This new song about Chris McCandless is a call to live out your principles more fully than ever

This new song about Chris McCandless is a call to live out your principles more fully than ever

Don’t forget that it’s up to us, all of it. All of this. If we don’t upend the current state of affairs, who will? If we don’t fight oppression, who will?

We know what we know. I hope that if nothing else, this might inspire you to think hard. If you saw a movie with yourself as the main character, knowing what you know, what you would expect that character to do? What would that character find him or herself doing in the name of living out your principles?

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My alma mater hired 15 people recently, and all 15 were white. What gives?

My alma mater hired 15 people recently, and all 15 were white. What gives?

I got the latest issue of The Augustana Magazine in my mailbox this week. It’s the alumni magazine from my alma mater. I flipped through it today, paused and read about the Augustana baseball team’s national title, and was about to recycle it until the page listing new faculty hires and promotions caught my eye.

Take a look at it. What do you notice? What do all of these folks seem to have in common?

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Checking out a new children's book: 'Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters'

Checking out a new children's book: 'Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters'

Our house is bursting at the seams in all kinds of ways these days, and we are particularly lucky to be overflowing with books of all kinds — especially for kids. We have shelves filled with kids books written by people of color, and it’s fun to sift through them. (I’d love to keep sharing them with you, incidentally.)

We also have some that are like this one: books written about people of one race by people of another, or about one gender by another, as is the case with “Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics,” written by Jason Porath. The question of why he, a self-described "random white guy from Kentucky,” was writing a book about women, is probably best answered by his dedication page, which reads, “

I suppose you want a mix, in the end, but it remains important to be conscious of this dynamic, and that we are intentional about hearing authentic storytellers.

What do you think?

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I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself optimistic that Seattle Public Schools are headed in the right direction

I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself optimistic that Seattle Public Schools are headed in the right direction

I ask humbly for your help. What else is happening that I should know about in our schools? Can you give me more reason to be hopeful, more stories about the progress our district is making? Can you tell me more about the teachers meeting with inmates, or about something that gives you hope for the future?

And if not that, are there more areas we need to shine a light on? What else is happening that also needs to change?

Thank you for your thoughts and your optimism as we look ahead, and thank you for doing what you do in important times like these. It’s going to be a good year.

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Wouldn't it be interesting if charter school opponents led sessions at the WA Charters conference in May?

Wouldn't it be interesting if charter school opponents led sessions at the WA Charters conference in May?

ather than battling against charter schools, which are themselves public schools, I’d like to urge any charter school opponents to submit a proposal to present at this conference. More pressing than any thoughts of charter schools versus traditional public schools is the deep inequity of our public school system. We should be sharing knowledge even across lines of disagreement, as we know we are all in this together.

Take this opportunity to tell the charter folks what they’re doing wrong by teaching them what they don’t know. You know?

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Let's start each school day with an acknowledgment of the Indigenous people's land we occupy

Let's start each school day with an acknowledgment of the Indigenous people's land we occupy

The practice of land acknowledgment dates back centuries (at least) among indigenous communities, and is more common in the mainstream in Australia, New Zealand and Canada than in the U.S., but it is a growing movement here as well.

The idea is that before an event — whether it’s a school day, a sporting event, a meeting or even a family meal — you take a moment to name, thank and consider the people whose displacement allows you to be where you are. Whose historical trauma makes it possible for you to thrive as you do in the place you live?

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As a public school parent, charter schools are a matter of principle

As a public school parent, charter schools are a matter of principle

As a public school parent, charter schools are a matter of principle. It's about offering parents a choice. My neighbors with privilege have generally found a way to get their kids into a different, “better” school than the historically neglected public elementary school down the block. Our neighbors without as much privilege generally haven't. That's not right.

Of course, with only 10 charter schools open in Washington State last school year, serving only 2400 current students, charters remain mostly a principle in reality as well. They are a slowly growing option for more and more students statewide, and they represent the principle of school choice, and the possibility of doing something radically different than the traditional public school system will allow.

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Do charter school opponents really think our public school system is distributing resources equitably? Come on now.

Do charter school opponents really think our public school system is distributing resources equitably? Come on now.

The implication from charter school opponents is that our traditional public school system is the model for how money should be distributed. Charter schools are diverting public funds, they say, using them to serve only “some” students when this public money is intended for all students.

But isn’t that the definition of an opportunity gap? Aren’t our public schools already taking money intended for all students and distributing it inequitably?

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Here's the real reason people oppose charter schools in Washington State

Here's the real reason people oppose charter schools in Washington State

Yet again, charter schools and the principle of school choice prevailed this week in Washington’s courts.

Great, wonderful, fine, etc. This is important, but at the same time, we’ve had this conversation before. It’s time to dig deeper.

Why has all this been happening? Moving beyond talking points and rhetoric, why have people and organizations really been fighting charter schools so vehemently?

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How do we live in the light of our new awareness and not the darkness of violent, remorseless colonialism? Here's one idea.

Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day, and it’s important that we make it more than an annual show of celebration and recognition. The potential power of a holiday like this is for it to be a yearly call to continued growth and lasting change.

One way to move in that direction now is to familiarize yourself with more Indigenous-led media, and with a few of the many brilliant Indigenous folks are out there right now boldly sharing their work, sharing their art, and sharing their experiences with the world. However you keep in touch with the world, use this week to be all the more intentional about it.

Another way to honor Indigenous Peoples Day as a time of reconciliation and growth is to come to a deeper understanding of and connection with the land you’re calling home. Whose loss made it possible for you to live where you live?

Native Land (nativeland.ca) makes it amazingly easy to uncover this information for yourself and your own specific situation. Using my address and an interactive map of the world, Native Land shows that I’m living on occupied Duwamish and Puget Sound Salish territory.

The site will also show you all the treaties signed concerning the land you live on, as well as the languages spoken. The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott is evidently the most recent treaty regarding the land I call home in what today is called Seattle, and reading the treaty itself was powerful. It spells out in writing that the United States government forced the Indigenous people of this area to a small, confined area; that it offered pathetically small compensation for this eviction to a glorified concentration camp; and that it reserved the right to force them off even the reservation whenever the president should eventually see fit.

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Awareness and acknowledgment are important first steps, but knowledge alone is not enough. We have to dig deeper. How do we integrate this new knowledge into our behavior and our daily lives? How do we use our awareness to live in a way that doesn’t perpetuate our violent past?

These are complicated questions, but we can’t let their complexity paralyze us into total inaction. One step in the right direction, I think, can be found here: Real Rent Duwamish (realrentduwamish.org).

Real Rent Duwamish allows you to set up a monthly “rent” payment to the Duwamish Tribe for the right to live on land in their unceded territory.

Why monthly?

“While one-time donations are essential to the upkeep of the Longhouse, paying monthly rent represents a continuing effort and desire to acknowledge the Duwamish while recognizing that we are visitors on their land who are profiting from being here. Monthly giving keeps the land's original inhabitants on the forefront of our thoughts. Through our monthly contribution and acknowledgement, we can be more deeply connected to this wonderful place.”

What’s the right rent for you?

“Just as everybody’s financial situation is unique, so is the amount of rent that will feel right for you. You may choose to give a percentage of your income or monthly rent or mortgage, or perhaps there is another number that holds symbolic significance for you. For example, paying $54 a month could serve as a powerful reminder of the 54,000 acres of homeland that the Duwamish Tribe signed over to settlers in 1855. In the end, any amount is the right rent as long as it’s meaningful to you! Or, click here to try out this donation calculator.”

This is made all the more important in the case of the Duwamish Tribe by the fact that the tribe is not officially recognized by the federal government. They would truly have been erased if not for the Duwamish people who continue today to fight to maintain their heritage and their identity. It feels like literally the least we can do to support that effort as we sit on their land, benefitting from its theft.

As of today, my family is paying $54 a month to the Duwamish Tribe for the foreseeable future. When we’re able to do more, we will.

On Indigenous Peoples Day, a gun dealer donated nine assault rifles to be used in schools. Woof.

On Indigenous Peoples Day, a gun dealer donated nine assault rifles to be used in schools. Woof.

I was invited to host ChoiceMedia.tv's “Story of the Day” for Oct. 8, 2018 — yesterday. So, I did.

But instead of dwelling on the horror of our actual current reality, I would like to encourage you to not let the idea of Indigenous Peoples Day just sit in the past until next year’s special day. One way to take something forward from here throughout the next year is to familiarize yourself with even a tiny sampling of the many brilliant Indigenous folks out there boldly doing their thing, and to add a few authentically Indigenous-led publications to your reading list.

Here are a few links:

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Searching for the intersections in layers of oppressed identities

Searching for the intersections in layers of oppressed identities

THINX, a company that designs menstrual hygiene products, has teamed up with the nonprofit PERIOD to call on school leaders and local elected officials in 10 cities across the country (including Seattle and Portland) to provide students with free menstrual hygiene products.

This is a powerful example of why we need to think in terms of intersectionality. Systems of oppression overlap, and folks at the intersection of multiple non-dominant culture/oppressed identities have worse outcomes for a reason.

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What happens when a school district breaks its own rules?

What happens when a school district breaks its own rules?

What happens when our schools make promises they can’t keep? What happens when a school district breaks its own rules?

I’m not sure, but my oldest son came home from his first day of school last week with a yellow pamphlet entitled “The Basic Rules of Seattle Public Schools 2018-19.”

Listed very first, for example, are the “Student Rights” as laid out by Seattle Public Schools, none of which they can honestly promise to uphold for all students.

It’s an interesting read.

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As school starts anew in Seattle, we think of the families still forced apart

As school starts anew in Seattle, we think of the families still forced apart

Suddenly it's September. Somehow it's already the end of the first week of school.

Every summer goes by a bit too fast, but this was a special year for our family, so the past few months went by in a blink.

I began a summer-long break from writing at the beginning of June, and soon after that we welcomed a perfect new baby girl into this world. So, less than two weeks into my little hiatus, mom and baby Sojourner were home full-time along with me. In a matter of a few more days, the school year had ended for our two boys, and we were all home together in a little time-space cocoon spun of family ties. It's a rare gift to have such free and uninterrupted time as an entire family, and we made the most of it -- on the road, in the woods, and especially at home together.

But then, on the first day of school, the bubble popped.

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Welcome home, my love, for the first time: a reflection on the urgency of love (and a new song)

Welcome home, my love, for the first time: a reflection on the urgency of love (and a new song)

Right now, at this moment, I have two kids: a nine-year-old who is technically my stepson, and a three-year-old who is my biological son.

Julian and I met just before he turned two, so we’ve been together a long time now. Loving and parenting him have changed my life in ways that were immediate and ways that have turned out to be gradual.

When Zeke came, change struck in a bewildering flash.

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Our Lives on this Earth: A Story of Soul Connecting with Spirit

Our Lives on this Earth: A Story of Soul Connecting with Spirit

By Ryan Flesch

It was Nov. 6, 2016. I had spent three months following the Water Protectors camping out in the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota on social media, and listening quietly to the intellect of my heart. My heart wanted me there, so I posted to social media: “I have spent too much time sitting in the comfort of my own home saying to myself that something I see is wrong. I'm getting up and I'm going to Standing Rock to show my support with my life, not the share button.”

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What do we really mean when we talk about school choice?

What do we really mean when we talk about school choice?

What do we really mean when we talk about school choice?

It’s a much-debated idea in the education world, this idea of school choice. Just a mention of the term often has people jumping onto either side of the charter-school line in the sand.

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Starbucks closed its stores today to renew its commitment to... Third Place? Huh. What's that?

Starbucks closed its stores today to renew its commitment to... Third Place? Huh. What's that?

I’m sure you know by now that two Black men were arrested after a Starbucks employee called them in for being Black a few weeks back.

Every Starbucks closed today in response to that incident, and every Starbucks employee in universes both known and otherwise attended a racial bias training this afternoon.

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