As the Legislature continues to nervously stare down both the McCleary State Supreme Court ruling to fully fund public k-12 education the and recently passed initiative I-1351 to reduce class sizes, several Seattle legislators proposed a controversial bill to deal with long-standing issues in the the city’s schools. Their solution? Split the Seattle school district.
The prospect of such a bill had some elements of the Seattle education community up in arms. But fortunately for critics, the bill died and never made it to the House floor for a vote.
The legislation had previously seemed to be carrying momentum behind it. Towards the beginning of the legislative session, democratic representatives Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th legislative district co-sponsored house bill 2048, which would have required that any school districts be larger than 35,000 students be split in smaller separate districts by 2018. Seattle school district has close to 50,000 students.
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37)
In a joint statement Pettigrew and Santos called out the district for “failing” to produce better academic outcomes and opportunities for students and proclaimed that “something has to change for the students of South Seattle schools.”
Word about the bill had gotten out at that point, and representatives from the Seattle Council Parent Teacher & Student Association [PTSA], Seattle Public Schools [SPS], and others testified against the legislation at a February 10th education committee hearing. All who spoke were vehemently opposed to HB 2048. Seattle School Board Member Dr. Stephan Blanford called the bill “shocking,” adding that it would exacerbate pre-existing inequity in Seattle schools.
On the morning of Wednesday March 18th employees of the Space Needle Corporation gathered outside the Seattle landmark to protest working for over 1,000 days without any kind of raise. After employees, and council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata spoke to the assembled crowd, the group marched over to the Space Needle Corporation offices only blocks away and handed a list of demands with signatures of employees to the corporation’s public relations manager. Media were quickly told upon entry onto the premises of the office to stop taking pictures and filming. Most of us snagged a few shots anyway. Read The Stranger’s Sydney Brownstone’s reporting on both the event and the space needle’s history of labor-related issues.
As a journalist who tries to write about things that matter, I occasionally get flack from folks who think I’m not being ‘objective’ enough. For example:
Usually what these critics mean is that my angle is insufficiently flattering to their own worldview; accusing me of violating (what they take to be) one of the basic rules of journalism is easier than articulating, in a non-circular way, why I’m wrong.
But here’s the thing: objectivity doesn’t exist. Honesty does, in the sense of avoiding straw men and voicing the strongest articulations of both (or all) sides of a controversy. And accuracy does, in the sense of a correspondence between what I describe in my stories and what actually happens in the world. But objectivity? That’s nothing more than a rhetorical stance.
Here’s the beginning of my first Letter From the Editor at the Central Circuit:
This overdue post brings you a smattering of recent projects that I’ve produced or worked on in some capacity over the past three weeks:
My photography was published alongside several nimby stories in the January 14th issue of Real Change News: one on the ACLU condemned attempt by the City of Burien to criminalize poor hygiene, and the other regarding Ballard residents squawking at the prospect of having low-income or homeless people frequenting a under construction urban rest stop in the area. Both articles were written by RCN staff reporter Aaron Burkhalter.
On Saturday, January 10th, #Blacklivesmatter protesters calling for police accountability marched from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park to the King County Youth Detention Center at 12th and Alder in the Central District. The march was organized by an activist group called Women of Color for Systemic Change, and remained entirely peaceful without arrests or other incidents. The march shut down several intersections along Rainier avenue south and elsewhere where protesters discussed broader institutional racism and more specific issues such as gentrification in Seattle and the proposed construction of a new 210 million dollar Youth Detention Center. Many bystanders raised their hands or fists in solidarity with the march. Below are photos taken at the event.
Marilyn Watkins has been a Policy Director at the Economic Opportunity Institute for 15 years, and she knows a heck of alot about topics such as Washington State tax policy and gender pay equity issues. The Central Circuit called her up to get a run-down of Washington State’s highly regressive tax structure.
So where does our tax money go? What services are we all paying for?
The [state] general fund budget is what we are really talking about here … half of that goes to the K-12 public education system, roughly 10% goes to pay for the whole system of higher education including the community and technical colleges as well as the four year universities. There’s some social and human services, children services, health services for seniors, services for disabled people … and then…
Below is an excerpt and photographs from an unfinished post written this past summer regarding Jakarta’s continuous infrastructure problems and forced eviction issues within the over-crowded city:
A 2006 Human Rights Watch report on government orchestrated forced evictions of Jakarta residents summed up the dynamic that has dictated the relationship between the city’s working urban poor and the government in one sentence: “One of the overarching themes in the history of Jakarta is the conflict between the desires of its rulers to create a model city to display to the world, and the desires of the poor of Indonesia to seek opportunities within it.”
Michael Cook, a homeless man who wants police accountability.
“We’re protesting the militarization of the police,” says Michael Cook. He’s 40, homeless, and just finished delivering an impromptu speech to the small crowd that has been marching in circles around downtown for the past hour. “This situation with Michael Brown in Ferguson, and all these other types of situations where the police are getting blood on their hands and are walking away without a slap on the wrist—it’s ridiculous, man,” says Cook. “It’s ridiculous.
“Every person should be accountable for their own actions.”
The date is Monday, December 8. Early evening. Since droves of riot cops chased a handful of protesters off the street earlier, a second group has begun marching on the sidewalk, chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and similar refrains. A row of bike cops trundles down the road beside them, their rear wheels spitting up rainwater…