Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Isn't the Discussion about the Actual Charter Bill?

 Reader Mr. White said this in another thread:

When people complain about Seattle process with too many meddling parents asking questions and too many groups seeking answers, oh my, who wants to come here? they're serving as a distraction from the facts.

Ab-so-lu-te-ly. 

I have written frequently and in varied places about the issues in this charter bill.  I am talking here about the descriptions within the bill about how charters would be carried out in our state, not my opinion. 

In no place - not LEV, not the Times, not here, not anywhere - has a single person said "No, you read the bill wrong."  "You have this fact wrong."

Not on a single point in a single place.

That means that every charter support that has read the Times comments or read LEV's posts or even the posts here supports every single thing in the bill?  Interesting.

Now maybe these people don't see what I pointed out as flaws and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I do find it odd that not one single time over these months, at any venue, has one person said my interpretation of the bill is wrong.

 So why, if there was someone out there going around bad-mouthing a charter bill you supported, why wouldn't one of them defend the bill itself?

I mean even Lynne Varner at the Times said on KUOW that the bill has "issues."

But the goal is getting charters in the door and not to have the best starter charter bill for a state that hasn't had charters.  If Senator Tom's "coalition" group had written a (yes) modest and go-slow bill, I certainly would have had less to argue about.

But, this was not about writing the right charter bill for Washington State, it's about getting charters in the door with as much flexibility to the charter groups as possible. 

But see the facts don't matter in this discussion.

For example the only thing charter supporters will say in specific to this bill is that  "it's modest".  I believe the only thing about the bill that is modest is the number of charters per year  but if you are keeping up then you know that the number 1 goal today of charter organizations is to get the caps lifted from all states that have them.  

Meaning, if we get charters, it would not remain 10 per year for long.  And that's because this is maybe one-quarter about possible academic outcomes and likely three-quarters about the public education face of Washington State and about swimming in the big education pool and about people making money.

And about a fairly small number of powerful people with a lot of money who believe they know best.  

So I wait.

I wait for someone to read the bill thoroughly and say to me that they have no problem with its issues.

I wait for someone to explain to me how this bill will really help low-performing schools in its current writing.  Because in its current state, it's almost a crapshoot of what we might get. 

But, in the end, that because it's really a lot more about the end game of having charters and a lot less about thinking about what we could be doing in addition-to or differently-from what we currently have.

45 comments:

Ramona H said...

Hi, this is Ramona Hattendorf. I have not been on this blog in a while, but I see WSPTA has been mentioned in regards to the charter position and recent bills.

WSPTA testimony focused on ways the proposed bill could be improved. PTA has pretty qualified support for charters and we are particularly focused on shared decision making. The bill was weak there. It also lacked any sort of mechanism to monitor/take into consideration the effect charters could have on the surrounding school district. All testimony is posted on our Grassroots Connection blog: wsptagrassroots.blogspot.com (charter testimony is Jan 18)

Melissa or someone else may have mentioned transformation zones, but that is one aspect of the bill not getting much attention that also concerned us at the state level. The idea of providing focused support to high needs kids and their educators is good, but we weren't convinced this was the best way to provide assistance. In particular, we were concerned about the ability of families in these schools to participate in decisions and in civic oversight.

Finally, this is off topic a bit, but if any PTA members need to know state positions, our web site is www.wastatepta.org. All of the positions are in the advocacy section, under the Top 6 tab. This fall the association will be adopting a new platform. Please, get involved. Submit a proposal. Make sure your local PTA sends delegates. Make sure your officers read and share and discuss the proposal booklet that is mailed to every local unit. Your dues pay for that printing and mailing, and if your officers don't do anything with it you are disenfranchised and your voice will go unheard.

If you have questions, contact your council leaders. There is also a regional team to explain things and help local units. And if you have questions about policy and WSPTA positions, read our positions, read Grassroots. Or ask me. Or your elected legislative director. Contact info is all on the website.

And if you don't like the charter bill proposed, tell your legislator.

dan dempsey said...

Ramona H. writes:

And if you don't like the charter bill proposed, tell your legislator.

So does Ramona H. like the charter school bill as written that she apparently supported?

==============
This is all far too similar to the SPS and TFA Corps Members as pushed by the Superintendent and supported by the Board.

Ignore existing law, ignore the actual applicable research, ignore the real facts on charters or on TFA Corps Member retention at the schools they are supposedly going to effect the change within. WHY?

Because TFA was not about reducing achievement gaps as stated in the Action Report submitted to put this ball in play, it was about getting TFA into Seattle. In fact not even Dr. Enfield could keep a straight face on the "achievement gap" reason; nor apparently can DeBell or HM-M. In action reports for individual TFA CM conditional certification, Enfield was authorized to seek conditional certificates on the grounds that these conditional certificates were a strategy to close achievement gaps. Enfield waited over a month in the case of authorizations on three TFA CMs to submit a request for Conditional Certs but Dr. E did not check the box (see page 4 here) authorized by the Action Reports instead certifying that each of these TFA CMs were highly qualified and experienced in the subject matter to be taught and has unusual distinction or exceptional talent demonstrated through public records or accomplishments exceptionally talented (of which there is no record and on which there was NO public discussion). But Dr. Enfield confirmed this was true. {{Liar Liar pants on Fire}}

... (continued)

dan dempsey said...

Now we have DeBell and HM-M calling this an experiment which apparently needs to be continued for at least another year so that data can be gathered on a miniscule sample of 6 persons.
Let us call this what it is:
an illegal, irrational experiment in deception.


The experiment here is whether a group or groups can get TFA started and continue in violation of WAC 181-79A-231 by fraud and deception.

The experiment is whether Dr. Enfield can confirm something is true when it is not an never be held accountable (so similar to her New Tech Network actions ... So similar to Charter Schools support at the Legislature (and you can toss in the Value Added Measuring of teachers as well if you like).

=========
It is just like the charter argument ... completely bogus. The Goal whether Charters or TFA is all that matters and that goal is getting them started no matter how deceptive or dishonest. The research and the real effects on students are ignored.
=========

In the column:
Fourteen reasons schools are troubled (and no, it’s not all about teachers)

Look at some of the list:
* Inept local school boards;
* Politicized state boards of education
* A corporate testing and textbook oligopoly,
* A small army of opportunistic charter school and voucher entrepreneurs.
* The U.S. Department of Education,
* A pedantic or “tracked” Arne Duncan, and misinformed President Obama,
* The political right wing’s sworn enemies of public education.
* Naïve advocacy by Gates and Kopp, et al.,
* Most of our collegiate schools of education
* Growing American economic and cultural poverty surrounding too many of its children,

“America’s K-12 parents.”

Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp can work like a demon to extract more grant and foundation dollars, and the United States will still have a teacher crisis because every TFA teacher will likely need to have their hand held by a master teacher for at least several years to become effective in a classroom, or the cultural impact of demonizing some teachers will halo to all teachers — already happening — throttling motivation to even approach the profession. Another unthinking victim of the aforementioned “law.”

That is the "law" of unintended consequences.
===============

So start checking off which of those 14 reasons apply in Seattle and WA state and don't forget the Highline school board just raised the salary paid the Highline Superintendent by 20% to adequately compensate its new superintendent Susan Enfield. .... Dishonesty pays. Real results are not required and real research is ignored.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.... that is why the SPS has so much spending and such little improvement.

It is known what is effective .... the SPS just refuses to do it. Using the Effect Sizes from Visible Learning would cost virtually nothing ... yet the Board refuses to conduct a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps apparently preferring to illegally continue with the TFA fraud perpetrated by SPS central administration.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you for this, Ramona.

I have to ask - why didn't anyone from Washington State PTSA tell people about their blog or point this out months ago? I'm thinking almost none of my readers knew about the blog because someone would have mentioned it.

So the blog thread on Jan. 18th says:

"Our focus is on ensuring they are well-governed, responsive to local need, and focused on working with families to meet the instructional needs of students. Fundamentally, charter schools need to be an asset to a community and welcoming to all students."

"In discussion of charter schools among members, concern about services to students with disabilities repeatedly came up, as did concern about funding. Support for allowing charter schools, meanwhile, centered on the success that certain charter schools have with children affected by the achievement gaps. If Washington chooses to go this route we want the best charter law possible."

Good points but a couple of comments:

- again, very strange that no one has pointed out these points that the Washington PTSA made; not in the media or anywhere else. Did WA PTSA send out a press release with these concerns? I think it might have been helpful.

- One thread says WA PTSA is "evaluating this bill." I'd like to see what your conclusions were because some of your concerns were my concerns.

- I did point out the issues about the transformation schools AND the parent trigger. Would WA PTSA really support a petition with the majority of teachers signing for an approved charter to just take over a neighborhood school? With the majority of parents?

So I looked through all the threads on your blog for charters and didn't see one saying "this is not the best charter law for Washington state".

So WA PTSA supports good charter law but didn't put forth any real opposition to the bill in question. Even though the WA PTSA has what I believe to be some valid and real concerns for children and families because of what is embedded in this bill.

I rest my case.

Kathleen Smith said...

Ramona,

Thank you for taking time to write on this blog. I share Melissa's concerns. Clearly, WSPTSA support for this bill was premature.

Considering the enormity of this bill I feel the WSPTSA has acted in an irresponsible manner.

I"ve watched the WSPTSA Charter Forum and did not hear ANY of these concerns expressed. Most people do NOT understand details of this bill.

I also received notification from the WSPTSA stating they would support charter legislation..the document ONLY contained skewed information.

The fact that a weak bill was supported leaves me very wary of the WSPTSA. I expected more.

The average citizen does not have time to go to the PTA web site. I hope you take a more public position on these issues...perhaps an opinion piece in the Seattle Times would be nice.

Jennifer Boutell said...

I too appreciate that Ramona took the time to respond to the concerns expressed here. However, I am also disappointed that the WSPTA has not pushed more visibly for amendments to what we all agree is a dangerously flawed bill.

When the bill was originally in the Senate education committee, Senator Tom insisted that it be approved without amendment. Where was the outcry then? Fortunately, Senator Mcauliffe had the best interests of our kids in mind and blocked the bill.

Now here we are a month later. The same bill is back, with no amendments, and is being sold as "modest" and "limited." We're just parent advocates, here. Without the vocal support of a large organization like the WSPTA it is very difficult for our legitimate concerns about this bill to get any play at all in the media.

The primary message out there right now with regard to charter schools and the PTA is that the PTA supports them. Without some serious effort at qualifying that statement, all nuance is lost.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't WSPTA just recant the support for this imperfect and weak charter bill? That would really speak volume and show integrity.

It doesn't help to have a PTA blog named "Grassroots Connection" and PTA members don't know about it.

-P in the PTA stands for parents, not politics

dan dempsey said...

It is great that Ramona mentions the achievement gaps.

It will be even better if something positive is finally actually undertaken to do something about the achievement gaps.


It does not take charters to do something positive about achievement gaps. A careful review of all options that could close achievement gaps is needed but this is clearly NOT of interest to the leadership of the SPS.

Here is my letter to Mr. Tony Martinez of the State Auditor's Office in Seattle.

You will notice the continual misuse of the achievement gaps by Seattle's central administration and complete neglect of facts by the Board.

If someone or organization wishes to get started on closing achievement gaps, perhaps here is the place to begin =>

Hattie states that "Project Follow Through" clearly demonstrated what worked, but education decision makers decided to throw increasingly large amounts of money into practices they would like to have work. Those practices in a large number of situations still do not work.

[effect sizes from "Visible Learning" by Hattie : the hinge effect value of 0.40 or greater indicates an intervention is likely to bring success]

The SPS current math direction and many other subject areas is centered on:
a. Inquiry based teaching (0.31)
b. Problem based learning (0.15)
c. Differentiated Instruction (no empirical evidence)

Consider the effective practices that could be used:
a. Direct Instruction (0.59).
b. Problem Solving teaching (0.61),
c. Mastery Learning (0.58), and
d. Worked Examples (0.57).

These four innovations are not only effective but could be easily combined into a deliverable package.

Don't be looking for either OSPI, the SPS, or the Common Core State Standards to deliver on what is needed. Hopefully the WSPTA can get improvements moving .... because Obama/Duncan is certainly not going to do much other than spend a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

I have just totally changed my mind about charter schools in the last 3 months. Recently I began volunteering in a high poverty SPS school that is really far away from my own young child's school (close to my work so it is easy to access, and I encourage all the non-classroom-volunteering people on this blog to get out there and get real). The school leaders seem nice but I get the deep feeling people have given up on being able to make real changes. Low academics and poor behavior are tolerated in a way that I have never seen at our family's school. Teachers know this is a problem but report feeling powerless to change it. The SPS administration is seen as inconsistent and non-supportive. Some teachers are known by colleagues to be dead wood. I know see that the only way this could change quickly is if a school leader could pick all their staff and start over. Either SPS has to do a lot more transformation schools or we need charters asap. These kids have no time to wait. Politics, schmolitics: I think thats what most parents outside this blog might be thinking when we say enough already, time for some drastic action. Now donning flame-retardant gear because seems to me like most readers here care more about protecting adult systems (like an idealized form of public education, and like teacher unions) than protecting kids NOW. No student should have to go to school in an environment like the many out there where test scores are so low (and also morale) that it's not even funny. Time to can the whole thing and start over. Thanks WSPTA for at least supporting that we start the conversation.

Time for real change

Dora Taylor said...

Speaking of the Parent Trigger law, Parents Across America-Florida (PAA) and the PTA of Florida fought together valiantly against that law in Florida last week and won!

You can read about it on the PAA website Parents Across America hails defeat of Florida’s Parent Trigger bill.

Dora Taylor said...

It seems that the WSPTA should be fighting the parent trigger aspect of this bill at least as hard as the PTA folks did in Florida.

To read more about the Florida PTA's involvement with the fight against the Parent Trigger Law, go to Parent trigger: A farce in Florida.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Now donning flame-retardant gear because seems to me like most readers here care more about protecting adult systems (like an idealized form of public education, and like teacher unions) than protecting kids NOW."

Time, I don't think you read this blog much because many of us have offered ideas for change.

I think it dividing to say if you don't want charters, you are protecting the union. That is not so and this "it's one or the other" doesn't do the discussion any good.

Anonymous said...

@Time for real change -
Thank you for your volunteer time in school. That is a huge positive in efforts to help students.

How, specifically, will charter schools, as outlined in Senator Tom's bill, address the challenges that you are seeing in the school in which you volunteer?

Oompah

Anonymous said...

Time for Real Change, kudos for coming to volunteer in a "high poverty" school. Remember though the same groups that support charters and TFA are the same groups that supported Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the "SE Initative", and the old school board majority (thank god for Director Patu) that we parents and our kids lived through for 4 years. So perhaps you can understand if we are more than a little leery at embracing the whole charter thing, it's not because we're coached or too dumb to understand, it's that we've seen what years of neglect and lack of access have done to our neighborhoods and the schools. The thing that I worry most is how much time, money, and district's leadership attention aimed on a few TFA teachers and a 1-2 possible charter schools will cost classrooms and kids.

It isn't just school leadership, it starts with city hall, businesses, to the police. These schools don't exist in a vacuum. We also need to talk about transforming our neighborhoods. Think what could be if we transform S. Seattle and draw in some of the money, investments, and jobs as South Lake Union has done. Just think if the the Gates Foundation was built in S. Seattle to demonstrate its commitment and values. What a symbol that would have been! Talk about transforming neighborhood!

-proof's in the pudding and I'm ready to eat

I Understand said...

Time,

Your message really resonates with me. I spent 2 years working in an extremely high poverty area of New York- Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I can't even begin to tell you about the personal toll this experience took on me. Yes, I worked with burnt out individuals.

I truly understand your desire to have something- anything- that would help these unfortunate children. However, I don't think charters are the answer.

I've tutored children at risk for the past 2 years. I won't do it next year because I know I'd get burned out.

I think there needs to be a larger discussion regarding working within high poverty areas. We all know there are high turn-over rates. Why? This really needs to be explored.

Keep up the good work. I'm wondering how long you will be able to keep up with this work.

Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

OK good people on all sides to this debate, PLEASE, PLEASE stop calling our kids in S. Seattle as "unfortunate". Give them a little respect! Otherwise, we'll resort to describing you as those "unfortunate, well meaning, but clueless neighborhood crashers, best left to occupy Wall Street". Just kidding. But you know what I mean. This is a diverse community with complicated needs. If you want to help, great, but don't paint us as passive unfortunates. There are many kids here who are hard working and respectful, who contribute positively to their immediate communities and the greater society. Sigh!

-pudding eater (a different cat to the "money eater")

dan dempsey said...

Time,

Thank you so much for your volunteer efforts.

You wrote: "Low academics and poor behavior are tolerated in a way that I have never seen at our family's school. Teachers know this is a problem but report feeling powerless to change it."

That is because in most cases the SPS teachers are powerless to change it.

The Central Administration pretends these behavior disruptions in the classroom are not happening and the SEA virtually ignores informing members of the law governing classroom disruption. RCW 28A 600.020 states:

(2) Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first. Except in emergency circumstances, the teacher first must attempt one or more alternative forms of corrective action. In no event without the consent of the teacher may an excluded student return to the class during the balance of that class or activity period or up to the following two days, or until the principal or his or her designee and the teacher have conferred.

(3) In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems. Such procedures shall provide that students may be excluded from their individual classes or activities for periods of time in excess of that provided in subsection (2) of this section if such students have repeatedly disrupted the learning of other students. The procedures must be consistent with the rules of the superintendent of public instruction and must provide for early involvement of parents in attempts to improve the student's behavior.

(4) The procedures shall assure, pursuant to RCW 28A.400.110, that all staff work cooperatively toward consistent enforcement of proper student behavior throughout each school as well as within each classroom.

====
So how can the classroom behaviors you saw be happening?

Simply because the District has no interest in the law as written. Many principals will retaliate against teachers who would enforce the provisions of the law because that is likely what Central Admin expects.

I Understand said...

Pudding Eater,

I was referring to my experience in New York City. I wasn't a neighborhood crasher; I lived in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

That was my point. You're not a "neighborhood crasher". To be labelled as such stings. But my apology for highlighting your comment. I speak from frustration and sometimes get too heated.

pudding

Anonymous said...

Here is a letter I just wrote to the Seattle Business Journal in response to their recent front page story on education. No surprise — they quote people who like charter schools.

As a parent of two children educated in Seattle private and public schools, I would like to take issue with Valerie Bauman’s recent article on education (Schooled. Democrats see defections on education reform, March 15-22). Although she tried to present both sides of the charter school, ed reform arguments, the pro-business side won out. The editorial ended up as a stealth endorsement of Rod McKenna over Jay Inslee for governor by showcasing two Democrats who support Republican policies on ed reform.

Lisa MacFarlane, head of Washington chapter of Democrats for Education Reform, may support charter schools now but where is her evidence that they are more effective? The studies I have read indicate the majority of them do not perform better than public schools. Many charters skim better performing students and leave at-risk children to the public sector. The multimillionaire you profiled, Nick Hanauer, has probably never set foot in a public school. Since when have venture capitalists become experts on education?

The justification for a statewide rethinking of ed reform was based on a Washington Policy Center survey that said 60 percent of Washingtonians now support changing state law to allow charter public schools. Your writer fails to mention that the Washington Policy Center is a right wing think tank. According to Melissa Westbrook of the Seattle Schools Community blog, charters were not explained to those polled in that survey and the question was phrased as helping high-need students. Since Washington voters have voted down charters several times, Republicans are trying to get their foot in the door on charter schools by going around them.

My personal experience as a parent was that there were excellent teachers in both the private and public schools our children attended. Luckily, they graduated before teaching to the test became a national obsession.

There is one area where I believe Seattle public schools can improve —by replacing the current discovery math curriculum with better textbooks. This is why I volunteered for former math teacher Marty McLaren to get onto the Seattle School Board. She won in spite of many Seattle Times editorials supporting the incumbent.

There are other ways to improve education without turning to the private sector. The for-profit business model is not the answer in education.

Sincerely,
Georgi Krom

SJ said...

I have spent a lot of time going over charter school research in the last 6 months and I have been saddened by the results. Charters simply aren't the-answer many of us had hoped they'd become. I spent 10 years educating our poorest children, both in general and special education. I also received an M .Ed in educational administration while interning as an administrator for Los Angeles Unified SD. I worked with and witnessed a great deal of dead wood over the years, and it was beyond heartbreaking to see our most vulnerable students struggle in our broken system. I watched a gifted and hard working principal lose her job after unsuccessfully attemting to help a senior teacher become more effective. Teachers are inherently supportive in nature, and when a principal dares to label a teacher as unsatisfactory, their colleagues (and the union) almost always come to their defense, regardless of the facts. In this specific case, the union prevailed in saving a poor teacher because the principal didn't have an extensive case reprt for each teacher in the school, despite the fact that it would be physically impossible to so.

I had hoped charters would be the great equalizer. I envisioned they would provide our poorest students with nothing but the best teachers. I thought they'd be lead by the best principals who would have the freedom to be real instructional leaders, instead of puppets carrying out the wishes of misguided school board members and district leaders, but that is not what they have become.

Somehow the entire charter movement was taken over by well organized foundations more interested in carrying out their fresh ideas, than looking at actual research/results. The amount of money involved is naturally corruptive.

I still wonder though, what if a neighborhood school chose to become a charter, if they chose to dissolve their relationship with the NEA, the district and their school board and they had true autonomy. If the parents, students and teachers made all economic and instructional decisions with no outside organizational influence- would that prove more effective? My optimistic streak wants to believe so, but the realist in me says screams NO! What would make the parents suddenly have the time, energy and knowhow to improve their school because it became a charter. Unless we invest and support in the greater community, there will be no magic bullets for our failing schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SJ, I can tell you in all my activist years I have met so many smart, committed parents in every corner of this city.

I WISH parents would be allowed even some input to the program placement and/or direction of their school.

I wish that were true for charter school parents. (It's not in the charter law and I really doubt it would be for any charter.)

I wish that were true for public school parents. I think parents are now kept so busy fundraising that they don't even think about the direction of their school.

The one place I have seen it is in our alternative schools and if they were given the latitude they used to get, it would be more of a partnership.

Kathy said...

Excellent chart outlining Transformation Zone Schools and charter schools:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/CMD/showdoc.ashx?u=A2iGB9PMbwyP2X1C%2bw7qdVoo636n00r%2fAh888keMqQ1e4m6bl2JyexkM5e26llIDMOyMqTHCX81EJv5LTwc1tKeTS1QBGmFe2wlyI0FEB4V%2byGLpKn%2f7Kw%3d%3d&y=2012

Charlie Mas said...

Time for real change suggested:

"No student should have to go to school in an environment like the many out there where test scores are so low (and also morale) that it's not even funny. Time to can the whole thing and start over."

So when we "can the whole thing" what will we get rid of?

And when we start over, what will we build?

There are a number of people, myself included, who have strongly - even stridently - called for the closure, re-invention, and re-opening of a number of schools. We've wanted the same as you. No need to pull up the asbestos skivvies, you're preachin' to the choir.

The obstacles to reform - real, meaningful reform that will actually help students - is not in the teachers' union but in the school-, district-, and state-level administration. They are the ones who make the rules that you want to break. They are the ones that establish and maintain the system that isn't working. They are the bureaucrats who don't do any work to actually teach students. They are the ones who would get cut out in a charter school.

So, yes, it is tempting to support charter schools that will cut them out. But who will become the administrators in their place? Will those administrators create a system that is much different from the current system, or will the charter school administrators create a system that is essentially identical to the existing public school system, but with a few incremental changes: younger, hungrier, cheaper teachers who don't have the benefits of union protection and burn themselves out in two years; a self-selected group of students from families that are engaged enough to choose the charter school; and the negative selection of any students with special needs.

If that's all we're going to get from charter schools, then they do not represent any kind of a step forward.

If, however, we get a different kind of school, a school that is built around the needs of the students, a school that has a system that works for kids, and teachers, and families and the community, then I, too, will welcome it.

That school could just as easily - in fact more easily - be a public school than a charter school.

So let's work towards that kind of school - and not just one or two of them, but at every school - and not get too hung up with the question of whether it is a charter school or a public school or a private school that has found some way to provide equitable access to all.

Sahila said...

If any of you think the worst has been done, think again...

ALEC is busy: ALEC EDUCATION ACADEMY

Anonymous said...

Time for real change here again--

You all are definitely awesome. I was really speaking from frustration and I am glad for your kind responses in which I did NOT need my asbestos skivvies... but seriously, why can't we have a narrowly written charters law that cuts out all the for-profits? To Charlie's point: this is what I want-- fire all the dead wood now. Many schools have some great staff and some poor staff. Some schools are stuck with harmful staff (not all) that BULLY THE CHILDREN. I saw this with my own eyes last week-- and it's not "reportable" because it has to do with tone of voice and a general belief that the children are not of value and not much is to be expected of them, no "illegal" words said, but some pple just should not be in teaching. And before you tell me that the current process works or could work to get rid of them, uh-uh, too pondersome. My answer (thus my desire for non-profit charters) is to fire the whole lot and start over with an administrator who actually believes highly of the kids and pershaps can actually connect with them on many levels, linguistic, cultural, etc. Then that person should be able to hire lots of amazing staff who actually give a crap. Under current state law that's not really do-able, despite the OSPI transformation schools and the new CBA. Kids are aging every day. I knwo charters aren't perfect in other states, but maybe we can dfesign it right, design it differently, make fewer mistakes, and do somethingright for these kids now. I have seen a number of adult actions that are perfectly legal and make my blood boil, and would not be tolerated in the kind of school with lots of stay at home mamas roaming the hallways, mamas with savvy system skills. Can we not agree that SOMETHING IMPERFECT acted upon soon may be better than the status quo that continues? If we hate charters let's lobby for something that WILL work?? I am just speakingfrom frustration and saying let's find a common ground and get harmful schools the heck out of existence now.

Time for real change

Ramona H said...

WSPTA testimony has been to suggest ways to improve the charter school bill. We never supported or opposed.

People on blogs like this one evidently made many assumptions. No one bothered to ask, or simply read what has been publicly posted.

Having a position does not automatically mean the association will support any bill, and after the position
was taken to be supportive of charters in Washington a memo was sent out via Grassroots and our leadership newsletters explaining what we would look for in legislation.

Grassroots Connection is WSPTA's legislative newsletter. It is sent out via email and has been for years. Any member can subscribe. This winter we moved it over to a blog format to make it easier for leaders to share information with their local members, and for members to more easily look up information on their own.

On charters, WSPTA testimony dates back to January when the bill was first heard. There was no effort to hide our position or testimony, and frankly that is an odd assertion. No one on this blog, or any other for that matter, ever asked what we had to say about the bill.

Ramona H said...

There are some great turnarounds happening. Check out Auburn school district. Great cultural competency work up in Marysville (tribe took the initiative to help staff).

Even among proponents charter public schools aren't seen as THE answer. Just another option. Massachusetts has an interesting mix of traditional, charter and "pilot" schools.

Per what PTA should advocate for, we advocate for our body of positions, and our legislative advocacy efforts go first to our Top 6 positions. Charter schools is one of eight "also supported" issues and as such isn't on the front burner. (Yes, despite what you read on blogs it is not an issue I have been pounding the pavement on. I have been engaging, per the direction given via our process. It is not a top issue and it shares my time with 14 platform issues, including other strategies to close the achievement gaps, early learning and juvenile justice along with other K12 improvements.

Basic education funding reforms and system
improvements (like evaluation reform) are my primary focus. Again, all WSPTA positions are posted on www.wastatepta.org. If you are a member and wish to engage with state legislative issues, there is a listserv you can subscribe to, there is also Grassroots Connection, which anyone can access now via the blog.

Also, if you are a member, WSPTA doesn't tell you what to advocate for individually, or as a local unit. But formal positions taken at legislative assembly and at convention will be presented as association positions and advocated for accordingly.

In the case of charter public schools we have qualified support and will advocate for legislation that meets our criteria. The bill in question never cleared committee and has not been discussed on the floor of either chamber.

I Understand said...

"I knwo charters aren't perfect in other states, but maybe we can dfesign it right, design it differently, make fewer mistakes"

Time,

Again, I share your concerns. I too have seen young children being spoken to in totally disrespectful manner. Totally upsetting.

I appreciate your desire to create a different type of charter, but I'm not seeing anything in the bill that would guarantee such results. Let's face it- there are many charter schools being charged with issues around discipline. States around the country are having difficulty closing poor charter schools.

So, suppose something different could be created; what about the other kids left behind?

I appreciate your sense of urgency and compassion. Too many kids are falling through the cracks for a wide variety of reasons.

Charlie Mas said...

Time for Real Change, here's where you're going to see how tricky and tough it is for folks to actually do what you suggest.

1. "fire all the dead wood now. Many schools have some great staff and some poor staff. Some schools are stuck with harmful staff (not all) that BULLY THE CHILDREN. I saw this with my own eyes last week-- and it's not 'reportable' because it has to do with tone of voice and a general belief that the children are not of value and not much is to be expected of them, no 'illegal' words said, but some pple just should not be in teaching."

Who will decide which people are "dead wood", bully the children, and just should not be in teaching? Will it be the school principal? Are we to understand that the school principal knows about the dead wood, the bullying, and those who should go? If the principal does know and has not taken action, then isn't it the principal who should go? If the principal doesn't know, then, again, isn't it the principal who should go?

2. "And before you tell me that the current process works or could work to get rid of them, uh-uh, too pondersome. My answer (thus my desire for non-profit charters) is to fire the whole lot and start over with an administrator who actually believes highly of the kids and pershaps can actually connect with them on many levels, linguistic, cultural, etc. Then that person should be able to hire lots of amazing staff who actually give a crap."

I guess it's too late for me to heed your warning about using the current process (as described above). There could well be a lot of amazing staff in the school already, but you suggest that they get fired right along with the dead wood, the bullies, and the people who should just go away. Hmmm. And what would happen to them? Would they find another teaching job somewhere? Where? Think of the future consequences of this practice. Once this starts happening, why would any competent teacher take a job in a struggling school? Wouldn't it be better to replace the principal you proposed above and then let that person make replacements as needed among the staff, set the new culture of the school, improve the sagging morale of the remaining teachers, and hire lots of amazing staff?

3. "Under current state law that's not really do-able, despite the OSPI transformation schools and the new CBA."

Sugar, not only is it "do-able", but in some cases it is actually required. The problem is that no one has enforced the laws that require it. No one in the District has followed the law and no state-level bureaucrat has enforced the law. What you describe in your fantasy is exactly what is supposed to happen in any school that reaches Step 5 in No Child Left Behind. We have a number of such schools, but none of them has EVER been shut down, re-invented, and re-opened as the federal law requires.

(continued...)

Charlie Mas said...

(... continued)


4. "I knwo charters aren't perfect in other states, but maybe we can dfesign it right, design it differently, make fewer mistakes, and do somethingright for these kids now."

We cannot legislate quality.

5. "Can we not agree that SOMETHING IMPERFECT acted upon soon may be better than the status quo that continues? If we hate charters let's lobby for something that WILL work?? I am just speakingfrom frustration and saying let's find a common ground and get harmful schools the heck out of existence now."

We already have the "SOMETHING IMPERFECT" that you seek. I'm sure that you've heard it said that democracy is a terrible system, but it's still the best one available. That's the one we have. And, not coincidentally, it's democracy. We have a democratically elected School Board and they are in charge. The Board does not have to drift like a leaf on the current. The board can demand that the superintendent present a plan for closing the academic achievement gap. Doesn't it strike you as odd that the District has never made a plan to achieve their most-stated goal? The board can insist that the superintendent comply with federal law and take meaningful and radical action in persistently under-performing schools. The board can put a lot of pressure on the superintendent to make radical reforms in under-performing schools. They haven't. They haven't because they have not had any pressure from the electorate to do so.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...why can't we have a narrowly written charters law that cuts out all the for-profits?"

Good question but the people to direct that to are LEV, Tom, Pettigrew and charter supporters. This legislation is not that bill.

You should report ALL bullying to the principal. It doesn't have to be formal; just "I was disappointed to hear teacher A have such a negative tone this morning."

Sorry, but if there are poor-performing teachers in the school you are volunteering at and the principal won't do the work, that's on the principal. I know a least a couple of principals who did the work and got those teachers out of their schools.

No, I will not support an "imperfect" law because it just opens the door. You don't fix a law after its enacted when you know it is flawed to begin with.

The state DID pass two innovation schools laws last year (OSPI has the info) and Seattle has its imperfect Creative Approach schools. I would suggest advocating for those.

Ramona, I didn't say you hid anything. I'm just surprised that parents here - PTSA parents - didn't say anything about the your blog. That WA PTSA knew the bill is flawed and yet didn't widely advocate for change is, yes, odd.

Yes, we know the charter law never moved forward and that's because a lot of people who saw its law DID work against it and DID call attention to its flaws, both to the public and to lawmakers.

I Understand said...

Time,

One more point, I hope you report the incidents you witnessed. If you haven't received acknowledgement/ support from the principal - bring your complaint to a higher level.

There are many many caring individuals within the public school system. I don't think this sort of behavior will be accepted or tolerated.

Anonymous said...

Just got this email on the listserve

"WSPTA neither supports or opposes; is evaluating and cites concerns
-
NOTE: This bill was heard in January by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. A companion bill was heard by the House Education Committee. It did not move out of committee and was not discussed or voted on by either chamber, but it was funded in at least one budget proposal from the Senate.

Washington State PTA has qualified support for charter schools and is actively looking for ways to close our state's entrenched achievement gaps. The association is supportive of allowing charter public schools in Washington as a way to improve accountability and innovation – but only if the charter public schools support our principles and follow state law.

In the bill as it currently stands, it is unclear how shared decision making will be sustained at either transformation zone schools or charter schools, or how the state will monitor and address impacts on the surrounding school district. Provisions to engage and involve families and community need to be strengthened, particularly since most laws would be waived. (Washington law allows for waivers, but currently all schools must follow a formal process.)"

Hmmmmm

dw said...

@I Understand

Let's see if I can answer one of your questions by merely swapping the order of some of your post:

Your question:

I think there needs to be a larger discussion regarding working within high poverty areas. We all know there are high turn-over rates. Why?

Your own answer:

I've tutored children at risk for the past 2 years. I won't do it next year because I know I'd get burned out.

I think it's pretty clear what happens, and it happens with teachers as well as volunteers.

Anonymous said...

There's another public school property, TFA, and For-Profit charters theme going on in Washington Post education section. TFA just formed a partnership with Imagine School, largest for profit charter company with controversial history. Interesting and very profitable real estate deal a charter school can make off public school property.

You can blame this on those loopholes and flawed charter laws that so many people have reservations about, but want pass. Why is that?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/teach-for-americas-new-partnership-
with-largest-for-profit-charter-network/2012/03/13/gIQAbsfrLS_blog.html

-is this where we're heading?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Just got this email on the listserve

"WSPTA neither supports or opposes; is evaluating and cites concerns"

Hmmm indeed.

Could it be that the Washington State PTSA realized that they alienated a lot of supporters with this stand?

That they alienated supporters with their "qualified" support of charter legislation without any real push to either make the current legislation better or outright rejection?

Better late than never but it looks like backpedaling.

Back peddling? said...

I agree, Melissa. There seems to be splitting of hairs between supporting charters and bills.

http://lwptsanews.net/2011/10/18/washington-state-pta%E2%80%99s-2011-12-legislative-platform/

The WSPTSA would be wise to address the issue of support before legislation is drafted. From my perspective, they may have been used.

There was NO mention of problems of Wa. State charter bill at the SCPTSA Charter Forum. This gave the impression the WSPTSA supported this bill. Perhaps an oversight? Perhaps clarification was needed? Who knows, but concerning.

I also appreciate the recent message going out to their listserve, but to say "neither support or oppose"? What the heck?

What is qualified support?

I appreciate Ramona coming on the blog and offering her comments. Many people have not watched testimony and do not know about their blog. I give them that. However, I think it is critical for a larger message to be sent to the press.

I can appreciate the fact, perhaps, concerns regarding the bill diminished because the bill didn't make it out of either the Senate or House. However, there were many rumors that we might see charter bills resurected during the budget process.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree Ramona (re: " Having a position does not automatically mean the association will support any bill, and after the position was taken to be supportive of charters in Washington a memo was sent out via Grassroots and our leadership newsletters explaining what we would look for in legislation." ") Those steps are good but pretty passive. In this climate, if it's the wrong bill, with multiple areas of concern, and PTSA stays quiet, it's tacit approval.

When you know legislation to be bad or insufficient or incomplete, I believe the WSPTA needs to go beyond not supporting -- you need to actively oppose. I think you need to say loud, to all legislators, and all the behind the scenes conductors (LEV, SfC, AfE, GF - and they are all key players in this one) that this bill is bad, we say NO. Using your voice in that way does send a loud and clear message. One that needs to be heard. (and one IMHO is more in line with your most of PTSAs constituents)

And while the bill never made it out of committee, it's still alive and well by being attached to the pending budget (last I heard). Given these circumstances, shouldn't WA PTSA now say, HOLD ON, this isn't right. Take it back to committee and fix it for next year? Can PTSA do that now?

- SPS and PTSA parent

Sahila said...

charter schools are about money, not choice: Money, Not Choice

Sahila said...

charter schools operators - skimming cream? school operators skimming cream or spending wisely?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Hattendorf,

It is clear to you that you failed miserably by getting the WPTSA to advocate for charters in such an underhanded way. You probably didn't anticipate such a backlash.

This lame attempt to try wiggle out of your accountability is not working. Saying that you're concerned with the bill while doing nothing to counter it simply reinforces what the public already knows--you are a smooth operator.

However, you have taken the WPTSA down the wrong path, and you will
not last in your current position.
You simply don't treat intelligent, educated stakeholders like fools and get away with it.

--enough already

Disgusted said...

Shouldn't the PTSA be required to provide accurate information? Here is their propaganda.:

http://www.wastatepta.org/meetings/leg_assembly/Issues_Guide_2011.pdf

Charlie Mas said...

Here's what I noticed about the charter school proposal from the PTSA: None of the people who brought the issue forward ever expect to have a charter school in their district.

Issue submitted by: Alison Meryweather, of Issaquah Council 2.6; Beth Sigall, of Rosa Parks ES PTSA 2.8.43; Chad Magendanz, of Maywood Middle School PTSA 2.6.40; Judy Morgan, of Hanford Secondary PTSA 12.5.45; Michele Braccia, of Hanford Secondary PTSA 12.5.45; Glenda Thomson, of Hanford Secondary PTSA 12.5.45; Audrey Bennett, of Bellevue PTSA Council 2.3

Anonymous said...

@Enough Already

Your letter to Ramona Hattendorf was dead on. And do you see any censure of Kelly Munn for her craven takeover of the legislative listserve to further her agenda?

No you do not.

When Kelly Munn is told to tone it down, then I'll be certain to put some stock in Hattendorf's weak protestations. Until those pigs fly, I call it ducking the issue by Hattendorf who is trying to staunch the criticism the PTSA deserves.

DistrictWatcher