Monday, April 12, 2010

Here's a Fun Event but I Wasn't Invited, Were You?

I've seen an interesting invitation to an event sponsored by Stand for Children. Its title is "Help Stand for Children Move Education Reform Forward" and it is scheduled for tomorrow night. The recommended donation is $250 (gulp) but all donations are welcome. It is being held at a private home with the speakers being Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Rep. Reuven Carlyle. Here is the stated "goal" but I couldn't say if it is the goal of the evening, the goal of Stand or the goal of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Rep. Carlyle:

Our Goal; With your help, we can build the political influence necessary to elect education reform champions and advocate for policies to improve performance in our public schools.

Now there's a mouthful. Is it Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's job to attend private fundraisers to exert political influence? What is an "education reform champion"? And, lastly, is the inference that the current leadership in SPS is NOT advocating for policies to improve performance in our public schools?

Alas, I was unable to attend. Please, by all means, discuss among yourselves; I'll be interested to hear your reactions. (I know some folks at Stand so I'll ask them myself.) Sometimes this business of ferreting out information can be highly entertaining and I'm sure it drives some people slightly wild wondering how Charlie and I find out so much information. It's amazing (and gratifying) how many contacts we have in all directions from the years toiling in this district.

98 comments:

uxolo said...

How can a nonprofit raise money outright for political reasons? Does that mean the donations are not tax deductible?

(WV: words)

seattle citizen said...

I know a teacher who was contacted by Stand For Children when they first started setting up shop here about a year ago. That teacher reports that S4C sent a person to the school to try and recruit the teacher to their cause, but it became apparent that while they claim to be working to create "coalition" and provide parents/guardians with a voice, they are actually merely yet another organization bent on reforming teachers.

As Charlie has pointed out, it's the individual schools and individual students who need help, and this focus on teachers is disingeneuous.

Here's Stand For Children's Board:

Gun Denhart
Founder, Hanna Andersson Corporation

Julie Mikuta, Chair
Partner, New Schools Venture Fund

Laurene Powell
Board Chair, College Track

Jonah Edelman, Ex Officio
Chief Executive Officer, Stand for Children

David Pollock
Private Equity Investor

Don Washburn
Private Equity Investor

Chris said...

I have no comment. At the moment I am completely unable to come up with anything but rude sounds.

ParentofThree said...

"Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you."

Replace with
Clowns with Alliance 4 Ed
Jokers with Stand 4 Kids

Dora Taylor said...

From:

http://bluemassgroup.com/diary/19352/stand-for-childrens-stands

"The Stand for Children 2008 annual report lists the major donors to the charitable arm (p.10).The list of donors of a quarter of a million dollars or above reads as follows:
Joshua and Anita Bekenstein
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
New Profit, Inc."

Need I say more?

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2009/Pages/Stand-for-Children-Leadership-Center-OPP1002588.aspx

What do they stand for? I'll tell you what they stand for. They stand for the reformites agenda. That includes the Broad and Bill Gates.

They stand for union busting, performance pay, high stakes testing and charter schools.

It's another astro turf organization boosted up by big money from Gates. It's an organization that leads the unwitting public to believe that teachers and parents have come together in numbers and support their agenda.

And Melissa, they would not invite folks like you because you might actually question their motives and goals. That would put a damper on the evening's events.

wseadawg said...

How long have I been saying this is all about politics and pushing the reform agenda?

Prioritizing the building of "political influence" to enact reforms that will take hold tomorrow means exactly one thing: Screw today's kids and families. They are what stand between the future seen by Broad, Gates, MGJ and Co.

This isn't about today's kids in the system. This is about the reformers and their hegemony, and creating the world of the future they want to see.

Can we all see now how things like the CVS will be taken and used by groups such as these to be turned against us and our kids?

It's way, way past the time to wake up and smell the coffee folks. This "political influence" they speak of is known as "corruption" elsewhere. MGJ, a reform agenda Lieutenant, has no business attending such meetings, but nothing will stop her multi-conflicted self from attending.

Embracing any of these foreign-invader special interest groups is tantamount to selling our own kids and communities down the river.

Did you all read the times piece a week ago about RTTT? If we "win" that money, each WA student will get a whopping $22, reduced to probably $5, if any of it ever actually reaches the classroom.

So let's all jump on the "Reform" bandwagon and sign our kids over to Broad, Gates and Duncan and their 21st Century factory education models.

And you folks in Carlyle's district should be giving him hell for associating with out-of-state organizations bent on screwing his own constituents over. What's he, another Slade Gorton in the making?

wseadawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dora Taylor said...

And, why is our supe attending this event? I think that's a good question to ask of our superintendent.

If she is gong to go out there after business hours and raise money, it should be so that we can pay for more teachers, much needed school supplies or our counselors.

I don't know how long the supe is going to continue to thumb her nose at the rest of us while she so blatantly follows through with the Broad's agenda.

How long is it going to take, folks, before we demand a stop to all of this? She's going to get away with it as long as she can, as long as we allow her to.

Dora Taylor said...

And another thing. (I think that you can tell that this is really p--- me off.)

Some of us are looking at who is backing the reform movement in this country and how much money a relatively smalll amount of people are spending in restructuring our education system with no experience in the area of education.

The irony is that with all of the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being spent and raised, they could eliminate many of the problems in our educational system by paying for more teachers, creating smaller classes, providing enrichment programs and ensuring that each child has the books and other materials necessary to succeed.

Instead these highly egotistical individuals with their paternalistic view of the rest of us have deemed that their ideas on education, which so far have failed in terms of Gates' efforts (the High School of the Future) and Broad's (the Broad's Principal Academy)and Arne Duncan's (Renaissance 2010),are far superior than what our own educators in this country with years of experience could devise.

That's what it boils down to. And because they have to succeed at this (because they have at other efforts that have nothing to do with education), they will blindly do everything they can, throw as much money at it that they have, to prove that they know best and also leave a legacy that they both so much want to have and will pay anything to buy.

seattle citizen said...

Stands For Children Leadership Center, as reviewed by Better Business Bureau (in, I believe, 2007):
[note 32 paid employees, expenses of 2.2 million for “programs”: 32 employees take just about all that, so they raise funds to do their work, then use their employees to lobby, train, whatever. Looks like they used to do some “better” stuff, such as helping communities secure buildings and other supports for education, but now they’re on this “teacher quality” schtick. If, as has been reported, a couple of the “usual suspect” foundations is funding most of their efforts, we know where they got the instructions to focus on those nasty ol’ teachers]
http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/
children-and-youth/stand-for-children-leadership-
center-in-portland-or-3167

Stand for Children Leadership Center
516 SE Morrison Street,
Suite 420 Portland, OR 97214

Web Address: www.standleadershipcenter.org

Year, State Incorporated: 1996, District of Columbia
Affiliates: Stand for Children
Stated Purpose: "to teach everyday people how to join together in an effective grassroots voice in order to win concrete, long-lasting improvements for children, at both state and local levels."
SFCLC builds local and statewide networks of grassroots advocates capable of convincing elected officials to invest in and reform children’s programs. Following specific priorities chosen by the organization’s members, SFCLC focuses on securing adequate funding for public schools and reforming education policies and practices to help children thrive academically, giving them the opportunities they need to become successful, productive citizens.
Chief Executive : Jonah Edelman, Executive Director
Compensation*: $118,486

Chair of the Board: Don Washburn
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Private Equity Investor

Board Size: 6

Paid Staff Size: 32
Source of Funds
Grants and contributions 2,399,603
Special events 155,751
In-kind donations 50,258
Other income 36,974
Investment income 26,525
Membership dues 360
Total Income $2,669,471
Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses
Programs: 87% Fund Raising: 10% Administrative: 3%

Total income $2,669,471
Program expenses $2,229,535
Fund raising expenses 258,944
Administrative expenses 90,571

Total expenses $2,606,050
Income in Excess of Expenses 63,421
Beginning net assets 1,141,458

Ending net assets 1,204,879
Total liabilities 95,827
Total assets $1,300,706

seattle citizen said...

Alliance
LEV
S4C

How many other "coalitions" are being paid by Gates/Broad to focus their efforts on "teacher quality"?

This is a full-court press, and we know EXACTLY who is behind it, who is funding the push-polls, who is directing the Times to focus only on the TQ "issue" and ignore any suggestions by the community that maybe teachers need the support of extra time, etc...

Who else is the minion of the Foundations, pushing the wooden gift horse through the gates of Seattle schools?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

What amazes me is that Gates is the product of a private high school that honors and supports its teachers. You'd think he'd realize that small class sizes and teachers who have the time and resources to do their jobs well is what makes the difference.

My child's private school is pretty expensive, but for the money we get some truly amazing teachers (who are well-paid and respected by the school's administration). The result is an atmosphere where the students respect and appreciate their teachers.

This movement to demonize teachers and foist all of the blame onto them and their unions is similar to the movement that blames government for all of our problems. We've been over this ad infinitum…yes there are SOME bad teachers out there but the means to remove them from the classroom is already there; principals just need to exercise their power on this one.

I'd like to see a movement that focuses on the accountability of society to our children on every level. Let's see Gates and company tackle the roots of poverty—which are more invasive than the non-native blackberry.

hschinske said...

Dora, I agree. If all the money being thrown around on these coalitions and things, even just locally, had gone into an endowment for Seattle Public Schools, we'd all be a lot better off.

Helen Schinske

Dora Taylor said...

Seattle Citizen,

To answer your question with just taking a few relationships off of our "Lines of Influence" flow chart that we are developing, there are:

Gates which fully funds TR3

http://www.nctq.org/tr3/sponsors.jsp

which is an arm of the NCTQ.

The Gates Foundation also has a STEM division.

Broad funds KIPP, Teach for America (who is getting pushed to start working in SPS) and of course, our own school system through grants, Broad residents and our superintendent.

And, our superintendent and DeBell are on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education.

And from the Alliance website, these are categories of activities that receive funding from different sources. I particularly like the one regarding "School Board Development":

College Readiness –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Boeing Company

Community Engagement –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Data, Assessment, and Performance Management –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

School Board Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Staff Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation, and
The Stuart Foundation

Dora Taylor said...

To tackle the root of poverty in terms of doing the right thing, these people need to start paying taxes so that we can fully fund education. It's amazing to me that these same people don't pay their share and then turn around and become the "great" philanthropists with all of the money that is not paid back into our system.

See:

Bill Moyers on "Greed"
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01082010/watch.html

Why Are 25 Hedge Fund Managers Worth 658,000 Teachers?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/les-leopold/why-are-25-hedge-fund-man_b_531420.html

Too Much Money
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_28/b3942001_mz001.htm

wseadawg said...

If it mentions "Teacher Quality" anyhow, anywhere, the money traces back to Gates/Broad/Walton/the GAP's founders, etc., etc. It's all the same select group of people funneling their money through shell organizations they team up with to create their astroturf fig-leaf of legitimacy in local communities.

They can't create real grass roots, because they know informed people won't buy their ideas hook, line and sinker. Thus, they have to use titles that exploit our concerns for kids, such as "Stand for Children" when in truth, they should be called:

"Stand for Privatization and Corporatization of Public Schools the the Future Consumers of our Products and Technology to secure our future Income Streams and Market Shares.

But they'd have to prize honesty and integrity to do that. Misleading and exploiting people is much easier.

Dora Taylor said...

One last thing.

The Bill Moyers interviews are very enlightening. I would start by viewing those and then listen to his commentary.

Joan NE said...

Exanding on S-C's list of "coalitions recieving money from Gates/Broad to focus their efforts on "teacher quality"?", by adding to this list orgs promoting the corporatist education reform agenda:

Alliance
LEV
S4C
CPPS
Excellent Schools Now Coalition
Partership for Learning
Our Schools Petition organizers
NCTQ=Nat'l Center for Teacher Q.
OSPI
Ron Dorn
Seattle Council PTSA
Washington State PTA
WEA
SEA
Schools First

====Notes=====

I am not sure, but have heard that National PTA has gotten or gets funding from Gates.

State PTA lobbying organizations are required to follow the National org's agenda.

Karenw@strategies360.com is the contact for both Excellent Schools Now and the "Our Schools" petition.

Schools First: guilt by association with Lisa McFarlane, co-founder and employee of LEV.

Washington State PTA is a member of the Excellent Schools NOw Coalition), and advocated for SB6696.

Seattle Council PTSA leaders were co-authors, and then promoted the "Community Values Statement."

Local leaders of PTA are or have been members of Schools First and A4E Educational Investments Committe.

SEA has contributed to campaigns of Board Members that are enabling the reform;

WEA endorsed SB6696.

Joan NE said...

Is anyone going to the event tonight? It might be constructive to go there and try to find out who is attending, and to display "MARIA YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE!" signs. I can't go, but wish I could.

San Francisco got rid of a Broad superintendent by the public making her feel most unwelcome at her every public appearance.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, why WEREN'T you invited to this event? You joined the coalition that got co-opted by the Alliance's coalition; was THAT coalition invited?

I wonder, Melissa, if the people who signed the community values statement understood that it would be just another piece of ammo for the "teacher quality" crowd to use to bust the union, co-opt minority and low-income concerns and lack of savvy (by convinving them that it's the teachers' fault their children aren't learning)

What is the PTSA and the other groups who have fed the fires of "teacher quality" going to do to stop it? They have been used, and must, by now, understand that. What will they do to "out" this agenda and admit a mea cupla for their part in it?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

So sad to see that Bill Moyers will be leaving PBS at the end of April. He's been one of the few voices of reason on many of these issues.

And Dora—yes, the rich must pay their fair share of taxes, but it goes much deeper than just fully funding education (which, of course we must do). We also need to "work on" the American public in general to help them understand that poverty is not a state of choice and that the country as a whole will benefit if we can finally win the war on poverty.

Dora Taylor said...

Strategies 360 has a very impressive client list and I am sure that they're not cheap.

http://www.strategies360.com/casestudies/clients/listing/index.html

They put together the Our Schools Coalition petition that is circulating regarding "teacher quality" that I am sure is there to try and influence the teachers' union negotiations just as the CVS was an attempt to do the same. The CVS was also brought to you by the Alliance.

Members of this "coalition" that back this petition include the Alliance and LEV.

I am discovering that there is a lot of Broad and Gates seed money that goes to various organizations so there is an appearance that the face of this ed reform movement is grassroots but it isn't. Just follow the money and you will see that for yourselves.

Dora Taylor said...

Solvay Girl,

I agree. We can only go as fast or as far as the slowest among us. That means ensuring that everyone can eat, has a place to live, is healthy and educated. It's also the right thing to do, for us to take care of each other.

They have found that in countries where, for example, women are not educated or equals, the countries' economy is much worse than in countries where women are educated, work and are on more of an equal footing to men.

Dora Taylor said...

And to add to that. When the women are better off, the children are better off also.

wseadawg said...

Re: the CVS. Was it co-opted, or used like and affidavit, tying its signatories down to a position they can't later retreat from?

I see it more as something along the latter lines, and I'm over blaming people who signed it in good faith, other than wishing they hadn't. Whatever.

The issue today is what to do about it, if anything. I think it would be helpful for CVS signatories to issue a clarification rather than a Mea Culpa. MW gave her reasons for signing it, and the intent was never the issue. It was, for me anyways, the timing and the particular wording.

I do hope people will keep their guard up given the backdrop and atmosphere in which the CVS was signed this time, and any like statements in the future will not only spell out what they stand for, but explicitly what they do not stand for, as well. Unfortunately, the CVS didn't do that, so it could be misinterpreted by Reform groups who say "See, See, See, Seattle Parents Want Reform!"

Nothing stops the PTSA from issuing a clarification, and from what Ramona H said at the Board Meeting a week ago, it sounded to me like she might be open to doing that.

I think it's time for a REAL Grass Roots group to form. Enough nationally sponsored, out-of-state, agenda-driven organizations covering Seattle in Astro Turf.

Channeling Emmet Watson and Lesser Seattleites everywhere, I say it's time to "Run the Bastards Out!"

seattle citizen said...

Here's the advisory board for Washington branch of Stand For Children:
Connie Ballmer Founder, Partners for Our Children [Steve Ballmer of Microsoft is her husband]
Judy Bigelow Director, Fordham Street Foundation
Kathy Binder Community Volunteer
Judy Bushnell President, Bellevue School Board
Dr. Doreen Cato Executive Director, First Place School
Carrie Eiting Van Roekel Former Vice President of Marketing with Microsoft & Expedia; Community Volunteer
Laura Kohn Executive Director, New School Foundation
Bill Sherman Attorney, Sherman and Leary, PLLC
Jennifer Vranek President, EducationFirst Consulting

seattle citizen said...

So EducationFirst is on the Advisory board for S4C. Turns out that EdFirst was founded in 2006 to steer reform. Turns out that its Founding Partner, Jennifer Vranek, "was an advocacy grantmaker for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation"
What a surprise.

"Jenn founded Education First Consulting in 2006 based on three beliefs: Education reform must be the nation’s top priority, radical change in schooling is essential, and improvement will require new ways of thinking and doing. Jenn has partnered with local and state policymakers, education advocates, and foundation and business leaders in more than 20 states to analyze education improvement options, move public policy agendas forward, and generate public and educator support for reform. Her work focuses on strategy, education policy analysis and communications."

seattle citizen said...

Kathy Binder, S4C advisor, is also on the Board of LEV.

Joan NE said...

Off topic a bit - but I was asked about why I have written elsewhere on this blog that Maria and the Broad Foundation (and the school choice advocacy movement in general) have "been so successful."

I just want to clarify that I mean by this.

The reform movement has been a catastrophe for children, professional teachers, and communities. It has been especially harmful to minority children and children from low-income families.

When judged by its true core priorities, however, the movement has been quite successful. Here are examples on a national scale:

1. The Broad Foundation has succeeded in placing their superintendents in a significant number of the one hundred districts that are on its hit list.

2. Mayoral control has been won in a number of these districts.

3. Many of the Broad-hijacked districts are aggressively pursuing opportunities to restructure schools and create opportunities for charter schools. Seattle will likely be in this category in one year from now.

4. The Broad Foundation's "investments" in charter schools have grown considerably just in the one year between the publication of the 2008 and 2009 Broad Foundation annual reports.

5. The Obama Administration is ardently and openly supporting and promoting charter schools as a central goal of U.S. Federal education policy

6. State legislatures are adopting laws that are favorable for charter schools

seattle citizen said...

Laura Kohn, advisory board for S4C, also comes to us from Microsoft.

Here's her bio:

Laura Kohn currently serves as the Executive Director and President of The New School Foundation (www.newschoolfoundation.org), an organization that supports a public school initiative serving low income students and their families. Prior to that, Laura served for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as an education policy advocate for education reform in Washington State, as well as working for the Washington State Office of the Governor as an executive policy advisor for K-12 education. Ms. Kohn has been a Director in the Office for Education for the City of Seattle, a Program Manager for the Alliance for Education (www.alliance4ed.org), a research associate for the Center for Reinventing Public Education, and a research assistant for the RAND Corporation (http://www.rand.org).

seattle citizen said...

So I'm not even done yet, and four of the eight or so advisory board members for Stand For Children Washington come from Microsoft or have a strong MS connection.

Alliance, LEV, S4C...they're all interconnected, interwoven, and "they're like their horses: Somebody sure trained 'em."

Dora Taylor said...

Joan,

And the worst of their successes is having their old Chicago pal, Arne Duncan, placed as Secretary of Education.

From the Broad Foundation's Annual Report for 2009 Eli Broad gushes forth:

"The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of
Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted."

Joan NE said...

Here are examples of Maria Goodloe-Johnson's success at locally promoting the core priorites of the corporatist education reform movement:

1. The Board approved a strategic plan that the Broad F. can be proud of.

2. MGJ has brought in a number of "Broad Residents" and inserted them into "cabinet" positions

3. Several key initiatives have been initiated in the mere two and one-half years since MGJ was hired: These include

a) Capacity Management
b) elimination of open school enrollment
c) implementation of MAP testing
d) curriculum alignment,
e) performance management
f) training principals to be "instructional leaders" is well-under way.

4. The community has agreed to fund (via BTA III) the infrastructure for high stakes testing. This includes:

a) student data warehousing
b) implementation Core24
c) building computer labs for Core24 testing
d) the creation of District assessments in every course, with the intent that students will not get course credit unless they pass the district assessment.

5. Additional key initiatives are being pursued via the union contract negotiations

a) merit pay
b) staffing of schools with alternative-pathway certified teachers (i.e., certified by, e.g., Teacher-for-America and New Teachers for New Schools )

seattle citizen said...

Here's my official list of those organizations that are "coalitions" for "the community" that all seem to be connected back to Gates (and are also connected to each other, and perhaps to other "foundations" such as Broad and Walton, et al):
*Alliance for Education
*League of Education Voters
*Stand For Children
*Center/Reinventing Public Education

any others?

wseadawg said...

When it gets down to individual people from various organizations, I want to be clear that despite my rhetoric, I don't doubt that many of these folks have good, or what they feel are good, intentions.

What bothers me is the lack of transparency and the apparent need that both individuals and organizations feel to engage in all this semi or non-transparent back room politicking and outflanking of, well, the community.

Good ideas sell themselves. Controversial and/or unproven ideas should be openly debated in the sunlight, not cooked in think tank ovens, given a shiny paint job, and slipped into the public sphere through back-room, anti-democratic means.

As I've said before, these groups are conducting themselves like D.C. think tanks and lobbying organizations, pushing an agenda that involves my children and my community, and I object to it being done TO us, instead of FOR us, and WITH us.

Almost nothing is as sacred to the community and children as our schools, and the stakes could not be higher.

On matters of such import, I wish I didn't have to dig and dig to uncover people's affiliations and funding sources. I wish these orgs and their reps would fully disclose, in an open and public way, what they believe, what they want, and how they intend to procure it, so the public could engage beyond the phony, after-the-fact, surveys, polls, endorsements and such.

Seems the reformers have decided that simply doesn't work, or they don't want to dirty their hands with public engagement, so they'd prefer to simply insert cash and receive influence.

That may be how it's done. But it's offensive, destructive, and wrong. There is a right way to reform things, without demonizing people, but if that's the game the reformers insist on playing against our teachers, then I hope they are prepared for harsh receptions all over town.

Dora Taylor said...

Seattle Citizen,

I would like to add CPPS to the list.

They initially received seed money from Gates and they have been on every petition and committee that has to do with "teacher effectiveness" and performance pay.

What I am curious about is the fact that this group seems to be only made up of three people but they pop up everywhere whenever ed reform is being introduced to the Seattle public.

I asked the president why they haven't had a meeting since last year and received a reply that they were too busy with the SAP to have one. The website shows the last newsletter was issued in October of last year. The site is dormant and yet CPPS is touted as being this grassroots organization that is all over ed reform.

Anyway, I would pencil them in.

seattle citizen said...

Here's the revised official list of those organizations that are "coalitions" for "the community" that all seem to be connected back to Gates (and are also connected to each other, and perhaps to other "foundations" such as Broad and Walton, et al):
*Alliance for Education
*League of Education Voters
*Stand For Children
*Center/Reinventing Public Education
*CPPS

Dora Taylor said...

Getting back to this evening's soiree, because the Alliance is a "non-profit" organization, they might have to disclose who attends the event and who donates to this evening's cause.

Stu said...

How long is it going to take, folks, before we demand a stop to all of this? She's going to get away with it as long as she can, as long as we allow her to.

As long as the Gang of Four exist, we have no say in any of this. We can't get rid of MGJ and it's apparent that the board like the direction things are going. In addition, as long as organizations like this continue to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to "buy" elections and influence, our voices will continue to be ignored.

The only way this is going to change is with a non-reform majority on the board. I don't believe this will ever happen with the election process as it is now 'cause "their" side can raise unlimited funds. Perhaps the recall is the way to go?

Depressing.

stu

seattle citizen said...

Hmmm, I went on their website and there is nary a peep about an event tonight. Maybe it's only for the lucky few who are already "on board" and not for us mere commoners.
Shame: I wanted to go.

Dora Taylor said...

stu,

That does sound enticing. Whether board members were required to step down or not, a recall movement would not look good for the politicos on the board who have future aspirations in the political arena.

Dora Taylor said...

Seattle Citizen,

So much for transparency.

Dora Taylor said...

And, if anyone doesn't think that Gates is all about high stakes testing, performance pay and union busting, take a look at:

http://www.nctq.org/tr3/search.jsp

The tr3 info that he fully funds.

Why else would they pay to know so much about teachers' unions around the country and the type of contractual agreements each district has with each union?

NCTQ was a big promoter of the CVS along with the Alliance. The NCTQ report was given out at the PTSA meeting when Ramona and Heidi were giving their spiel about the CVS to unsuspecting members. The Alliance was introduced at the beginning of that meeting and the NCTQ report was mentioned several times by the Alliance members.

One of the reasons given by the PTSA at that meeting for getting the PTSA's approval right then of the CVS and not waiting for community discussion was because they wanted it to be ratified before union negotiations which they said would start in March.

Joan NE said...

Melissa - do you happen to know the address for the event? If so, would you post it? There may be a few folks who would like to crash this party!

seattle citizen said...

Lest I be accused of having "low expectations" of the poor, or of minority groups that have, and continue to, suffer great oppression and suffering, I note that the PTSA, composed of many thoughtful people, endorsed this concept of "teacher quality." Whether this endorsement was fairly gained is beyond my ken. I'm a member of the PTA and I received no information about this endorsement.

But what does it say that all ranges of income and various intelligent perspectives have signed onto this sort of change?

Is this what people want?

Do they fully understand some of the implications of these reforms?

Forget the union, which in my opinion is the target of the current campaign, what about all the other ramifications? A standardizing of curriculum and assessment? A transformation of learning into percentages?

If people DO want this, then the battle is lost and we may as well pack it up and go home.

It would be an utter shame, of such magnitude that I can't even begin to express it, but "give the people what they want," eh?

Personally, because that would mean that people actually want to transform the whole thing into a quasi-private, quasi-pro-business, quasi-century-21-modern-techno-edubot, I'd have to seriously consider joining the ranks of the edusellers and making a buck. Since public education is THE exemplar of public citizenship (we pay to educate all children) and since it would then be dead (we pay to turn the whole thing's profit wheel,) I could only conclude that this country had finally given up on any semblance of recognition for public commons and public enterprise - the whole thing, due to the nature of corporate education, would die, becoming merely a listless arm of the corporation, feeding unformed minds to the mouth of the monster.

So I guess I'd have to join it. I'd have to join the new way, the new system that extracts public dollars in return for treating children, especially poor children and children of color, as numbers while those that can afford it seek qualitative education elsewhere.

Should I feel bad about thus turning to the task of profiting from these children? If the whole country becomes this semi-private education company, isn't that the end, anyway, of values and honor and giving of one's self to the community? At that point, it's each man and woman for him/herself, let the children learn the new way.

MathTeacher42 said...

Here is an excerpt from a League of Education Voters email today.

"• Moved education reform forward: We worked with a broad coalition of parents, educators and business and community leaders to pass reforms that will improve Washington's public schools and help our state win a federal Race to the Top grant. The reforms will help our teachers and principals be more effective and turnaround consistently low-performing schools. (Senate Bill 6696)"

I wish my union was PRO-ACTIVE ... but, if we did that, well ... that'd require a lot more work than the "work" spent complaining about the effectiveness of the other side's message.

B.M.

seattle citizen said...

True dat, MT42,
Where are the marches? Where are the education drives? Where are the conversations all over town that discuss the true impact of these "reforms" not just on the union but on the students who the union teachers teach? The union has, and can again, have positive effect on student learning: The union is teachers who can advocate for practices they see as valuable and push for those practices at the bargaining table. But lately it's all been response to the "other side," complaining about what's happening instead of standing up for what's right.

Sahila said...

If anyone doubts that there's an organised program in place to shape education in the way that private enterprise wants... see here:

http://www.biztools4schools.org/tools_for_action_overview

If you thought that some of us were being paranoid and that we had an irrational response to the influence-peddling being done by Broad, Gates, Walton, Milken etc, think again...

Did you know that Halliburton has an educational foundation and that it sends high school interns to Iraq? (read that on the weekend though cant find that particular piece of heartwarming news again now)

see here:

http://www.legoeducation.us/about/item.aspx?ap=3&art=314#private

http://www.halliburton.com/AboutUs/default.aspx?navid=992&pageid=2347

FOLLOW THE MONEY, PEOPLE, follow the money...

Dora Taylor said...

By the way, Charlie and Melissa, did you get your invitation to tomorrow morning's "briefing" by LEV and 360? Talk about controlling the spin, LEV has invited "Education bloggers and online journalists" to join them for coffee, tea, mimosas and pastries so that "outreach experts" will have the opportunity to "give the scoop and analysis of the 2010 legislative session and how those decisions will impact our kids". Excuse me, whose "kids" are they referring to? An outside organization is referring to my child as "our kids"? Anyway, the legislation that LEV worked so hard to pass was all about education reform, teacher performance pay and bringing outfits like Teach for America into Washington.

Someone is paying 360 a lot of money to be so hands-on with this PR.

Charlie Mas said...

I was invited to the briefing but I have to be at work at 10am on a Wednesday.

Education bloggers don't do it professionally. We have day jobs.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

This thread sounds more like a witch hunt than a fair, informed discussion. Most of the personal attacks are filled with inaccuracies. And, CPPS is not dormant, and has never been under the direction of the Gates Foundation. We're all-volunteer, so yes our web site isn't always up-to-date, but we do have a core of parent volunteers who spend lots of time with other parents. We got a grant years ago... no money from them since (although I'd be happy to take it as long as no strings are attached). We are just ordinary parents -- a lot more than three. Oh, but wait, I used to work for Microsoft, so I guess some of you already think you know everything about me...

none1111 said...

Andrew said: "This thread sounds more like a witch hunt than a fair, informed discussion."

Thank you Andrew. Totally agree.

There is certainly much to be frustrated with here in SPS. And there may be cause to be suspicious of certain tactics, situations and even some individuals. But things seem to have gotten out of hand.

As with most "witch hunts", eventually everyone and everything becomes a target. It would be great to get back to real, productive conversations.

We may not agree with all of their strategies, but I honestly doubt any of these people, up to and including Broad himself have evil intentions. There are far too many ways for people like him to make money and gain power to think this is just a corporate money grab. It's just that we all have different ideas about how to effect change.

Imagine for 2 minutes that you just found out you're the secret grandchild of Rockefeller, and you just inherited 5 Billion dollars. And you still carry the same passion for education that you do now. Wouldn't you try to use your money and/or influence to effect some material changes to our education system? You can't just "donate" it to the existing system, because 1) it's not sustainable, especially not nationwide. 2) throwing more $ into a broken system is like pumping water out of a sinking ship (it doesn't fix the problem, only the symptoms; you need to patch the hole).

Does anyone think the system is working well for ALL kids right now?? Are we naive enough to think that just getting more $ from the state will magically make it all better? If that were the case then all of the experiments (nationwide, not just here) where individual schools got significant extra funds would all be great success stories. And while some are, many are not, so it's not that simple.

To be clear, I am not a fan of the Broad model, which seems to essentially be "corporate-led charter schools". But people here should really get a grip and stop demonizing everyone around you just because they want to see some changes in our education system. Change CAN actually be good, if it's done thoughtfully, and has buy-in.

TechyMom said...

I'm with Andrew and none1111 here. Take a deep breath people. While there may be some people looking to make a buck from outsourced school jobs, there are also lots of other people who are trying to do right by kids, and just have a different opinion than you do about what will help.

Sully said...

Yup to Andrew and none 111. The witch hunt is out of control and it's becoming very irritating. I only have a short period of time per day that I can devote to reading and contributing to a blog and lately I feel like I'm wasting it.

It seems like every conversation turns into a Broad bashing, charter school bashing, or a conspiracy theory. And the word "education reform" has been put in the same category as the F bomb.

I don't mind differing opinions. Not one bit. But the broad bashers have become bullies, and dominate every conversation and thread no matter the topic.

Maybe it's time for some moderation? Maybe there could be an ongoing, but seperate thread just on education reform, Broad, and charter schools so those interested can entertain each other, and the rest of us don't have to sift through their posts in every other thread?

Full disclosure: My husband works at Microsoft, so I'm sure I'm considered "one of them".

seattle citizen said...

I'm not hunting witchs. I know there are good people (myself included, if I may) who are doing what they think is right.

But hey, hiring consultants to produce "surveys" (the first of which was apparently pulled when it becamse obvious it was slanted and MADE people select pre-ordained "community values") and throwing money into what, four different groups to steer conversations?

It's a well-known axiom that money buys power. In this case it's the power to direct public policy.

Is it a witch hunt ot trace the threads and connections of some people who seem to have their hand in many "coalitions," coalitions that are, really, only a few of the many parent/guardians and other concerned stakeholders and taxpayers? Coalitions that are funded by a couple of big-time "good people" foundations?

Would we accuse people who are concerned about the privization of our military for going on a "witch hunt" for following the money back from lobbyists to corporations like Blackwater or Xe or whatever it's called?

Yes, good people everywhere, but good people (myself included) can be misled, mis-informed. When the newspaper's editorial serves as a cheerleader for this biased survey, AND omits the points, from the survey, about prep time and collaboration; when state tests are abused so as to provide data that declares schools "failing," when the Superintendent is on the Board of a group that wants to privatize education and also on the Board of a group that profits from these insane tests (MAP might help in a classroom, but it's purpose is to measure teachers, under Broad's Teacher Quality initiative, which they've sold to various coalitions and newspapers around town...

Good people are being misinformed and manipulated. They're not witches, they're victims.

Who profits? Board members of test companies with visions of national connection and national reform.

uxolo said...

Thank you seattle citizen. Anyone who is in the education business is reading about the Broad influence in professional newspapers and journals. To think it does not exist is plain silly.

The connections are here. If you like the influence, you can disagree point-for-point on this blog. You cannot deny that this part of the country has a very high number of Microsoft millionaires, many of whom retired and indeed, have good intentions. But good intentions are not enough. See this article for how those good intentions work in the math education world.
http://www.math.wisc.edu/~askey/ask-gian.pdf

Sahila said...

History is littered with the destruction caused by good people wearing blinders, 'doing the right thing' at the bidding of people who have had an ulterior, dark motive/agenda...

Dont you know, "The road to perdition is paved with good intentions"

What's that other saying - "there are none so blind as those who will not see"

Dont believe us, dont take our word (and hard work) for it...

Go and do the (many, many hours of) research yourself... go talk with people in other parts of the country - you'll find exactly the same scenario - same game play, move by move - working itself out there, with all the same players behind the scenes...

Go here for a good place to start - you'll find facts, stats, reports and a list of other places to begin your research...

http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

I guarantee if you take a couple of hours to follow the trail of breadcrumbs, you'll find your way back to the gingerbread house....

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

As long as we're talking about people with blinders on... let me defend CPPS for a second, which is a group I'm in that is not driven by any outside agendas. We've worked on many issues, but I guess we touched a nerve with some of the folks here when we took on the issue of layoffs based on only seniority. We didn't take it on because of Broad, Gates, or Arne Duncan or some larger agenda -- we did it because parents across the city were complaining about it. Our petition that asked the district to look at other factors in addition to seniority was signed by parents from every single school community and every residential zip code in Seattle, as well as many teachers. It's easy to sling mud and accusations that we're being duped... but you're missing the point, and you're missing the opportunity to listen to community feedback -- exactly the accusations you're lobbing at other groups. And... on the original topic of this post: Given how politics works and the ability for corporations to give so much campaign money, we should all be happy that some pro-public school individuals with means are trying to counter that to keep the pressure on our state politicians to fund public education. We should be working together rather than attacking other parents who support public education. For instance, it is downright silly to imply that anyone who ever worked for Microsoft or the Gates Foundation (two separate organizations, btw) cannot have their own intelligent opinions and independent motives.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

"Witch hunt" unfortunately, is a pretty apt description of what the high-financed ed reformers are doing to teachers right now.

And with this latest frenzy of activity from the Alliance, LEV, Stand4C, the biased survey and push-pull, the uncritical coverage in the Times, all in time for the upcoming teachers' contract negotiations, and all without any genuine input from the parents and community of SPS, I think many of us on the blog and beyond are reacting to what is a stealthy, dishonest effort by forces outside of our community to influence our kids' schools according to their own agenda.

Andrew, I sense there are people like yourself who do genuinely care about y/our kids' schools, and we may simply disagree on some points. I for one don't agree with your focus in that op-ed you wrote last year, and which dovetailed very neatly with what is a national obsession of the reformites to force merit pay and high-stakes testing on our schools and kids. I also don't believe that poor teachers is the number one problem public schools are grappling with right now.

It would have been better if the Times had published a counterpoint to your article. But a balanced discussion of all these legitimate issues does not seem to interest the city's only printed newspaper of record.

Of course an affiliation with Microsoft, past or present, is not a sign of the devil. (That's a joke, btw.) But it is a fact that Microsoft and Gates Foundation money has disproportionately found its way to many pro-reformite causes, from the funding of the four school board members who now vote in lockstep with the superintendent and her reformist agenda, to yes, even seed money for CPPS.

It would be better for all of us if we could find common ground in this discussion, for we are the ones who are truly affected by what's going on in education right now -- it's our kids, our teachers, our profession the reformers are toying with.

My last point to all who complain about the focus on Broad and Gates on this blog and elsewhere: it's a simple fact that a number of billionaires with no expertise in education, indeed no experience attending or sending their children to public schools, are "investing" in public education right now, with expected "returns," trying to conform our schools to their own corporate image, whether it's a good fit or not, to the point where they are determining the direction and nature of public education in this country.

(I encourage anyone here to read Diane Ravitch's new book about all this: The Death and Life of the Great American School System -- How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education http://www.amazon.com/Death-Great-American-School-System/dp/0465014917/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271268409&sr=1-1)

They are doing it in a coercive (Race to the Top), stealthy manner (who among us asked the Alliance4Ed to spend $14,000 to bring NCTQ to town to critique our teachers?), and are not winning genuine public support for their agenda. Hence all the "coalitions" suddenly springing up overnight peopled by many of the same players.

What's more, the two main components of their agenda have proven to be seriously flawed -- privately run charter schools perform no better or perform worse than public schools, and merit pay does not make for better teachers or students.

So why should we be forced to change our schools for the worse?

Whether you agree with them or not, do you think it's okay for Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the WalMart Waltons and the GAP Fishers to have more of a say in what happens to your child in his/her school than you do?

--sp.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Clarification: The majority of privately run charter schools (46%) perform no better, or perform worse (37%) than public schools.

(Source: June 15, 2009 Study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache%3A1KCWs0WHX6cJ%3Acredo.
stanford.edu%2Freports%2FNational_
Release.pdf+%22charter+schools%22+
and+%22stanford%22+and+%2217+
percent&hl=en&gl=us&pli=1 "NEW STANFORD REPORT FINDS SERIOUS
QUALITY CHALLENGE IN NATIONAL
CHARTER SCHOOL SECTOR")

TechyMom said...

Privately run charter schools perform no better or worse ON STANDARDIZED TESTS OF READING AND MATH than do regular public schools. The same can be said of public alternative schools, and even private schools that don't require high test scores for admission.

That doesn't mean that they don't offer a lot of value to the students in them. Some offer an Arts or STEM focus. Others offer wrap-around child care, or internships, or 'soft skills' training. I wouldn't expect an Arts school to have higher-than-average standardized math scores. That doens't mean it shouldn't exist. I could be a great opporutnity for the right kid, who might very well be unhappy and unchallenged in a traditional school. Why is that bad?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

To me charter schools are bad when they take funds away from the public system. IMHO, privately-run charters should not use tax dollars—period. How would you all feel about a tax-funded charter that taught that the earth is only 6,000 years old? Military types like KIPP?

Public school systems need to work to create schools that can serve out-of-the-box populations. Seattle used to do this very well with magnet-type (all-city draw) schools like TOPS. If the jury finds that differently-run schools are essential for every child to get a quality education (and I believe this may be the case), then the public school system needs to work to develop those schools and make them available to the students who need them.

Privately-run charters are just private schools under a fuzzy banner. The only real difference will be that more families would have access without the expense. How is that then fair for anyone with a child in private school to have to pay that tuition?

Should the charters then only be available to to FRL families? We've already seen how schools like South Shore—created to help the children from low income families in the neighborhood (and doing a good job of it)—are accessed by middle- and upper-income families. Surely our Super can afford to pay for pre-school.

Personally, I am not pleased at all with the industry that is growing up around "public" education. Test-creators, proctors, evaluators; text-book publishers, tutoring services, foundations with highly-paid staff; and yes, charter schools—all benefit as long as "public" school systems struggle.

As noted before, I believe the issue is poverty and a culture that rejects education (and that runs across a number of demographics). Charter schools won't fix that.

TechyMom said...

I don't particularly like KIPP, but I don't see much difference between it and Madrona. I'm not the target market for either, and I'm willing accept that some families value this type of education. I'm not a big fan of the military, but I know several people for whom a few years of military service after high school was the right choice. It's not my place to make that call for them.

I also don't see much difference between TOPS and some of the arts-focused charter schools in California. I do think the charter document can protect 'different' schools from district-level politics. The South Shore MOU has a similar effect.

So, to me, Charter schools and public alternative schools are two mechanisms to achieve the same ends. I think each has it's pros and cons, and I'm fine with either or both existing. What I'm not fine with is requiring that all public schools be the same, with no options for pedagogical style or curriculum focus, unless you can pay for private school.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

TechyMom: We're really on the same page. I love schools like TOPS and South Shore—schools that were developed in response to community desires and needs...so we've already shown that we can do it within the public system. I just don't want private enterprise feeding from the public trough.

seattle citizen said...

There might not be much difference in what charters or "public option schools" offer - each could offer unique programs. But the difference is in the "public-ness" of the schools: Charters, by definition, are not "public" schools in the sense of being held to the same policy framework and other considerations as are public schools. Charters are given, well, a charter, which declares them freed from some of the constraints facing other real public schools.

THIS is where I disagree with charters: The same sorts of schools could, as Solvay writes, be built in a public framework - why are we not doing that then? Why would we want to diffuse accountabily by signing away some of the policies and procedures?
Change them instead.

TechyMom said...

I guess I find some of the constraints to be, well, too constraining. I don't like how Summit, Nova, AS1 and other alt schools and optional programs have been treated by the district. I think having an MOU or a charter could have protected them. It seems to have done so for South Shore.

One of the things I like about both alts and charters is the idea of small-and-local. Charter chains don't offer that. I wouldn't be surprised if they have just as many annoying rules and politics as a school district.

I'm also not a big fan of outsourcing core competency. Some charter schools do seem to be companies that are 'feeding at the public trough', doing work that should be done by district employees.

But others aren't. They're public schools with extra money from a private source foundation or even a PTA, trying to do something a little different than a typical neighborhood school. I don't see this as much different than an endowment to a public university. That's not sinister, it's donating money to a good cause. Or South Shore. Or the McGilvra PTA raising $300,000. My reaction to anyone who is willing to donate to help all kids in a public school, rather than (or in addition to) just sending their own kid to private school, is "Good for you. Thanks."

Sully said...
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Sully said...
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Sully said...

Sovay said "Privately-run charters are just private schools under a fuzzy banner. The only real difference will be that more families would have access without the expense. How is that then fair for anyone with a child in private school to have to pay that tuition?"

How is it fair for anyone with a child in private school to have to pay tuition? Well, it's fair because you don't have to pay tuition, you could choose that "Privately run charter school" just like anyone else could. Now if you choose to shun the privately run charter school for a tuition based private school that is your choice - but you pay for it. Pretty simple.

If you really want to know what's unfair - it's the system we have now. Families like Solvay's with the means (and yes I know you sacrifice) send their kids to private school while lower income kids have to deal with whatever public school they happen to land in.

At least charters level the field.

And, yes, yes, I know our alt schools do what charters do. But they are just a shell of what they once were. They have become so watered down they are almost unrecognizeable as alts any more. And, yes, yes, I know we need to fight for them, but that's not doing our kids any good right now, is it.

wseadawg said...

AK: I don't believe I ever bashed you for working at Microsoft. But I do recall discussing performance evaluations with you and arguing that I didn't believe your experience there translated into qualifications to advocate for a similar process in public schools, particularly at RIF time.

In general, while I use many forms of technology everyday, and reap its benefits, I also suffer its limitations and consequences. A recent Stanford study showed that multi-taskers are actually not very talented at multi-tasking, and not very efficient either. I don't blame the technology companies for marketing their products, but according to that same study, our nation wastes 200 billion a year in lost productivity just from people being on Facebook, MySpace, and texting their friends all day long.

Everything has its ups and downs, so I hope I don't single people out for who they work for, or used to work for. But at the same time, we should be empirical and not advocate for systems that don't necessarily extrapolate from a private business model to a public education system, involving not just "customers" but actual citizens with constitutional rights to an appropriate education.

As for those decrying the "witch hunts," sure we get heated from time to time. But spare me the condescension of your tut-tut moral decency and superiority. We have a district led by a Broad Superintendant who is a closely aligned with the corporate leaders in this area and is clearly listening to them almost entirely while giving district parents the middle finger.

Thank God we have people with a pulse who get hot under the collar and blow off their steam on this blog. Is this not and entirely proper and preferable forum for people to do that?

The answer to speech you don't agree with is your own speech in the marketplace of ideas.

I wonder also if you who think the rhetoric is too heated have suffered at the hands of this superintendent and board as I and my family have. Have you been lied to repeatedly? Has SPS continually promised you things, and failed to deliver? Have you been called selfish, racist, or accused of being affluent or privileged because your kids are in a particular program? Have children you care about been screwed out of their before and after school program funds because the district increased the FRL thresholds? Have you looked into the faces of children and parents who are getting forced out of their schools and thrown to the winds because the district has better plans for the building?

Sorry, but I get really heated when adults who are supposed to care about the kids in the system, NOW, RIGHT NOW, not tomorrow, not next year, but right now, take money and resources they know darn well could help those kids and instead fund their pet projects while telling us all to tighten our belts.

Is there not something really wrong with that picture? Shouldn't people be angry and upset?

wseadawg said...

AK/none/Sully: Points well taken. But its more nuanced than you're laying it out to be. It's not about pumping water from a sinking ship. The question is why they aren't fixing the hole in the ship, at much less cost, than dismantling the ship at random, one side here, the keel there, then the rudder, then the keel again, and on and on.

How about laying out a clear plan and getting real community buy-in, instead of forcing everything upon us from the top down.

Involved parents are the greatest, most economical resource the district has. Isn't it just plain "bad business" to alienate and ignore them?

wseadawg said...

Sully: Don't forget the 35% or so of Charters that do worse than public schools. You have to take that into account too.

As I've said before, I'm not opposed to Charters Per Se, but come on folks. Any honest review of the Charter movement nationwide, the blackmailing of states to allow them or else by the Dept of Ed, etc. There are many, many downsides to Charters that go completely unreported by the press, and it's no secret why.

Sahila said...

You know, I wouldnt be so pissy about these reformers IF THEY HAD KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND THEY PAID TAXES, so that public schools were properly funded...

And we wouldn't be in this fix if schools were properly funded... So who has contributed most to this mess? The mega rich who dont pay taxes...

As I wrote elsewhere:
"Who the heck gave these uber-rich people - the (AIG) Broads, the (Microsoft) Gates, the (Walmart) Waltons, the (convicted junk bond king) Milkens - the right to think they know better than we public school parents what's best for our children and our communities?

Do their kids go to public school? Will they be affected by this horrendous experiment in social engineering aimed at creating the ultimate working/consumer class, which Milken publicly avowed was the purpose of education?"

You do know/realise that our kids are not really people, children to these people, dont you?

You know that Gates is spending big money on 'health' in Asia and Africa, right? Hand-in-hand with Monsanto, peddling GMO seeds and forcing farmers to buy those seeds if they want assistance...

And did you know that there's huge dissatisfaction amongst local governments, NGOs and other (sometimes homegrown) aid groups about how Gates goes around doing his 'good works'... they complain that the Gates Foundation comes in, takes control, ignores local communities and local conditions, imposes a solution from the top down and wont take any notice of what the local experts say and what the communities want...

Where have I seen that before? Oh yes, in education reform funded by Gates and Broad et al, here in the US....

Chris said...

Thank god, Melissa and Charlie (not necessarily in that order) for this FREE (in both meanings of the word) discussion space.

I am grateful for this forum to talk about the alternatives to corporate ed reform. You'll have to forgive our rough edges, because we just don't have the big bucks to hire PR firms and we do get a little frustrated that the ones who do don't really represent a diversity of viewpoints.

Stu said...

And, yes, yes, I know our alt schools do what charters do. But they are just a shell of what they once were. They have become so watered down they are almost unrecognizeable as alts any more. And, yes, yes, I know we need to fight for them, but that's not doing our kids any good right now, is it.

This is the key part of your post, to me. Our alt schools have a history of being good and they're actively being taken apart and watered down by those in favor of the charter movement. If those same people stood up for the successful programs, and copies them throughout the district, half of our problems wouldn't exist. It's more important, however, for MGJ, the Broads, and the Charter Movement, to "have their way" than to improve what's there.

You talk about the "right now" but I would argue that, if you replicated the language immersion programs, fully supported Spectrum everywhere, and funded the alternative programs that exist, that would take a lot less time than the systematic dismantling of what we have and the subsequent "rebuilding" process.

Every time the district plans something for 2012 or 2014 or 2018, they're essentially saying screw you to the current student population. This is why some of us are so angry at the way things are going. The decisions being made are destructive and, in many cases, unnecessary.

I'm an APP parent so I tend to use APP as an example . . . here we go again, along with some other things.

Should APP have been split? That's a discussion that many are tired of having. However, there's an argument to be made that, in a time of great budgetary crises, perhaps they should have not spent the time splitting APP, thereby screwing up the Title 1 funding of two communities and halving the APP fundraising abilities. Should we have a STEM program at Cleveland? Many of us think it's a good idea. However, in a time of great budgetary crises, perhaps they shouldn't be spending a million dollars on the NTN contract that has nothing to do with STEM and offers nothing for the current Cleveland community. Should there be a new Project Management Plan? Perhaps. However, in a time of great budgetary crises, perhaps they shouldn't be taking money away from the schools -- and it's supposed to be about the schools isn't it -- and instead focus on improving what's in place.

Change for the sake of change doesn't help anyone and the amount of money that's going to go into the campaign to make Charter Schools legal could probably close the budget gap.

stu

seattle citizen said...

Techymom said
"I don't like how Summit, Nova, AS1 and other alt schools and optional programs have been treated by the district. I think having an MOU or a charter could have protected them. It seems to have done so for South Shore."
TM, the problem is that charters and MOUs are OUTSIDE the system, yes, with all it's "rules and regulations." These rules and regs are the codes WE as the public have developed. If they're bad codes, work to have them changed! If they're good codes that are not followed, work to have them followed! The Alternative Committee worked under the CAO for a year, coming up with a document that was a vision of what Alts, at least (not other types of options) were. This year's work resulted in the Alt Report of 2007.
Seen that lately?
The alts are being torn apart precisely BECAUSE they were unique and innovative: They challenge the necessity for charters and MOUs, while staying within the publicly enabled framework of public schools.

If there is no accountability towards policy and procedure in SPS, as some posit, then why, oh why, would there be any if we let SPS contract OUT parts of itself? There would be LESS!

"Here, we aren't following policy, like the ones around alts and program development, so we're gonna just write a contract with you, charter operator, and while we're busy not following our own policies, we will CERTAINLY not be on your case about the limited connections to us you have under contract. You're a free agent, do as you wish."

With MY money? Not a chance in h***.

Someone wants to donate to education? Fund smaller classes? Pay for daycare? Great! Write SPS a check with addendums stating purpose!

But to cut loose schools from the public system and give them public money REDUCES accountability. I won't stand for it: It's a giveaway of my tax dollars to agents not auhtorized to have them. I pay taxes for PUBLIC schools, run by PUBLIC employees, not so my money can be sent to some group who is not, bu contract or MOU, a public entity anymore.

Want the choices charters say they offer? Get downtown with all your buddies and demand that existing policy be enforced and new policy be designed to support that choice in a public framework. Otherwise, find a private school. (and I don't mean YOU, Techymom, I hope you'll stay in the public sphere forever!)

Sully said...

"But to cut loose schools from the public system and give them public money REDUCES accountability. I won't stand for it"

Unfortunately, you won't have a choice if SPS doesn't clean up it's act.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry but I didn't write this for it to be a witch hunt. I found out about an event which involved public education in Seattle and reported on it. That our Superintendent is involving herself in a PAC does seem troubling.

And, it's about Stand, not CPPS.

KIPP is Madrona on steroids. KIPP kids (and their teachers) have much longer school days.

"Involved parents are the greatest, most economical resource the district has."

Amen and why doesn't the district realize this?

Sully said...

Oh Melissa, I don't think any of the "witch hunt" comments were directed at you. You cover such a broad range of topics, and different issues on this blog, and do so with an open mind.

I think the comments were directed at several posters who continually tie Gates/Broad, Charter, Ed reform into every thread no matter the topic.

seattle citizen said...

Sully, I hope your comment isn't directed at ME.
(broadgatesduncanbroadgatesduncanbroadgatesduncanbroadgatesduncan)

Sully said...

If the shoe fits....

Maureen said...

wseadawg on 4/14,
...our nation wastes 200 billion a year in lost productivity just from people being on Facebook, MySpace, and texting their friends all day long.

And another $100 billion if you include time spent reading education blogs! : ) Couldn't resist!

seattle citizen said...

Hmm, Sully, it MIGHT fit (broadgatesduncan) but I'll point out that many threads lately, including this one, have to do with the initiatives that are so drastically changing Seattle Public Schools, the "coalitions" that are pushing for some of them, and the funding sources and media messaging behind these.
Sooo...if THAT shoe fits the thread, write it!

WV is having one of it's psycls

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Since I'm the one who first said this thread is sounding like a witch hunt, I'll clarify by saying that I think it's fine to question the superintendent, staff, or organizers (the original post). But, I think people should be more thoughtful before making personal attacks (with weak evidence at best) against unpaid volunteers, most of whom are also public school parents.

Yes, amen to "Involved parents are the greatest, most economical resource the district has."

So, why is it a bad thing for the superintendent to meet with a group of public school parents trying to apply political influence to our state legislature? Education is certainly competing against many other spending areas and powerful corporate lobbies with lots of money to spend. I wish politics didn't work this way, but given that it does, I sure hope concerned folks with the right intentions stay engaged, and I would hope the Superintendent would proactively try to steer the political influence in the ways that will best benefit the district. Whether she is or not is a fine question to ask, but politics certainly falls under the job description in my mind. And rather than attack these parents (who have every right to hold a private event to raise funds without inviting the general public), better to thank them and engage with them & try to educate them on the issues.

As an aside, I find it equally unwise when people single out communities that raise lots of money for their schools, as if it's a bad thing. Would we rather scare those people away, or engage with them as potential donors to other schools or city-wide initiatives? Most of the large donors for individual schools that I know ARE interested in helping out other schools and often give to other organizations.

Yes, resources can be misused and even the best of intentions don't always lead to the best results, but we want more engagement like this (parents & superintendent) -- not less.

Joan NE said...

Sully suggests "Maybe it's time for...seperate thread just on education reform, Broad, and charter schools so ... the rest of us don't have to sift through their posts in every other thread?"

The influence of the Broad and Gates has to do with everything of any importance going on in SPS right now.

I doubt you could name one signifant issue in SPS, for which failure to consider Broad/Gates influence would not be a significant omission.

Gate/Broad comes up in nearly every discussion on this blog, because nearly every discussion would be incomplete without considering this influence.

seattle citizen said...

Andrew, you write:
"So, why is it a bad thing for the superintendent to meet with a group of public school parents trying to apply political influence to our state legislature? Education is certainly competing against many other spending areas and powerful corporate lobbies with lots of money to spend."

It's a bad thing for a Broad graduate and Broad Board member (our superintendent) to try and apply political pressure because she IS part of that "powerful corporate lobby with lots of money to spend."

My issue isn't with the various LOCAL organizations, but with the outside influence on them, mainly in the form of money which buys "surveys" (bad ones) and the media (Seattle Times conveniently "forgetting" to mention the first three points about teacher planning time, and instead only mentioning the "teacher quality" aspects)

My problem is with the arms of major corporations reaching into Seattle and manipulating our local process to their benefit. The Superintendent is "joining with" local parents?! She's on the Boards of Broad AND NWEA; she's already an outsider with her own agenda, linked to outsider agendas. THAT'S the problem. She's not there advocating the community's message to Olympia, she's there as a Broad and NWEA representative advocating THEIR message through the mouths of these coalitions (some local, some not)

I don't like to see process manipulated, and that's what's going on. It's pretty apparent to me, and others, and it's not right.
Have you seen anyone 'fess up to the biases of the survey(s)? No? Well, there you have it.

gavroche said...

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

So, why is it a bad thing for the superintendent to meet with a group of public school parents trying to apply political influence to our state legislature? (...) And rather than attack these parents (who have every right to hold a private event to raise funds without inviting the general public) (...)


Do you really think Stand is just a homegrown bunch of public school parents from Seattle?

Who organized, runs and makes up Stand for Children?

Did you know they are based in Portland, Oregon, with operations in 6 states? (http://www.stand.org/Page.aspx?pid=1268)

They set up shop in Seattle just last year or so.

Here's their mission statement http://www.standleadershipcenter.org/page.aspx?pid=1621

This is not genuine, organic grassroots activism.

For one thing, genuine, organic, grassroots organizations do not have corporate investors and board members, as Seattle Citizen pointed out.

And as Melissa said, at this political fundraising event, Stand4C was operating like a PAC.

Should our School Superintendent, a public employee and servant, lend the power and influence of her position to a political lobbying group whose agenda does not represent the will of SPS families?

And in secret, apparently, since only a select group were invited

Sorry, but something is inappropriate about this. And the questions on this thread about this event and the Superintendent's attendance at it are perfectly legitimate.

wseadawg said...

Andrew said:

As an aside, I find it equally unwise when people single out communities that raise lots of money for their schools, as if it's a bad thing. Would we rather scare those people away, or engage with them as potential donors to other schools or city-wide initiatives?

Andrew, I totally agree with you in the sense that we need to be careful to condemn the "sins" and not the sinners, and criticize ideas without getting personal. That's what I try to do, though I may not always succeed. The last thing we need is class warfare, jealousy, and envy, mostly based on rumors or anecdotes, to undermine and destroy our common ground, which is substantial, I believe.

I felt it was a grave error last year for CPPS to invite NCTQ to town, given who NCTQ is, and who I believed CPPS was. (Are you aware that NCTQ gives its highest praise for states where greater than 50% of teacher evaluations are based on standardized test scores?) I know that most of what CPPS is about is on the up and up, but its hard to decipher what is organic and what is not, due to CPPS's "chapter" status of a national org, and how some of it's "community" oriented advocacy replicates what's been done elsewhere, not always successfully, and somewhat off-the-mark, IMHO, for what I think we should be prioritizing in Seattle. I'm aware that parents who joined CPPS began organizing beforehand, but again, it's hard to tell which hand is telling the other what to do, from an outsider's perspective. As is often the case, what is prioritized by an organization often defines it, and last year's Petition combined with NCTQ smacked of anti-union bias against our teachers. Timing, after all, is often everything.

But along with your concern about not alienating donors, what about the constant and chronic alienation of current parents and children in our schools? As Stu aptly points out, every time SPS talks about initiatives and goals for 2014 and beyond, they are basically telling us currently in their schools to tread water or sink on our own, and in the meantime, get out of their way or we'll get steamrolled.

I'm at the point where I feel MGJ and her PR department deserve all the criticism they get and then some. Remember, this is the person who arrogantly stated that she quit listening to parents when they spoke on topics she already made her mind up on, and of course, the infamous, "I don't lose sleep" comment.

I'm willing to forgive, to those who atone and ask, but I think I'd be a fool to forget, and I don't see much change in MGJ's attitude toward parents since last year, blackberrying and sleep-loss issues aside.

As MW reiterates time and time again, SPS just doesn't seem to give a whit what parents want or the concerns they express. It's the Five Year Strategic Plan, or Bust.

"Parents, step aside and be quiet. We're doing this, come hell or high water" is all I see.

wseadawg said...

And I should add that the issue of seniority at the time of RIFs is a legitimate concern, but there's a reason RIF's due to layoffs are strictly seniority based: If they aren't, they become a great vehicle for replacing good teachers who speak up too often.

Bad performance and RIF's are two different things, and it makes sense to treat them differently when you consider teh opportunity for abuse. Look no further than the news that broke yesterday in Washington DC where Chancellor Michelle Rhee fired 266 teachers supposedly for budgetary shortfalls, when in fact her CFO erred, declaring a 40 million dollar shortfall when in fact the district has a 34 million dollar surplus.

Grownup people play games. It's a fact of life. Given any powers, they tend to push its limits and abuse them.

And let's not forget the same administration that complains about RIF's and pushes for changes to that policy, is the same one that agreed to that process in two-party negotiations.

I have no issue with people who want performance to come into play when RIF's happen, but it's not the simple "union protecting their own (bad teachers)" issue that it gets presented to the public as, over and over. It needs to be fair.

Melissa Westbrook said...

C'mon Andrew, that's just a little disingenious. the Superintendent wasn't just "meeting" with a group. She was at a fundraiser for a PAC with a specific political agenda (I'll be interested to see what the Board has to say about this.) That is a VERY different thing than just "meeting" with a group.

So we get to ask? Does she support its agenda? What are education reform champions?

ParentofThree said...

Anybody know who exactly attended this function? and how many actually here public school parents?

Sahila said...

Melissa - someone I know sent a letter protesting the Supers presence at the event, citing the political nature of the event and the need for her to be seen as a neutral administrator of schools, not someone with a political agenda of education reform (which is what the event's stated purpose was - to further the cause of education reform)...

Harium wrote back to say he did not see anything wrong with her attendance... that the leadership often had to put in a face at fundraisers - came with the territory...

When this person remonstrated and tried to point out again how inappropriate was the Super's involvement, he wrote back a one line:

I dont agree with your position...

Assuming he really believes there is nothing wrong here, I dont know how Harium has gotten to his age, level of education, level of work experience in this century to not know and recognise this as a problem...

And if he does know that this is problematic (conflict of interest territory), then I cant believe his lack of ethics and integrity in allowing it to proceed...

seattle citizen said...

No one on the Board seems to see a conflict of interest with the Sperintendent being on the Board of the company selling the distric its new test system, either.

Or the Supt. being on the Board of Broad, which is paying for union busting.

wow.

wseadawg said...

Really, to heck with what the Board thinks about it. What about MGJ herself? Shouldn't she avoid conflicts of interest? She certainly ought to recognize one when she waltzes right into it.

Was she hired to do a job and run our district? Or was she brought in to completely de-construct and dissemble our district in order to ripen the atmosphere for big changes, like Charters, data-obsessive standardized testing, busting the teachers union, or what?

She can only do one or the other. She either respects the 70% that the district does well and focuses on making the other 30% better, or she tears the whole thing apart, say, like a Hurricane hitting New Orleans, for example. So which is it going to be?

Some people may want drastic change, some may not. But who's taking a valid measure of the community's feelings versus data-mining to support pre-baked agendas?

Come on folks. In a democracy, the more popular ideas are supposed to win out. I'm fine with that. But these tactics are Byzantine, cloak and dagger, in house full of smoke and mirrors.

As a teacher recently said at a Board meeting, while lamenting how effective the messaging of "blame the teacher" was, "show me a system that works, and we'll embrace it tomorrow." SforC and groups like that pretend to already have a better system, but the data clearly tells a different story. And no part of the Education Reform Gang's plans are sustainable over the long haul. So critical, skeptical questioning is appropriate.

seattle citizen said...

Spekaking of not having any idea what to actually DO instead of blaming teachers, what's "funny" is that when you go to the Our Schools Coalition and click on the "research" button, expecting, oh, I don't know, peer-edited research from neutral organizartions that study education? instead one finds one link: back to the "poll summary" that explains how SPS gave out personal information to that 360 polling business.
No real research, just a circular argument that cites itself to make a point.
Luaghable, if it weren't so disasterous

Sahila said...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Seattle-WA/Alliance-for-Education-Seattle/67247812168?ref=ts

The Alliance for Education Seattle has a facebook page - with 70 fans... personally, I'm going to sign up as a fan and start putting the other side of the story out there in facebook land... and Twitter too, if I can find them there...


As I posted on their blog:
I think the Alliance has given up on this blog - which is kinda sad and very funny at the same time ... sad that they wont answer our questions (because they cant be open and honest)and hilarious that what was probably seen as a valuable PR tool is totally useless and works against them...

But, they are still very busy out there in the world spreading the reformist gospel filled with half truths, omissions of fact, preying on vulnerable peoples' fears etc...

I think we ought to go where they go - physically follow them around town and make sure we help educate Seattle's citizenry by presenting the other side of the story...

You know, like in that parade, where the boy shouts out - "but look, cant you see? The Emperor's not wearing any clothes"....

Who'll join me?

Sahila said...

Just left a blistering post on their facebook fan page... but they have a fan filter - wonder if it will get through....

VW = exesse... think it might be a warning against being excessive? LOL

Joan NE said...

Seattle Citizen: I sent an email to Karen Waters at Strategies360. She is the contact for the Our Schools Petition.

I asked her for the document that gives the evidence base for the recommendations in the petition. I wrote that if I don't get a response, I will interpret that to mean that there is no such document.

I wrote her on Tuesday afternoon. I have not heard a peep from her.