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Showing posts from 2021

New Year's Eve Rants and Raves

  Rant SPS makes a big deal out of "we're reopening on January 3rd" and then backpedals to say they will be closed and all will be tested. But wait, it's "voluntary." How many will get tested then and how does it help?

Upcoming Meetups for Educators of Deaf/Hard of Hearing

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Franklin High Educators Speak Out; Will Seattle Schools Listen?

 Via Facebook: "Franklin educators led a sick-out today to protest SPS's frighteningly poor protocols for staff & student safety. We have been grossly mis-represented by SPS & the Seattle Times, so please spread this message." ------------ On December 15th, Seattle Public Schools’ decision to cancel school for students was their response to a credible threat to the building. Despite this valid safety concern, the staff were told to finish our workday in the building “as normal.” If we did not feel safe, we were informed that using personal time was required to leave the building. The message was clear that it was more important to SPS that they can monitor the staff than it was to protect them, even when there are no students present in the building.

Seattle Schools Losing Students

 From the Broadview Thomson lawsuit, we know that the claim is that at least 100 students have left that school. At last night's Board meeting, it was reported that the district is down 3700 students this school year. That is a HUGE amount. And, given that SPS never seems to ask parents who leave why they left, we may never know. And the money goes with those students so it's no small thing for Seattle Public Schools.

Lawsuit Filed against the Seattle School Board And Seattle Schools over Homeless Encampment

Editor's note: the encampment was finally cleared last week.   Here's the filing.  (FYI, it's Broadview Thomson, not Thompson.) What is interesting is the lawsuit names all the directors as well as the school district. I'm not sure if the directors will have to defend themselves given they are named individually, rather than as a board. To note, this is in Director Liza Rankin's district and she has been closely involved with this issue.  The plaintiffs state: SPS is not legislatively or administratively charged with or empowered to undertake regional homeless issues. Instead SPS is solely crated and enabled to address, administer and meet its education directives.

The Kids Are STILL Not Alright

 This happened just a few days ago in Mill Creek SD (bold mine): As I write to you tonight, after a very long day of working with the amazing Mill Creek Staff, Kent Police Department, KSD Safety Services, KSD Leadership, and the FBI (yes, the FBI), we have come to a resolution to the school shooting threat that was posted yesterday. Kent Police have made contact tonight with a Mill Creek student that has admitted to falsely creating the Instagram post to get out of going to school. 

The Kids Are NOT Alright

 A Rainier Beach High School teacher has been put on administrative leave for using "racist language"in speaking with a student. A letter was sent to families explaining the situation.

Director Community Meetings

 A reader asked: Director Song Maritz will be holding a community meeting. Have other directors be holding meetings? From the Board calendar: Join School Board Director Song Maritz for a community meeting on Monday, December 13, 7 – 8 p.m. Meeting held online with Zoom. Event registration required.

New Seattle School Board President Hersey

Again, man, he has moved up quickly. Cast your mind back about two years ago when Director Betty Patu stepped down before her term was done in District 7. There were 12 people signed up, including Hersey. He was one of three finalists and got the nod. Fast forward to May of 2021 and only Hersey and another woman signed up to run. The woman did nothing but sign up so the position was his. How did things change so much in less than 2 years and no one felt the need to challenge him? Another "hmmm" moment.   Hersey - now president of the Board - seems to be really comfortable in the role. 

Where is the Action?

 It appears that Ballard High School has turmoil within its halls.  Does that make them different from any other American public high school? Probably not.  What I am hearing from students and teachers is that both groups are scared and anxious and exhausted.  What I am hearing from students is that they see no real change on the horizon from the district or the Board. This is NOT the first time there have been issues around perceived racism from high school assignments. It will say that one report says that the father in the LA assignment issue stated that he called the teacher 14 times.  There was an issue probably seven years ago around an assignment to read Brave New World and when a Native American student expressed worry and discomfort, there wasn't much sympathy. The Board actually had a hearing but sided with the teacher. Maybe this Board should go back and read a transcript of that hearing to see what not to do.  What I am hearing is that students need to feel more secure

Seattle Times Speaks Up About the Seattle School Board

 A rather interesting editorial appeared in the Times yesterday.  Basically, they seem to know that things have not been going well on the Board and put forth the hope for better from new Board president Brandon Hersey. Wednesday’s selection of Seattle Public Schools Board President Brandon Hersey should be a springboard to greater board transparency and meaningful engagement with parents and community. They also note this which I would have to believe most parents don't even know about - a new kind of governance around student achievement. I will go into this in depth in a separate post but it feels that the district is listening quite a lot to a group, the Council of Great City Schools. They note a quote from Hersey at their endorsement meeting: “ I think that it’s critical to know, as a board director, what role that you play and how to do that effectively. Because when you don’t, you have instances where we might be getting more in the way than we need to be.” And then they l

Seattle School Board - Still a Real Problem

Update 2 I should have clarified that I left watching the Board meeting after public testimony. I posted this thread at that time.  I hd seen a couple of comments on this thread that said I was trying to silence Sarju and I was completely mystified. Apparently, Director Sarju made an admission later in the meeting about surviving a terrible sexual assault in her youth. (I cannot yet listen to that part of the meeting but I will.) I did not know about this. My comment about her being a talker was about the beginning of the meeting. In the the past, I have also said this about Jill Geary, Eden Mack, and Sharon Peaslee, all white women. And, former Board president Chandra Hampson is the one who brought in a 2-minute limit for Board comments (and yet never applied it to herself). The amount of time any given director takes to make a point impacts the length of the meetings which many directors have always felt are too long. What makes it really interesting is that the last Board voted to

BHS Parents - Is Your Student Going to the Meeting Today?

Update: I was mistaken about the meeting; it is just  about addressing the issues around sexual harassment/assault.  It appears it is at the same time as tryouts for the school musical so that's kind of tone-deaf. From what I am hearing, more students are interested in going to protest at today's Board meeting. (Just to note, the Board is having their election for Board leadership so there will be a new president. It's 99% going to be Brandon Hersey. There are 16 spaces open on the speaker list so if your child is going to the Board meeting, tell them to sign up and they have 2-minutes for each person. end of update. The meeting about strife at Ballard High that appears to take place right after school? Could you ask your student to record the audio of the meeting by requesting to put their phone on the stage or table where the adults will be speaking? It’s a public meeting so they have a legal right to do so.  Or take notes especially about what the students’ concerns tha

MORE Killings at an American High School

  America, what have we done? This is today's shooting at a suburban high school. The kids hear someone knock and say "Sheriff" and realize that it's the shooter and run to jump out windows.  Today is Giving Tuesday and Everytown for Gun Safety is getting a dollar for dollar match from Michael Bloomberg. Consider donating. I hang my head in shame. Who does this to kids?

Ballard High School Principal put on Administrative Leave

Readers, I have been reading many articles and hearing from many parents about issues at Ballard High School around the leadership of principal Kevin Wynkoop. Important to note is that on Monday, December 1, the administration is having a meeting for students about the issue of sexual harassment. This via Rob Gannon, Deputy Superintendent. Wynkoop is not mentioned.  Q & A Session for BHS Students from 3-4 in the PAC. District email sent to families.   This special Q&A session is being offered for Ballard High School students after school on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. The information session will be facilitated by staff from the SPS Title IX Office and will include opportunities for students to ask questions.   A similar virtual informational opportunity is being developed for all SPS students, parents, and families later in December. More details will be forthcoming soon.

Harrell Announces Picks for Advisory Groups

 Some interesting picks for the various advisory committees for Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell.  Full list here . Under "Education and Youth" -   School Board Director Brandon Hersey - Wow, if he becomes Board president (and I think he will), he's sure going to have a busy new year. But at least it's not Stephan Blanford.  - Superintendent Brent Jone s - Jones has his hands full as well in the new year. - Rep Sharon Tomiko-Santos -She's a long-time supporter of public education in the Washington State Legislature. -Vivian Song Maritz - Something of an oddity given she does not have a high profile in public education in Seattle but she's also a bright, involved public school parent. 

Teachers Matter

ask Adele

Seattle Times Finally Prints the Seattle School Board Harassment Story

Well, well, well, look who FINALLY printed the investigation story about Board directors Chandra Hampson and Zachary DeWolf being found to have used "positional authority" against two senior staffers.  The Seattle Times.

Around the Horn with the Seattle School Board

Last night there was a school board meeting and a LOT of the meeting got taken up with farewells to Director Zachary DeWolf and Director Erin Dury. This was their last meeting as directors. (The new directors - Michelle Sarju, Vivian Song Maritz and current member, Brandon Hersey - will be given their oath of office on November 30th. Their first board meeting as directors will be December 1st.) Director Lisa Rivera Smith was not in attendance.  I'll be honest; I always dislike these public farewells. I'm fine with noting it, taking a photo, and the Board president extolling their virtues, etc. but man, these extended lovefests just don't seem right at a public board meeting. Director Harris was talking about having margaritas with DeWolf. Save it for the party.

Lincoln High School PTSA Working on Race and Equity

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Dear Alumni and Staff, The Lincoln PTSA DEI committee is offering this 6-week online course as a fundraiser. It will be on zoom, and any interested alumni and staff, wherever you may live now across the country or the globe, is welcome to join. The funds raised will be shared with Alliance for Education, and used to support equity at Lincoln and across public schools in the Seattle area. To register, email lincolnptsadei@gmail.com or text DEI to 41444.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark (And in Seattle Schools)

  There is also something rotten at JSCEE.  I just don't get what they put in the water there that makes people working there think and act in dysfunctional ways that will NEVER turn out well. Or they will get found out, sooner or later.   I know some think I get a kick out of pointing this out. I don't. That it happens over and over again - and that's over the course of my 20+ years of district watching - is just saddening.  I still have public disclosure requests into the district over the Hampson-DeWolf HIB investigation. The public records section of the SPS Legal Counsel have been nothing but polite and helpful.  There are two things I want to report out of the last pile of documents I was sent which were the invoices for the costs of the investigation.  The overall cost for two law firms and a mediator came to just over $120,500. Sadly mediation, which cost $33,000, was for naught. It appears the investigation started in November 2020, two months after the formal comp

Seriously and Just Like That? No School on Friday

Update via The Seattle Times , both SPS and Bellevue SD are closed on Friday. Bellevue said it was canceling school Friday because of staffing shortages, “anticipated inclement weather, and COVID-19 restrictions,”  according to its website . After-school programs will also be canceled, but athletics will continue as scheduled.  And, across the nation: School districts across the country have also canceled school Friday, and some have also cited shortages in staffing and substitutes. Others said it was a day for students and staff to recharge during what has already been an exhausting year of school thanks to the pandemic. And some schools are closing for the day to vaccinate students.  San Diego Unified School District students have the option of taking Friday off as a mental health day, The San Diego Union-Tribune  reported .  The Associated Press reported  a school district in Virginia closed the first week of November over concerns about mental health and burnou t.  From Seattle Edu

Ballard Principal Found to Have Retaliated Against Student

 From t he Seattle Times: When Ballard High School senior Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce first heard his English teacher describe a class essay assignment — to write about how the Frankenstein monster in the novel by Mary Shelley represented oppressed people — he was taken aback. To Souza-Ponce, who is Latino, the essay was asking students to write about “why oppressed people do bad things,” he said. “It perpetuates that people of color do bad things.”   This was in January 2021.

Garfield High Scare

Update at 1:10 pm Told by Tim Robinson, the PIO for SPS, that yes, there was a bomb threat, students cleared school and sent to football field and SPD is investigating.  End of update Update at 1:07 pm. Told by SPD that "there is something happening there" but that I would have to ask the district's Public Information Officer. Can't be really serious if SPD is not on the scene. Will update as I learn more. end of update  I am being told by a parent that Garfield High evacuated today at 12:30 pm due to a "bomb threat." I cannot find info anywhere. No SPS tweet nor anything at Garfield's Facebook page. I tried calling the school but no answer.  Anyone hearing anything?

Defining Math in Seattle Public Schools

There's an elective math course at Garfield High School  labeled " BUSINESS MATH 130" that look straightforward in the course listings but there's a lot more to it than "business math."

This and That

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There's a Town Hall tonight from 7-8:45 pm, to assist parents in making COVID vaccination decisions for their children. This looks good but they have waaaay too many speakers at 15(!) including the U. S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Facebook.com/BlackDoctor.org YouTube.com/BlackDoctororg The district has finally set a timeline for the homeless encampment at Broadview-Thomson , from My Northwest:

Reviewing Interviews from HIB Investigation - Part 4, Chandra Hampson

The Hampson interview is probably the most problematic of the interviews. Like Director Zachary DeWolf, she feels it important to lay out a roadmap to her thinking leadership based on her childhood.  Her words do open up broader questions about what school board leaders believe about leadership, especially as the school board elections approach. In fact, several things that Hampson says deserve further discussion and I'll be writing a wrap-up post bringing in those issues. She talks quite a bit about her Native culture and being a Native woman. However, it is a bit of a surprise that she spent about half the interview talking about herself. Also, Hampson said she would supply MFR Law Group with evidence of her work to support the Black community. She did NOT do so even though the report says she was offered several chances to do so. Clearly, she wanted to present a narrative that she couldn't possibly have committed racist acts. The report supports that she didn't. But boy,

SPS To Special Education Students and Families: Sorry (again)

 Been hearing a lot about Special Education lately. There was a rally yesterday at JSCEE with about 100 educators, students and parents gathered to protest upcoming staff cuts to Special Education staff at between 40-50 schools. 

Seattle Schools Doing Great on Staff Vaccinations

From the Times News Express According to Seattle Public Schools, 99% of its 7,283 regular, full-time employees are in compliance with Gov. Inslee’s vaccine mandate. The percentage includes more than 99% of all teachers, 100% of all principals, and 99% of management staff.   The district says there are “a few employees” who are taking leave to complete the vaccination process and 206 employees who’ve been granted religious or medical exemption.   On Monday, the district told KIRO Radio that 6% of the drivers are being “separated” from their jobs because of the vaccine mandate , which includes third-party vendors. First Student has reportedly experienced bus driver shortages across the country this fall.

Reviewing Interviews from HIB Investigation -Part 3, Zachary DeWolf

These interviews are quite fascinating because of what any given interviewee decided to tell about themselves.  Zachary DeWolf is a great example. He tells the interviewer that he ...is energized by doing good things in the world... In late 2020, he had been out of a job but had just gotten a job with Washington Environmental Council as a communications director.  He talks about his therapist, his dog, his husband and learning Cree, a Native language. What it all has to do with the issue at hand is unclear except that he believes he's a good person who works hard.  But if you read the entire interview, there are several places where he contradicts himself. It's troubling.

Reviewing the Interviews from the HIB Investigation - Part 2, Keisha Scarlett

The MFR Law Group interviewed 20 people for their investigation report. I had requested only the principals' interviews - Keisha Scarlett, Manal Al-ansi, Chandra Hampson and Zachary DeWolf. Because of my reading of these interviews, I have now requested more of them. At the time of this episode, Dr. Scarlett was the chief of Equity Partnerships and Engagement.  One item I didn't mention previously is the issue of the redaction of names. Ninety percent of the time, I know who it is from the context. Other times, I may put in two names in this reporting if I am not sure.  One new fact - according to the report: Internally, SPS requires an investigation be conducted within 30 days but Juneau? signed an extension to allow the investigation to be concluded by January 31, 2021.  - Right up front, the investigation states: Scarlett is covered under SPS's (sic) anti-retaliation policy and is entitled to not be retaliated against.  - Like Al-ansi, Scarlett said she wasn't filing

Brandon Hersey Seems Unclear on Being a Seattle School Board Director

  So I saw that the South Seattle Emerald had interviews with candidates for Seattle School Board from District 4 and I started reading. Imagine my surprise when I see Director Brandon Hersey asking a question. What?!  A sitting director, who is also a candidate, is asking other candidates questions about being on the Board? Totally inappropriate. But we have directors who can intimidate and create upsetting work environments for JSCEE staff so sure, why not a director who is directly trying to influence an election? This here is SPS Today.

Reviewing the Interviews from the HIB Investigation Report - Part 1, Manal Al-ansi

 The MFR Law Group interviewed 20 people for their investigation report.  I had requested only the principals' interviews - Keisha Scarlett, Manal Al-ansi, Chandra Hampson and Zachary DeWolf. Because of my reading of these interviews, I now have requested more of them. The only two directors not interviewed were Erin Dury and Leslie Harris. That seems odd to me especially for Harris who has been in her position a long time. I am pondering how to provide this information, some of which is stunning, some of which is disturbing and some of which borders on a naïveté that I would not expect from adults who have been in the workplace for a long time. I will try not to repeat information from the report itself but I may need to in order to provide context. What I also find fascinating is that MFR must have asked each person (at least the principal players) for some background on themselves. That some of them were so liberal with their backgrounds seems odd to me but it certainly provides

WA State Professional Educator Standards Board Seeks Input

Via Facebook: Through this survey , the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board is currently seeking feedback on the first draft of the revised cultural competency, diversity, equity and inclusion educator standards.  The PESB will share the input they collect with their technical advisory workgroup. It will be used as a resource for how the standards can continue to be strengthened to better support student and community needs.    Community engagement is vitally important to inform the future of equity in educator standards. To ensure that every voice is heard, we are prioritizing opportunities for the public to engage throughout all phases of the initiative.    Through this survey, we are currently seeking feedback on the first draft of the revised CCDEI educator standards. The input we collect will be shared with our technical advisory workgroup and used as a resource for how the standards can continue to be strengthened to better support student and community needs.

Memorial Stadium Revamp; Here We Go Again

There is a story at KING 5 News announcing that Mayor Jenny Durkan and Superintendent Brent Jones have signed an letter of intent to move ahead on revamping Memorial Stadium. And, this would be tied to the passage of BTA V next February 2022. It would also be tied to a possible school on top of where the Battery Street tunnel was (and that's whole other post). KING 5 gets the amount on BTA V wrong - the $66.55M is just for renovating Memorial Stadium; the overall ask for the entire levy is $765M. Yet another issue is the revamping of Seattle Center and the future of The Center School. The City has said the planning would include The Center School but with a renovation may come more leasing costs to the district. So we have two lame duck leaders making a huge decision that affects a key area of the city.  I'll pause here to say this one thing in four words - Queen Anne High School. The high school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and was an of

Seattle Schools' Special Education on the Rocks

  October 22, 2021 The Seattle Education Association is the voice for educators and our students, standing united to address the needs of our community and to transform our district into an anti-racist school system where every student thrives. Via an SPS parent, Special Education Students Need Structure and Stability- Not Disruption Last week, special education staff in about forty different schools were informed that special education positions would be cut due to lower-than-projected enrollment in special education programs. Many of these educators raised concerns about how the district determined these cuts and reached out to their supervisors and/or administrators to ask questions. Their supervisors and administrators did not respond or they directed educators to contact Dr. Torres. There appears to be significant confusion within SPS administration about what is going on with special education staffing.

Overreach by Seattle School Board President - Where Does It Stop?

  Folks, it would appear that either Director Chandra Hampson either learned nothing about being humble from the Scarlett/Al-ansi episode OR she is doubling down before her being president of the Board ends in December. (And if that doesn't happen via a 6-0 vote, then they are ALL insane.) First, just to note, tomorrow night will be the first in-person Board meeting in a long, long time. I'm glad to see it as I think the Board should have to look the public in the eye. I'm hoping that we do not see an influx of board meeting instigators such as we have seen around the country, yelling about masking and CRT.  (To note, there is no actual announcement of this at the website; I just saw different wording on the agenda and asked.) BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU TO DO IS WRITE OR CALL THE BOARD AND TELL THEM, "NO!" to the following agenda item. It's - spsdirectors@seattleschools.org or 206-252-0040 for the Board office.  But the most important issue is this i

Seattle Schools Goes Political - Should They?

 In a fairly stunning press release, Seattle Schools appears to have a a group that appears to be using a department as their mouthpiece and urging the defunding of police. From the press release : October 14 is George Floyd’s birthday and Justice for George Day/#TeachTruth. Justice for George is a day to remember him and call for funds to be directed towards social programs and education. Now, I know what you are thinking - Melissa, where does it say "defund the police?" True, just calling for funds to be directed towards social programs and education doesn't necessarily mean defund the police. But what funds are they talking about and where are they currently directed? And, who wrote this press release? Meanwhile, over on the district's Facebook page, the message there DID call for defunding the police. (This was up last night and has since been taken down but too late; got a screenshot, SPS.) It said (bold mine): Oct. 14 is George Floyd's birthday, and in his h

Lincoln High School - How’s It Going?

 Lincoln High reopened with great hope and fanfare in September 2019. But then the disaster of COVID came in March 2020 and it, like all other SPS schools, closed. So it’s had probably one of the rougher experiences for a school. (Of course I know that there are many more schools with populations with many challenges but reopening a school after decades closed, trying to get parents and community onboard and then closing again is tough on kids, staff and parents.) So Lincoln parents, how goes it? Parents and/or staff and/or students, please note: - You do NOT have to use your real name here but no “anonymous” - it makes comments hard to track and answer if many people use that. Call yourself Princess Leia or Ted Lasso or whatever; just put down a name. - I screen all comments now but ONLY for attacks that are racist, sexist, etc. You can have a strong opinion and I still will put it up. 

"But What Did Seattle School Board Directors Chandra Hampson and Zachary DeWolf Do?

I have tried to compress the MFR Law Group investigation report because I think it is poorly formatted and hard to follow.  After reading this investigation report three times, here's what I think. FFS!   Sure, you could blame racism but it probably wasn't that, not when you have egos, misperceptions, misunderstandings, lack of clarity and hubris.  Let me just state the obvious - of course this is important work but it is important to get it right. And, this was all happening in the middle of a PANDEMIC . For the SCPTSA to say a policy of this type had been put off too long, sure, but this was a PANDEMIC.  I don't think anyone at SPS was shuffling their feet.  Here's how to sum up this situation: - Hampson felt she owned this policy (draft Policy 0040) and therefore, the entire process. In short, she was trying to micromanage staff which was not her job.  - Emails play a large part in this story for both Hampson and DeWolf.  Hampson was miffed that she wasn't cc

Final Investigation Report on the Behavior Of Chandra Hampson and Zachary DeWolf

The district did finally send me the final investigation report by an independent law firm over allegations of harassment and/or intimidation and/or bullying by Directors Hampson and DeWolf against two SPS senior staffers of color, Dr. Keisha Scarlett and Manal Al-ansi.   I will do a full post on what it said but, after reading it twice, I just shake my head at the whole situation. But if you would like to read it, here's a link. This is the report that the Board itself voted to accept at their last Board meeting. Without having the report available to the public and voting to also excuse themselves from their own Board policy that says that any agenda item must have its documentation attached.  Those two paragraphs alone, with a finding of HIB against two Board members AND the entire Board voting to pause their own policies AND withholding information that the public paid for and has a right to see, that should tell you ALL you need to know about the current state of the Seattle S

BTA V Levy and Operations Levy; You Should Say No to One of Them

 If you are a long-time district watcher, you start to see patterns in how the district communicates its needs. No matter who the superintendent is or the make-up of the Board, when it comes to levies, they say the same things with one voice. And I can't blame them - they want the money.  But I ask you: when you get your next property tax bill look carefully at it. About half is funding for these levies. Do you think you are getting your money's worth for that kind of taxing? Has the district clearly and transparently explained where they are spending those dollars?  February 2022 will see two renewal levies. Yes, they are not new but yes, they generally get larger every  time. (But there is one exception this time.)  The Board is having a work session this week on the levies on Friday, September 29th from 4:30-6:00 pm and then there is a work session for the Budget from 6:00pm to 7:30 pm.  Here's the agenda  with documentation.

Important Findings for Boys

This is a fascinating and troubling op-ed in the New York Times , "It's Become Increasingly Hard for Them to Feel Good About Themselves." (You can read it for free; the Times will send a link to your email.) The op-ed, written by Thomas B. Edsall, includes research on male youth brain development, family structure, school structure, behavior skills, and future job prospects. Taken together, it's a sad portrait for America's men and boys. (All bold mine)

The Times Endorses Hersey

Update: when I read the Times' endorsement, I went and checked at the Federal Way website to see if Hersey still worked there. And there he was. But I had many saying no, he isn't and today I went and looked and poof! he was gone.  So Director Hersey is no longer a teacher. end of update The Seattle Times has endorsed Brandon Hersey to retain the school board seat he was appointed to in District 7. There were a couple of interesting statements on his part and a glaring error from the Times.

Seattle Candidate Forum September 28th

 I had been wondering when we might hear from the candidates for Seattle School Board.  There's a candidate forum on Tuesday, September 28th via Zoom sponsored by Black Education Strategy Roundtable (BESR), League of Education Voters (LEV), School's Out Washington (SOWA), the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) & Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC). Register for Zoom Link From the SESEC website: Auto closed captioning will be available. If you have any questions or access needs/accommodations/supports (such as language interpretation), please contact vivian@allfivesinfive.org and mindy@allfivesinfive.org. Confirmed Candidates as of Sept. 21: School Board Vivian Song Maritz (D4) Laura Marie Rivera (D4) Michelle Sarju (D5) City Council Nikkita Oliver (Position No. 9) Teresa Mosqueda (Position No. 8) In other news about the school board races, King County Labor label endorsed Vivian Song Maritz for District 4, Michelle Sarju, District 5, and Brandon

Seattle School Board Trashes the Idea of "Accountability and Transparency" in their Work

 Folks, most of you know I have been a public education advocate in Seattle for decades. And just when I think Seattle Schools/Seattle School Board cannot get worse, they always surprise me. Below is a quick summary but I will flesh out the details below that and, when I finally get information that IS public information that WAS paid for by Seattle taxpayers and WAS already voted on by the Board, I will write more detail. My perception of the bottom line is that the Board is trying to protect its members, the district is trying to not get sued and the people of Seattle are being gaslighted and deceived by the people employed and elected to run Seattle Schools.  Summary In September of 2020, two senior staffers at SPS filed a formal letter of complaint to the Board. Those two women were Dr. Keisha Scarlett and Manal Al-ansi, both black women. In their complaint, they state that for months, both then President Zachary DeWolf and then VP Chandra Hampson had "intimidated, harassed, b

Around the Horn at Seattle Public Schools

Editor's note: a rather stunning admission came out at last week's Board meeting involving President Chandra Hampson and VP Zachary DeWolf.  It made for some rather tortured discussion. I am waiting on a document that is a final investigation report in order to be reporting clearly on this issue. Look for that post this week.  COVID Saw this today on a parent Facebook page. Apparently a parent got a call from the school nurse to pick up her child with a sore throat/runny nose (but no fever). The nurse told her that SPS had changed their symptom policy and if a student has one or more symptoms, they would be required to be picked up immediately. The child can then return to school 24 hours after a negative COVID test.  Wanted to let other parents know about this change. From my conversation with the school nurse, it seems that the expectation is that parents should keep their kids home and get them tested if they have any symptoms whatsoever now. The district's COVID dashboa

Teaching American History

 I wanted to revisit this subject after this truly wonderful speech at a Georgia school board meeting by parent, Melanie Moore. (Partial and all bold mine)

Oh the Things You'll Learn - Operations Committee

 I am a bit behind but did want to update folks about what was in last month's Board Operations Committee meeting. I hadn't heard of anyone who was running the Tech Department but, from the minutes, it appears there are two people. One is Carlos del Valle, Executive Director of Technology and Nancy Petersen, Director of Technology Infrastructure. Mr. del Valle's LinkedIn page says he's been in that position since November 2019. Maybe I lost track of hires during COVID. Ms. Petersen has been with the district for about 10 years with a different tech title. There's an interview with Mr. del Valle from November 2020 on the Technology recovery for SPS during COVID. From the minutes of the previous Operations Committee meeting:

And the Beat Goes On at the Broadview-Thomson Encampment

 The district had a meeting tonight at Broadview-Thomson K-8. I don't see it on the district's calendar but there were people there.  Reporter Erica C. Barnett was live-tweeting and here is some of what she saw/heard. I'll add some comments in-between. 

Sad News at Aki Kurose Middle School

 Via The Seattle Times : A 17-year-old boy suffered life-threatening injuries and a 14-year-old was in police custody after the two exchanged gunfire Thursday evening outside Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, according to police.   Seattle police spokeswoman Valerie Carson said the younger boy was sitting on the steps in front of the school about 6:30 p.m. when he was approached by the older boy. It appears they both had firearms, she said.   The 17-year-old was struck multiple times and was lying in the street when officers arrived, she said. So questions: - How were there TWO underaged kids with guns?  - School isn't even open so I wonder why they ended up at the school? No comment from the district yet (at least on Twitter). 

Oh, the Things You'll Learn (Part Three)

The last Student Services, Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting was held on August 18th.  Reviewing the minutes of the last SSC&I meeting on June 8th, a couple of items of interest:

Oh the Things You Will Learn (Part 2)

 Next up, Executive Committee meeting held August 18th.  Public testimony at school board meetings may be changing. In the minutes from their previous meeting, it was discussed using an online form rather than either email or phone-in. The minutes don't say whether it was noted that not all members of the public or parents/guardians have email capabilities.  It includes the  proposed Board goals for 2021. Here's one. (Editor note: the table I had put in is not showing properly and I don't know how to fix that.) "Reinsert humanness in our interactions with one another, staff, labor, community." Didn't know they had not been doing this.  Superintendent Search It appears that the work will start any time now with a selection in April/May 2022 and a new superintendent coming in July 1, 2022. Timetable: They will be hiring a consultant for community engagement/RFP for headhunters by the end of August, 2021.  By October, 1 they will publish the RFP.  November, hire

Oh, the Things You'll Learn

Update. Found out what the "Garfield Superblock" in the BTA V levy is.  Robert Stephens, Jr. has been one of the voices pushing the public agencies who each control a section of the Garfield High School campus, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, to fulfil a promise made back when the school was undergoing a major renovation that opened in 2008 that cost the district over $100 million.   As part of the public process to approve building a new Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, Seattle Public Schools had to be approved to get a variance in order to build fewer than the required number of off-street parking stalls. As part of that process, the district was required to provide a public benefit as a mitigation.   That project was the Super Block improvement project. “The community was just forgotten about,” Stephens tells CHS.   A center of these improvements is the Legacy and Promise Promenade. This pathway would fulfill the long-envisioned

Seattle Special Education PTSA Asks for Virtual Option For Grades 6 to 12

  The Seattle Special Education has sent a letter to the district about lack of services.

Seattle Schools' Advanced Learning - What Next?

 I follow a Seattle parent page on Facebook and several parents were asking about what Advanced Learning will look like in the coming years. The short answer?  Students currently identified as Advanced Learners will be transitioned to Highly Capable (Building Based Services) with differentiated services provided in the neighborhood school. Sweeping change is necessary to uproot systems born from institutional racism and move the district forward toward genuine and authentic, culturally responsive services that prioritize the needs of every student. There are four Phases for this work, the first starting in school year 2020-2021and continuing through in school year 2027-2028. The cohort model will continue until 2027-2028.  This is ONLY for K-5 services. It is unclear what happens in middle school where there is a scaled-down cohort model only for a couple of classes. High schools have no "HC" program per se - high schools have Advanced Placement classes or International Bacca

Latest on Seattle Schools and Collective Bargaining

I've been reading a lot of chatter lately at a couple of sites about the negotiations between the district and the SEA (Seattle Education Association, the union that represents teachers). Here's what the district says (partial and bold mine):

This and That

Checking the election results now a week later:

Talking Seattle Schools Superintendents and Board Members

A reader sent me this interesting l ist of all the SPS superintendents and board directors from the late 1880s on.  It contains their years of service, when they served and racial background. One board director served for 32 years! And current director, Lisa Rivera Smith, is the district's first Latina member of the board.  Of course, it wouldn't be SPS without a couple of errors.  1) No notation that Jose Banda was the first Latino superintendent. 2) The terms of both Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf expire this year, not in 2023.  3) They don't note that Director DeWolf is the first openly LGBTQ male member and that Cheryl Chow was the first openly LGBTQ female member. (You could quibble if Chow was open about it but she didn't make it a secret. She just didn't talk about it as DeWolf does.)

Two Workshops Keep Board and Staff at Seattle Schools Busy

The Seattle School Board had a busy week last week. Several of them attended a Zoom conference, 2021 Harvard and Council of Great City Schools ABC Leadership Institute, lead by the Council of Great City Schools. The CGCS :

Seattle Schools and Its Website - Why Can't They Get It Right?

Today was the unveiling of the new look for Seattle Schools' website . I really had hoped - as I do each and every time they tinker with it - that it will be better. You know, more accessible, easy to find pages, etc.  It's not.  I always say that after a website is redesigned, go get someone who has NEVER used it and give them ten areas to find. I can tell that didn't happen this time. I can say the home page looks more attractive.  However:

About Comments

 I have received several comments that I have not printed because: - The comment was just an insult to me. - I am having a problem with getting a duplicate of every comment (plus spam ones) and sometimes it's hard to keep up. If you think your comment was within the bounds of this blog, please ping me again. - A comment was cryptic. Reader Cassandra sent a comment that I will partially reprint: Since no one is allowed to argue with the district's diversity agenda, this is what we get. Torturers allowed to speak from positions of authority and paid from the district coffers. People afraid to speak up because they will be accused of racism. Censor away, enabler. I HAVE challenged the district's "diversity agenda" and reported on issues of race within senior leadership.  But Cassandra also made a claim about a diversity training that is to happen at SPS and who is leading it. Looking at the district website, I can't verify that is happening. So Cassandra, if you

American History - What Will We Tell the Kids?

This is the last in the series on Critical Race Theory but there are now other elements to consider like teaching about equity and ethnic studies.

And Then There Were Two

 Looking at the election results from yesterday’s primary, we see that in District 4   Vivian Song Maritz and Laura Marie Rivera beat current interim director Erin Dury handily. Maritz received 56.41%, Rivera received 23.18% and Dury received 11.10%  And Dury barely beat perennial candidate, Herb Camet, Jr. - he had 8.62% of the votes. There were 82,883 registered voters for that region and just over 18% voted. In the District 5 race, candidate Michelle Sarju hammered her opponents. She received 81.60% of the vote with her General Election opponent, Dan Harder , receiving 13.85% of the vote. The third candidate, Crystal Liston got 3.85% of the vote. There are 74,051 registered voters for that region and about 17.51% of them voted.  Interestingly, the race for mayor shows the same anemic numbers for voter turnout. Out of 493,453 registered voters, only 89,414 of those voted, which works out to just over 18%. What do people think of the top vote getters in the mayor’s race, Lorena Gonz

“Who Gets To Decide What is History”

 Well first, American history is NOT CRT because CRT is not curriculum. I have heard several people, including Seattle School Board candidate Michelle Sarju, say that it is. Nope. The relationship between the two - from my reading of numerous articles - is that CRT is ongoing higher-ed level research about the impacts and outcomes to Black Americans from how our history was shaped by those who had the power to shape it.  I’m willing to hear disagreements but I think we should all agree that CRT as a theory is not being taught in schools. Some of the discoveries within the CRT research - that other research has also found - are surely in many high school history or civics classes. Things like segregated schools,redlining, etc.  But are we at a place in time where a teacher can be going over the history/purpose of federal holidays, come to our newest one - Juneteenth - and then can’t give an explanation as to its origins? Ridiculous. What this looks like is fear. What is there to be fear

People Are Funny

 As you are aware, I am screening all comments. It’s actually tiresome because I seem to get many spam comments. I have been pleasantly surprised at the very low number of attacks on me.  I did get one recently on my post, Critical Race Theory, Where Are We Now ? The commenter is a sad and pathetic person trying desperately to make herself relevant only to find that her mad dog attacks really don’t play well at OSPI and other venues. I mean if you wear giant earrings that say “F*** off” in an interview photo, it doesn’t make you that approachable. In other words, she’s her own worst enemy.  And, she took down her own blog. Poof! It just disappeared. Of course there’s this thing called the internet where nothing really goes away plus another thing called screenshots.  What I am coming to is that if your comment has nothing to do with the subject of a post or doesn’t add to the discussion, I won’t print it. You can disagree with me up and down a wall and I’ll print it.  But do have somet

Seattle School Board Races 2021 - Seattle Council PTSA Forum

 I listened into the Seattle Council PTSA Seattle School Board forum Wednesday evening. It was eye-opening. All the candidates participated except for Crystal Liston in D5 and Genesis Williamson in D7. Candidate Herbert Camet, Jr. chose not to have video which would have helped and candidate Dan Harder had issues with his video, being sideways the entire forum. Sadly, there were only about 30ish other people listening in. I did notice that the president of the Seattle Special Education PTSA, Janis White, was listening in as well as Director Leslie Harris. SCPTSA had all the candidates answer the same questions with varying amounts of time given to answer, depending on the question’s complexity. They stated that no questions had been shared with any candidate. I won’t be transcribing all the answers (sorry) but I will try to give highs and lows from the forum. 

Who Might Leave Seattle Schools for Kent School District?

 Just tossing this out there to put on your radar. Over the last couple of years, several senior SPS staff left to become superintendents in other parts of Washington State. They include Flip Herndon, Michael Tolley, Wyeth Jessee and Clover Codd.  Now the beleaguer superintendent of the Kent School District, Calvin Watts, is leaving for a gig in an Atlanta-area district.  I think there could be a couple of senior staffers still at SPS who might be considering applying.  Maybe Keshia Scarlett, the Chief Academic Officer. I venture she might be happier with Brent Jones as SPS superintendent but she also filed a public complaint against Director Chandra Hampson and Director Zachery DeWolfe for acting in a racist manner towards her and mistreating her. DeWolfe may be going away come December but Hampson could still be a problem for her. Maybe Sarah Pritchett, a former Executive Director but now a newly-appointed co-Deputy Superintendent with Carri Campbell for the new Office of Strategy De

Critical Race Theory: Where Are We Now?

  Executive Summary: - the Right- “That was then, this is now and everyone is equal. Oh, and we don’t see color.” - the Left - “We need to teach the good, the bad and the ugly so our children don’t repeat past mistakes. Oh and anyone who doesn’t toe the line on how to do that is a racist.” That was easy, no? I have crammed a lot into this thread but I will do a separate thread on the challenges for American History/Civics teachers, a lot of it stemming from state legislatures and proposed/passed legislation.

Masks or No Masks; Delta Variant Makes It a Hard Choice

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FYI from Katelyn Jetelina , an epidemiologist. The Delta variant is a really troubling one.  I did find the “ask your teacher if they are vaccinated” to be troubling. I think what could be helpful if schools could tell parents “75% of our staff is vaccinated.” But I doubt that will happen.

Hell Freezes Over

 Apparently former City Council member (and mayor for a minute) Tim Burgess endorsed the same two candidates for Seattle School Board as did …The Stranger.  That would be Vivian Song Maritz in D4 and Michelle Sarju in D5.  That’s quite the mind-meld. Or maybe they just are the best two candidates.

Seattle School Board Races Updates

One final chance to see the candidates for Seattle School Board before the primary election appears to be a forum put on by the Seattle Council PTSA.

The Stranger Endorses Song Maritz and Sarju for Seattle School Board

 Today, The Stranger released its picks for races in the upcoming primary election. For Seattle School Board, they picked Vivian Song Maritz for D4 and Michelle Sarju for D5. I concur with both picks and I endorse Song Maritz.  For Song Maritz, they like her finance background, her child of immigrants/first generation to go to college background and that having an Asian on the Board would bring more diversity. The Stranger feels like Michelle Sarju has many talents and a firm knowledge of her region to bring to the Board. There’s also a funny story about one of her competitors who did show up for the interview.  To note, there was a candidate forum for the D5 race this week put on by the League of Women Voters King County and Horizon House, a retirement apartment building for seniors. I’ll have a separate post on that. In case you were wondering about the demographics of the Board and the district: Board 2 Native Americans (Hampson and DeWolf, if elected Sarju, who is African American,