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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. 

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💔

No Justice No Seat

I am both very sorry and very grateful to be here today in the wake of this absolutely shameful & spurious display of partisan treachery, AKA the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. I am also here because I HAD AN ABORTION. I have zero shame, guilt or remorse and I believe Abortion is normal.

I didn’t used to talk about my abortion. I didn’t think I had to, after all my choices about my pregnancy aren’t anyone else’s business. And then something happened, there was a shift, mine and yours and our, reproductive rights suddenly came under attack. I no longer felt like I could be silent about my abortion, and started posting about it, talking about it, shouting about it. And a funny thing happened, don’t get me wrong I was a little nervous at first, awkward maybe but not ashamed or embarrassed, I just wasn’t used to talking about Abortion so openly. But the funny thing I noticed was, when I talk about my Abortion, someone I know, a friend or a customer or sometimes a stranger, will say, “I had an abortion too,” and they’ll usually sit down and tell me their story.

Not only do I believe Abortion is normal, I think my Abortion was super normal. I was married, employed, had stable housing, not dealing with addiction or abuse; I just happened to be pregnant and I didn’t want to be right then-for many many reasons, which are absolutely nobody else’s business. So I went to see the good people at Planned Parenthood for what Brett Kavanaugh likes to call, “Abortion on demand”. He seems to have a problem with this safe legal right and would love to have seen me navigate through lots of obstacles and jump hoops meant to delay my procedure and undermine my decision making.

But Brett Kavanaugh is not the boss of me, and so I went and received a safe, legal abortion here in the state of Washington, fully paid for by the health insurance provided to me by my employer. I took a long weekend off from work, rested on the couch with snacks and trashy tv, pre Netflix days, but I didn’t tell anyone at work, or my parents; just my husband and a few very close friends knew.

Now I tell everyone, “Hey, I had an abortion!” I do it mostly because I’m trying to make a better world for my daughters, in part to be visible, to open the conversation and to normalize the reproductive experience of women.

And because I am privileged to tell my story, I also like to share stories of other women who may not have a voice here today. Around the same time I had my abortion I was walking downtown and on a corner just a few blocks from here, I met a woman, who was about my own age, who told me she was homeless and had just come from having an abortion. I looked down to see that she was bleeding through her pants. She told me she just wanted to get enough money for a room and a shower. I didn’t have what she needed and she lashed out at me. She was angry. She had every right to be.

She went on a tirade about our society’s lack of respect for women’s reproductive rights and pregnancy and how she believed she had done the rest of the world a favor by not having that baby and now she was going to suffer immeasurably by being out on the street for who knows how long, covered in blood.

Even after all these years, I think about this woman I met when I talk about Abortion and I’m thinking about this woman especially today. I can see her standing right in front of me, bleeding on that corner. She was so beautiful and she was fierce and brave and powerful. She knew Abortion is normal. She knew Abortion is her right. She owed no one and explanation or an apology. She was shameless and it was inspiring.

Sometimes we just need a reminder that we aren’t the only ones who’ve had abortions. Sometimes we just need a reminder that Abortion is normal. Sometimes we just need a reminder we don’t need to whisper about Abortion around our children. And maybe sometimes we just need to remind others to have a little human compassion and decency by shouting our Abortions on street corners. I’ll keep shouting mine, and if you haven’t ever tried it, I’ll give you the opportunity to now.

If you’ve ever had an abortion, or love someone who has had an abortion, please join me in shouting on the count of 3, Abortion is Normal! 1 2 3

ABORTION IS NORMAL

No thank you to Naviance

Through my daughter’s eighth grade year, I started to familiarize myself with how high school is organized nowadays in SPS. It’s been a long time since my Ingraham days of “tennis shoe registration” where we ran station to station with little index cards and golf pencils signing up for our courses manually. So with a few weeks until school let out when I received this email from Seattle Public Schools, my interest was peaked,

Dear families,

We are pleased to announce the district’s college and career planning tool, Naviance, will be available in the 2018-19 school year to support your student’s personalized journey through high school. This is a web-based, mobile-friendly tool that you and your student can use to explore interests and options, consider post-high school plans, and ensures all students can have access to post-high school planning supports.

The Naviance college and career planning tool will allow students to:

• Research careers and colleges: Learn about career fields linked to personal interests, compare data from college admissions offices, take personalized surveys to understand strengths and goals.

• Get involved in the planning process:Build a resume, manage timelines and deadlines for making decisions about colleges and careers; organize and track documents related to the college application process, such as requesting and submitting letters of recommendation and transcripts.

• High School and Beyond Plan: Schools will be using Naviance to deliver high school and beyond plan lessons in grades 8-12.  The high school and beyond plan is a graduation requirement, which helps students and counselors make sure graduation requirements are met and are aligned to identified goals.

• Scholarship search: Students can search a database of scholarships based on their interest and goals, and organize materials for scholarship applications in one place.

Student Data and Opt-out Information

The district thoroughly vetted Naviance’s policies and practices with respect to preserving data security and student privacy. Families can choose to opt their students out of using this tool.

For students to utilize the college application support tools in Naviance, some student demographic and academic records need to be shared.  This may include gender, ethnicity, and transcripts. Students will also have the opportunity to add information about themselves when developing their high school and beyond plan and using other college and career exploratory resources within the Naviance tool.

We will be importing student information beginning on July 1 so counselors can use their training days during the summer to prepare for supporting your student in the fall. The window to opt out will be June 4-22, and will open again at the start of school.

Read more about Naviance’s commitment to data security and student privacy and opt out instructions

Each of our students is on a unique educational journey. We are committed to ensuring every one of them receives the support needed to prepare them for college, career and life. High school and beyond planning is one way we are supporting this commitment.

Thank you,

The College and Career Readiness Team

Seattle Public Schools

To which I responded,

Dear Superintendent and Directors,

I received a letter about Naviance informing me that I could opt out but not how to opt out. I found the information on the district website and it says I have to change the preferences on my Source account but I do not participate in the Source. I consulted our upcoming high school principal and guidance counselor and neither of them know how to opt out without a Source account. I also tried replying to the College & Career team but the email was sent with “no reply” options or contact info.

Please advise. The opt out window ends on 6/22.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

I was surprised by a quick reply from the College & Career Readiness team offering to teach me how to set up a Source account. I said no thank you and let them know that for a variety of choice and access issues they need to offer families another way to opt out. Their department sent me a computerized form a day or two later which I remember finding funny because if you don’t have computer access to use The Source, how would you fill out a computer form? By this time I had talked to several friends who wanted to opt their children out of Naviance too, but the form stopped working. I contacted the College & Career Readiness team again and it turned out THEY HAD MADE THE FORM ONLY FOR MY USE! Now I do appreciate that I am a privileged outlier but I reminded them they need a simple way for ALL families to opt out; not just the well known agitators. They thanked me for the feedback and said that they would work on that for the next opt out window of 9/5-9/19. They asked me to check back at the beginning of the school year.

On the first day of my daughter’s high school experience I emailed the SPS Director of College & Career Readiness, Caleb Perkins to loop back about what kind of outreach they were doing for families about Naviance and how one might elect to have their child opt out of this new system. Many parents of middle school and high school students I had spoken with were wary of this new system over data sharing, privacy and tracking concerns. Mr. Perkins responded to my email requesting a phone meeting we scheduled one for the following day.

I knew what questions I wanted to ask and they mostly centered on how parents will learn about this system so they can make an informed choice whether they would like to participate. My friend and educational blogger, Carolyn Leith is much more knowledgeable about some of intricate details of the system and she sent me a list of questions to use for my meeting, they are as follows,

1. How is Naviance going to be used? What classes will be using the software and what surveys will students be expected to participate in. Will the district inform parents of what surveys their students will be expected to complete.

2. Some surveys used by Naviance were intended to be filled out by students under the supervision of a parent. Will parents have access to student accounts?

3. How will students who opt out of Naviance be accommodated? How will this work if Naviance is part of a planned curriculum? For families who object to their student’s participation with Naviance, will a counselor be made available to help students navigate the last two years of high school.

4. How will opting out be handled with courses such as career essentials?

5. Does answering/ using different surveys change the data sharing agreement signed between the district and Naviance? What data is being shared (or made available for access via API’s ) and with whom?

6. What platforms ( such as Google Suite, Clever ) have access to Naviance? Does Naviance also have access to the data collected in Google Suite, Clever, and other platforms?

7. Is Naviance interoperable with other platforms and software used by Seattle Public Schools? Will parents be informed of what data is being shared and with what programs?

8. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to put in writing that it holds student personality tests and other sensitive data collected by Naviance and does not share it and will be liable for any breaches or misuse?

9. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to make transparent what algorithms and weighted factors are used to put students on specific career tracts? Is Naviance willing to share this information?

I started the conversation casually, moved on to the questions, without recording their answers and then moved into a friendly discussion of the larger issues at stake. Mr. Perkins has committed to sending me written answers to these questions, but since the opt out window only runs until 9/19, I decided to write a blog post about our conversation now while it’s still fresh. Incidentally the College & Career Readiness team has set up five regional Naviance Information Sessions but to date they have been poorly publicized and offered only from 5:30-6:30, which is a tricky for many families.

A few things I learned at the beginning of my meeting on speaker phone with Caleb Perkins and Krista Rillo were that SPS paid a little over $600,000 total to Hobson for the use of Naviance for three years. The district paid for Naviance using a voter approved technology levy. The district believes their legal team has thoroughly vetted the contract and has stiff penalties in place for any future theoretical data breach.

The district has designed a scope and sequence of how to use Naviance with a focus on 11th and 12th grade but actual implementation will be left school to school. Once parents have forfeited their chance to opt out there will not be any other chances to give consent for certain portions. They told me it is an all in system with individual schools being left to make decisions about how they will accommodate students who opt out. In addition to The Source, families can also opt out by informing their school office. I gave strong feedback that these were not enough options. Not all families feel comfortable working with their school office and not all school office staff are going to welcome opt outs. I gave the example of how differently SBAC opt outs are handled school to school. At my daughters’ school, it was seen as no big deal with as many as 10% of our students opting out of standardized testing. But other schools are much more hostile to test refusers. At nearby Denny Middle School there was a school carnival that only students who had taken the SBAC could attend and other friends around the district reported having principals want to schedule parent conferences in response to their opt out emails. These parents were then strongly encouraged to have their students take the SBAC. I suggested publicizing a phone number that parents could call directly to opt out of Naviance.

Both Caleb and Krista talked about aspects of Naviance they are excited about. Students can apply directly to colleges, send transcripts and apply for scholarships. Mr. Perkins is especially excited about a set of videos featuring underrepresented groups in non traditional careers. I asked if parents would have access to this information. The answer was a little shocking. They said they were not building in parent access this year and that parents would potentially have “read only” account access next year. They also said that based on what types of searches and inquiries the student was making, they would receive more info in those areas. So if your student was surveyed to show interest in engineering, they would start receiving notices about STEM opportunities in the area. For me, this is a red flag for tracking, and between that, lack of parent access and the idea that my child may be sending my financial information to multiple parties through this system, I am alarmed.

The conversation then took a turn into the big picture and that’s when I really began to question what Seattle Public Schools has gotten themselves into trying to fulfill the legislature’s high school and beyond requirements. Mr. Perkins told me that there had been discussion by the School Board Directors, with some directors in opposition, to naming this new project “Seattle Ready” after the idea that in order to live in Seattle now one will need to have a high paying job. They argued that this idea is “economy driven” and I argued that the opposite is actually true. Not only is child care highly sought after in Seattle, as working class person, a child care provider making about $20, I took strong offense to this notion that students might be dissuaded from pursuing a meaningful career like mine, that gives me so much joy, and supports so many people, because it does not pay “Seattle Ready” wages. I pointed out to them that they were actually doing a disservice to their own workforce by promoting these classist and elitist ideas and I suggested they look to the example of our First Student bus drivers. A “Seattle Ready” system is never going to suggest that a student might enjoy a career as a bus driver and yet what vacancies have not been able to be filled this year and last? School bus drivers. The school bus driver shortage is wreaking havoc on our Seattle working families who’s school buses are frequently late and sometimes don’t show up at all.

Another example I gave, is the district’s own IA’s who often do not earn enough to afford housing in Seattle and have long commutes into the city. These are the same people that the district relies on to care for our most vulnerable students, a position I hold in high esteem and yet the district would deem this career not “Seattle Ready” viable.

I would rather that my student were taught the value of a day’s work and learn about social justice and organizing for better pay for all workers than be taught that some jobs are better than others. I don’t buy it. And what about my friends who ARE artists and musicians and writers but that is not the job they do for money. This early emphasis on what job we have and how it defines us is misguided at best and troubling for me as a parent of kids who dance to their own drum. My youngest has always said she will be an animal communicator and a fortune teller when she grows up and my oldest would like to write for sitcoms but is interested in retail while she starts working on her scripts. It seems highly unlikely these tracks are available in Naviance or any “economy driven” system but I want my children to be who they are, loving, kind and interesting people, who also will some day have jobs, and maybe many many different kinds of jobs; this is why I have chosen to opt out of Naviance.