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We are moms in Seattle. We are authentic. We like our kids. We like our husbands. We like vintage. We don’t eat gluten and we don’t like the 45th president of the United States. 

Bee & Beeba

Bee and Beeba

By Beezus Murphy

Recently I had the pleasure of having dinner with Nick Beeba at a local Chinese restaurant called Shanghai Garden. Most of you know Beeba, if you know him at all, as Macklemore’s DJ or from his instagram account;  @nickbeeba. But like most people, his life goes beyond his occupation. Beeba is 27 years old and grew up in Seattle, Washington, then went to college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 

For those of you who don’t know, Macklemore is the stage name of native Seattleite rapper and song writer Benjamin Hammond Haggerty. With such hit singles as Glorious, Good Old Days, These Days, Summer Days, Marmalade and Can’t Hold Us. Before Beeba started working with Macklemore, he interned at a radio station with the late great J. Moore and DJ Hyphen. Beeba was part of a music group called Brothers From Another, and even had his own radio show. His love for music eventually lead to him working alongside rapper Macklemore after knowing him personally and being a fan of his work for years.

Along with being a DJ, Beeba is also one of the co-owners with Marcus Lalario of Can’t Blame The Youth. CBTY is a super cool, hip clothing store. It’s located in the International District just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the restaurant we dined at. 

Me: So, I’m sure that you’re sick of getting asked this but, just for the sake of those who don’t know, what’s it like working with Macklemore

Beeba: Um, it’s awesome. It’s pretty crazy, I’ll try and find the photo, but like he was my favorite artist growing up when I was in middle school. So like his album Language of My World was like one of the four albums I would listen to just on repeat. 

Me: Wow! 

Beeba: So I used to like to go to shows when I was your age and see him play, so for to like work with him now it’s kinda surreal now in full circle. I’ve always really liked and appreciated him as a supporter so it’s kinda like, um, an honor in a way to be on the same stage as him and play in front of people like all around the world. 

The main purpose of Beeba’s job as Macklemore’s DJ and hype man is backing him up vocally and, apparently, there’s some dancing involved. Recently while performing with Macklemore in Lucca Italy, a video was taken of Beeba dancing with fire while on stage and was posted on his Instagram account. He has been working with Macklemore for about a year now and, as a life long fan, considers Macklemore to be one of his inspirations. Beeba’s other inspirations include the Blue Scholars, and various other musicians and professional athletes.

Beeba states that his favorite genre of music is hip hop and he is partial to house music as well. Beeba considers himself to be a foodie but his favorite non-food related thing about Seattle is the juxtaposition of all the different cultures and terrain. His least favorite thing about Seattle is Amazon. 

I really enjoyed meeting Beeba and learning about the life he leads. As young person who hopes to have a career in the arts one day it’s inspiring to meet someone who gets to travel the world living their dream. I think that Nick’s a great guy and an interesting person, I very much enjoyed his company.

You can listen to my interview in its entirety here:

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0ISE6BzM7ae

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0sXBi0MO0th

Mothers

Mothers

My grandmother taught me to wear stilettos. And be tough. And to always eat raspberries straight from the bush, barefoot.

My mother taught me to tell men who hassled us at bus stops to, “move along” with a loud and powerful voice as she gripped my tiny hand with all her might.

Shirley & Ginger taught me how to be proper at other people’s houses.

Kate & Laurie & Cynthia taught me how to run a house and to always keep tissues in the powder room (although I have yet to acquire a powder room)-and to address envelopes properly!

The AE Kid’s Time Moms taught me to do things my own way and never apologize.

Patricia taught me my kids could have my name.

Starla & Christiane & Susan taught me how to be a bad ass full time working mother.

Leslie taught me how to be pregnant, while working in a room full of mirrors!

Dr. Susan taught me how to give birth.

Heather literally sent me THE BOOK ON HOW TO BE A PARENT!

Hilary taught me I get to choose what kind of mom I want to be, and that doesn’t mean I have to be the kind of mom other people expect.

Claudia & Mindy taught me how to be thoughtful and always have presents & cards ready for any occasion.

Kathy taught me how to run a business with my own children in tow. And how to say, No.

Mitzy taught me how to use an Ergo. Michelle taught me how to use a Moby and a million more things this list can’t contain.

Pam taught me it’s ok to walk around the neighborhood in your pajamas and let yourself into other people’s houses when you live in South Park.

A Pathfinder mom taught me how to be the boss at IEP meetings-I’ll never forget seeing her through David’s office window at a long table with all the staff, calm, comfortable and confident! (I haven’t mastered it yet!)

Joey taught me how to be a fun and loving mom of sisters, so alike and so different.

Deja taught me to say goodbye.

Naomi taught me how to come back.

Heidi & Carolyn & South Park Robin taught me how to advocate for our schools, with a pinch of humor and an iron will.

Marissa taught me to write about it.

Leslie & Lisa taught me to speak your truth and be a firecracker.

STEM Robin taught me to be unstoppable.

Alicia & Hannah & Darcey & Diane & Denise & Shane & Amy & Sam & Lauren taught me its ok to ask for favors.

Janet & Susie & Laura & Rebecca & Melinda taught me it’s ok to text about anything kid related, even if it’s out of the blue, any old time.

And Lenora, almost exactly 15 years ago once said to me, even if everything else is falling apart, you can always put on lipstick. 💋❤️💐

The Sped Bus Saga Continues

On Wednesday, February 6th, after two days home from school because of snow day school cancellations, school was finally back in session with a two hour delayed start. Alas, special education or sped busses were not running so I sent the school board this letter,

Dear Superintendent & Directors,

Our district has a saying, every student, every classroom, every day, but today that isn’t true for our students who use special education transportation and taxis. I know Equity is a priority for the district and that’s why I’m writing you. This inequitable practice of not providing door to door bus service and taxis on two hour late start days must be changed. Door to door service is typically assigned to students with special needs. Taxi service is used by many of our students living homeless to get from a shelter to school each day. These buses and taxis serve the very students who will be most impacted by missing school. My own special education student is home today missing her sped and therapy minutes. I’m sure other students are missing out on meals that they count on school to provide. I also understand this practice impacts foster kids who are transported to their schools via taxis when their home placements are out of the district. I urge you to take this matter into advisement immediately as a policy change is long overdue.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

Mother of 2 sped students

Later that day I found out that there was a short window in October when sped families were allowed to opt in to Ice & Snow Route service. I asked around and very few sped parents knew about it and none of the school staff I spoke to had heard about it previously. On Thursday morning, school started on time, but still no sped busses were running, so I sent this letter,

Yesterday I wrote asking you all for a policy change that will end the inequity for our sped students served by door to door and students served by taxis. I later learned that although only a handful of sped parents knew about it, there was a window in October when when we could have requested a snow route. Not only did very few people know of this, but it is unreasonable to have only one time per year to be added to a snow route because students are assigned to sped transport throughout the year. I asked to be given an Ice & Snow route stop yesterday when I learned this and Transportation said, No.

This morning as I scramble to find a way to get my sped student to school after 3 days of missing her minutes and services, I have a solution suggestion. Automatically Assign ALL students an optional Ice & Snow route. Include this information in the bus route info mailing we typically receive in August. As students transportation assignments change through the year, continue to include their Ice & Snow route stop information in all mailings regarding transportation from the district.

When school was late or cancelled, I received an email, multiple texts and telephone calls in addition to your postings on FB and IG. When my older daughter is tardy to sixth period, daily, you email me and call me. Extend this excellent communication to information about Ice & Snow routes going forward. The sped community in our district must be more equitably served.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

Around 4:00 that day, KUOW’s Ann Dornfeld published this report,

https://www.kuow.org/stories/here-s-why-many-seattle-public-schools-special-education-students-have-been-stuck-at-home-all-week?preview=true

Mic drop!💥

And two hours later SPS announced it would reverse its decision and accept Ice & Snow Route requests year round,

Dear Families,

Seattle Public Schools is aware that student transportation has been impacted by adverse weather. Student safety is our primary concern. We recognize and acknowledge the disruption the weather has caused our students and families. Though we know that some roads are safe to drive, many around the district remain unsafe and door-to-door services would require buses or cabs to risk the safety of their passengers. Seattle Public Schools’ official policy when schools are open on time, but buses are operating on snow routes is:

No door-to-door service. No Preschool or Head Start. No Out of District Service. No Taxi Cab, Therapy, Partial Day or Shuttle Transportation. No Before or After School Activities. Check with your school regarding athletic events.

Opt-In Snow Route Request

While the District arranges for alternative snow routes consistent with safety guidelines for all students, it cannot provide door-to-door transportation during certain weather conditions. Families of students with special education transportation in their IEP were invited to request a snow route in October 2018 and may do so again now. Parents/Guardians requesting a snow route are responsible for taking their student to the pre-determined pick-up location in the morning and receiving their student at the same location in the afternoon.

Upon receipt of the Opt-In request attached below, the Transportation Office will contact you within five business days.

Snow Route Request form

We appreciate your continued partnership and shared value of student safety,

Transportation Department

Seattle Public Schools would like to continue connecting with you via email. If you prefer to be removed from our list, please contact Seattle Public Schools directly. To stop receiving all email messages distributed through our SchoolMessenger service, follow this link and confirm: Unsubscribe

SchoolMessenger is a notification service used by the nation’s leading school systems to connect with parents, students and staff through voice, SMS text, email, and social media.

Here’s the form link,

http://track.spe.schoolmessenger.com/f/a/76UyIZOYgntfpn4WBjMTvA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRePhacP0R1aHR0cHM6Ly9tc2cuc2Nob29sbWVzc2VuZ2VyLmNvbS9tLz9zPUxVVDJfYWprVi1rJm1hbD0zYjk5OWZjOTJlMjhhMWRkYzZhYWUzYTZjMGZlMzkwZDJhNjhlYjdiZTg3YjBjNTc0MWYxZjY5ZDFmZjg1MWRkVwdzY2hvb2xtQgoAABzjXFzVHQSuUhxzb3V0aGVybnN0cmVldGtpZHNAeWFob28uY29tWAQAAAAB

I was overjoyed! SPS listened and responded to community feedback and not only that but sped buses were scheduled to run Friday morning with schools releasing 75 minutes early in anticipation of inclement weather. About five minutes before Minnow’s bus was scheduled to arrive, I received this email from SPS,

This is the Seattle Schools Transportation Department calling to let you know that due to a higher number of driver call outs today, route 234 to Boren Stem School will not operate morning or afternoon. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused your family.  If you have any questions please call Transportation at 206-252-0900.

“We apologize for any inconvenience,”??? No transportation for my special education student for all 3 days of school this week is something a whole lot more than an inconvenience. I scrambled to get my daughter to school only to learn later that 40 busses did not run Friday! I sent this letter in response,

Dear Superintendent & Directors,

Thank you for revising your policy to allow us  to opt in to snow routes. Unfortunately this will not help most families in the short term due to the processing time required by Transportation, but I do really appreciate that you listened to the community and made the change. I hope in the future you will automatically assign sow routes to all students each time they receive a transportation assignment. 

I was so relieved that there would finally be sped bus service this morning and then about ten minutes before our bus was scheduled to arrive, I received the email below and had to scramble to find a ride for my student to school. I understand that 40 routes were cancelled today. This seems problematic considering it was the only day this week that offered sped bus and taxi service. 
Thank you,
Shawna Murphy

I strongly encourage everyone impacted to return their Ice & Snow Route forms ASAP. Realistically the process time won’t help families have service next week when they are most likely to need it, but I believe the community must demonstrate that we expect, deserve and demand to be assigned Ice & Snow Routes in the same manner as general education students.

(Minnow at Library Story Time Wednesday with my preschool group because she didn’t have any transportation to school)

And Monday 2/11, there was coverage from The Times,https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/as-snow-complicates-school-bus-routes-seattle-schools-chief-vows-to-take-action-on-transportation/

My Response to The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Dear Seattle Times Editorial Board,

You cannot fully appreciate the funding crisis in our Seattle Public Schools if you have never been the parent of a child with special needs. We know what it’s like to wait hours and hours for our busses to show up. We know what it’s like to be called in the middle of your work day and told you have to come pick up your child because the school lacks adequate support. We know what it’s like to be told your child can’t participate in a field trip or a group project or go to camp because the school lacks adequate staffing. We know what it’s like to have to change schools in the middle of the year because your child now needs a school with a nurse who’s on site full time. We know what it’s like to not be able to attend your neighborhood school, with all your friends because your service level isn’t available. We know what it’s like to not be able to have any say in what school your child attends because it’s left up to space available in a program in any given building, which may or may not be anywhere near your home. We know what it’s like for siblings not to be able to attend the same school just because of special education program availability. We know what it’s like to be forced to go to a school that doesn’t reflect any of your home culture because that’s the only school in the district with a program that serves your needs. We know what it’s like when the program your child attends moves or dissolves or gets a new name and your child has to start over again, and again. We know what it’s like to attend the IEP meeting, alone, when everyone else on the team has to think of the budget’s bottom line and you have to be the one advocating for your child’s needs first. We know what it’s like to have our child need a little more but it’s the day the school counselor is working at a different school because your school only has a counselor .5 FTE. We know what it’s like to hear, NO. No money. No staffing. No resources. No access. And our children shoulder the burden of these No’s, every time.

My own children have experienced many of these obstacles. They are nuerodiverse third and ninth graders and they are both special education students. They are both capable of functioning in a general education setting and thrive when exposed to high level engaging content, but because of their anxiety, sensory processing and learning disabilities, they require a great deal of extra support. For my youngest that comes in the form of a program called Access that allows her to be in a regular third grade classroom with special education teachers coming in to support her at various times in the day. Her school’s Access program is currently overenrolled beyond maximum capacity and 20% of the students at her public K-8 have IEP’s (special education plans) or 504’s (accommodation plans). My ninth grader attends the small public high school that is the best fit for her learning interests but because there isn’t space in the Access program there currently, she makes do with minimal special education support, which places an extra challenge on her regular classroom teachers who must find ways to support her along with their 30+ students per class.

So when I read The Seattle Times Editorial Board’s piece telling voters to vote against the levy that directly supports my children-on the same day I had received a call that my daughter’s school would have to cut back on her special education support, yet again for lack of staffing, I thought, THOSE IGNORANT MOTHERFUCKERS!! How dare they tell people to vote no on our Operations Levy when our district has a $72 million special education gap in funding from the state? Let me repeat that, our district has 7,000 students who use special education services. Currently our district spends $140 million on special education, which is not nearly enough, but the state only gives us $68 million!!!! Many of our students with special needs also require the care of school nurses. THE STATE ONLY FUNDS 9 NURSES FOR OUR 53,000 STUDENTS!!!!! The district employs 63; which is still not enough to allow children with medical needs to attend the school of their choice.

Our students with special needs deserve an amply funded education which would include: staffing and accommodations that would allow them to successfully participate and be included in all settings without limits and barriers. This is not happening now largely in part due to the lack of ample education funding by our state, and our state’s choice to limit our local capacity to levy necessary funds for education. But parents and those raising children with special needs already know what it’s like to fight for every penny, every service minute, every accommodation. And we know what it’s like to beg the good people of our community to give. I’m on Facebook almost daily begging. Begging for books for our libraries. Begging for donations for our auctions that buy everything from the balls on our playground to the teacher trainings to the emergency supply packs for our classrooms. Begging for advocacy. And now I’m begging for votes. Please Vote YES for Proposition 1 & 2. Renew our commitment to the students in our public schools, and especially our students with special needs who have so much to lose if the operations levy fails.

Sincerely,

Shawna Murphy

Mother of 2 Seattle Public Schools

Special education students

Support SB5014

Dear Senator Hasegawa,

Thank you for sponsoring SB5014. This bill would greatly impact my ninth grade special education student in Seattle. She attends a rigorous college prep public high school because she likes to be challenged by high level content. She also has learning disabilities; including Dyslexia and poor executive function with slow processing. For her, this means that she can work very hard to master content and still test very poorly.

I am very concerned that she will not be able to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment currently required for her cohort’s graduation. I have been told that if she fails the SBA after 3 attempts, she may be able to still receive a “certificate of attendance”. This is absolutely unacceptable! Why wouldn’t a student who passed all of their classes graduate from high school over a test that was never designed to be an exit exam?!

Another concern I have is that since the state raised the graduation credit requirement from 21 to 24, she may not be able to graduate on time. If she doesn’t pass a given class, there is no summer school option to repeat a class for credits until 11th and 12th grades. AND, only Language Arts, Social Studies and Math have summer school offerings. So if my student fails Biology for example, she needs that credit to graduate, but doesn’t have a way to retake the class through our school district.

I also urge you to work against the passage of SB5548. Creating limited pathways to graduation denies students like mine agency to choose challenging curriculum. At 14, she is not ready to choose a “pathway” to a career. She is attending school to have exposure to a wide variety of disciplines and gain access to the great big world of opportunity around her.

Finally, Seattle School District is in a dire financial situation due to several factors. The new state funding model is not serving the students of Seattle’s needs. Our district needs more levy authority. Our district needs the state to fully fund special education; not just districts under 1000 students as John Braun is proposing. Our district switched to using the state employee health care and it’s more expensive to cover health care costs for .2 fte and up than prorating health care by hours worked. The Family Medical Leave Act has also greatly increased our personnel spending. The Seattle Schools have a projected deficit of $71 million next year and need your help securing ample funding for basic education!

I am following this bill closely. I appreciate you standing up for our students who are most impacted by delinking the SBA to graduation and reducing standardized testing to the federally mandated levels. Seattle Schools in particular serves some of our state’s most vulnerable populations, including students experiencing homelessness, students from low income families, special education students, and English Language Learners. Let’s honor these students’ commitment to their education by giving them an official diploma when they’ve completed reasonable graduation requirements.

If I can be of any assistance in helping get this bill passed, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Shawna Murphy

Seattle Mom of 2 Special Ed Students

No Cuts to Vital Services

Dear Superintendent & Directors,

I attended a recent levy information session at Sealth High School and have been following the recent reports of our $71 million budget shortfall for next year. I recognize and understand that some of our added expenditures come from our new higher staffing costs due to increased health care coverage and the Family Leave Act. I have also heard that one approach Seattle Public Schools is considering to alleviate to budget deficit is to cut back all school librarians to .5 FTE.

While I do understand that a budget shortfall of this magnitude will bring some painful cuts to our district, I strongly believe that cuts must be made in a way that will minimize their impact on students; especially students of color, students at Title 1 schools, students experiencing homelessness, and special education students. To this end, no cuts should be made to basic and vital services like: Librarians, Nurses, Counselors and Family Support Workers. Our District has repeatedly stated its goal to close opportunity gaps for our students. This goal can not be achieved if students do not have access to the very most vital of services.

I grew up in Seattle and attended Seattle Public Schools during the 70’s and 80’s. I was in second grade at Olympic Hills in 1977 the year the levy did not pass. Our school hours were cut back; we were dismissed at 1:40! We didn’t have Library, PE, Art, or Science and there wasn’t a single teacher in the building under the age of 50 because all of the younger teachers had been riffed. That was a miserable year. The following year, the levy passed and Seattle Schools flourished with an abundance of Magnet programs and school options. These levies must pass. I call on SPS leadership to directly address the levy opponents at The Seattle Times to illustrate what these cuts would mean for all, but especially for our most vulnerable students.

I would also like to propose a very radical approach of a local Seattle Public Schools Boycott of unpaid federal and state mandates until our schools are fully funded. I think we should consider non compliance with the legislature until they fully fund basic education for our students. Some examples are:

1. Refusal of SBAC or other standardized testing that exhausts valuable time, money and District resources.

2. Return to the 21 credit system rather than the 24 credit graduation requirement from the state that the District does not have funds to pay for.

3. Discontinue use of college and career planning via expensive technology like Naviance returning instead to a student centered paper plan.

4. Remove the standardized testing graduation requirement.

The families of Seattle Public Schools must be actively recruited to advocate on behalf of Seattle’s students in Olympia. The legislative session has begun and our district is running out of time. I ask of you, our school leadership, to organize our voice in a call to action.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

Mother of 2 Special Education Students in

Seattle Public Schools

The Viaduct💔

I sure am gonna miss you💔My Dad and I moved to Phinney Ridge in 1979, which was the beginning of my 99/Viaduct centric lifestyle. In high school I begged my dad to sell our house and buy a condo called Hill Climb Court that is a located on the Viaduct just a stone’s throw from the Western Street exit. It’s made of cement and has dusty rose metal accents and is to this day, my favorite building in Seattle. When we bought our house in South Park my love of the Viaduct was rekindled. I would gawk in amazement at the beauty every time I drove the top deck. That view when you turn your head and see a ferry coming in and the snow capped mountains, well it’s the best and most accessible view in the city. When Bee was 2 we were driving on the lower deck and she was holding her beloved Cookie, a cute little green frog stuffie who rode in a little pink furry backpack, too close to her open window. The moment will forever be burned in my mind as Christian, Beezus and I whipped our heads back in unison yelling, “Noooooooooooo Coooooooooolkkkkiiiiiieee!” Christian being the dutiful father that he is, actually drove back later to search for Cookie, but you know how that stretch of the Viaduct is; even if he’d seen Cookie laying there by the side of the road, how would he have stopped to retrieve the beloved frog? I hear some of you saying the Viaduct freaked you out, especially after what happened in the big San Francisco quake. I never felt that way. I did feel that way about our old South Park bridge and used to always roll down the window before crossing it-it was rated 4 out of 100 on the bridge safety scale!!! But I love the Viaduct and will miss it very much. Without it, my Seattle world feels less accessible more new money bourgeois. The Viaduct was truly the people’s roadway. RIP💔