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August 2016

In which I move to Canada

Hi Internet

I'm writing to you from the other side of the street fair, our third so far, and does anyone have a trick for figuring out What's Worth Doing for street fairs? I spent a long time today staring at the [really lovely super nice] ladies selling jewelry next to us and thinking, "If THEY have a bad weekend, at least they don't have to throw out all their inventory!" We had a good Saturday and a not so hot Sunday, which is how these things go, I think, and, well, we made SOME money? I haven't sat down to calculate exactly how many hours Katie worked and how much she got "paid" per hour, mainly because I'm afraid to know. The food business, guys. I don't know that I recommend it. 

That said, I kind of love sitting at these street fairs. We've only done the one in my neighborhood, which is pretty small and tame, but I suspect the bigger the fair, the wider the swath of Bizarre Humanity. The older I get the more fake extroverted I become (fake because I still need that alone time to decompress no matter what) and I quite enjoy interacting with all the various Batty Ladies, Toothless Vagabonds, stressed families with babies, people who can't decide, people who ask me if my macarons and sugar cookies are sugar free, people who think we're selling soap and can't BELIEVE you can EAT THOSE!, Spacey Teenagers, people who can't walk past a Seahawks-themed cookie without feeling obligated to buy it as a token of their devotion, people who want me to open a store, people who come back for seconds, Random Conversation Starters, people who pay in dimes, THEY'RE ALL AMAZING. Especially the ones who walk by, stop in their tracks, and squee because OMG MACARONS THEY'RE MY FAVORITE. These people inevitably ask what MY favorite is and I always say, because I am a tremendously bad liar, that I prefer a massive fudgy brownie to one of these foppish silly little cookies. I know, I need to work on that. 

BUT I AM TIRED HOLY CATS. 

So here I am, wanting to unwind in front of some fun Olympics television viewing, and I CAN'T, because stupid NBC has me on a West Coast tape delay. I am not a huge Olympics/sports fan so I don't know why this has me so het up, but I keep getting excited to watch certain events with my kids and I keep getting disappointed/frustrated because nothing comes on until so late! And we already know the results for all the swimming because hello, internet, and UGH why don't I live closer to Canada so I can watch THEIR Olympics coverage. 

Maybe Trump will win and the Cheungs will relocate to Phillip's company's Vancouver location and we'll get to watch Canadian Olympics coverage NEXT time!

I come up with the greatest solutions to things. 

We're starting week 4 of Bathroom Remodel. (SEGUE! THERE WASN'T ONE!) It's... ok. So it's going slow - this last week was a hard one for our contractor dude's personal life - but I'm dead serious about having the lowest of low expectations and I am unfazed by Slow. And I think we're actually out of the really slow part, where it's all boring plumbing, and we've moved into framing and actually putting in some bathroom-looking type things. I really like the guy we hired, even though he wasn't around much last week. I also thought having the kids at home during a remodel was going to be horrid, but instead it's made me feel less awkward about having a stranger in my house all the time. Kids give me a reason to do stuff in my own house rather than feeling like I need to escape every day. We've had some design issues come up, but nothing we haven't figured out. I'm nervous the final product will be terrible because 1) I picked everything out and can you trust me and 2) what if the design sucks? But... too late for that! 

I am so Fine about the bathroom remodel that I've been sitting here looking at kitchen remodels on Pinterest during the NBC sucky coverage. I KNOW. 

Honestly, all I'm nervous about right now is that there's going to be some sort of Bathroom Emergency when I'm in Chicago this week and I won't be around to swoop in and Make A Decision. But that's what texting is for, yes? Also: CHICAGO. I am QUITE looking forward to seeing two of my favorite ladies and also feeling QUITE guilty about being gone longer than I've ever been for Something Fun. (Volunteering at Urbana is longer, but volunteering at Urbana is for GOD whereas hanging out in Chicago with @lizritz and @notthatyouasked is more like, hmmm, threatening to my liver.) 

All right. I wanted to watch the men's relay medley, even though I already know who wins, but it's almost 11 which is, like, years past my bedtime, and it's like NBC doesn't actually want anyone to watch the Olympics, don't you think? GAH


Update on What Exactly Are You Using That "Race And Equity Toolkit" FOR, Seattle Public Schools?

Ugh. I don't even know where to start. Do we all even know what's going on? I barely know. Okay, so in 2017 we are looking at two schools opening - one brand new, ginormous, full of community resources LIKE A CLINIC school, and one very small, very old, landmarked so you can't knock any walls down, computer lab ON THE STAGE school. The original proposed boundaries will result in Ginormous School having a more white, less poor, more English speaking population than it did before (though still "diverse", statistically speaking) and Small School starting out "overconcentrated" in ELL, FRL, and minority populations. I believe "overconcentrated" is the word I'm supposed to use instead of "segregated". 

Parents pushed back. Teachers pushed back. We had a handful of entirely pointless "community engagement meetings". After the last one, our own Phillip Cheung went out to coffee with a Race and Equity team representative to be all, "WTF, District?" And, shocker, the Race and Equity Team rep confessed that this whole "race and equity toolkit" the district kept jabbering about wasn't even really established. The team was still learning its job and figuring out their role. They hadn't been involved in boundary decisions before. 

 

Then the district offered to meet with three engaged parents (including Phillip), the principals of the three schools involved (including the future new principal of the new Small School), and members of the Race and Equity team. The district may have been genuine in wanting feedback and finding a compromise, or at the very least, the least bad solution, but at this point, the options are as follows:

1) Open Small School at the right size, but "overconcentrated" 

2) Open Small School with underenrollment and therefore not enough funding (and possibly over enroll Ginormous School, though some of us strongly dispute those numbers)

Also, at this point, the district has announced these small meetings are finished; it will now meet with the three affected principals, and they'll choose a solution to propose to the board in the fall. 

Because despite the race and equity "lens" the conversations at the meetings were focused more on numbers and right sizes, because a right size school is preferred by the incoming Small School principal, because the right size school option makes concessions to the third school's concerns, because the district would obviously like to go with the easier, less angry parent-making right size option, and because OUR school principal left for a new job (we found out yesterday) the chances of the equitable option being chosen are very slim indeed. 

There IS a way to right size the schools AND make them equitable, but it means drawing boundaries in crazypants ways, uprooting tons of kids at tons of schools, and infuriating all of NE Seattle. Ruminating over all of that has led me into the quagmire of neighborhood schools vs. busing vs. the sort of "apply to the school you want" system Seattle had before it returned to neighborhood schools in 2010. Because that's what's really happening here. Small School, in order to be the right size and assist with the overcrowding that's happening all over the district, will draw students from low income areas, where people are predominantly not white, non native English speaking, and in subsidized housing. Because those are the neighborhoods it draws from, that's what this neighborhood school will look like. Meanwhile, the school that used to draw those neighborhoods (and many others) is being rebuilt with plenty of amenities and resources to serve just those demographics. Opening Small School as a neighborhood school means those students are prevented from taking advantage of those resources, as well as the benefits of going to a school made up of families with more resources. 

Some people have said not to worry, that Ginormous School is still going to have its ELL and FRL population, but we'll be drawing those kids from another school and quite frankly I want to advocate for OUR kids who ARE losing out. These are not interchangeable widgets, folks. The neighborhood school system relies on having a "quality" school in every neighborhood. Because many of our current teachers will stay at Small School when it opens, I can say that Small School will have a stellar teaching staff. But they'll be teaching in a run down building with a library stuffed into a classroom, a computer lab on the stage, no plumbing in the portables, and horribly insufficient bathroom facilities. Should they ever have the funding for art or music there's nowhere to do it. 

I have been sympathetic to the anti-school choice crowd, because it takes funding away from public schools. But a whole lot of good that's doing for our disadvantaged kids in 2017. "Mitigation" is the new buzzword to make us all feel better about how UNequitable this decision is, but does that money even exist? And all the mitigation funding in the world can't help if your tiny crappy building is landmarked, like Small School is, and you're not allowed to knock down walls or build out. Honestly, if it turns out we do get all the funding we're supposed to get under McCleary, who's to say this bloated opposite-of-transparent district is going to spend that money on the kids? Bring on the vouchers, Campbell Brown.