I wanted to follow-up on Charlie's thread about negativism(so skip this if you are not interested but please don't bother to comment that...you're not interested).
I've heard this rap before about me or Charlie or the blog. As you can see, we are not likely to change much. We are guided by our own experiences, both as parents in the district and as activists. We are just a lot more clear-eyed and maybe jaded than most of you. That's important to understand. We've been through the seven stages of this district and yes, we're a little jaded.
But we have no agenda. We certainly believe what we think would help, starting with a well-run and well-managed district. If that were the case, our critics could undercut many of our arguments. But it hasn't been despite the many "professionals" both as superintendents and on the Board. (That the powers that be never seem to get this is mystifying. Don't they want a well-run district? Because they had their professional Board and professional Superintendent and it STILL didn't work.)
We, of course, have our opinions but there are only a few things that I would say I'm hardcore on. I certainly can be persuaded. I know there are better thinkers out there than myself.
But back to being negative. "Oh, they're so negative." It's easy to pretend that we never say anything good about anyone or anything in the district. It's easy to say that all we say is "no" to anything, again not true.
It's a great way to marginalize us and the blog. If you put out the word that nothing we write is credible and besides "so negative", well, then you put us out there as hysterics and nattering nabobs of negativism.
One person who does this is someone I have consistently defended - Reuven Carlyle, one of our state legislators.
I have found Reuven to be smart, calm and thoughtful. But, to my surprise, many people have told me I shouldn't trust him. I puzzled over this a long time.
Reuven has written a blog, he has tried to find ways to reach out and yet, he on matters of education, anyone who disagrees with him is negative. Always.
He came to mind because I subscribe to comments from his blog on any education posts. One of his old posts had a new comment today. He wrote the post back in September of 2010 about TFA. On the one hand he says:
Perhaps we should convene an open meeting to engage in a healthy, vibrant, safe and appropriate dialogue together to discuss how Teach for America (and other non certified programs) might be able to contribute to the children of our state? We would want it, of course, to be an appropriate forum for all sides to present the case for why the law in Washington should or should not be modified to more easily enable programs like Teach for America to establish a presence here in Washington.
Well, that's reasonable (sort of because why would having a forum be unsafe?).
But the paragraph before that one?
Notice the passion, conviction and energy in the voices of TFA alumni. Notice the anger of those who do not support the program and direction. Surely there is a way that we can together engage in a more meaningful dialogue?
First, if you group all the comments of the TFA alum as good and all the comments against TFA as bad that doesn't exactly point towards everyone wanting to come to a forum with an open mind. It's hard to come with an open mind if you have been accused of having the opposite.
So I read thru the comments:
Seattle Education 2010: not angry at all but asking how they bring value to the classroom
David Edelman, teacher: There's no anger there but a thoughtful expression of concern and a challenge to Reuven use data and knowledge to guide his public policy.
Ivan Weiss (Ivan is a well-known and fairly aggressive union backer who wouldn't want it any other way). Ivan tells Reuven that TFA is a scab organization. He also says anyone who would support TFA would not have his political support. Aggressive, sure but angry?
Me: I give a plethora of data but angry? Nope.
Don: Well, he is against unions and writes partially in all caps but he's for TFA and yet seems pretty angry to me.
Seabos84 - pretty angry I'd agree
Charlie - He wrote one sentence, not so angry
Appalled - wrote more about the superintendent than TFA
Mr. Brown - former TFAer. not angry but not especially passionate or energetic.
Eric Muhs (teacher): Angry but angry at being told out the gate that he is angry.
S. Garcia (this is just from today so I guess this person found this late): ex-TFA and boy is he angry...at TFA. I wonder what Reuven thinks of his passion.
Thinking back, I realize that Reuven uses this a lot. If you aren't on the same page with him, you're angry. Speak out on the opposite side and you're not passionate, you're angry.
Neat trick. I'll have to remember that one.