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Seattle Public Schools Honors Principal Who Disses Non-Minority Parents

You know something is very dysfunctional in the Seattle Public Schools when the District and a distinguished non-profit honor a local principal (Kaaren Andrews of Madrona School) whose school has a reputation for disrespecting a certain group of parents and essentially telling them to take their children out of the school if they’re unhappy with their treatment. And there’s much worse. I’ll give you the backstory later. But first this bit of news that shocked and enraged me both as a local Madrona resident and parent of a public school student:

Seattle school district leaders, Madrona staff, friends and even Andrews’ parents gathered Wednesday morning in the school’s library to award Andrews the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence for outstanding leadership.

…The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools academic leaders choose an annual recipient for the $50,000 Foster award, named for Tom Foster, a founder of the Seattle law firm Foster Pepper and a Seattle civic leader.

…Seattle Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno praised Andrews’ consistent work on student achievement.”Success with kids is not magic,” she said. “It’s about hard work.”

Madrona was historically an African-American, low-income neighborhood that has been changing over the last ten to twenty years. Madrona School has always had a high minority enrollment and a low academic achievement record. About six years ago, a group of local parents (mostly non-minority) decided they would enroll their children in the School and organize to raise funds to supplement what the District offered it and enrich the curriculum. Their motives were to turn the School into one that every resident and student could be proud of; an integrated school that had a good academic record with enriched offerings for any student who wished to partake. After beginning with high hopes and the support of the then principal (not Andrews), things turned sour. Minority parents and staff came to believe the parents wanted to “take the school over” from them. They resented the efforts to enrich the program.

The new parents in turn felt unwelcome and disrespected. For example, the group offered to raise money to fund a teaching position in a foreign language. Andrews told them the School didn’t want or need such a program. A foreign language was a “frill” the School and its students didn’t need and couldn’t afford. What the students needed was to pass standardized tests and offering a foreign language would be a distraction.

Now for a personal story that was very disturbing. A few years ago, my three children were picnicking at Madrona Playfield around 10:30 AM next to the basketball court with two adult friends accompanying them. All of a sudden a group of 50 or so Madrona middle school students ran toward the basketball court and a fight commenced between two children. Not only did the swirling mass of children frighten my children and endanger their safety, the students were screaming the foulest language imaginable.

One of our adult friends attempted to intervene (no supervisors or teachers were in the park at the time), but the fighting students ignored her. The adults decided to remove our children from the park and come home. On their way out of the park, they saw someone who seemed to be affiliated with the School go to the children congregated on the basketball court. The adults didn’t have any conversation with this person.

When they came home they alerted me to what happened. I immediately called the School to complain. I reached the principal who told me she had been the person going over to the group when my family left. I complained to her about the lack of supervision of the children and their endangering my own children. She replied that her students had every right to be in a public park and that they were unsupervised because that day was a “late start” day and there was no reason for the School to be expected to provide supervision since School hadn’t officially started when the incident occurred. She assured me the incident had been “taken care of” and there was nothing else that needed to be done. She made clear that she felt she had fulfilled her obligation to listen to me and that would be the last of it as far as she was concerned.

In short, I felt disrespected. Andrews didn’t get it. She discounted my concern over my children’s safety and discounted the need to supervise her own students outside of the School grounds. I decided to post about this at Madrona Moms, a local Yahoo! discussion group. While a number of parents thanked me for my courage and candor in reporting this incident, Madrona School parents posted to the group attacking me for “washing dirty linen” in public, for tearing down the School, for being racist, etc. It was most discouraging.

Then the Madrona Community Council president invited me to attend the monthly meeting of the group to discuss the incident. When I arrived, I was shocked to find the small group of local residents overwhelmed by the principal, assistant principal, the District’s race and equity coordinator, several School parents and a teacher from the School. After presenting what happened, Andrews in response had the chutzpah to say that my two adult friends had approached her in the park after the incident and berated her saying: “How can you waste your time on these kids? What do you see in them?” This of course was an outright lie as I mentioned that my friends had no conversation with Andrews whatsoever. It was an attempt to grandstand before the meeting and elicit racial sympathy for herself, her School and her students.

This is clearly a woman who, while clearly committed to her School and students, is so defensive and protective that the least criticism is viewed with tremendous hostility. Instead of engaging with reasonable and constructive criticism the response is to circle the wagons and cry racism. What kind of school is this and what kind of school district is this that rewards this type of mentality with a distinguished award?

The race and equity coordinator complained that my expression of concern for my own children’s safety was racist. Apparently, white parents who are nervous when fights break out in their neighborhood park are racists. In truth, one of the fighting students was white and the other African-American. The group that congregated around them was also mixed. I didn’t view this fight as a racial incident in any way. Only one resident attending the meeting expressed any understanding or support for my point of view. Even the MCC vice-president chairing the meeting attacked my motives.

I was shocked. I felt ganged up on. I then vowed to complain to Andrews’ District supervisor. I called her twice and received no answer. I then called the Superintendent’s office. All of a sudden, Andrews’ supervisor called me. We had a long talk and she acknowledged many of my criticisms as legitimate and said the School would now supervise “late start” days in the park.

Regardless of any of this, the truth is that Kaaren Andrews doesn’t want white parents at this School who do anything other than accept the educational agenda offered by the School. Any white parents who seek to enrich the School or offer programs not deemed central to Andrews’ philosophy are implicitly invited to leave. No effort is made to make white parents or students feel welcome in a student body that is 77% minority. Hostility to white parents is palpable, which is a further reason why they take their students out of the School in droves. Only 9% of the student body is “Caucasian” as the District statistics note.

Besides which, Madrona failed the No Child Left Behind standards and was forced to allow any parent to remove their children and place them in another public school. The students who leave in turn place a great burden on neighboring public school like Stevens and McGilvra, expected to take on the departing students. So instead of embracing parents attempting to get the School to succeed academically, Andrews turns her back on them and turns her School into a racial enclave. This in turn drives non-minority students away.

My wife and I vowed that none of my children would ever attend Madrona School as long as Andrews was principal and this racial isolationist attitude prevailed. As a result, my son attends TOPS, an alternative public school dedicated to a social justice theme. TOPS is a far more diverse school than Madrona AND it is devoted to the concept of multiculturalism and respect for all ethnic groups. There my child is learning how to appreciate people of all ethnic groups and to be inclusive and respectful to everyone regardless of race, color or religion. I’m afraid this is not a lesson that he would learn at Madrona.

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{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Sympathizer March 13, 2008, 8:27 AM

    Thank you for sharing this story. I live in a region in the Northeast and we have had very similar issues. I’m not surprised you and your friends were labled racists. It’s part of a manipulative game that is played. You should publicly challenge Andrews to take a lie detetcor test or retract her statements or else you’ll sue her for defamation. I am a major Obama supporter and hope he is our next President and he can help to accelerate the end of this type of idiocy. It is also why I think he should join a new Church, but that’s a different issue…

  • KJ March 13, 2008, 12:02 PM

    Interesting read. Please don’t stop posting to Madrona Moms — we NEED this discussion, even if others want to close their eyes and pretend there’s nothing to discuss….

  • braveuly March 13, 2008, 12:38 PM

    As a long-time Madrona resident and educator in the Seattle Public Schools, I too have been greatly disappointed and occasionally enraged by the prolonged mediocrity at Madrona Elementary. Yes, the school administration has consistently turned away some of the most hardworking community members who want nothing else but to improve the status of education offered by the school. My oldest daughter is currently in the public school lottery to determine her kindergarten assignment for next year; Madrona didn’t even make the top eight (we filled in all lines available). If only there was a separate line for “any school except”…

    On the other hand, I have followed much of the discussion related to the specific incident on the playground. Clearly it was not handled well, but you have personalized the alleged remarks from Andrews to such a high extent that you seem to detract from your real point. This is one incident that Andrews screwed up royally. As is typical, the district decided to play a game of CYA for Andrews. The was a very ugly scenario, i.e. the fighting at the park, but unfortunately not unusually for this age group.

    Getting back to the Foster Award of $50,000. I witnessed firsthand this same award given last Spring at Chief Sealth High School in the southend of West Seattle. I was in my seventh year of teaching at Chief Sealth at the time, and shared with many of my colleagues a sense of disbelief that John Boyd was being honored in such a way. While the school had make gains during his short tenure, he had little or nothing to do with this. More frequently he displayed an inability to maintain a focus on staffing or student issues. In fact, he was dangerously close to receiving a vote of no confidence from the staff at large at the same time he was given this award. Oh, but he has such a nice smile.

    So how does the district admin. and the Alliance for Education select the recipient of this significant award? In my humble opinion, this is an opportunity to infuse some positive spin into the public dialogue regarding less successful schools and/or leaders. The local press invariable reports on it, usually a photo (with a nice smile) makes its way into the paper and the principal gets to hang a nice plaque on their wall.

    Do the respective students benefit from this award? They do have increased funds to spend at the school’s discretion, which is GREAT! $50,000 worth of books is a wonderful opportunity. Unfortunately the flip side of this is the empowerment the award may afford to leaders who have been less-than-responsive to their school communities. Seattle needs more than nice smiles running the buildings.

  • americangoy March 13, 2008, 10:12 PM

    I went to a predominantly black school, at least 60% black, some latinos and whites. I have had my watch stolen from my locker by a gang banger, blatantly, while I was there. Not wanting to get my ass kicked, I went to the security guard who then opened the other kid’s locker, took out my watch and then told him that “if anything happens to this white boy (i.e. me), I will beat the s**t out of you”. Later on I found out that they did a search of his main locker (this happened at gym, hence gym locker) and they found a gun…

    This guy was a gang banger, and so I got tons of gried afterwards. One time 2 cars drove up to me as I walked away from the school bus, about 8-10 guys surrounded me and then the dick in question asked me to fight him. I did nothing, as the whole group waited for my move to stomp on me – so I had to take a few punches/slaps then the “hero” left with his posse. Nothing wounded by my pride.

    After that, I had a friend of mine, a white gang member, ride with me on the school bus with a baseball bat. Also I was courted to join his gang. It was explained to me that alone, I had no chance in a high school setting… as the above 2 car incident illustrated.

    As a big, tall, athletic “white boy”, I was continually razzled. For example, during gym, freaking everybody wanted to race run against me. After swimming lessons there was regular gehenna as fights happened (not necessarily involving me) after every swim lesson, and of course the teacher/instructors made it a point to almost never enter the swim dressing locker room.

    Ahh, American high school – good times! What “fun” memories I have.

  • Po'd March 15, 2008, 9:05 AM

    Kaaren Andrews is directly responsible for the departure of at least two hard-working civically-contributing families from Madrona (and Seattle). These people fled to the ‘burbs where their endless volunteer hours to improve schools, organize after-school events and fundraise would actually be appreciated and help their schools. She should NOT get an award.

    Keep posting to Madrona Moms!

  • Aghast March 26, 2008, 6:37 PM

    I am glad to have found this site. I was completely floored when I heard about this award. Then, when I thought about it and the way the district works, not surprised anymore, but saddened.

    Kaaren Andrews has her talents. She does work long hours and has laser-like focus on her goals. Unfortunately, a school principal also has to be multi-talented and emotionally mature. She is neither of these things. She is a one-trick pony, and fortunately for her, her trick is raising WASL scores (and she has helped the school accomplish that – I give teachers and students 95% of the credit). WASL scores are more valued than the humans that produce them. She takes 2′s (or students who get 2′s on the WASL, if you need to humanize the process) and turns them into 3′s (lowest score needed to pass). 1′s and 4′s? You don’t fit into her machine. Kids with special needs or kids who are highly gifted, sorry, she can’t help you. If you don’t like it, leave.

    She denounces or ignores anyone who does not share her views, and puts herself up on the pedestal as the only White person who “gets it”. She is the only one who knows what my Black child and all other Black children need. They need to be marched down hallways like they are in Juvie, have no recess, and be drilled and have “no frills”.

    She is being groomed for SPS administration. She is perfect for their organization. And thank NCLB for making the success of people like this possible as well.

    When I read the story in the paper about the incident in the park, I felt sick. That is the way she operates. I could totally see her making up the quotes (“How can you work with these kids?” “How could I not?” Spare me.) to absolve herself and SPS of the responsibility for making sure that kids were safe during those late starts (and I am talking all kids – those from the school and the neighborhood). She has to fuel the “us vs them” fire to draw attention away from her faulty actions, rather than doing what is best for the community.

    The kids and the majority of the staff at Madrona deserve the money to improve their school, though, so I have to see that light in the whole situation.

  • Richard Silverstein March 27, 2008, 12:26 AM

    Thanks, Aghast for what is clearly yr very direct knowledge of the school & its principal. “One-trick pony” just about describes her to a T.

    The thing about kids marching down the hallway with one hand on their hips and one hand on the shoulder of the child in front of them (in order to prevent physical altercations?) was wild when I first heard about it. I couldn’t believe it.

  • braveuly March 27, 2008, 8:11 PM

    Silverstein wrote, “kids marching down the hallway with one hand on their hips and one hand on the shoulder of the child in front of them (in order to prevent physical altercations?)”.

    My understanding is that the management technique at Madrona is a little more draconian. How about the kindergarten students walking down the halls while pinching their lip to limit volume, public outbursts. This used to be the policy. Not anymore?

  • Richard Silverstein March 27, 2008, 10:19 PM

    Braveuly: All I can say is Omigod! It’s like a bad science fiction movie. What will they do next, give all the students Ritalin?

    Actually my wife corrects me: her understanding is that the children walk in the hallways with one hand on their hips & a finger over their mouths. Still pretty odd.

  • Aghast March 28, 2008, 8:57 PM

    It’s called, “Hippy Lippy”. It’s actually kinda cute when the kindergarteners and first graders do it, but then its appeal and effectiveness take a sharp turn down.

    But the real issue is a district that rewards a principal who bullies staff and parents.

  • Richard Silverstein March 29, 2008, 1:35 AM

    Yeah, I can imagine my 7 yr old walking down the hallway doing that & it might be cute. But as you say, it’d grow old mighty fast.

  • Georgia April 9, 2008, 12:15 PM

    My son attends Madrona K-8 and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We haven’t left like those of you who have fled in cowardly fashion under the cover of vilifying Principal Kaaren Andrews instead of owning your own inherent bias and fears.  Sure, she’s a one-trick pony but that’s only because she’s not about gimmicks but straight-up, in-your-face commitment to learning for ALL students. 

    It must gall you that many of your own children throw their arms around her in casual encounters on the street.  Unlike the principals of your children’s current schools who coast on a priviledged student body, Ms. Andrews doesn’t sit all day in her office.  Nor does she spend her time hand-holding the fat-wallet, eco-stroller, white - uh…I mean, Madrona – mommies (whose best friends even though they’re never invited to dinner are gay, black, poor).  Instead she’s in classrooms 3-4 hours each school day helping students learn and teachers teach.  After hours she’s at her students’ sporting events, weddings, block parties, funerals, going on hospital visits, making and taking phone calls early and late.

    Which is not to say she’s a saint.  She’d be the first to say that every day she learns new things.  Every day she grapples with what she can do better.  Unfortunately the host and supporters (the only folks who apparently get posted – which doesn’t bode well for the time I’m investing in writing this) of this blog are so absorbed in their own self-righteousness that they’ve forgotten how to examine their own behavior.

    My son has friends from many walks of life at Madrona K-8.  Children and families who do not see themselves only through the lens of poverty or race as is the pinprick view in this blog.  He is learning to value through the simple act of daily, well-facilitated interaction, how to understand and respect his classmates.  He knows the adults – Ms. Andrews, included - value who he is and who he is becoming.  He is learning how to read and write and think about the world he is encountering.  And, yes, he does walk through the halls with his finger to his lips which is adorable to me but more importantly it means his exuberant exclamations at his vibrant surroundings don’t disrupt the learning taking place around him.

    It is you, who in walking away having learned nothing, changed nothing about your own behavior, have abandoned the issues and the answers.  Not unflinching, tireless Kaaren Andrews.  Not the thoughtful, reflective staff.  Not the students who are daily learning to be better human beings than their parents.  Which is what we should all hope for each day.

  • Antiignorance April 9, 2008, 2:50 PM

    So let me understand this, the writer, and almost all on this blog have spent how much time, WORKING, at Madrona? Because from all the expert comments, sounds like all have inside knowledge. As an educator, this work is not easy and having been employed at Madrona, I know first hand working to turn the school into an academically focused school has been challenging.

    What AGhast is asking, in regards to park supervision on a “late start” day is for every school in America to be responsible and supervise the activities of it’s children during non-school hours. Do Saturdays and Sundays count? Pagan holidays? The last I checked, when faced with a challenge, those truly committed stay and fight, those whom are scared, of their own internal demons and true motives, run and find shelter.

    Racist? I’m not so sure, I don’t use that word lightly. But for someone on here to have a 5 year old and state their child will, “never attend” Madrona, with no knowledge is foolish and ignorant. No school is perfect, none will ever be, but instead of knocking the people that care and work tirelessly in an effort to equally educate all kids, it’s easier to blog and whine and cry about how it made, you feel.

    I wonder how many of the 90% African American, and 80% free and reduced parents that Madrona serves have access to this neat blog. God bless privledge, and god bless all of you.

  • Justice For All April 9, 2008, 6:19 PM

    Our children are an emotional subject.  No matter your politics, views on public education or opinion of Kaaren Andrews, we can all undoubtedly agree to love our children and want the best for them.    It is this which causes us to react and judge rather than seek to understand.  It is this I remind myself of as I read this blog. This I believe. 
     
    I have had the great opportunity to serve in Seattle Public Schools, a district filled with opinions, beliefs and convictions as diverse as they come.  I have also had the distinct opportunity of serving along with Kaaren Andrews.  With that background knowledge, I would like to offer up a different perspective.
     
    I believe it is everyone’s right to have the best education.   I think most of us would agree.  The vehicle for this education, however, is something we would differ on.  Over the ten years I have served in pubic education, I have learned tremendous things about education, systems, and myself as a white middle class woman.  I have had to painfully learn to see the forest and not only the trees.  I have struggled in the slow, agonizing process of systemic change.  I have painfully and honestly confronted how my views as a part of white dominant culture have shaped my privilege, access and interpretation of culture.  It is a hard road.  One I do not take lightly. 
     
    In my ten years as a public school employee I have yet to encounter anyone more committed to the fighting of healing racial injustices, equality for all children, more hard working, more willing to stand up for what she believes than Kaaren Andrews.   It is easy to find fault with people who have different perspectives than we do. It is hard to look at ourselves as possibly part of the problem.  It is easy to look at ourselves as ”reasonable and constructive” when we are doing the reasoning and criticizing.  Mr. Silverstein writes,  
    Instead of engaging with reasonable and constructive criticism the response is to circle the wagons and cry racism. What kind of school is this and what kind of school district is this that rewards this type of mentality with a distinguished award?
     
    I believe Ms. Andrews and SPS are people who are trying to confront their own institutional racism and serve all students.  I believe SPS is a district that knows when they have hired a principal that is willing to forego popularity with white middle class people with websites and instead fight along with those trying to heal hundreds of years of racism and equal playing fields.  SPS is a district I am proud to work in.  Kaaren Andrews is a person I am proud to call my friend, a strong advocate for my children and someone whom I am exceptionally proud to work along with and to fight the good fight. 
     
    I encourage you to strip off your fear, begin to confront your own racial biases and fight the good fight for the sake of all Seattle’s children. 
     
     

  • Richard Silverstein April 10, 2008, 1:12 AM

    It appears that the Andrews true believers fan club has discovered this blog and mobilized to support their embattled fearless leader. It’s too bad that in doing so some of the cheering squad had to resort to overt racism in doing so:

    Nor does she spend her time hand-holding the fat-wallet, eco-stroller, white – uh…I mean, Madrona – mommies (whose best friends even though they’re never invited to dinner are gay, black, poor).

    And more of the same:

    …Instead of knocking the people that care and work tirelessly in an effort to equally educate all kids, it’s easier to blog and whine and cry about how it made, you feel. I wonder how many of the 90% African American, and 80% free and reduced parents that Madrona serves have access to this neat blog. God bless privledge [sic], and god bless all of you.

    And it is too bad that another cheerleader has to resort to calling those of us who reject Andrews’ leadership racist in doing so:

    those truly committed stay and fight, those whom are scared, of their own internal demons and true motives, run and find shelter.

    And this:

    We haven’t left like those of you who have fled in cowardly fashion under the cover of vilifying Principal Kaaren Andrews instead of owning your own inherent bias and fears.

    I don’t have any demons regarding Madrona School. The fact that you project demons onto me says a lot more about your prejudicial assumptions than it says anything about me.

    At any rate, these comments indicate precisely why Andrews and her supporters have ratcheted up the racial tension in the community in its relationship with the School. Instead of trying to understand the problem they react angrily to criticism and point fingers back at us. This is precisely what is miserably wrong with Andrews approach to community relations. Clearly, either Andrews or staff and parents at the School have orchestrated this PR campaign on her behalf. It’s pretty pathetic and shows how defensive she and her folks are.

    I also think it’s interesting that TOPS is educating a significant minority school enrollment and doing so in a way that is welcoming and inclusive to all ethnic groups within the school, including those who are non-minority. So please don’t get all gushy about Andrews and Madrona having the key to educating minority youth successfully. Lots of other public schools in this district do it and they do it far better and in a far more diverse way than Madrona does.

  • Antiignorance April 10, 2008, 11:53 AM

    Mr. Silverstein,

    Sorry we discovered the blog, it took us a while, had to put the kids to sleep, no Nannies here. Digressing, What you fail to understand is, every school is it’s own independent monster underneath an umbrella. Just because the numbers at TOPS may be similar (which they’re not), but if they were, it still wouldn’t mean the issues and population they serve are the same.

    This does involve privlege due to the fact that you feel SPS and Kaaren Andrews were not responsible in dealing with two middle school students fighting in a public park during non-school hours, I’m sure that in your middle school experience no fights happened, but alas, they did in this instance.  Privlege sneaks in here because it’s you assuming the school is funded well enough to have supervision during unsupervised times, and also you forgetting to mention that most of the population at the park during non-school times are Nannies with small children, was your Nanny the one watching your children? That’s quite the PRIVLEGE to have, I wonder if the majority low income students parents at Madrona have that PRIVLEGE? Did you offer your Nannies number to those children?

    Maybe that could have helped. The problem with feelings is, they can ebb and flow. In a perfect world, I wish the incident never happened, I don’t want our kids fighting or causing other children to be unsafe, but alas, this world is not perfect and these things happen, despite race or class.
    But you cannot live life underneath the microscope of this one incident shaping your view of this tireless woman and staff, committed to education for ALL children. The problem with the help being offered at that time is it, FELT (feelings again), to the Madrona staff and traditional community that the efforts (And all paths to hell are paved with good intentions), while well intended by the new familes and community members, were being done to create a two tier system. There has been NO succesful and long standing measure of integration that has happened since the Civil Rights movement.
    Normally what happens is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Facts and numbers nationwide prove this, Garfield and Washington Middle School prove this locally. The Madrona community did not want this, and thus “white flight” Again, all well intentioned, but there were and are those that stayed, and continue to contribute, which puts into question others motives.

    The bottom line becomes, you’ve had a microsecond experience with Kaaren Andrews and Madrona? Ever volunteered? Ever read the writings on the walls? If her lone attribute is the easy job of raising test scores, being a one trick pony, then that needs to spread across the nation.

    Go to the school, spend 1 month there, not 1 hour, and maybe your opinion would change. But into you’ve walked a mile in those shoes, I honestly feel (That word again) like it can be nothing more than ignorance and prejudice, and if that’s the case, it’d make you a two tricky pony.

  • Richard Silverstein April 10, 2008, 2:08 PM

    I encourage Ignorance, Justice for Us and all the other Andrews cheerleaders to keep the anger, hostility, intemperance & just plain nastiness coming.  I plan on letting the rest of the Madrona community know the kinds of bigots that inhabit our local school.  Some people on Madrona Moms still have bought to idea that the School leadership really is composed of people who are basically good but slightly misunderstood.  Now they’ll know that you’re perfectly well understood & what the Madrona Mom members will see won’t be very appealing.  I think I’ll also forward this to Danny Westneat who’s written about his problems with the School & its management.  You see extremism & intolerance in defense of Madrona really is a vice.  I’ll also let Ms. Andrews supervisor in the school district know how her supporters are “supporting” her in the community.

  • Georgia April 10, 2008, 3:07 PM

    And here come the threats that can only be made good by someone with immense and secure privilege.  Is that the only thing you can resort to now?  Danny Westneat and calling Ms. Andrews’ supervisor (which one of the multiple supervisors who applauded her at the recent Foster award would that be?)?  This despite the fact that Ms. Andrews is not party (or likely even privy) to this discussion.  Rings remarkably familiar to the same action you took when your TWO nannies (unfathomable luxury to most of the population) got nervous in the park.  Again, you bow out of the conversation simply because you have not been able to bend everyone to your will.  Again, you make someone a scapegoat who has little to do with the larger questions.

    In a million years do you think I would mention your petty blog to Kaaren Andrews?  In a million years do you think I would want her distracted by your vitriol from insuring my son’s education? 

    Your own refusal to acknowledge your extreme privilege is astonishing.  TOPS is an excellent school, to be sure.  But the diversity you see there is based on race and ethnicity and not the attendant poverty that all too often and all too unfortunately accompanies them.  The percentage of students living in poverty, living in foster care, living in struggling neighborhoods who attend TOPS is minute in comparison to Madrona K-8.  Which means the services to support those students at TOPS are high, whereas they are stretched thin at Madrona K-8.  What the administration and teachers at Madrona K-8 have done in response is not to cry “Demographics!” as many would do, but to say, no matter what, we will not let our children pay the price for this inequity.  And when you spend time reading the writing on the walls (as Anti-Ignorance so aptly encouraged you to do), you will see that they are succeeding in supporting and honoring the students.

    The overwhelming likelihood is that your child AND my child will flourish regardless of the schools they attend because they come from homes where the parents are educated and financially stable.  I acknowledge my privilege and the inherent obligation to not simply enjoy and protect the benefits that it allows me. 

    Privilege is simply not the case for the vast number of students at Madrona K-8.  Which means that they and their families know the best way to increase their odds of having a say in their own futures is the education they get now.  States are now projecting prison beds based on third grade reading scores.  We can no longer afford to look at the extreme effects of institutionalized poverty and its devastating connections to race without understanding that the antidote in this moment is not just education, but measurable, provable learning.  We must level the playing field by doing exactly what Madrona K-8 is doing, understanding that equity is measured in outputs, not inputs.

    My challenge to you is either to put the full force of your money, your time, and your intellect into this particular challenge or to gracefully step out of the way of those who have embraced it.

  • Richard Silverstein April 10, 2008, 10:03 PM

    @ Georgia:

    You deliberately misconstrue what I said & meant. Publicizing your comments is not a “threat.” If Kaaren Andrews’ admirers want to support her by using racial stereotypes I think their intolerance should be “outed” for all the world to see. We’ll let the public judge whether or not the terms of your support for her are considered fair by the broader public. You can come here and vilify me and feel terribly smug & self-righteous doing so. But in vilifying me you vilify an entire community that doesn’t share your taste for the Kool Aid. I think that community and the broader Seattle community deserve to hear the terms you use to defend the School & attack those you perceive as its enemy.

    Besides, by giving notice to you about my intent you have toned down yr comments & written in a more tempered way. I guess what I said worked. No racial stereotypes about eco-strollers or fat wallet stereotypes w. yr last comment. When you realized that others besides me would see yr vilification you cleaned up yr act a bit.

    You don’t know anything about me. Yet you typecast me as privileged merely because I have a nanny. You typecast me as someone who has no sympathy or understanding for issues of racial inequality and diversity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Typecasting & ignorance such as you have shown is the basis of intolerance and prejudice, which you display in spades.

    If I were “privileged” I wouldn’t send my child to a public school at all. But I have a commitment to public education. My father spent his life as a public school teacher. The only thing that would turn me from sending my child to a public school would be having Madrona as his only option, which thankfully is not the case.

    Even numerous African American families won’t send their children there for the very same reasons I won’t. It has nothing to do with race though it is convenient for you to bring up the race card (yes, the issue of “privilege” is a euphemism for race). I have every interest in promoting education in which all ethnic groups are integrated into a curriculum & in which everyone learns to their fullest.

    Further, if Madrona were 99% African American and had the same quality teaching staff & learning experience as TOPS I’d send my child there in a heartbeat. So don’t go beating the drum about racism or my unwillingness to send my child to a school that is majority minority. That’s horsecrap. It just allows you to set up a convenient straw man you can knock down instead of dealing with the real issues as everyone outside of the principal, School staff & parents see them.

    “The percentage of students living in poverty, living in foster care, living in struggling neighborhoods who attend TOPS is minute in comparison to Madrona K-8.”

    This is utterly false. You haven’t even bothered to do any research before making such a claim & it shows. Don’t go trying to make TOPS out to be a bastion of privilege. One quarter of its students participate in the subsidized meal program. A sizable portion of the student body are from poor first generation immigrant families. And if you think they don’t face the same hardships and tribulations that Madrona families face then you’re not only being uncharitable, you’re just plain wrong. No, it’s not 70% like Madrona, but it’s a big number. And the difference bet. TOPS & Madrona is that this one-quarter feels entirely welcome & integrated into the overall school experience. The same can’t be said at all for Madrona where so many have felt so bad for so long that they’ve voted with their feet to leave.

    You don’t want Kaaren Andrews distracted by me fr. yr child’s education. Yet she was so distracted from your son’s education that she attended a Madrona Community Council meeting where she lied about the Madrona Playfield incident. If I were you I’d be concerned about why a school principal would feel so defensive that she’d feel compelled to create a fiction in order to protect herself and her children.

    the diversity you see there [at TOPS] is based on race and ethnicity and not the attendant poverty that all too often and all too unfortunately accompanies them.

    You have contradicted yrself. You say that TOPS has racial & ethnic diversity but not poverty, while you also say that poverty ‘accompanies’ race & ethnicity. How does it accompany race & ethnicity, just not at TOPS?? And the statement is flat wrong for the same reason I mentioned above.

    “The overwhelming likelihood is that your child AND my child will flourish regardless of the schools they attend…”

    The difference bet. you and I is that you’re willing to have yr child participate in a social experiment for the sake of a theoretical idea of justice & equity. I won’t use my child as a guinea pig in that way. I won’t trust a School to do the right thing by my child when everything I know about the School tells me it either won’t or can’t. I won’t trust that the enrichment I provide to my child is enough to make him flourish despite the inadequacies of the public school he attends. And you know what, my child attending TOPS will come out of his education with all the strong social justice commitments that you & yr children will have. The only diff. will be that he’ll have spent eight years being constantly intellectually challenged & stimulated in addition to the social values that he’ll uphold. Plus he’ll be a damn site more tolerant & open-minded than you.

    “My challenge to you is either to put the full force of your money, your time, and your intellect into this particular challenge or to gracefully step out of the way of those who have embraced it.”

    There is nothing worse than a smug, self-satisfied over-ideologically committed lefty. I know because I’m a lefty myself. Imagine trying to give me lessons in politically correct attitudes toward education. I’m a citizen of this city as much as you & I have every right to criticize the inadequacies of this particular public school. So trying to get me to keep quiet is a losing proposition.

    One of these days the District will realize Madrona is a failed school & try to do something real to rectify that. Until then, I’ll be right here calling them as I see them.

    @AntiIgnorance:

    …you feel SPS and Kaaren Andrews were not responsible in dealing with two middle school students fighting in a public park during non-school hours, I’m sure that in your middle school experience no fights happened, but alas, they did in this instance. Privlege sneaks in here because it’s you assuming the school is funded well enough to have supervision during unsupervised times, and also you forgetting to mention that most of the population at the park during non-school times are Nannies with small children

    You correctly claim the School has no responsibility to supervise its student during non school hours. But in fact the fighting incident happened DURING school hours. Every school in Seattle was in session when it happened. Madrona happened to have a late start that day. Despite that, these 75 children were dropped off before they should have by their parents. In fact, the District agreed with my concern about the lack of supervision & Andrews’ supervisor told me that future Madrona late start days WOULD be supervised at the Playfield. So if the School had no responsibility in this instance why did the District essentially admit it did have a responsibility by changing School policy??

    You also know so little about Madrona Playfield that you make the presumptuous assumption that it is frequented “mostly” by nannied with children. Actually, it is frequented by mothers, fathers (like me) and some nannies with children. I fail to see why citizens of the city, taxpayers and users of the playfield can’t expect the School to supervise its students. In fact, I’m glad the District agreed with me and not you in this case.

    you cannot live life underneath the microscope of this one incident shaping your view of this tireless woman and staff…

    I don’t. My judgment of the School & her is based on research and first-hand accounts of numerous parents who told me of specific incidents that informed their own judgments about the School. I would never make a decision about something so important based on a single incident.

    There has been NO successful and long standing measure of integration that has happened since the Civil Rights movement.

    That’s an interesting & quite sweeping generalization based on little more than yr own unsupported opinion. TOPS is a perfect refutation of what you say. And I’m simply not prepared to say the solution to failing public schools is to segregate them by race for the sake of some educational experiment.

    it can be nothing more than ignorance and prejudice

    Ah, there you go again, playing the race card. How convenient. How easy a way to dismiss any value or validity in anything I & other critics of the School may have to say. It allows you to remain comfortable in yr little ball while the heathens & racists rage against you outside.

  • Aghast April 11, 2008, 9:13 PM

    If SPS and Kaaren Andrews are so committed to properly serving the non-privileged, why would they have a 2 hour late middle school start that is unsupervised, assuming that many (most, all?) of the parents of these non-privileged students have to work?   Do all of the other middle schools have this?  How do they make it work?  If they can’t trust their students to walk safely in line in the halls, how can they justify two unsupervised hours?

    And again, Kaaren Andrews/Madrona do not represent the Black community.  Disparaging people who do not agree with the Administration of this particular school as racists is denying the multi-faceted needs and desires of the entire Black community, because it suggests that this one school and how it is run represents an entire race.  And middle aged White women who claim to be more in touch with their privilege because they agree with another White woman about what Black kids need should check themselves, rather than patting themselves on the back for being “willing” to work with the underprivileged.

  • Aghast April 14, 2008, 8:30 PM

    “Privilege is simply not the case for the vast number of students at Madrona K-8.  Which means that they and their families know the best way to increase their odds of having a say in their own futures is the education they get now.”

    One privilege we all have in Seattle Public Schools is school choice.  For 2008, only 16 families listed Madrona as their first choice for Kindergarten (and 54 have been assigned there!).  All but 16 Seattle families are oozing privilege and are racist.  Or maybe they know how to increase their odds of getting a good education.

  • Aghast April 14, 2008, 9:15 PM

    “The overwhelming likelihood is that your child AND my child will flourish regardless of the schools they attend because they come from homes where the parents are educated and financially stable.” 

    Wow, as a parent of a child with a tic disorder and a child with more global developmental needs, this statement is very privileged.  My child with a tic disorder needs to have access to chewing gum and daily physical activity (a few times per day), and to not have his needs dismissed, lest he chew off his lips and exhibit undesireable classroom behaviors that are out of his control.  My second child will most likely need a special education classroom when she enters school.  I wish my financial stability/privilege would make my kids flourish regardless of what schools they attend.  But no, I have to make sure they have recess and an administration that accepts a parent advocating for their children’s needs.

  • M_S April 24, 2010, 7:56 PM

    Not sure if anyone will read this, I realize I’m commenting on a two-year-old blog post, but this really fascinates me.

    I found this blog looking for my old Elementary School principal back at Catherine Blaine. Lo and behold, I find her up to her same old tricks… Well, when this was written, anyway.

    This isn’t the first time Andrews has outright lied to the District in a petty attempt to better herself at the expense of someone else, believe you me, but it’s only the second occasion I’ve gotten detailed word of. Both cases are large enough to sour her record as both an educator and human being, as far as I’m concerned.

    If Mr. Silverstein reads this, know that you have my empathy and support in this situation. Here’s hoping for the best.

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