Macklemore, Michael Bennett team up to buy ‘Teaching for Black Lives’ book for Seattle teachers

Macklemore and Michael Bennett have purchased copies of the critically acclaimed book, “Teaching for Black Lives,” for every middle- and high-school social-studies and language-arts teacher in Seattle Public Schools.

“Teaching for Black Lives” is a collection of teaching activities, role-plays, essays, poems and art created to help educators humanize African-American people in school curriculum. The book gives examples of how teachers can connect the curriculum to young people’s lives and explores how classrooms can be designed to challenge racism.

“The contributions that black people have made to this country are integral and the struggles that kids have to go through facing all forms of institutionalized racism and discrimination are real,” says Jesse Hagopian, an editor of the book and an ethnic-studies teacher at Seattle’s Garfield High School.

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Kindergarten or Rosh Hashanah? Seattle Families Wish They Didn’t Have to Choose

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“While Seattle parents take photos, shed tears and send their kids off for the first day of kindergarten on Monday (Sept. 10), many Jewish families will be forced to choose between meeting an educational milestone and observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“It is truly one of the holiest days of the year that people spend with their family and community in synagogue,” says Rabbi Allison Flash, Assistant Director of Education at Temple Beth Am. “Starting kindergarten on Rosh Hashanah is equivalent to kids starting it on Easter Sunday.”

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, introspection and repentance known as the High Holy Days. Jewish communities attend prayer services in synagogue and hear the blowing of an ancient instrument called a shofar, which is made from a kosher ram’s horn. Afterward, families and friends gather to eat a round challah (representing the cycle of the seasons/eternal life), and taste apples and honey (signifying hope for a sweet new year).

The Jewish population in Seattle grew by 70 percent between 2001 and 2014, according to research from Brandeis University in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. The 2014 study estimated that the Jewish community was composed of around 63,400 Jewish individuals. An estimated 13,800 people in that total were Jewish children (aged 17 and under). The population has continued to increase as rapid job growth in the science, tech and engineering industries attracts more well-educated and ideologically progressive Jewish millennials to Seattle.

Jackie Kleinstein, a Seattle mother of two, looked forward to watching her daughter start kindergarten on the same day as her peers at John Rogers Elementary. But when she learned that the family would have to choose between a quintessential coming-of-age experience and observing one of the most significant Jewish holidays, there was no question.

“It’s just what you do,” says Kleinstein. “My daughter loves going to synagogue for the High Holy days, she looks forward to it every year.”

The Kleinstein family felt that honoring their Jewish heritage was especially important in the current political climate. The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged 57 percent in 2017, according to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League. About one-third of Seattle Jews reported some type of anti-Semitic experience in 2015, mostly in the form of Jewish “jokes,” use of stereotypes or comments related to Israel.

“In these times, I think it’s more important than ever to be confident and secure in celebrating our Jewish traditions,” says Kleinstein.

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Are more kids smoking pot now that recreational weed is legal in Seattle? The answer may surprise you.

 

Photo: Joshua Huston

When Seattle entrepreneur April Pride was tapped to design a cannabis lifestyle brand for women, she was ecstatic — but trepidatious. “I knew that it was a great opportunity from a professional standpoint, but at the same time, it meant that I was going to have to be really open about my personal life,” says Pride. As the mother of two young boys, Pride had to consider the impact of this cannabis-centered career move on her family.

Pride built Van der Pop, a female-focused line of cannabis accessories, out of her house while her kids were on summer break. “We’d have to take measurements, so cannabis was on the kitchen table,” says Pride. “My kids know what it looks like, they know what it smells like, they know the different ways you can consume it — they’re really in this with me.”

Although Pride never uses cannabis in front of her children, she has no qualms about enjoying its high in their presence. “Cannabis allows me to slow down and not be so concerned about the things that can wait,” says Pride.

Pride hopes that owning her usage will cultivate open lines of communication about cannabis when her kids hit the teen years. “All I can really do is ask my kids to be responsible, because I think it’s naive to think that they will abstain,” says Pride.

Since Seattle’s first legal recreational pot shops opened in 2014, many parents, educators and researchers have wondered about the potential impact on kids. The cannabis on the market today is different than what was available even 10 years ago and eye-catching billboards are everywhere.

But has advertising, greater accessibility, and an increased prevalence of adults using marijuana changed teen usage rates in Washington since legalization took effect?

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN SEATTLE’S CHILD MAGAZINE

Working for Racial Equity in Seattle Schools Honors Programs

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“The Racial Equity in HCC Team, a network of about 100 Seattle parents, teachers, students and community members district wide, has worked hard this year to improve the racial equity of Seattle Public Schools’ advanced learning programs.

The Seattle school district offers advanced classes “for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Highly Capable.” To place into the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC), a student needs to score in the top 2 to 3 percent on standardized tests of cognitive, reading and math skills. SPS also offers Advanced Learning (formerly known as Spectrum) for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Advanced Learners.

However, both accelerated programs overwhelmingly consist of white students. In 2015, white students made up 45.6 percent of SPS population, but were 72.3 percent of HCC-eligible students. That same year, 16 percent of students in the Seattle School district were black, but only 1 percent were in Advanced Learning programs. Among SPS’s 12 percent Latino student population, only 3 percent were counted as HCC- and Advanced Learning–eligible students. This compares to data from the U.S. Department of Education from 2009 that shows black students comprising 16.7 percent of total U.S. students and 9.8 percent of students in gifted programs. Data from the USDE also shows that as of 2009 Latino students comprised 22.3 percent of students nationally and 15.4 percent of students in gifted programs. Among the 200 biggest school districts in the U.S., Seattle has the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students. Seattle’s white-black gap is also the biggest in Washington.”

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Valuing Difference

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”

Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.

Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.

“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”

Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.

“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”

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Where to celebrate Purim around Seattle

 

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“On this Purim weekend (March 10-12) Jewish families all over the Seattle area will dress up in costumes, make traditional treats, read from the Megillah (the story of Esther) and watch a funny and interactive shpiel (play) that tells the holiday’s origin story. The lively events are open to anyone and provide a fun opportunity for kids to celebrate and learn about Jewish history and culture.

Although there are many variations on the Purim story, the basics are as follows: Esther was a Jewish woman in ancient Persia raised by her Uncle Mordecai. The villain of the story is Haman, an adviser to King Ahasuerus who has a wicked plan to kill all of the Jews. Esther conceals her Jewish identity and is chosen by the King to be his new Queen. With Mordecai’s encouragement, Esther bravely reveals to the King that she is Jewish and asks him to save her people from Haman’s evil plot. The King respects Esther’s wishes and the Jews are saved.” 

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Daniel Pak’s Mission to Share Music

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“Growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Daniel Pak knew that music was in his blood. His father was a jazz pianist and taught him to play scales around age 6. In a few years, he had advanced to performing pieces by Mozart and Beethoven. But it wasn’t until he taught himself acoustic guitar at 13 that his passion was truly ignited. “That’s when I really found that music was more than just lessons. Music was something that would be with me every day,” says Pak.

Pak has fond memories of kanikapila, impromptu music jam sessions with friends. “We’d all go to the beach. Someone would bring ukuleles and guitars, someone would bring bongos. We’d play music and listen to the waves coming in and the palm trees rustling,” says Pak.  Today — minus the beach, palm trees and crashing waves — Pak tries to “perpetuate that tradition here in Seattle.” 

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