Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Seattle Times on a Rampage

Man, the Seattle Times is pulling out all the stops in the days before retreating behind a paywall. There are several inflammatory articles and columns about education on the Times web site right now. You would think it was just before an election instead of just after one.

Feds probing Seattle schools’ treatment of black students
This story is about a U.S. Department of Education investigation into whether black students in Seattle schools are punished more frequently and more harshly than white students for the same behavior. The comments section reveals some really horrible racist remarks and, more than anything, a gross misunderstanding of the purported problem. The feds are not investigating whether black students are punished more frequently (they are) but whether they are punished differently from other students for similar infractions.

Senate GOP scales back education agenda
This story is a good one. Brian Rosenthal writes about how the Republican Majority Coalition is stepping back from some of their more extreme education reform bills. In the article Mr. Rosenthal refers to "the so-called education-reform movement". Sweet.

The GOP may have given up on their micromanaging reforms, but the Seattle Times has not. In Editorial: State lawmakers should support education-reform bills the Seattle Times editorial board endorses micromanagement of school districts by the state legislature that they would never tolerate from a school board (at least a school board they don't like). In this editorial the Times opines that the state legislature should determine when students should be promoted from the 3rd grade to the 4th grade and which math class middle school students should take.

Hilariously, just the day before Lynne Varner wrote a screed in opposition to exactly the same kind of thinking when she said Zero tolerance school discipline policies that make zero sense.

But not even Lynne Varner can beat Michelle Rhee when it comes to expressing self-contradictory and ill-informed opinions. The Times saw fit to publish Ms Rhee's error-filled Op-ed: MAP boycott is about keeping test scores out of teacher evaluations. Wow. The woman is clueless.

It's not all crazytown. Op-ed: Funding education in Washington state requires more taxes by Remy Trupin states the obvious: the state has to fund education and they can't do it with the money they have now. They will have to raise taxes. This simple statement of fact inspired howling in the comments by people who have no clue about how their tax rates compare to anyone else's.


On top of this we have the announcement of the Charter School Commission in the opinion section, but not in the news section of the paper. Weird, eh?

10 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, the announcement of the Charter Commission WAS there and now has disappeared (you can find it by putting it into the search feature - very annoying).

From Rosenthal's overview at the Legislature:

"And some conservative Republicans, perhaps unexpectedly, have voiced concerns that some of the bills — while seeking to add accountability — represent government overreach.

“Some people felt like this would be micromanaging,” said state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, who leads the party’s education-policy efforts in the House and works closely with the Senate.

“There are some Republicans who don’t even want the Department of Education to exist,” she noted.

Yup, this is where I knew the rubber was going to eventually meet the road for conservatives. They want all this ed reform, don't want to pay for it AND worry it will add to the size of government (which they hate).

Well, which is it, kids?

Charlie Mas said...

Conservatives often demand accountability and then get into an angry lather about the size of the administration - apparently unaware of the fact that it was their calls for accountability that necessitated the growth of the administration.

How can they not know that?

Charlie Mas said...

The Seattle Times suffers from their own form of cognitive dissonance.

On one hand, they decry any involvement in the administration of the schools or the district by the school board, but then they support intolerable micromanagement of the schools by the state legislature.

They don't want the Board to discuss the instructional materials for math, but they want the state legislature to decide what math class individual students must take.

Mary Griffin said...

I guess I missed the "the so-called education-reform movement" in the Sunday article. But reading it today did give me a chuckle.

It is worthwhile to note that all these bills are products of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and are highlighter in their teacher's pet state of Florida.

In promoting these bills, ALEC pushes the Florida agenda and praises it highly. But when it does so, it is all about following ALEC's ideology of privatization, derailing unions and cutting costs and not about any achievement of results.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the new Seattle Times editorial praising Sundquist and co. How many ed reformie pieces can one paper pulish in 48 hours? What a load.

-skeptical-

Charlie Mas said...

The so-called education reform movement (I may just keep on calling it that), has never been about better outcomes for students. It has all been about cutting taxes and outsourcing public services to corporations for profit. That's all it has EVER been about.

The solution to our education problems will not be found in the teachers' contract and it will not be found in changes to the ownership and governance of our schools because that's not where the root of our education problems lie.

Our education problem lies in the fact that our system is designed to serve students who arrive prepared, supported and motivated, it fails to serve students who arrive un-prepared, un-supported, and un-motivated, and it has little or no capacity to provide students with the necessary preparation, support or motivation.

The solution will come when the community gives schools the mission, the license, and the funding to provide preparation, support and motivation for students who need it, and when the schools accept that mission and exercise that license.

way2 college said...
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Anonymous said...

Charlie wrote: "Our education problem lies in the fact that our system is designed to serve students who arrive prepared, supported and motivated, it fails to serve students who arrive un-prepared, un-supported, and un-motivated, and it has little or no capacity to provide students with the necessary preparation, support or motivation.

The solution will come when the community gives schools the mission, the license, and the funding to provide preparation, support and motivation for students who need it, and when the schools accept that mission and exercise that license."

I disagree. Charlie's "solution" is a necessary, but not sufficient, band aid. Whatever is done at school, can never replace a home environment that prepares, supports and motivates kids. As a society, I believe we are doomed unless we put a higher priority on strengthening our families and raising our kids.

Failing families are the problem

Jan said...

ToFailing families are the problem:

I agree that they are PART of the problem, and that we will not ultimately solve the whole problem unless we address this issue, but just as with all complex problems, we can address part of the problem without having to tackle this much more expenseive, intractible issue. I think Charlie's solutions are spot on and would make a HUGE difference if state and local leaders would get behind the effort to do this. It would also address the problem that arises when students fail to fit the mold for reasons having nothing to do with the fact that their families are "passing" rather than "failing." ELL kids, SPED kids, kids with anxiety or depression disorders, homeless kids (whose parents love them very much, but were unable to get through the housing/job crash intact). The fact that what we can achieve does not fix the entire problem is not an excuse for failing to do what we can. Right now, we are barking up any number of stupid trees (high stakes testing, common core standards, retaining kids who are behind in 3rd grade, despite no evidence that this helps, etc. etc. We need to stop the nonsense of "implementing programs," "addressing objectives," "meeting metrics," and just get down to the task of figuring out what kids know, what they don't know, how they learn best -- and then help them learn what they need to.

Anonymous said...

Failing families is *the* problem, period. Unfortunate, but true. How to fix that is the big question.