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TCS Humanities Curriculum
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TCS Parent Writes School Board over Jon Greenberg Suspension
The Center School | Media - TCS Humanities Curriculum
The following email was sent to the SPS School Board and Superintindent.  The email contacts are included here so you can voice your opinion if you choose.  

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Hello All,
 
This is a plea for the students of The Center School. The imposed 2 week suspension of Jon Greenberg greatly impacts the learning time for the senior students at The Center School. This means 30 hours of the students final semester will be taught by substitute teachers who have little or no knowledge of the planned course of study for these students. While many substitute teachers are fine professional teachers and this class has benefitted from some of these educators, due to several emergency medical leave situations, they have also been subjected to some of the bottom of the barrel folks in your pool. At the end of the 2 weeks is a 2 day "mid-winter break" which will cause further delay for the students. This seems an unfair burden for the students to bear. My greatest concern is for those that are struggling to make it through the year. The undue hardship this will cause them in time they will have to spend catching up will impact them greatly. It could cause some of them to drop out of school. This action sends the message that the adults making the decisions really do not care about the students needs and value a power struggle over their education.
 
Please take no further action towards Mr. Greenberg and show your Center School students that they matter!
 
Regards,
 
Tiffany Rauen
Center School Parent
206-372-7644
 
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TCS Students Write the School Board over Jon Greenberg Suspension
The Center School | Media - TCS Humanities Curriculum
Dear School Board Members, 

Our names are Gracie Rauen, Anna Hoekman, Izzi Obie and Maddi Masterson. We are Seniors at The Center School. We are writing to express our concern with the possible decision to suspend Jon Greenberg for the first two weeks of second semester. We care tremendously about our education and having no stable teacher for two weeks will affect our education much more than the school board seems to realize. We feel the issue of us actually learning something for two weeks has flown over your minds in the process of making this decision. Although substitutes are supposedly well qualified and capable of teaching the curriculum, we can say in our 12 years of education we have never had a sub that we actually could connect with and learn from in a limited amount of time. Dealing with that for two weeks will set us all back, and many of us feel the class during that period will be pointless. We were recently misinformed by our Principal that nothing could be done about this suspension, however we later discovered that is not true. You guys do not have to instate this suspension. Your job is to give us the best education, not punish teachers multiple times for one offense. We urge you to think about the students in this situation. Where do we fall in to your thought process? We at the Center School have always valued Mr. Greenberg and the important discussions that were had in his class. We have already been deprived of his teaching for a long time and are eager to have him back in the classroom. We urge you to reverse your decision and think about our education. A response would be greatly appreciated explaining your motivation if the decision is not reversed. 

Sincerely, 

Concerned students who care about our education.

 
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TCS Students Write the School Board over Jon Greenberg Suspension
The Center School | Media - TCS Humanities Curriculum
Dear School Board Members, 

Our names are Gracie Rauen, Anna Hoekman, Izzi Obie and Maddi Masterson. We are Seniors at The Center School. We are writing to express our concern with the possible decision to suspend Jon Greenberg for the first two weeks of second semester. We care tremendously about our education and having no stable teacher for two weeks will affect our education much more than the school board seems to realize. We feel the issue of us actually learning something for two weeks has flown over your minds in the process of making this decision. Although substitutes are supposedly well qualified and capable of teaching the curriculum, we can say in our 12 years of education we have never had a sub that we actually could connect with and learn from in a limited amount of time. Dealing with that for two weeks will set us all back, and many of us feel the class during that period will be pointless. We were recently misinformed by our Principal that nothing could be done about this suspension, however we later discovered that is not true. You guys do not have to instate this suspension. Your job is to give us the best education, not punish teachers multiple times for one offense. We urge you to think about the students in this situation. Where do we fall in to your thought process? We at the Center School have always valued Mr. Greenberg and the important discussions that were had in his class. We have already been deprived of his teaching for a long time and are eager to have him back in the classroom. We urge you to reverse your decision and think about our education. A response would be greatly appreciated explaining your motivation if the decision is not reversed. 

Sincerely, 

Concerned students who care about our education.

 
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Center School Staff and Students Plan to Protest at School Board Meeting Tonight
The Center School | Media - TCS Humanities Curriculum

Center School Staff and Students Plan to Protest at School Board Meeting Tonight

posted by  on WED, JUN 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I reported on Monday that the school district appears to be planning on transferring popular humanities teacher Jon Greenberg away from the small alternative high school in the Seattle Center after his class on race and social justice got one set of parents in a tizzy. There's a school board meeting tonight, and the publicly announced speaker list includes 10 people (out of the 25 on the schedule) testifying about the Center School, including current staff.

Melissa Westbrook over at Save Seattle Schools blog reports:

I am told there will be some kind of protest/gathering before the Board meeting tonight over the issue of the Center School teacher. I believe there will be some media presence including tv. I'm not sure this is the best way for the district to end the school year (this being the last Board meeting before the last day of school) but that was someone's choice to have made.

This shit is gonna get really interesting.


The Stranger
 
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Frank talk about touchy subjects best lesson of all
The Center School | Media - TCS Humanities Curriculum

Frank talk about touchy subjects best lesson of all

By Jerry Large

Seattle Times staff columnist

Seattle School district should allow high-school seniors to discuss the tough issues that affect their lives.

Kathy Yasi tells the little kids in the day-care center she runs, “We solve problems with words.” That philosophy apparently is too challenging for high-school seniors, at least in the Seattle School District.

The district Wednesday confirmed rumors that it is transferring Jon Greenberg, whose Race and Social Justice class at The Center School was the subject of an investigation earlier this year after the parents of one senior complained their daughter felt intimidated by discussions of race.

Eighteen Center School teachers had signed a letter urging Superintendent José Banda not to accept the transfer.

Yasi is among a group of parents who’ve also written a letter to Banda protesting Greenberg’s transfer to Hamilton International Middle School. She acknowledges that discussions about race and social justice can be uncomfortable, but she and her husband chose the school partly because they want their daughter to have that kind of challenge and the growth it promises.

“We want our daughter to have the kinds of skills necessary to address these issues in adult life,” Yasi told me Wednesday.

Supporters of the class and of Greenberg champion the curriculum and question the way the district addressed the complaint, especially its lack of transparency. They took their concerns to Wednesday’s School Board meeting; most of them were white and wearing green.

The basics I’ve learned from news reports and Greenberg supporters are that the parents of a senior, who is white, complained to the school in December but were not satisfied with the response and took their complaint to the district early this year.

The district suspended the class while it conducted an investigation, then allowed the class to continue, but without the race component.

The parents raised another complaint, saying their daughter was being harassed in retaliation. The district investigated and found Greenberg had not harassed the student, but that he had allowed other students to circulate an in-class petition supporting the course.

A district spokeswoman told The Seattle Times on Wednesday the transfer is not related to the course. The parents who brought the complaint have not commented publicly.

In its investigation, the district did not talk with other students or parents as far as supporters know.

This kind of quick, decisive action on a parental complaint about discomfort with a class seems out of the ordinary to me.

Yasi can’t imagine why the district acted as it did, but she said, “He’s obviously being punished. I just don’t know why.”

Also curious is that The Center School is an alternative school for arts and social engagement. Greenberg has taught the course in question for more than a decade, drawing praise from past and present students.

All seniors at the school are required to take the course, which covers social-equity issues. Students read and discuss a variety of books, they listen to speakers from various communities, and they discuss their own experiences.

Senior Zak Meyer told me that at first, “I felt uncomfortable because I’d never talked about these issues before, but I never felt intimidated.” He said Greenberg made sure every student’s thoughts were heard and respected. He said most of the 45 students in the two sections of the course are white.

Meyer, one of the most outspoken supporters of Greenberg and the course, said he learned a different way of looking at the world. “I’d been friends with the minority students in the class since freshman year, but I didn’t know about the subtle racism that happens every day,” he said.

Meyer, who is white, said Greenberg got across the idea that white people aren’t always intentionally discriminating. It’s not all about bad white people, but rather structures and behaviors that contribute to inequality. “What happens in the real world even if you don’t necessarily notice.”

Yasi and the other parents say in their letter that they are disappointed the district seems to be going against the social-justice values it claims are dear.

At the school’s fundraising auction this year, Yasi bid for and won lunch with the superintendent. She wants the superintendent to meet with the school community about this issue instead. We have to have the kinds of discussions that happened in Greenberg’s classroom, she said, or we’ll never solve our social problems. She’s right about that.


Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday.

Reach him at 206-464-3346 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Originally published June 5, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Page modified June 5, 2013 at 10:33 PM

 
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