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Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday Open Thread

Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the United States landing on the moon.  (I was alive then to see that - from a town in Arizona - but I suspect most of you weren't.  It was pretty damn exciting.)  Lots going on at NASA including a replay of original Moon landing broadcast from July 20, 1969.


The district updated the candidate information page for the choosing of a new director for District VII, replacing Betty Patu.  It includes the questionnaire for the candidates.  I note that even though there are only five numbered questions, some questions have two questions within them.  One of them is asking if candidates support the Strategic Plan.  I'll go out on a limb and say the answer from all will be..."yes." I did a spot check but don't see a candidate who has answered the questions (or, at least, the district hasn't put up the answers yet).

The Advanced Learning Task Force is having an all-day retreat tomorrow at the JSCEE from 8 am to 4 pm.  That's dedication for you.  No agenda available. As well, here is an update of their work for 2018-2019

Director Harris will be having a community meeting tomorrow, Sat the 20th, from 3-5 pm at the West Seattle Library.

What's on your mind?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

School district to parents: Pay your lunch debt or your children might wind up in foster care

The terse letter arrived in the mailboxes of about 40 families in Northeastern Pennsylvania this month. It came from the local public school district, but it bore a menacing message: Pay your child’s lunch debt or risk losing the child to foster care.

David Usavage thought it was a joke at first. There was no way, he thought, that the Wyoming Valley West School District, where he was the vice president of the school board, would threaten to have parents separated from their children to get them to pay money they owed, which ranged from $12.50 to $450.

“I was enraged,” Usavage told The Washington Post. “I’m sorry, we don’t take kids from their families because their parents owe a very small amount to the school district. It was heavy-handed, it was harsh. It was a scare tactic."
...
“Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch,” the 200-word letter read. “This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child’s right to food. If you are taken to Dependency court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed in foster care.”

Leaders in Luzerne County, which runs the local foster-care system, denounced the letter and chastised the school district, saying foster care is to be used only when children are being abused or are otherwise in danger.

“This isn’t what we do, this isn’t who we are,” County Manager David Pedri said in an interview. “This letter was used to weaponize and terrorize, and to strike fear in parents to pay bill. In no way, shape or form are we the boogeyman coming to take your kids away in the middle of the night.”
...
“Hopefully, that gets their attention — certainly did, didn’t it?” Coslett said. “I mean, if you think about it, you’re here this morning because some parent’s crying foul over he or she doesn’t want to pay a debt. A debt attributable to feeding their kid. How shameful.”

Muth was more apologetic, conceding that “it might be a bit too heavy for some people” but adding that the district up to that point was “not getting a response.”

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said on Twitter that, “No child should have to imagine the horror of being ripped away from their parents because their family is struggling economically. These letters were callous and should never have happened.”

The letter is the latest example of a school district contending with students who do not have enough money to pay for cafeteria meals and so accrue a debt to eat. The letter amounts to a more private version of “lunch shaming,” where schools treat students differently if they are in arrears. Children have been marked with ink stamps, and others have been given cheese sandwiches instead of hot meals. Lunch was even taken back from some students and thrown away when their debt was discovered.

School officials in Warwick, R.I., announced in May that students with lunch debt won’t be able to choose food from the usual cafeteria smorgasbord. Instead, they’ll be given only a sandwich containing sunflower seed butter and jelly.
...
Roughly 1,000 families owe the district a total of about $22,000, Usavage said. Every family that owed more than $10 received the most recent letter. He said other members of the school board are angry, too, and are likely to ask Coslett and Muth to send a letter of apology.

On Thursday, Pedri and Joanne Van Saun, director of the county’s Children and Youth Services agency, sent the district a letter of their own ordering school officials to “immediately cease and desist” advising families that failure to pay lunch bills could land their children in foster care.

“The Luzerne County Children and Youth Foster Care System is utilized when a family has been struck by tragedy,” they wrote. “The Luzerne County Children and Youth Foster Care System is NOT utilized to scare families into paying school lunch bills.”


weep

Anonymous said...

Parents can sign up for FRL so I think that parents that don't take care of there children do deserve a visit because there could be other things going on.

I imagine there were many notices sent home and ignored.

How about SPS threatening to hold back a student's diploma and transcript over a $12.00 book fine. Put that in you liberal pipe and smoke it!

All types

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Seattle, try again without the name-calling and rumors.

All Types,what does being liberal have to do with anything? Cease and desist.

old salt said...

I have missed the school board debates & feel like I don't have good info on the candidates.

These are questions I would ask.

In the operations budget, what is a change you would make?

Should there be more or less choice in the assignment system?

Should it be a goal to standardized students' experience across the district or should schools & teachers be able to tailor curriculum or offer unique experiences? Why or why not?

Is the current balance between school building funding & JSC funding correct or should it change, in which direction?

Do you support the new budget timeline for building staffing?

Do you support the adoption of the new amplify curriculum? and will you support fidelity of implementation for this curriculum?

Was the amplify adoption process a good model for future adoptions?

Will you maintain later secondary school start times?

How often will you meet with constituents?



Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathleen, I didn't want that kind of smear-rumor out there. It's just false.

Old Salt, I think some of your questions were submitted but I'm not sure any of them made the list.

Grouchy Parent said...

1. That All Types comment didn't sound like All Types. Pretty sure that was a moniker poacher. That's been rampant lately.

2. Maybe delete Kathleen's response, too? Because now just by mentioning the rumor, Kathleen is the one spreading the rumor, which is the opposite of what she tried to do.

Anonymous said...

@ All types, please choose a new moniker--I have been using that one here for some time now. (And thanks, @Grouchy Parent, for pointing that out and for trying to maintain some integrity re: monikers!)

all types (v.1)

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think it's any accident that monikers used for a long time by one person are now cropping up sounding decidedly different.

Look, if you have a problem with me, that's fine. Don't try to make other people part of it.

Kathleen S. said...

Thank you for insisting on accurate information.

Carol Simmons said...

The Seattle Public Schools District Data Profile Outcomes July 2019 and the Seattle Public Schools District Data Profile Demographics July 2019 are both available in hard copy at the Stanford center. You can also go on line to get the information.

This Document had been discontinued several years ago and after many attempts by many stakeholders to restore the hard copy, it is now available.

Some interesting data regarding enrollment, District issues reporting data by ethnic and racial categories as mandated by the Federal government and OSPI, Free and Reduced Lunch categories, Special Education, Bilingual data and Advanced Learning Data.

Anonymous said...

Are there two Eric Blumhagens? I'm curious because when we were at loyal heights there was a Eric Blumhagen on the school's PTA board. Parents with children in special ed came to a PTA meeting with an Eric present. In the meeting many parents were openly complaining that special education was taking funding away from their students.

Eric did not stand-up for the special ed students, so was that a different Eric Blumhagen?

Natalia

Anonymous said...

Eric absolutely does stand up for SpEd.

Eric spearheaded efforts to scupper the district when they tried to railroad special-education students off of Ingraham high school campus and warehouse them into the south wing of Lincoln when it was a grab bag of various students (18-21, vocational training, the Pinehurst’s 80 K-8 kids, etc). It would never have been a real home for them, because besides being totally inappropriately isolated from other Rams, Lincoln was slated to be emptied out when it was to be renovated to become a high school, so it was only ever just a temporary parking lot for those kids. Yeah, Nyland was the guy with Tolley trying to harm SpEd kids. In contrast, Eric fought vigorously and reached out to his contacts both on staff and in the board to prevent that. Blumhagen didn’t have to do that, there was no spotlight on him, he wasn’t employed by the district, I don’t even think he was on the Ingraham PTO at the time. Eric did it because it was the right thing to do for kids.

Natalia is uninformed. PTA budget is only for *enrichment*, and that is spread among all students in their enrichment, whether it was the drama or the afterschool activities or PE equipment of field trips, that is for *every* kid — if an ignorant parent in meeting is standing up complaining about school budget allocations, that’s got nothing to do with the PTA. Responding to those ignorant statements from people in a public forum often only adds gasoline to the fire. Really, the bogeyman of “overspending” on special education children nothing to do with the PTA. Not only is it a malicious fallacy, it’s also, when brought up at a PTA meeting, the inappropriate forum.

Don’t know if Natalie has ever even served on the PTA or PTO or on task force or district committee the way Eric has, but Eric has distinguished himself with service to ALL school children in the district with common sense, common decency, and grace. I’m grateful a level-headed, pro-kid public school dad who has strong analytics and ~20 student years of SPS experience is running. We need more like that to step up.

Ram

Former Beaver said...

Loyal Heights had a history of supporting all children. At one point, the school housed students with significant emotional and behavioral issues. The PTA made it a point to support these students, too. PTA members went into the classroom to provide these students with art experiences.

Former Beaver said...

Most people don't question the integrity of Golden Acorn recipients.

Anonymous said...

I was happy to vote for Eric this weekend!

HP

Anonymous said...

I am the first HP who posted on the Tuesday Open Thread. Not the second HP who posted all that hateful stuff. My cousins left Kings School because of their non-binary child. Their child is not sick.

Hateful HP, please pick a new moniker. I have had the HP moniker since 2012 when my kid started at Hale. HP stands for Hale Parent.

HP

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Science Teacher said...
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Anonymous said...

Mean HP, I sincerely doubt that because until very recently, I have been the only HP posting on here. There is someone else who posts as Hale Parent but no one else has posted as HP. Please pick a new moniker. I really don't want anyone to think I share your opinions.

HP (short for Hale Parent).

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Melissa Westbrook said...

Former Beaver, as a Golden Acorn winner myself, I think it okay to question what a Board candidate has done in the past. People often do have differing memories and, as Ram said, there are differences between the school budget and the PTA budget.

But I warn readers against falsehoods and smears against candidates.

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Anonymous said...

None of those HPs from 8:01 on are me. So many trolls lately on this blog. You must be hitting some nerves Melissa.

HP (Hale Parent)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

That HP is not me

HP

Anonymous said...
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old salt said...

Anonymous Lies, Smears, Threats,

I have to wonder what you hope to get out of this? Whatever it is, your methods convince me that you are lying for nefarious purpose that you can not accomplish by discussing issues or debating policies. That must mean that I would be more persuaded by the opinions of your targets than by your opinions.

You are unconvincing.





Anonymous said...

That was not me at 8:31. Now they are trying to discredit me.

I am the original HP which is short for Hale Parent. I voted for Eric and was happy to do so.

I am sorry you are having to deal with this person posing as long time commentators.

Thanks,
HP

Anonymous said...

Maybe since school is out those JSCEE employees with a grudge against Melissa have more free time?

Grudgy McGrudgeface

kellie said...

I concur with old salt.

The obvious childish and clearly personal attacks makes it very clear that the attacker does not have any courage of their own convictions. At least not enough courage to even use a consistent moniker and/or take the time to build an argument.


Anonymous said...

Well I sure hope it's on one of those other candidates casting aspersions against any of the challengers. I'm sure that would never happen. Didn't MC Post a lot of stuff here under his own name before. Sure glad he's not here anymore. As I recall he made a lot of stuff up. His grammar suffered too, like some of those posts that have been deleted.

But he has his own blog I'm sure he's busy there. That's why you stopped posting here. He certainly not stealing other people's monikers. Pretty sure he did steal mine though in the past.

I wonder about the wife and husband team and whether or not they were concerned about splitting votes. Imagine if they posted through.

YIKES