Saturday, January 05, 2019

Writing to the Board

School will resume again on Monday the 7th.

I have been writing to the Board on several issues, trying to get clarity (and some traction) on several issues.

Here are the topics I have written to them about:

- science curriculum adoption.  It has been handled poorly and without complete transparency and without real input from teachers.  I believe they should rein it in until the district shows they can do better.

- Advanced Learning.  While I appreciate the amount of work to do, especially given the new state mandate, it feels like a snail's pace.

I reported this in 2017:

Burke said that they had to take on race and socio-economics as part of the discussion. He said they wanted to engage the community respectfully and hoped "the community will help us and be patient and understanding and solution-focused."

For all the moaning about inequity, I find it quite odd that for both the Board and the Superintendent there appears to be no urgency to this work.  Almost as if it's useful to continue allowing the program to play out the way it has.

I also made sure that they knew this kind of thing is going on in AL:
Stephen Martin got a request from Thurgood Marshall parent, Devin Bruckner. She is on their Equity Team that seems to have quite an influence on Mr. Martin. I note that he answered multiple questions for her in a very timely manner. I have to wonder if all parents get that level of care.

More to the point, Bruckner, had created a flyer about AL to hand out at community fairs. This was not generated by the district. It has Bruckner's email to contact and she is not employed by the district.

Her request to him? Could he translate into a couple of languages? Oh and make copies for her? And he did.

I can tell you as a former co-president of a PTA that I would have LOVED to be able to call on the district to translate for me and make copies of info for parents for free. But I never knew it was an option.

Do let me know how I can tell other parents/groups to access this service as the Race and Equity group at Thurgood Marshall has done. I would be glad to publicize it on my blog.

Attention needs to be paid to these events.
But I also intend to write to the Board about the Strategic Plan - has the committee for it been expanded?  When are the community meetings?

Lastly, I have found and also received more information on the Check Yourself survey being used at several middle schools.  I plan on once again going to the Board to get this action suspended.

It appears that the district gave permission - back in 2002 when my own son was in middle school - to be part of UW research on middle schools students. 

It is an ongoing project and is a 17-year-longitudinal study.   SPS said yes but said that middle school principals had to agree.  Principals at Mercer and Washington said no but the remaining four schools - Eckstein, Meany, Aki Kurose and Hamilton - their principals all said yes. 

And, instead of treating it like a formal study which, as the principal investigator said would have involved “intimidating parental consent” for that — they instead told parents it would be like an “extra curricular activity” and therefore the consent would be much easier to obtain. 
I urge you - whatever your issue - to write to the Board.  You might mention that the levies are coming up in February and it troubles you that so many issues of concern to parents seem to get little attention.  
spsdirectors@seattleschools.org  (just the Board members)
schoolboard@seattleschools.org (the Board AND all senior management)


Anonymous said...


of course devin bruckner gets stephen's undivided attention - she and tolley (stephen's boss) seemingly worked hand in hand to dismantle hcc. see the initially un-sanctioned social studies classes at t. marshall and no hcc hs pathways. see her website above that was used to rally speakers to present false information and flagrantly speak at EVERY board meeting regardless of topics being considered. that was tolley cooking the books to his own board. (the mention of a grant from sps was quickly deleted when the obvious conflict was publicized). i am confident a foia request of emails between bruckner and tolley would raise all kinds of dirt.

devin bruckner's activities have had a real impact. less kids are getting into hcc due to increasing the percentiles for private test excluding many 2e kids. that was just stephen. no task force or advisory committee recommended that. it was just slimed into policy. shameful.

no caps

State Law said...

Here's what OSPI has to say about highly capable education. SPS needs to fix several things to comply with state law.

Anonymous said...

dear no caps,

using words like slimed and shameful put you in the same league as our "president"

if you have facts let's hear them but using yukky words to paint your opponents is not appropriate


Melissa Westbrook said...

Taxpayer, I may not use the word "slimed" but I do think it shameful that this district has been less-than-transparent about what is happening AL and it's been that way for decades.

Anonymous said...

Whoever was behind the many changes, the latest appeals policy remains questionable and the steady elimination of HC services continues. SPS has been opting for less programming for HC students, and many students are poorly served academically, yet how is SPS not complying with state law? They seem to check the necessary boxes to claim the additional funding.

Whatever adjectives one uses, the website is...odd, as is the public testimony by the same persons on the same topic at almost every Board meeting.

another observer

Anonymous said...

This article from 2012 kinda says a lot: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-school-board-ousts-goodloe-johnson-names-enfield-interim-superintendent/

"Neither Goodloe-Johnson nor Kennedy has been directly implicated in a state Auditor’s Office report released last week that detailed improper activity in the district’s small-business contracting program. But an outside attorney hired by the district to review management’s actions concluded that both knew enough about those problems that they should have acted.

The audit found $1.8 million of contracts awarded through the program provided no public benefit or were questionable. Silas W. Potter Jr., the former midlevel manager at the center of the scandal, told The Seattle Times on Wednesday that he is being made a scapegoat. Potter denied being behind the alleged misappropriation of district funds, which also has triggered a criminal investigation, and blamed the problems on two people above him.

Mayor Mike McGinn, speaking hours before the board vote, said, “It’s very clear that the school district has a fiscal and management problem that’s going to require a fundamental change of culture."

We're still waiting on that change of culture, aren't we! So long as we have people Goodloe Johnson hired, or who were hired during her tenure, nothing can or will change.

Culture Change

Anonymous said...

thankfully tolley is gone

no caps

Anonymous said...

Regardless of political views all parents should be very skeptical of the motivations of our local, state and federal agencies, like the ones that are in control of the institutions we send our children to.

It appears that in SDS what once was old has become new again, what is it?

It is using taxpayer’s dollars to amass personal data accessible as psychological profiles, on children and their families through the use of mandated school assessment test or student surveys, fraudulently passed off as academic achievement test or other mandatory assessments.

It is colluding with private, tax-free organization to create those tests in violation of federal law.

It is obtaining funds for one purpose and using them for another.

It is inducing local educational institutions like schools to accept federal money – for ulterior purpose and by deceptive means.

It is creating psychotically conflicts in order to control students, programs, curriculum and capacity. In some cases it is used to kill programs or even entire schools.

This district has allowed outside researchers to use cognitive dissonance in an attempt to control your child’s emotional direction. They are not just interested in your children’s affective response but also the parents.

These practices I’ve outlined are not new they have just been repackaged and resurrected from the 90s

I would not expect the school board to stop these practices, because they are for the most part complicit in them.

So let’s see the response the board gives and please share it with all of us.



Anonymous said...

Melissa, is the PI a researcher at UW? If so, I suspect their Institutional Review Board would be interested to know if they are miscgaracterizing the surveys to avoid proper disclosure and consent. Any other details you can provide on that would be helpful for contacting that board, as well as SPS’s.


Anonymous said...

"It is creating psychotically conflicts in order to control students, programs, curriculum and capacity. In some cases it is used to kill programs or even entire schools."

OMG this is exactly what I see all the time, "psychotically conflicts". Thank you for defining it for me.

We as parents can't push back on anything without be labeled.

SB parent

Anonymous said...

I am so angry how the Amplify curriculum is being handled. Angry how critics, whether parents, students, or teachers, are ignored or dismissed. Are the staff in the pockets of Amplify, or do they truly feel that their office job makes them best qualified to understand what goes on in the classroom - even more so then actual people in actual classrooms???

I wrote an email to the board about this.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"It is obtaining funds for one purpose and using them for another.

It is inducing local educational institutions like schools to accept federal money – for ulterior purpose and by deceptive means."

Ultraviolet, could you explain these statements in detail? Not sure what you are referencing.

HF, I am investigating that as we speak. At UW, at Children's Hospital and I will be asking SPS' IRB as well. I believe what is being done is not what has been stated to any of those boards as what is happening does not in any way comply with best practices. Other states like Ohio and Michigan bear this out.

Thank you, NW, for writing. I think it imperative for everyone to do so.

Anonymous said...


I have a question regarding the psychotically conflicts idea you mentioned. I have students at Whitman middle school. I feel the school has under attack by the district because of the boundary changes, lack of school maintenance and a very weird message set out by the principle just before the holiday break. I'll see if I can dig up the emails but the gist of it goes like this. Most of the students who where assigned to Eagle staff only stayed at WMS because of the music program. The district seemed to have either through incompetence or purpose caused overcrowding at Eagle staff while largely under enrolling WMS. Families have been willing to accept most of the negatives of WMS vs Eagle staff (no transportation, leaking roof, weak heat,dangerous parking lot and other things) in order to continue in the fabulous music program. Oh and there was also a change in top level administration that was sort of suspicious.

In December the school has its winter concert and this year after the concert the principle sent out an email basically accusing students or perhaps a parent of being racist because the N was missing from the reader board. So winter became wi ter. Not only that, she was going to spin up some sort meetings to address the racism with the music program.

In the end the missing letter N was found on the ground exactly where it landed after falling off the reader board.

In my opinion she attacked the students and the program as racist without a good reaason like she had been waiting to pounce on anything , so the question is, who is driving the narrative or should I say "psychotically conflicts"? and is this the final attempt to gain control of the building by driving out another group of students.

-- Whitman parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Whitman parent, could you please send me these emails? sss.westbrook@gmail.com

The Board is to approve roofing spending for other schools at this week's Board meeting; I plan on telling them about Whitman.

Anonymous said...

Whitman's principal sounds really problematic - unable to properly deal with issues that come up in a school.


WMS Mom said...

There are several insufficiently competent principals in the district. Principal hiring has been a mess. It is hard to write to the board about it because the second you use actual examples of what the problem is, you lose your anonymity and the school can retaliate against your kid. Is there some kind of whistleblower protection for public school parents?

Anonymous said...

What? Someone called the HCC program racist? And those poor kids only have 3 great schools to find their dream music program? How dare them! Yes, yes, yes! Write the board. (And the governor.)

Couldn’t Be

TheGoodFight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Couldn't be

Whitman does not have an HCC program, but it has a great music program. Neither does Eckstein or all the other middle schools in SPS with great music programs. In addition, no kid can choose between 3 middle schools. Your post is not accurate nor relevant at all to this conversation.

Whitman mom

Anonymous said...

whitman isn't hcc rems is. conflate much?

no caps

Anonymous said...

Part of being a good manager or administrator is being able to thoughtfully respond to events and not go off half cocked. Perhaps the principle was under the pressure of the district's SJ agenda and was directed by the district to respond in the manner described.

It's certainly possible it was a red flag event perpetrated by a SJW ? It seems to me if a student wanted to pull a prank it wouldn't have been " Wi TER"

Probably a SWJ pulled off the "N" took a photo then posted it up on a SWJ blog along with forwarding a copy to the school district super.

This happened in Dec ? before the break?, I'm surprised it took so long to get reported here.

Dog whistle

Anonymous said...

HC identified middle school students may choose HC designated middle school, reference option school or reference contemporary school. Three choices after all. An accumulation of abundance one could say. More than other students receive. Is that fair?

Institutional memory

Anonymous said...

no caps et al, Whitman has HCC students, who can choose HMS or WMS depending on whatever electives enriches them ideally. By all means. Write the board! You deserve the best! Everything for you and yours. Those bad principals. (not principles). Giftedness doesnt apply to the parents.

Couldn’t Be

Anonymous said...

@Institutional Memory, so you’re saying HC-identified students can choose between three schools, with 1 out of the 3 (33%) likely to provide a reasonable education, whereas GE students can choose between two, with both (100%) likely to provide a reasonable education?

You’re right—that doesn’t seem fair.


Anonymous said...

well put hf!

what is it swj - sjw - or sj or does it really matter because i have no idea what you are talking about and you troll this blog about the privilege of hcc?

choose a moniker - i like, mtc but you can come up with your own. i just want to ignore your slimy drivel from a glance.

it is only fair.

no caps

Anonymous said...

that should have said the false accusation of privilege in from the hcc services.

no caps

Anonymous said...

@Couldn't be
I still don't get your logic. Whitman the school with the issue being discussed and principal who made some wrong assumptions, does not have HC services. If HC identified kids are attending their neighborhood school of Whitman they are not receiving services. What in the world anyway does that have to do with this conversation of Whitman and their music program? Your hate toward these children is consuming you.

Whitman mom

Anonymous said...

Can we get a new open thread?

Melissa Fan

Anonymous said...

The music program at Whitman is not a HCC program, but it is one of the best around. Many if not most of the musicians that go through the program go on the play in high school. It's open to every student and supplemented via many fund raisers. No child is turned away.

I'm not sure of why people think it's HCC.

Confused much