Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is the Times in the Pocket of the Alliance? Seemingly, They Are.

So lately, it seems like an awful lot of cheerleading in one direction is happening in what should be a discussion (not a foregone conclusion) about ed reform. Norm Rice seemed to feel that way in his op-ed piece and made it sound like you're for it or get out of the way.

The latest salvo, to me at least, is Sara Morris of the Alliance for Education trilling about two "terrific" Times' op-eds coming out. Once op-eds are accepted (but not necessarily published), the author(s) can tell whoever they like about them.

What strikes me is that Ms. Morris knows of not one but two being published and seemingly what direction they will take.

(Boy, the Alliance has woken up and decided they want to be a player and is throwing a lot of effort at this. One thing I have said and will continue to say is that the Alliance does NOT represent parents and any suggestion that they do would be wrong. The biggest entity representing parents would be the PTA followed by CPPS. However, just like over at LEV, the Alliance certainly isn't keeping its blog up, doesn't respond to any comments and won't print anything that they deem wrong/not in keeping with their work.)

I did ask Lynne Varner at the Times editorial board who writes for them about education. She said anyone can write an op-ed and they only need contact Kate Riley who oversees them (and they are looking for good writing). So kids, here's your chance. Call Ms. Riley (or e-mail her) with your side/perspective of the issue and hey, let's not just make it about teachers.

Kate Riley, Seattle Times, (206) 464-2260 or kriley@seattletimes.com

Also, the Alliance is rallying the troops for the next Board meeting (and this is the day before the contract is either ratified or not) so you might want to think to sign up for the speakers list or show up.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I hate to delete you because you say some interesting things. Republish this with a name, okay?

seattle citizen said...

Here's Lynne Varner's new piece on education funding

Nuthin' I could see in it about audits and retirement parties locally....

"http://seattletimes.
nwsource.com/html/opinion/2012711773_lynne25.html

"Want more school funding? Bring more transparency

Mixed results on school-funding measures signal a paradigm shift. A battered economy has replaced the casual "yes" vote on school levies with a realization that our homes aren't ATMs and our proximity to public costs is closer than we thought...."

Dora Taylor said...

Thanks for the heads' up about the next board meeting.

The last one was a media event for the Alliance.

We as just regular folks with kids in public school should have our own media event as well. Nothing rowdy, just signs, flyers, maybe a chant or two but please, no orange t-shirts. They give me a headache.

I would also suggest having a line or two prepared if someone from the press asked for a comment.

I'll get the word out on my end.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Dora it was not a media event for the Alliance. The Alliance and their group showed up just as the union did (and ALL of them left after the speakers). Look, just because they're organized doesn't mean they control the meeting.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm thinking that I would like to write something.

I would like to say that the teachers' contract is an odd path to higher student achievement. Instead, I would suggest changes in the teaching and learning. Changes such as:

* Early and effective interventions for students working below grade level

* Targeted class size reduction

* Extended school day, week and year

* More enrichment (not less). More arts, music, field trips, drama and recess.

* More tailored instruction - for all students

None of this requires any change in the way that teachers are hired, paid, evaluated, promoted, recognized, rewarded or dismissed. It is patently absurd to make the teachers' contract the focal point of education reform.

It does, however, require the District leadership to get serious about supporting under-performing students - something they have yet to do.

Charlie Mas said...

It is easy to shut the Alliance out of public testimony. All you have to do is get people to sign up to speak about action items on the agenda. People who are speaking about actions items take priority over people who want to speak about anything else. If you can get twenty people to speak to action items - and the approval of the minutes is an action item - then you can lock out any group who wants to speak about anything else.

karyn king said...

Sounds good, Charlie. You may also want to address district curriculum choices that run the gamut from malfeasance (Everyday Math) to nonfeasance (nothing but a list of novels for HS LA - no writing or rhetoric materials or texts, no anthologies).

Jan said...

Actually, Karyn -- I am FINE with "nonfeasance" if it means they leave curriculum choices to the teachers who (a) are professionals, (b) are far more likely to know their classes and what choices will work well than the downtown folks, and (c) certainly know what texts, materials, etc. they find best/easiest to work with. I wish they would FIRE/reassign/something all of the downtown "curriculum writers" and return that money to classrooms to reduce size and target instruction.

But -- I am with you on the "malfeasance" of Everyday Math.

karyn king said...

I agree with everything you say Jan, but it would be nice if teachers had updated curricular materials to choose from instead of having to create everything from scratch. I know there are supposed to be downtown
"curriculum writers," but there shouldn't be. Give teachers the tools/texts and let them decide how they're to be used.

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

Their people were there taking pictures and videos that I am sure were circulated. Also, a few days later, a parent saw a student being interviewed in front of a school with one of those orange shirts on.

If they can do it, we should too.

Per a comment that i made on seattle ed just now in response to a parent:

I am proposing right now that we get as many parents as possible to meet this Sunday afternoon, August 29th at 2:00 PM to come together in an organized effort. The school board meeting is this coming Wednesday, September 1st at 6:00 PM. I have heard that the Alliance with their faux groups representing entrepreneurial/business interests will be there en masse and real parents and other community members should be there also representing our children. The union is to make some critical decisions the next day so this is the time to make our voices heard.

Venue? We can meet at my house. It’s in Capitol Hill and centrally located. It’s a bit small so other suggestions are encouraged.

What say you?

You can respond here (in the comment section at)

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-lines-of-influence-in-education-reform/#comment-252

or e-mail me at dora.taylor@gmail.com

Jan said...

I don't know if I can come on Sunday or not, Dora -- but MY idea for a "push back" t-shirt would say, on the front "Local Kids Local Control" or "Say No to Nationalization of Local Schools" -- or something that gets to the heart of what is happening -- that the federal government, through NCLB, RttT, and with the help of national (not local) business, quasi-philanthropic interests is "taking over" what used to be family and community control of kids' education. While some parents might be ok with this, I think a LOT would not be, if only they knew what was happening.

But -- then, on the BACK of the shirts -- have someone silkscreen "the diagram" (the one showing all the connections)-- you would have to be sure everything is vetted and documented, since once people become "walking billboards" exposing the connections between all of the moneyed entities (in the guise of "concerned local citizen groups)that are trying to infiltrate public education for private gain -- you may face legal action (nothing like being exposed with hands in cookie jars to make the guilty turn vindictive) -- but if you could do it in a legible, coherent, defensible way, it would be highly educational (and maybe you could get some enthralled reporter(s) to stop worshipping at the altar of "EdReform" long enough to pay some attention to, and report on, it.)

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Sorry, but I'm choosing to remain anonymous at this point. I am simply requesting that you link to items when you mention them - even when they are your enemies. Yes, I know of an op-ed piece that has been written and is floating around via email well outside the Alliance sphere. But I personally haven't been told I can make it public, so I simply wanted to see if it is one that Sara Morris mentioned. And I don't believe a statement like "I know of an op-ed piece that has been written" is grounds for requiring someone to announce his or her name. It is hardly exciting information when the Times publishes op-ed pieces all the time.

Remove this comment if you like, although I see no reason to, but please consider my request that you link to your sources both good and bad. It is really the polite thing to do for your readers who want to be fully informed.

If there is anything to this, I might willingly communicate with you more openly. But until I can read your source I hardly think there is a necessity that I reveal myself.

Sincerely,

Anonymous

karyn king said...

Dear Anonymous
What is SO hard about picking a "handle?" No one is asking you to "reveal" yourself. It's truly very hard to follow conversations if there is more than one "Anonymous." How about ANonAMoose? Joe Schmo or BusyPerson or Rgumentativ? Let yourself go - be creative!

seattle citizen said...

Yes, anonymous 8/25 3:46, by picking a "handle" you are a) still anonymous; and b) we can follow your ideas over time and get to understand your ideas better; and c) we don't have to try to figure out WHICH anonymous. THIS is the most furstrating part: while the idea expessed by anon can be commented on, it is often confusing as to whether it's an idea that stands alone or is part of a bigger idea "anonymous" is trying to get across. It's just very confusing.

BY posting anonymously, you also make the rest of us address a reply to you by looking up the date and time you posted and adding that to our comment, i.e. "anonymous 8/25 3:46"
whereas once you've been around for awhile, people can merely use shorthand. Some people respond to my coments by merely typing, "SC..."

LinkRequester said...

Apologies. I guess I misread her request. The blog allows one to post anonymously, so I thought she was implying she needed to know who I was before she would allow my post to appear or before she would respond to my post (since she didn't acknowledge my request for the link - something that could have easily been done at the same time she told me not to use the 'anonymous' option).

Anyway, it is a simple request: I'm wondering where Sara Morris was "trilling" about these op-eds. I've looked at the Alliance blog, and it certainly wasn't there and I've searched Google News to no avail.

I know that someone, possibly Melissa, mentioned in a post a while back that she refused to link to one blog or another. However, this really does make things difficult for readers.

Thanks,

LinkRequester

Charlie Mas said...

I'm sure that you have all seen the instructions that now appear above the comment window.

LinkRequester is now compliant.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll answer you Anonymous and then not again. I really don't care a lot if you willing to communicate more openly.

"...even when they are your enemies"

What are you, in high school?

There are very few people on this entire planet I would count as enemies and Sara Morris isn't one nor is the Alliance. I know people at the Alliance and find them nice, hard-working, well-meaning folks. That I disagree with their agenda doesn't make them my enemies.

For some people, having an op-ed published WOULD be exciting so I'm not sure if you have them published all the time so the thrill is gone.

I am a citizen journalist. I don't have to reveal my sources (or else they might cease to be my source). That said, I rest integrity on this blog so I try, when I can, to reference my sources.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Wow, sorry. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. I'm not sure why you're offended that I suggested that the Alliance is your enemy. I've been reading this blog for sometime and it certainly seems like you're no fan of them. Would 'opposition' be an appropriate word?

As for revealing your sources, I totally respect your right as a journalist to keep your sources protected. In the article, however, you said it was a "salvo" from Sara Morris. That made it sound like it was something she said/wrote in public and I was hoping to find out where. On August 6th you wrote, referring to the Alliance blog, "I'm not linking it because I am fairly disgusted at the direction they are taking."

Remembering that you (or someone) had written this I thought that might be why you weren't now linking to the place where Sara discussed the upcoming op-eds.

And for the record, no, I've never had an op-ed piece published in the Times (or any other paper for that matter). I would certainly be thrilled myself if I ever did get one published. I wasn't suggesting you or anyone else was getting overexcited about an op-ed being published, but only saying I was confused when you said I had "said some interesting things" when I thought I was just making a simple request for a link.

I hope that makes sense. I do appreciate the time you put into the blog and am sorry if you felt I was attacking you.

Sincerely,

LinkRequester