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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

  • How come Superintendent Juneau demoted Principal Emily Butler Ginolfi out of Washington Middle School and made it clear that EGB would be an assistant principal at lower pay and then reversed that by appointing EGB to Licton Springs K-8? 
How principals get so much grace and autonomy in their jobs is Reason #501 to wonder about this district.  The next person to complain about how "hard it is to get rid of bad teachers" needs to remember that about principals.  (Also, note to the district - everything that EGB did at Washington Middle School is now public record so if she messes up again, that will be quite the lawsuit on your hands.)
  • I'm hearing that some/all SPS schools are checking visitors' IDs? And scanning them? The district needs to have the driver's license number of every visitor to SPS? I'm going to JSCEE this week so I'll be really interested to see if they ask for anything there.
  • Want to hear some really good wordsmithing? Check out the back and forth from Superintendent in Tahoma as he and his Board decide to part ways. From the Covington Reporter:
The Tahoma School District Board of Directors made an unexpected vote during a special board meeting on Monday, Sept. 30, when it accepted the district superintendent’s resignation.  

District Spokesperson Kevin Patterson said the district came to an agreement regarding the statement with Giurado and his legal team. The resignation was a surprise for staff and parents alike. 

“The Tahoma School District Board of Directors and Superintendent Tony Giurado have discovered that, through the fault of neither party, Mr. Giurado’s considerable high integrity, skill, knowledge and experience are not the best match for the present needs of the district,” the board stated in a release. “The board and Mr. Giurado have agreed to separate and as part of that agreement, the board accepted Mr. Giurado’s resignation from his position as superintendent effective September 30, 2019.”
“The board thanks Mr. Giurado for his service to the Tahoma community, and wishes him much future success.”
Giurado stated that he is “proud of the work we have done in staying focused on students, listening to our community, and supporting all of our educators. I respect the board’s desire to move in a different direction. I leave with deep gratitude that I have had the opportunity to serve the Tahoma community, staff, and Board as superintendent.” 
The district released the legal agreement between the board and Giurado on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the document, Giurado’s contract was set to end in the summer of 2021. Since it is being terminated early, the board has agreed to pay Giurado’s salary on the last business day of each month along with insurance premiums for him and his family, along with retirement benefits until 2021 or until Giurado obtains another position within a school district or education-related position.
Man, what could have happened that they would pay his salary until 2021 (presumably along with the new superintendent they will need to find)?  Plus, their Board said that his "considerable high integrity" was not a match for their district? 
73 Catholic schools across Wash. will now only accept medical exemptions for vaccinations
The Archdiocese of Seattle will no longer except (sic) religious, personal or philosophical exemptions on vaccinations.

The change here in Washington comes after the 2017 statement from the Pontifical Academy of Life that says in part:
“A moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others we believe that all clinically recommended vaccines can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion.”
The new policy from the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle goes into effect in January, but there will be a grace period until next school year. 

107 comments:

Anonymous said...

juneau likes it so much though:

-hurricane emily
-no public engagement on an initiative that will change the teaching for 10% of the population and ... well every building. but don't worry the district has it handled look at high school enrollment and how well that went. how many of those pathway schools are adding ap teachers right now i wonder?
-no public engagement on the 'grass roots' addition of TAF and the elimination of HC services for the entire south and central seattle.
-saucy talk from wyeth and kari on how dysfunctional the district with all its segregation - nb: seattle never had segregation until juneau showed up. surprising.
-her own little transgression into nothing speak about red lining. didn't she come from montana where they had one of those interment camps for asians that don't count as brown because they ... don't.
-rems v. licton springs. ls losses but what a shallow grave she digs for ls. oh no worries ebj will terminate that program. welcome to choice less sps.
-nutritional services... i guess if staff numbers can go on a diet so can frl students. right?
- oh and how many way can you look at enrolled students and say we only need 98% of that number especially when it is hs and you missed it by 5 teachers.
- no world languages at wms last year and no science education for two grades. but that is ok as qualified hc teachers were put in gen ed classes and vice versa. not that they were any better they just understood the district developed curriculum. to make matters worse they did it and winter break so kids went back to completely new teachers... who had no idea that was going to happen.
-recommendations before the altf finished their more than a years worth of work to get it through with jill geary still on the board. a sure vote for ridiculous that one.

i am sure we can all go on but...

juneau has taken a page out of nyland's book which is don't respond to emails and pretend you are listening but don't. oh well she loves this. and while we watch her star fade and her face crack a smile as brian terry speaks of white supremacy, again. we all will be left with what this could have been.

no caps
-

Unknown said...

Good Morning Melissa and All,

We progressives just can't bear to acknowledge that unions protect incompetence. The principals have their own union that fights the district to save the honeymoon if people like Ginofli; this is "the dance of the lemons" for administrators. It's just more visible with a principal.

I think it's also time for us to acknowledge that often, maybe even most of the time, processes like Juneau's "listening tour" are just the new administrator gathering information on where they are likely to face resistance to what they are planning to do anyways. Talking to them about your objections to their agenda just marks you as someone to eliminate or marginalize once that leader goes into their active phase.

The beauty of it is that well intentioned, committed, nice people (aka teachers and parents) fall for it every time, especially if the leader checks off a few identity affinity boxes in the listener's mind. Who would have thought a woman of color could be just as cavalier and heedless as a white man? Who would've thought that anyone who was a state superintendent and now a big district superintendent could be the kind of person who breaks eggs to make their policy omlette?

SP

Anonymous said...

SP "Who would have thought a woman of color could be just as cavalier and heedless as a white man?" That kind of thinking is why we have these kind of issues. Can only a POC make good decisions? People don't see others as individuals with common human experiences. There are plenty of "white men" who are also decent kind and sensitive people. There are also those advocating for various social causes, who consider themselves feminists etc. There are also plenty of women of color who can act less sensitive, who do not advocate for social justice issues, who don't identify as feminists etc.Please start seeing people as individuals in all their humanity, and not just as part of a particular group to be discounted.

PL

Anonymous said...

@no caps & SP
If you create an online petition w/ these grievances, I bet people will sign it. (I know many who will.) Send the board and superintendent a message. How much more indifference and incompetence can we all take? It's time to vote No Confidence in Juneau. It's time to

Boot Juneau

Anonymous said...

Um, the ethnics studies math article is not good. Is this the academic version of the dog ate my homework (aka why we shouldn’t have to teach math, a subject everyone is already failing at?)

Slide Rule

Unknown said...

Hey PL,

I couldn't agree more--hence the sarcasm in my tone.

SP

Anonymous said...

@SP Sorry I misread your post, I get the sarcasm now. Glad you agree.

PL

Unknown said...

Hi Boot Juneau,

I don't think she needs to be booted at all. She's doing what she was hired to do by the democratically elected school board, which represents the will of the voters.

The only thing I want booted is the naivete that causes people to think that a superintendent is not going to behave like a superintendent.

Juneau is very good at what she does. She's beginning to enact her agenda, which will require some changes in personnel and programming in order to achieve her goals.

Personally, I don't like some of her strategies and values, but I'm out of step with this community.

SP

Anonymous said...

Wow!

Math is racist, so we shouldn't be racist and ... teach math. I have no words.

- math matters.

Anonymous said...

Was the math handout part of teacher training/PD? Still lacking the context. Who created it and for what audience?

don't know

Anonymous said...

SPS in 2019 is where satire and reality meet

https://youtu.be/64PKoAiWhjE?t=103

NE Dad

Anonymous said...

@NE Dad, OMG, that is hilarious. And sad. Mostly sad. But also hilarious.

When the national pick up on this pathetic Seattle attempt to turn math into ethnic studies, I hope they show this clip as well.

Thanks for my morning laugh/cry.

Pull Out!

Anonymous said...

national MEDIA, I meant...

Pull Out!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well if, as it says at the top of the page that it's from SPS, then Tracy Castro-Gill created it. I would guess it's for teachers but not sure.

NE Dad, yes, hilarious! Thanks!

Intrigued said...

What is up with Tahoma???!!!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Intrigued, I'd love to know. That staff and parents had no idea this was coming seems weird. He's not leaving for a job; if he were, they probably would not have to pay him his salary. Also, will he go out and get another job or just live on his salary for two years?

Intrigued said...

Maybe he agreed not to sue for something that it seems like he probably would have won? Wonder if public records requests happen faster in Tahoma than they do in Seattle?

Anonymous said...

Introduction item at tonight's Board meeting:

Amending Board Policy No. 2015, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials, and Board Policy No. 2020, Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials

...current policy [does not] provide a process to adopt non-commercially produced materials to fulfill statutory requirements or that are district-developed. The amended Board Policy No. 2015 creates a new category of “extended core instructional materials” that expand the type of materials that can be adopted as core curriculum.

Some of the language in the current policy is also being shifted to Superintendent procedures (which put it outside of Board approval...not sure of the implications here).

This proposed Board Action Report also removes language from Board Policy No. 2020, Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials, relevant to an instructional materials adoption committee, but not to a waiver process. The language will be added to the revised Superintendent Procedure 2015SP.B.

Lots to look through. Board Action in two weeks.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I saw that. I hope someone does a deep-dive because this could be a major change.

Anonymous said...

Related to Board Policy 2015:

"Engagement with multiple groups, including the Ethnic Studies Task Force, Native American Parent Advisory Committee, the African American Male Advisory Committee, and the Equity and Race Advisory Committee have demonstrated that all have strongly advocated for adoption of instructional materials that these policy revisions could allow...In the immediate future, the district can both develop and adopt ethnic studies and Native studies curricula, which currently cannot be found commercially."

Okay, so clearly written with ethnic studies in mind.

From amended policy 2015:

"As applicable to the given course, approved supplementary instructional materials may be used, and adopted instructional materials shall be used by teachers in District classrooms for instruction."

reader

Beaker said...

So, in a thought exercise to test how much latitude this policy would grant, would this allow science teachers to supplement Amplify with real science learning? Like, students who finish their Amplify lessons and still have half an hour of class left, could they be topped off with some extra science?

Anonymous said...

Beaker,

Maybe an actual balloon to study static electricity instead of a video of one?!

HP

Anonymous said...

I don't know. But Lisa Rankin posted this on the other blog. Folks over there are assuming that staff can now write any curriculum and ask to have it approved. Science was specifically mentioned.
IDK

Melissa Westbrook said...

IDK, do you mean a Facebook page or another blog?

Anonymous said...

In many classes, teachers already use their own materials and supplement (or create from nothing) a course curriculum. Sometimes the only way to have appropriately challenging work is to outright abandon the adopted materials (thinking of middle school and high school math adoptions, and now sadly, science). Sometimes the course is one not taught at all high schools (IB), so there are no adopted texts.

How does this policy change what's already happening on the ground? Will it continue to be business as usual - teachers kind of do what they want, with or without principal approval, for better or worse?

What is the pathway for parents to review and challenge materials? I couldn't even post some of the @#$% some teachers have used in our kids classes (materials that when brought to the principal's attention were reconsidered for future use). You want teachers to have some academic freedom, but there still needs to be some basic oversight. Does these policy changes strike that balance? If the BLM materials of a few years back are an example of teacher created materials that all classes would be required to use as part of ethnic studies, I'd be very concerned. There were questionable, biased materials with what I'd consider age inappropriate video links.

Off to read the policy in more detail...

sigh

Anonymous said...

There are—and probably always will be—individual teachers who supplement using their own or found materials. To me that’s generally fine, as long as they’re also covering what needs to be covered and aren’t using something that’s inaccurate, offensive, etc. if they are, it’s a matter to take to them or their principal.

HOWEVER, what we’re seeing here with this board introduction item is a completely different beast. Make no mistake, this about finding a way to get staff-created curricula that are NOT adequately reviewed and tested adopted district-wide. The fact that there are no commercially available materials should NOT mean that these home-grown curricula do not need public review and a full and transparent adoption process. If anything, they need MORE review than an off-the-shelf product, since there have already been many, many eyes on a commercial product.

Given the absurdity of the leaked “ethic studies in math” document, and what many have seen as racist and in-your-face statements by the Ethnic Studies head, AND given the racially charged rhetoric that SPS officials are spewing, the Board REALLY needs to gain some control here. This coil go very, very poorly, and it probably will if Board directors don’t ensure we have a fair process. Shoving a likely-biased ethnic studies curriculum down everyone’s throats because staff want to move quickly would be a big mistake, and it will likely do more harm than good in the long run. I urge our Board members to not sell us out. If staff develop good curricula that the community feels are worthy of adoption, most people will support adoption. Many people support the idea of an Ethnic Studies curriculum, but it needs to be sound—and people needs chance to see it first. No blank checks when it comes to official curricula.

Board directors, you have a couple key roles. This is one of them. Please step up.

HF

Anonymous said...

Sigh, a new law passed in WA this year allowing teachers great latitude on teaching some subjects, with no oversight allowed by administrators or parents.

At the end of SB 5689, there is this paragraph:

"NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. A new section is added to chapter 28A.405RCW to read as follows:

A teacher's evaluation under RCW 28A.405.100 may not be negatively impacted if a teacher chooses to use curriculum or instructional materials that address subject matter related to sexual orientation including gender expression or identity so long as the subject matter is age-appropriate and connected to the teacher's content area."

Northend mom

Anonymous said...

@Melissa. It's on the SPS Community Discussion and Resource Exchange facebook page. Lisa posted it with a link to SPS ---Amending Board Policy No. 2015, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials,.....
It seems to me that it is coming up because of Ethnic Studies but it is written broadly enough that some people think it can be used for all subjects.
IDK

Melissa Westbrook said...

IDK, yeah, I think it's to prevent the Board from having due oversight. But given that curriculum adoption is legally part of that, did the Superintendent run this past Legal?

Anonymous said...

I wonder too if it is an attempt to circumvent the Board. The last couple of adoptions (Math and Amplify) have been very contentious and I wonder if SPS staff is hoping to just avoid all that and do what they want without oversight.

I get that there isn't good curriculum in some areas, but I do support oversight and community involvement in choosing curriculum.
IDK

Anonymous said...

It's most definitely an attempt to circumvent the Board. I think this came up a while ago, too, but maybe was postponed.

I really hope the Board is paying good attention isn't going to let staff run all over them (again)...

There is absolutely no reason that a staff-developed curriculum up for district-wide adoption should be treated any differently than a commercially adopted curriculum. The need for public engagement and review of curricula up for adoption has nothing do to with the cost of the materials.

HF

Anonymous said...

OMG is that math thing real, I can't stop laughing

StepJ said...

I’ve been trying to track down more information about the ethnic studies math framework. The framework from which earlier quotes have been posted is from the webpage of the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee (ESOC). My understanding is this group is in the process of gathering information to develop an Ethnic Studies curriculum for use in public schools in the state of Washington.
Several of the documents that they are looking at are Framework outlines from SPS for History, ELA, and Math.

In another article on MyNorthwest the Communications Director for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction says that the ESOC is in the process of gathering information and no curriculum has been developed yet. She also says the course would be an elective and that there are no requirements that school districts offer elective courses “at this time.”

Then I see the post from reader in this thread calling attention to a proposed policy change at SPS:
Amending Board Policy No. 2015, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials, and Board Policy No. 2020, Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials

...current policy [does not] provide a process to adopt non-commercially produced materials to fulfill statutory requirements or that are district-developed. The amended Board Policy No. 2015 creates a new category of “extended core instructional materials” that expand the type of materials that can be adopted as core curriculum.


If I interpret this correctly SPS could develop and implement its own curriculum and define it as a part of “core” instruction without board approval or following the policy for adopting a new curriculum? I also interpret that defining something as a part of “core” curriculum would make it mandatory/required vs. an elective? This change to SPS policy would allow staff to side-step both the elected SPS Board of Directors and also OSPI?

Anonymous said...

I have one for you: Is it legal or illegal (and plainly moronic) for school board candidates to contact PTAs in hopes of getting invited to their PTA meetings? Not for a forum, just for individual gain.

Whatcha Think?

Anonymous said...

The agenda for the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee Agenda (September 30, 2019) includes representatives from Seattle and Edmonds. Seattle's rep? Jon Greenberg, introduced as "secondary humanities teacher in SPS, SPS Ethnic Studies Advisory Board member, ethnic studies curriculum writer." Isn't he the teacher who created an intimidating learning environment for a student in his social studies course at Center School? A family challenged his use of Courageous Conversations in class, the district told him to stop using some component of it, then he circulated a petition in class to have it reinstated, knowing it could out the student who challenged it. He was demoted to HIMS for a year where he taught 8th grade LA/SS. He's now on the state level advisory committee?

unbelievable

Anonymous said...

"Seattle school district releases investigation of Center School teacher"
Seattle Times, 6/12/13

unbelievable

Rankin Reports said...

"This is really exciting, sets up the Ethnic Studies adoption, and allows for “in-house” curriculum creation and adoption, so when our amazing SPS educators create great materials for their students, they can be used widely instead of something canned from some company somewhere.
Copied from Director Geary’s page:
Policy 2015 - Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials is being introduced at Board tonight. This is tremendous and represents many hours of board and district work - now policy will allow Seattle Public Schools to create and mandate its own instructional materials"

Archimedes said...

The board needs to oversee the district's Ethnic Studies ethnic studies curriculum.

Anonymous said...

@Whatcha Think,

Not sure why that would be illegal? Our PTA had a candidate visit (prior to filing). She was simply there to listen to issues and support, which I appreciate as a PTA Board member and parent. Even if she had been actively campaigning I’m not seeing how that would be illegal? PTA Boards cannot endorse candidates but I don’t see why they couldn’t let a candidate attend and speak.

Slide Rule

Anonymous said...

@Whatcha Think, how is it “moronic” for a SB candidate to want to meet with groups of public school parents/guardians? Just because some current directors don’t seem to care much what their constituents think...

Unclear

Anonymous said...


like dewolf?

no caps

Anonymous said...

It is being claimed that in-house curriculum would go through the same adoption process as any other curriculum.

HP

ES member said...

Hard to believe Greenberg is on the Ethnic Studies committee.

“Student A stated that the petition was not anonymous,” the report said. “The petition listed your name, signature, e-mail and phone number.”
The student told the district that Greenberg had also sent out an e-mail about the initial complaint to all parents and students except her family.
The district’s human-resource investigator recommended that Greenberg be suspended for two days and that he be transferred to another school.
“You knew or should have known that this behavior would cause Student A to feel threatened and intimidated,” wrote Paul Apostle, assistant superintendent of human resources, in a letter to Greenberg.
Apostle also concluded Greenberg’s actions showed he had not heeded Superintendent Jose Banda’s warning in a February letter: “ … aggressively targeting individual students or allowing other students to aggressively target students in a way that makes them feel threatened or intimidated is not allowed.”

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/06/seattle-school-district-releases-investigation-of-center-school-teacher/

D. White said...

John Greenberg's situation involved a white girl from a rich family getting her feelings hurt learning about racism in the USA. A single fragile white student! Who decided to make a fuss. And SPS bent over backward to accommodate her hurt feelings. John Greenberg got shafted on that deal. He was teaching what he had learned to teach at SPS workshops!

D. White said...

BTW I might add that John Greenberg is an outstanding choice for a position at Ethnic Studies.

Linh-Co said...

There's no math on the K-12 Ethnic Studies Math Framework. This will not improve students' outcomes.

Anonymous said...

So that makes his actions okay? They "bent over backward" because of the teacher's actions in response to their complaint. Do you not see the pattern? Bullying those who don't agree with their approach? So no, the placement seems questionable and the curriculum most definitely needs public review prior to adoption. In the Center School incident, the district stated that the methods used in class were meant for teacher training, not for students. The facts are covered pretty well in the Seattle Times article.

bully much?

ES Math? said...

Seattle's Ethnic Studies Math is on OSPI's web site. Odd. Very odd.

Anonymous said...

It's not just math - there are also frameworks for ELA and US History. See the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee link in a previous post.

reader

Anonymous said...

Activist teachers and administrators pushing their extreme views--and attempting to go unchecked by the Board and under the public radar--seems like a bad idea.

I remember when my kid had Greenberg at HIMS. It felt like nonstop race and gender and social justice preaching, and my kid got sooo sick of it. They said many of the other kids felt the same--they "got" it, and he didn't need to keep harping on it. Maybe he's a great teacher for older kids or kids who aren't as jaded as HC students often are, but man, he sure turned a lot of kids off social justice issues for a while. I heard this from other parents, too. Note that I'm NOT saying these kids felt offended or disagreed with his message--they "got" it (many already had before his class) and saw the importance of what he was teaching--but shoving it down their throats constantly was not an effective way to deliver the message. That's part of my concern now.

Both the message (curriculum) AND the delivery approach need to be sound and well thought-out. Unfortunately, given past experiences with many of those involved in this process, it's far from clear that this will be the case. Hence the need for transparency. The Board needs to be willing to take some heat in the short term and stand up to staff now, acting in the best interest of the district longer term. Let's take the time to get it right.

HF

ES member said...



While teaching at the Center School, Greenberg created his own curriculum. This is why we need board oversight.

Anonymous said...

@HF
Another outcome of poorly thought out curriculum and execution is that is can create the opposite effect. After having this stuff shoved down their throats, and I do mean shoved, I can tell you that my kiddo and their friends have in some respects completely rejected the messages around racial and gender equality and social justice and taken a much more conservative stance than the parents. When they are told to be quiet in class because their opinion is not wanted (by students, accepted by teachers), that they are the reason there is racism, they are white supremacists-I think it's reasonable to expect push back. I'm having to do my own reprogramming and having the thoughtful conversations that are needed.

Here's the real issue. I think schools need to teach reality. We need better learning and awareness of cultures that have suffered. We need more acceptance. This is really important if we are going to address the divisive issues of our time. But if educators are talking at vs talking with youth, if they are dividing vs uniting, and if they are teaching my kid what to thing vs how to think, sorry no thanks. My 30+ year span of work experience as well as training development and experience tells me that is not how you bring people along. That also applies to our head of Ethnic Studies; her completely bullying, unprofessional, inappropriate language makes this district look so bad. I can't believe Juneau wouldn't see that, but that is an extension of her brand whether she likes it or not.

I don't trust this district to get it right without some pretty rigid guardrails. And that is what I'm looking for the Board to uphold.
-long road

D. White said...

So much white fragility here. I haven't much sympathy for the poor white kids (who "already got it" and were certainly way over racism at age 14) having these "extreme views" "shoved down their throats"(figuratively). I think POC have had our racism shoved down their throats (literally) for centuries, now white people don't like to be reminded of the mess we have made in USA. The fact is that what happened at the Center School would have gone viral if it had happened today. The porcelain student would have been outed on social media and she would not get to enjoy her anonymity. If she and her family were so sure and proud of their stance why did they remain anonymous?Has SPS ever gone to such lengths to accommodate a black student who might have been "uncomfortable" with a topic? The Courageous Conversations curriculum was introduced at SPS workshops and Greenberg is courageous enough to take on racial issues without being reduced to a blubbering white blob of tears. Everyone else-- SPS included and esp. Banda- were utter cowards.

D. White said...

And remember it was the notorious racist Oksana Britsova who was TCS principal at the time who led the charge against Greenberg. Remember? She was the principal at the school who threatened to call ICE on students at their prom.

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa and All,

@unbelievable, Greenberg, like Jesse Hagopian, is a hero of the movement. My progressive hs teacher colleagues name drop him like he won a Grammy.

SP

Anonymous said...

I too think Greenberg is a good teacher. I've attended a training of his and he did a great job. Greenberg being a good teacher is a different issue to me than some of the issues above. I do think the Board needs to hold the line on curriculum, staff developed or not. I also have concerns about the divisiveness and bullying of TCG. I totally support having an Ethnic Studies class and I would assume that the majority of parents/teachers in SPS would agree. The issue is the lack of trust in the district to be able to do this right and the manner in which TCG is presenting herself. Instead of encouraging folks to rally around her, she's causing folks to move away from her.
Teach

Anonymous said...

First, you are assuming the race of HF's child, and second, whether or not Greenberg has loyal supporters is irrelevant to his bullying actions against his student. The details of the student's initial complaint have not been released, so we don't know what aspect of the class was at issue. What we do know is that a teacher intimidated a student of his - sounds like retaliation. Does this not bother you?

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

The proposed framework for math infused with the ethnic studies framework as it is stated makes no sense for math. For example a criticism on math being taught as westernized and European cultures defining the right answer etc. Asian kids from "non-western" cultures often way outperform kids from western cultures. White kids in the US tend not to do as well in math. Applying a similar Ethnic Studies framework to history/social studies and LA makes more sense.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

@Teach "I totally support having an Ethnic Studies class and I would assume that the majority of parents/teachers in SPS would agree." That's not what is being proposed. They are proposing to be able to change curriculum without OSPI or even board review/approval. One example is an ethnic studies framework developed for math, SS and ELA and who knows what else. The math framework is extreme and amongst other things questions who determines (Western Cultures) what are "right answers". Math is math internationally and across the world.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

I was told that all curriculum would go through the adoption process regardless if it was purchased or homegrown. The proposal just lets them consider homegrown curriculum along with purchased curriculum or instead of purchased curriculum when there is none available.

HP

Anonymous said...

But has the adoption process been changed as well? What is the side by side comparison of the new vs old policy? What's been added and what's been removed? I wouldn't take someone's word for it. I'd read the policies.

details

Linh-Co said...

Math is the universal language of numbers. Now it's being politicized to dumb down the content.

Anonymous said...

Hey D. White, that's pretty nasty stuff to say about a kid - "The porcelain student would have been outed on social media and she would not get to enjoy her anonymity."

You almost sound like you wish something bad had happened to her. Like you'd out her if you could. Wow.

These are minors, remember? Impressionable teenage kids. All kids are fragile in their teenage years. They need help and guidance from adults, not threats and resentment.

Also, the identify of minors is generally legally protected, for reasons you are demonstrating.

Aggression isn't going to win people over. Hostility from adults against kids is a form of bullying. Isn't one of the points of Ethnic Studies to identify and stop hostilities and aggressions?

Btw, that student wasn't the only one who's taken issue with Greenberg's approach over the years. Maybe she was the only one brave enough to stand up to a charismatic teacher.

The district overpunished Greenberg, for sure. That we can agree on. I agree about Britsova too. She was simply incompetent in general. She just wasn't a good leader.

But please

CheckYour Hypocrisy

Anonymous said...

@ long road, your additional comments match our experience perfectly.

Another outcome of poorly thought out curriculum and execution is that is can create the opposite effect. After having this stuff shoved down their throats...my kiddo and their friends have in some respects completely rejected the messages around racial and gender equality and social justice and taken a much more conservative stance than the parents. When they are told to be quiet in class because their opinion is not wanted (by students, accepted by teachers), that they are the reason there is racism, they are white supremacists-I think it's reasonable to expect push back.

I recently said almost exactly those same words to an administrator our school. Teens are smart enough to see through double-standards, and when a teacher is telling them not to be racist or sexist but then also telling them their opinions aren't valid because they are white males, they see the hypocrisy and it undermines the teacher's whole message.

But if educators are talking at vs talking with youth, if they are dividing vs uniting, and if they are teaching my kid what to thing vs how to think, sorry no thanks. ...[T]hat is not how you bring people along."

My teen said kids are rolling their eyes and cringing when teachers--who mostly do not have the skill to address these challenging issues, regardless of PD and good intentions--try to impart these messages. The kids who already generally understand the problems and fully support the teachers' messages perceive that message is only confirming the negative stereotypes that some of the more conservative students already had about "social justice warriors," so yes, driving them further away. Then the negative impressions and the divisiveness get amplified online in ways the teachers probably can't even imagine.

HF

Marxist Approach said...

As long as we are being honest, let's discuss Marxism. TCG' s Summer Institute is heavily influenced by the works of Au. He is a professor that wrote the book " A Marxist Approach to Education". I support some of his idea but, I do believe his work should be subjected to a Peer Review process before imposed on our children and system.


Anonymous said...

After seeing examples Tracy Castro Gill's social media behavior and the ethnic studies math framework I finally got around to doing a google search on her and came across the her teacher activist blog and facebook page. I just don't even know where to begin. If you are an SPS parent that is unfamiliar with Ms Castro Gill, as I was, then I urge you to explore her online presence, and see for yourself who has been tasked with developing and implementing an Ethnic Studies program within SPS.

Professional

Anonymous said...

Are you sure? I see it as behind an email sign up only. I am not going to do that.

dasher

Anonymous said...

@ D, White, So many assumptions there.

First, for the record, the student in my story was not white. Students of color can also get tired of hearing the same thing over and over re: racism. It's just like how I (a woman) don't want to go to the office every day have someone lecture me about sexism and pay inequality--and I would not want my male colleagues to have to deal with that, either. To be effective social justice teacher, you have to strike a fine balance between over-doing it and under-doing it. Finding that middle ground can be tricky, especially since it likely varies depending on who your audience is. My sense was not that JG didn't do a great job of understanding his audience (class) when at HIMS.

Second, I never said kids "were certainly way over racism at age 14." My comment that they "got it" meant they understood the messages he was delivering, and they did not need to keep hearing them over and over. It's not that they were experts on racism and sexism and had solved both, but he had already given them some good information and things to think about as they continued their development. Circling back to some of the issues on occasion throughout the year might have been effective, but there's a limit to how much a teen will take in. It's like how they can tune out a "nagging" parent.

Third, the "white fragility" thing is not that helpful to productive discussion. If productive discussion and effective education is not your goal, fine, say "white fragility" and shut things down to your heart's content. That's your right. But without diminishing the horrible racism of the past and present and the negative impacts of institutionalized discrimination, we need to focus on what can start turning things around. Calling a complainant a "porcelain student" and seemingly wishing they had been "outed on social media" does not exactly sound like the way to move toward a better, more inclusive and less divisive place--if that's the goal.

Are we really to the point where, if a white person happens to comment on what approaches did not work well with their kids and kid's peers, people call it WH? Are we suggesting that ANY approach a teacher take with kids is effective and successful, so any attempt to point out flaws in delivery or curricula are WF? Are we to the point where only POC can talk about these issues--and if so, how likely is that these issues will be resolved purely within communities of color?

I get that you are upset. It makes sense, it's warranted, and things suck. But I have a hard time seeing how we make progress if people aren't willing to listen to each other, understand, accept various viewpoints, compromise, etc. Turning off potential allies probably isn't a great strategy.

HF

Anonymous said...

I also checked out the Ethnic Studies page on SPS. https://www.seattleschools.org/academics/curriculum/ethnic_studies
In addition to defining ethnic studies and explaining that the intention is for educators to teach ethnic studies in each content area to students from grades preK-12, it makes this rather extraordinary assertion -

"Ethnic studies has been shown to improve academic engagement and success in every unit of measure regardless of race or socio-economic status."

Impressive right! But this is such a broad and positive claim that I'm skeptical. It's a bit like saying 'aspirin relieves every symptom regardless of the disease' I'm a scientist so I would like to see the evidence on which it is based.
If SPS is going to claim this on their website, perhaps it should also provide references for the studies or data showing this.
I would be interested to know the following .....
*What school districts, what grades, what subjects were looked at?
*What were the actual outcomes measured - academic and otherwise?
*Have positive outcomes been replicated at multiple sites or is this claim based on one sample (and what is the sample size)?
*What ethnic studies curriculum were used that resulted in such success?
*Why is SPS not adopting the one that has shown such great outcomes but is instead having Tracy Castro Gill develop one?
*Will pilot studies be performed on the locally developed curriculum to ensure that it too improves academic engagement and success before being widely implemented?

I mean, if you were SPS, you wouldn't make this claim this unless you have some published studies or other objective data demonstrating this, right? And you wouldn't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money (which could have been spent on teachers) to develop and implement this new curriculum unless you had evidence that it would actually result in improved educational outcomes for students, right?

I'm not questioning whether Ethnic Studies should be component of a well rounded education. But I am questioning the tactics and leadership surrounding the introduction of this. And the hyperbolic claims being made.
I worry a lot of people (like myself, usually) don't pay a lot of attention to what is happening in the continual churn of SPS, don't read the blogs and just focusing on their own local schools, so might not even be aware of some of the things that are underway at district level.

Professional

Anonymous said...

@aparent. I support an Ethnic Studies class for students. My issue is that I question the district's ability to adequately vet the curriculum. It's hard to know, but my understanding is that the new board policy would allow teacher developed and standard curriculum to go through the same review process. Some people say the board would lose control of approving curriculum. Other people reading the same thing says no, it just mean teacher developed curriculum will go through the same review process. I don't know who is right. I hope it is the latter. It's true that some of the teacher developed Ethnic Studies materials that have been leaked leave a lot to be desired.
Teach

Anonymous said...

@HF. Thank you!! You perfectly summed up what I wanted to say.
Teach

Stop the non sense said...

An who chooses the ethnicity ?

eth·nic·i·ty
/eTHˈnisədē/
Learn to pronounce
noun
noun: ethnicity; plural noun: ethnicities

the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Once again facts and accepted definitions don't alien with the Marxist , SJW or Green hairs agenda.

Anonymous said...

The Ethnic Studies outline on OSPI from the Los Angeles School District looks more thoughtful than what SPS is producing. It seems to be steeped in history rather than dogma. As a parent I want teachers to teach my children how to think, not what to think.

https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/socialstudies/pubdocs/LA%20Unified%20SD%20Ethnic%20Studies%20Survey%20Course%20Description.pdf

Critical Minds

Anonymous said...

Agree, @Critical Minds.

From the LAUSD: These courses focus on the experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanas/os and Latinas/os, Native Americans, and other racialized peoples in the US. Courses are grounded in the concrete situations of people of color..."

Very interesting comparing SPS and LAUSD materials. Notice how Asian Americans are clearly included in the LAUSD syllabus (whereas they seem like an afterthought in SPS)? On a related note, former SPS COO and Superintendent R. Manhas is part of the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, as is J. Hagopian.

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

One of the interesting pieces is that community assumes there are standardized curricula we teach at the ground level. For most of my 12 years in SPS I made my own everything. Occasionally the district would issue a framework but that didn't have lessons or any sort of resources such as books attached to them. Even now there is a framework and a few texts but not which chapters are to be covered. Downtown does not provide any sort of grade level/program level common assessments. Every single thing that we do as teachers is at the classroom and department level. Caveat in that I'm in LA/SS and have taught high school and middle school and everything from Collection of Evidence to HCC. The three times I received resources from the district is when I think was Boeing bought all those novels for the district, the Southeast Initiative money to develop AP classes at RBHS included book money, and the social studies adoption for middle school. That's it.

Even if there was a daily curriculum I'd have to massively supplement it due to my evaluation. If I used what the district provides and students don't progress adequately because of the curriculum (assuming competent instruction) then I get negatively evaluated not the districts poor choice of curriculum. So in order to meet student needs you supplement massively. Or outright displace. This is the space where poorly prepared teachers or teachers with a particular orthodoxy they wish to espouse can leverage themselves in.

When I speak about preparation you may not know that the district almost never, and I say almost but I've never seen one, provides content training. The actual content of the course. It's always the framework and new way to rephrase the same goals of the last thirty years. Teachers get further and further away from understanding the material and more and more into their own subjective silos which can turn classes into a pulpit situation where only orthodoxy is preached.

Trainers and facilitators get paid a couple thousand dollars to come in and tell us the same thing as the last forty trainers did. How much would it cost to have some adjust professors come into the schools and really go over the actual information and content of a course. Imagine if once a month you had a UW professor of History or a TESC professor of social movements (not just theory) come and teach seminars? They don't cost that much and we'd get top talent for small amounts of money. What if there were summer intensives where teachers got a week of a course to broaden their horizons or increase the depth of their knowledge?

I bring this up because I see some level of correlation with teachers latching onto this rigid orthodoxy as a way to have something to teach during class. Their teacher prep program may be pretty light on content and high on absolutist conclusions so that teachers only have that to rely on. So they do. The only content trainings I've gone to have the Advanced Placement institutes and WSCSS fall/spring institutes.

Just some thoughts.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

I am an SPS teacher too. I would love more trainings on content and less on structure. I think just about all teachers supplement teaching materials; I know I do. I think there is a difference between supplementing and core curriculum. I think any core curriculum should go through the Board approval process.
Teach

Anonymous said...

From the revised version of Policy 2150 re: adoption of curricula materials [emphases added]:

A. "Adopted Instructional Materials": These are recommended by the Instructional Materials Committee, based on the work of an Adoption Committee and adopted by the School Board.
i. "Core Instructional Materials" are the primary instructional resources for a given course. They are provided to all students to help meet learning standards and provide instruction toward course requirements.
ii. "Extended Core Instructional Materials" are used in conjunction with the core instructional materials to provide instruction in established learning standards or statutory requirements that are not fully addressed by, or absent from, the core instructional materials."

B. "Approved" Instructional Materials: These are identified by certificated instructional staff and approved for use by a principal and/or the Superintendent or designee and do not require Board approval.
"Supplementary Instructional Materials are supplementary to Core or Extended Core Instructional Materials, and can be used in conjunction with adopted instructional materials of a course to enhance and support instruction. Supplementary instructional materials contain additional content or present content at a different level of difficulty or in a different medium."

So it looks like they are trying to draw a distinction between "Adopted" materials (2 types) and "Approved" materials, where the adopted materials are specific to established learning standards and statutory requirements, whereas the "approved" (and NOT formally adopted) materials category applies to extra stuff--like Ethnic Studies, since it's not a state requirement. Under what is proposed in this HEAVILY revised policy, Juneau could simply say "I approve of this curriculum and want it required throughout the district, and voila!" Pardon my French, but that's a pretty big friggin' LOOPHOLE they are trying to build.

@HP, if staff are suggesting to you that a home-grown Ethnic Studies curriculum would need to go through the adoption process, I believe they are intentionally being misleading. The distinctions they are creating in this proposed revised policies make it clear that their intent is to NOT go through the adoption process. Who, specifically, is telling you that a home-grown curriculum would have to go through the full adoption process? Names, please.

What are very clearly redlined OUT of the new "Approved Instructional Materials" process are the adoption committee and Board approval.

Be very wary. I hope Board members are hearing from constituents.

HF

Anonymous said...

L Rankin (school board candidate?) is suggesting the amendment is an expansion of policy, and doesn't skip over an adoption process. Perhaps the omission is "full" adoption process (committee, Board approval, public review).

details

Anonymous said...

@ details, there aren't different degrees of an adoption process--either it goes through the adoption process, or it doesn't. As made clear in the proposed policy, the process for "approval" is distinct from "adoption."

Can you please clarify L Rankin's comment, as it does not seem to make any sense given the actual documents submitted to the Board.

HF

Melissa Westbrook said...

D White, you need to watch your tone and wording, especially when speaking about students.

Dasher, you can see TCG's "blog" -it's open.

https://teacheractivist.com/blog/

Castro-Gill makes it sound like she wrote nearly all the Ethnic Studies curriculum.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DeWolf missed a Work Session last week, no? And now a Board meeting? And then, he acts like people are being mean in pointing out how AWOL he is? Very funny.

Anonymous said...

HF - does that go some way to explaining why they are developing the curriculum in house rather than using 'off-the shelf' Ethnic Studies curriculum? Would that have to be treated as 'adopted instructional materials'?

Meanwhile I notice TCG is pushing hard on her blog about her work being "dismissed and being gatekept from decision making at the district level". She calls this #ReWhiting and calls to action her supporters to contact the superintendent to show community support for the Ethnic Studies Program to prevent its #ReWhiting.

Meanwhile at her twitter account, another SPS teacher who describes herself as an Ethnic Studies Math Teacher (not sure if she means she teaches ethnic studies classes and math classes or....??) says this about her colleague's Ethnic Studies class "A class designed for SoC is being filled w/white HCC students as electives while the SoC it was made for are in core classes that continue to suppress them."
I did not know that Ethnic Studies classes were designed specifically for SOC or to replace their eurocentric, oppressive core classes - it certainly doesn't sound like it from the course description.
Surely if one of the goals of Ethnic Studies is to cultivate in students an understanding of the unique cultures, struggles, and contributions of people of color and impact of structural racism and power dynamics of our society and the need for change, then I would think its a good thing that the so called privileged white students are signing up to have their minds opened. Seems like the white HCC students are damned if they do, damned if they don't. I mean imagine if it was only SOC in the class and no white kids would take it - that would look pretty bad to me, and they would probably be criticized for being snowflakes or fragile whites avoiding the harsh historical truths. I totally agree it would be much better to have a more balanced class for stimulating discussion and gaining perspective, but why are so few students of color in the class? What is keeping them out? Are there more students wanting to do it than there are available classes?

SPSuspicious Mind

Anonymous said...

@SPSuspicious Mind

As one analogy, if a Women's Studies class was filled with a bunch of boys/men I think many women/girls would be joyous about it. In college the classes were filled with Women. Someone should instead question why the non-white kids are not taking the ethnic studies class, but not slam the HCC kids who do. Is this person actually a "teacher"?

JK

Anonymous said...

From GHS course guide (2018-19):

HCC students, like the rest of the Garfield student body, take courses that interest them and which fulfill their goals and graduation requirements. Once HCC students enter Garfield, they are still in HCC but are no longer in self-contained classes by design. It is important, however, that the students remain as a cohort with the critical mass to drive a master schedule with many honors and Advanced Placement (AP) offerings. Garfield is able to offer the most Advanced Placement (AP) classes and class sections because there are so many students, coming from a variety of middle schools and educational experiences, who seek the challenge AP courses offer. [bold added] The classes are open to all students, and it is one of the factors that make Garfield such a popular option for students and families seeking a rigorous, well recognized high school experience.

Hmm. They seem to recognize the need for a cohort to drive the master schedule "with many honors and AP offerings."

interesting, huh?

Anonymous said...

@SPSuspicious Mind, re: your questions does that go some way to explaining why they are developing the curriculum in house rather than using 'off-the shelf' Ethnic Studies curriculum? Would that have to be treated as 'adopted instructional materials'?

I'm not sure. They have said an Ethnic Studies curriculum isn't available, and if they're envisioning this as an integrated curriculum to be woven into every class at every grade level, that's probably the case (maybe for good reason).

But if an off-the-shelf curriculum did exist, it would likely be expensive to implement across the district--which would trigger Board approval due to dollar value. By keeping it under the cost threshold, that also avoids scrutiny.

It all fits.

HF

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight we are paying this person to develop the curriculum who to my understanding is a doctoral student not a professor. She also is new to teaching. And yet her ES stance is shadowed by hate towards other committed people. And how exactly are those qualifications?

Well after watching Juneau try to sneak TAF through as a creative approach school... I would say let your worst thoughts rule as to what her motives are.

Yeah I think you're right HF why purchase accredited ES curriculum and go through all the hassle when you can get a hench person to circumvent board oversight.

Burnt toaster

Anonymous said...

TCG has a post up defending her stance on nonWestern mathhttps://teacheractivist.com/2019/10/03/math-is-ethnic-studies/

It starts out like this "Recently, the work of the Seattle Public Schools Ethnic Studies Advisory Board has come under fire by conservative talk show hosts and Seattle’s own preeminent racist blogger, Melissa Westbrook. Critics accuse us of “dumbing down math.” Sitting school board director, Rick Burke’s wife, Lihn-Co Nguyen, has even hopped on the ethnic studies bashing."

How unbecoming from a SPS district employee. She's like Trump with his Twitter account.

She concludes her piece with this "When Black and Brown students learn math through an ethnic studies pedagogy, it is an act of liberation. Undoing the colonization of math as a “Western” concept is resistance. Becoming a mathematician as a person of color is taking action against a system that heavily privileges white people, especially white men. Ethnic studies belongs in math just as much, if not more so, as it does in history."

And to JK - yes that person is a teacher @ESmathteacher on twitter.

SMH so fast I'm dizzy

Anonymous said...

TCG: "When we teach math using pedagogy and instructional strategies that focus on individual learning and achievement, we are ignoring the ways in which most students of color learn – collaboratively and collectively."

This perspective (individual vs collective) is similar to that expressed on the SPS website many years ago, and was used AGAINST SPS in the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the race-based assignment plan.

Other points touch on the history and origins of math, and other base systems, which yes, would certainly enrich math instruction. But to ascribe motives to what is or isn't explicitly taught and to suggest it's oppression? This is where you are losing allies, TCG.

Then publicly bashing a former SPS math teacher, who, by the way, is acting independently of her husband? They are two different people. It makes you look bad, TCG. It weakens your message. It makes people take you less seriously. It's unfortunate, as there are some useful takeaways in what you discuss.

longtime reader

Mike said...

@SPS Suspicious Mind As silly as the idea is, have you considered that critical pedagogy underlying SPS Ethnic Studies is intended to rouse SoC to rise up against their "oppressors"? This is not a course for white oppressors to discover the breadth and depth of cultures their failing sham of a democracy has crushed on its way to world domination. Is it possible you've assumed today's public education is for the whole public rather than for the systemically oppressed? You do realize SoC haven't had a chance to learn as they have no tv to watch Sesame Street, no public libraries in their neighborhoods, no ability to walk to museums and no money to buy food necessary to enable such a walk? On top of that, most are stuck in propaganda centers overseen by racist (i.e., white) teachers who have neither understanding of nor care for SoC. Really, you should see the true world as revealed by critical pedagogists such as TCG.

Concerned Parent said...

Traci Castro Gill, in her role as Superintendent Juneau’s Ethnic Studies Math Specialist, argues that our schools currently teach math as “originating from European Sources” and that because they are “stealing the rich mathematical histories of students of color” the district’s math program needs radical change.

Personally, having graduated from Washington State Public Schools, I am ashamed to say that I must have slept through 13 years of math history classes. I do remember my parents having an abacus around the house, but I always thought “Abacus” sounded Middle Eastern. I recall learning the “Pythagorean Theorem”, but I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t until reading Ms. Gill’s article that I learned for the first time that the word “Mathematics” is Greek.

What I did learn growing up was how to solve math problems. And I did that by solving a lot of math problems. I remember my mom use to have us solve math problems in the car. I remember memorizing my times tables at home, learning the procedure for long division, and solving more problems. I remember spending five years in engineering school, often spending hours on a single assignment, solving even more problems.
But after 18 years of school, I’m sure Ms. Gill and Superintendent Juneau would be disappointed to know that until reading Gill’s article and the district's New Ethnic Studies Math Framework, it had never occurred to me to wonder who had invented the “Number Zero”.

Having interviewed hundreds of engineers over the years, I’m sure Ms. Gill and Superintendent Juneau would be further astounded to learn that the origin of the Number Zero has never come up. Because in all my years as an engineer, never once has the origins of the Number Zero ever been relevant to solving a problem. And this is not because of some “white supremacist male” conspiracy, but rather because the engineering problems we are faced to solve every day come from our customers, who pay the salaries that feed our kids, and I have never once had a customer ask about the origins of the Number Zero.

Ms. Gill is dangerous, because she is a bully, and she is being enabled by Superintendent Juneau. And I say that because people that don’t agree with Gill’s ideas she publicly libels as racists in her capacity as a district employee, including the wife of a school board member. In my daughter’s public school, the principal told her that “all the latest research shows that homework is not helpful.” And in fact, the district math coordinator told me firsthand, that chapters had been cut from the math book, and the sequence reordered because it was “too hard”. If that’s not “dumbing down math”, I’m not sure what is.

The fact is that Microsoft and Amazon and Google are not going to be hiring people based on their knowledge of the origins of the Number Zero. The fact is, that just like my mom made sure I learned my times tables, regardless of how hard Juneau and Gill work to “dumb down” the math in Seattle Public Schools, I will make sure my kids learn their times tables.

And the sad fact is, those students that believe in Gill and Superintendent Juneau, and learn the history of the Number Zero but fail to learn how to solve real math “problems”, will have a tough time in the private sector. Fortunately, all is not lost, because Superintendent Juneau evidently believes calculating accurate enrollment estimates, per Gill’s new “Ethnic Studies Math Framework”, can lead to multiple perfectly acceptable answers, and that as a result of needlessly firing scores of teachers, the district is now urgently hiring.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant comment! In thinking about how we can inject some elements of diversity in our math curriculum , we could work on the language of word problems to ensure that we aren’t inadvertently replicating stereotypes. For the rest, your comment is spot on!

Math Rocks

Linh-Co said...

No one is discounting math was derived from ancient civilizations. Math textbooks talk about the Arabic number system, Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher, and Mayans having the concept of zero. While all these things are interesting, they don't teach kids to manipulate numbers to solve for x, or learn how to take % of numbers, or work with fractions, etc.

Math is a gatekeeper to STEM careers. If the schools don't teach our students the skills to solve problems, parents with means will provide it with their own resources or supplement with private tutoring. This will only exasperate the inequities.

Thank you Concerned Parent for your sound points.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa,

If what @SMF said above is correct that TCG has a post up that says: "Recently, the work of the Seattle Public Schools Ethnic Studies Advisory Board has come under fire by conservative talk show hosts and Seattle’s own preeminent racist blogger, Melissa Westbrook," I think you should consider suing her for libel. Really. You are a private citizen, not a public figure, and she clearly intends to harm your reputation by her repeated and unsubstantiated comments along these lines. While you're at it, why not include SPS in your defamation lawsuit, since she keeps invoking her position/role with SPS and they seem not to care.

HF

Anonymous said...

Bravo to concerned parent. You're spot on and the enrollment debacle is a good example for the framework question "how important is it to be right? what is right? who gets to decide"
I don't think our competitors in China, India, Scandinavia etc are too worried about the inherent racism of math. They will just continue to learn formula, solve problems, experiment and invent while the US falls further and further behind.

SMH so fast

Anonymous said...

Maybe TCG can chime in with what, exactly, she thinks needs to be taught in addition to, or in place of, what's already taught in math classes. Textbooks these days have generally been modified to be more culturally diverse in terms of names and examples used in stories, word problems, etc., and as Linh-Co said, they also teach that math was derived from ancient civilizations (e.g., Arabic number system, Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher, Mayans having the concept of zero, etc.).

It sounds like TCG is suggesting the real problem is that too many white males are good at math, and we need to find a way to eliminate that disparity (and probably Asians, but she's all about the whyte-washing...). I agree that racial--and gender--disparities in math need to be addressed, but I seriously doubt that way to do that is by having students start questioning whether or not there really are "right" answers in math, and so on. The way to solve the problem is to do a better job teaching MATH, and PREPARING students to learn math. If students are behind in learning basic math, they will likely fall even further behind in learning advanced math. If they are behind in reading, they will also struggle with math, because the reality is that math often involves word problems.

She should also take a minute to attempt to clarify the meaning and science behind her statements. "When Black and Brown students learn math through an ethnic studies pedagogy, it is an act of liberation." Huh? What exactly does it mean to "learn math through an ethnic studies pedagogy? What are some real examples of how this might play out? More importantly, what are some studies that back up this claim that it "liberates" them?

What does "undoing the colonization of math as a 'Western' concept" mean, and to what exactly is it "resistance"? How is math a Western concept? Modern math itself is pretty standardized, isn't it? Do "Western" mathematicians use different math than "Eastern" mathematicians, and if so, how do they collaborate and learn from each other?

Now, if she were saying we should use a more "Eastern" style of math that involves a lot more math homework, memorization, and drills, I'd be all for it. That's an important part of building math fluency, and is sorely lacking in SPS. But I don't think her anti-Western math is a call for Singapore math, so I'm really not sure what she's getting at. Maybe just less math learning overall, so those who don't feel "powerful" in math classes will feel less powerful if others are held back? And maybe the "resistance" she wants to encourage is resistance to learning actual modern math?

Yes, there have been important non-white figures( and women) in modern times who have contributed to math, computer science, codebreaking, etc., and acknowledging them is a good idea. But that doesn't seem like what TCG is aiming for--didn't she write something in the past about wanting to "blow the whole thing up"? I don't think there was ever a sense of what would happen next, though, but I guess it would include sinking further in the international rankings when it comes to math skills.

Abacus 4all?

Newsflash said...

SPS uses **Singapore** math from Singapore, a predominantly Buddhist country of people who are mostly ethnically Chinese and Malay...

Linh-Co said...

SPS uses Math in Focus, the dumbed down US version of Singapore Math Primary Mathematics. It is aligned to NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards.

The Primary Mathematics Singapore Math is the series that put Singapore in the top 3 of the The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). It is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years. Marshall Cavendish publishes MIF. The Singapore Ministry of Education created the other.

We couldn't get Central Office to buy into Primary Mathematics.

Linh-Co said...

Central Office Math Department butchered MIF even more by overlaying their own version of scope and sequence and deleting some difficult topics altogether.

Anonymous said...

@Linh-Co. You said it. I try and do what Moriarty said on another page. Listen in staff meeting and then go close my door and teach. The Math Dept was so annoyed that we MIF was approved as the elementary math curriculum that they have done everything they can to undermine it. And what they are replacing it with is not good.
Teach

Anonymous said...

"The soft bigotry of low expectations."


FNH

NE Parent said...

The first year they used Math In Focus at my daughter's school is one of the few times my daughter has been challenged in Math. The district math department hadn't come out with its own scope and sequence, and her teacher basically started at the beginning of the book, went through each chapter, and assigned the extra practice for the kids to do at home.

After that from my perspective it went down hill. First the district tried to claim they could not longer assign the "extra practice" because there was no money for paper. The next year, the school the district came out with their own chopped up scope and sequence, and the school outlawed any regular math homework.

The Math Department told me they did this specifically because MIF was too hard for some students.

Anonymous said...

"Too hard 'for some students means those students need more support, more practice or a slower pace - not that ALL students should be taught an easier, dumbed down curriculum. And then they complain about parents trying to protect any opportunities that still exist for higher level material via advanced learning/HCC. It's not just math, look at other subjects too.

SMH too fast

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh, FNH, do expand on your cryptic thought.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, I didn't mean to be cryptic. The "soft bigotry of low expectations" is a famous phrase coined by Bush's speechwriter that popped into my head reading the comments here - specifically those about lowering expectations for all students under the guise of helping some students breach the achievement gap. It is bigotry cloaked in political correctness.

Evidently it is SPS's official approach now.

FNH

Melissa Westbrook said...

FNH, thanks. I had recognized the phrase but wasn’t sure how you meant it in this context.

I kind of agree. What really makes me wary is this drilling down of race designation to the point where it’s ONLY Africian-American boys and no other black boys. That points to me that there is adult need in there and it doesn’t seem to be truly trying to reach all black boys.

StepJ said...
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StepJ said...

This made me go Hmmmm....

Today, I looked at the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee page. https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/workgroups-committees/currently-meeting-workgroups/ethnic-studies-advisory-committee

I wanted to take another look at the reference documents they had listed, that included the SPS Ethnic Studies Math Framework.

None of the reference documents are listed on the OSPI site now!

And another hmmm...

This is the last paragraph for the proposed Amendment to Board Policy No. 2015,

"Procedures

The Superintendent
The School Board may adopt additional guiding principles as appropriate.or designee is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy including, but not limited to: • the adoption process for core and extended core instructional materials, • the approval process for supplementary instructional materials, • a process for reviewing complaints regarding instructional materials

This part is lined out (I don't know how to replicate that) The School Board may adopt additional guiding principles as appropriate.

Please note "The Superintendent" has replaced "The School Board" in approving an adoption process for everything listed including "extended core instructional materials." My understanding is that Ethnic studies would be in the category of Extended Core Instructional Materials.