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Friday, October 04, 2019

What Tracy and Her Pals Think of You and This Blog

I say this so much but many people do NOT read for content; rather, they pick out bits that suit their personal narrative and think they understand a topic or what others are saying.


I told someone out of state recently about the blog. He said, "So, do you post once a week or so?" That's hilarious.  I normally post five times a week, sometimes twice a day.

Now, Tracy Castro-Gill's little blog is a combo of her professional thoughts (which I had initially said good things about but won't anymore) and deeply personal reflections that are hard to read because it feels like something only close friends should hear about (her upbringing, her body issues and her daughter).  But basically, she gets few comments and near-zero discussion. A blog is interaction (at least to me).

I note that at the Capitol Hill blog post about Director DeWolf, most people are appalled by Castro-Gill's speech and invective.  Almost like that's not how a representative of the district should be talking.  She loves to say that the things she says on Twitter, Facebook and other places  are "off the clock" but the minute she pulls in "I'm the head of Ethnic Studies" into it, I think the clock starts back up.

So a couple of people said I should check in at her Facebook page and yes, it's full of remarks that are taken out of context.


On a sentence I posted at the Capitol Hill Blog:

Westbrook is now comparing me to a pitbull, talking shit about me on the Capitol Hill Blog, then bragging about it on her blog. But tell me again how she's not racist... Comparing a Brown woman to a dog... 

What the sentence actually said:

A well-education woman but with a pitbull attitude.  

Attitude, not her physical being.  And, I was nice enough (and fair enough) to call her well-educated (again that won’t continue).

On the math section of Ethnic Studies (which fyi, I didn't put up):
They are also agreeing with conservative shock jocks who got wind of the math frameworks and are mocking it. They are intentionally aligning with white supremacists at this point. They're not even trying to hide it or be passive progressive.
It might have been great for Castro-Gill to explain that page since there seems to be confusion but instead, she criticizes people here.  But getting mad about criticism of your work is easier than trying to bring parents in and help them understand.

Also:
The racists on that blog believe this is an okie-doke to secretly push in nefariously Marxist curriculum. Needless to say, any educator created curriculum would go through the same process as corporate curriculum does, but they will likely try to fight the board approval of the amended policy. 
Uh, it was one person who was accurate in stating that Professor Wayne Au espouses a marxist theory for education.  That is easily proven.

I think the jury is out whether in-house curriculum would go thru the same process as corporate curriculum.

She does say:
The goal is - and has always been - to do an official adoption of ethnic studies before the end of this school year. 
I kind of doubt that can happen, given the confusion over just one part of it. This is THE vital work for the district to be doing and yes, parents, students and community do get to weigh in.

Another person in her group said about a comment here:
How is teaching kids "how to think" different from teaching them "what to think?" That's some conservative rhetoric there. It's how neoliberal whites complain about schools indoctrinating children.
Wait, what? There is no difference between teaching kids how to think versus what to think? That is critical thinking in a nutshell.

They were also upset about two anonymous comments in that thread that were unpleasant and threatening:
The first two comments are definitely threats. This group of people pose credible threats to the safety and working conditions of those of us doing anti-racist work as well as threats to students of color.
To be very honest, I am beyond shock that the site administrator supports hate speech which directly leads to promoting hate speech.
They are right about those comments - horrible.  

But you know what? I have a life outside of this blog.  And I have a right to a life outside this blog.  

We sometimes get very lively, sometimes fierce in discussions and, sadly, a vile comment pops up.

But I cannot be "on" 24/7 so yes, sometimes something will slip past and sit there for a couple of hours. But I usually get to it within that time.  I have great readers who send me email alerting me.

But again, Castro-Gill doesn't run a real blog so she has no idea what it means.  She and her pals don't allow open discussion - if you disagree with them, you are a racist.  I'm not sure how you foster a discussion that way but maybe that isn't their goal at all. 

Another thought she has:
 It has been my experience that students of Color generally have greater senses of responsibility to things like family and community, which seems to not count in white norms.
I myself have not seen that.

To her own feelings:
I'm trying, but the attacks against me are ramping up, and as the only person doing ethnic studies at the district, it's emotionally draining. No... not draining. It's traumatic at this point.
Well, look at that - something we agree on.  It is unpleasant.  It would have been great if she had sat down to talk with me instead of firing the first big (and loud) shot.  What would she do if someone attacked her without warning?  I rest my case.

I have now gotten two emails from someone who purports  to be her - down to the same Gmail account with one number missing.  Is it her or one of her friends?  I don't know but here's what those emails say:


Sat, Sep 28, 4:29 PM (5 days ago)
You are despicable and need to stop!

Tenacious T tracygill024@gmail.com


From: Tenacious T <tracygill024@gmail.com>
Date: October 2, 2019 at 8:24:29 PM PDT
To: ssswestbrook@gmail.com
Subject: You need to stop slandering me OR ELSE!
Last warning
Castro-Gill does go by "Tenacious T" but I doubt it is her: I think it's a friend.  A friend who makes threats.

I hope the voters in Highline SD know what they might get.  It's kind of ironic because I know Superintendent Susan Enfield has zero love for me but I'm pretty sure that she and Castro-Gill would not do well together.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

To counter Ms. Castro-Gill’s negative energy, I like to share with you my reading treasure trove by TA-NEHISI COATES.

https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ta-nehisi-coates/

He is eminently readable and relatable to young people (my children seem to think so and he writes about superheroes). I think it’s because he’s such a curious person, open to things and if he is angry at times, his humor is even more piercing.

A Reader

Anonymous said...

Trying to elevate the conversation above middle school mean girl back and forth is a nice Hail Mary pass, A Reader.
Not going to happen here.

Calling TGC's a "small blog" shows how both have met their match in arrested development and other ways.

There are few things more pathetic than witnessing adults behaving like this.

I fully expect this honest comment to be

Deleted

Melissa Westbrook said...

So A Reader, thank you for pointing out what many of us know; Ta-Neisi Coates is a great writer of our times. His books should be required reading.

Deleted, I also appreciate your thought.

But what is important to understand - if someone came into your workplace and called you names and challenged your racial background and upbringing, what would you do? What if they continued doing it?

You would not stand for it and nor would I.

Over the decades, I have worked hard. This is my name, my brand, my legacy. And i mean to protect it.

What I find telling is that most of the comments at the Capitol Hill Blog reflect either concern or scorn for her remarks.

I have said good things about TCG. She has no such consideration for me.

And, I have said them to the Superintendent and Board. She seems to think I am gunning for her to be fired. I’m not. But I’d like the Super and Board to consider what it means to such vital work to have her speaking out in this way.

Blunt talk can be mistaken for harshness. I think, unlike TCG, I know the difference.

Her blog is small in the sense that few people read it.

I’m not deleting your comment; you are entitled to your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Melissa This TCG person should be sued by you for libel. You have been far too generous. I am aghast and have no words. She has serious issues and twists words and bullies you and other people.

JKL

Melissa Westbrook said...

JKL, what is most telling? The comments in the Open Thread where people who know her, fear her.

First Amendments said...

Thanks for staying strong

It can't be pleasant to receive threatening e-mails or have #WestbrookSoRacist propagated throughout social media.

At some point, certain individuals must realize that individuals have the right to question, disagree or speak.

The Call-Out Culture (which will ramp-up, IMO) will be used to intimidate, silence and push through controversial initiatives and agendas. Juneau, might be supportive.

I wish TCG peace. I do believe she is a passionate and caring person with much to offer.

Anonymous said...

Ms Westbrook, it’s challenging to find the balance between calling out bullying tactics and using one’s voice to be an agent of change in the face of persistent harassment, knowing that others are also harassed by the same individual yet have no opportunity to answer back and challenge persons in power (because they cannot risk a potential ding to their financial security or job or reputation). But on the other hand, sometimes airing out these situations only gives a forum for the bully and raises their exposure.

Personally, I can’t take this seriously. Which serves to damage because that is just that she apparently believes fervently in.

I know you know this, but do keep in mind the cliche, “don’t wrestle with pigs, because you get dirty and the pig likes it”.

Thanks for all you do
Gratitude


Remember this
4/26/19, 9:10 AM
Thank you, Ms. Westbrook for providing all with this “town square” meeting place to discuss education.

It is vital and necessary and would not exist but for your tireless efforts and untold hours of uncompensated, thankless toil. You do all children and our city a tremendous service.

In the midst of so much going so wrong, it is important to thank those who are part of the solution, not agents of destruction. By fostering spreading of information, be it SPS meeting times and places, budget proposals, legislature initiatives, you commit multiple acts of good.

You and this blog are deeply appreciated by the silent majority, even when the ‘news’ is bad or ugly or painful. We know not to shoot the messenger.



Gratitude

Anonymous said...

Deleted, I don’t do “Hail Mary” pass. I’m not a Christian.

People don’t have to fall lock step in one way of thinking to be enlightened or educated. That’s the point of reading Coates’ writing.

If you want to make Ethnic Studies relevant, than consider being open minded instead of looking for the worse in people who may have a different opinion. Think about why there is a need for Ethnic Studies to begin with. It’s the leaving out of things. It’s rendering whole groups of people invisible or irrelevant. In this zeal to do right and correct that, people are developing tunnel vision. There’s a danger there because people are veering into actions that what many would consider tactics of the oppressor.

If people can’t bear being scrutinized or questioned about developing a curriculum which will affect thousands of children, then they need to consider why they fear it.

A Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Graditude, you and many,many others are really what keeps this blog going. I have met (and met only thru this blog) so many bright, caring people have given time and thought to being here. Thank you.

And, of course, you are right. It probably was a mistaken to - once again - go and read at Facebook what is being said.

But honestly, to say that the people here are mostly “racist” and “white supremacists” just boggles my mind. It’s one thing to call me names; it’s another to paint an entire group of people with one harsh brush. As well, to cherrypick comments to shape a narrative seems fairly immature to me.

How Ethnic Studies plays out is anyone’s guess and really, in the hands of the Superintendent and the Board. But they might consider how much tension and discussion and upset there was with just Jon Greenberg’s class.

But yesm wehave so much else to talk about here, let’s move on.

One topic that comes up, again and again, is dsylexia and its variations which affect so many students. I find it fascinating how many celebrities/creatives say that they were dsylexic and no one really did anything to support their learning.

We have so much to talk about here so yes, let’s move on.

Mom said...

I think you might seriously consider a format where you prescreen comments. You don’t want ugly stuff posted. Sorrry this is happening and unprofessional of district.

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt TCG genuinely wants to be a force for good in the education system.

But for whatever reason she can not seem to tolerate the scrutiny or differences in opinion that come with the territory. And her stance - name calling, attacking, writing lengthy descriptions about the processes and people involved on her blog are unprofessional and possibly bordering on unhinged.

Indeed she seems to display many of traits attributed to people who are perjoratively described as SJWs:

A needlessly hysterical, permanently outraged attitude to social ills
Being too dogmatic and black-and-white in their views; refusing to acknowledge the nuanced complexity of human society; painting large groups of people in broad strokes
Enforcing a confrontational and incendiary style of discussion; eagerness to label others as oppressors; holding ordinary people personally responsible for atrocities
Demanding that others change their attitudes and behavior without a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue; refusal to see respect and tolerance as a two-way street
Loudly broadcasting their own views while attempting to deprive their opponents of a platform
Self-aggrandizing their own activism
A complete inability to laugh at themselves

Because of this, I think it will be harder to bring people on board with what is an ostensibly well-intentioned change. I worry that this curriculum stems from a grievance mentality and wonder whether the proposed framework will be able to bring about positive benefits for the diverse student population of SPS. Someone needs to be able to speak calmly, using facts and data, about the ratioanale for, and expected benefits of these curriculum changes, what the implementation will look like in practice, and be able to demonstrate what has been developed is educationally robust and conforms to established best practices in that field. There needs to be board oversight.

“There's nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place.” (Banksy)

Banksy fan

Anonymous said...

I think is tragic how to women decide to tear each other apart. For what? If you both really care about education and students, I do not understand the amount of time and effort you spend throwing stuff at each other.
Melissa, nobody likes to be called a racist, that cuts deep. Please understand that sometimes we can say or do thigs that can be perceived as... racists. Why not stop, reflect and learn?
TCG and you could learn so much from each other, it's ironic how much you have in common. Although I cannot see how in the foreseeable future you can collaborate, how about you both instead of wasting the time you spend attacking each other, you serve your community?
Women should elevate other women, not pull their hair and scratch their faces.
For a moment, Imagine a day you don't have to think about Tracy, write about Tracy, read what Tracy is saying about you... you see where I am going? That day you will have

PEACE

Anonymous said...

@ Mom,
Better yet, how about a format where we all can identify ourselves? Remember courage of our convictions?

PEACE

Anonymous said...

I meant two not "to"

PEACE

Teach Math said...

The ES math framework is basically critical race theory applied to math (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_mathematics_pedagogy). Ironically this is a really hyper-western approach to math. The rest of the world is not getting sidetracked with this. They're doing regular math with numbers in places like Aswan, Beijing, Biskra, Bogota, Bombay, Cairo, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Fudan, Haifa, Hong Kong, Ibadan, Islamabad, Kyoto, Marrakech, Mexico City, Nairobi, Nsukka, Ota, Santiago, Sao Paolo, Seoul, Setif, Singapore, Taiwan, and Zagazig.

Seattle has one of the lowest poverty rates of any district in Washington state (https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/northwest/wamaps/student-poverty.asp), which makes this kind of liberation theology math not the best fit for most district students. The best way for SPS students to liberate themselves from math oppression is by mastering traditional math. The good new is that many students of every race and socioeconomic status are already doing this everyday in every school and in every neighborhood in Seattle!

Critical math pedagogy is like a feel good avatar skin upgrade for regular math classes. All the resources that SPS wastes on the skin upgrade are resources that could have been devoted to hiring enough teachers, hiring experienced teachers at title 1 schools, counselors, class size, maintaining school buildings, race and equity teams, family/community resource workers, IAs, math tutors, math clubs, math contests, math diversity enrichment, summer math programs, school visits by professionals of color who use math in their jobs, pizza, etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Peace, I hear you but I will gently point out that I have not called TCG names (except zealot) and I have said many good things about her. So it’s not a case of two women “tearing” into each other; it’s one and it’s not me.

A third party offered to bring us together and I immediately said yes, recognizing that would be a better way forward. TCG declined.

Lastly, I have said it before - of course I have racial biases; we all do.

And you are right, as previous commenters have stated, no reason to keep this up. I’m moving on.

Banksy fan, me too.

Anonymous said...

@PEACE I think it's wrong to say women should have to agree with one another, support, or build up one another purely because of their sex. We are all different. Different political beliefs, different religions or none, different backgrounds, and experiences, different concerns. We are more than 'women' and we don't have to stick together by virtue of that. And is it not sexist to cast women who disagree with each other as "pulling hair and scratching faces". It plays right into some catty stereotype of women. You would never say that about men who challenge each other in forum of ideas.
Yes, people can sometimes unwittingly do or say things that could be perceived as racist - but also do you think perhaps sometimes people can perceive racism where it is not there or was never intended. Perhaps they should also stop, reflect and learn that not to jump to conclusions or think the worst of people.
It would be great if we could all be civil and express differences in opinion without insulting anyone but I strongly value the anonymity of this forum. Many of us have convictions, or at least opinions, or want to ask questions or share information but we do not all have 'courage'. Some of us don't want to draw attention to ourselves or our students or open ourselves up to bullying. This doesn't make what we have to say any less important or valid and it may be the only way some of us shy, retiring types may be heard.

Just the facts

Anonymous said...

@ MW,
I see you want to move on but you cant help yourself infantilize your good intentions with "I have not call XXX names except XXX". My kids always try to justify their immature behavior with the constant "He started it!". It is exhausting for all. Just move on. I hope TCG does the same.
Maybe it is best for both parties not to meet. I applaud your willingness to sit down with her and at the same time I applaud her integrity not to meet if she felt it was not a good thing to do or felt nothing would be accomplished. Who knows.
@ Just the facts,
My honest intention was to illustrate how ridiculous this animosity has become. I am raising two young women and I am very sensitive to stereotypes, they don't help anyone.
Let's get back to work kids! By choice, I am spending my Saturday afternoon trying to make some sense of this and sharing my thoughts. Anonymously because I can.

PEACE

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure I agree that all people have racial biases. It’s honest to admit to personal bias, particularly in the context of this discussion, but it would be helpful to know more, or at least to understand why you believe racial bias is commonly shared.

Salut


Melissa Westbrook said...

Peace, you’ve said your piece. Move on.

Salut, I would say near everyone has some kind of racial bias, whether you know/admit it or not. But I believe the term I should have used was “implicit bias.”

https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/understanding-biases

http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/parenting-purpose/201809/we-all-have-racial-bias

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Talking-to-Children-About-Racial-Bias.aspx

Elsa said...

I'm for identification of all posters as I know of JSCEE staffers who can post under false and assumed names (I know people to whom it has been done) and really damage individuals for simply speaking their minds.

This is how SSD operates these days and it's only a matter of time before they do it to Melissa too.

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

TCG is clearly problematic, but I also think that focusing attention on her doesn't help anything or get us anywhere useful. She only has power because Juneau sees her as a tool in her work to divide the community and undermine resistance to Juneau's corporate, top-down agenda of homogenizing instruction in order to deliver more profits to ed tech companies. This is all quite obvious and out in the open.

So when we focus on TCG and not on Juneau, we're playing into the district's hands.

Just a thought.

Owlet

Anonymous said...

TCG is a flame. Don’t feed it. Don’t give her a platform for her remarks. It only broadens her reach.

More Noise Please

Ed said...

Agree with Owlet.

Therapy Activist said...

TCG has pain caused by the stuff she overshares about on the internet. I've only met the woman once, but I know all about her gall bladder and her teenage pregnancies and her rape and her problematic relationship with her white mother. She calls out ¡Racism! as a form of self harm. It's a coping mechanism. By finding an external source of pain (racism=bad), she is able to short circuit her own pain and give herself a little high from finding racism to call out. She does it because it feels good to her not because it is effective at reducing racism.

Anonymous said...

"@ Mom,Better yet, how about a format where we all can identify ourselves? Remember courage of our convictions? PEACE"

I made the choice months ago, when things with Amplify became so acrimonious, to identify myself in my posts because it is too easy to say mean things or go too far, if you can hide behind a pseudonym. If this is something you truly believe in-then you to can make that choice.

Teresa