Monday, December 10, 2012

Seattle 1240 Stats (and no big surprises)

I spent time today crunching vote totals for Seattle for 1240.  (And no thanks to King County Elections where apparently they can't even give you total votes for the city of Seattle for any race.  I couldn't believe it.) Thank you to my husband for his help (and the Excel tutorial). 

Here are the numbers (and could you please, after all that work, give me credit if you quote them somewhere else):

Total registered voters - 411,607
Total voting   - 330,246

Yes - 130,727 - 39.6%
No  - 199,519 - 60.4%

But boy, we looked at the precincts that DID vote yes and guess where 98% of them are?  In wealthy neighborhoods along the water.   To the NE (below Magnuson), downtown, SLU, the SW and the SE, there they were.  Almost to a precinct, it was very predictable (as we first wrote down the precincts and then looked at the map). 

There were a couple of odd precincts here and there and several in the Rainier Valley and one at High Point but overall, it was wealthy people in Seattle voting yes to charters. 

19 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Thanks for the illuminating research Melissa. For the wealthier districts, 1240 is just a way to make schools more exclusive and custom-made to their wishes.

word said...

True that mirmac1.

However, it always amazes me how the wealthy seem addicted to plundering taxpayer dollars for these ventures. Shameless.

David said...

Wealthy families go to private school at a disproportionate rate. So, another way of looking at this is that people who don't have their kids in public schools are the ones that voted heavily for charters.

Why that's the case is an open question, but an interesting one. Good news story in there somewhere.

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, that was my thought as well. Or people who believe charters are good for other people's children but not their own.

Jack Whelan said...

David said: Why that's the case is an open question, but an interesting one."

The only way to know for sure would be to do some polling, but we'd probably find out that support for charters follows a kind of groupthink typical of high earners. It's a mentality that has shaped the basic assumptions and biases of business elites in both parties. It's called neoliberalism in Democratic circles and libertarianism in Republican, but it amounts to the same thing: the market is the only thing that matters, and therefore privatization and deregulation are virtues and government programs or constraints are vicious.

This mentality is pernicious for the way it has redefined political freedom in consumerist terms. Political freedom is no longer the exercise of a free people to govern themselves through the democratic process, but rather the freedom of consumers to make market choices. It's pernicious for the way it has substituted the idea of the common good determined by debate and consensus development with one that is essentially a function of the aggregate of choices made by individual consumers making decisions solely on the basis of their own narrow interests.

This market mentality is believed to be enlightened thinking by these elites; the smartest and richest people they know all think the same way, share the same assumptions. The people who don't agree with them just don't operate at their high level of thought and do not share their high-minded "impatient optimism". And so it has a bubble quality that doesn't change until disaster provides the irrefutable evidence that bursts it. But when disaster comes, it's the rest of us that suffer, because their wealth protects them from the most negative consequences of their folly.

Meg said...

I don't think it's NIMBY-ism, or a desire to plunder taxpayer dollars. I think it's good marketing on the part of pro-charter advocates.

Pro-charter forces have done a great job making charters sound alluring and sensible.

Most well-off people, whether their kids are in public or private school, are aware of education options for the kids and how to pursue the best ones. Pro-charter advocates have done an incredible job of making it seem as if charters would be a way for everyone, not just the wealthy, to have more and better education options for their kids. And the notion that school districts should be run more efficiently, "like businesses," is also incredibly alluring, so the touted (whether true or not) low overhead and more efficient operations of charters makes wealthy people feel as if not only will charters provide more options for everyone, but more dollars will end up in the classroom.

Somoone said...

Interesting if not terribly surprising. Sadly, Jack is truly right - there are most definitely the forces of "groupthink" at work here.

I think he's also right on that it will take something monumentally different to change this pattern and I for one don't see that coming anytime soon.

So how does one change things? That's it's one of the things behind the 1%/Occupy movement I suppose (though not a fan of their tactics). I think you have to reach out to the "middle" segment - the everyday, ordinary folk who likely don't even know this blog exists but probably share some of the same concerns. Finding a way to positively educate that sector, without seeming to attack the "groupthinkers" is a huge challenge. But it's the only way things will change - a groundswell from the "less thans"

TechyMom said...

I have a theory about this. I think that people who have experience with private schools, whether or not they're currently using them, like the idea of charter schools and, more broadly, democratizing school choice. This isn't always about making money. More often, they're reacting to the gap they see, not between low-income and middle-income public schools, but between middle or high income public schools and private school experiences. Part of the private school experience is being able to choose a pedagogical approach that fits your values and your children's learning styles.

I know that when we were looking at schools, the local public school was only one of many options we considered. The idea that you wouldn't put a great deal of time and effort into choosing and applying to schools was totally alien to me. Open choice meant that we had several 'free' options along with the moderately-priced Catholic and full-priced secular private schools.

I hear this kind of thought process from many people I interact with, most of whom are affluent and have experience with private school as students, parents, or prospective parents.

Just for the record, I voted against 1240, because I think the good idea of school choice has been co-opted by people who do want to make money from it, because it seems not to be addressing the public-private gap, and because it was a very badly written law. However, I voted the earlier WA charter measures, and was very sad to see open choice go. My child is in a neighborhood public school, which we're happy with. But, as she nears middle school, we are again considering many options including APP, option schools, private school, moving, AND our local middle school. If there are charters, we'll consider those too.

Personally, I really dislike the idea that only wealthy people should have access to non-traditional educational programs.

Anonymous said...

We chose private MS, but are not wealthy. It's being done by a lot of OT work, belt tightening, and raiding our savings (scary). We also voted against 1240 and suprisingly from our rough survey of 30 odd private school parents, more than 1/2 did too. Our extended family have kids in the public schools and the votes there were mixed as well. The ones who voted for charters wanted an alternative school choice since they don't have one.

old parent

Jan said...

Meg: where your argument strains (I think) is when you look at the voter patterns and the distribution of economic wealth. If charter proponents were doing such a great job of "making it seem as if charters would be a way for everyone, not just the wealthy, to have more and better education options for their kids," then wouldn't you expect that marketing point to have good traction broadly across the city -- and especially in middle/lower income neighborhoods where private school tuition may be out of reach and public/charters/(maybe) parochial are the only options?

Yet in these neighborhoods, many voters were able to see that charters are not free (and will have to be paid for by siphoning education dollars from the existing system) and that selection processes that weed out SPED kids, kids with less than ideal family support, etc., and that take over school buildings, can have a corrosive effect on the system overall?

The thing I found so fascinating when I looked at the map is how highly concentrated support was in wealthy neighborhoods (where HUGE numbers of kids never see the inside of a public school -- it isn't even an option). I can see how those people might think they were just voting for "choice" for less-well off families -- if the less-well-off families were voting that way too. Because less wealthy districts did not vote that way, my sense is maybe that "message" (we have choice, you now have some too -- aren't we all happy together) was not nearly as successful as we think.

I tend to agree with Jack's point (partly because I know SO MANY well-off people who now think this way). It is (as Jack said) "the market is the only thing that matters, and therefore privatization and deregulation are virtues." This is also the only way I can put a positive spin on the national political effort to shrink government to the point of virtual disappearance. Either the (many) proponents of that view know that well-run government can be/is a force for good -- and they want to kill it anyway, in which case, they are seriously evil -- OR, they subscribe to the views Jack describes -- in which case government is ALWAYS the worse choice, and needs to be starved in order for market forces to operate as freely as possible.

Anonymous said...
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CT said...

The rich people in Arizona like charters because they get their private, exclusive school without the exorbitant tuition.

Anonymous said...

The other side of the more affluent neighborhoods voting for 1240 is simply that they were not well informed. The message, loud and clear and constant from the yes on 1240 side, was that charter schools will be great for kids who do not have choice now. The affluent are not involved in the public schools, didn't do more digging into the real facts, and bought the spin from yes on 1240. My newly minted 18 year old neighbor voted yes on charters because choice sounded good to him. Being uninformed is more dangerous than anything else! They bought the message from yes on 1240 hook, line and sinker.

Public School parent living in an affluent neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the map of county voters, 1240 had mixed support in Everett, Kent, Burien,Tukwila, Federal Way, Renton, and pockets of not very well off neighborhoods in Seattle too. I wouldn't call these areas bastion of wealth. If anything, I suspect median income of people living in Phinny Ridge and Wedgewood would be higher. Certainly when it comes to the governor's race, Inslee pretty much dominated King Co. votes.

I think people voted for charters for diverse reasons and for far less complicated reasons than beliefs in deregulation, market force and less government. Co-workers from suburbs share similar frustrations about their local schools re: quality of education, large class size, safety, etc. that we often discuss here.

Having rub shoulders with private school parents and their kids, I find them to be a mix bag. There are families with kids in both private and public system as well. I was ready to deal with the snobbery, but am finding less than I thought, certainly no more than dealing with some of attitudes from some people in our public school and at the downtown district HQ.

I didn't vote for 1240 for many of the concerns this blog highlighted. But I'm not ready to paint people who voted for it as elitists ready to dump the common good for what's best for them. Nor do I think they are uninformed. My work colleagues are hard working people and some are new to this country (where funny enough, private schools are the schooling of choice if you can afford it). In the service industry we are in, believe me, no one would think we are elitists. And we know our pay scale, shift diff, and time sheet like the back of our hand.

old parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Old Parent, I was talking about Seattle, not King County. There is certainly a lot to say about who voted where in King County but in Seattle, it certainly was the wealthier neighborhoods.

Also, I'm not sure anyone here said it was about "common good" or that they were uninformed. Where they got their information would be interesting to find out given the majority of Seattleites said no.

Undertstand, there is NO evidence that well-off people - anywhere - want charters in their neighborhoods. Why they like this is up for grabs - you'd have to poll them. But I would see them as one of the more informed groups, not least.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, fair enough. You know I argued with and tried to persuade a very good friend to vote against 1240. She said what made her decided to vote for 1240 is the hope that her kids will have a safe, quality HS to go to. The local HS is trying hard to improve, but she's afraid of the school and the violence on the corner this HS sits on to the point she won't even let her eldest walk across the street from the MS to take a more advanced HS math class. I get it and would be a hypocrite not to understand. It's one of the reasons why we chose to go private. Her hope by voting for charter is that the neighborhood will get a better school. You may think that's selfish of her, but she and her muti-gernational family have lived in this neighborhood and gone to the same schools and have yet to see much improvement.

old parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Old Parent, and that is precisely where the City needs to step in. THEY have the power to make the community that surrounds our schools safe.

I absolutely get your neighbor's position but there is no proof that a charter in a neighborhood will be safer than a regular school. (That said, discipline would probably more strict.)

Anonymous said...

The lowest information voters on this issue, hands down, were the editors at The Seattle Times.

If we had a second newspaper to counterbalance the constant stream of mindless propaganda from the Times, the vote would have been 70/30 or 80/20 against.

For the "You Lost, Deal With It" troll, FYI we dealt with it; in a 60/40 landslide. School Board members run for elections too, and going against a 60/40 constituent vote is political suicide. Not gonna happen anytime soon. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I agree many older, wealthier voters went with the Seattle Times editorials boosting charters. They probably thought more choice would help families.

I doubt any of them read the Stanford CREDO study where charters in many states performed no better than public schools or even did worse. The Times would hide this statistic by saying some charters performed better. I complained to Lynne Varner about their coverage but all I got was her assertion that the editorial page writers could do what they wanted. They certainly wanted to influence the election and they did.

S parent