(Updated Tuesday with reaction from CSIHS’s head football coach, mayor’s comment, and K-5 STEM teacher’s view)
(12th Man Flag at West Seattle Corporate Center, Thursday photo by Christopher Boffoli)
ORIGINAL STORY, 4:39 PM MONDAY: In case you were wondering: Seattle Public Schools superintendent José Banda says school WILL be in session on Wednesday – no day off for the Seahawks’ parade (though coach Pete Carroll suggested it). Here’s his message:
Congratulations to the Seahawks on an amazing season and Super Bowl win! It’s been so fun to see our school communities get into the spirit these last few weeks. I’ve enjoyed seeing the photos and videos of our students and staff celebrating the Seahawks.
We have received questions about the parade on Wednesday, which starts at 11 am. Seattle Public Schools will not close or dismiss school early because of the parade. Parents who wish to take their students out of school can, but per state regulation, it will be treated as an unexcused absence. While we support the team, academics must come first and it’s important not to lose a day in the classroom.
We know this is a historical event for our community and we also know that for many of our students, their school community is a place where they will celebrate and come together to talk about pride, sportsmanship and teamwork. We encourage our students and staff to wear blue on Wednesday in honor of the Seahawks.
We are working with the City on transportation issues for the day and we will work hard to minimize disruptions. However, families should expect bus delays in the afternoon on Wednesday.
Let’s hope this is the first of many Seahawk Super Bowl wins!
ADDED MONDAY MORNING: Head coach of the Chief Sealth International High School Seahawks‘ football team, Luther J. Carr III, has something to say about this (shared with us via e-mail):
Why aren’t the Seattle Public Schools released to attend tomorrow’s Seahawk Parade? As an employee of the Seattle Public Schools I am disgusted to hear that teachers and students are not allowed (in other words school is not out; NO SCHOOL) to attend tomorrow’s Seahawk Parade. Superintendent Banda has told students that they will be marked absent if they attend the Seahawk Parade. How unpatriotic is that?
Highline Public Schools, immediately south of West Seattle, will stay open but will allow excused absences.
12:41 PM UPDATE: Thanks to Laura for pointing out in comments that Mayor Murray is speaking out about this:
It is my hope that the school district will excuse absences for students who want to join their family during the #celebrate48 events
— Ed Murray (@Mayor_Ed_Murray) February 4, 2014
1:45 PM UPDATE: Another view from a local Seattle Public Schools teacher who says he’s also sending it to, among others, Richard Sherman of the Seahawks and Mayor Murray:
My name is Ronen Gluck, and I am a 3rd grade teacher at K-5 STEM Elementary School in West Seattle. I am writing as a representative of my students, but also as a representative of all students, staff, and families in our community.
Having taken an informal poll around the school this morning, we are looking at anywhere from 25%-50% of our students being absent from school tomorrow in order to attend the Seahawks victory parade. Assuming similar percentages across other sites in the Seattle Public Schools system, with nearly 50,000 students at 95 schools, we are facing a lost day of learning for a significant portion of our students. Regardless of Washington State OSPI requirements for instructional time and union-negotiated school days, this event has created a scenario in which we, as teachers, will be unable to serve our students.
We are not asking for the parade to be rescheduled (though you might consider holding the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLIX victory parade on a Saturday or Sunday). We are simply voicing our concern over a loss of essential instructional time. What concerns us more, however, is the message that this sends to our students and to the community as a whole. Our students and their families have been asked to choose between a day at school and a day downtown celebrating the success of our local football team. Granted, understanding and promoting civic pride is an integral part of educating the next generation of socially conscious citizens, but when this pride is given higher status than the educational process that will create this informed citizenry, we need to reconsider where our priorities lie.
So much media attention has been given to Richard Sherman in the past few weeks, much of it focusing on his exemplary academic history as parallel to his stellar athletic performance. We are encouraged to believe that the professional athletes, who we as a nation hold in such high regard, are more than one trick ponies. The colleges and universities that groom them and send them up to the NFL tout the importance of education, and higher academic standards set by the NCAA in recent years will hopefully help to ensure that these institutions are held to their promises. Seahawks players have given their time and money to charities and other social causes, including making visits to local elementary schools, and for that they should be praised. But when an event of such size and significance as tomorrow’s parade is held during a school day, that message of “stay in school, kids” is irreparably undermined. As the arguments on both sides of the discussion regarding Mr. Sherman have repeated ad nauseam, actions speak louder than words.
And so I make a humble request of Mr. Sherman, his teammates, the Seattle Seahawks organization, Mayor Murray, and all those who claim to put our students’ education first: stand in front of the television cameras and microphones, take to the social media outlets, and let our students know where your priorities lie. Tell them that a single day of school is more important to their future than ditching class for a parade. Superintendent Banda has sent a letter reminding families that schools will not close or dismiss early tomorrow. Teachers such as myself and my colleagues have had their say. Now it’s time for our role models to be role models.
Thank you very much.
2:31 PM TUESDAY: Now the district says it’s up to individual principals whether to excuse absences or not. We have put this in a separate story.