Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are We Fighting Each Other? (And Why?)

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.

Suggestions?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

The related opinion piece from LV at Seattle Times:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2017562941_lynne22.html

no comment

Someone said...

I don't know - I imagine people on the LEV side of the equation could make the case for just as much disinformation from their opponents. Not that I condone that, not in the slightest.

But. At some point, doesn't it behoove us all to stop calling each other out? Will there be any chance for a common ground if both sides perceive the other as - well choose your own word - "negative" "deluded" "conspiratorial" "deceitful"?

I agree - at heart, all parties ultimately profess to want what's best for "the kids" - they just see the path to that goal in very very different terms. So yes, it would be lovely to sit down and find the kernel of common ground we all share and work from there out to a workable plan.

But that won't happen until everyone, including the readers/writers of this blog, are willing to put aside preconceived notions of THEM and start fresh. Ah what a dream ;o)

Anonymous said...

A report linked in the Seattle Times comments thread:

Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards

http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/choice-without-equity-2009-report/frankenberg-choices-without-equity-2010.pdf

The report provides evidence for NAACP's stance on charters.

a reader

Sahila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

Reposting, correcting typo:

I'm sorry..... but I wont accept that the ed deformers are interested in what's good for children...

do any of them send their children to public schools?

do any of them advocate making public schools over in the image of the private schools their children attend?


The answer to both of those questions is a resounding "no"...

Actions speak louder than words, and until the ed deformers actually start working so that ALL KIDS RECEIVE THE CARE, ATTENTION AND EDUCATION THEIR CHILDREN RECEIVE, I cannot accept that they are doing what they are doing because they care about children...

It's that simple...

Disgusted said...

"Will there be any chance for a common ground if both sides perceive the other as - well choose your own word - "negative" "deluded" "conspiratorial" "deceitful"?"

There has been plenty of deceit! Let's start with the WSPTSA distributing skewed information.

LEV promoted charters on a flyer (with Pettigrew) as measures to close the achievement gap..without ever mentioning the word charter.

And what about that fake organization conveniently popping up?

LEV and WSPTSA have effectively discredited themselves on this one. They seek to create havoc instead of unity.

And Lynne Varner..does anyone either bother listening to her anymore? She has become a tool for a particular board member and civic elite in this city.

Anonymous said...

Look at LEV's myth vs "fact" on charters. Decide for yourself if they are providing a balanced view or if they are making an art out of cherry-picked data.

http://www.educationvoters.org/2012/02/16/charter-myth-busters/

It's interesting that they use the oft-cited Stanford CREDO report to support charters.

LEV MYTH: Charter schools do nothing to address the opportunity gap for low-income and minority kids.

LEV "Fact": ...The well-respected Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcome 2009 study found that both English language learners and low-income kids “have clearly been well served by the introduction of charters into the education landscape.”

What the CREDO report also finds (and LEV does not cite):

"For Blacks and Hispanics, their learning gains are significantly worse than that of their traditional school twins."

http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_EXECUTIVE%20SUMMARY.pdf

skeptic

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someone, I'm the one suggesting everyone sit down at the table.

I'm the one who actually listed good charters at this blog.

And you think I wouldn't come to the table willing to listen? Please.

Sahila, yes, some ed reformers send their kids to public schools.

Skeptic, I wrote a lengthy reply to LEV's mythbusters piece and they didn't answer it.

Sahila said...

@Melissa.... none of the money people controlling/pushing ed deform send their children to public schools...

Please show me where I am wrong...

Sahila said...

@Melissa: I'm not pointing fingers at the "well intentioned" Jack and Jill Publics who get suckered in by LEV and S4C etc.... I'm talking about the vultures at the top of this pyramid - who conceived of and are funding this atrocity being hung around the necks of our children and teachers...

basically said...

LEV seems to have fully embraced 'If you aren't for us, you are against us' mentality. It is impossible to comment on their blog with an opposing view, and not be told that you are being outrageously rude, and then they post that pat response about how everyone needs to be respectful. I have had my comments deleted over there, when I am not even rude, just different.

Someone said...

@Melissa - yes, I get that - I am just playing devil's advocate here - you suggest sitting at the table in nearly the same sentence that you chastise the behavior of those with a differing viewpoint. It blurs the point you were trying to make, in my reading.

I am not choosing sides, just pointing out how "the other side" could (and yes yes do) make the same arguments ie "they are twisting data to meet one's own agenda!!!!" etc.

I have my own beliefs - they differ from some here and align with others but that's beside the point.

I just feel your very worthwhile point would have been stronger without the long critique of LEV's recent mis-steps.

For the record - I don't agree with such machinations as perpetuated by LEV, Stand, or TFA, but neither to I subscribe to the "they are all evil" conspiracy theories re: Education reform. Such is life that we all come at this differently - not better, worse, good, evil, just different.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, I did not chastise their behavior for having a different viewpoint.

I explained how the RBHS PTA tried to tell LEV they were using the data incorrectly and LEV either ignored them or didn't believe them.

I explained how the RBHS PTA felt singled out by the flyer.

And, I asked how any one of us would feel if our school got singled out in such a way by a state-wide education organization.

It's wasn't about that they like charters; it's using RBHS to make their point in an unfair manner.

It's funny you mention good versus evil, good, bad.

All I am asking is for some honesty on this bill. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Bird said...

I have had my comments deleted over there, when I am not even rude, just different.

I stopped reading LEV's blog when they took to deleting my comments without explanation.

I'm not a particularly antagonistic or hostile poster, but they apparently don't brook any dissent.

They seem to let Melissa and Charlie leave far more aggressive posts than anything I've ever left.

I'm not sure why. Maybe they figure they'll just post on this blog if they take the comments down. And I suppose just leaving those comments give the false impression that it is an open forum that tolerates dissent, just that there isn't any outside of Melissa and Charlie.

I wonder whether Melissa and Charlie should even comment over there as it does create a false impression. I suppose that has to be weighed against not providing any answer to their posts.

Disgusted said...

"I just feel your very worthwhile point would have been stronger without the long critique of LEV's recent mis-steps."

I disagree. LEV intentionally put out a flyer (omitting the term- charter school) as an attempt to push an agenda without being honest.

Melissa is exposing the truth. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Charlie and/or Melissa could address the concerns of the readers (about getting deleted by LEV) within the next comment they post on LEV's blog.

Regardless, it looks like LEV is on the fast track to irrelevance. Chris Korsmo's apparent impulse control issues don't lead to a long shelf life for any organization.

--enough already

Positive Deviant said...

Why don't we look to Kennewick School District for inspiration rather than Charters? Check this out -
http://lawrenceschool.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/positive-deviance-part_2/
http://cog1st.org/wordpress/kennewick/

We need positive deviants not ed reform

seattle citizen said...

It IS strange that LEV deletes some comments but not others. I've evidently been banned for life, I can't even remember why, and others have been deleted...yet they allow a select few to post critically.

It DOES seem as if they want to appear open to dissenting voices yet not get an avalanche of them...

They have every right to be afraid that they WOULD get an avalanche of dissenting voices.

I'm so glad the blog admins over here allow everyone their voice. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Why are we fighting each other, you ask MW? Because Ed Reform is no longer a movement; it's an industry. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

And you can't fight a war without an enemy. WSDWG

Maureen said...

I haven't tried to post at LEV recently because they did block my earlier mildly oppositional posts. I'll have to try again.

(Don tinfoil hat) I wonder if they are allowing Charlie and Melissa's posts through because they want to make them look like they are alone in their opposition? (So as to discredit this blog.) Maybe when we try to post LEV responses, we should copy them here (with a reference to our LEV post)so we can see how many of us are being blocked?

Maureen said...

They seem to have allowed my comment on Korsmo's last roundup Reposted here:

Over the past 50 blog posts (excluding Ms. Korsmo's roundups), LEV mentioned charters at least three times more often than they did early learning (about 15 to 5 ratio). It's pretty clear where LEV's efforts are being expended. I don't understand why so many of Washington state's smart education advocates are spending so much time and money supporting charters. We can certainly learn from what good charters have done in other states (extended day, targeted interventions, cradle to college supports) and implement them in more of our existing public schools. But that sort of investment will mean fulling funding education in Washington. I would like to see LEV put all of their efforts behind that goal.

Maureen said...

I checked back today and my LEV post is gone! I posted this reply, we'll see if it makes it through moderation and if it sticks for more than a day or two. I'll also post this on the newest open thread.

Wow, how weird, LEV seems to have deleted my reply to this thread (it had made it through moderation and appeared for a little while). Good thing I had copied it onto a thread over at the Seattle Schools Community Blog! I'll recopy hear and see if it is allowed to stay this time. Please do email me if you think I am somehow being uncivil or breaking a rule. It seems odd that mine got deleted and Charlie's didn't given that he called you a 'puppet' and I called you a 'smart education advocate.':

Over the past 50 blog posts (excluding Ms. Korsmo's roundups), LEV mentioned charters at least three times more often than they did early learning (about 15 to 5 ratio). It's pretty clear where LEV's efforts are being expended. I don't understand why so many of Washington state's smart education advocates are spending so much time and money supporting charters. We can certainly learn from what good charters have done in other states (extended day, targeted interventions, cradle to college supports) and implement them in more of our existing public schools. But that sort of investment will mean fulling funding education in Washington. I would like to see LEV put all of their efforts behind that goal.

2/24/12 12:45 PM

(that date and time is when my comment originally appeared here)


(hear=>here uggh, I need new glasses!)