Monday, August 23, 2010

Meanwhile, at the Times They Get Norm Rice to Chime In

Will it ever end? Norm Rice says his piece at the Times. I guess the Times is going with the old adage of saying it enough times (and tapping your heels together three times) will make it come true.

As a community, we need to determine if Seattle will be an early adopter or a laggard in education reform.

And there's nothing in-between like careful consideration of what we do and the people in charge of enacting it (as the State Auditor questions their commitment to rules and regulations and oversight)?

But he does say:

The union and the school district need to come together and agree on what can be done now — controllable, deliberate steps we can take to improve education.

Okay, Norm, so can you allow the union a chance to think about what they are asking members to do?

Research shows that outside of parents, an effective teacher is the most important factor in determining whether children will succeed in school.

Yay, Norm.

More than just a factor in compensation, evaluation results would influence school transfers and promotions.

Not getting this. Is he saying that good teachers could leave low-performing schools?

35 comments:

Sahila said...

"Follow the Money" document here:

more detail to come....

http://seattleducation2010.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/document-scan.pdf

Dora Taylor said...

Well, at least you can say that the Seattle Times has not received funding from Gates or the Broad, at least not directly.

But, others have received lots of money locally to direct public opinion.

See:

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

Sahila said...

great job, Dora....

The other thing people could do is scroll down the sidebar of your blogsite and see exactly what's been going on around the country... and they'll soon see that what's happening here is merely a replay of the same game plan with the same players....

Wake Up Seattle!

Dora Taylor said...

Thanks Sahila but I cannot take full credit for this.

Many other parents have been doing a lot of investigative work on this. We have been compiling the information and finally took a stab at describing the big picture.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry but what has this got to do with what Norm Rice wrote?

Dora Taylor said...

Because the Seattle Foundation also receives money from the Gates' Foundation. That's what it has to do with Norm Rice.

It's all inter-related.

What's interesting about this is that Sue and I discovered this over the weekend but decided not to add it to our flow chart because at the time it didn't seem relevant.

Dora Taylor said...

So far in Seattle, whatever individuals or organizations that have championed charter schools, high stakes testing and merit pay or worse, firing teachers due to a student's performance, have been bought by Gates or Broad money.

It is all about following the money.

Josh Hayes said...

Or, Dora, to be fair, they're spending their money supporting people who already agree with them. I'd hate to imply that Norm is saying what he's saying because he was paid to say it.

The end result is the same, of course: we hear loud hosannas to "school reform", but I'd like to think it's because at least some of those in the sweetly-singing chorus really believe what they're saying, rather than just being in it for the per diem. In short: don't vilify your opponents. They simply may be ill-informed.

Dora Taylor said...

That could be true Josh, but these folks put their money only where they think it will further their agenda.

These "philanthropists" NEVER put their money anywhere unless they believe that they have control over the message. There are always strings attached.

Broad and Gates have a very clear agenda. That no one can deny at this point.

As Eli Broad states in their Broad Report for 2008. "Our Approach to Investing: Venture Philanthropy. We take an untraditional approach to giving. We don't simply write checks to charities. Instead we practice 'venture philanthropy.' And we expect a return on our investment."

Just understand the message and who is paying for that message.

I understand that many of these people think, without really thinking about it, that the Gates and Broad's way of ed-reform is "the way". My challenge to these people is to really think this through before putting their names on it.

Also, do you really think that Mr. Rice just woke up one morning and thought that he would write an op-ed on ed-reform and send it into the Seattle Times? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, he was prompted by someone from, let's say, OSC/Alliance?

And yes, I believe that before you say anything publicly, particularly if you consider yourself any sort of community leader, that you understand what it is you are talking about.

There is nothing worse than a mis-informed or dis-informed "leader" misinforming and therefore misleading the public.

reader said...

Oh please. Get a grip. Of course people aren't going to donate, and then say... "Sure thing. Spend it however you like." Would you? There is no business in these ventures. People simply want control of their donations. So do I. The same people who want public-private.... don't like what they get with private part. But that's how it goes. You can't have one without the other.

emeraldkity said...

Not getting this. Is he saying that good teachers could leave low-performing schools?


I think teachers should be able to leave a school- why would you want someone to stay who wanted to leave?

But I don't know if that is exactly what he means in that sentence- perhaps he is thinking of a system where schools pick teachers the way that sports teams pick players?
:)lol

However- I also believe in economic diversity in schools- in growing programs that are supported by the community & attract families & staff & in also offering stipends to experienced teachers to work at a transitioning school.

In my experience economically diverse schools can be much more effective at educating all students than simply aiming for racial diversity or at dumping dollars at a " challenged" school, without a proven & measurable structure for spending that money.

However- this is the piece that concerns me the most- who decides what gets measured & how do we insure there is plenty of time & support for things that can't be measured like creativity and innovation or will our grads end up back home because they need someone to tell them what to do?

What is it with 20-somethings?

It's a fundamental fact of life that what gets measured gets done, and what gets done gets rewarded. Successful teachers who help children move ahead deserve a raise, a bonus, a supportive work environment, or all of the above. The four-tier scale that would utilize student growth as a factor in teacher assessment would replace the current system based on principal observation only, which most agree is an imperfect and incomplete measurement method.

emeraldkity said...

he four-tier scale that would utilize student growth as a factor in teacher assessment would replace the current system based on principal observation only, which most agree is an imperfect and incomplete measurement method.

We could go a long way toward more effective schools if there was not only a better way of principal hiring in the district, but in ongoing principal evaluation and support.

But it is easier to judge the teachers by student scores, I suppose & to move the principals around or (upstairs) when they aren't effective.

Dora Taylor said...

I just added a closer look at Seattle at:

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

The close-up flow chart for Seattle is at:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZWR1Y2F0aW9uMjAxMHxneDo2OWRkMjVhNTc1MWQzNWNj

Dora Taylor said...

Reader, my point is that an informed public should be aware of who is sending what message.

All Sue and I do is put the information out there. It is for all to decide for themselves what to do with that information.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, in all fairness, what Broad and Gates are doing pretty much isn't philanthropy. It's using the biggest stick possible to change (not sway, not try to convince) public policy to their way of thinking. It's beyond the pale of education advocacy that preceded it.

They can certainly donated their money with whatever strings they like. But that doesn't make them angels.

My point about bringing Gates is was that I wanted to discuss what Norm Rice said. I really do want people to stay on topic.

Sahila said...

Dora - cant get to the Seattle doc... says it cant be retrieved for viewing....

Sahila said...

Flow chart for Seattle:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZWR1Y2F0aW9uMjAxMHxneDo2OWRkMjVhNTc1MWQzNWNj

reader said...

These "philanthropists" NEVER put their money anywhere unless they believe that they have control over the message. There are always strings attached.


Who would? Nobody. You should wake up and get a clue. Are you living in fairy-tale land? You expect them to donate a ton, and then what? Do nothing? Have no say? That is completely unrealistic.

Over and over we heard about public/private donations... being the greatest things since sliced bread. Well, is it? If you want it (eg, the big money), well, there it is... Broad and Gates, the big money. And to a lesser degree Sloan and the New School Foundation. Was there a lot of crying about that? They have uniforms, select their students (or rather, deselect special education), have draconian school years, etc. Was that too small to cry about? I mean, why should we put up with a "New School" either? Is it OK because it's a smaller deal than something somebody else is doing?

Melissa, as to swaying public policy... isn't that everybody's right? You mean, you like swaying public policy... so long as it isn't effective. ??? or so long as you agree with it. ???

The point here is that there's no personal pay-back for Gates or Broad. They will never get rich from this, or personally benefit. They're plans and proposed policies may well be misguided. Just as the plans of any blogger would-be-board-member could be misguided.

If you wish to remove private money from public entities, then advocate for that. No Broad Foundation, no Gates Foundation, no New School, no auctions, no PTA bake-sales, no box tops. Is that really what you want?

Dora Taylor said...

Melissa,

We all know what the message is. Folks with the Alliance and their offshoots have been trying to pound it into our heads for the last year.

If you want to understand what the message is, you need to know who created it.

This just in:

This information is from a parent who has been doing an extensive amount of research regarding Strategies 360 and its’ relationship with SPS. Karen Waters is with Strategies 360 and is handling the SPS “account”. Our parent states the following:

“Karen Waters is the contact for the Schools Now petition. She was also the contact for the Excellent Schools Now Coalition, which evidently was formed to lobby hard for the education reform bills this past session; (Washington State PTA is/was a member of the ESN coalition); she is VP at a rapidly growing marketing/p.r./public policy organization, and is responsible for the education policy and issues work of the business.”

dan dempsey said...

News Flash!!!


New York, eight other states and the District of Columbia were named winners Tuesday in the second round of RttT


New York, eight other states and the District of Columbia were named winners Tuesday in the second round of a national competition for $3.4 billion in federal funds for school improvement and education innovation.

The other winning states in the Race to the Top grant competition were Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Dora Taylor said...

Reader,

Again, know who you are speaking about.

There is huge payback for Gates and Broad. It is no longer about the money for them, they want to have a legacy, and if they have to buy it, they will.

Bill Gates is going around the world trying to save it and I imagine feeling a bit god-like by now.

Everyone defers to him, listens to him, takes his money and does whatever he says to do.

He wants a sea change in education to be part of his legacy. Unfortunately, he doesn't know anything about education which makes many of us very concerned.

If I believed that his ideas were "on the money" so to speak, I'd be there with him, trying to catch a few of those dollars for our students in Seattle but I, along with many others, see his goals of ed reform as NCLB but far worse, on steroids and running amok.

Gates and Broad can do whatever they want to with their money but if I think that it will affect my child in a negative manner, that's when I stand up and say something. And that's exactly what I'm doing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Melissa, as to swaying public policy... isn't that everybody's right? "

It is but there's a difference between swaying and buying. They were not elected, hired or appointed to take over public education in the U.S. and yet that's pretty much what they are doing.

On the subject of New School, I've questioned a lot of things there so you just must have missed that.

I never said no private money in schools never. Why should this be a black or white issue; life is very much about gray areas.

And no personal payback? Gates has said over and over he needs more well-trained employees. He certainly will enjoy a payback. I endorse the idea of a better educated populace but not necessarily just a well-trained one.

MathTeacher42 said...

Off topic to start ...

I spent a few hours at work today and yesterday, putzing in my room. There were over 100 9th graders in the building with a bunch of the staff, working with the jumpy 14 year olds ...

It really makes me feel good about my job in the community.

Any-hoo.

ANOTHER big shot cites shoddy studies which blame the peons for systemic problems.

Wow! Hey, look behind the curtain! Today's big shot is funded by the same BIGGER Big Shots who've funded a bunch of big shots blaming peons in the past!

Now, I'll grant that whoever I saw today, while putzing around in my room, that was a completely random sample of who was in the building.

HOWEVER,

I did NOT see any of the hordes of power point pushers from the Astro-Turf Alphabet Soup Brigades, all of them funded by the BIGGER Big Shots.

I did NOT see any of the big shots blaming the peons.

I did NOT see any of the BIGGER Big Shots who fund the big shots and who fund the Alphabet Soup Astro-Turfs.

I did see 10? adults who I worked with last year, and who by 22 June 2010 were FRIED, and who by 21 June 2011 will be FRIED.

The good news community members - there are a bunch of jumpy 14 years olds getting ready for the next jump in life, and there are bunch of adult peons out there giving the 14 year olds a hand and a push!

Oh well ... too bad we can't get help for our fellow peons outta the Astro-Turf Brigades, big shots, and BIGGER Big Shots, instead of us peons having to constantly defend ourselves.

BM

reader said...

Really Melissa? Really? You think Gates is looking at... oh say, Kipp grads, to power up Microsoft? No. Is there really a shortage of employee's for him? Really? Microsoft hasn't had a hiring spree in years. And to top it off, he isn't even at Microsoft anymore, remember? At least, in any way that matters. And to top off the top off, Microsoft has probably been the most generous company to work at... in the history of corporate America.

I can give you the "buying influence". But then, the courts have ruled over and over, that you're free to pay for your voice. Campaign finance even, has failed... as has all legislation that curbs the impact of money. So, he's free to buy what he believes in.

But, I can't give you that Bill Gates gets any financial payback from his "reform agenda", even if it is misguided. To suggest that, well, it's wildly uninformed... and it is credibility limiting.

reader said...

Worse yet... you're sort of implying that Microsoft is looking at giving KIPP grads a cheap education, for the purpose of benefiting from their inferior education. Ridiculous. It wouldn't actually even be possible.

Melissa Westbrook said...

March 7, 2007- U.S. Senate Committee Hearing on Strengthening American Competitiveness::

Bill Gates:

First, and foremost, the U.S. cannot maintain its economic leadership unless our workforce consists of people who have the knowledge and skills needed to drive innovation. The problem starts in our schools, with a great failure taking place in our high schools.

Now we a face a critical shortage of scientific talent. And there is only one way to solve that crisis today: Open our doors to highly talented scientists and engineers who want to live, work, and pay taxes here.

I see the negative effects of these policies every day at Microsoft. In my written testimony, I discuss some of the shortfalls of the current system. For 2007, the supply of H1-B visas ran out four months before the fiscal year even began.

March 12, 2008 - Cnet News

For the second year in a row, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates ventured to Capitol Hill and urged Congress to let more foreign-born engineers work in the United States and to direct larger numbers of tax dollars to research and education.

So who is uninformed and lacks credibility? That Gates goes around decrying U.S. public education AND wants help on visas should tell you that he wants better qualified help and isn't finding enough of it.

So, yes, I do think that one reason Gates is interested in education is his own Microsoft workforce. It's a huge headache for them to fight on the visas, better to find home-grown talent except there isn't enough of it.

As for Microsoft being the most generous company to work at in the history of America? You base that on what? I know many, many people in the computer science/technology industry that would not agree with that at all. Ever worked at Google?

As for Gates not working at Microsoft, please. Let's not be disingenious - he is still making money from owning shares in the company.

"Worse yet... you're sort of implying that Microsoft is looking at giving KIPP grads a cheap education, for the purpose of benefiting from their inferior education."

That doesn't even make sense.

reader said...

Are you capable of critical thinking in any form?

Yes. Bill Gates wanted labor available from a foreign work force available with H1 visas. Yes, he wants educated workers. So what? (Again, he doesn't work for Microsoft anymore, so this is old news) Didn't he also lay people off just two years later? And lay off thousands? It has nothing to do with Charter schools, Broad foundation, providing an inferior education, or anything along those lines. That is what you are implying... he's getting something for nothing. He isn't, and wasn't.

He didn't testify that he needed KIPP grads to fill in the gap, did he?

Who could possibly disagree with Bill Gates? Don't most people agree that an educated work is best? .... and best for almost everyone? .. best for companies, best for a tax base, etc. So, now that we agree that Bill Gates needs an educated work force (and so does everyone else), we're left agruing over what that might be. He happens to think one way is good, and others disagree.


PS. I base my "very generous" claim on the very generous stock options that Microsoft handed out to share its wealth, to employees at every level in the company. It was the source of wealth here in Seattle for many years. The value of your home, is still based on the generous stock options Microsoft employees received. And that was long, long, long before it was a standard part of the industry. No company has shared it's wealth with low level employees in the way Microsoft did. Google has not shared it's wealth with it's employees in any comparable way to Microsoft. (Google low level employees, never routinely became millionaires in a year or two.) I've never worked at Google, but I know many who do. If people prefer working at Google, I can respect that. I'm sure it's a great place to work.

emeraldkity said...

And to top off the top off, Microsoft has probably been the most generous company to work at... in the history of corporate America.

Really?
Virtually everyone I know that has worked for Microsoft in the last 5 years ( as opposed to 15-20 years ago), has been let go & retired as a subcontractor/vendor. ( with resulting reduction in pay and benefits)

Microsoft isn't the worst employer out there, but to suggest it is among the best for the rank & file is ridiculous.

Sahila said...

Its a standing joke amongst all the microsofties I know that the company and most managers are shitty to work for... the most dysfunctional workplace around...

emeraldkity said...

huh- Computer World put out a list of top 100 places to work in IT


Can't find Microsoft



Oh well, last time I owned a Microsoft product was when Word came on 9 floppy disks

reader said...

Show me a company that has made more millionaires, more 8 figure-aires. And more millionaires under the age of 30, with precious little experience, or anything other than sweat.

Complain all you want. There are always sour grapes. But that is the fact. And no, they couldn't do it forever. Plenty are resentful that they didn't make it in on time, or didn't make it at all. Sure, it's a big company now, with all that goes with it. People said the same about IBM. But hey, you don't have to work there.

seattle citizen said...

"Who could possibly disagree with Bill Gates? Don't most people agree that an educated work is best? .... and best for almost everyone? .. best for companies, best for a tax base, etc....Show me a company that has made more millionaires, more 8 figure-aires. And more millionaires under the age of 30, with precious little experience, or anything other than sweat."

Yes, that's what we should do: merely educate children to become "8 figure-aires" so the income gap between rich and poor can grow yet still larger.

I KNEW there was purpose for education, I just couldn't put my finger on it. LET'S turn all schools into tech-training programs so EVERY student can grow up to an 8 figure-aire!

Thanks, Reader, I finally see the light: If we train all students on Microsoft computers, use Microsoft computers to assess them, use Gates-directed assessments on those MS 'puters...then ALL students, no matter their unique proclivites, can ALL go to work for Microsoft and they'll ALL be rich!

Yea! Education is saved!

emeraldkity said...

I wasn't complaining-
I don't mind the Gates personally, and I am amused that they chose the same school as I did for their children.
I just was refuting your assertion that Microsoft was the most generous company in the history of corporate America.

However- I do not use many dollars as the definition of good, and few dollars as the definition of evil unlike some apparently do.
( or vice versa)
Many more things that are more important, do more good & last longer than money.

Education for one- and the lack of it takes more than money to fix.

MathTeacher42 said...

Microsoft handed out options like candy, in the early days, because it was NOT cash.
Microsoft moved back to the Pacified Northwest because our little tyrant billy wouldn't have had any employees in Silicon Valley or Boston-D.C. - they would have walked down the street and found a higher paying job in 2 weeks, after taking 8 days off. IF they posted their resumes electronically, instead of walking down the street, they would have been employed in days.
Microsoft did NOT share wealth or give wealth away - they paid people so people wouldn't walk.
After the 2000 dot.bomb they didn't have to hand out much or any options to non-tech rockstars, so they didn't.
H1-B people are brought over after a ton of paperwork. They can NOT change employers without leaving the country. They can (could) work for 3 years & then get an extension (with the same employer ... unless someone else wants to pay a fortune to sponsor them) AND by hte end of 5 or 6 years end up with a green card of their own. A decade or so ago they could hire the H1-B for about 75k salary to the H1-B ... this for people who'd get 125k in a non Pacified Northwest job market.
Let me see ... hire 2000 H1-Bs, AND save 50 or 150k a year a piece, AND they're freaking terrified of giving you any grief for 3 to 6 years cuz they're on the next plane back to Minsk or Beijing or Delhi ... OR

We can believe all the con$ultant blather about high minded noble selflessness ... yawn... from the crowd of fawners who won't rock the $.$. billy boat!

Treating teachers like serfs, treating coders like serfs - beautiful soundbites on megabytes of powerpoints - does anyone want to try my tinfoil hat, or ... ?

BM

Josh Hayes said...

and reader, just FYI, while MS was laying off lots of people, they were quietly hiring lots of overseas workers as well as H1-B workers. I have ins at the company; I KNOW this to be true. The fact that Mr. Gates "doesn't work there any more" is pretty frickin' irrelevant, since the basis of the Gates Foundation is Microsoft stock monies.

The most ironic thing here is that the reforms being pushed by the Gates Foundation will if anything make it LESS likely that school grads will, in the future, be up to snuff to work for MS or any other tech company. So, what, they want to make it easier to hire cheaper foreign workers because everyone here is too dumb to do the work? Could be.... (just kidding)