

Why? There is one thing worse than unions, and that is no unions.

It continues to be interesting that you emerged here during the critical SEA/SPS negotiation period.


Anonymous said...

I’m not really sure what SEA was supposed to do here. Like all labor unions they have a “duty of fair representation” which means if someone covered by the contract files a grievance and wants to contest disciplinary action, the union is legally obligated to defend them even if their actions are horrific. SEA doesn’t get to tell this guy they can’t defend him, even though his actions are indefensible.

The real problem is SPS leadership, from the principals on up, who are more concerned with protecting their own power than they are interested in helping or protecting kids. The principal, Executive Director, and SPS senior staff at the JSCEE did not take this seriously. Denise Juneau needs to set an example and fire some people over this.


Anonymous said...

@Greenwoody - Jon Halfaker executive director stated at one Eaglestaff meeting that Eaglestaff was intended to be a "neighborhood school" and that HC would not be a majority population at Eaglestaff. He was clear and almost appeared angry in his assertion. This may very well be one reason why the neighborhood boundaries were drawn so large, other wise HC would be a larger population percentage of the school. It leaves Whitman underenrolled. I think the result will actually end up in another split of HC to Whitman, not a change in boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Let's go back even further. The capacity task force recommended that Wilson Pacific be used for a high school (with space for sports fields and a gym) and Lincoln a middle school, with Hamilton a large elementary.

coulda shoulda

Anonymous said...

The problem with SEA is the problem with many unions, the members don't get involved.

Teachers will not attend meetings, vote in responsible and capable leaders and they don't seem to even have an understanding of the history or importance of unions.

The unions have been under attack for decades, for centuries in the US except when the big business and govt. need them badly like during WWII.

Corruption and incompetence reign when apathy takes hold.

We have incredibly smart teachers, but they have drunk the anti-union Kool-Aide, or at least been influenced by those who have.

Maybe they should read about union busting in the NW by Dos Passos. That s@@t makes your hair stand on end, especially the Centralia massacre story.



Former Souper said...

We need unions. As I watch WEA and SEA, I have begun to understand anti-union sentiment. I look forward to SEA having an open and transparent discussion regarding levy caps and the manner in which SPS will be impacted. It isn't going to happen.

Seattle must stay competitive. Neighboring districts have offered %18-20% raises. As I see it, Seattle has their hands tied.

Next year the legislature will take-on levy and special education. I would have preferred gradual increases. %18-%20 raises are high. SEA will be back for more in 3 years.

Will teachers accept student to teacher ratios of 1:180 in exchange for a significant pay raise?

Former Souper said...

I just read the Soup for Teacher page. I don't see any parents advocating for an $%18-%20 raise.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'm a parent who advocates for an 18-20% raise. Seattle needs good teachers and that requires them to be paid well. We need to lift the levy caps and tax the rich - especially Jeff Bezos, who is the world's first $150 billion man. There's no reason to begrudge teachers a 20% raise when Bezos is sitting in our city literally raking in billions.

Unknown said...

There's no Kool-Aid being drunk; the SEA is ineffective at getting rid of ineffective teachers, but they are good scaring administrators into compliance.

SEA also pushes a left-wing agenda, and Seattle just isn't that left-wing as I believe we'll see once SEA, WEA, and NEA have less money to push left-wing politicians into office. Public sector unions warp the democratic process and make places like Seattle look more Democrat than they are.

Anonymous said...

Things socialist Robert Cruickshank proposes to provide solely with taxes on the rich (list not exhaustive):

18-20% (or more) raises for teachers and fully funded public schools
Free transit
Affordable housing for all and free housing for the homeless
Free healthcare
Free college
Free preschool
Free broadband
Guaranteed jobs

And none of these shall be provided by private entities or businesses, lest "privatization." The government will provide all of these free services.

Sounds grand.


Anonymous said...

The SEA provides protections for teachers that make it cumbersome for administrators to discipline or dismiss ineffective teachers, but fellow teachers and parents are generally loathe to get involved in the process as well. Who wants to rat on a fellow coworker unless it involves some grossly inappropriate behavior? The tables could turn and who would have their back? Students can face retaliation when parents come forward (that can get ugly). They know the year will almost be over before or if any meaningful action will be taken. It's easier to ride it out and not get involved. It's galling when you know and they know there's a problem, but the staff person gets a pass and the cycle continues. It must be discouraging for the competent staff who are pulling more than their fair share.

rocky road

Not happening said...

Some people think that Bezos will be Seattle and Washington states Savior. It isn't going to happen.

The middle class pays the way.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Karl, all those things already exist in most European countries - and heck, many of them exist just a three hour drive up I-5 from here. You got something against taxing rich people like Bezos? Are you Bezos?!

Not Happening said...

A few words: Failed Head Tax, Trump and Janus.

Anonymous said...

Agreed NH,


Anonymous said...

Also agree with Robert -
We could have all these things if not for the robber barons we insist on suckling at the teat of the middle class. We are looking outside of the US for colleges. Excellent education to be had at a more reasonable price. AND education on recognition of psy-ops and fake "news".

Not Happening said...

...add the property tax increase to pay for McCleary to previous list.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Karl, sounds good to me. And Bezos gets to pay no taxes? C'mon.

Anonymous said...

First, Robert, all of those things most certainly do not exist in most European countries.

Second, where some of this list do exist, they do not exist solely by taxing the rich. Those countries may tax the wealthy at higher rates but EVERYONE contributes to the tax base at higher rates than we generally do in our country and in our individual states.

Lastly, most of the countries that have tried centralized, controlled economies had/have high unemployment and debilitating inflation and people literally starved.

Socialism does not work. It never has. It never will.


Anonymous said...

I would rather have my taxes go to pay higher wages for teachers, better curricula and counseling for students and affordable healthcare. It is obscene in this country that we allow people to go bankrupt to pay for healthcare. Our 30 something son has a preexisting condition and is on Obamacare.

We always seem to have the money to lower taxes for people like Bezos and increase military spending.

S parent

Anonymous said...

you ever heard of Finland?


they have progressive taxes and they have:


Our unregulated and bought-by-the-rich tax policies create poverty, crime, poor education and Trump voters.


Anonymous said...

yOu EvEr HeArD oF fInLaNd?


Anonymous said...

Yes, policies can and should be changed to improve societal welfare, but within the bounds of free-market capitalism.

Consider the role of our economic system in promoting American achievement, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation and attracting immigrants to our country.

Whether the Nobel or patents, the achievement gap between the US and Democratic Socialist countries is substantial.

While Democratic Socialists countries may score higher than the US on PISA on average, their accomplishments also cluster around center.

Noble Prizes: US 368, Sweden 30, Denmark 14, Norway 13, Finland 4




Anonymous said...

@cap, what good are all those Nobel prizes if we have such high income inequality, homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, untreated mental illness, inadequate healthcare access, maternal mortality, etc.? Are Nobel prizes really the measuring stick for what works well?

noble fir

Anonymous said...

What a bogus comparison: Sweden, Norway and Denmark are much higher per capita than us in the Nobel count, Finland is one place behind.


Capitalism the way we do it promotes ill-health and pollution, and not enough for education.