In the early 1990s, architect Jerry Garcia walked along Denny from his Capitol Hill home to his office on the waterfront, passing a little park between Ninth Avenue N and Dexter. He was intrigued that this dark, unwelcoming patch was Seattle’s first park. “It was truly baffling to me; I didn’t understand why it would be like this,” he remembers. “It’s such an introverted experience.”
For students, the start of a new school year can feel like a blank slate, a chance to begin anew. This year, however, Seattle students (along with their parents and teachers) can be forgiven for experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu—the raging debate over standardized testing that dominated the 2012–2013 school year may have shifted focus, but it’s not going away anytime soon.
For those who don’t have little scholars stressing over the test at home, here’s a quick review. In the 2009–10 school year, Seattle Public Schools adopted the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which measures reading and math skills and serves as a way to track student, teacher and school progress. It is the latest in a string of controversial standardized tests that came into vogue as part of President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program, which also includes the much maligned Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The WASL is a broad skills assessment tool for grades 3 through 8 and was replaced by the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) test in the spring of 2010. In addition to the challenges about the effectiveness and necessity of the MAP, the circumstances under which Seattle Public Schools adopted the test have been criticized: It was introduced during former superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s tenure while she sat on the board of the Northwest Evaluation Association, which developed and owns the test.
In January, grumbling and sporadic protests came to a head, when teachers at Garfield High School held a press conference to announce their unanimous vote to boycott the MAP. Obligated by their contracts to administer the test, the Garfield teachers risked disciplinary action or suspension. They were backed by many students and students’ parents. Half the teachers at Ballard High School, many at The Center School and the majority at Chief Sealth International High School and Orca K-8 School followed suit. The boycott received both state and national attention as a litmus test for testing around the country.
“It didn’t surprise me at all about the support,” says Phil Sherburne, president of Garfield High’s PTSA. “As parents, we have the same level of frustration. We already have adequate testing in place to evaluate how our kids are performing.”
We do our best to keep a lid on all the stuff our kids collect, but have you taken a close gander at their play space or bedroom lately? Does it look like chaos? Given the way tiny toy parts seem to proliferate like bunnies, keeping them all in one place is a monumental Martha Stewart type of task that can overwhelm even the tidiest amongst us.
Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee: A 25th Anniversary Public Display of Affection. The grand dame of Seattle’s indie music scene, Sub Pop Records isn’t too old to throw a rager. This celebration takes place on the streets of Georgetown, an appropriately grungy ’hood for the label that launched Soundgarden and Nirvana. But the live music lineup showcases the label’s diversity of sound, from longtime local rockers such as Mudhoney and Tad Doyle to the newer folk freakiness of Father John Misty and the genre-busting hip-hop of Thee Satisfaction and Shabazz Palaces. But soft!
I don’t know a lot of people who look forward to going to the doctor, but it’s a necessity made less daunting when you’re going to see someone you trust, feel comfortable with and even gush about to your friends—the same way you do when you have a supportive boss or an amazing babysitter. I just love my doctor.
Warren Dykeman is looking for “the right kind of wrong.” A graphic designer by day, the Tri-Cities native and Seattle artist prizes an awkwardness in his mixed-media collages and paintings, which bring to mind graffiti, folk art, the oddly shaped humans of New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg and blobby landscapes by 1960s poster artist Peter Max. “I’m interested in contour and rhythm within the composition,” Dykeman says.
COFFEE DATE: Singer/songwriter Shelby Earl, whose debut album, Burn the Boats, Amazon.com named “#1 Outstanding 2011 Album You Might Have Missed.” Her new record, Swift Arrows, comes out on July 23 (with a release party at Columbia City Theater, 7/13).SCENE: Voxx Coffee on Eastlake Avenue, a sunny Wednesday in AprilSHELBY’S ORDER: Grande soy latte
Must ExperimentSeattle Science FestivalA huge success last year, the second annual Seattle Science Festival boasts hands-on experiments, sci-fi movies, live demonstrations, activities and public talks on topics ranging from “The Scoop on Poop” to “Thought Experiments on the Question of Being Human” to “The Science of Ice Cream.” Plus: a seven-hour event entirely focused on bubbles, an exploration of how scientists are trying to reinvent the toilet and, of course, robots!
This year’s mayor’s race has attracted a large group of challengers; at least eight candidates want to replace Mayor Mike McGinn, who is running for reelection. That number reflects a sense that McGinn is vulnerable, and that should come as no surprise. He began the campaign with low approval ratings. And, historically, Seattleites have shown they are not in the least bit afraid to toss out an incumbent. That’s how Mike McGinn got his job. In 2009, voters defeated incumbent Greg Nickels in the summer primary.
Get up early, hit the cash machine and drive north to this puny but picturesque rural arts haven. Once there, gird yourself for the two-block walk through town at Tweets Cafe (5800 Cains Ct.; 360.820.9912; tweetscafe.com) where everything is delicious, then walk about a block down the, er, main drag to Shop Curator (14010 Mactaggart Ave.; 360.820.9912), a decidedly funky gallery/treasure trove of natural curiosities, found objects, handmade jewelry and visual art by area artists.
One of the key challenges in debating gun safety is a lack of concrete information on the impacts and causes of gun violence, driven, in large part, by a nearly two-decades-long ban on funding Centers for Disease Control research into the topic. As a result, the conversation often turns anecdotal and ideological, and leads to serious misconceptions including scapegoating mentally ill people as more likely to be violent than the rest of the population, a belief Stacey Schultz