Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I had meant to try to see the number of hits at this blog change but I got busy and forgot.  So I missed when it ticked from 11M to now 12,202,580 hits for all its years.  Thank you to all my readers.  (Interestingly, while the U.S. is the #1 spot, Ukraine comes in second.)

I note that a group of youth from the NAACP Youth Coalition spoke at this week's Board meeting about racism and inequities in the district.  One student asked why every school didn't have a Race and Equity team.  That is a good question and, at this point, I think they have them in half the schools.  One issue may just be that some schools may be dragging their feet because of the need to find people who will serve and really do the work.  But for staff who already seem to work fairly hard, it may be one more district directive that they don't have the time or support to fulfill even if it is for the best of reasons.

There is the briefest of stories on KUOW about the Hamilton Twitter issue and I see none at the Times.  Hmmm.  Has there been any tv coverage?

Over at Soup for Teachers, they are discussing inequities in PTA fundraising and SCPTSA says this:
SCPTSA is in the process of putting together an informational budget gathering effort to assess the amount of funding parents raise for individual public schools in the Seattle Public School District to better understand PTSA/PTAs/PTOs financial contributions to Seattle schools overall. While we are still working out the protocol with SPS, PTSAs/PTOs can send us their actual (not projected) budget for 2017-2018 to include in the analysis, including how line items were allocated.
Data will not be presented by individual school, but rather aggregates will be presented based on categorizations.
I'll be interested to see how many schools participate.  I don't know if they are required to give this information or not (I'd think the state PTA could ask for it but I'm not sure).  And again, at the high school level, the big money is NOT in PTA but in the foundations and booster clubs.   They are also floating the idea - as in Portland - of all PTAs committing to 10% of their fundraising into a pool to help less fortunate schools.  Thoughts?

The chickens are already coming home to roost for the McCleary school funding; both Tacoma SD and Aberdeen SD are cutting staff.  Tacoma - to their credit - has cut only central staff while Aberdeen is doing this:

From The Daily World -
Facing the prospect of teacher layoffs for next year, the Aberdeen School District is offering $10,000 incentive payments to senior teachers who commit to leaving their jobs at the end of the school year. The idea is that teachers lower on the pay scale would take some of the jobs, but some would simply go unfilled.
Meanwhile, Washington's Paramount Duty is advocating for:
WPD is advocating for a capital gains tax on the top 2-3% and closing tax loopholes for big business to fund K-12 education—including special education, counselors, nurses, librarians, educators, and other essentials in our public schools. 
Community Meetings with Directors on Saturday the 22nd
Director Betty Patu from 9-11am at Raconteur, 5041 Wilson Ave S
President Leslie Harris from 3-5 pm at SW Branch Library, 9010 35th Ave SW

I'm hearing that Ballard High staff have been directed to come to an all-staff meeting today.  Anyone know what that is about? 

What's on your mind? 


Anonymous said...

Congrats to Principal Treena Sterk and Eckstein Middle School on Foster Award!


Anonymous said...

Re the Racial Equity teams - our school applied at the beginning of the year and was denied by the district. We had parents and teachers and most importantly admin (Admin who were driving the process) ready to go with it at the beginning of the year. The district is gatekeeping the Racial Equity Teams by their "approval" process.

NW Option School Parent

Anonymous said...

Portland's program is here: http://allhandsraised.org/what-we-do/our-impact/ppsfoundation/parentequityfund/

To be honest, I don't know why SCPTSA is screwing around getting PTA funding data at all. They would do just as well to start lobbying the school board to adopt a program like Portland's now, regardless of individual PTA numbers (why do they even matter if the goal is to launch an equity fund?), and try to launch the program next year. There is widespread support for a program like this already! The SfT people seem to want to spend time rubbing wealthy schools' noses in their money rather than proceeding directly to actionable equity initiatives.

Will they really do the legwork to get at the real numbers to back up their arguments, anyway? That recent KUOW op-ed piece that is apparently associated with this effort really cherry-picked data, left large amounts of data out that would have painted a much more useful but complex picture.

One thing that's particularly hard to suss out is how things like after-school programs are funded: sometimes it's part of the PTA, sometimes not, sometimes the PTA is paying for everybody, sometimes only in part, sometimes scholarships, etc. And at wealthier schools, how much funding goes to scholarships and programs that cover costs for lower-income students (not just FRL but all lower-income students). Then the non-PTA booster clubs and foundations that Melissa mentions are harder to get data from.

Getting true apples-to-apples comparisons going will be difficult and elusive, and I think SCPTSA will undermine itself it doesn't proceed more rigorously than evidenced by the fluffy KUOW piece, which was discouragingly superficial.

Also missing from that entire discussion are differences in public per capital spending per child in each school. Under former superintendent Olschewsky, we started using a formula that persists today, where wealthier schools get less public funding per capita than do poorer schools. Olschewky's theory was that PTAs would back-fill the difference in public funding levels. This has to be included in any analysis of funding models, because people forget that intentional funding differences by the district gave rise to the different PTA funding levels in the first place.

It's not clear to me the people working on the PTA funding issue are fully aware of stuff like this, and I worry that the Law of Unintended Consequences might end up coming back to bite all of us. They should just move to set up the equity fund now!

JLPEFA (Just Launch the Parent Equity Fund Already)

Owlet said...

SCPTSA is trying to lay the groundwork for defunding and closing all option schools, dual language immersion programs, and other specialized programs. That is why they want this data and that is what they mean by "Data will not be presented by individual school, but rather aggregates will be presented based on categorizations." This is an attack on specialized instruction and is fueled by a small group of SCPTSA leaders who are focused on turning SPS into a cookie cutter model where all children are treated the same, and where individual child needs are deliberately neglected.

N by NW said...

Dear Ballard Parents and Guardians:

The safety and security of our students is our number one priority and we have systems in place to minimize incidents. However, sometimes the professional standards that we expect are not met. I want to share information with you regarding a report that was made to Ballard High School about one of our staff.

Recently, we received information that a student may have been the victim of a crime perpetrated by a school staff member. We take an allegation of this nature very seriously and as soon as we learned the staff member’s identity, we immediately notified the Seattle Police Department (SPD), Human Resources and our Title IX Office. The staff member was immediately put on leave. During the SPD investigation, we have been fully cooperating. We have just been informed that the King County Prosecutor has charged the staff member, Meghan Miller. It is our understanding that the SPD investigation is still ongoing. If you believe you or your student has information about this case please contact the Special Assault Unit of Seattle Police Department at 206-684-5575. You can also contact the district’s Title IX Office at title.ix@seattleschools.org.

In an effort to support students we will have additional counseling staff at school after the return from Winter Break. These supports along with the regular routine of going to school is helpful for students to move through difficult situations. I have been in contact with our local experts, Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress and King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, to let them know that our families may need their assistance. Please feel free to contact Harborview at (206) 744-1600 or http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/resources.html or King County Sexual Assault Resource Center at (888) 998-6423 or www.kcsarc.org if you would like to discuss any general questions regarding this topic.

Our community is close and having an incident such as this occur may increase parent and student concerns. We will continue to support all our families while maintaining confidentiality as required by the SPD investigation and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), however we wanted to make you aware of the situation as soon as we were able.

Please be assured that the safety and security of your children are our number one priority at Ballard High School. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Keven Wynkoop


Melissa Westbrook said...

NW Option School Parent, first (and please) just two word names.

Second, interesting to hear that; I wonder why that happened. Is there some litmus test to have a Racial Equity Team?

JLPEFA, I agree with your perspective. I think there is more going on than just equalizing PTA money. Some at Soup think that PTA money is the source of all inequities in the district and I don't know how that could possibly be. Also, it's Olchefske (it took me a long time to spell it from memory).

N by NW, oh no. Very sad for the entire school. Unusual for the district to name the person in question. It appears Ms. Miller is a paraprofessional at BHS and coaches the girls soccer team.

David Westberg said...

Whatever the circumstances at Ballard are, let's hope SPS "Human Resources" takes the time to actually SEND a letter this time.

Principal Wynkoop is to be commended for acknowledging the situation EXISTS rather than the usual denial and finger pointing that the culture of lawlessness treats us to.

Anonymous said...


"Wynkoop is to be commended for acknowledging the situation EXISTS rather than the usual denial and finger pointing that the culture of lawlessness treats us to"

Yes, IMO Wynkoop is a really good principal. We have a freshman at BHS and feel fortunate to have such a strong and involved principal. He is accessible to parents and so far have been very impressed.

NW mom

Eric B said...

That is a sad situation at Ballard. At least from this end, it sounds like it was handled as would be expected. As for naming the teacher, once an individual has been charged it's pretty much public record.

Ballard Parent said...

I received Principal Wynkoop's e-mail and I'm quite shaken.

It is our responsibility to keep our eyes on all children- at all times. Please be advised that there is a whistle blower hot line at Seattle Public Schools. All information is confidential.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Wynkoop a really good principal? We found him awful. Ignorant toward his minority and female students. Maybe if your kid is on the football team, it's all grand.


Anonymous said...

Ballard for us has been horrible. Our decent student in middle school is completely falling through the cracks, failing classes, skipping frequently. We are doing what we can on our end but there has been ZERO outreach from the school from his counselor, admin, or teachers. Sink or swim. If you sink you are on your own. He is definitely not on track to graduate at this point and the school could care less.
-Unhappy @Ballard

Anonymous said...

@ Eric B I agree with David. Not all principals at all schools handle things as you would think "would be expected."


Anonymous said...

The SeattlePI has details of the case. The coach was given an opportunity to turn herself in but remains at large.

no name

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the KUOW report https://www.kuow.org/stories/ballard-high-school-teacher-s-aide-charged-with-child-molestation

I read this assistant soccer coach's bio, and she has quite an impressive bio in the area. Masters in athlectics from UW, played for Seattle Sounders, also worked for UW soccer summer camps etc. She has a linked in page that she works/worked at Roosevelt High school. My student also informed me this coach worked with special education students.It is more unusual for a female to be implicated in a sexual abuse case of this nature. Very upsetting story.

Ballard parent

jenne p said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Westberg said...

I wasn't comparing principals.

I was contrasting with the central "Human Resources Department" at headquarters where issues go to die in a sea of delay, denial and obstruction. An often, students suffer.

Anonymous said...

If any of you have volunteered at Ballard in a capacity where you would be interacting with students, you have been required to watch the video that is part of this training course,


which is titled:

"Welcome to the Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention Training for Volunteers - The School Community’s Role in Prevention and Response."

It's about how to spot adults who are grooming students or are already exploiting them.

Has the staff at Ballard been required to watch that video? I would ask people to click to the video, watch it and take the test that follows. Should the district be having students go through this training?

Wynkoop followed the law, that's all. How did his staff miss the abuse when it surely initiated at the school?

Wynkoop is responsible for his staff and I'd like to hear how this woman was able do this under the noses of the other staff that she worked with while at Ballard.

My kid is a student there now, and I've haven't met any staff who seem creepy, although I know they can seem normal, the molesters.

I think SPS and Wynkoop need to have staff take the training every year. I just find it hard to believe that in a controlled environment like a school, we can't keep these predators out or catch them when they are grooming a kid.


Anonymous said...

Keven Wynkoop excellent? In his own do-nothing, self-aggrandizing mind. Did he sign off with “it’s always great to be a beaver”? If your kids are anything besides a cheerleading whitebread average kids, they are sol at BHS. Wynkoop is a quintessential frat boy, and mediocre. But, “Adult Sexual Misconduct” is a district video that staff has to watch yearly after they take the in person class. Coaching is vastly underfunded which requires coaches to spend inordinate amounts of time in close proximity to students in order to get the work done. Does the district provide transportation to all events? Almost certainly not, they rely on the coach to drive lots of kids and find eager volunteers. (after they watch the video forbidding it). Ripe for abuse. Not surprising that this is special ed again. Do they hire IAs for the purpose of coaching? Or abuse?


Eric M said...

At the beginning of every year for about the last decade, all staff are required to watch a series of videos (blood borne pathogens, etc) and take little quizzes at the end. The content is very stock, and the movies or slide shows are usually allowed to play in the background, while the staff person works on other more involving tasks in their room. In large part, because they're very rote, in part because very little paid time is allocated to allowing staff to do all they need to do to prepare for the upcoming school year (There is a built-in expectation that much of this preparation will take place outside of contract time. In other words, on your own time).

But, really, the broad information around predation is not unfamiliar to anyone working with minors in the 21st century, and the click-box presentations are of course just a liability dodge. Predators are wily and adaptive, and are the only criminals in this scenario. Everyone else is a victim of a gross betrayal of trust: adults, other minors, staff, administration, the public, and you, dear reader.

I don't think it's fair to suggest that anyone was ignoring or looking the other way without very specific corroborated evidence. We may or may not like someone, but that's a very long distance away from suggesting they'd tolerate an abuse crime against a minor.

We ALL find this loathsome. Even predators find themselves loathsome.

Jet City mom said...

Haven’t had good relations with Wynkoop.
Definitely has pet projects and his own agenda.
Plus he is rude as heck if you don’t fall within the narrow spectrum of things he cares about.

Times had an article yesterday about Hamilton.


David Westberg said...

“Seattle Public Schools suffers from a culture of lawlessness. No one enforces the rules (whether they be superintendent procedures, board policies, state law or federal law), so no one bothers to follow them. Typically, no one even bothers to check them before making decisions - decisions which often violate the rules. This culture of lawlessness pervades the District and not only makes all kinds of abuses possible but actually encourages them.


So, what's new since Charlie coined the phrase?

Answer: absolutely nothing. In fact; it's worse now than ever.

Don't believe me. Ask the parents of the student at Muir that the Times last wrote about in February.

Melissa Westbrook said...

CJ, staff are supposed to watch that video annually. As Mr. Westberg says, it will become apparent that it didn't happen at Muir while a student was being assaulted there. I think the evidence will show that and you'd have to ask the principal why it didn't happen until almost June of one year.

Jet City Mom, I could not find the Times article and I searched. I have had this issue in the past with them and I wonder if there is something funky in their search feature. And interesting that they allowed no comments.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I forgot one other thing - how could a school not have the annual sex misconduct training and it not be discovered by our highly-paid Executive Directors? Aren't they required to go over the list of required actions by schools and make sure they all get done?

Elsa said...


Jet City mom said...

Melissa, I was able to find the article by searching for the reporter Asia Fields.

Elsa said...

Melissa must be referring to Muir's E.D. who has been the Queen of the "Culture of Lawlessness" since she was at McClure.

Anonymous said...

Good thing we elected all those new school board members over the last 4 years....what a difference they havn't made.

Especially "I'm a Democrat insider" no wait I mean "Lets get back to leaning" or how about trying to get a different political appointment while on still on the board.

--Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Regarding the chemistry teacher who was fired from Roosevelt HS recently, my child had a friend in their class. According to this student they have had subs and have been doing nothing in the class the past month except watching videos. What a disruption mid stream for the kids. I really do hope the school will be able to find a new science teacher soon. The last I had heard there was a shortage of science (& math) teachers at the secondary level in Seattle. I hope things have changed.