Thursday, March 29, 2012

Education - The Key Issue in the Governor's Race

Went to the Alliance for Education breakfast today. It was a packed house despite the fact that there was another breakfast fund-raiser going on for King County Dems and the Mayor was off making a policing announcement. 

Yay to the Ingraham band who showed up (and, poor things, had to stay until the end to play us out).  Yay to Maple Elementary's dragon dancers and spoken word performers (but next time, give the kid doing rap the microphone). 

Impressions:
- kind of subdued, almost like people are weary of talking about education
- nice round of applause for Susan Enfield but nothing out of the ordinary despite her departure
- Dr. Enfield called the Alliance "Seattle's local education fund".  
- Sara Morris of the Alliance said the Alliance was both "a critic and a friend to the district" and "the independent guardian of funds."  She also spoke of Seattle someday becoming the "envy of the nation."  I wonder how we get there if we make all the same mistakes other districts that already have ed reform have made.
- Pat Stanford, the widow of the late superintendent, John Stanford, spoke and read from his book.  In it, he said that he worried that the U.S. would lose its way as other civilizations have because we have failed to educate all children. 

There was a (short) interview segment with the candidates for governor - Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee.

McKenna said the first thing he would do is create a budget with education at the top of it.  He said fully funding wouldn't come overnight but over time.  He said he would sign measures that supported ed reform and referenced Washington State being at the bottom of RTTT.   When asked what innovation looked like, he said "no shortcuts, no excuses" and that "poverty is not a learning disability." 

Inslee was equally animated on the subject and said teacher quality is important and teachers who do better should be paid more.  He also is going to roll out his education plan next week that includes some kind of grant program for innovative schools.  He said the most obvious investment that can be made in education is early childhood education and smaller class sizes for K-3.  He referenced a number of districts/schools as examples of innovation (but none in Seattle).  He said that innovation should not be the exception but the rule. 

McKenna's website has a very wide-ranging plan and I give him credit for getting out front on this issue early.  That said, I'm not for charters, governors who appoint school boards, or TFA.  But clearly, he has given it much thought.

Inslee, not so much so far, and I'm surprised.  But listening to him hedge on KUOW last week on charter schools and his talk this morning about teacher assessment leads me to think I might be disappointed with what he rolls out next week.

23 comments:

RosieReader said...

It was a great breakfast, aside from the food which was what you expect to get at events of this type. I, too, wasn't overly enthused by Inslee. He needs to up his game a lot or we really will have our first-in-a-long-time Republican governor come November. (And I say that lovingly, as a fellow Ingraham Ram.)

I think that many readers of this blog will be surprised to learn that this year the 800 or so attendees were not injected with a electronic probe that could be used to send us each an immediate feed of the positions taken on education-related matters that our lords and masters, Bill Gates and Eli Broad, so we could think monolithicly and unquestioningly do their bidding, so they can accomplish the world domination so regularly predicted in the comments here. I guess we'll have to continue to muddle along, making up our own minds on various issues.

Anonymous said...

RosieReader:
They didn't need to inject the probe. The nanomolecular capability was inserted via the eggs you digested. Gates developed the capability while working with Monsanto.

LOL

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.”

Some good words from Adrienne Rich,
who died yesterday.

She was born priviliged but saw through the intentions of groups like the Alliance, and spent the rest of her life advocating for the voiceless with her poetry and prose.

Rosie Reader, it might seem like a joke from whatever office you speak from (it's clearly not a classroom)--but for those of us in the trenches, doing the actual work (with more than good outcomes)--your tone sounds pretty clueless.

I am very thankful for the people who are keeping their eyes and ears on the powerbrokers. There is nothing paranoid about waking up.

I'll be laughing with you when these people and groups start doing something that actually helps students and schools.

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

"Sara Morris of the Alliance said the Alliance was both "a critic and a friend to the district" and "the independent guardian of funds."

What the h*** does THAT mean?

I thought the Alliance was a just a manager of PTSA money and a fundraiser for school needs.

Does Ms. Morris believe the Alliance is some sort of policy maker, doling out funds to projects it wants to see enacted? Apparently so: Lofty words for a what should be merely money management and fundraising.

Where does the Alliance get off being a "critic" of the district?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay kids, let's break it up.

Of course there are varying degrees across the political spectrum (look at my lukewarm feelings towards Inslee). There are also people who walk in lock-step.

I appreciate everyone who comes here, looking for information, discourse and lively conversation.

But enough already, from what I am hearing, it's a very tired group of teachers out there. Between the budget cuts and politicians acting like hammer and every teacher they see is a nail, it's not getting better.

But Enough, your words do strike me because that quote is right. I may end up writing on that topic because there is a fair amount of shrugging, looking away and yes, silence in this district.

seattle citizen said...

Ah, Rosie, you join many others in using trying to use the ol' "ain't they crazy" insinuation when writing about people who critique "reform."

It's not nice, and it's not productive. What, we're all frothing lunatics with pitchforks and you are the sensible guardian of rational thinking, thoughtful discourse, and beard-stroking indicative of a superior mind?

Methinks not, and by actions around the country, theythinks not, too: Many people are becoming aware of some of the nastier aspects of the privatization movement, and are pushing back.

Yay!

seattle citizen said...

oops, sorry mom, I mean Melissa. I read your comment after I posted. I'll be good!

Sorry, Rosie!

seattle citizen said...

"Sara Morris of the Alliance said the Alliance was both "a critic and a friend to the district" and "the independent guardian of funds."

What the h*** does THAT mean?

I thought the Alliance was a just a manager of PTSA money and a fundraiser for school needs.

Does Ms. Morris believe the Alliance is some sort of policy maker, doling out funds to projects it wants to see enacted? Apparently so: Lofty words for a what should be merely money management and fundraising.

Where does the Alliance get off being a "critic" of the district?

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

Your attempt to explain my response in a not so subtle way as the result of me being a tired, angry teacher is not only unfair and condescending but (I'm happy to report) is simply wrong.

I was responding to a remark that was made by Rosie Reader that I still believe warranted an honest response.

Before you use Adrienne Rich's quote, please reread it. Your attempt to silence me kind of misses the point not only of her quote, but her life's work.

I would caution a careful reading of Adrienne Rich's work before using her words in isolation.

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

enough, I'm not following you. Maybe I'm mis-reading, but I don't get that Melissa is "silencing" you: She appears symathetic in her comment to teachers tired of the crap. Can you clarify?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Enough, I thought I was trying to be sympathetic. No, I wasn't silencing you but apparently you are reading something into my words that isn't there or meant.

RosieReader said...

Enough already - it's so easy to judge, isn't it? My husband has taught in public schools for about 25 years. Seattle schools for the last 10 or so. My kids are public school kids, again, Seattle, now freshman and junior. I know a lot. I just happen to disagree with some of the conclusions the many posters here. If you think that make me evil or dumb or bad, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

RosieReader said...

Savvy Votr- touché

RosieReader said...

Seattle citizen, just trying to poke fun. Remember, I'm the minority voice on this blog, you generally reach conclusions that are within the range of the majority on this blog. I was just trying to point to the absurdity that is frequently flung out against those who have differing points of view. We're derided as misinformed, as ivory tower, as folks who have "drunk the koolaid.". Instead, I wanted to remind folks that we're as smart, committed and informed as the rest of folks. Oddly enough though, we don't all reach the me conclusions. Personally, I find that fascinating and invigorating on this blog and pretty much in every aspect of life. I do get that others prefer to hang out only with those who mirror their own opinions. And frankly, I feel sorry for those blokes.

seattle citizen said...

I hear ya, Rosie, you have some (but not all) different opinions than me. That's okay, I value that.

I believe public schools should be public; you believe there is some wiggle room. Perhaps you're right.

Where I get confused is where I see (not necessarily with you, personally) just "strange arithmetic" that, I think, results in a lower quality education, and people agreeing that that is a good thing.

It does drive me nuts, and I admit I stereotupe and generalize and spout about it....It's just galling and I'm frustrated.

Ah well. Maybe teaching to the meager tests IS a good thing, we shall see. Maybe making teachers work 12/7 for less pay, and shuffling them out after a couple of years will result in...higher test scores. Who knows. If I knew the answer to these questions I'd be a rich person, wot?

Anonymous said...

@Rosie Reader

Some of my best friends are teachers, too.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

What was most depressing to me was hearing both Islee and McKenna make clear references to merit pay for teachers. All the research is proving this doesn't make a dime's worth of difference, and the whole idea threatens to destroy anything we have left of collective spirit and a community caring for the welfare of its children. Through this whole campaign, be on the watch for stupid lines like "reward the good teachers with the pay they deserve" (both said pretty much exactly these words this morning).

Emile

Jack Whelan said...

I really, really want to like Inslee, but the more I hear from him the more he appears to be just another empty suit. I will support him, though, because supporting Republicans simply is not an option.

It doesn't matter if the individual Republican candidate appears to be a decent guy; he represents a constituency that has been hijacked by rigid Libertarian ideologues and Tea Party cultists, and he will be unable to compromise even when he wants to. His hands will be tied as Boehner's have been tied on the national level.

Republicans have simply become incapable of any kind of good faith negotiations with the other party. They have an agenda, and they'll game the system any way they can to implement it. This absurd hijacking the budget in the last month or so shows them in their true colors.

So as disappointing as Inslee has been so far, at least he's potentially educable and potentially more responsive to pressure that comes from sources other than business interests. While he might be listening to the corporate wing of the Democratic party now, we must find ways to make him hear from the kitchen table wing. In a way I'm relieved his ideas don't seem to have gelled yet.

But the fact is that corporate reform ideas about education are the coin of the realm for both both Republicans and Dems until the rest of us find a way of reframing in a more constructive way what we want the word "reform" to mean. Until we we do that more effectively, corporate reform ideas win by default in both parties.

We've been good at fighting back on single issues like charters, but we're not so good at fighting for an alternative, comprehensive vision of reform because we don't really have one, at least not one around which there is enough consensus to organize.

mitt said...

I have voted Democrat in every election, but I will not be voting for Jay Inslee as he is showing himself to lack the spine to stand up to illogical ed reform demands such as basing teacher evals and merit pay on student test scores. I will be sending a letter to Mr Inslee telling him that I will not be voting for him. Neither will I vote for McKenna. I know this might seem foolish, but enough is enough. These guys can't just count on our votes because they are the lesser of two evils. When do we stand up for something? Any adult who says we should base teacher evals on student test scores lacks critical thinking skills and intellectual honesty. The teacher-bashing has to stop. And it will only stop if our votes stop. What a supreme disappointment is Inslee.

mitt said...

My comment disappeared, so here is another try --

I have voted Democrat my whole life, but I will not be voting for Inslee as he is showing himself to lack the spine to stand up to the illogical and damaging ed reform demands to tie teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores. Neither will I vote for McKenna. I know this sounds foolish, but I am tired of these guys expecting to get our votes just because they are the lesser of two evils. Enough is enough, and I have to stand for something.

The teacher-bashing has to stop, or our votes will stop.

I will be sending a letter to Inslee today letting him know I will not be voting for a Democrat for governor for the first time in my adult life. He has shown he lacks the intellectual gravitas to deserve that leadership position.

Anonymous said...

Ironically I just met the Alliance CEO today, and she definitely seems to think that the alliance has the answers to education. It was depressing to sit across from someone who really does not understand what I do and what I need to get more done. She got an earful, and I feel sure that it went in one side and out the other because clearly the lowly teacher does not know what is best.

way beyond enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mitt, I feel the same way but I will vote Dem.

My way is that I will give Inslee my vote but no money and no support.

So in that way you remain a Dem but you make Inslee work for that win.

mitt said...

Oh, make no mistake -- I remain a Democrat. But I do not equate that with voting for Inslee. In fact, I am beginning to wonder where the real Democrats are. I bet a vote not going to him, which could build to two votes, then three votes, scares him more than a contribution not going to him.