Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funny Article in Crosscut

There's an unintentionally funny article in Crosscut, The troubling lack of public will for reform of Washington schools, by Collin Tong.

The story is funny because it expresses bewilderment over why the Education Reform movement hasn't found popular appeal. The movement doesn't have popular appeal because the people who are actually involved instantly recognize that the Education Reform movement is wrong.

The writer interviewed "community leaders" on Education issues: Lisa McFarlane, Sara Morris, Scott Oki, Paul Hill, and Chris Korsmo. HA! As if they were leaders in the community. They are the paid lackeys of the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. They don't represent the community at all.

The story in Crosscut is a pared-down version of the story that appeared in the International Examiner.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

well, Scott Oki is probably an unpaid lackey, no?

I think there's little support for ed reform in Washington because people in Washington don't want their children to be educated in model the ed reform would design. I think those of us who care about education enough to have any opinion about ed reform at all know that we want education that challenges our children to think and that an "efficient" management heavy system won't give us that kind of education.

Not sure why Washingtonians without children who might just want to dismantle education in order to lower their taxes don't general support it, but perhaps there just aren't enough of those people in this state.

(zb)

Anonymous said...

Why is it that every article I read about "Ed Reform" makes me instantly think of the late Michael Jackson's nose? WSEADAWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's what I said (partial):

First, not one real community member or parent. I'm with Mannix's comments on this one.

Second,
"..community leaders are taking a second look at the structural challenges facing a beleaguered school district. Some of the leaders have begun to conclude that the district cannot make the needed changes without considerable pressure from a public demanding better schools."

Pressure? Are you kidding me? Ask the parents and the hard-working members of the Rainier Beach PTSA about putting pressure on. Ask parents who are unhappy with the resources and time around MAP testing. Ask parents how they feel when the district hands out raises - in a recession, no less - when they cut teachers and elementary counselors and maintenance workers from our schools.

Third, decentralization? Didn't Scott Oki's friend, Joe Olchefske, the former and disgraced superintendent, bring that in during his tenure? How did that work out? It is a very, very delicate balance between headquarters and principals running schools so don't just take up the cry of "decentralization" and think that will solve anything.

The problem with our district really isn't in the schools - it's the management and oversight of the district. You can put pressure on teachers and principals all you want - if the headquarters is a mess, that's what you'll see at our schools.

This is not about anyone wanting to keep the status quo - NO one is happy. But this is about listening to what PARENTS and COMMUNITY what from their schools. This is what needs to happen.

Noam said...

No, its just Dick Lily still not over the fact that no one wants to listen to him.

Weeping on the phone with Don Neilson must have gotten old.

Grow up Dick. Your ideas (or those spoon fed you) didn't pan out.

Anonymous said...

I see the author did graduate work at Berkeley - he's just part of that right wing of the Democratic Party $ocial club which isn't sexist, racist or bigoted, but is as enamored of sucking up to rich folks as karl rove is, or any tea party clunk is.

He excels at what that $ocial cla$$ excels at, and has excelled at for decades - portraying their servility to master's goals as conventional wisdom.

Toadies_R_Them

seattle citizen said...

Maybe the public isn't buying Reform because of stories like this one, in today's New York Times:

Message From a Charter School: Thrive or Transfer

This story details one Reformer's charter school, Eva S. Moskovitz's Harlem Success Academy (one of seven Success Academies, and she wants to add many more.)

Seems that a kindergartener was counseled out when he wouldn't walk in a line in the halls, among other crimes. The school's spokesperson told the mother that "it is extremely important that children feel successful and a nine-hour day with more than 23 children (and that’s our small class size!) where they are constantly being asked to focus and concentrate can overwhelm children and be a bad environment.”

The child went to a nearby public school, where he is excelling.

Turns out that at the Success school, "10 percent are in special education and 2 percent are English language learners, according to the publicly available data; Mosaic Prep Academy, a district school that shares its building, has 23 percent in special education and 13 percent learning English as a second language."

"But Ms. Sedlis said that the Web sites were wrong, and that 7.6 percent of students at Success 3 had limited English. “It is imperative that you not use incorrect data,” she wrote. “It is a complex system and I will walk you through it and produce voluminous documentation.”

"Even if not a single number on the Education Department’s Web sites can be trusted, there is one indisputable fact: The traditional public schools handle the most severely disabled children, which Success charters do not serve. At Mosaic Prep, 58 percent of the special-education students — 46 children — are those requiring the “most restrictive environment” and are in classrooms of their own. At Success charters, the special-education children are classified as needing the “least restrictive environment” and are mainstreamed, though two of the charters will add classes strictly for special-education students in September."

What a surprise: The charter spokesperson said the state and city data was wrong, they served a few more percentage points of ELL, and she would provide "voluminous documentation" to show that HER data was right.

Sound familiar?

THIS is why Washington says no to Reform: We want ALL students served by ALL our publicly supported schools. The charter in this story had less than half the special ed students, and less than one sixth the ELL students, than the regular public school IT SHARES A BUILDING WITH. Disgraceful.

seattle citizen said...

Oh, and did you note the nine-hour days for kindergarteners? Where they practice walking in lines (which is NOT punitive, they report)? Nine hours of focusing and concentrating in school...For a seven year old. That's more than we ask of adults at their workplace!

seattle citizen said...

What's also funny is Collin Tong, the author of the article, once served as the Public Affairs Director of the Alliance for Education...

http://www.iexaminer.org/editorial/america-home-collin-tong/

Kate Martin said...

Collin Tong interviewed me for this article and then apologized that nothing I said made it into the article. I imagine my ideas were incongruous to the overall theme.

Anonymous said...

Well, we all know the playbook. LEV & Co will invest even more and try even harder next time around to manufacture consent, because we darn community members just don't get it yet.

Why can't we just walk, talk, think and act like the Ed Reformers want us to? Wouldn't we be happier to outsource our thinking, knowledge and humanity TO THE CLOUD?

What is wrong with us? Why don't more of us ride segways, live on Facebook and busy ourselves with saving the world from our new Starship Enterprise on Mercer, er um, I mean the Gates Foundation World Headquarters?

Sure reminds me of the old Superfriends cartoon where Wonder Woman, Aqua Man & the rest always gathered at the Hall of Justice to discuss how to save the world. I guess Tong plays the role of Robin & Gates is The Commissioner.

And of course, there was always a bad guy or group to go after. Hello Teachers!!

Comical, yes. But not far off. WSEADAWG

seattle citizen said...

"Sure reminds me of the old Superfriends cartoon where Wonder Woman, Aqua Man & the rest always gathered at the Hall of Justice to discuss how to save the world."

The Man of Steel, incognito at his job as a file clerk at The Metropolis Crosscut, suddenly hears the anguished screams of venture capitalists as the economy reduces opportunity for them to get rich easily.

Superman (aka The Privatizer) hears and obeys: He must provide new markets for the poor (okay, less rich) investors and marketeers.

Running into a nearby Alliance, he spins around quickly three times, the ensuing vortex effect drawing in billions of venture dollars. Once dressed in his cash costume, Superman flies faster than a speeding talking point back over to the offices of his employer, Crosscut, and cuts them a check. Then it's off to Strategies 360 for some spin design and push polls before he flies directly to the target: The teachers. These evil-doers are threatening the poor...stockholders...and he must break them, send them back to the evil-doers planet from whence they came.

Utilizing the media guns he'd just purchased, and the politicians he bought with his Race Politics Influence Peddler, Superman attacks the teachers. Relentlessly championing the poor...venture capitalists and hedge-funders...Superman unleashes his deadly Boilerplate, throwing it with spectacular force against the Evil Public Educators.

Will the Evil Dinosaurs of Ne-er-do-well-ed-ness prevail? Will Superman overcome their public service and provide a blessed opportunity to the poor...billionaires...to invest?

Tune in next week!

suep. said...

Nice work seattle citizen (& Wseadawg)! All we need now is for ArchStanton to provide the visuals, and I think you've got a winning -- if rather demented -- comics series on your hands! I can picture it all (way too clearly, in fact...)!

dan dempsey said...

OK what about the PTA ???

How do we keep our information and our organization impartial…??

The national PTA announced it received a $1,000,000 grant from the Gates Foundation within seconds of announcing its endorsement of the CCSSI; an initiative heavily influenced and supported by the Gates Foundation, which will homogenize the education market, and which will have the ancillary effect of steering untold $billions towards Microsoft and other vendors (especially Pearson).

Clearly most of the Seattle School Directors have shown themselves to be incapable of evaluating relevant data and intelligently applying it.... rather the Board just votes to go with the big money flow. ... So much like LEV, Stand for Children, and the PTA etc., etc.

The part I am still missing is why the NEA, WEA, and SEA are buying this crap yet claiming to represent the members. Goes to show that for members $70 to $80 per month buys next to nothing ... when "supposed" Union leadership formulates positions, attempts to coordinate actions, weakly delivers the services and does the buying. YUP next to nothing.

Return on Investment of dues for SEA members is close to ZERO. Gates Foundation is getting "Education Reform" adopted most everywhere as the WEA is still head scratching.... and "What me worry?" is the attitude of most SEA members.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a recurring theme among Education Reformers that those who disagree with them just need to be better informed about the issues. They cannot conceive of the possibility that some folks might know all about the issue and just disagree.

Must be careful with this one said...

Scott Oki, Founder of Social Venture Partners (SVP), gave Chris Korsmo (LEV), $85,000 last year.

There is a stink in the air...

http://www.svpseattle.org/

http://www.svpseattle.org/news-resources/newsletter-november-2010/Investee%20Pamphlet%20for%202010%20-%20Soft%20copy.pdf

Anonymous said...

85k? Well, Big Girl Pants aren't cheap. WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Must be Careful, you need to be more careful.

SVP gave LEV $85k, not Chris Korsmo. Please make sure your statements are clear. And, that's over two years.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, I agree that statements should be accurate (like mine always are...ha) but in the case of the various alliances, coalitions, leagues, partnerships et al that have paid staff, isn't giving one of them a sum of money the same as paying its employees?
I mean, yes, there's rent and other expenses, but I'd be willing to bet that ninety percent of its operating budget (LEV, Alliance, or whatever) is labor.
So if a Foundation gives a League 85k, it is, in fact, paying its employees salaries.
(I wonder what the staffs of these various unholy astroturfs make? Head of the non-profit NWEA makes half a million, so you figure the head of, say, the Alliance must be pulling over 100k...)

Ed Reform: It's a living, and a dang comfortable one.

Just went to Guidestar to check LEV's financials...It's unclear, really, what Korsmo gets paid.LEV's 2009 990 form says their salaries and benefits paid were some $76,000, but Korsmo is listed as only receiving a bit over $6,000, which is almost half the ten thousand she is listed as receiving in 2008.
No other employees are listed.
I can only assume, unless corrected, that Korsmo does, in fact, get the majority of the salaries listed, about 76k.
Donations are listed as a bit over 100k, so once expenses are paid for rent, travel, etc, that's about right...

Melissa Westbrook said...

I get that. But SVP did NOT give the money directly to Chris but to LEV. If LEV uses it to pay her salary, fine. But she didn't get some direct payment.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, again I agree with you on this point: The donation was made to LEV, not its director.

But whether it's given to LEV or to its director, it's all the same, isn't it? SVP wanted LEV to do...whatever it is SVP wanted LEV to do (demonize teachers and describe schools as "failing," I suppose) Since LEV is, to all intents and purposes, its director, then the director is earning a living off the donations of SVP and others. The only "product" purchased by SVP is the services of LEV's director, ergo ipso facto, LEV's director makes a living selling her services to SVP. Without SVP (and others) there would be no paycheck.

I could get a phone call from Gates, saying they want me to influence contract negotiations. I could then set up a "coalition" or whatever, make myself Director, have Gates pay the Coalition, and get paid that way. It's the exact same thing as if they paid me directly, but they wouldn't get a tax write-off for that, and it would look bad if they just hired somebody to act like a coalition - "I am the Seattle Citizen Coalition! I demand Reform!" When people figured that out, it wouldn't be nearly as helpful as having a group that sounds like it's actually a non-profit, "of the people," gathering of concerned stakeholders...

So Gates (or SVP) gets triple their investment: They get the services of paid Reformers, plus the write-off, plus the supposed cache of being a grass-roots, non-profit, do-gooder group.

Let's just leave it at "the Director of the non-profit League of Education Voters earns a living partly off the grants and donations of large foundations." Does that work?

dan dempsey said...

Melissa, a hypothetical question ....

If Mr. Oki was so impressed with the amount of Public Engagement brought about by this Blog that he decided to give the SSS Community Blog $85,000 ((with No strings attached)) to pay salaries and expenses over the next two years, would you accept it?

Just thinking maybe Mr. Oki would like to level out the public discussion playing field.

Signed .. perhaps seriously delusional, who likes some of what Mr. Oki has to say.

Jan said...

Dan -- I also like some of what Scott Oki proposes -- but the idea that every school will have a board "appointed by the Governor?" Hello? Where does Scott get the idea that Gregoire -- or any other governor (all of whom, by the way, are "beholden" to donors, fund raising committees, etc., etc.) has a clue of who should be on the Board at Hale, RBHS, Ingraham, etc. Imagine what could happen in cases where the governor is a hard line "ed reformer." You would have school boards turning over their schools to charters right and left -- and the community would have absolutely no recourse (assuming they were a minority at the state level and could not change the governor).

There is not a shred of evidence that I have ever seen or read that indicates that "governor-appointed" boards would function well, or even adequately, in any way. There is TONS of evidence -- from smaller school districts -- that school boards elected by the local citizens whose kids go there, and whose taxes support the levies (or not), work well.

I think Scott is totally wrong on this. It would be catastrophically damaging -- and it is a huge disappointment to have him take this position.