It's becoming apparent that those who fight for charters have their own agenda. I say that because they are not making the argument based just on the merits of charter schools. And, they are certainly not fighting on the merits of this particular charter bill (on which they all seem strangely silent except to say "tool in the toolbox" and "let's try them."
Those who are the leaders in this effort seem to be fighting on two fronts.
One person is Nick Hanauer who believes he speaks for many Dems (and he may be but he offers no evidence). He blames the WEA and he blames Dems for being "stooges". He says the union has not backed any initiatives or any legislation that would challenge the "status quo."
I know this is not true. What is likely true is that the union did not back the measures HE thought they should.
Now it would seem that people of good faith and in the same party should be able to sit down and find common ground and work towards compromise and consensus and, most importantly, a way forward together.
LEV is another example where leadership might want to work with those who are directly affected by their actions. LEV is a non-profit group and has their own Board of Directors and they alone determine their course of action. This is fine but again, if you want to make real and lasting change, you need buy-in, not slogans.
Both LEV and Mr. Hanauer are receiving blowback from their recent words and actions. The Times has tried to shore up their positions but I'm not sure who listens to the Times now. The editorial board there seems to exist in their own little echo chamber.
For those who may have missed the story, LEV put out a flyer in South Seattle telling parents and community members how bad the numbers are for the achievement gap in their region.
They chose to use Rainier Beach High School as something of a poster child. They made statements about the data on scores from Rainier Beach High School students incorrectly and inappropriately. You can imagine how you might feel if your school was publicly singled out in this manner.
The flyer does not explain at the low level at which students enter RBHS AND that the students' growth measures surpassed the District's growth average in all grade levels.
And, this flyer came out just as open enrollment is starting.
The flyer went on to say,"But there is hope!" It goes on to say the Rep. Eric Pettigrew is working on two bills "that would help close the achievement gap." (I'm expecting notice that Pettigrew also walks on water any day now.)
The flyer references both the teacher/principal assessment bill and the charter school bill.
Apparently, someone in the RBHS community reached out to LEV before the flyer was distributed but that request was ignored. Also, one member of the RBHS PTSA was on a panel for the 37th LD Dems with Chris Korsmo, the head of LEV, who used the same data at that event and got corrected and yet she still used that data in the same way in this flyer.
The RBHS PTSA does not believe LEV is acting as a friend to their community.
The RBHS PTSA Board met with a LEV rep and it appears not much happened. They then sent an e-mail out that was widely circulated that included this:
1) LEV will publicly apologize for disseminating inaccurate and false information.
2) LEV will no longer single out any one school when sending out mailers.
3) LEV will speak to the proper people in the Southeast Community to assure they have accurate information.
They closed by saying this: If you continue to tell someone they can’t achieve they will begin to believe that they cannot achieve.
What is interesting is that thought is what set Korsmo off at a Seattle Channel Town Hall a couple of years back. She believed that some in the audience said that poor students can't learn (no one said that) and she then proceeded to throw a world-class hissy-fit.
Then, Korsmo wrote an apology.
She was careful to apologize for hurting anyone's feelings and said "the intent was different but the impact is what we are discussing today." That is a fair way to say "this is not what we meant and we are sorry." She then goes on to say they used the data that was publicly available about scores in the the Southeast.
However, she does not explain why she had forgotten about the correction on the data she had received at the 37th LD Dems nor does she note that someone had also reached out to LEV before the flyer went out. In her e-mail, she does not mention RBHS by name at all nor does she address the issues in the RBHS resolution. Meaning, she does not say they will not use that data improperly anymore.
And then, in closing, she delivered a bit of lecture on the state of things in the SE area.
Frankly, it came off as paternalistic.
Apparently there is some small dissent within LEV over the incident and how alienating it is to communities in the south-end. Will LEV end up listening? Or doing just what they believe is right?
It is difficult to see how we will get anywhere - in our district or city or state - with this kind of clash of beliefs. I wish there was someone who could be the great uniter and get interested parties to the table.
Because if not, this certainly plays into the hands of state Republicans who have their OWN education agenda and it's not pretty (and darned if I understand how they would pay for it). If you listen to the Republican candidates for President (as I did last night), they are going to dissassemble the Department of Education and throw everything back to the states and local districts.
It truly matters at the state level what gets decided. It will not be about what they think in the other Washington.
Maybe after the Legislature adjourns, a state leader will step forward but I doubt it because they want the money and support that big-name Dems can give. So it would need to be someone NOT elected but who has cred for all who care about public education in our state.