Tag Archives: education

Teachers, take heart!

What am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving holiday? A lot of things, but specifically . . .


My teachers, my kids’ teachers, my friends who are teachers. Where would we be without them?

Why do I feel the need to call it out right now? Because from what I can tell, a lot of K-12 teachers are feeling discouraged and disrespected. They’re facing some specific challenges that a lot of people aren’t aware of, such as increased job insecurity, overly controlling administrations, age discrimination, and increased pressure to “teach to the test.”

And why do I think that? Because the vast majority of parents like their children’s teachers. The Seattle School District recently surveyed parents and community members, and a whopping 91% of parents felt “very favorable” or “favorable” about teachers. Here’s the bar graph.

This is an overwhelming supermajority of support. It means that whenever teachers are under attack, parents are potential allies. I say “potential” because it doesn’t always work that way. If parents don’t know about the challenges teachers are facing, they’ll stay on the sidelines. And if they can be convinced that the needs of teachers are in conflict with the needs of children, they’ll take the side of whoever claims to represent children.

But when teachers reach out to parents and tell their side of the story, it makes a huge difference. And when teachers ask for help we come through. Tacoma is a case in point. Dring the Tacoma teacher’s strike, parents backed teachers on the picket line, “walking with them and bringing coffee and snacks.” Not only that, but parents got organized and formed a group to support public education, “Parents and Friends of Tacoma Public Schools.

So take heart, teachers. You have friends.

The freedom of free time

This week I’m thinking about free time – mine, my kids’, my husbands. We all seem to have precious little of it. All summer I’ve been looking forward to the time when my kids would go back to school and I would have “six hours” a day. What I forgot is how much of that “six hours” goes to necessary work like housecleaning, grocery shopping, making food, setting up various doctors’ appointments, filling out paperwork for the kids’ school and teachers, and so forth. That’s just the basics. There’s always something more, like camping, a remodel, activism, keeping up on the Chicago teachers’ strike . . .

Anyway, six hours goes fast when you nibble away at it like that.

Meanwhile, my kids . . . when I was in second and third grade, I don’t think I had homework. Well, they have homework. It’s my job to be the big bad boss lady and stop them from having fun so they can do it. I was on board with the concept last year, but this year I’m feeling rather grouchy and rebellious. Somehow, what with the time it takes for dinner, bedtime routines, and homework, they really only get one or two hours to play after school, and it shows. In particular, my son totally zones out. All he had to do last night was fill out a reading log with what he’d read . . . and what with one thing and another, it took him a half hour. He wasn’t like that over the summer. He could manage his routines when there weren’t so very many of them.

My younger daughter, meanwhile, has begun to verbally articulate her need for play. This started over the summer, when she suddenly started noticing it and complaining when we overscheduled our days. It’s a good thing, because otherwise, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed. Now when she throws fits over having to stop an activity, and says, “I NEVER get any time to play!” I get it.


Play is important, both for grownups and for kids. It teaches you to learn for fun, not because you have to. It’s how you learn to be creative. It’s also how you learn who you are as a person – when there’s nothing particular you absolutely have to do, what do you choose?

My mom was one of the rebellious few who, during the feminist movement, chose to stay at home with me and my brother, and that’s one of the best things she could ever have done for me. It gave me hours and hours of freedom, and it gave me a role model who worked hard but also wasn’t afraid to laze around the house. So I have some expectations for me-time that maybe other people don’t. My expectations may often be thwarted, but on the other hand, maybe that’s why, when I say I’ve written a story or done this or that, people say, “But how did you find the time?”

How do you find the time for ANYTHING? is my response.

Don’t punish the teachers . . .

Across the country, school districts are implementing something called “value-added measures” in determining teacher bonuses, evaluations, and in the case of Washington D.C., even their jobs. “Value-added” means that teachers are judged based on student performance on standardized tests. They’re touted as “objective” even if “not perfect” (a euphemism for “not accurate.”)

How not accurate?

Twenty-five to thirty-five percent, according to this Washington Post article “Study: Error rates high when student test scores used to evaluate teachers” by Valerie Strauss, July 29th, 2010.

Here in Seattle, the school superintendent tried to implement a Washington DC-style policy that would let her fire teachers based on a value-added measure. The teacher’s union fought back hard, but remnants of it are still in the labor contract. I’ll be keeping my eye out to see what the district does. As a parent, I support my kids’ teachers!

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher

When I first had children I had a rude awakening: messages about “bad mothers” were everywhere. If you didn’t nurse, you were a bad mother. If you let your baby “cry it out”, you were a bad mother. If you ran out of diapers and took your baby to the grocery store buck naked (yep, I did that), you were a bad mother.

Of course, there were plenty of messages about “good mothers.” But many of them were conditional on certain behaviors. Good mothers attend to their babies when they cry, never yell at their babies, don’t keep their babies cooped up in carseats all day, don’t let their babies sleep on their stomachs. This is all good advice, but it’s absolutely impossible to follow perfectly, which leads new mothers to wonder: am I a good mother or a bad mother?

Fortunately, not everybody expects perfection from mothers. Pediatrician Winnicot pioneered the concept of a “good enough” mother. She is an “ordinary devoted mother” who attends to their children most of the time, but she leaves them to fend for themselves sometimes. She might slip up and yell, but then she takes a step back and apologizes, and she tries to do it better next time. As it turns out, children actually benefit when mothers and fathers make mistakes, because they learn to rely on their own resources. They learn to cope in an imperfect world.

Now, in the media, there is a lot of talk about “bad teachers” in our K-12 school system. Just as I take affront with the concept of “bad mothers” (and “bad children,” for that matter), I am offended by the concept of “bad teachers.”

Don’t get me wrong. There are some teachers who shouldn’t be in the classroom — sexual offenders, adults who otherwise abuse children, and teachers who don’t care or who gave up.

But these teachers are vastly outnumbered by good teachers – who, unfortunately, often get dissed right along with the bad ones. When people start talking about “bad teachers,” sometimes they’re talking about people who are or could become good teachers. In the first five years on the job, teachers are still learning their trade. They make mistakes. The first year, especially, is a hard one. I learned that when I taught at the college level. My first quarter, I agonized over all the things I was doing wrong, but I also had a friend who was more experienced and helped me put it in perspective.

“It’s a dirty secret and nobody likes to talk about it,” she said. “But the first year, everybody’s a crappy teacher. Just don’t tell your students you’re new, or they’ll eat you alive.”

Was I a “bad teacher” then? One of my students, who cussed me out, thought so.

Or was I a “good enough” teacher – that is, a teacher who made some mistakes? I learned from them, and after some experience and professional development, I got better. Some students called me a “good teacher” or even “one of my best” teachers. Some learned a lot, and others didn’t learn anything at all.

Was I a “good teacher”? Or was I a “good enough” teacher? How could anybody know? And on what basis could anybody make that decision? I got good course evaluation ratings – but not as good as the teacher who neglected to stop his students from plagiarizing.

Although it’s important to have high expectations of teachers, it’s equally important to make sure they’re reasonable. Not everybody will win the “Teacher of the Year” award. But the vast majority of teachers are good – or good enough. Their kids learn. They take professional development courses and continue to improve their teaching. They’re the ordinary, devoted teachers who make a positive impact.

But when the media obsesses over bad teachers, to the point of ignoring the vast majority of good teachers, it hurts teachers overall.

Even worse, good teachers run the risk of losing their jobs. This focus on bad teachers is also paired with an attack on teacher seniority, so that the concepts of “bad teacher” and “senior teacher” have been getting muddled together. But most experienced teachers do better than new ones – so if the experienced teachers lose their jobs, our schools will be left with lower teaching quality overall. This is bad for our schools, bad for our teachers, and bad for our children.

My kids have excellent teachers this year, and I’m glad of it. But I also understand that some years won’t be like that. Some years, the teaching quality will go down a little. My kids might learn less academically, but they might learn better how to cope in an imperfect world.

And that’s plenty good enough for me.

Florida and Washington anti-education efforts

I ran across an article on the Web page for the National Education Association about anti-education reform education: “Crist Vetoes SB 6, Takes Bold Stand for Florida Schools.” The Florida Senate had introduced a bill that was so bad that the Republican governor voted against it. In a state that has had trouble with teacher shortages, it would have lowered pay and eliminated job security for teachers.

What struck me is that one of the provisions in this bill were very similar to the SERVE proposal that the Seattle superintendent tried to introduce at the last minute into the teacher contract. The SERVE proposal would have based half of the teachers’ evaluations on the results of a student standardized tests – although research has shown this to be ineffective. Likewise, Florida SB6 would have “required that all teachers be retained, certified and compensated based on student test scores on standardized tests.” The final labor contract in Seattle ended up with some elements of the SERVE proposal, but much weaker.

Another provision bears similarity to a Senate bill that was passed here in Washington, SB 6696. Florida SB6 would have extended the probationary period for teachers to five years. Likewise Washington SB 6696 extended the probationary period from two to three years. Again, it’s much weaker, but it’s the same general concept.

What accounts for these similarities? Basically, the rich and powerful who are pushing for nationwide “education reform” have about the same goals. So anti-education organizations are using the same tactics across all our states and cities.

What’s the bad news? Anti-education efforts are far from over in Seattle. What’s going to happen in the next legislative session? Will we see bills like S B6?

And what’s the good news? Grassroots efforts can stop them. In the case of Florida, tens of thousands of people wrote and called the governor in opposition to the bill. And in the case of Seattle, even though the SERVE proposal was introduced at the last minute, teachers got the word out, and people protested.

If Florida did it, so can we.

Billionaires Vs. The Teachers’ Unions

With the current funding crisis, billionaires in the United States have been donating millions and millions of dollars to education. That’s good, right?

Not really. Their money comes with strings attached. Billionaires have a reform agenda that most people would not support if they knew the full agenda. They have been pushing it aggressively within the last few years, not only at the federal and state levels but also at the levels of individual school districts and local grassroots groups.

This post takes an in-depth look at one small example of how the billionaire reform agenda has affected local education policies in Seattle by showing how billionaires Fordham, Gates, and Broad influenced the local teacher contract negotiations. Why look at local politics? Because that’s where parents and teachers have the strongest voice, and if we can see what’s happening, we can make a difference.

In Seattle, one key link between the billionaires and the Seattle School District is the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a nonpartisan research and advocacy group committed to restructuring the teaching profession. Key funders include billionaires Fordham, Gates, and Broad.

Their “About Us” Web page gives a pretty clear idea of the goals of NCTQ, if you look past the fancy language. They want to make “significant reform in how we recruit, prepare, retain, and compensate teachers.”

Was the NCTQ planning to listen to teachers’ voices in making these reforms? Not so much. According to the “About Us” page, they were founded “to provide an alternative national voice to existing teacher organizations.” The NCTQ follows the lead of the Fordham Institute in describing teachers as “human capital.” You don’t listen to capital; you spend it.

Over the years, the NCTQ has collected in-depth information of collective bargaining agreements, including a database of one hundred agreements from all fifty states. It has an analysis of how collective bargaining agreements and state law work together to shape policy. And it is using this information to help enact the reforms it wants.

During the Seattle teacher contract recommendations, the NCTQ made recommendations to the district. Before negotiations began, it produced a report called “Human Capital in Seattle Public Schools.” This report was funded by the Gates Foundation and by an organization called The Alliance for Education, which is funded by billionaires Gates and Broad. It called for changes such as establishing merit pay, halting salary increases after teachers become certified, ending certain seniority privileges, increasing teachers’ work hours, evaluating teachers more strictly, making it harder for teachers to become certified, and using the results of student standardized tests to evaluate teachers and identify the “high performing” and “low performing” teachers.

This last point was most controversial for teachers. Can the results of student standardized tests accurately measure teacher performance? Education research says no, it does not. But education reformers badly want a number to measure performance, something that can be called an objective measurement, and something that can be used as a factor in layoffs and firings.

During contract negotiations, the NCTQ came out with a second report that analyzed the district and union proposals and giving its own recommendations. It listed them as either “important” or “must haves.”

“Must-haves” included:

  • Ending a “super-seniority” policy of factoring seniority into teaching assignments – which means that senior teachers can be laid off more easily
  • Establishing a system of merit pay
  • Using the results of student standardized tests to evaluate teachers

Curiously, in the final contract, the NCTQ got all of its “must-haves.” Why? Partly because it caught teachers and parents unaware and unprepared to make an effective resistance, and partly because the billionaire influence was hidden.

This teacher contract was only one step along the road to education reform for NCTQ and billionaires like Fordham, Gates, and Broad. State law has also advanced the billionaire reform agenda, and we can expect further changes to state law in the upcoming legislative session. This is an explicit goal of the NCTQ, as stated in its article “Invisible Ink in Teacher Contracts.”

This is only one small example of how billionaires have shaped education reform in Seattle. As the diagrams in the Seattleducation2010 blog post “The Lines of Influence in Education Reform” shows, billionaire money has gone to the League of Education Voters; to the Seattle school superintendent; to grassroots groups such as Alliance for Education and Stand for Children; to marketing firms; and to charter schools.

The good news is that if we can watch where reform efforts are coming from, we can start to make an important distinction between the changes that billionaires are advocating and the changes that parents, teachers, and students actually want. We can make an important distinction between billionaire-funded grassroots groups and true bottom-up grassroots groups. And then we can speak up.

Because if it’s a choice between the billionaires and the teachers, I’m going with the teachers.

Why teachers’ unions matter

Teachers’ unions have been getting bad press in the media in the past few years. The media has blamed them for protecting “bad” teachers and ignored their contribution to the stability and quality of our public education system. So what do teachers’ unions do and why does it matter?

If you went to public school, think back to all the good teachers you had. Some of them were probably new, but most had probably been in the education system for a while. During the first difficult year, teachers are still learning the ropes and tend to make all sorts of mistakes. It takes practice before teachers can even get kids to behave. After a couple of years, when good teachers have hit their stride, they make it look so easy.

Once good teachers have mastered their profession, what should school districts do – keep them or fire them? Keep them, of course. But there’s a financial incentive to fire them or lay them off. And that’s where teachers’ unions come in.

Teachers’ unions protect the jobs of our quality, experienced teachers through seniority. Labor contracts and state law specify that when layoffs happen, the teachers with the most seniority are the last ones to be laid off. This means that teachers can go into teaching as a profession, suffering through the first difficult years with the promise of a stable job later on. And this means that our schools will be filled with more experienced teachers, who can collaborate with one another in the long term and build a true school community.

Lately, the media been attacking seniority, ignoring its benefits and focusing on the “bad” teachers that seniority rules protect. It is certainly true that some teachers have been in the profession too long. But it’s not because of seniority rules. Labor contracts actually do have provisions for teachers to be put on probation and let go. Often it’s the principal or school district officials who protect the jobs of teachers who are not capable of doing their jobs.

Teachers’ unions protect the quality of our education in other ways too. Unions negotiate pay, medical insurance, retirement, and sick days – all the things that make teaching a more attractive job. Without these protections, who would enter the profession? The most qualified – or the most desperate?

And teachers’ unions also negotiate mentoring and professional development. These things can actually turn a “bad teacher” into a “good” one. Teaching isn’t a job you can just jump into – it is a profession with a steep learning curve, and teachers need all the help they can get.

So let’s stop taking teachers’ unions for granted. We owe teachers an enormous debt for the time and energy they put into our educations and our children’s educations. It’s time to pay it back.

Don’t Wait for Superman

The movie Waiting for Superman is coming out tomorrow, and I am concerned about the effect it will have on public education both nationally and here in Seattle. It is essentially an advertisement for charter schools, paid for by big business interests.

The movie shows poor unfortunate students who need rescuing from terrible public schools, a superhero who is coming to their rescue, and the solution to all their problems: a lottery system that gives students a chance to attend top-notch charter schools with waiting lists.

Charter schools are, on the whole, worse than public schools. One third of charter schools underperform compared to public schools on standardized tests – only one sixth do better. (https://kristinking.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/time-magazines-education-reform-articles/)

Some charter schools have better results on student standardized tests. (I’ll set aside, for the moment, my objections to using a standardized test to measure the success of a school.) But this idea of saving students by using a lottery system to assign students to schools is not an acceptable answer to the problems of public education, because it is not available to everybody. Here in Seattle, the district tried “school choice,” which led to a lot of stress and frustration for parents who had enough trouble finding the “best schools,” and which the district has now abandoned because it cost too much to bus students all over the place.

The only way to save public education is to give all schools and all students a chance to succeed.

And parents, students, and teachers can’t wait for a superhero to make this change happen. We have to do it ourselves. We have to be our own superheroes.

Time Magazine’s Education “Reform” Articles

The Seattle teacher’s union just negotiated its labor contract with the district. In the middle of August, during contract negotiations, I got a letter from a teacher that raised all sorts of red flags for me. The district superintendent had just introduced a proposal that would a) base teacher evaluations on the results of standardized tests given to students; and b) give her broad powers to lay off teachers. Once I started looking into it, I learned that this proposal was part of a national push for some dangerous education reforms. The reforms are an attempt to:

  • Weaken teacher’s unions
  • Replace schools that failed under NCLB with charter schools;
  • Staff those charter schools with inexperienced teachers; and
  • Expand standardized testing and “teaching to the test”

Although the superintendent’s proposal was weakened in the final contract, I remain concerned about the future of education in Seattle and nationwide. The reforms are coming quickly, and most people are not well informed.

I’ve been looking for ways to frame this conversation when talking to other parents, which is especially difficult because many parents and teachers did ask for some of the reforms in the teacher’s contract, and some of those reforms are an attempt to solve longstanding educational inequalities of race and class.

However, as the PR gets going for education reform, it is becoming easier to see and discuss the big picture. The September 20th issue of Time Magazine has two articles in support of these two reforms. They’re part of the national PR effort for education reform. Read uncritically, they paint a rosy picture. But we can read them critically to expose their lies; to see the hidden reform agenda; and inform ourselves about the dangers of this reform.

Lies About Charter Schools

The first article, “How to Fix Our Schools,” argues for charter schools. It begins with an announcement of a movie, “Waiting for Superman,” which depicts failing public schools and successful charter schools. It then goes on to state in big, bold numbers in a graphic that 17% of charter
schools significantly outperform traditional public schools (p.38). But it buries the proof that charter schools on the whole do worse than traditional public schools. The article states, “But only 1 in 6 charter schools significantly outperforms traditional counterparts. And more than a third underperform.” This means that twice as many charter schools (2/6 vs. 1/6) underperform as overperform.

This is lying by burying statistics.

It’s true that some students leave schools with poor student test scores to attend schools with high student test scores. Leaving aside the problem that student test scores completely leave out the social/emotional development of our children, there is also the problem that a greater number of students attend poor charter schools than quality ones. The scenario depicted in Waiting For Superman, therefore, is essentially an emotional appeal. The final paragraph of the article builds on the emotional impact of the movie, by describing scenes in which “mothers weep and children cross their fingers in hopes of a desperate future,” and quotes an education reformer in saying “The rawness of the emotions of the parents gets to me – that unbelievable, desperate hope” (42).

This is lying by appealing to emotions rather than facts.

Lies about TFA Teachers

The next article, “How to Recruit Better Teachers,” makes an extremely sneaky argument for staffing “the toughest classrooms” with inexperienced teachers. It starts out with “beloved teachers” who “came to the profession after holding other jobs first.” So far so good. But the next paragraph subtly links these beloved teachers to poorly trained teachers. “It has never been easier for nonteachers to become public-school teachers, sometimes with just a few weeks of training” (p.46).

The next page talks about Teach for America (TFA), a program that places teachers in schools after a few weeks of training, and subtly links them to Ivy League graduates by saying that TFA got “a crush of applications from Ivy League and other elite applicants.” It does not say which percentage of TFA applicants came from Ivy League schools. It says that only 12% of 46,000 were accepted, which implies that a large number these 12% were largely Ivy League applicants. Again, though, it doesn’t state the percentages.

This is lying by implication.

The hidden truth is that 5520 applicants were accepted. This means that TFA expects that 5520 positions will be opening up around the nation. The Seattle Foundation is seeking grants for 150 TFA teachers in the Puget Sound area. How is this possible, given that state law doesn’t allow for this type of teacher? One possibility is that education reformers will be pushing for changes to state law.

Buried in the article is the reason why TFA will harm our classrooms. It gives an example of a first-year TFA teacher who couldn’t handle the discipline problems in the classroom and says, “This is a big problem with program like TNTP and TFA: they require a commitment of just one and two years” and “participants often spend the entire first year learning their jobs. A vocal minority of TFA veterans have complained that the program does little good for the students who must endure their inexperience” (p. 50).

This is lying by burying information.

How does Time propose to solve this problem? It goes on to describe a program called the Boston Teacher Residency, which requires a four-year commitment and a master’s degree in education. “Boston teacher residents spend that first awful year working with an experienced teacher, one who helps them learn the craft. The residents are in classrooms from Day One but never alone as most participants in the alterna-programs are.”

This is an argument against TFA programs that, however, lends credence to the idea that some alternative teacher certification programs are of high quality.

This is lying by association.

Having made the argument against TFA programs, it then presents a distracting argument about retiring baby boomers. “But half the nation’s 3.2 million teachers are baby boomers. They are retiring in droves.” Is this really why we need TFA teachers, or is it something else? The article goes on to say, “So until teaching becomes a more attractive long-term option, we’ll need both paid volunteers and professionals.” By using the word “so,” the article ties the need for TFA teachers to the retirement of baby boomers, but hides the fact that teaching is not an attractive long-term option.

This is hiding a lie in plain sight.

The final sentence returns to the implication that TFA teachers are from the Ivy Leagues and makes an emotional appeal to the readers. “How bad can it be that thousands if Ivy Leaguers, though inexperienced, want to help fill the void?”

This is lying by appealing to emotions.

Teacher Layoffs and Firings

The Time Magazine article has lied by implying we need TFA teachers because of retiring baby boomers is a lie. Why, then, do we anticipate a sudden need to staff 5520 classrooms with TFA teachers?

The answer is that other education reforms are making it easier to fire and lay off teachers. In July the superintendent of Washington D.C., Michelle Rhee, dismissed 127 teachers threatened to fire 737 more (p. 42). She used an evaluation that included “data about how much their students’ scores have improved compared with those of other kids performing at similar levels” (p. 42). That is, she used the results of standardized tests given to students as the basis of her layoffs.

The Seattle superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was planning to do the same thing – the proposal she introduced into the teacher’s contract gave her broad powers to lay off teachers based partly on the results of standardized tests given to students. Fortunately, concerted effort on the part of teachers and parents weakened her proposal considerably.

But if it’s happening in Seattle, where else is it happening?

Reform is Happening Quickly – But We Can Have an Impact

There is a concerted effort to make these “reforms” happen quickly. As Ripley writes, “The pace of change is, relatively speaking, breathtaking” (34).The movie Waiting for Superman, this article, and other PR efforts are meant to build popular support for “reforms” that have not been approved by teachers, parents, or students.

Some amount of education reform is unavoidable.

But, as teachers and parents have proven in Seattle and elsewhere, some of it can be stopped by concerted local efforts. We need to be closely monitoring our school districts and state legislators, educating one another, giving teachers our support, and making our voices heard.

Reflections on the Seattle teacher contract negotiations

Many Seattle teachers were outraged when the school superintendent made an 11th hour change to the labor contract that was being negotiated between teachers and the district. The superintendent added a proposal called SERVE, which would dramatically increase student testing, monopolize the school library for nine weeks out of the school year, and tie teacher evaluations to the student tests. Tying teacher evaluations to the results of student tests has become popular across the nation, but there’s no evidence that it works, and mounting evidence that it does real harm to teachers, students, and schools.

I got involved in parent support of teachers, and I feel good about my contribution, but I could have done more if it hadn’t been so last-minute, or if we already had a grassroots organization of parents in support of teachers.

The union and district reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday September 1st, about twenty-four hours before teachers had to vote on it. This didn’t give teachers enough time to give it a good, hard look before they voted. On Thursday, at the union’s general meeting, many teachers brought strong opposition to the contract. The majority, however, voted to accept it. Was it because they liked it? I doubt it. More likely, they made the best of a bad situation.

The sticking point of tying teacher evaluations to student test scores is still in there. It’s much weaker than the original proposal, though, and that’s a victory for teachers, students, and parents alike.

Going forward, there is a real need for parents to pay closer attention to what is going on at the district level. The media has made a big noisy fuss about teacher accountability, but we need to hold the district accountable too.

There’s also a real need for us to pay closer attention to the “failing schools.” What are the actual problems they face? And in what ways are they succeeding?

Finally, Seattle needs to take a good hard look at institutional racism and the split between North Seattle schools and South Seattle schools. Decades of work to integrate schools have been slowly but surely eroded over the last few years, and the result is both a lack of resources going to South Seattle schools and a lack of connection between North and South parents.

I’m putting some thought into what I can contribute. Overall, we need more grassroots efforts. And we need to add ethics to this conversation. We need to get back to the goal of educating every student. The district has an ethical responsibility to intervene with every student who hasn’t learned to read by third grade. These students need mentors and coaches and textbooks and research-based education and small classes. How do we make that happen?

Here’s what one Florida teacher has to say about the realities of teaching: