Topic: Seattle Public Schools
You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
June 17, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Future looks bright
Fortunately, no one involved with special education in Seattle Public Schools was be surprised at the recent report from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) [“Editorial: Not-so-special education,” Opinion, June 9]. Also fortunately: Since July 2012 — when José Banda became Superintendent — he and district staff have been working very effectively to deploy strong leadership, and to map out a comprehensive plan for restructuring special-education services in Seattle schools.
This is a big undertaking. Special-education programs require all the complexity and excellence demanded of general education, and are complicated by the myriad, unique disabilities and learning styles of the students served by Seattle Public Schools.
The district’s new executive director of special education, Zakiyyah McWilliams, brings a wealth of talent and experience to her role. We can be optimistic that each special-education student will thrive as Seattle Public Schools proceeds to roll out its carefully conceived plan for renewal, that the OSPI deadline will easily be met and that within three to five years, excellence will be the hallmark of our special-education services.
Marty McLaren, director, Seattle School Board District 6, Seattle
June 16, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Reinstate Jon Greenberg
Seattle Public Schools’ Superintendent José Banda made a decision earlier this month to shut down a popular and thought-provoking race and social-justice course at the Center School and discipline the award-winning teacher based on the complaints of one white family [“Seattle school district releases investigation of Center School teacher,” seattletimes.com, June 12]. This sends a frightening message to all educators and students in the Seattle Public Schools.Jon Greenberg had the courage to teach a controversial subject and risked his job because there was a single complaint. He had a ten-year history of praise, awards and acclaim.
Banda and his board can save face by admitting their mistake and reinstating this teacher and his full curriculum immediately. Any other action from the district will be unacceptable and will meet with long and fierce opposition. We need leadership that has the best interest of our students at heart, and that will stand by our top teachers, not undermine them.
Karen Davis, Ballard
June 12, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Invest in clean energy first
How can we expect students to get excited about learning sciences when half our politicians deny the truth of the most significant scientific finding of all time? [“Let’s dazzle them with science,” Opinion, June 11.]
We need to move investments into production of clean-energy technology like solar, wind, geothermal and efficiency, because investing in more oil, coal and natural gas is dangerously overheating our world.
In a classroom discussion on global warming, one girl asked me, “If 98 percent of scientists who study climate all say the same thing, why aren’t people do something about it?”
Louise Stonington, Seattle
June 9, 2013 at 7:39 AM
Reinstate Jon Greenberg
I am not a teacher, but I’ve had a few good ones — very few. And Jon Greenberg sounds like the best [“Teacher’s transfer protested at board meeting,” NWThursday, June 6].To censure him or punish him for challenging students to be honest and think critically is uncalled for. What a travesty and what a way to ensure mediocrity.
I hope district Superintendent José Banda does the right thing by reinstating Greenberg and giving him a raise.
The Seattle Times already did the right thing by shining the light of day on this sordid affair.
Jim Buckley, Port Townsend
June 7, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Leave teachers who teach
It is surprising that a high-school teacher at an alternative high school in Seattle can be transferred because one student’s family is uncomfortable with his “Courageous Conversations” class on racial and social-justice issues [“Teacher’s transfer protested at board meeting,” NWThursday, June 6]. They only filed two complaints against this teacher, and the school district plans to transfer him to a middle school.This is funny because several years ago, about 10 families (mine included) at an elementary school filed a complaint with the district about an elementary-school teacher who didn’t teach anything. He is still at the school. The district did nothing.
It seems that schools are afraid of teachers who teach and accepting of teachers who don’t teach.
Lucia Regan, Seattle
Discussion of race is necessary
Columnist Jerry Large makes the key point that we need discussions on race or we will never solve our social problems [“Frank talk best lesson of all,” NWThursday, June 6].
I am proud that Eva Cosgrove lists Greenberg’s class as her favorite. Eva completed Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Peace Activist Trainee Program, in which we try to help fill in the huge need for racial understanding that the lack of courses like Greenberg’s leaves in Seattle schools.
Let’s not only support Greenberg but call for sensitively taught courses such as his throughout the district.
Ruth Yarrow, Seattle
Schools need more classes like Greenberg’s
Having read both Jerry Large’s opinion and the accompanying article, I am convinced the district has erred badly. This should not be a question about the apparent decadelong popularity of the course with students, nor one of hewing to a course of absolute political correctness so that no one is uncomfortable.
The correct question to ask is: “Is this course and teaching method important to the education of our children?”
Given the appalling torrent of racial venom our kids are exposed to on the Internet and other media channels, and the more subtle racism found in “polite” society, I’d say we need more courses like this one and more teachers like Mr. Greenberg.
Paul Gutowski, Seattle
June 7, 2013 at 7:01 AM
A lesson on speaking out
My daughter is a provisional special-education teacher of autistic children at a local public elementary school [“State instructs Seattle schools to fix problems in its special ed,” page one, June 2].
She was advised that the school district was not going to renew her contract. The school did not give her a reason why. I guess the rules say it doesn’t have to. She was told she could resign and the school would give her a good recommendation.
Believing that she was an excellent teacher, an advocate for her students, well-respected by her peers, and not understanding why she was let go, she asked to see her personnel file. It was very positive, and she had been commended. She asked for a meeting with the superintendent to understand why she was being let go. They had the meeting and the superintendent was to rule within ten days.
Then her principal conducted her annual review and cited issues not previously discussed and very deleterious. They brought into question her professionalism, ability to obey the law and care of her students. Their words are very negative and not based on fact. Since then, the superintendent has agreed with his staff’s determination.
What makes this case unusual is that my daughter asked why. There are seven other provisional special-education teachers in the same school district who are taking the offer to resign with a recommendation. They are being good, being quiet.
Here is the lesson: My daughter and 9-year-old grandson are in the car coming home from school. He knows what is going on. He knows what his fellow students and his teachers think of his mother. He knows what these allegations are. He says, “Mom, I guess you should have just been quiet.”
Now that’s a school district that can teach everybody a little something. Ethics anyone? Does anybody care?
Gerry Pelland, Snohomish
June 7, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Textbooks are supplementary
Many teachers feel very insecure with their own mathematical skills and they need service training or additional college courses in mathematics and in mathematics education [“Bring back real math to Seattle,” Opinion, June 5].
A good, well-trained teacher will teach good mathematics no matter what text is used. In my opinion, a text is something to make the teacher’s program easier to present. When texts are picked for the whole district, the process is driven by textbook companies’ competition for profits. The teachers, not the school board, should be allowed to pick a text that will complement his or her teaching.
Students need to be trained to use calculating devices. In the real world, most math is done on machines. When a mistake is made, it is often a big one, which is usually caused by estimation.
If one can explain how a mathematical principle works, he or she is likely to remember it. These explanations are done with oral and written English.
Philip Heft, retired math teacher, Kent
June 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM
State has a lot of work to do
I applaud the state Office of Public Instruction’s move to hold Seattle Public Schools responsible for its lack of accountability and effectiveness in educating students with special needs [“State instructs Seattle schools to fix problems in its special ed,” page one, June 2].
I agree with Doug Gill, the state’s special-education director, that “this isn’t just fixing a couple of files, it’s fixing the entire system so it is more uniform, so it is more responsive to the needs of kids.”
But I doubt the state’s resolve. The Legislature passed SB 5237, which may force third-graders to repeat the grade if they do not meet state reading standards.
It provides no mandate for improving instruction, nor does it give specific guidelines for matching methods of instruction with different disabilities.
Seattle Public Schools says one in seven students receives special education for disabilities from autism to deafness. National Centers for Health (NCH) states that one in five students suffers from dyslexia and related learning difficulties alone. Neither the district nor the state addresses this discrepancy.
Fifty percent of all students in Finland’s world-leading educational system receive special education. This has erased the negative stigma of special education and demonstrates egalitarianism and equal access to education. These are standards we are far from achieving.
The NCH states upward of 90 percent of our prisoners are illiterate. The majority are dyslexic or have related problems. Failing to teach our students creates high dropout rates and delinquency leading to criminality.
Dane Jensen, Seattle
March 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Lessons have power to change hearts and minds
I am writing in wholehearted support of Jon Greenberg and his Citizenship & Social Justice course at the Center School [“We shouldn’t be afraid to have Courageous Conversations,” Opinion, March 21]. My son graduated from the Center School in 2007. He was a student in Greenberg’s Poetry and Citizenship & Social Justice courses.
As a regular volunteer at the school I witnessed Greenberg’s teachings firsthand. He is a gifted educator. He challenges his students to explore their beliefs, values and perceptions. He brings an enormous amount of energy and commitment to each and every class, he is there to guide, teach and challenge our children. He does so with passion seldom seen in Seattle school classrooms.
My son and his friends from high school, black and white, regularly continued discussions begun in Greenberg’s class once they reached home. His lessons truly changed hearts and minds and always encouraged much discussion.
I am ashamed of the Seattle School Board and the superintendent. They have allowed the voice of one disgruntled student to change the course of thousands of students who may miss out on Jon Greenberg’s brilliant teaching of Courageous Conversations. Where is the justice in that decision?
–Barbara Radford, Seattle
March 25, 2013 at 6:29 AM
Seattle Public Schools and the city need to take a clear stand
Teacher Jon Greenberg challenges on Seattle Public Schools to decide whether or not it is against racism in our public schools [“We shouldn’t be afraid to have Courageous Conversations,” Opinion, March 21]. His call should also wake up our city.
We pride ourselves on our progressive politics, and in some important ways we are progressive, but there are too many indications that our city is often racist and classist: Our police force is again being investigated for excessive force, often coupled with racial discrimination; though we brag about our racially diverse ZIP code, our city — and therefore our schools — is largely racially and socioeconomically segregated; our school district has been accused of racial discrimination in its disciplinary practices; the court found our state guilty of unconstitutionally underfunding schools; and we have a regressive tax system.
The school district is wrong and needs to take a courageous stand against racism and for critical thinking, but the district answers to the city, and those of us in the city need to take a clear stand, too.
–Mary Edwards, Seattle
Trending with readers