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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Saturday Open Thread

Crosscut has a story on the new Strategic Plan (I was interviewed for the story).  Remember how this district says everything will be viewed thru the Racial Equity tool?  Apparently the new plan wasn't.  Director Geary, who is all things equity, says the committee overlooked using it.  (There are several times when reading BARs before the Board that it isn't used.  Hard to understand when the district will or will not use it but it seems to be ... at will.)

But despite the promise of more to come, Marquita Prinzing expressed uneasiness about the development of the plan.

"If I knew who was leading the work, I'd have a little more faith,” the director of the Seattle Education Association’s Center for Racial Equity said. “It kind of felt like the strategic plan came from nowhere. But these kinds of things get co-opted or dismissed before they ever get institutionalized."
All public schools in Charlottesville, Virginia were closed for a second day yesterday due to threats against students of color.
The schools were also closed on Thursday after an anonymous person posted a message on 4Chan targeting black and minority students at Charlottesville High School and telling white students to stay home.
Yesterday a student at Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School was hit by a car walking in a crosswalk in front of the school.  I know that area and it's been disappointing to see so many drivers not slow down despite the clear signage and obvious presence of three schools.  The student had minor injuries.

In an echo from a past SPS story, a data broker in New Jersey, after saying they don't sell data on minors, did just that.  (The SPS story was with a company that had SPS student data, signed a contract saying if they got bought all data would be returned to SPS.  That happened and the new owner said they were keeping the data.  The district prevailed without going to court and got the data back.)
A New Jersey company that collects and sells personal information about consumers told regulators that it did not knowingly possess data on minors, even as it advertised a mailing list of more than a million high school students for sale on its website.
ALC Inc., a Princeton-based company, failed to acknowledge the possession of data on minors as required to comply with a Vermont law, the first of its kind in the country.

But the company explicitly offered to sell data on 1.2 million students aged 14 to 17, including their names, addresses, high schools, and hobbies, according to an advertisement on its website. The firm also offered parents’ names, household incomes, and ethnicity, among other information. The starting price for the data was $100 per thousand records.
 The 74 has an article on this great new downtown school in Seattle that has experiential learning. Is it an SPS school? No. Charter school? No.  It's a private school.  I'm guessing that the 74 - a noted ed reform site - thinks it's so great that public schools should emulate it.

This is the school that is the lower-grade cousin of Lakeside and only! $17,500 per year.  (And if you think that cost to parents covers everything, well, it doesn't.)
Sue Belcher, head of The Downtown School, wants to create a different approach to preparing students for college by moving beyond two traditional paths: students taking as many classes as possible — which works for some but causes burnout for others — or becoming a standout in an artistic or athletic pursuit.
Is this true -those are the only two choice for high school students? 
At The Downtown School, tuition is half that ($17,500), classes are limited, student enrollment is a fraction of the size, extracurriculars are few, and the school day is shorter so students can participate in sports or activities elsewhere.
That participating in sports elsewhere? Any private school student can participate in a public school sport (like charter students).  They do have to pay fees like other students but it's the public school that is fronting the infrastructure.

There are no director community meetings today but there are two SPS events:

Seattle Public Schools Science Instructional Materials Adoption Committee Meeting
This meeting is for committee (K-5 and 6-8 combined committees) members only. It is a closed session.  John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (JSCEE), 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

I'm a bit confused on this one because I was told the public COULD go.  I can only guess that this is to head off any more input from parents.

Promoting Participation: Inclusive Physical Activity Fair
Eckstein Middle School from 3:30-6:30 pm

A FREE event that provides an opportunity for the community to come together and support the inclusive physical activity engagement of students and families from Seattle Public Schools. Representatives from various community organizations will be present and activity stations will be universal for participation of all abilities. Students can sign up for spring/summer camps and enjoy a couple hours of FUN participation in physical activity.
Each participant will get a “passport book” upon check in. The book contains an area to collect a stamp from every activity or booth they visit. Collecting a qualifying number of stamps earns a ticket into the raffle drawing.
Who: ALL students and families of Seattle Public Schools. All grade levels. This is a fully inclusive event for students with and without disabilities.

What's on your mind?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

@ North Mom and Melissa,

Continuing from previous thread - SB 5689 is an anti-bullying bill. You can read more about it below.

https://www.wastatepta.org/wspta-testifies-anti-bullying-bill-sb-5689/

https://www.yakimaherald.com/opinion/editorial-legislature-must-pass-bills-to-protect-the-transgender-community/article_daa3fba6-3627-11e9-a6cc-e74acb847fcf.html

-NP

Anonymous said...

@NP and Melissa,

Re my comment on Tuesday's Open Thread
A bill that passed the Washington State Senate and has been heard in the House would allow teachers to show sexually graphic and other controversial content without parental notice or even principals being notified.

The Bill Analysis of SB 5689 states:
"Provides that a teacher's evaluation may not be negatively impacted if a teacher
chooses to use curriculum or materials that address sexual orientation including
gender expression or identity if the materials are age appropriate and connected to the
content area"

This would be a dangerous policy open to an individual teacher's subjective interpretation that may be very offensive to parents and the community, with no oversight by the school or district administration allowed. In the worst case scenario, it could be used to groom children sexually.

This provision of SB 5689 does not seem to fit the rest of the bill, but it would be a dangerous policy.

SB 5689 is a bill specifically prohibiting bullying of transgender students, with this provision protecting teachers included at the end of it. I question why we should have a bill for a specific group of students rather than for all students. SB 5689 sets up an extensive protocol requiring each school and each district to document their transgender policies and transgender anti-bullying policies.

Would SB 5689 forbid girls from protesting when a biological male is in their locker room or shower? Would it punish parents who protest against their daughter being placed in a hotel room with a biological male on a school-related overnight trip? Would it punish a teacher for refusing to supervise a locker room where an opposite-sex student was changing or showering?

I'm against all bullying, but this bill 1) bullies students, parents and teachers who don't agree with gender identity ideology - including girls who don't want to see male genitalia without their consent; 2) allows teachers almost unlimited ability to introduce sexually graphic material into the classroom with no notice or oversight.

North Mom

Anonymous said...

@ North Mom

Here is the full text of the proposed bill from the WA state legislature website:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5689&Year=2019

I don't see anything that supports your bill analysis. Can you indicate the source? Thanks.

-NP

Anonymous said...

The digest of that bill reads as follows:
http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Digests/Senate/5689.DIG.pdf

SB 5689 - DIGESTRequires the Washington state school directors' association to collaborate with the office of the superintendent of public instruction (OSPI) to develop and update a model policy and procedure that prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying, and a model policy and procedure for transgender students.
Requires each school district to:
(1) Adopt or amend if necessary a policy and procedure that prohibits the harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student, and a transgender student policy and procedure; and
(2) Designate one person in the school district as the primary contact regarding the bullying policy and procedure, and one person as the primary contact for the transgender student policy and procedure.
Requires the OSPI to:
(1) Develop a statewide training class for the primary contact in each school district;
(2) Develop online training material available to school staff based on the model transgender student policy and procedure; and
(3) In collaboration with the department of health and the department of social and health services, review and align the questions in the healthy youth survey with the model transgender student policy and procedure.


The bill requires anti-bullying policies (of all students generally) and it ALSO requires transgender-inclusive policies and procedures.

"Biological male." North Mom: There are people who are not biologically male who are also not biologically female. Sometimes the term "intersex" is used, and it covers a lot of conditions such as late-onset adrenal hyperplasia, vaginal atresia, Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, androgen insensitivity syndrome, mixed gonadal dysgenesis...there are more. There are people whose bodies are made up of cells that have XX chromosomes and cells that have XY chromosomes, sometimes due to the early-gestational fusion of two twins in utero. Transgender includes people like these and many, many others. There are also situations where a child is born with seemingly male or female anatomy (due to different development in utero) only to find at puberty the child is chromosomally and hormonally the opposite. This is called "ambiguous genitalia," and it's relatively common, not unlike cleft palates. If surgery was performed on a child with ambiguous genitalia that doesn't match the hormonal or chromosomal situation at puberty, imagine what that means and does to you as you grow up.

Your worry about "girls in locker rooms with boys" means you have capacity for compassion. Surely there is room in your heart to feel compassion for a transgender child with any of these or other conditions, many of which lack an explanation and are simply unique to a person. They are all inborn and unchangeable. There are relatively few transgender people in the overall population, there should be space in a world of love of compassion to include them, too. Try to overcome your worries and fears and learn about transgender issues, or better yet meet some, and you'll soon see you have nothing to fear.

Room for Compassion

Anonymous said...

@NP

The 4th bullet point under the Brief Summary here: https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/5689-S%20HBA%20ED%2019.pdf

Section 4 of the actual bill: https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5689-S.pdf

@Room for Compassion: There are people with developmental reproductive abnormalities and they are called intersex. This bill is not designed to address students with intersex conditions, but children who say they identify with a different gender than their normally-developed bodily sex.

Yes, fully developed males can be in girls' locker rooms, showers and overnight facilities according to current rules in Washington state and OSPI and this new bill could penalize any girl who objects.

https://youtu.be/BGpw04zTMAk

North Mom

Anonymous said...

North Mom: The statute just doesn't say what you claim it does. It just protects teachers who mention homosexuality and transgender issues age-appropriately from being hassled about it by confused (although I presume you are well-meaning) adults like you. All these scary scenarios you conjure in your head are not based on reality. Did you know your kids already attend a school with gender-neutral bathrooms? Did you know that almost all restaurants and public accommodations in Seattle already are trans-inclusive? To our kids, this is already completely normal. When you talk about "transgender ideology," your use of the word ideology ironically shows us you are coming at this issue from an ideological point of view, but it is not an ideology. It's a medical and psychological reality. It is nature, it is inborn, it is inherent. Ideology is when people used to think Black kids swimming in the public pool contaminated it; reality is that humans are humans and the public pool is not affected. Ideology is when people used to think homosexuality and pedophilia are the same thing; reality is that they are not even remotely related. Ideology is when you think transgenderism is a ploy used by straight cis men to victimize girls; reality is that child molesters exist but they're not transgender, and transgender people are more often murdered, abused, and bullied than nearly any other group. You can solve the misalignment of your perception of reality by coming out and meeting some trans people, watching our stories when we tell them authentically on TV and in movies and books, and you can learn what transgender means. It doesn't mean what you seem to think it does! Please be open to the possibility that you've been thinking about it all wrong. Seattle's kids already know there is nothing to fear from our trans community members. Most Seattle kids know or know of a trans member of their communities in school. You can learn from kids and open your heart if you try.

RfC

Melissa Westbrook said...

North Mom, I get your concerns. I think some concerns are over-blown but you are right to ask questions. I do note that I know of no high school or middle school that requires showers after PE.

I will note a story that does illustrate how complex these issues are.

Several years back there was an incident during an overnight trip by the Garfield choir. A new student had been transferred to Garfield from Blanchet HS (which is a private school). The student was exited because he allegedly molested a male student at Blanchet. This was noted on his transcript but not in a red flag way and it got overlooked at Enrollment and, of course, no one at Garfield knew.

This student was on that trip.

We don't need to go into the lack of adult oversight on that trip but this student had told the lead adult that he felt uncomfortable in a room with other boys who may bully/tease him. So that student was allowed to go into girls' rooms with no supervision. He ended up allegedly molesting a couple of girls.

My take is that this student is that he clearly has boundary issues and caused fear/upset to other students.

So how do you know if students are having identity confusion? What is the role of the school/district beyond protecting the student from bullying? If a student is confused, should the school tell the parents? Ask for a referral to services to help the student?

I am NOT saying that anyone who is gender or sex confusion will do bad things. But I am saying that kids get confused about all kinds of things and it would be great to know what the district can/should do or not do. And that those decisions are clearly communicated to parents.

Anonymous said...

If a teacher says sexually suggestive comments to my kids or hints that various types of sexual interactions are normal then that teacher is going to get sued or worst. This also goes for assigning reading materials!

SPS has had a rash of pedos employed, many were known and removed about but still some unknown because of cover-ups. All those hires resulted in children being hurt. I blame SEA for not imposing processes to weed out the PEDOs!

Just when you think SPS can't become any goofier it does.

MOA coming

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Just pointing out that none of these stories has anything to do with transgender people, one of the topics in the bill in question, and the boy in Melissa's case was also not transgender.

RfC

Melissa Westbrook said...

Folks, do not post items with no attribution. Yes, RfC, we were discussing kids who are trans and not pedofiles. And no, the boy who I talked about was not transgender. I merely was using that case to explain the complexities when we talk about gender and sexual orientation.

Anonymous said...

When people are unfamiliar with other groups of people they will often create imagined scenario's and are fearful. In reading some of these comments I have come to the conclusion those posting fear related comments have not actually encountered Trans kids in the real world. We know a few Trans kid and these imagined scenarios are not in line with Reality. First of all the kids we know are taking hormone blockers, so they are not even going through puberty. They try very hard to fit in with the gender in which they identify. Second of all they use single stall bathrooms. It is a very difficult situation for them at this age. Have you even thought of what it might be like for a child to navigate being born into a body that is the wrong gender? Most have identified as the opposite gender thought their childhood. I agree with Rfc's post.

KP

Likeable said...

@Melissa

Thank you for flagging The 74 as a (likely) ed reform website. Despite its funding sources, I have found myself reading that website more often and have been agreeing with op-eds and perspectives I find there. Yet, I wouldn't say I'm a supporter of ed reformers in general. Maybe I'm just feeble-minded (also likely!), but the other hypothesis I'm thinking of going with is that my views may align more with ed reform perspectives than I had previously cared to admit.

I had read the story you highlighted about Lakeside's "lite" school in downtown Seattle, and although I also balked at the price (although it's only about $5K more per year than the "affordable" privates in Seattle), I actually thought it was appealing and could imagine trying to place my daughter there for high school if the funding and staffing situation doesn't improve in the public schools. Scholarships would be helpful, of course. This model of a "lite" version of a prestigious school isn't exactly that big of an innovation. UW is growing campuses all over the state and regionally, and they will all eventually blossom into full-fledged stand-alone universities, just as the community colleges are all slowly becoming colleges with 4-year degrees. What is an innovation is a private school doing the same thing, planting the seed of a new school under its own aegis. In a few years' time I would expect it to launch as fuller-fleged stand-alone entity.

I keep reading Seattle has a nearly 30% private school attendance rate, tho' I'm not sure what the source of that data is. But, it seems like there's a lot of demand for more private school seats. If the public schools are going to wither like Washington Middle School, where, sadly, my daughter goes, I don't know what else to do. Fighting for public schools doesn't ever seem to get us anywhere, Lord knows we've been trying, and our our board director is clueless. It's not like I can postpone my daughter's education to wait for the district to pull it together. So Lakeside lite looks a little likeable.

Eric B said...

Silly budget question: on the SPS budget website (https://www.seattleschools.org/departments/finance/Budget/next_year_budget_development under the resources tab), I can see the budget allocations for every school in the district. What I don't see are total school-based FTE or the budget allocation for JSCEE. I could get the former by adding up data from every single school in the district, but that's obviously pretty tedious. I don't know if the JSCEE data is available anywhere.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Likeable, look for my upcoming thread about the district and the damage they inflict all by themselves. Private school enrollment has NOT gone down and, if this Lakeside lite, takes off, more will come.

People often feel odd telling me, "I support public ed but my kid's in private school." And I say you do what you think best for your own child. I can't fault people for that (but, at the same time, if your choice - like a charter or not vaccinating - hurts other schools/kids, then I do take some issue).

Anonymous said...

I think any parent who has the means should get their children out of SPS. If you dont have the means you should prepare you child for running start. In the meantime, find online programs with good reviews and start early.

BTW, congratulations to all the seniors who finished the Running Start program last week.

Enjoy your success and freedom, you earned it!

--God Bless

Anonymous said...

I would like to put in a good word for the Downtown School (referred to above as Lakeside Lite). We looked at it pretty seriously for my kid and decided a more traditional school would be a better fit.

The only thing 'lite' about it is the price tag and the electives, which are non-existent. The classes seem very rigorous. It is non-traditional, though, for sure. I think it would be fabulous for a kid struggling with the social demands of a large, comprehensive school, or a kid with extremely strong outside interests. The lite label feels belittling.

Krab

Anonymous said...

Some people like to visit a zoo when they want to see animals not live in one.

Homogenizing education via diversity is sort of the same.


Boo Ha

Anonymous said...

Agree with RfC and KP above. I dislike this idea of transgender kid=kid lurking to molest other kids. That's ridiculous. The transgender kid is most likely trying to avoid being bullied themselves. Attitudes like North Mom's get passed on to their kids. Trans kids are under doctor care and it can be verified that they aren't just rapists in disguise. Sheesh.
Please get to know a transgender person before you engage in hurtful stereotyping.

-squiggle

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

Why does this blogger keep bringing up hurtful subjects. What is her agenda?

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

Transgender kids are regular kids. I have a trans kid in my class, and they are just like any other kid. I have not the remotest concern this child will harm someone else and they are the farthest thing from creepy you could imagine.

It is really no big deal. Just another way of being in the world. Respect one another, please.

asdf

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

The provision of SB 5689 that I specifically pointed out is the one that gives teachers almost unlimited ability to present controversial sexually-themed materials to students. This would take away a parent's or community's right to object to potentially harmful material.

North Mom

Anonymous said...

@North Mom

The bill doesn't do any such thing. It just protects teachers from being hassled if they mention age -appropriate information about sexual orientation or Trans issues. As you can see from your repetituve posts about this, you may be in the super minority of parents worried about this. You might want to consider moving on...or out of public schools.

RfC

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Parent, who are you referring to? The only blogger is me; everyone else is a reader/commenter. I did not bring up the subject of trans students but it's an open thread, the story is about a bill in the legislature that could affect public education. That's a worthy topic.

We do not name-call here especially kids. You keep your hurtful words to yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is permitted here but in case it is... Please consider adding your name to this petition created by a Garfield student to save SPS staff, circulating this morning on social media. Let's press state legislators to lift the levy cap by all means possible.

https://www.change.org/p/washington-state-legislature-save-seattle-public-schools-staff?recruiter=842801859&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

FNH

Anonymous said...

@North, would the language in the proposed bill materially change the way SPS currently operates? Teachers are given great latitude in their choice of teaching materials (really, it's almost anything goes) and principals know little about the specifics of day to day lessons unless something is brought to their attention. As a parent, you do have a right to view materials used in class. This shouldn't change. Responsible teachers will send home a permission slip when they think material or subject matter may be controversial. A truly professional teacher or administrator will respect parental rights for their child. Also, over the years, we have brought some questionable, age-inappropriate choices to the attention of school administrators. Beyond the extra discussions that happen at home, expressing concerns sometimes results in administrators working with the teacher to redirect the lessons.

(As far as the random rabble rouser comments, they seem to be just that, intended to inflame. The best response may be no response. Why feed the trolls?)

reality