Controversy Grows Over School District Stopping Race and Gender Curriculum

Comments

3
@1: Hi there! There's no way to know exactly what the complaint was, because the student is still attending the school and his or her identity, along with his or her parents', is understandably not public information. All we can go on is what the district and the teacher say. Also, my original post quoted a current student, and those TV news links are to videos with on-camera student interviews, if you'd like to hear more of their perspective.
4
@2: What? What further questions do you have? I'd love to clarify.
5
I would like to know what - in specific - did these parents object to that the teacher said or did in the class.

The SPS statement said this:
"Regarding the first issue, the Human Resources department found that the way in which the race unit at the Center School was taught did create an intimidating educational environment for a student."

Okay, what was it? Because it seems this class has been taught by this teacher for quite a long time and successfully so. Has the principal had past complaints? I know a syllabus goes home - that the parents have to sign - that explains the class. So what happened that was over the top for these parents?

The commenter at the Slog who said they are the parents said this:
"In the meantime, media exposure such as this and the KIRO piece are simply allowing the pattern of intimidating behavior to continue by proxy. We would appreciate it if you would refrain from pursuing stories like this without first determining what is at issue. "

Well, it's hard to cover the story if you can't talk directly to the parties involved. But they won't talk so how is The Stranger or any other media source to do a through job?

To "determine what is at issue" would mean -for a good journalist - to talk to BOTH sides. That means the parents need to step up because their actions are now sending into motion a review of ALL classes that deal with race and social justice and that's not social studies but language arts as well.

They also go beyond wanting the class to change and want the teacher disciplined. Again, for what?

Sorry folks, you don't get to upend things and then cry foul.
7
To "determine what is at issue" would mean -for a good journalist - to talk to BOTH sides.

um..... now we don't report anything until we have "another side"?? anonymous or protected sources mute the rest of us?

THE NEWS seems to be STUDENTS and families are FIGHTING to REINSTATE CURRICULUM. If we find out what irked the parents to the point that the district took rash measures... bonus. The larger Center School alum, families and allies are standing in SUPPORT of a program/curriculum and yes, a teacher, they believe in.

Seattle Schools often takes a CYA approach and the parents & students are organizing quickly to show their support of the Center School Curriculum before some "permanent decision" is made. That is the news.

We may never know just WHAT prompted the parents to take this to the school district. (**The alleged parents post to Slog this weekend is reprinted fully below.) Sounds like a personnel complaint more than a content complaint. Assuming the SPS has resolved the personnel angle as Mr. Greenberg was free to respond on Friday. ( All personnel issues are confidential - punishment from zero to counseling to note in the file to suspension - we will never know)

The bigger question for me as a Seattle Schools parent, is WHY did the district act to immediately suspend the Center School Curriculum after meeting with one set of parents... and WHAT will the future decision about the curriculum be based upon?

** alleged parents post on slog comments this past weekend:
Anna,

My wife and I are the parents who filed the complaint you referenced in this article. I'd like to clear up a couple of misconceptions and misdirections here.

First, our complaint was filed against Mr. Greenberg for his personal actions in the classroom, not against the curriculum. We couldn't care less whether the Center School has a teaching unit on race and gender or not. That was not the issue in the complaint, as we made explicitly clear not only to Mr. Greenberg in our original meetings with him, but also with the District when we filed the complaint, and later with the investigators who handled the case.

This is about the highly-inappropriate behavior of a teacher in the classroom, not the content of the class he is teaching. The result of the District's investigation was that all of the claims we stipulated in our complaint were substantiated. As you note, Mr. Greenberg was found to have created a hostile, intimidating learning environment in his classroom. This was not just for one student as you imply.

The District undertook a review of the curriculum as a matter of policy, and I expect they will probably allow it to continue. I would like to point out that District claims that we, as the complainants, have been part of the curriculum review or its committee are false. We have not been part of any such process and have not been made privy to its deliberations.

Our objection, on the other hand, was to Mr. Greenberg's behavior. The District has not seen fit to discipline him appropriately for this, which we soon hope to remedy.

In the meantime, media exposure such as this and the KIRO piece are simply allowing the pattern of intimidating behavior to continue by proxy. We would appreciate it if you would refrain from pursuing stories like this without first determining what is at issue.

8
@5: Agreed.

Assuming the commenter is the parent(s) in question, or, at the very least, assuming the commenter is saying what the parent would probably say: We would appreciate it if you would refrain from pursuing stories like this without first determining what is at issue.

We can't determine what is at issue unless we know the exact nature and details of the original complaint from the parent! The School Board won't tell us, the teacher can't tell us (or make things worse for himself). The only person right now who could tell us "what is at issue" is the parent who made the complaint. So, tell us, complaining parent, what exactly was the nature of your complaint?

And what remedy, exactly, were you seeking? Was it your intention to have the entire program and curriculum tossed out? Was it to replace the teacher? Was it simply to get one particular lesson or piece of the curriculum changed or reworked?
9
Ugh on my own comment, didn't actually read the previous "possibly from the actual parents" comment.

So, yeah, you've answered some of those questions. Your complaint was against the teacher, not the curriculum. Fine. But please don't complain that your perspective is not being told when the only "official" information reporters can get on this is from the School District, which obviously isn't giving the full story. If reporters don't, and can't, know who you are, how can they ask you for your side of the story?
10
My daughter takes this teachers class and loves how he teaches it. More like a college professor atmosphere with realistic thought provoking conversation about real life issuses. There are 2 sides to every story except in this one, there is 3. He said, she said, and what no one will tell you.
11
From the dozen or so comments to this post and the previous one by students/parents of the teacher in question, it sounds like he's high on emotion and entertainment value, and low on even-handed argument. Hard to say for sure, but it seems likely that he's more in the business of activism than teaching.

Of course, a lot of people will insist there's no difference, and that's possibly the root of the problem.
12
@2 If you had ever had a student in the class, you would not be amazed that no one in the class knows what is taught. The school is one hot mess.
13
Shades of last year's Tucson, Arizona throwing out a high school literature and history curriculum based onwell-respected minority writers. It also dealt with racism and sexism,
and was a huge scandal when the classes' books were confiscated while the classes were meeting. Good for this teacher for teaching civic involvement, which is something our country needs, especially now!
14
I have a bright teenager that is pretty bored with her last months of high school, down to 2 classes a day, and the only thing that I've seen her get really excited and fired up about in school is this class. She has been pretty upset that they put the brakes on, without warning as well as several of her friends. I think it is good there is a public school class that makes kids think and participate. And these kids are all either 18 or almost 18, we are not talking about a bunch of 11 year olds. The ideas and speaking topics she has come home with have been exciting and wonderful to see as a parent. I think this teacher is really opening their eyes to the world they are about to graduate into.
15
@commenter #12- This particular teacher has been excellent at communicating with parents. In fact, I have an email from him every week regarding what they are doing and what needs o be turned in. Before all of this, I have mentioned quite a few times how I wish all teachers kept in touch with parents as well as he does. He is actually very on top of it from my perspective, and I currently have a child in his class.