One of our sharp-eyed readers linked an op-ed that LEV's leader, Chris Korsmo, wrote for the Times. It is quite the tale and one that she tells frequently.
The last time I heard it, though, she was screaming at a room full of people based on a comment that Charlie had made. I'm thinking this was about 2010 when we had Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. C.R. Douglas was moderating a live discussion that was being taped about the Strategic Plan. It was a great show because it was completely under the control of Seattle Channel and not the Alliance.
What was interesting was that a lot of the room was filled with the usual ed suspects and we all knew each other. So C.R. would ask questions and get answers/comments from the panel and audience but he didn't have time to have the audience members ID themselves. So, the at-home audience didn't know who we were.
At one point, Charlie got up to say that the discussion was ignoring the issue of poverty. That if you switched the teaching staffs of Eckstein and Aki Kurose, you would likely not see better results because of the effects of poverty. He did NOT say that you could do nothing in education without solving the problem of poverty nor did he say that poor kids couldn't learn.
But Ms. Korsmo, sitting in the back, took it this way. As we were to learn, she has a rather large chip on her shoulder and when she got up to speak, she was fired up.
She lit into Charlie saying he said poor kids can't learn (and several people, including Charlie, said that was not so). She said that poor kids have tough lives and school can change that (quite true). And then, almost frothing at the mouth, she proceeded to tell a roomful of strangers how bad her childhood was and how her father "beat the stuffing out of me nearly every night." You can imagine how awkward we all felt being exposed to this information that was so deeply personal and frankly, had nothing to do with the discussion. Her rant felt both shaming and you could feel the discomfort in the room.
But it was good tv and C.R. and the director let her play it out.
As I said, no one IDed themselves so no one knew that the head of the largest statewide education group in Washington had just spoken. In her weekly blog update that week, she kind of apologized but said she gets passionate about education.
She says in the op-ed;
When people ask me why I’m passionate about education, why I wake up every day with my hair on fire,...
Me, I'd call it more of being a loose cannon. That night, I lost a lot of respect I had for LEV because I could not believe that this was the person leading this group.
In her op-ed, she goes over the same material but the piece gets confusing.
She goes back to the well of saying that someone, somewhere is saying that we can't close the achievement gap until poverty is solved. I have never heard one person, anywhere say that.
What people DO say is that to ignore the effect of poverty on learning is folly. That when you have nearly 23% of American children living in poverty, it is bound to have an effect on education outcomes. And, we need to simultaneously, work to lower that rate AND provide supports for those children at school.
She again goes through her life story. For me, I never get these first person narratives for an op-ed. One person's story about growing up poor is not the story of all who grew up poor. But this first-person narrative seems to be a trend for the Times and their op-eds suffer for it.
She also makes the assumption that no one else in the room could possibly know what being poor or near poor is like. She's the one with all the knowledge on that subject. It's not so.
Hilariously, here's what she ends up saying after all that:
What am I doing here, a first-generation college graduate, running a
successful nonprofit, raising a son who will never know poverty?
I think I just got lucky. There were so many other kids in my
situation who didn’t make it, who grew up like me and didn’t get lucky.
Luck is not a system. Luck doesn’t reach everyone. Luck is not enough.
The point of education is NOT to be lucky. The point is to have quality schools with supports for struggling students everywhere. While luck can play a part in everyone's lives, again, education could/should be the great leveler if a person wants to work hard.