Let's get to know Washington's charter school movement at this weekend's annual conference

The Washington State Charters Schools Association Conference is this weekend, which means we get to take a look behind the curtain of the charter school movement in Washington. What are they thinking about? What are they talking about? What are their priorities and their blind spots?

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The rock-and-a-hard-place reality of being a parent advocate

The rock-and-a-hard-place reality of being a parent advocate

It’s a strange thing, trying to advocate for equitable public schools as a parent of current students.

On the one hand, short-sighted, short-term thrusts aren't going to lead to the lasting systemic change we need. On the other hand, incremental, long-term plays won't have much impact on my kids, who are, you know, here right now.

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Thoughts and images from the Civil Rights Museum on Jackie Robinson Day in Memphis

Thoughts and images from the Civil Rights Museum on Jackie Robinson Day in Memphis

Yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day — the 61-year anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier by becoming the first Black player in otherwise-all-white Major League Baseball (technically Jackie was not the first ever, but the first since Moses Fleetwood Walker played a season in the big leagues in the 1880s, but that’s another story).

This year, I spent the day in Memphis with my family, and it turns out I couldn’t have commemorated the day any better.

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Our New Superintendent Is the Change We Need, But Frankly Not as Much Change as I Want

Our New Superintendent Is the Change We Need, But Frankly Not as Much Change as I Want

It doesn’t feel like we’ve found a savior. We’ve got Wedge Antilles here, not Luke Skywalker. Wedge is nice, but he’s just one good pilot, you know? He’s a quiet leader, an accomplished rebel, but we need to blow up the Death Star, and we all know he’s not going to be the one to do that.

With Juneau, it feels similar, like we’ve found a good, highly qualified public school superintendent who will be committed to doing more than just paying lip service to the need for equity. She's all in. That much is crystal clear within a few minutes with her. But because she doesn’t have a fully revolutionary track record, I don’t believe she will make a difference in time for my kids. I don’t think she’s going to move to Seattle and blow up the Death Star.

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Black History Today: The Reeses and the Tiplers, living embodiments of Black love

Black History Today: The Reeses and the Tiplers, living embodiments of Black love

When I think about role models of “love” as we know it — not in the heart shaped boxes or the hallmark cards, but in that true connection that endures — honestly, so many pairings of people who have made the choice every day to love and honor each other come to mind.

The narrative of Black love being dead is yet another sad narrative that lacks full truth. That said, when I think of couples that exhibit what it means to love, two come to mind.

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Can Seattle's choice to hire Denise Juneau elevate the voices of our most marginalized students?

Can Seattle's choice to hire Denise Juneau elevate the voices of our most marginalized students?

The Seattle School Board chose our new superintendent last night, and it’s going to be Denise Juneau.

Juneau became the first openly gay candidate for federal office in Montana when she ran for a seat in the House in 2016, and she will become Seattle’s first Native American superintendent when she officially takes over for Larry Nyland on July 1.

She was the clear choice among the three finalists, and while Juneau is certainly a traditional candidate in one sense — she has been a classroom teacher, administrator and the elected superintendent of Montana’s schools — I applaud the board for bringing a genuinely new perspective to the office.

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A few quick thoughts about Seattle’s superintendent candidates after last night’s public forum

A few quick thoughts about Seattle’s superintendent candidates after last night’s public forum

We met the three finalists chosen by the school board — Jeanice Swift, Denise Juneau and Andre Spencer, in that order — and each candidate spoke with Keisha Scarlett of SPS for 45 minutes in a question-and-answer format.

Here are my brief-as-I-can-be thoughts about the three people we’re choosing between to lead Seattle’s schools.

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A challenge on Opening Day: Stop saying the name of the Cleveland baseball team

A challenge on Opening Day: Stop saying the name of the Cleveland baseball team

Today is Opening Day, the first of many days I'll spend watching baseball with my sons again this season. On this most glorious and joyous day of the year, I'd like to offer you a challenge: Don't say the name of the Cleveland baseball team this season.

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Seattle Public Schools have announced three finalists for Superintendent. Who will you choose?

Seattle Public Schools have announced three finalists for Superintendent. Who will you choose?

People say the superintendent has limited power or limited impact, but in Seattle, strength in this position is our greatest hope for the kind of transformational change our kids deserve.

We need a strong superintendent in Seattle because we need someone who will commit to and force an unpopular agenda through, if necessary — even in the face of pushback.

Desegregation was quite unpopular among white parents back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Seattle today is just brimming with white parents — we are one of the whitest major cities in the nation, in fact. Equity efforts will be unpopular here and now, too. We have to expect that and prepare to rise above it.

Real change is hard and uncomfortable, and yet it’s what we need. So, we need a leader who will press on through through that difficulty and discomfort — even through outright disapproval and unpopularity — to do what needs to be done. We need that strength from our leader because we can’t rely on the general population of Seattle to have the vision to demand and make such changes right now.

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The fact that we are even discussing arming teachers shows that we’re too far gone for my boys to be safe in public school. It's time to start preparing to get out.

The fact that we are even discussing arming teachers shows that we’re too far gone for my boys to be safe in public school. It's time to start preparing to get out.

The status quo is leading to increasingly disastrous results. Inequity, segregation and gun violence in our schools are only increasing. Things have been really bad since literally the beginning of public schooling, and things are continually getting worse.

Just like every school shooting before this one, if this isn’t the wake-up call that permanently changes our perspective and our behavior, then we ourselves have made sure that it’s nothing more than a pointless, senseless, meaningless tragedy.

Put another way, if you don’t do things differently now, then you’re choosing — knowingly — to continue to be complicit. If I don’t do things differently now, I am, too.

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Seattle Public Schools has invited us all to a Superintendent Search Public Forum on March 29. Let's go.

Seattle Public Schools has invited us all to a Superintendent Search Public Forum on March 29. Let's go.

Seattle Public Schools is searching at breakneck speed for a new superintendent. The district sent out an email to its list of parents and families inviting us all to a public forum at the end of the month to meet the three finalists for the supe job.

This is important. We can submit questions ahead of time by emailing them to boardoffice@seattleschools.org. Please feel free to copy me (matt.a.halvorson@gmail.com)! I'd love to know what questions we're asking.

Let's make sure it's impossible for these candidates to be confused about the fact that equity is our singular top priority. We need to force these potential district leaders to demonstrate whether or not they know what's at stake, and we need to find out for ourselves if any of the three people the Seattle School Board introduces us to will be willing and able to take the kind of radical, bold action that could lead to unprecedented educational equity.

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The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

I want to thank all who allowed me to honor and showcase them for Black History Month. The daily posts started as just a personal letter to people whom I believe to be truly amazing. We often wait too long to tell people what we think of them and their effects on us and our lives.

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Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

I've mostly kept quiet about the Parkland shooting, because it feels like the last thing we need is more empty words or more voices shouting angrily into the abyss. Today, though, I find I have something to say.

This nonsense about arming teachers is a distraction, and we need to stop giving it the time of day. If the people clamoring to give teachers guns were serious, they would be working on legislation. They would be taking action in some way. But they're not. They're using the ridiculous idea of arming schoolteachers to keep us on the defensive, to keep us worried that things might get even worse, which keeps us from working as single-mindedly on real solutions and real change.

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Black History Today: Rickie Malone, gentle nurturer and ferocious advocate

Black History Today: Rickie Malone, gentle nurturer and ferocious advocate

The greatest investment we can make in society is in each other. When we choose to invest in the best in ourselves and each other, that is when true magic begins to happen.

We’re all just shallow reflections of the light and the lives that have shined into ours. When I think about a great light that has invested in me and so many others on this “Black Panther” week, I think of one the strongest heroes I know: Rickie Malone.

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Black History Today: Darnell Lamont Walker, activist thought leader and throwback artist

Black History Today: Darnell Lamont Walker, activist thought leader and throwback artist

A stumble happens in adulthood that begins to limit our imaginations about who we are in the world. We lose the spirit of adventure, the thrill of seeking what is new. We’re told to grow up and accept whatever it is “adulthood” brings.

We sometimes become afraid to be critical and especially to be criticized. One person who inspires the exact opposite is Darnell Lamont Walker. Darnell is authentically his unique self, not only marching to his own beat and drum, but shifting the band into an orchestra or into a hip-hop symphony if he so desires.

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Black History Today: Ernestine Rutledge, the definition of dignity, the essence of excellence

Black History Today: Ernestine Rutledge, the definition of dignity, the essence of excellence

Beauty is a word that unless deeply explained is usually reserved for what the eye can see. As many have explored throughout the years, true beauty is when you close your eyes to describe the fullness of the person you’re describing — their strength, courage, dignity and shining exemplar of what we all hope to be.

One of the most beautiful people you will ever encounter is Ms. Ernestine Rutledge. The “Ms.” added for the dignity and respect she commands, not through position, power or even mean tweets, but through the sheer essence of excellence she brings.

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