Thursday, December 29, 2011

Washington State PTSA and Charter Schools

A couple of months back, I received a call from Heidi Bennett, the Region 6 Legislative Chair for the PTSA.  She asked me to participate on a panel about charter schools and Washington State.  I have known Heidi for a long time as someone who cares deeply about public education so I told her I would be glad to participate.  I also told her I had been writing a series on charter issues for the blog and felt reasonably well-informed.

I told her it was vital to any discussion to have a basic foundation of knowledge or else people would be confusing each other coming from incorrect information.  It does it all no good to advocate pro or con if we don't know the basics. 

I also know Ramona Hattendorf who is the Government Relations Coordinator for the Washington State PTSA.   At the PTSA listserv (that I receive), I noted a LOT of discussion around the charter school legislation plank for the PTSA this year as well as charter schools in general.  I saw some misinformation about charters and ask Ramona if she might post my series just so that many of those PTSA leaders would have the basic information they need to make judgments.  She wrote back and was non-committal. 

Now I learn that indeed the Washington State PTSA Region 6 IS having a panel discussion but I'm not on it.  I have no idea why this is but I would suspect that Ramona fears having someone who really knows charters from the con side.

In the interest of public information here are the details:

Tuesday, January 17th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Washington Middle School, 2101 S. Jackson Street

The panel is to be:

Ramona - no position stated so I don't know what her role is to be
Beth Sigall - Lake Washington School district PTA member, pro
Matt Loschen - Lake Washington School district PTA member, con
Olga Addae - SEA President, con
Robin Lake - Center for Reinventing Education, pro
Moderator - (the ever-great) C.R. Douglas

They also say "speakers may change" so I'll hold out hope that I will be on the panel.  It's  bad form to ask someone to give their time and then not even let them know before the event is announced that you changed their mind.

Questions: Ask Heidi Bennett who is the contact person for this event, heidi@bennettdirect.net.

Update:  I left something out that I want to go on record as saying.  I believe the Washington State PTSA DOES support charters and WILL support any and all legislation that comes out of Olympia.

 I've read enough of their listserv discussions to see the writing on the wall.  Why they are doing this is a mystery but cloaking in "we're just providing information" doesn't cut it.  

It makes me very sad as a former PTA parent and Board member to mistrust the leadership but when they don't truly ask parents what they think, they have no business going to the Legislature and pretending they do.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

A search for Washington State and charter schools resulted in this pro-charter link:

http://www.wacharterschools.org/index.htm

The news link has a plethora of articles, one of which I think is an argument for not needing charter schools - it's about Lake Washington School District's choice program. Doesn't the success of their choice schools show that you don't need charter legislation to have choice?

The Stella Schola, which is described as "Challenging academics based on historical themes & integrated with classical literature," is ranked #3 for state middle schools. Students receive 2 years of Latin, in middle school.

http://www.wacharterschools.org/news/wanews/2004-11-26_LWSD_school_choice.htm

It sounds like an interesting forum. Thanks for the info Melissa.

-a reader

Anonymous said...

Here's a link for Lake Washington's choice middle schools:

http://www.lwsd.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Schools/Middle-School-Options.pdf

-a reader

democracymom said...

Another question to ask Heidi: Is the PTA paying for the use of space, or is the school providing it? If the second, there is a strong legal requirement for the panel to be neutral.

Anonymous said...

Why 2 members from Lk. Washington school district on this panel? None from other districts? Is Olga A. the best teacher rep for this discussion? Venue is in Seattle? So why not someone from Seattle PTA? Is Ramona the rep for that? If so, then what is SCPTSA position? pro or con? None of this made it down to our little school.

Lilliput

Anonymous said...

Background on Robin Lake, from CRPE:

Robin Lake is Associate Director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, where she specializes in charter school research and policy development that focuses on effective accountability policies, scale and supply, and school district use of chartering as a reform strategy.

Ms. Lake is also Executive Director of the Center’s National Charter School Research Project (NCSRP), which was established in late 2004 by a consortium of funders in an effort to improve the balance, rigor, and application of charter school research.


http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/view/authors/5

mirmac1 said...

Melissa,

You might point out the NAACP's national position on charter schools.

BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP rejects the emphasis on charter schools as the vanguard approach for the education of children, instead of focusing attention, funding, and policy advocacy on improving existing, low performing public schools and will work through local, state and federal legislative processes to ensure that all public schools are provided the necessary funding, support and autonomy necessary to educate all students...

Charlie Mas said...

Independent of her other talents and expertise, Ms Addae has not shown herself to be a particularly skilled speaker or debater. Choosing her to represent the con perspective makes me question the impartiality of the folks making the choice.

mirmac1 said...

Not sure if the WAPTSA is interested in research or facts but here is an April, 2011 study by Vanderbilt University, funded by the National Center on School Choice:

High teacher turnover in charter schools

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the attempt at the debate but this panel could use improvement. The Lake Washington folks are interesting, "different" voices. But two panelists are weak choices at best.

1) Olga is on her way out of SEA leadership and this is a state issue anyhow. If the point is a union perspective, get someone from the WEA.

2) Robin Lake (and Paul Hill for that matter). The Center for Reinventing Public Ed gets more than its share of attention thanks largely to the laziness of The Seattle Times who uses them on the opinion and reporting side ad nauseum for quotes and editorial comments. Get someone from the ed department of SPU or SU or UW main campus. Reinventing Public Ed in Bothell is an outlier. The main UW Ed campus doesn't even agree with them most of the time. (Don't believe me? Go ask around.) The UW Bothell twosome should be seen as the outpost they are...not as representatives of the Seattle Higher Ed community. More valuable by far are pro and con charter positions from our main Ed higher ed campuses.

WV says this panel is "ungly."

"Ed Aware"

StopTFA said...

Ed Aware,

I would qualify your statement with saying SOME at the UW main campus would differ. There are those at the COE and UW Grad school who believe the COE should be abolished or made an appendage of the C of Arts & Sciences (since in their view, teaching is a natural adjunct to learning all that other stuff, ala TFA).

Oops, and you forgot to throw Dan Goldhaber in that "outlier" group. : )

Johnmichael Monteith said...

I do not know you or your background but I certainly hope you will show at the event and maybe they would be good enough to make room for you at the table. Anyone with extensive knowledge no matter what side of the discussion they are on should be allowed the opportunity to speak.

jp

heidi bennett said...

Hi All,
I'm glad you posted the info but really folks, this is no evil plot, just an opportunity to continue the conversation that was started at PTA LEgislative Assembly and for the community to find out more information about charters. The goal was a balanced forum with both pro and con.

There are however,some items that need clarification based on Melissa's comments.

When I was finding participants I simply asked Melissa and others if they were interested. At that time I didn't confirm anything or make a solid invitation to Melissa. I apoligize for that mis-understanding and have told her so.

The two PTA members who are participating are the same two folks who lead the pro and con discussions at State PTA legislative assembly. Beth Sigall is a co-sponsor of the issue and Matt Loschen rallied the con group.

The offer was made to the SEA and they chose their speaker, there is nothing more to that speaker choice.

In the invite, it explains Ramona's role, this part was omitted from Melissa's copy and paste. Ramona will do the following:
"The event includes a review of the PTA Charter Issue that was passed this fall, National PTA policies on charter schools and WA State PTA resolutions/issues that will impact any prospective bill"
Due to a time limit of 5 presentors, each with 10 minutes, introductions we wanted to leave time for Q&A, so that's why there are only 5 participants.

This is not about Lake Washington School district, the folks from PTA Legislative Assembly happen to be in that district. This is about the state charter school law not about any one district.

As i stated, the goal of this discussion is to continue to conversation so that we can all learn more. This is not the only conversation that needs to be had but one that that I was able able to put together and becuase of the balanced participants, the press will be covering the event.

I hope you can all participate, invite your communities and bring your questions to the panel.

Thanks
Heidi

heidi bennett said...

Hi All,
I'm glad you posted the info but really folks, this is no evil plot, just an opportunity to continue the conversation that was started at PTA LEgislative Assembly and for the community to find out more information about charters. The goal was a balanced forum with both pro and con.

There are however,some items that need clarification based on Melissa's comments.

When I was finding participants I simply asked Melissa and others if they were interested. At that time I didn't confirm anything or make a solid invitation to Melissa. I apoligize for that mis-understanding and have told her so.

The two PTA members who are participating are the same two folks who lead the pro and con discussions at State PTA legislative assembly. Beth Sigall is a co-sponsor of the issue and Matt Loschen rallied the con group.

The offer was made to the SEA and they chose their speaker, there is nothing more to that speaker choice.

In the invite, it explains Ramona's role, this part was omitted from Melissa's copy and paste. Ramona will do the following:
"The event includes a review of the PTA Charter Issue that was passed this fall, National PTA policies on charter schools and WA State PTA resolutions/issues that will impact any prospective bill"
Due to a time limit of 5 presentors, each with 10 minutes, introductions we wanted to leave time for Q&A, so that's why there are only 5 participants.

This is not about Lake Washington School district, the folks from PTA Legislative Assembly happen to be in that district. This is about the state charter school law not about any one district.

As i stated, the goal of this discussion is to continue to conversation so that we can all learn more. This is not the only conversation that needs to be had but one that that I was able able to put together and becuase of the balanced participants, the press will be covering the event.

I hope you can all participate, invite your communities and bring your questions to the panel.

Thanks
Heidi

Melissa Westbrook said...

I included the entire PTSA copy that was on the message; if it was left out about the amount of time for each speaker, it wasn't by me.

Also,

"..continue the conversation that was started at PTA LEgislative Assembly "

Was that a conversation really? How many PTSA discussed this issue before it went to the Legislative Assembly? How many members knew it was going to be discussed there? How many leg reps knew the way to ask for the discussion to be tabled?

Maybe there should be a Facebook page for PTA parents who don't believe the PTA represents them fairly.

mirmac1 said...

Melissa,

Sounds like how things are thrown out at the SEA legislative assemblies....

seattle citizen said...

Heidi, I appreciate your posting your comment here, offering your perspective.

We have heard, here and through other sources, that many parents and teachers do not feel their wishes are being heard in this charter conversation at WPTSA. Perhaps it should be brought back to the building PTSAs, publicized, and discussed there. The process so far seems far from representative.
Washington has voted three times to nix charters - one would think that the WPTSA would figure this might reflect the views of its membership, as well, and since the WPTSA's pro-charter action is at odds with Washington voters, perhaps that would be a clue to allow the PTSAs their full voice.

Also, Please allow Melissa on this panel. She is certainly one of the most knowledgeable parent/community members in Seattle on this issue, if not the state, and Washingtonians should hear her.

CT said...

None of the parents I spoke with knew that was even a topic of conversation, then suddenly they found out they, as PTA members, were supporting charters. I know at least one of my parents was supremely ticked off and made a rather irate phone call to our school PTA prez, who was also just as surprised to find out about it. Neither of these parents are ones who have their heads buried in the sand, which leads me to believe just a small number of WSPTA members, in cahoots with LEV and A4Ed and the other deformers, had any idea what was really in the cards. My school previously had PTA membership in the high 90's, often 100%, but I bet this next membership drive will be hard pressed to even make 80%, given the amount of grumbling I've been hearing about how the funds are being used. I can guarantee you that no teachers in my school will be signing up next year.
-CT

WV must be hungry - wants fries.

peonypower said...

At the last PTSA board meeting at my school I went to there was much sadness over the state PTSA agenda. Our legislative member could not go to the assembly, and the parents that I heard from were disappointed to hear how hard the state PTSA is pushing charters.

Teacher membership in our PTSA is down dramatically from last year and when asked how much the charter school issue affected the move of teachers out of PTSA I was frank and said that was the main issue. We found a great way around this- by having teachers pay into a fund for our local PTSA to support the work they do, but not paying the dues. Teachers will not be full PTSA voting members, but will still participate in the PTSA. A few teachers will join so they can be part of the voting process.

Given how narrow the vote was (only won by 9 votes I believe) I think it is important to remember that this issue is not a majority opinion. I plan on being there on the 17th armed and ready.

Anonymous said...

Heidi,

From a social etiquette standpoint, your phone call to Melissa was an invitation. Otherwise, the phone call should have been postponed until the plans were finalized.

Your subtle attempt to portray Melissa as too over-eager in responding to your attention (rather than being aware that she was treated in a tacky way)and, thereby, misinterpreting your phone call has a bit of a catty edge to it (besides showing poor manners).

Don't forget that many of the readers of this blog recently voted out two school board incumbents and put Susan Enfield on notice. In other words, we don't suffer fools (or foolish behavior) gladly.

So let's get back to the original and real question. Who overrode your phone call invitation to Melissa?

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

Ms. Bennett:
I have heard that Stand For Children had a hand in writing the pro-charter WPTSA action item. Is this true? Can you confirm that you (or others in the WPTSA had no contact with S4C regarding the charter measure?

Or did S4C help write it? Please explain S4C's relationship to the WPTSA charter action.

Thank you

RosieReader said...

Several con, several pro, but the cons not you so it's got to be fixed? Common Melissa. Toughen that skin a bit.

If Charlie thinks one of the 'con' speakers isn't effective, the fact remains that she has the role that suggests she knows her stuff. If you think you'd be a better advocate, talk to Olga.. If I were building a panel and the head of the local union said she'd be on it, she'd be my first choice too. If she said "Jane doe is probably a better choice" I'd go with her recommendation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie, I find it amusing you think I need to toughen up. So if someone called you,asked you to be n a panel, you say yes and then you find out by public notice you are out, you wouldn't find that objectionable? Even when that person the asks you to help one of the people supporting the con position? Kind of odd, no?

The fix is in and this should be one interesting forum but I guarantee the pros will be better than the cons because that's the way they are setting it up.

It's a sad thing.

Parents, I hope you rise up and ask for better from your PTA. Or tell your PTA I'm willing to come out and give a factual talk on charters.

Melissa Westbrook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

As a PTSA officer at our school, I will be sure to bring this up at our next meeting - and before next year's membership drive.

Anonymous said...

Proud Not To Have Joined the Crowd says:

One school board member recently suggested alternative schools join the Seattle Council PTSA to loop in with parent advocacy efforts with the school board. Many alternative schools have Site Councils not PTSA.

When told that our building wouldn't even consider it, based on the PTSA charter school stance for 2012, the board member was at first stunned, then thoughful, then ruefully nodded. (S)he understood even if Seattle Council PTSA doesn't.

Anonymous said...

It makes perfect sense that Olga will show up to 1 of the barrages of lies from the Deformers -

there is no notice to SEA members, there is no attempt at organizing SEA members, there is no attempt at polling SEA members -

although, I'm probably not on 1 of their supper secret lists of members who've been vetted to shut up and do what they're told ?!

Typical last minute half assed WEA SEA top down 'grassroots'. No wonder we're always on the defensive.

While I have to credit Ms. Bennett for doing what the McFarlanes & Kormos won't do - show up outside the deformer bubble - do YOU really believe that sophisticated lie about 'continuing a conversation' ??

An idea which isn't needed and which has been voted down 4 times needs ANOTHER conversation?

Are any of you considering having conversations about how useless your astro turf orgs are to teachers and staff in buildings? Are you considering conversations about bloated managements wasting everyone's time chasing incessant best practices du moment?

Orwell had the 2 Minute Hate. Do you deformers have the 2 minute Gates Genuflect? The 2 minute blame teachers and building site staff?

Oh well - that is some beautifully crafted double think - 'continue the conversation' --- HOPEfully you'll all be able to go to Iowa on Tuesday and help the people you're really helping, whether or not you want to admit it that is who your helping.

AntagonistsFoesVillians

Catherine said...

At this point - I would suggest contacting your legislators directly. Particularly, with the details of how this state PTSA "Pro Charter" position was developed. In addition, outline how any programs now offered by charters in the USA can be done through the existing infrastructure of alternative pathways. No additional programs AKA COSTS are needed. No business handouts needed (a la Pottergate) to charter businesses have scattered education results. Wouldn't hurt to point out the studies that show the failings of charters.

If demonstrably more people contact each legislator than PTSA reps who were at the legislative meeting, we may well be able to counteract the position.

Disgusted said...

@Catherine, I applaud your enthusiasm, but I suspect some of our legislators are deep into the reform camp. None the less, let your voice be heard.

Anonymous said...

Heidi Bennett said:

"I'm glad you posted the info but really folks, this is no evil plot, just an opportunity to continue the conversation that was started at PTA LEgislative Assembly and for the community to find out more information about charters."
--
Better call 911, Heidi. I think your pants are on fire.

-- Ivan Weiss

Patrick said...

How does the State PTSA choose its officers? Can they be recalled?

Anonymous said...

I suggest that public education advocates who are against charters form their own PTSA caucus. It doesn't have to be a complicated thing. You create a Facebook page, share information, strategize, contact legislators en masse, and blammo! you're off and running.

DWE

Melissa Westbrook said...

DWE, my thought exactly.

There will be a lot of confused legislators if they are getting calls from PTA parents who say they were NOT consulted as a unit (school) and that State PTSA does NOT represent their view.

Disgusted, your instincts are likely correct - more on that in another thread.

Eric M said...

Divest and defund state PTSA leadership, people. Keep the money local.


Teachers at Ballard High School in Seattle came up with a way to pay dues into the school PTSA and not have their dues kicked up to the state level to fund charter legislation:
At Ballard High School, the PTSA has set up a fund specifically for teachers to contribute financially to the PTSA. In paying into this, teachers can demonstrate their involvement with and appreciation for the PTSA’s work on behalf of their school.

It is understood that any teacher (or parent) paying into this fund is not an official PTSA member, and therefore lacks voting rights. At Ballard, at least, there are so very few controversial PTSA agenda items that this is, for most teachers, not an important issue. In fact, only a very few teachers participate actively in PTSA, although over 70 were members last year.

Understand that each school has a minimum number of dues paying members required to constitute a PTSA, and if teacher’s official memberships are needed to meet that minimum, we strongly encourage teachers to join and pay dues in the regular way. However, once that minimum is reached, we encourage local PTSAs to then cap the “official” memberships and allow everyone joining the option of participating “unofficially” in the way described earlier. There is no need to send additional dues to the State organization beyond the minimum.

Furthermore, we still encourage teachers to actively participate in PTSA, including attending and voting at state-wide meetings where charter school agendas are being pushed by state PTSA leadership. Very few teachers are participating at this level, and more teachers being involved could help divert the PTSA’s charter-school agenda. Local PTSAs can send teacher representatives to these meetings. We encourage staff at each school to select a teacher to actively participate in PTSA by paying dues, and attending all local and state meetings.

Zara said...

Hi Heidi.

First, I don’t agree with some of the more, for lack of a better word, conspiracy-theory posts here. I also don’t care for personal jabs.

I want to say, though, that I was at the legislative assembly as a first-timer and was, as you know, appalled by the sloppiness and one-sidedness of the process. You and I talked about this afterward and, as I recall, you agreed with me. You said you would try to get the format changed to include equal time for both sides of every issue. So, unless you’ve changed your mind, you should make it clear that you agree the process was flawed because this isn’t apparent.

For example, when you write "folks who led the pro and con discussions at State PTA legislative assembly,” you imply that there actually were pro and con discussions when, in truth, there were four deeply misleading pro-charter presentations followed by a rushed strategy session for those who’d already picked their sides. And don’t forget the issue guide (or whatever you call it) WSPTA made available to the membership. It contained only the pro side and not a whisper of a hint of the possibility that there may be different views nor any links to actual information as opposed to just the opinions of the submitters.

I’d also say that the debate/voting process was conducted sloppily, with substantive questions going unanswered or even incorrectly answered, and Robert’s Rules being several times flubbed.

It’s clear that people here, including me, think this panel could be more or less a repeat of that one-sided “conversation.” These events come across not as conversations - as charter advocates always seem to call them - but as crafty propaganda sessions.

I wouldn’t call this an “evil plot” exactly, but I would call it biased. It’s a fact that most PTA officials I know are pro-charter. Also, the pro-charter membership contingent, while, again, not evil-doers, have influence greatly out of proportion to their numbers. A large portion of leg. assembly participants believe this is due to connections with Stand For Children, as well as to the fact that many of the PTA pro-charter activists come from wealthier regions. I don’t mean to impugn anyone’s motives by saying that - I know they believe they’re doing good - but it’s undeniable that wealth, by so many means, bestows greater power and a louder voice. PTA is an organization that should be working its bum off to countervail that inequity instead of amplifying it.

Finally, I’d love to hear your response to seattle citizen’s comment and question.

Thanks Heidi. And thanks for posting here. Under the circumstances, that takes guts. I also appreciate your polite tone and how hard you work.

dan dempsey said...

"Washington State PTSA and Charter Schools"

This all seems to be part of the push to do what Fed Big Brother wants done. Charters, VAM evaluations, Common Core State Standards etc.

Try this from the NY Times on what happens if you do not play ball correctly.

State Threatens to Pull Millions for Schools in the City and Elsewhere

By FERNANDA SANTOS
Published: December 27, 2011

New York State’s education commissioner threatened on Tuesday to withhold tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to struggling schools in New York City and nine other districts statewide if they do not prove by Saturday that they will carry out new evaluation systems for teachers and principals.

Officials and union leaders in each district must first agree on the details of the evaluation systems, like how much weight students’ standardized test scores will have on the annual ratings that teachers and principals receive. Compromise has thus far proved elusive.

Of the 10 districts, which are the only recipients of the federal grants in New York, only Rochester and Syracuse as of Tuesday had submitted proposals for the state’s review, the commissioner, John B. King Jr., said in a statement. “When the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve,” he said, “the money drops off the table, and it will be difficult to get it back.”

For New York City, it would mean losing roughly $60 million for 33 schools whose graduation rates and test scores put them among the state’s worst.

---------------------------
Well so much for Mayor Mike's Ed Reform agenda .... lots of smoke and mirrors but with lousy results.

Arne D's plans and results in chicago were much the same.

I doubt the current national plans from Arne D. will be any more effective. --- See all our local politicians rush to support CCSS and charters ... without a shred of evidence.... We are governed by lemmings.

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The Seattle Education 2010 blog has documented over the past year the very deliberate strategy to get charters onto the PTSA plank.

This involved a small group of activists - a couple from Issaquah, a couple from Seattle - using their PTSA legislative knowledge in the last 2 state delagations to maneuver it onto the PTSA platform.

It is perfectly within the right of the PTSA to do this, and it is perfectly within the right of public school parents throughout WA to call them on it.

I assume Dora Taylor or Sue Peters of that Seattle Ed blog can describe the situation in more detail via their blog or this thread. I hope they do. I do not think for a moment that the PTSA is "neutral" on the subject, as some of their members are now backtracking to claim, now that the sun is shining on what many of us think are shennanigans.

WV says "trapp"

Savvy Voter

Melissa Westbrook said...

Zara, I appreciate your candor in what you saw at the Legislative Assembly. I was not there and only know what I read from the PTSA listserv. It seems many agree with you.

What I further hear is that many people know little about the Legislative Assembly and how it works so, of course, the power would be with those who do.

I was a Legislative rep once. We took stands so early in the year that we never even discuss it with our units. The Leg agenda for the next year should be discussed in April or May when there is time and not rushed (or not discussed at all) in September.

When it's a vote like should it be class size or school funding or early childhood, it a choice among things that the overwhelming majority of PTA members would say yes to.

However, when the PTA chooses a controversial subject, does NOT the public education needed to ask parents if they would support it and pushes it through so they can say to legislators "our membership supports it" - that is flat out wrong.

Also, just on the issue of the format of the meeting, I thought it was a mostly informational meeting (that's what Heidi told me) with some debate. Now it sounds like a debate.

How can you have a debate if people don't know what charters are? At least you here have the option to at least read what I wrote. I'll be you most of the attendees, if quizzed, would get half of the questions wrong because in Washington state we don't have charters and don't know much about them.

The Regional and State PTSA leadership know what they are doing. Why they are doing it this way is another question.

RosieReader said...

I'm torn about the PTSA. On the one hand, it's great to have some, formal, "collective voice.". For things like increased school funding, for example, about which the vast majority agree. They get into trouble, as is clear here, when they step into more controversial areas.

But the real issue for me has always been their "nanny-state" mentality. You have to accept their bylaws whole cloth, even their references to the desire "to develop . . . the highest advantages in . . . spiritual education.". Apparently the separation of church and state in public educatioin isn't really that important. This year, we had to amend our bylaws so they could dictate to us when our nominating committee needed to get started and to complete its work! What possible need could there be in uniformity across the state on that one? But the thing that really galls me is that they h ave the right to come in and sweep up your school's PTSA funds if they decide your PTSA isn't paying by the rules. Sure. When I talkmtostate PTSA leaders they tell me they've never even considered doing something like that. I hate even the possibility.

I loved that my alternative K-8 had its own, non-PTSA- affiliated entity for all these reasons and more. I even worked hard against at least 2 or 3 effort to convert us to a PTSA. Smaller is better in many ways. For now, though, at the high school my daughters attend, it's the only game in town. And by far, the good the PTSA does locally, on our campus, far outweighs any tupidity that occurs at the state level.

dan dempsey said...

As we journey through crazy land .....
this time with Charter Schools, let us see what is happening.

There is a major need for transparency and a huge need for discussion of evidenced based arguments in regard to Charter schools.

So here comes LEV,

Here is the response from a staff at LEV regarding education bills, including charter schools.

Confidential until press conference second week of January. Bipartisan though.

How reassuring that the insiders are remaining inside.

Advanced public discussion of public school issues is undesirable to LEV.

dan dempsey said...

So now we will now likely not only have LEV being pro-Charter ... but "DFER" as well.

-----
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With mixed emotions, I am leaving the League of Education Voters (LEV) to be the Washington State Director for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), effective January 1, 2012.

I am enormously proud of the organization that LEV has become and what we have accomplished for kids in Washington State. ((too bad she did not list all those accomplishments)) But it is painfully clear that we need a more productive education dialogue within the Democratic Party if we are going to pick up the pace of school improvement in our state. That is why I am heading to DFER.

You will continue to see me at events and meetings, and I remain as committed as ever to doing my part to help advance solutions that will give all of our children the quality education they need and deserve.

My new coordinates are macfarlane.ld@gmail.com and lisa@dfer.org. My cell phone (206-369-2171) is staying the same. Please stay in touch.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Lisa Macfarlane

Anonymous said...

Heidi B: Cut the innocence act, would you? It doesn't fly. I refuse to accept that you're naive enough to believe what you say.

You know exactly what is going on, and your facade of "simply talking about" charters is a load of BS and you know it. I've had it with fork-tongued, in-the-tank "PTSA" folks, undermining our schools and teachers instead of helping them.

Charters are nothing but Tim Eyman-like, union-busting vehicles, which proves that the Seattle and statewide PTSA have become nothing more than Spartan anti-union advocates.

Shelve the "simply discussing" act. It defies all reason and logic, and I'm not buying it for a second.

We all know where the "discussion" is headed, and it's 100% in favor of pro-Charter legislation.

Prove me wrong, Heidi. WSDWG

Disgusted said...

"We all know where the "discussion" is headed, and it's 100% in favor of pro-Charter legislation." Absolutely. Get ready for the horse and pony show.

Dora Taylor said...

First of all, this forum should have happened way before the writing of the charter school proposal or even during the PTA legislative assembly. Instead, there was NO discussion before the proposal was popped on us unexpectedly and then during the PTA legislative assembly there was only one side presented formally and that was the pro-charter side. The PTA even had a formal two-sided debate on the privatization of the sale of alcohol during the legislative assembly but nothing on the privatization of our public schools.

Disingenuous Heidi? Absolutely!

And the phrase “starting a discussion”? This discussion should have occurred openly last year way before Alison Meryweather and Chad Magendanz put their heads together to come up with that charter school poisonous plank. As I said in a recent post titled What to expect in January from the corporate privatizers in the state of Washington, http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/what-to-expect-in-january-from-the-corporate-privatizers-in-the-state-of-washington/:

One response that the privatizers have when you ask why are they are even suggesting the pressure of high stakes testing on our children or teachers’ salaries and professional lives being based on test scores, they will flippantly answer you with “Well, we’re just starting a conversation!” Forget the conversation. There is no conversation at that point. They have had the process rigged and the votes sold. They will call their bills “platforms for discussion” with the “discussion” being manipulated so that if you don’t agree with them, you are ignorant or an insensitive cow who cares nothing about “the children”. Watch for that. Their well-paid marketeers such as Strategies 360 have a smooth roll-out in terms of strategy and phrasing. What we have is our earnestness, our honesty, the fact that we are voters and that we have skin in the game in terms of our children. All the folks at Strategies 360, Boeing and Microsoft are paid and couldn’t care less who is in office or who isn’t.

To get the rundown on how this charter plank got into the PTA platform, you can start with Can’t get a straight answer from the Washington State PTA http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/cant-get-a-straight-answer-from-the-washington-state-pta/.

Dora

Dora Taylor said...

Here is some recommended reading on the Washington State PTA and the shenanigans that have been going on over the last couple of years:

Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA!? Charter schools?! Part 1

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/whoa-where-did-that-come-from-washington-state-pta-charter-schools/

That will take you to Part 2.

Then,The Washington State PTA and the Lack of Transparency

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/the-washington-state-pta-and-the-lack-of-transparency/

And finally,Can’t get a straight answer from the Washington State PTA

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/cant-get-a-straight-answer-from-the-washington-state-pta/

Sorry about the long links but the html tags aren't working for me.

I hate Blogger.

Dora

Dora Taylor said...

One last comment and I'm off to my own blog.

All parents, teachers and students who believe that the PTA does not represent them on the issue of charter schools, please contact your representatives and the education committee members and let them know that.

The WSPTA led by Ramona Hattendorf will repeat the PTA motto, "Every child, one voice" as they lobby our state representatives on charter schools.

Be emphatic, raise hell and from now on, watch the Seattle and Washington State PTA like a hawk. Make sure that the PTA doesn't get hi-jacked again.

Here's the list of education committee members:

Washington State Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education

Chair

Rosemary.McAuliffe@leg.wa.gov

Vice Chair

Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov

Committee Members

Steve.Litzow@leg.wa.gov

Tracey.Eide@leg.wa.gov

joe.fain@leg.wa.gov

Nick.Harper@leg.wa.gov

andy.hill@leg.wa.gov

Steve.Hobbs@leg.wa.gov

king.curtis@leg.wa.gov

sharon.nelson@leg.wa.gov

Rodney.Tom@leg.wa.gov

Dora

Kathy said...

"First of all, this forum should have happened way before the writing of the charter school proposal or even during the PTA legislative assembly."

I agree with Dora. In my opinion, the upcoming forum is an attempt to state "We've been having discussions." Meanwhile, I suspect charter legislation is well on it's way- with the support of the Washington State PTSA. Even if if opinions at the forum are mixed- I'm certain the WSPTSA will continue to initiate and/ or support charter legislation.

Legislation with the support of the WSPTSA, will give the appearance charters are supported by Wa. State parents and teachers. This is a very powerful tool for charter supporters. It will no doubt help further the charter agenda. The WSPTSA acted in an irresponsible and unacceptable manner when it failed to provide its members a balanced picture of charter schools; they are no different than a group of politicians attempting to sway support without providing complete information.

My trust is gone.

Sahila said...

@Dan - its not the state or big brother that wants this... its the oligarchical ed deformers, who have stacked the DOE with their own people, and have created/seeded/funded all their astro-turf mouthpieces...

Did you know that a BROADIE TOADIE runs the Office of Civil Rights within the DOE, which DOE is stacked with BROAD and GATES people? So now the ed deformers "police" themselves...

They've completely closed the loop in "public" ed... the words/concept of "public education" are now just a legal fiction...

Linh-Co said...

On a different note but similar, Ramona Hattendorf also came down to Olympia earlier last year to say that WSPTSA fully endorsed the CCSS. I don't remember my PTA having any discussions about CCSS. In fact most PTA's have no idea what the Common Core Standards are, much less what is written in them.

I doubt Ms. Hattendorf has read any of these standards, and yet she believed they were more rigorous and better. Who gives these people authority to speak for the collective?

CT said...

I attended the Common Core show put on by OSPI in Shoreline and the state PTSA people there were all in favor. One PTSA rep said how great it would be for every kid in the country to be on the same concept at the same time using the exact same curriculum. He was not capable of any critical thought, and when I brought up questions, he tried to shut me down right away. Clearly he had made up his mind that this was the best thing ever and he didn't want to hear any dissenting opinions. Of course the OSPI people didn't have any answers either....

CT

seattle citizen said...

"...how great it would be for every kid in the country to be on the same concept at the same time using the exact same curriculum."

Eek. AND a curriculum sans history and civics 9and art, and music, and...:

Southern Poverty Law Center Study Finds that More than Half of States Fail at Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

“For too many students, their civil rights education boils down to two people and four words: Rosa Parks, Dr. King and ‘I have a dream,’” said Maureen Costello, SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance director. “When 43 states adopted Common Core Standards in English and math, they affirmed that rigorous standards were necessary for achievement. By having weak or non-existent standards for history, particularly for the civil rights movement, they are saying loud and clear that it isn’t something students need to learn.”

CT said...

Not only that, but standards that have not been tested out in a small scale first, and a curriculum written by a small group of people, not all of them experts in the areas in which they were working. Many of the lower grade literature choices were not ones I would consider appropriate for those grade levels. Some have since changed, but it is clear there was not a lot of thought into the developmental aspect of a child's education in some of them. A friend of mine - an English prof - was looking at some of the high school lit choices and remarked that there was a whole lot of representation from dead white men and not a lot from anyone else. I think it is important for the cultural makeup of a region to be represented in some of the literature choices. But then, I've never been a fan nor follower of the standardization mindset, which is probably why my principal dislikes me so much....
Too bad the PTSA equates standardization with equity, or at least puts forth the appearance of believing that. Oh for the dearth of critical thinking and ethics in the legislature, the Ed deformers, and the WSPTA.

seattle citizen said...

A strange aspect of the Common Core is their obsession with The Bard:
From CCSS Myths and Facts FAQ,
"Fact: The standards require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America's Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare"

You see this in the standards themselves, this sort of "and Shakespeare" stuff, as if they figured they'd better hit ol' Bill, and hit him hard, if anyone was to take the standards seriously. It's very strange, as if Shakespeare was the be-all and end-all of literature. Creepy.

anonymous said...

Did the PTSA endorse charters last time they were up for vote? If not, did they take any position that time around?

peace