Thursday, May 11, 2006

Seattle Public Schools Define Racism

The Seattle Public School District has done the public a service to define racism, as only a big city school district could. Full disclosure, my son, Andrew, goes to school in the Seattle Public School district. Andrew's mother teaches in a Seattle area public school district. A few Highlights.
Definitions of Racism

The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.

Now lets stop here for a minute to discuss. Now I always thought that racism was treating someone different because of their race but the way I read this definition, only whitey can be a racist. I also find it odd that Asians are included in the "racial groups who have relatively little social power" category. The Seattle School District seems to pick and choose when to group Asians with traditional minorities, such as here, and when to not include them in minority groups, such as when they want statistics to show the need for race based quotas because minorities are lagging behind academically. Lets continue:

Cultural Racism:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as "other", different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.


You know what I think racism is? Racism is when a school district knowingly allows a segregated school to continue to exist that are not properly educating its students. Lets take a look at 3 of Seattle Public Schools. These are all K-8 schools, one of them does not seem to be doing as good a job as the others.

Pathfinders, an alternative K-8 school located in West Seattle.
59% white, 10% African American, 6% Asian, 11% Hispanic and 14% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 33%, reading 57%, writing 50% and science 25%
School Motto "Pathfinder K-8 educates students to become passionate, lifelong learners, respecting themselves, others and the environment."

Salmon Bay, a K-8 school located in Ballard.
70% white, 6% African American, 10% Asian, 10% Hispanic and 5% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 76%, reading 83%, writing 73% and science 71%
Mission Statement "Building small learning communities--connecting every child."

African American Academy, a K-8 school located in the Beacon Hill area.
4% white, 92% African American, 1% Asian, 2% Hispanic and 1% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 17%, reading 47%, writing 19% and science 4%
Mission Statement "The mission of the African American Academy is to meet the needs of African American and all children, providing them with an academic and African-centered education: nurturing them, in order to meet their emotional needs, while helping them to develop positive social and cultural skills which will enable them to become leaders of tomorrow."

Now which of these schools will give its student the highest chance for success in the city of Seattle, a city that is 70% white, 8% African American, 1% Native American, 13% Asian and 5% Hispanic. I will give you 3 guesses.


I usually do not reply to comments but I can not let playin' possum's comments go unchallenged.

I am assuming the “cherry pick” comment was related to the schools I selected as examples. First of all, the 3 examples were not cherry picked. The purpose was to point out how the Seattle Public School District is doing a disservice to an entire school full of overwhelmingly African American students. I went to the Seattle Public Schools web page and randomly picked 2 schools, from the K-8 schools, so that I could as best possible compare apples to apples with the performance of the African American Academy. It would have been hard to compare 7th and 8th grade WASL scores from a non K-8 elementary school. I have no connection to any of the schools, I do not know anyone who goes to any of the schools. I do not even know where any of the schools are located outside the general description I used from the web pages.

Now if the “cherry pick” comment was about me selecting parts of the racism definition, the commentator Erik was correct when he stated that “I think that he was just pointing out the two most absurd definitions“. In addition, it was late in the evening and I try not to post really, really long rambling posts. I know I tend not to read long posts and I figure others do the same.

As far as the definition of racism being widely accepted as only whites oppressing non whites, I would strongly disagree. If a white child is beaten up by a group of non white children, solely because the child is white and if derogatory language was used in the attack, I would think most reasonable people would say that was a racist act.

In fact Wikipedia, the online community encyclopedia, does not think racism is limited to whites oppressing non whites.

Racism refers to a belief system that humans can be separated into various groups based on physical attributes and that these groupings determine cultural or individual achievement. This can lead to prejudice against individuals based on a perceived or ascribed "race". This racist outlook in assuming that the human species can be meaningfully divided into races, often breeds ignorance, fear and hostility towards people. Racism often includes the belief that people of different races differ in aptitudes and characteristics. Some individuals who use this concept of racial categories, believe that different races can be placed on a ranked, hierarchical, scale. The term race plus the suffix ism added refers to a "meme" that the human species can be divided into various groups based on physical characteristics such as skin color and hair color, as well as cultural differences. By definition one who practices racism is known as a racist.

Traditional dictionary definitions also do not specify specific races.
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Finally, I need to make sure I am clear about what my issue really is because I really did not address it in the original post. The Seattle Public School District created the African American Academy to lessen the achievement gap between white students and African American students.
In January of 1990, the African American Academy was officially "born" as one of ten school programs, approved by the Seattle Public School Board, to eliminate disproportionality and increase academic achievement. In the fall of 1991, after several months of intense planning by an Oversight Committee of parents, teachers, and community people, the African American Academy opened as a Kindergarten through Grade 5 elementary school with an enrollment of 234 students. It has since grown to some 400 scholars in grades K-8.

The achievement gap does not appear to have been bridged based on the test scores from the school. It would be interesting to compare what the gap is between African American students who are not in the African American Academy compared to those who are in the African American Academy. I know the district posts test scores on the internet. I do not know if scores are broken down by race by school. If they are, I have not been able to find them as of yet. The real issue though is regardless of the gap, is a segregated school teaching an Afro Centric curriculum to students who live in Seattle, a city that is 10% African American appropriate? To me, the existence of the African American Academy seems to be saying that black kids can not learn unless surrounded by black kids and learning about African history and culture. To me, that is racist. I think all kids are capable of learning despite the amount of pigment in their skin. Now if you ask teachers what is the number one factor in predicting a kids success, they will probably say parental involvement and make no mistake about it, two parents involved is better than one. If you take a look at the eight K-8 schools and see the percentages of students not living with both parents, African American Academy leads the list with 76%. Madrona is 2nd with 63%, all other schools are under 47%. Single parent families, kids born out of wedlock, that to me is the number one issue that is negatively affecting the African American community today and until a solution is found for that, do not expect the achievement gap to close.
Tolerant Seattle Loves Bush Hitler

For those who preach from the Bible of liberal tolerance, explain to me the fact that according to Google, the city that has to most web searches on the term "bush hitler" is Seattle.

It is really easy to preach tolerance when your definition only includes those whose views you agree.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The High Cost of Gas

I was meaning to rant about the high cost of gas for a while and was finally motivated by Dan Sytman's Show Prep Blog which featured a post about Congress elevates creation of snappy acronyms to fine art which touched on the subject of Senator Maria Cantwell's unbelievable comments and actions regarding gas prices.

First off, to set the record straight, I do not think gas prices are really all that high. When computed based on inflation, they are about where they were in 1981. I think about it like this... I bought my house, which is inside the city of Seattle in the summer of 1993. Since then it has increased in value by a factor of 4. I do not remember gas being 75 cents a gallon in 1993. In addition, I do not think high gas prices are really all that bad as I will explain below. And let me throw this one on top of the last two, about the only reason I am against high gas taxes is just to deny the government additional funds you know they are going to waste on the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope.

In my opinion, the number one issue the United States as a country faces is energy dependence. Relying on countries that are not USA friendly for our energy needs is not a recipe for success. So if I were running the country, the number one agenda item would be to become energy independent and the first thing I would do is open ANWR for drilling. That alone would send a message to the Saudis and Iranians and that two bit dictator in Venezuela that we are serious about doing what we have to do to solve our problem. The next thing I would do is put everything on the table and that includes nuclear energy, raising CAFE standards, looking to renewable resources, everything. All sides need to compromise on this issue. This idea results in the United States controlling its energy future and as an added bonus, we make the oil in the ground under the sand of the Middle East, almost worthless.

But how does this get back to Maria Cantwell you ask... It seems Maria was absent they day they taught logic and thinking at Miami University in Ohio. Her plan for reducing gas costs is to make sure oil companies can not make a profit. Disregard the fact that she raises barriers to reduce the expense of bringing oil products to market at every chance she gets. Drill in ANWR, no way. Oil tankers in Puget Sound, not a chance. Investigate oil companies for excess profits... thats the Cantwell answer. In Maria's bizarro world a company that is fined or additional taxes imposed upon, which of course raises expenses, will reduce its prices in order to...

Of course we are talking about someone who spent over 10 million of her own money for a job that pays about 160K a year. I guess her personal banker never explained to her the concept of certificates of deposit.

And that is why I propose that Senator Cantwell propose the "Realize Energy Targets And Reduce Demand" act.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Illegal Immigration Counter Protesters Detained

The topic of discussion on the Bryan Suits radio show on 570 KVI earlier this evening was a call by a Seattle area citizen, Eric, who called to say that while thousands of illegal immigrants marched a couple of feet away, 5 United States citizens, he being one of the 5, who should be covered by all of the constitutional amendments, including the 1st and 2nd, were detained by the Seattle Police Department for over 2 hours because... well hard to say really. The reason for Caller Eric's call into the show was, surprise, surprise, the medias total lack of coverage of what should be a fairly big story. U.S. Citizens constitutional rights infringed in order to protect illegal aliens non existent right to hold a protest march.

Now I am a regular listener of the Bryan Suits show, as you should be, especially if you, like me, are in the male 35-64 year old demographic, and as Bryan can testify, I am also a regular emailer, but did not catch every single minute of the show since the 5pm to 8pm time slot is right in that end of the work day - drive home - eat dinner time window so I may have missed out on some of the conversation but here is a recap as best as I can recall. Full disclosure on my part requires that I state my Father is a 25 year retired Seattle Police Officer and I may or may not own a gun, try breaking into my house and you may or may not get an answer right then and there.

It all started with a 911 call from someone the police say was not part of the march claiming that there was a group of people with signs opposed to the marchers who were armed. The caller said he saw a gun holster sticking out from a partly open jacket. The police responded to the call and found the counter protesters and asked if any of them had weapons and sure enough, 3 of the 5 had guns and one had a switchblade or some sort of knife. Caller Eric said he was the one counter protester that did not have a weapon. At that point they were cuffed and taken to the West precinct where they spent the next 2 plus hours being detained until the march was over. The problem is they had not violated the law as the 3 with guns had valid concealed carry permits and as best as I can tell while switchblades appear to be illegal, there was no mention of the person carrying the knife being arrested or charged with a crime.

A Seattle Police officer, who called himself Steve, called into the show to give his version of the events. While for the most part, the stories matched, Office Steve's main point was they felt they were doing the appropriate thing in order to potentially avoid a violent situation and needed to take the people to the station in order to do a proper investigation. As Bryan Suits said, it was kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for the police but he, along with myself, kept asking under what authority were these people detained and why did it take over 2 hours to finish the investigation and let them leave? Bryan's conclusion, as was mine was it seems fairly obvious that the message from the police hierarchy was to hold these people until the march was over. One thing that bothered me about the conversation with Officer Steve was how Suits had to explain to him it is legal to openly carry a firearm. In the State of Washington you must have a concealed carry permit to have a concealed weapon but not to openly carry. Officer Steve made a comment that implied he thought since the holster was partly visible, that was in some way a violation of the law since the weapon was no longer concealed, which is not the case.

Later a female caller gave Bryan a ring and said she was one of the counter protesters who was packing heat. The first question from Bryan was in effect, what were you thinking bringing a gun into a situation like that even though you are totally within your rights to do so? Her response was she always has her gun with her, expect in bars and other "gun free zones" or as I like to call them, "potential sitting duck shooting galleries". She mentioned that the gun was in her purse and they told the officers when they first asked about the weapons that they had valid permits for them. She said once at the station they were told they would be released once the march was over which contradicted what Office Steve said about it just taking that long to finish the investigation and there was no intent to simply hold them until the march was over.

Now last I checked, United States Citizens have a 1st amendment right to free speech and even in Seattle we have a 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms and it sure seems to me like those and potentially others were violated. I do know one thing, if I were one of the Seattle 5, I would "lawyer up" and have filed a lawsuit against the City yesterday, because as I emailed Bryan, until the city gets hit with a lawsuit and pays a big judgment, expect this kind of thing to keep on happening. My one question of any city official is when did POTENTIALLY preventing a violent situation supersede our constitutional rights?

Thursday on the Bryan Suits show, where you can listen to live over the internet by going here, the hope is someone from the City will be on to discuss this topic in further detail. Also, its Led Zeppelin Thursday, so get your request in early.

If anyone has any additional information, clarification or corrections, please post them in the comments and I will update accordingly.
Earl Woods, Rest In Peace

Earl Woods, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, died earlier today. His greatest accomplishment, " friend, my mentor and perhaps my greatest support system." according to his son Eldrick, AKA Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Seattle's Mayor and Police Chief Just Do Not Get It

It's right there in black and white... its not the criminals, its the laws that are to blame. Mayor calls on state leaders to strengthen gun laws. Just a quick post because... I work for a living, more later. A couple of "highlights".
"Washington State has some of the weakest gun laws in the country" and the laws that are on the books "focus on punishing criminals after they've committed a crime with a gun," the mayor said

Let me repeat that...the laws that are on the books "focus on punishing criminals after they've committed a crime with a gun. Didn't we learn our lesson when we tried to punish criminals BEFORE they committed a crime?

One more:
"Washington State has some of the weakest gun laws in the country"
"In the last few years, Seattle has enjoyed record low crime rates"

Sounds like cause and effect to me.

The Seattle PI, The fight against firearms
City pushing for tougher state laws, but would it help?
, adds to the story.

Well that is the question, isn't it, "Would it help?"

Lets look at what Mayor Nickels wants to accomplish and then how he proposes we do so.

Nickels said the state should pass laws that prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals in the first place, and he challenged lawmakers to take four major steps:

Adopt a state ban on assault weapons. A federal ban on the manufacture or importation of certain weapons expired in 2004. Seven states have since passed their own bans.

Close a loophole that allows firearms purchases at gun shows without a background check, something required for purchases at gun stores and other retail outlets.

Pass a state law requiring safe gun storage, such as requiring trigger locks.

Establish a statewide database of gun-trace data -- information collected by police investigators when researching the history of guns used in crimes. Seattle already collects such data.

So what the Mayor wants to do is keep guns out of the hands of criminals but how are any of these proposals going to accomplish that? Lets look at them one at a time.

Ban assault weapons.
I have no idea if assault weapons are the gun of choice for criminals but I highly doubt it. Not sure when the last time I heard of someone getting shot by an AK-47. Seems to me the real issue is the cheap "Saturday night specials". Regardless, banning certain types of guns does not keep guns out of criminals hands. The fundamental error in the logic is that if we just made it illegal for the criminal to have the gun, they would not have it. Well newsflash... most criminals that have a gun are already violating numerous laws so is passing one more law going to make them see the light?

Safe storage and trigger locks.
What does this have to do with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals? Now if the issue was criminals are accidentally shooting an accomplice, well that would not be such a bad thing now would it but that is not the issue the Mayor is trying to solve.

Close a loophole that allows firearms purchases at gun shows without a background check, something required for purchases at gun stores and other retail outlets.
See here to get the facts on the "gunshow loophole". For those to lazy to click the link, the gunshow loophole is really one private citizen selling a gun to another private citizen and accounts for less than 1% of all guns used in a crime.

Establish a statewide database of gun-trace data -- information collected by police investigators when researching the history of guns used in crimes. Seattle already collects such data.
While there are many issues with this kind of program that I will not go into here, Seattle already collects such data. Which makes me question the comments about "Nickels said state law prohibits cities from adopting any gun laws that are stricter than the state's" Sounds to me like the city can.

Would like to add one more comment about the following:

While police wouldn't say whether any of the weapons on display were actually used in crimes, they were effective props for the mayor's lobbying effort.
Does anyone think if these weapons had been used in crimes, they would not have shouted that fact from the top of the hills?