Center School Students, Alumni, Parents Testify at Packed School Board Meeting, Board Members Signal Support of Controversial Curriculum

Comments

1
Of course, the only difference between this story and another one is that some family is offended instead of the Stranger.
2
Shielded for how long? The very same complaint - with names - cannot be redacted if you file a request with the Seattle school district. I know. I once had a student complaint, and the investigator made it very clear to me that I had "an enemy" on the staff who had asked the district for instructions on "how to file a request so he could get a copy of the complaint." It was in his hands in 21 days.
4
Again, this is not reporting. And the blogger, Minard, should not flatter herself with the title "reporter" which is misused here. Ms Minard has taken a position on the issue. Ms. Minard is a Center School disciple, a graduate and a student who took this class. This familynis not alone in their complaints. It is NOT about the curriculum. The curriculum shpuld continue without the Greenberg ego and bullying. Consider who supports the man. A young teacher who student taught with him ? Students who need his recommendation to getvacceptednto college from this sub-standard school? A "journalist" who had him as a teacher ? The school district stumbles again. Sigh.
5
@1

Do you think a unit on gender would help people figure out why you decided on a monicker that makes you think about your own rectum every time you log on?
6
Anna -- thank you so much for your coverage of this issue. Very informative.
7
agree with @6 - good op-ed. Very much like your teacher Greenberg s class
8
What interests me about this article is the comment by Ms. Crawford-Harris, about the physical state of her classroom, and how that issue is tiny compared to the complaint of a single white family over race.

I understand the issues of race. Yes, they're important and it's good to have a dialogue. I get all that. But when you get right down to it, it's all just a bunch of hot air, a way for people to feel passionate, while the very practical, real situation of dismally sub-standard schoolrooms aren't looked upon as important.

I think it's part of the insanity of America today. People are too caught up in arguing over rights instead of looking at the practicalities of how those rights are exercised. It's like the Orson Scott Card controversy: people get fired up about the Freedom of Speech, while totally ignoring the actual speech going on. It's easy to get righteous about hypotheticals & theories, it's a different kettle of fish to put those into practice.

I'm not dissing on the program, discussing theoreticals in high school is where it should exist. But I'd be very excited if Americans were more interested in practical solutions.
9
@4. The family IS alone in their complaints. At least half of the public testimony tonight was in support of Greenberg-- and that's a conservative estimate. NO ONE testified against him. All of the graduates who testified are either in university or have already completed their degrees-- so I'm pretty sure no one was looking for a rec.

Over 800 people have signed the petition to reinstate the curriculum. That's more than 800 versus 1 (or 3 if you count mom, dad, and student). Moreover, the Board clearly supports the curriculum. My impression was that Shauna Heath holds the power in this. And I don't even know if she was there. Jose Banda has not been helpful. I'd like to know his stance.

View and sign the position here: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-sea…

Tons of signatories have also commented on the petition expressing their support. Read those comments and you'll have a better sense of the course in question.

And Anna, you've been doing a fantastic job covering this story, given that the family who lodged the complaint has not made themselves available for an anonymous interview. You're doing very well with what you have. Please continue to keep us up to date.
10
Also, if it's not obvious, I too am a Center graduate (class of 2007). Completely agree that this whole controversy feels like a high school reunion. I watched the live stream of the meeting from Vancouver, BC, and I was itching to be there with my fellow graduates. Many other high school classmates were also watching online and we had something of a live tweet of the event via Facebook comments. So exciting to watch. If not for Greenberg, we wouldn't have the skills to mobilize as effectively as we have. Props to everyone who spoke and to everyone who has stepped up to support a truly transformative curriculum. I'm more proud to be a Center grad than I ever have been.

In solidarity!
Sophie
11
I agree with Sameoldnobodyloggedin. The problems I most recall as a parent in the Seattle Public Schools was how hard it was to get anyone's attention on really obvious things: kids assigned to classes they were not going to learn in, rules for who got into classes changing year after year, making it impossible to complete a course of study by graduation, no notice of mandatory and very narrow windows to add or drop classes that interfered with long-planned family vacations. My son had two well-educated parents who had the communications skills and were willing to devote the time to get his problems solved, but that is not the norm or the standard for admission to Seattle Public Schools. Every child's problems should get appropriate attention, on a triage basis if needs be. But a single family's complaint about a curriculum that is clearly well-liked by a large number of students should not get this kind of immediate and irreversible response. The kids who have been spinning wheels in this class while this trumped-up controversy is being played out will not get that learning time back, ever.

To use a legal analogy, ordinarily when a party seeks an injunction, one important factor is preserving the status quo during the pendency of the dispute. In this case, the students have been basically put in deep freeze while the complainants have been basically given everything they asked for. When private parties seek an injunction, they have to post a bond in case it turns out the relief was improperly granted. This family has no downside here; they've already won and if the decision is reversed, the time taken away from these students is not recoverable and they pay no price for taking it away. That this is typical of the Seattle School District administration, under every superintendent as far back as I remember, will come as no surprise to any parent, student or teacher in the district.
12
@3

You're a piece of shit and you should be banned from Slog.
13
Good reporting - thanks for this article! I think it is egregious that central administration should meddle in curriculum decisions for individual classes. Furthermore, it continues a policy - that I have noticed since putting kids through SPS - of targeting the best teachers and classes for elimination and dismissal. We had the same thing happen at our seattle elementary school. With all the hand-wringing and wailing about how SPS fails in its educational goals, chipping away at all the truly inspired teachers and classes is a strange way of remedying the problem. Brave New World indeed.
14
There was a running joke that this basically was a Center School reunion—no one would show up to a real reunion, someone joked, but a "social justice controversy"? That'll bring out the crowds.
So great! I am just LOVING your work. Very happy you've joined Slog!
15
I read the background quickly, but I'm inferring that a student complained that folks were being taught that white male privilege isn't OK and doesn't have to be this society's norm? Of course he'd feel intimidated in that situation. Privilege is pretty much all white males have got (which is the only way this got any traction, ironic eh?).

Full disclosure - I'm a white male.
16
I think a considerable problem is that the principal let this issue end up in SPS central administration. Maybe things will change with Banda at the helm but that is always the path to darkness.
17
"the reality of the Center School is that students of color feel uncomfortable in our school on a daily basis. Who is filing a complaint for them?"

Hmm. Is the teacher, Greenberg, saying that non-whites are not allowed to file complaints or...? This is the sort of rhetoric that makes me skeptical about the curriculum and the teacher. It isn't that such classes aren't valuable or necessary but the rhetoric makes it all seem more a more religious than fact-based undertaking - not that THAT's not true of a lot of edumacation but...
18
I'm a 50 year old African American, male that spent most of my professional career living and working in Seattle. Several years ago, the City of Seattle had the audacity to embark on a Race & Social Initiative that would eliminate racism in its city. In short, the initiative empowers each city employee to understand the impact of their decisions in multicultural communities, as well as, the workplace. Also, there is an element of education and training that is voluntary. A posting earlier whereas these conversations are suncomfortable, its what I have unearthed within myself that is uncomfortable. Since then, I have quit smoking entirely, become a better parent to my kids and have a better understanding of myself as a simple man in multicultural society. I just wished that I had this kinda of interactive instruction many years ago.
19
@4

Just because you disagree with the sentiment of the article doesn't mean that it is not reporting. Anna Minard clearly states that she is a graduate of the school and that she knows many people who are strong supporters of Greenberg, which could influence her reporting. But there was no alternate view to report since no one showed up to speak against Greenberg. In fact, no one has come out publicly against him at all. If you feel that there are widespread feelings of animosity against him then where are the people with those opinions? And, because you are trying to discredit us by saying we're just looking out for our college careers, I'd like to let you know that I already graduated from TCS and am currently enrolled in college on the east coast, which is why I (and I suspect many other who already graduated) couldn't attend, not because we didn't care.
20
@1/3 Is that you, Stranger'sWorstNightmare? I'm glad you listened to us and got a new account. You're still a pathetic troll, but now, at least you're not claiming otherwise.

@4 What the fuck are you talking about? That comment is both stupid and contradicts several facts of the story...You sound like you have no clue wtf you're talking about.
22
@17 The teacher is simply saying that not one student of color that has left the school has filed a complaint against a teacher at the school in the history of the school, nor have they seen it fit to bring an entire curriculum to a halt because they felt uncomfortable. They chose instead to remove them self's from the situation with out causing this kind of problem.

@4 You sir or madam are so off base with your comment not one of the former students i know nor any of the teachers that work with Jon Greenberg ask of any thing more out of him than any other teacher would be asked of thorough out the district. The teacher inspires confidence and strength of self that we identify with and have learned to portray it to the world from his class.
23
@17 The teacher is simply saying that not one student of color that has left the school has filed a complaint against a teacher at the school in the history of the school, nor have they seen it fit to bring an entire curriculum to a halt because they felt uncomfortable. They chose instead to remove them self's from the situation with out causing this kind of problem.

@4 You sir or madam are so off base with your comment not one of the former students i know nor any of the teachers that work with Jon Greenberg ask of any thing more out of him than any other teacher would be asked of thorough out the district. The teacher inspires confidence and strength of self that we identify with and have learned to portray it to the world from his class.
24
I am interested in the specifics of the complaint. Cause I enjoy watching my people embarrass themselves in public, I think the actual complaint should be submitted. of course the names can be marked out, but it would be nice to know what the family's issue was.
25
@4,

You're pretty obviously the complainant in this situation. So, put up or shut up. What specifically is your beef with Greenberg? What did he do to your kid? How many other students and parents have you spoken to who have a problem with him and what was the nature of their complaints?

Since you're a hysterical coward, I won't be expecting a response.
26
@8: Wins all the internets for the rest of the week. Seattle: So much oxygen sucked, so little actually accomplished.
27
I am the parent of one Center School graduate and a current Center School junior. Perhaps the best testament to the validity, value and resonance of the social justice curriculum at Center is the way in which my older (23 years old) daughter's fellow alumnus have mobilized and responded to this situation. A) Research B) Mobilize and C) Act. The class of '08 has responded in huge numbers, articulate and well presented testimony and impressive solidarity.
Way to resonate, Jon Greenberg.
28
And, yes, the complaint should certainly be made available publicly. the complainants identities could easily be protected. Shame on SPS.
29
Cmon, you won't ban @2 for that?!
30
Thanks for the quick update! I am a former TCS student as well. I agree with many of my former peers regarding the impact this class had on my own personal identity, and how it gave me the tools to articulate my beliefs and fight for what is right. I also want to highlight Board member Sharon Peaslee's comment about the connection between this incident and the investigation of unfair punishment of students of color. Sadly, these are just snapshots of the continuum of systemic racism in the district.
31
I watched the video of the Board meeting and I was most troubled by the remarks made by the Board members after the testimony.

Several of them said that there is a process for these sorts of complaints and that, while the process may be slow, it is the proper way for the District to conduct its business.

Yeah, I could see that, but the Superintendent isn't following the process. Suspending the curriculum isn't part of the process. So all of this sanctimonious talk about procedure is pure invented evasive bullshit. It's a dodge. The Board is just trying to hide until the storm blows over.

This is NOT the procedure. That's what Mr. Greenberg said in his testimony. The District and the superintendent are not following any written or structured process. The Board directors were lying.

Also, one board member didn't talk about The Center School at all. And who was that? Director Harium Martin-Morris. Yep, the guy who was all about diversity when he was campaigning for re-election has nothing to say about the racism section of a social justice curriculum. Hmmmm.