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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hazel Wolf K-8 Struggles with Racial Slurs

The story was from the Seattle Times about students at Hazel Wolf K-8 having a protest over the lack of action from their administration on the use of racial slurs. What the Times writes versus what some of the comments - which seem to be from PTSA/staff - are quite different.  As in most of these cases, there are two items to remember.

Editor's note: KUOW also had a story and I'll link to that when available as one teen had a snappy answer about action on the issue.

One, no school likes its dirty laundry publicly aired.

Two, it seems striking that kids would have a protest rally because they feel their administration is not doing enough to check racial slurs at their school.  That speaks well of the student body to have that kind of reaction.

What happened?
A crowd of students and parents protested outside Hazel Wolf K-8 in Seattle’s Northgate area Friday morning, calling for more action in response to racial bullying there.

Twice this school year already, black students have been referred to by racial slurs and compared to monkeys by some of their peers, said Aselefech Evans, who chairs the racial-equity committee of the school’s parent-teacher association.

Racial slurs have been a problem at the school for a few years now, she said. But despite parents and students reporting the incidents, protesters said the school administration hasn’t done enough to address the incidents directly.
The key terms seem to be "for a few years now" and yet the administration "hasn't done enough to address the incidents directly."

One student said, "she received pushback and skepticism when she told an administrator at Hazel Wolf that one of her friends was the target of a slur."

What its principal says is troubling:
In an email, Debbie Nelsen, the principal, confirmed that racial name-calling among students happens at the school. But she called the allegations against the school “inaccurate.”

“We deal with every situation brought to us immediately and with a constant eye on social justice and equity,” she wrote. “This includes gathering as much information as possible so that we are able to move forward based on facts.”
She said the school settles these incidents on a case-by-case basis; first by interviewing the students involved, then notifying their parents and then determining what the next steps should be. This year’s incidents have already been addressed, she said, but she did not provide specific information about how.
A case-by-case basis on an issue that has been going on for a few years?  And this is a school with a Racial Equity Committee.

What do students want?
Students have three requests for the school: 
  • an end to anti-black racial slurs, 
  • an assembly or presentation informing students about the history of racist language and 
  • more support for students affected by these incidents. 
Parents want formal, accessible documentation of cases where students are called racial slurs, more transparency and notifications about when these incidents happen — especially to immigrant families — and more teachers of color.
 I don't think that's asking a lot from an on-going situation. 
Nelsen said the school already documents the cases in students’ discipline files, and invites parents of those affected to the school. She said the school is also working on a way to educate students on the significance and history of racial slurs.
Working on a way? What with the school already having a Racial Equity Committee AND help available at JSCEE? Hmmm.

The district's comment:
“Today’s demonstration highlights the need for continued focus and diligence,” Tim Robinson, a Seattle Public Schools spokesman, said in an email. “We will continue to support school leaders in addressing incidents of racial bias and hate; as well as provide guidance on how to support community healing.”
My comment? No comment except another great word salad from SPS.

From the comments at the Times:

Hazel Wolf Parent Racial Equity Committee member:
The tiny second grader with her cat-ears headband spoke softly into the microphone. “ I am Tibetan, and I am an immigrant. At my other school, the kids teased me, and I didn’t like it, because I was Tibetan.” She paused and took a deep breath. “They left me out of their games, and sometimes I would be alone for the whole entire recess.” Her voice shook and tears fell, from her eyes and from many eyes around her.

If you weren’t at the Hazel Wolf (HW) School peaceful protest Friday and only read the Seattle Times article, you wouldn’t have heard this child speak her truth, and you wouldn’t have seen the many students who then gathered around her, to hug her, to thank her, and to tell her they will be her friend and play with her at recess.

That little girl, who we didn’t know was going to speak, is just one of the reasons we held the protest.

If you weren’t at Hazel Wolf School Friday, you didn’t hear the tall young Ethiopian woman in her hijab speaking out on behalf of her brothers who have been victims of racial bullying. She smiled beautifully, and challenged the adults, especially those in authority, to take strong and timely actions to prevent racist bullying. 
Another (stated) parent:
This article gives the impression that the entire HW community condones racism and that “there is a culture of quiet about racism at the school”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunate that the poor behavior of one (or a few students) resulted in this group going this route and giving the entire HW community a bad name instead of working with the admin. 
One or a few? I find it hard to believe there are just a few if you have both a second grader and a middle school student complaining.  But, as with most school issues, the truth may lie somewhere in-between.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I’ve heard there has been racial bullying at our school too. I’m afraid it’s everywhere, and it’s unfortunate SPS isn’t able to articulate an approach for addressing these challenges. Racism runs deep in our country and I don’t expect that children won’t act out what they see in the world on their playgrounds. SPS’s response is unsatisfactory; HW students demands are completely reasonable and SPS needs a good explanation why they’re not implementing them.

Catch Up

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa and All,

I'm seeing the same dynamic at my north end school. The administration of any school is not allowed to publish what they do to the offender because of FERPA, and then, the offended and their allies claim nothing was done, or not enough was done, and the school's administration can't answer that claim with facts, so the offended and their allies can have a field day with it.

Furthermore, if the school administration determines that the offenses are being committed by a few ring leaders along with a few passive hangers-on who are scared of the leaders, should they shut down a school of 100s of kids because eight or ten kids need to be taught that racism and bullying are wrong?

The logic of the Anti-Racist crowd is essentially one of social-determinism, so for them, the answer is yes. For them, individual transgressions indicate that the whole community needs to be fixed instead of a few racists who need to be educated out of their racism. For them, it isn't enough to deal with the bad actors. The whole community is to blame. Therefore, for them, the whole school needs to be shut down and reeducated.

The whole thing sure did provide a good opportunity for any school board candidates who happened to be in the area for a photo opp.

SP

Anonymous said...

@SP it's not clear that anybody is asking to "shut down the school", maybe I don't understand what you mean by that?

A possible way to teach a few kids that some behaviors are unacceptable is to show them lots of kids and adults who won't accept those behaviors.

Good education on the topic would not only be addressed toward students who have misbehaved. It could also explain to all students practical strategies to use when they observe bullying. It doesn't seem reasonable to assume that all students already know constructive ways to deal with bullies. In my experience, especially with younger students, the bullies are often unaware that their own behavior is out of line, they are just doing things that they have seen others do, maybe friends and relatives or maybe in videos. It can take a while for them to understand that what looks to them like joking around can actually be hurtful.

None of this would require the school to divulge confidential facts about specific incidents. If a student who was disciplined wants to come forward and say what happened and apologize, that should be allowed, but even without that it should be possible to do useful education.

Irene

Anonymous said...

Something for people to reflect upon when they read about these incidents between kids is that
they should not make assumptions it is a "white kid" making a racial slur. I think we often make these assumption in our society because we assimilate new information into an inaccurate preconceived schema (media driven) of "white versus POC. Data actually reveals that all human beings everywhere engage in acts of prejudice against those they perceive as different. In the US we like to assume everyone considered a POC identifies with other POC (regardless of race) as a united group. At our school we had this situation as well and it is just as often other kids of color, in our case it was immigrant kids, calling other kids racial slur names.

sad situation

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

The administration of any school is not allowed to publish what they do to the offender because of FERPA, ,.."

Of course that is true. No one is asking for that and that's why it seems odd that the administration wouldn't just do the wider thing. I'd bet many kids already know who the offenders are and, with that wider education, it might empower some kids to look at the offenders if they talk like that again, and say, "That's wrong."

I think Irene said it better than me.

Sad Situation, a good point and one that I have seen myself.

I'm sorry but what does CA-RAV stand for? Please let me know as I'd like to raise this issue with the Board.

"Black folks are treated as a monoculture in this country. Asian folks are not. Period."

One, who is she to tell him that? Two, black children certainly aren't being treated as a monoculture by SPS given the careful breakdown the district seems to be using this year. Three, I think many Asian folks would disagree with her.

Again, you have those who want to control any discussion or conversation, thus shutting down parents and teachers who may want to offer their view.

Anonymous said...

CA-RAV = Central Area Residents Against Violence

FNH

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Carol Simmons said...

During the Busing, Deseg days, there was a great deal of what was called "Human relations" training for staff and students. District wide HR training was mandatory for a week. Classes and activities were cancelled. An H.R. multiethnic team of highly skilled and excellent "trainers" facilitated the education/training at every school. There was resistance and there was acceptance and there were results. These trainings /education changed many lives of staff and students. Additionally when students of color were bused into the all white Nathan Hale High School, students attended assemblies devoted to anti racism. At Cleveland High School in the seventies when White students were bused into Cleveland H.S. there were Respect assemblies held, and at West Seattle H.S. when Newcomer, Bilingual students were bused into West Seattle H.S., Multi cultural dinners and Holiday celebrations were held that have remained at many schools since that day. Bus drivers of the bused students were involved. Incidents on the buses were immediately attended to. Incidents in the halls and on the grounds were immediately attended to. There were many things done and there were many things accomplished by a District that educated rather than punished, by a District that not only was committed to desegregation and integration but the respect for and appreciation of Diversity. It was successful for many. It was worth it. It can be done by a District that has the will to do it.

Anonymous said...

For more context, the full statement from the HW Parent Racial Equity Committee (part I):

Open Letter In Response to Hazel Wolf School Peaceful Protest and Seattle Times Article on October 25, 2019
By Maureen McCauley
Communications,
Hazel Wolf Parent Racial Equity Committee

On Friday, October 25, a 20-minute, student-led peaceful protest was held at Hazel Wolf K-8 School, to protest racism and racist bullying. The Seattle Times covered the protest. This Open Letter is in response to some commentary about both the protest and the article.

The tiny second grader with her cat-ears headband spoke softly into the microphone. “I am Tibetan, and I am an immigrant. At my other school, the kids teased me, and I didn’t like it, because I was Tibetan.” She paused and took a deep breath. “They left me out of their games, and sometimes I would be alone for the whole entire recess.” Her voice shook and tears fell from her eyes and from many eyes around her.

If you weren’t at the Hazel Wolf (HW) School peaceful protest Friday and only read the Seattle Times article, you wouldn’t have heard that young child speak her truth, and you wouldn’t have seen the many students who then gathered around her, to hug her, to thank her, and to tell her they will be her friend and play with her at recess.

That little girl, who we didn’t know was going to speak, is just one of the reasons we held the protest.

If you only read the Seattle Times article, and you weren’t at Hazel Wolf School Friday, you didn’t hear the tall young Ethiopian woman in her hijab speaking out on behalf of her brothers who have been victims of racial bullying. She smiled beautifully, and challenged the adults, especially those in authority, to take strong and timely actions to prevent racist bullying.

Friday’s peaceful protest was student-led by children who firmly and respectfully made three requests of the adults who hold power: that the school hold grade-appropriate assemblies on the history and use of the N-word and other racist slurs; that everyone at school agree not to use the N-word and racial slurs; and that all students who are victims of racist bullying receive the support and counseling they deserve.

If you only read the Seattle Times article and were not at the protest, you would not have heard five people of color speaking out about racist incidents. You might not know that many parents of color and immigrants of color feel a sense of extreme urgency around racist bullying, knowing firsthand (having been victims themselves) of the impact that racism has on children’s self-esteem, confidence, and identity, often creating anxiety and depression. You might not know that suicide attempts have increased dramatically for black teens, far more than for other racial groups, according to the journal Pediatrics; structural racism is identified as a cause.


~ A Hazel Wolf Community Member

Anonymous said...

The complete statement from HW Parent Racial Equity Committee (part II):

Friday’s peaceful protest was student-led by children who firmly and respectfully made three requests of the adults who hold power: that the school hold grade-appropriate assemblies on the history and use of the N-word and other racist slurs; that everyone at school agree not to use the N-word and racial slurs; and that all students who are victims of racist bullying receive the support and counseling they deserve.

If you only read the Seattle Times article and were not at the protest, you would not have heard five people of color speaking out about racist incidents. You might not know that many parents of color and immigrants of color feel a sense of extreme urgency around racist bullying, knowing firsthand (having been victims themselves) of the impact that racism has on children’s self-esteem, confidence, and identity, often creating anxiety and depression. You might not know that suicide attempts have increased dramatically for black teens, far more than for other racial groups, according to the journal Pediatrics; structural racism is identified as a cause.

Let’s be clear that this need for action is not unique to Hazel Wolf School. Racist bullying exists throughout Seattle, and in most other places in the US today. Let’s be clear that this protest was not about one isolated incident or one student. There have been multiple incidents of bullying and racist bullying that have impacted students of color in small and large ways. Let’s be clear that our principal, Ms. Nelsen, has been supportive of racial equity work. (As an aside, Ms. Nelsen had a previously scheduled professional session offsite for Friday; she showed up nonetheless for the peaceful protest, then had to leave to fulfill her work responsibility.) Our HW PTSA and our HW staff has made racial equity a priority. Our HW staff and teachers use Restorative Justice Circles, and they have a Racial Equity Team.

Would all this need to be the case if racial equity were a reality, if racism did not exist in our culture, and if implicit bias and microaggressions and systemic racism were not real? No. The HW administration, PTSA, staff, teachers, parents, and students are all needed to bring about racial equity, because we are not there yet.

Anti-racist work is uncomfortable, exhausting, and messy. Friday’s peaceful protest was 20 minutes of students and adults sharing their truths, sometimes speaking quietly and sometimes shouting that racism is real for them, that it has happened to them, and that we all must work together. It was not a finger-pointing session, nor an idle expression of outrage.

The event was also an offering of specific, necessary, and feasible changes that the organizers hope will improve our school, not just for current students but also for future students, as well as for the staff, administration, and community.

The changes requested were a call to support the students in educating about and eliminating the use of the N-word and other racial slurs; to create a more transparent process of informing our community, particularly immigrants and those who are not fluent in English, about racist incidents in our school; and for more formalized, transparent documentation and tracking of racist incidents.

These are not outrageous demands.

In fact, it is the hope of the parent Racial Equity Committee and others that the Hazel Wolf School will create a model that other schools can use, based on these requests, to promote anti-racism. The administration, teachers, staff, parents, and students are encouraged to share ideas and realities, are willing to work through some hard, messy, and courageous conversations, and can make intentional, concrete changes—well, that’s the hope. Will it be difficult? Yes. Can we do it, with vulnerability, respect, and resilience? Absolutely. We will do it for the little girl with the cat-ears headband, for the young black son of Muslim immigrants, for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren.

~ HW Community Member

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I may take some comments and create another post as I want to stay on the issue of the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that background, @Carol Simmons. If I'm understanding you correctly, some of the sessions were district-wide (involving all staff and students), while at schools where there were sizable populations of "different" students being placed there the schools themselves (based on principal interest/motivation?) held additional events?

I'd be curious to see how you think something similar (or different, if better) could be done in SPS today. I think some hoped that Ethnic Studies might help, but its development seems to be so infused with racism and bias that I fear it will only serve to make things worse. I wonder if any of the old trainers and/or curricula are still available, and I wonder how they'd compare....

It also struck me that something similar might need to happen whenever a new population is plunked down into an existing school, regardless of whether it's a racial issue or not. Many recent controversies have seemed to revolve around the placement of SpEd or HCC in existing schools, with "we don't want them here" type language. It seems all SPS school communities could use more acceptance of "otherness," and it's nice to hear that the approach taken in the past did seem to lead to greater acceptance.

HF

Anonymous said...

SP, nobody’s calling for a “shut down,” back away from the hyperbole. And the bullying IS pervasive, it’s at multiple (if not all) schools, and why wouldn’t it be? Students are a reflection of parents, and this town has some reckoning to do in the area of race. You have a choice to wring your hands and act so put out over a very reasonable request for training, or you can get on the right side of history and ask how you can support - or at least stop being a barrier to change. Your comment only underscores the need to approach this problem differently.

Catch Up

Anonymous said...

Stop linking HCC to SPED. They are NOT related.

Just stop

Anonymous said...

A much more balanced KUOW story:

https://www.kuow.org/stories/students-and-parents-protest-administration-response-to-racial-slurs-at-north-seattle-school?fbclid=IwAR0SpgTXWyOs8N8cjFOkUnjCyu_XFtOnFYvsyjMiyHS6NhoqL_SNyXBOvFw

~HW mom

Anonymous said...

Would all this need to be the case if racial equity were a reality, if racism did not exist in our culture, and if implicit bias and microaggressions and systemic racism were not real? No. The HW administration, PTSA, staff, teachers, parents, and students are all needed to bring about racial equity, because we are not there yet.

I generally agree, but isn't "equity" more about the process, whereas what we really want is racial "equality," the outcome? Equity and equality are not interchangeable terms, although they are often used so in SPS. Equity involves treating people differently based on their circumstances, so I would think the end goal is to bring about racial equality. In other words, equity as a means to equality.

unclear

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Stop, do read my post, This and That, for a story that might belie your belief.

Anonymous said...

From the KUOW article "Parents say students of different races have been the perpetrators and victims of racial slurs at the school."
This was my point.
Carol Simmons wrote about work being done years ago in SPS at schools when bussing was going on. That is great, but Seattle Public Schools is even more diverse today than in the past. We have far more immigrant groups now and languages being spoken.

@Catch up used this story to state" Students are a reflection of parents, and this town has some reckoning to do in the area of race." Yes, but Catch up, there is just as much bullying, including racist slurs, being used between various groups of kids of color. Your comment seems to imply this is the result of a white majority in Seattle. It is not only about white kids or history or what you think of their parents. This is a human issue prevalent in many communities now and through history, that that needs to be addressed properly starting in very young grades. We need to reiterate and teach our shared American values of not using hurtful language, targeting race, gender, sexual orientation etc. toward others.

Sad Situation

Melissa Westbrook said...

The quote I liked in the KUOW story:

"Seventh-grader Zariyah Quiroz said the most recent incident she witnessed was a week ago – but that administrators at the predominantly-white school initially did not believe students' reports.

Quiroz said an administrator then asked students to propose a solution. "We all looked at her, like – what do you mean? So you’re going to put this on us, that we have to solve racism now? No. We’re thirteen."

Right. That modeling of behavior, that concern over unkindness/cruelty to others, needs to come from adults.

Good for you, Zariyah.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I attended basically an all-white high school. And white kids bullied other white kids.
I’m sure that at a black-majority high school, that black kids would bully other black kids.
Etc

Bullying is not only race-related.

GG

Anonymous said...

Why is the Mod trying to control the narrative. 4 days

Trick or Treat

Anonymous said...

I don't want to derail the discussion about what happened/is happening at HW, but I appreciate the efforts school leadership at Nathan Hale (where the majority of HW graduates probably end up in high school) is taking around teaching students to be thoughtful about their actions and respectful to their classmates from different backgrounds. This just came through on the daily bulletin that goes out to parents -- seems like a positive and proactive way to handle a situation that could otherwise lead to some students feeling marginalized:

"AS OUR NATHAN HALE STUDENTS AND STAFF PREPARES FOR THE HALLOWEEN FUN, we want to remind our raider community to be mindful of the religious, cultural, and ethnic differences within our community. We want to remind our families, staff, and students that ethnic and cultural clothing might have religious or spiritual significance and should not be used if it is not within your own culture. Further, cultural appropriation perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes about People of Color. When these inaccurate stereotypes are perpetuated, they create offensive, hostile, and uncomfortable conditions for our diverse communities. We want to keep our community safe, fun, and inclusive. Thus, if you dress for Halloween, please be mindful of clothing and outfitting, do not cover faces, and do not carry fake or real weapons."

LakeCityMom

Anonymous said...

@Sad Situation,

In theory, yes: We need to reiterate and teach our shared American values of not using hurtful language, targeting race, gender, sexual orientation etc. toward others.

But it's hard to see that as a shared American value these days, with all that's coming from our top leadership.

This is a human issue prevalent in many communities now and through history, that that needs to be addressed properly starting in very young grades.

Unfortunately, the message children are receiving is often more about racial differences, disparities, and division than unity and shared values. The district's strategic plan is about targeting one group, the superintendent cries segregation (when it suits her, but curiously not re: our NSAP), the framework for ethnic studies is all about white oppression, etc.

HF

Anonymous said...

@HF I am not sure if you mean political leadership or the superintendent in your post.

@ Melissa Strange that the KUOW article mentions "Parents say students of different races have been the perpetrators and victims of racial slurs at the school."

However then goes on to insinuate white racism is the reason with this quote "but that administrators at the predominantly-white school initially did not believe students' reports."

I don't agree. This same situation could happen at a school with administration of color as well. I still think it is a...

Sad Situation

Anonymous said...

The "POC" this and that has become a frequent way of addressing diverse PEOPLE in a very dehumanizing way on this blog and needs to stop.

It can be a helpful acronym in small doses. Unfortunately, it has become a "those people" way of talking on this blog. Not cool, not okay at all.

Reputation is as reputation does.

Enough

Anonymous said...

Is it OK for a SPS Administrator, who is involved in SPS Racial Equity issues to tell a parent, something to the effect "..pull your head out of your white privileged ass."
Is that a racist comment in this school district?
Apparently not. As long as that person does not interfere with the Superintendent's agendas.
Are their any adults left in the upper SPS Administration?

Shocked

Carol Simmons said...

Yes, responding to HF. All of the sessions for Staff were District wide. The Students received the education in their schools from the Staff who had participated in the "training." And this of course depended upon Principal interest/motivation. I am convinced that something similar could and should be done in SPS today. I do not know if any of the old trainers are available; however, I do know the old approach was successful in lessening the bullying, disrespect, racial, sexist and other name calling slurs and actions.
Education/training is necessary for staff and education /training is necessary for students. That is what we are about. We are educators.
With regard to the number of spoken languages in our schools today, language interpreters sit with language groups in assemblies and the Student R and R's are presented in English and translated in each of the many languages. Yes, there are many things that can and must be done.

Anonymous said...

Can POC go as other POC on Halloween. What are POC to POC guidelines?

Lets say a POC would like to be a movie character that is not a POC then would that POC be in the wrong or would that POC be ok. I think it's important for POCs to understand if the rules apply only to non POC or to POCs. I've heard other POC say it ok , but then another POC say it 's not PC for POC to portray non POC.

It's confusing

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Why is the Mod trying to control the narrative. 4 days"

1) my blog
2) not having kids called liars
3) not having POC called names

Enough, I don't agree. I see POC used all the time. What would you do differently?

Shocked, well, time will tell if senior leadership at JSCEE allow that kind of speech to take hold and be allowed in SPS.

Anonymous said...

I would say Person of Color, person of African descent, Asian American, etc.

Are you truly clueless about how language dehumanizes people?

This blog, that supposedly doesn't allow now calling, now routinely has "SJW" scattered throughout. Just like Breitbart.

You are allowing people to be dehumanized. When people criticize you, maybe this cluelessness is what they have in mind.

Seriously...

Enough!

Anonymous said...

Calling people abbreviations is dehumanizing.

Get it?

Enough!

Anonymous said...

Enough!,
Seriously, you’re taking hypersensitivity to a new level.
JW

Anonymous said...

Enough, your feigned outrage is really quite pathetic.

Please leave

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa, Catch Up, and All,

Catch up, my phrase "shut down the school" refers to stopping classes for assemblies, workshops, teach ins, and other activities that aren't "reading, writing, and 'rithmatic" or other parts of a school's primary function.

And I suggest you consider your use of cliches and hyperbole, Catch Up. All that talk of reckoning and the right side of history is tired.

SP

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will again say that the notation, SJW, means different things to different people. I find the Urban Dictionary's assessment to show this back-and-forth on if it is perjorative or not.

"However, the term has continued to evolve. While the previous definition sometimes applies, it's now often used simply as an excuse to dismiss things other people say without having to think about them at all, regardless of whether or not they have a valid point. In other words, it's increasingly used as if it's a "get out of jail free" card for insulting entire groups of people. This watering down of the meaning is slowly turning the term into a meaningless insult.
Early: "The late Reverend King's work as a social justice warrior helped lead to the integration of all races in our schools today."

Mid: "All I said was that maybe she overreacted, and the SJW accused me of oppressing all women!"

Late: "She should get off YouTube and make me a sandwich. And before any of you SJWs complain, it's just a joke."

I myself have been using "zealot" instead.

Another Parent said...

The term, "Students of Color" now features prominently in the SPS Strategic Plan. Therefore, I believe it's completely unfair to attack either Mellissa or this blog for using the term and the abbreviation because this is a blog focussed on SPS.

"Many critics, both whites and non-whites, of the term object to its lack of specificity and find the phrase racially offensive. It has been argued that the term lessens the focus on individual issues facing different racial and ethnic groups. [22] Several people, both whites and non-whites have compared it to the terms "Colored" and "Negro"."

"Activist Martin Luther King Jr. used the term "citizens of color" in 1963... Racial justice activists in the U.S., influenced by radical theorists such as Frantz Fanon (POC), popularized it."

I personally find the usage highly objectionable, because the district's usage implies all students of color are being discriminated against when based on test scores, Asians generally score just as well as whites. So we effectively have a new term, POCxA for People of Color excluding Asians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_of_color
https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=15618

Anonymous said...

Standing back, looking at this discussion, thinking about how some excluded groups are meant to be included, while other excluded groups, are reviled. Different levels of empathy depending on identity. That is dangerous. Either every child, every group is important and deserving of empathy or... we are tilting down an ugly slope where if it is okay to shaft one groups of students (be they black or gay or deaf or gifted), then it is going to tacitly be acceptable to shaft some other group of students in some other way. We truly are either in this together (together meaning everyone) or we are not, and it becomes (or has it already?), every student/family for themselves.

Hazel Wolf is a not truly safe or welcoming place for Jews. But, like all antisemitism that Jews encounter, the few Jews there just keep their heads down and get by and don’t call attention to themselves. Because.... discrimination is not ok, not ok....unless....it is about Jews. Then.... there are explanations and rationalizations and denials and accusations. I’m betting anyone reading this comment is already wanting to shout back rather than open with curiosity.

Recently, a very articulate student stood up before our congregation and retold what’s happened there to them, there were only 2 Jews, a tiny minority, and when it was reported, it was pushed back. The message was clear. Shut up. We don’t like your kind.

The only thing one can truly do in these situations is just to get through. Finish up. Move on. This is an ancient problem. We know it. We recognize it. We deal. That’s all there is to do.

Another school nearby also did something flagrantly discriminatory. They were forced to walk it back. No apologies. No reflection of learning. No engagement. Rather a passive aggressive finger pointing message did get sent out though. Disgusting. That mirrors several examples that have been endured. Different Jews have different responses to these episodes. But often, there is underground talk among those affected as to how to move forward. Keep quiet. Nothing will change. Don’t call attention to yourself or we will hurt us even more. And yet another school nearby had to have an outside organization invited in to deploy suitable interventions. So it is not just HW.

So the choice left is a trade off between getting a decent education at a school where there’s subtle hostility (so keep your head down and muddle through and nod yes a lot at all of the empty politically correct boastful rhetoric doled out) or else have no where to go. Yes, there are still quotas on Jews. Also subtle and hard to daylight these days when people’s speech and documents are so carefully sanitized, but it is clear.

It is often said Jews are like the canary in the coal mine. Pay attention to the canary. They can’t tell you directly, but observe.

So yes, are other groups at this school who are saying there is a problem believed ? By me, yes! But, will it change anything?

Probably shouldn’t have said anything at all. Sometimes, most times, it is better for the invisible to stay invisible because there’s danger in exposure. Attention is not a good thing in our case. It really, truly isn’t.


hushhush

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hush Hush, I would be interested to hear about "another school nearby" issue. You can write to me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com. You don't have to tell me your name.

How could there be "quotas" on Jews? Please explain what you mean.

Anonymous said...

"Standing back, looking at this discussion, thinking about how some excluded groups are meant to be included, while other excluded groups, are reviled. Different levels of empathy depending on identity. That is dangerous. Either every child, every group is important and deserving of empathy or... we are tilting down an ugly slope where if it is okay to shaft one groups of students (be they black or gay or deaf or gifted), then it is going to tacitly be acceptable to shaft some other group of students in some other way. We truly are either in this together (together meaning everyone) or we are not, and it becomes (or has it already?), every student/family for themselves."

This is brilliant and much needed discourse and beyond just the dialogue about SPS and students. I anticipate our national and regional conversations so based upon us vs. them will evolve eventually. I also believe higher level discussions around this topic are happening in academia, and have yet to reach the mainstream media. There is so much to learn and we hold shared values as Americans.

The media, even quality news sources it seems at times are writing pieces that serve to divide and demonize. In Seattle 2019 I have found myself part of a group lumped together as one, in which I did not share an identity, exactly, growing up. We are lumping all sorts of people together under a myth of some shared heritage. We have also forgotten about the individual and their experiences in this dialogue. It is dangerous. It leaves out so much gray. I do hope historians will step in to help re-shape the direction of the current discourse happening nationally and locally.

Sad Situation

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sad and Hush, I would also add that there seems to be some level of smug satisfaction that somehow white kids and parents are going to be punished in some way by equity being the top priority. How does that serve anyone or anything?

How did we go from "A rising tide lifts all boats" to this?

And yes, to shared values. Finding mutual concerns and issues and working together towards solving them.

My perception is perhaps the Superintendent in reviewing the SPS past, believes that she should charge forward and give lip-service to parents about transparency and including them in decision-making.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To note, I checked the Hazel Wolf K-8 website and I see nothing from either administration or PTSA about this issue (and I would have thought there would be after the media attention).

However, the PTSA did have notice of the protest which I find interesting because that would probably put them somewhat at odds with administration. Also, congrats to them on a great website which includes the ability for comments. This is something I have never seen from a PTSA website and it certainly allows parents/guardians to easily weigh in.

Anonymous said...

Just another case of SJWs taking down a successful school or outcome and hiding behind divisive labeling and PC optics. HW bends over backwards to treat all students with respect. There are trips to homeless camps, creation and installation of a tiny house along with actually going there, numerous studies of blm issues. The school has done incredible outreach into the immigrant communities to recruit students who might otherwise not know of the school. If success is something that SJWs can attack at any point, then we will be left with schools that aren't successful. That will never help anyone. Children come to schools with baggage. Middle schoolers, as everyone knows, press hot buttons. SWJs give plenty of buttons - free for the pushing. Surely everyone knows they will take the opportunity to press those hot social issue buttons.

Reality