Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday Open Thread

Free fun for kids tomorrow, Saturday, July 27th, from noon to six pm at Seattle Center Seafair FanFest.  This precedes the Torchlight parade.

News from a charter school that is mostly students of color in Detroit; because the top students selected to speak at graduation said things about the school that the administration didn't like, the school is withholding the transcripts of ALL the seniors. I'm not even sure that's legal. From the Chalkbeat blog dated July 5th:
Morrow confirmed that the company has hired a lawyer to review the graduation speeches, which raised alarms about the number of long-term substitutes employed by the school and decried what they called a culture of retaliation, pointing to the controversial firing of eight teachers in 2016.

They (students) believe it amounts to a retaliation by Hamadeh Educational Services, the company that manages their school, for critical graduation speeches that put it at the center of a social media tempest last month.
School officials, who deny claims of retaliation, sent a letter to parents on Friday saying that transcripts will be released next week. Students at other schools operated by the company say their official transcripts were sent as early as two weeks ago.

The letter to parents was sent after a group of students and parents went to the company’s Dearborn Heights headquarters on Friday to demand the transcripts. They were locked out, and someone inside the building called the police, who asked them to leave or risk being charged with trespassing.
Very good article from the Seattle Times about the long-simmering issues between the district and the Urban Native Education Alliance and the use of space at RESMS.  The district abruptly ended the long partnership between the two, citing paperwork not turned in and changes in how the district is doing partnerships.  The district says UNEA is welcome to use the space but must now pay for it.  I've seen the programming UNEA does on district property.  It would cost them a fortune to pay (that just how many activities and gatherings the group has for Native youth).

Spinning off from this topic, I recently found this:
If you don’t know whose land you are occupying, here’s an awesome map where you can enter in your city in the US or Canada and it’ll tell you, along with links so you can learn more about the Nations or tribes whose land you are on.

In our continuing roundup of stories on "How bad is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?"

PoliticoDeVos sued over student loan forgiveness program that denies 99 percent of applicants
PoliticoDeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats
New York TimesEmails Show DeVos Aides Pulled Strings for Failing For-Profit Colleges

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

On my mind? OK, riddle me this on UNEA.

You have Pinkham ,a native who's family is directly involved in the UNEA then you have DeWolf a native and a supporter of UNEA and finally you have Juneau the superintendent who is also a native.
So that's 3 of the 8 people who have a seat at the dais that are native and they had no idea that SPS was going to cut off the UNEA use of RESMS?

I'm calling BS folks.

There's more to this story that is being told and I believe the problem is that it would not be good for the UNEA if the truth were told. Of coarse the UNEA has already attacked Juneau and DeWolf by telling them both to go back home.

The UNEA sounds a lot like TRUMP don't you think.

Just facts

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, the Superintendent made the decision, so yeah, she knew.

Second, there's always more to any story and it would be good to know more.

Third, where did you see UNEA tell anyone to good back home? I know one person did but that's not UNEA.

I don't think UNEA sounds anything like Trump.

Anonymous said...

I wish UNEA good luck on their suit:


Sad said...

A SPS department head took to facebook this weekend to criticize individuals that supported white school board candidates. The individual accused individuals of using "coded language". On individuals that support a male over a female..."I think we have a bit of misogyny going on,.."

Employers often do not want their employees taking public stances on political issues. There are good reasons for these policies.

As a department head, I suspect my recent tax increase of $1000 is being used to pay her salary. We deserve district staff that are willing to interact with the public in a respectful manner.

Anonymous said...

Which SPS dept head?

Say it

Carol Simmons said...

To "Just Facts" poster person

It is a fact that at least two members of the Board had no knowledge of the letter being sent to UNEA terminating the partnership between the District and UNEA and evicting UNEA/Clear Sky from the Robert Eagle Staff site. They were totally surprised.

Whether the Superintendent or the Board Directors knew about the letter to UNEA before it was sent they all knew about it soon after the letter was sent.

They could have responded to UNEA as requested, or they could have reversed the decision before the suit was filed. BUT THEY WERE SILENT.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sad, if you are talking about Rick Burke's Facebook page and his endorsements and what ensued thereafter, that SPS person is the head of an office, not a department. (My understanding is specific programs are offices and then that program fits within a department which is headed by someone else.)

It was an interesting discussion because once Burke made his endorsements, he said nothing to what followed. (Great idea because I think he was being baited and didn't fall for it.) It is fascinating to see people who will strike out hard at others, make assumptions about others motives AND decide, on the fly, that a person's background has no bearing on any discussion.

Then, they whine to Rick about being attacked. Hmmm.

I think that in this day and age anyone who works for a public entity does need to be careful because while you can be speaking "off the clock", if you are talkinga bout where you work and what you work on, then it gets mushy. I posit that the district would agree with you about their employees being very careful about public statements.
And especially if they are disagreeing with the electeds who watch over their public entity. (It's okay to disagree but attacking them is generally not good form.)

I think the Board can handle a couple of zealots on it but not more than two.

Anonymous said...

Trying to Trojan horse HCC funding using SPED is pathetic.

Shame on you Eric!

SPED parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPED Parent,
1) what is your evidence of this?
2) I assume you don't believe in 2E kids? If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Well I read through Eric's comments on your blog. Don't try and say that the you , Eric and Ben are not doing this. Just exactly how many 2e students do you think there are in SPS? There are not many, possibly 10, 20 or less?

You have this blog where you attempt make it seem like there are a huge number of these 2e kids. Ben has his blog were he and others openly scheme to do package HCC up with SPED funding.

Is all this not true? Please explain.

SPED parent

Richelle Dickerson said...

Melissa Westbrook - are you speaking of the public post on outgoing School Board Director Rick Burke’s page in which he makes endorsements encouraging “all you folx out there puzzling over school board races” to vote for two white males running in two different races for school board? The post in which Director Burke has failed to address attacks and profanity lobbed by his FB friends at womxn expressing their disagreement on this public post? Is this public endorsement which Director Burke posted and then failed to engage or moderate discussion on the one to which you are referring?

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPED Parent, who is Eric? Did you mean Rick?

You would need to be much more specific in calling out what you believe is happening. I'm not "doing" anything to push funding to HCC.

I will call up the district tomorrow and find out the numbers (something you could do but apparently prefer to just imagine a number). I also note that sometimes teachers/parents don't realize a kid is 2E until they are tested. So the number could be larger.

You explain with specifics first.

Anonymous said...

Please post the URLs to any comments made so we can read them for ourselves.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, could you be specific as to which URLs you are referring to?

Already Voted said...

I don't understand how school district employees can be seeking to publicly influence the election. Especially by demeaning candidates based on legally protected civil rights categories like sex or race. How is it acceptable for district employees to do this? Is there not a code of conduct for district employees?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Already Voted, well, Mayor Durkan is publicly announcing her choices for City Council (although her name-calling forced her to walk them back somewhat. As The Stranger put it:

"Durkan went on KUOW and apologized for calling Morales a socialist and defended her "divisive" charge by saying “I think she’s divisive because we have really strong policy differences.” That’s… not the definition of divisive."

Strong policy differences with the Mayor makes someone unqualified to be on the City Council? Folks, you might want to keep this in mind next mayoral election.

Electeds and employees of a public entity do have the right to back whoever they want. But it is important for them to probably not bad-mouth each others' choices but be positive about why they stand with the candidate of their choice.

Finally, if you come to this blog after being viciously unfair and unkind to me and calling this blog "a cesspool", then don't think you can come here and comment. Period.

The right thing to do - something that is being lost in this country - is to first talk civilly and try to find common ground. Of course, if you come out with a smear and a swing, it makes it a lot harder to want to find that common ground.

I understand that some small group of people are unhappy that people listen to me (or at least consider what I say), that many, many people know I have invested decades of my life to better this district for ALL kids and that I have people across the spectrum who know that. Many of my readers may not like all I say or agree with much but they believe in my integrity.

One thing I have learned from all those years - most people understand when you have to go personal (and low), it's suspicious.

Sad said...

Benjamin Leis is trying to call attention to the needs of special education. I voted for Leis.

Anonymous said...

Wow Benjamin is a real trail blazer.

I think I will vote for him to.

Voting Leis

Richelle Dickerson said...

Melissa Westbrook, you invited me to your blog to discuss these things. I failed to see that invitation recinded before I commented.

You are correct, going low can be very suspicious, and very much affect ones illusion of being seen as having integrity. For instance, examples might include when one launches a campaign of character assassination against a district employee, casting aspersions upon said employee's experience, work performance, relationships with colleagues and competence - making claims of being in the know with other district employees, then hiding behind their self-assigned moniker of “citizen reporter” when asked to provide evidence to substantiate their claims. Or perhaps when one entertains a fervor of white opinion-centered discussions in their public online space with persons whose opinions about racial equity and white supremacy are irrelevant due to their being among the race perpetuating and benefiting from the systems in place that primarily focus on and serve them. It might be seen when continues popping in to conversations to offer derogatory musings clearly directed at those who disagree with them - all these versions of going low definitely make one’s actions, intentions and dedication to bettering this district suspect.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Richelle, I invited you to sit down and talk. I don't like the back and forth on social media.

Again, I am happy to talk with you. You don't know my motives but I certainly made them clear to the Superintendent and the Board - help this intelligent person who heads Ethnic Studies to find better ways to communicate. Otherwise, this incredibly important initiative could fail. I told Kyle Kinoshita, who she counts as mentor, to help her with that work.

I have given many examples but here you are:

- That she admits that she is not supposed to communicate directly with either the Superintendent or the Board.

- That fully 1/3 of principals have not replied to several emails from her about the program. (There could be more than one reason but email from teachers tells me her take-no-prisoners attitude might be in play. Principals don't need agitation in their ranks; they need guidance to do the work.)

- She has the funding to hire not one but two staffers and yet is not being allowed to. Again, there could be more than one reason but it was suggested to me from someone within SPS that it may be that she is not trusted with that responsibility.

All this hurts the program. Doesn't matter that's she bright and knows her stuff - it's no good if she can't communicate it in a manner that invites people in.

Please, do tell me how you know the race/ethnic background of my readers, most of whom are anonymous? The answer is, you don't.

There is a LOT of presuming and assumption going on and again, it hurts discussion.

I have seen many things written like - "she named candidates' race from photos" - I did not. If people would read for content, you can see I said that I ONLY stated race if the candidate did. I did not use photos.

Unlike your friend, Tracy, I would NEVER presume to know someone's race/ethnic background or upbringing by looking at them. That is a terrible thing to do to anyone.

Sometimes people see what they want. And, again, if you are a hammer, well, everybody looks like a nail.

Lastly, if you want to talk, please contact me. But your attacks are unkind and unfair and you are not welcome here to insult me or my readers. I will delete anything else you post.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Last thing to note, I have been beyond fair to Tracy. I have said good things about her, her ideas for the district at her blog and how hard it appears she works.

She has never given me the slightest courtesy. Never tried to talk to me one-on-one.

This isn't Miss Manners stuff; it's common human decency.

Richelle Dickerson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Ms. Dickerson doesn't seem to have the ability to listen so yes, I'm deleting her last remark. I have to wonder at the lack of courage on her part. Offering to meet someone - face to face - rather than fling verbage back and forth on social media would seem the more mature road to take. I offered.

Readers, if you want to see what sparked this, go to Rick Burke's Facebook page and look at the post on his endorsements for Board positions including his own (Blumhagen) and District 3 (Leis). You judge for yourself what was said but again, I think Burke was wise (even in the face of criticism of his own wife) to just state his favorites and not engage. I should take that course myself.

I dictated nothing to anyone. I merely told the Board and the Superintendent my thoughts on how Ethnic Studies will not do well nor see its expansion if the current head of the office doesn't find ways to reach people rather than browbeat people within the district. I ended each email, "I ask for nothing but your consideration of this issue."

This is something that I know parents and others do with regularity. I'm nothing special in that regard.

We don't owe each other anything in this world except civility and common courtesy. Sometimes it's hard to stay in that lane when some come out swinging. That's no way to start a discussion but perhaps that really isn't the goal.

If that isn't how some operate, that's their choice. I believe most people would reject that attitude as I believe it makes it difficult to walk through the world as well as work with others.

I am going to say again - I am one person who has worked very hard for the last 20 years on better public education in Seattle Public Schools. That this has gained me the ability to have many types of people read my reporting and consider my thoughts, that was always my goal (along with providing a forum for discourse). However, anyone else could do this as well.

Along the way, I have run into a very small group of people who resent that ability. Maybe there's some anger and frustration that people will come to this blog and consider my thoughts. Again, go start your own blog; there's nothing stopping you.

Anonymous said...

This blog has now officially sunk to a lower level than the Daily Mail.

Deleting an unliked comment and then getting in the "last word"?

Grow up

Melissa Westbrook said...

I didn't close comments; I'm just not allowing comments from one person. She is attempting to sound rational while over at Rick Burke's page, she was viciously attacking this blog. Sorry, I don't have to take that here. She was asked not to comment again and she did; I left up that first comment.

You first.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find Rick Burke's comments? I found his campaign facebook page and don't see the aforementioned post, is there another one?


Anonymous said...

I can't access Facebook, but I did take a look at Richelle Dickerson's twitter. She's a very dangerous person. I would not want a person like Richelle Dickerson anywhere near a Seattle public school's classroom.

I also looked at your twitter, and I wonder if you have you had your son's read your twitter? Do think your sons would agree with the anti white male positions of the people you consistently re-tweet?

As you have mentioned, you are trying to move away from SPS and more towards national reporting, but you should think about your sons more before you connect yourself with these anti-racist racist.

Just facts

Anonymous said...

I can’t figure out the purpose behind Richelle’s consistently ridiculous spelling. Why does someone refuse to spell white or people or folks correctly?

Sincere Question

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is Director Burke's page - which I believe is his personal page but I'm not sure if he has to friend you to see it.


Anti-racist racist?

Also, my sons are grown-ass men who can think for themselves. You can perceive anything you like about what some people tweet but I will not stand for the racism coming from the White House and the GOP. That does not make me anti-white; it makes me pro-human.

Anonymous said...

People should not listen to any seated director for advice (or their wife's). The district is coming off 4 years of terrible leadership by the board.

And I have it conformed by a reliable source that Rick's wife is the author of the Facebook post.


Anonymous said...

Is this some sort of weird publicity stunt?

Question reality

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) Who cares if his wife wrote it or not? They obviously share the same opinion of who they favor to get elected to the Board.
2) People can listen to everyone and anyone. I do tend to at least listen to who an incumbent favors when they give up their seat. Burke chooses to stand with Eric Blumhagen.

Question Reality, who is your question directed to and what do you mean by "this?"

Linh-Co said...

@Watching Funny!! I'm not sure who your reliable source is. You've been misinformed. I didn't write the endorsements.

Anonymous said...

You have an ulterior motive, I think most long time readers know this.

By "this" I mean all the fighting with these equity at all cost zealous types.

Are you searching out these people on other platforms and baiting them to come here and start a fight just to raise your traffic?

Question Reality

Anonymous said...

See, I rest my case.


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

Get a different handle "watching". I've been using this handle for many years.

Melissa Westbrook said...

QR, oh please.

I am fighting back because one person started this chain of events by calling me a racist. For not supporting the Amplify curriculum. (And hilariously, today a reader said I'm a "anti-racist racist" because my tweets reflect my disgust at the overt racism in our country today. Oh well, you can't please everybody.)

I'm on Burke's Facebook feed so I checked it when he posted. He had endorsed Blumhagen and Leis which is a post I was interested in. There was a lot of back and forth between the head of Ethnic Studies and Dickerson long before I got there. But I liked one person's comment (I know him) and apparently that peeved them. Then I wrote:

"Thanks Director Burke for giving your opinion. I know that you did your homework and found the candidates you are supporting to be the best ones to work together as a team for a better district.

I note that Director Scott Pinkham has endorsed Eric Blumhagen to fill his seat. And I see that your own seat will be filled by LIsa Rivera Smith who is the only person running.

And, while there is still work to be done, I would expect Director Patu's open seat would likely go to a person of color to represent SE Seattle (the overwhelming majority of candidates being POC)."

And they went off on that. So no, I don't go looking for anything. I have blocked these people on Twitter. They are not welcome here.

But any site I weigh in on at Facebook that has SPS-related topics, there they are to fight and criticize.

If I wanted to raise traffic, I would stick to SPS topics. As you can see, I'm starting to cover more topics from the state/national level. If people want to come and see what interests me in public education today, great. If it's a small number of people, that doesn't matter to me.

All that other stuff is just becoming white noise.

Ah original Watching, I didn't think that was you. Not Watching, I'll delete your remark; get another name and repost.

Josh Hayes said...

Holy cow.

I walk away from this blog for a couple of years and MAN it's gotten a lot meaner. Melissa, I don't know how you can stand it, I really don't. Between the vitriol lobbed at you here and the brave, brave anonymous trolls over at The Stranger, it's just incomprehensible to me how full of bile some folks seem to be.

I for one appreciate all you have done in the SPS community. My two kids each did their 13 years in SPS (okay; one of them did two years of running start), and are now in college. I taught in SPS for two years (a year of student teaching and then a year of subbing) before landing a full-time gig in LWSD. I also served as site council co-chair a couple of years at Pinehurst K-8 back in those days. All along, I saw you, and this blog, as a real service and a boon to our schools. People are people: we make mistakes. I know I have, and I know you have, and you own it when you do. You have my utmost respect. Carry on, and non illegitimi carborundum.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Josh.

FYI,I am turning the focus of the blog away from SPS. Just not seeing a change in the bureaucracy, no matter who the senior leadership is, hired or elected. I'll be writing more about issues like charter schools, personalized learning and student privacy.

Watching said...

While cutting 16 school based positions, the district will spend $30K to market their strategic plan.


Thanks for your work, Melissa. Because of your long history with the district, knowledge of the district etc., I've noticed the media will solicit your opinion. Hang in there.

Josh Hayes said...

I like to think I'm a pretty good prospect if some school wanted to poach me away from Redmond (not that I'd leave: I love it there), but there's no flippin' way I'd work in SPS, as bollixed as things are down at the John. There are a whole lot of great teachers, and yes, even great administrators school by school, but they're hamstrung by how awful downtown is. And I don't know what to suggest they DO about it, sadly. Look at well-run districts, maybe (and I'd put LWSD up there -- now the third largest in the state, IIRC.)

Cheers, everybody! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Wow Benjamin is a real trail blazer (sic).

I think I will vote for him to (sic).

Voting Leis

don't you mean 2? you are dropping your r's but it is pretty easy to see who you want to compete against in the general... not your wife(?) i will be voting leis too. tireless, smart and dedicated to all of sps's students.

no caps

Anonymous said...

oh read the whole thread. partners/spouses? vs two qualified candidates. split the votes to the two qualified candidates (i guess they fear eric's chances now the most) so husband and wife have a chance. i would wonder of the genius that waits four (or is it for) years to run again then split the vote with your p/s.

for those confused:
to - expressing motion in the direction of
two - the number 2

no caps

Anonymous said...


“...down at the John.” Thank you for that gem. Absolutely perfect!


Anonymous said...

oops-- leis is district 3 ;-]



no caps

Anonymous said...

@ no caps, I'm not sure if there has been a more cryptic comment ever posted here. How many ids do you use?

Eric is running in D1 not D2 and there are 5 people running in D1 not 4.

Try using English and try to form complete thoughts then type.

--Crazy people

Melissa Westbrook said...

No caps, I myself have been apprised that sometimes grammar errors are due to issues out of the writer's control. Let's have some compassion.

And also, I'm with Crazy people, less cryptic remarks.