Thursday, May 03, 2012

National Attention for Washington State Education

I have been reaching out to a number of national media.  I was able to make my case to The Washington Post and wrote this column for Valerie Strauss' The Answer Sheet, their education column. 

It's entitled "A State that Just Says 'No" to charters, other reforms."

It is important that other states, other cities and other districts know that ed reform is NOT inevitable.  And, that it is possible to fight back and win.

I honestly believe if we stay the course with what our Legislature has started - innovation schools laws, lighthouse school laws, and other ed reform of our own making - plus the start of flexible thinking from our teachers union, the WEA, we CAN do better.

In 5-10 years, we will look like the smart state while others will look at their educational landscape and ask why they chose to embrace ed reform mantra that is just that...words.


Anonymous said...

Great column Melissa! Talking truth to power indeed. You don't hesitate for an instant in the column before taking on not just charter schools, but the TFA, UW department of education, Gates Foundation, CRPE, for profit charter managers, . . . .

What other journalist is willing to do so? I'm so proud of you (even though I don't know you) and pleased with the power of the internet to make your voice heard.


mirmac1 said...

I think the "roadkill" Demo's and Pettigrew should've had their own little shout out... I'm sure they'd love the national notoriety - it would link them even tighter with their owners at ALEC.

Jan said...

Great article Melissa -- and very timely, I think, as school families and taxpayers in other states begin (finally) to understand what a "bill of goods" they have been sold by charter and other privatization supporters. Let's hope we can continue to keep Washington OUT of these wasteful schemes, and that those states that have traded solid public school assets to private enterprise for an ephemeral promise of improvement are able to turn their ships around.

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac: So go put those names in the public comments to the article. Have your friends do the same.

Oh, don't forget to mention Stand on the Kids (DC PAC funded by union busters), "Dems" for Reform (hedge fund NYC billionaires) and a special shout out to failed charter operator and "edupreneur" Tom Van Der Ark who is everywhere behind the scenes in WA.

It would be ever-so-pleasant to have those names permanently affixed to Melissa's awesome article.

****Corporate Reform Buster****

mirmac1 said...

Will do (but will have to wait until tonight...)

Anonymous said...

Nice job, Melissa, and nice article!


Sahila said...

chance to ask Melinda Gates questions about ed reform: PBS News Hour- Melinda Gates - Education Reform

Watching said...

This blog is also an adjunct to disseminate information nationally. Try doing some google searches on specific topics and people and this blog pops -up- everytime.

Lines of influence related to Bill and Melinda Gates, LEV, Alliance for Children, DeBell, Tim Burgess, Frank Greer, Jon Bridge and others have been enormously helpful.

Thanks everyone.

Susan Goding said...

Enjoyed your op-ed in the Washington Post. Great job.

mirmac1 said...

Speaking about Pettigrew...

Pettigrew also said he didn't tie his vote for any piece of legislation to the money and noted that he's managed to include multimillion-dollar provisos in past budgets. "Maybe I'm good at it," he said.

mirmac1 said...

NOT to toot my own horn but,

I am gratified that my positive comment, during last night's public testimony welcoming our new Super, got some press. Finally, something to make up for the crapola being thrown around.

Watching said...

One last point about this blog, ed reform, transparecy and googling- I hope you continue to document the actions of Tim Burgess- our democratically elected official that intends to bust unions using voter approved levy dollars.
I strongly suspect Burgess will seek higher office- and this information needs to be made public to the Democrats that support him.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me if Burgess would take a stab at getting mayoral control of our district. Documentation is extremely important.

BTW_ Hi to Ms.McFarland, Korsmo and Morris. Nice day we're having.

SPSLeaks said...

I'm expecting a public records request on Burgess any day now...

He will not be forgotten.

Jan said...

Watching -- my spidey sense (which I never used to trust much, until it was dead, 100% spot on about MGJ) tingles over the Burgess/mayoral control of schools thing as well. While McGinn's "I won't obstruct the tunnel" promise is Exhibit A of how to make campaign promises and then blatantly violate them later, it would be worth daylighting, BEFORE the election, any intentions that Burgess has with respect to a take over of our public schools. That would kill MY vote, and I suspect it would be a deal breaker for many others as well. I don't even want it up for discussion. We have so many "real" issues. And I am so tired of having the Board (and the public's time) absorbed in chasing down and fighting against all of the stupid "faux issues" (TfA, MAP, NTN, curricular alignment, destruction of Spectrum, dispersal of APP, etc.). For the next few years, I think we need to focus on:
1. capacity management and school/program placement (where to put everybody; what to build; now to finance it; how to expand access to language immersion, Montessori, high school options, accelerated learning, IB opportunities, alt opportunities);
2. achievement (better not forget to work on raising achievement levels and closing gaps -- including dropping or curtailing use of MAP testing, changes in math books for schools that want to include more "mastery" learning and less fidelity to "all discovery, all the time," online options for kids for whom it will increase achievement (either because they need a faster pace, a slower one, or a different pedagogy), and increased emphasis on "exporting" successful methods from schools doing well (I STILL want to know what Franklin is doing in math that Garfield is not -- and if the Garfield folks are not all over this, I STILL want to know why not);
3. Restoration of a legitimate SPED program (what we have now is so broken, I don't even know where to start -- but I bet there are others who do); and
4. An honest assessment of teacher support and evaluation. Am I the only one that feels like this entire new teacher evaluation thing may be a big lie? That while everyone knows a story or two about old cranky teachers with tenure who no longer seem to love teaching or kids, and whose classes are avoided by kids who pick better teachers, the new system is not designed to, nor used to, identify these folks and either help them improve or move them out, but instead is used for other, unspoken purposes? Like moving virtually ALL senior teachers out as a "cost savings" device? Or moving out all older teachers whose confidence and skill sets "threaten" immature and untested new principals who don't want any possible challenge to their authority? Or simply getting rid of anyone a new principal doesn't like? Good teachers are hard to come by, and it is horrible if we are squandering that asset.

suep. said...

I don't think it's a secret that Burgess has mayoral aspirations. He was rumored to be considering a run last time round and I expect he'll challenge McGinn next time.

Two other parents and I met with Burgess in early 2009 when Goodloe-Johnson and board were closing and splitting schools and creating general chaos, and I asked him then what he thought of mayoral control of school districts.

At that time, I didn't know much about the subject, so my question was presented neutrally. He didn't jump on the idea with enthusiasm, but did say: "It depends on who the mayor is."

That was quite a few astroturf encroachments and ed reform battles ago, here in Seattle.

Since then, he seems to be hanging with the corp. ed reform clique, who tend to like to consolidate power and weaken or do away with school boards, so I suspect that he might entertain the idea if he were mayor.

Unless, of course, it was widely unpopular among the voting citizenry, who still believe in the principles of democracy.

suep. said...

If anyone would like to add a comment to Melissa's WAPO article, seems like our state could use some defending.

And here's a link to the KUOW report featuring Cecilia's welcoming comment to Mr. Banda.

Jan said...

Besides, Sue P -- "depends on who the mayor is" is a terrible answer anyway. It begs the entire question of whether control by an elected school board of folks whose sole job is governance of the schools (and who come from various districts, represent various constituencies, bring a broad variety of skills, etc.) is not a better, more democratic, model than governance by a single elected major with a whole host of other issues and constituencies.

I can see how, in a situation with a long-time corrupt or inept group of board members, you might need a short term takeover to clean up and reset the governance function. (And yes, in THAT case, it would depend on who the mayor is). But Burgess's comment seems to entirely miss this major point. I cannot see how, under any other circumstance, his position is in any way acceptable. It is already obvious that influence from the mayor's office leads to horrible, political decision-making like the inclusion of an SLU school in BEX IV, ahead of so many other school rebuilds/renovations that are so much more critically needed. You can see how that might work from downtown -- where all the political 'horse trading' goes on. (I give you a new school and a trolley, you give me an increased tax base, campaign contributions, and other things X, Y, and Z). But things like that are precisely why we should keep school governance in the hands of a school board that has NO OTHER ISSUES AND NO OTHER CONSTITUENTS -- and not entangle it with other city politics.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Melissa.


Scrawny Kayaker said...

Good on 'ya, Melissa.

(I worked for several years for an Aussie, so I'm allowed to affect that expression without censure!)

Working Mom said...

Kudos, Melissa. Thanks for all of your hard work.

We parents---I'm one of them---thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Could you imagine if we who want to HELP our public schools had the same amount of money as those who are organized to destroy them?

It wouldn't even be a close contest...until then, the truth will win over the money. Keep the faith and keep up the good work.