Saturday, November 07, 2015

Ask the Mayor, Ask the Governor

Have any burning public education questions for either man?  Both are participating in "ask me" forums.


Mayor
Ask Mayor Murray about the issues that matter most to you. This month, KUOW host Marcie Sillman will sit down with the mayor to discuss city issues on Seattle Channel’s Ask the Mayor, where the mayor will also respond to questions submitted in advance. Here’s how to send in a question for the November taping of Ask the Mayor.

• E-mail askthemayor@seattle.gov.

• Tweet @SeattleChannel using the hashtag #AsktheMayor.

• Comment on Facebook.

• Call Seattle Channel (206) 684-8821.

The deadline to submit a question is 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13. Ask the Mayor will premiere 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20 on Seattle Channel cable 21 followed by additional broadcasts, which will be listed in Seattle Channel’s TV schedule. You can also watch the show online.

Governor
On Tuesday, November 10, 2015 KCTS 9's Enrique Cerna will sit down with Governor Jay Inslee to talk about the pressing issues facing Washington State. For the first time in the 22-year history of the show, KCTS 9 takes Ask the Governor on the road to the University of Washington campus.
Time: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Location: Kane Hall, University of Washington
RSVP: Reserve a spot on Eventbrite Reservations are not required, but greatly appreciated

Submit a question here.

There seems to be little question that the Mayor wants to be a major player in Seattle public education (as well as some on the City Council.)  That none of them showed up for Nyland's State of the District speech (along with none of the Seattle delegation and heck, just four directors + Rick Burke) speaks volumes to me about this "partnership."

Danny Westneat has a column today about the Mayor and the "political capital" he is collecting.  I would agree; the Mayor has a number of wins for getting people on-board.  Now he has the REALLY hard work of getting something done that has legs.
I asked Murray what he's going to do with his political capital.

Try to remake the city's schools, he said. The mayor has no authority over the Seattle School District. But he plans to launch a citywide public "K-12 Summit" next spring to figure out how the city "can get different, and better, results in our schools."

"People say this is my conspiracy to take over the school district," Murray said. "I don't think that is going to happen. But the outcomes for kids of color, the leadership issues in the school district - they're simply lacking. I think this is a discussion that Seattle needs to have."
He's suggesting things like;
- increased business investment in schools (I'd rather see taxes than donations myself).
- year-round learning (with what money?)

I actually have a busy day today so I'll write about my thoughts on this issue later.  But I am totally down with this discussion but first:

- what leadership issues in the district?  Is him not coming to the State of the District address a signal he doesn't believe in Nyland?
- sure, have a "summit" but everyone gets to be at the table  (and no charters - this is about SPS)
- note that "I don't think that is going to happen" - kind of begs for "but it could."  He did not deny that he wants to take over the school district.

I agree that having a VERY open discussion on the district - without senior leadership and the Board chiming in - would be good.

But the Mayor may mistake the willingness for a discussion with agreement.  I think he might want to take a long hard look at the teachers strike and the role of parents in that.

And, he has a laundry list of his own issues - Bertha, homelessness, transportation, etc.  

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everyone gets to be at the table but "no charters"? And why does the summit have to be just about SPS? Why can't it be about all of the schools in the city? I'd like to see private schools, Catholic schools, and charter schools reps at the summit. Both the State Board of Education and the Washington Student Achievement Council include private schools reps. Don't you think the educators in these schools could provide valuable insights into the conversation about how to educate ALL of the kids in our city?

And specific to public charter schools, there are 3 of them operating in the city and a 4th is still planning to open in West Seattle next fall. Even if the summit is only about public schools, charter schools should definitely be at the table. They are serving children residing in our city with public dollars.

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

I say that because the Mayor is talking about Seattle Public Schools (that's how I read it) and their outcomes. Charters and private schools are necessarily part of that conversation.

I hate to tell you but the Court is not going to reconsider. Charters are pretty much a dead issue but someone can certainly put up another initiative.

Anonymous said...

I hate to tell you but charter schools are far from a dead issue. With the Democratic majority in the House now down to 2 and the Republicans in the majority in the Senate, a legislative solution is a very real possibility.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

There's another charter like initiative in the works. There are no state constitutional issues in this one. Let's see the Demoncrats stop it.

Stay tuned.

Greenwoody said...

Go ahead, put another charter initiative on the ballot. There is much more public awareness of the numerous problems with charters now than there was in 2012 - and that year the charter initiative just barely passed. We go back to the ballot and this time, run a smart, focused, effective campaign and we can stop this dead in its tracks.

Charter promoters can be counted on to let their hubris get the better of them.

Anonymous said...

While I don't believe that the initiative route is the preferred route to a charter schools solution, I think you'd be surprised, Greenwoody, at the increased public support for charters now that they're open and there are real live children in them. It's no longer theoretical. An initiative campaign would include the faces of those children and their families.

But again, there's more likely to be a legislative solution to charter schools than an initiative.

--- aka

seattle citizen said...

Would another initiative campaign include another $10,000,000 outlay from Gates and others to shovel misinformation onto the airwaves in order to secure the slightest of majorities?

Anonymous said...

I welcome charters that don't have a stake in limited public schools funds. As we're all aware, WA public schools are criminally under-funded.

Westside

Anonymous said...

There's no argument here. If Mr. and Mrs. Gates et al drop the ingenuous jive and put a substantial stake into charters, all to say "We're taking a risk because our ideas are worthy," then do that little thing. Show us how successful your ideas can be, and how - well compensated - your teachers will be. But that's not what charters are about, so we're back to square one. Stealing public funds. Gutting institutions to make a profit. This doesn't affect the Gates children. Does it affect your children? It certainly affects mine so I call BS.

Westside

Anonymous said...

Speaking of BS, which institutions are gutted by charter schools?

--- aka

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Lets see, aka. How about public schools?
I'm sure Chester Upland School District would agree.
http://articles.philly.com/2015-08-24/news/65773715_1_public-charter-schools-robert-fayfich-pennsylvania-coalition

Arizona districts who didn't decide to open charters would also agree. State funds charters at higher level than public schools, so those that convert to charters get more money, screw the remaining districts.
http://archive.azcentral.com/community/surprise/articles/20131008district-charters-give-dysart-financial-assist.html

Many others out there, profiting in numerous ways, or costing taxpayers millions in fraud and waste.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Philly_Charters_schools_building_boom.html
http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/10/06/cincy-schools-charters-siphoning-money/73433676/

And when the US Dept of Ed gives $157 million to charters with no oversight...well, there's a problem for the American taxpayers.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/charter-love-feds-give-157-million-to-expand-charter-schools/2015/09/28/006ad118-6613-11e5-8325-a42b5a459b1e_story.html

But hey - the charter school money black hole is great for the crooks, politicians, etc.
http://nonprofitquarterly.org/2015/06/30/reports-of-charter-school-fraud-grow-as-oversight-continues-to-lag/

CT

seattle citizen said...

aka - So you think that with fewer Dems and more Republicans charters will rise from the dead?
So charters are a Republican cause. Got it. I figured: less money for social issues and education; more money for charter operators, test companies, property managers, hedge fund operators by privatizing public assets. Charters ARE quite the Republican enterprise, even though they're misleadingly sold as progressive, and "for the kids!"

Anonymous said...

None of those articles shows an example of charter schools gutting any institutions. And let's not use the budgeting disaster that is Pennsylvania as an example of anything related to school funding, shall we? Those Philly articles show a school funding system in a state that is in total disarray and none of it can be laid at the feet of charter schools.

The Cincy article is simply whining about charters. Ohio, like Washington, funds its schools based on per-pupil allocations. The districts simply don't like that kids choose charters and receive the per-pupil allocations the districts think, unjustifiably, belong to them.

And yes, charter schools actually get funded in states and by the federal government. None of that justifies a statement that charter schools "gut' any institutions.

And speaking of fraud, I have two words for you --- Silas Potter. For every example of fraud and waste you can provide about charter schools, I can find an example of fraud and waste in public school systems. Get off your high horse.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

LMFAO

MW you perform a fantastic job with this blog in making the case for charter schools in Seattle. One just needs to read through the 8 plus years of documented SPS debauchery preserved here to see that. You supposedly stump for the public schools, unions and teachers, but in reality you expose your hand by providing a open and shut case against public cheater schools and for charters.

Now you want taxpayers to supply even more cash to public cheaters, the question is why? What role does the UW play in your quest to expose problems with SPS?

Bravo MW

Anonymous said...

seattle citizen, it's not necessarily a Republican issue but the Washington State Democratic Party is bought and paid for by the WEA/SEIU and there's no chance a majority of them will support charter schools in our state. Plus, there are plenty of charter schools in solidly blue states. I'll name a few --- California, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

You don't think the fact that Chester Upland School District is broke thanks to charter schools, that its staff continued to work despite being unpaid, is gutting an institution? Wow.

Silas Potter went to jail. Charter fraudsters just change states. Money from charter fraud is rarely recovered because regulations are so lax.

A Boca Raton woman convicted of taking kickbacks when she ran a federal meal program was hired to manage a start-up charter school in Lauderdale Lakes.

• A Coral Springs man with a history of foreclosures, court-ordered payments, and bankruptcy received $100,000 to start a charter school in Margate. It closed in two months.

• A Hollywood company that founded three short-lived charters in Palm Beach and Collier counties will open a new school this fall. The two Palm Beach County schools did not return nearly $200,000 they owe the district.

http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/charter-schools-unsupervised/investigation.html


CT

Anonymous said...

Really CT?

I can google and find thousands of cases of fraud with public schools, so what. What about,

SEATTLE — Some of the state’s largest school districts are missing millions of dollars in equipment — from computers to digital cameras and projectors — that taxpayers provided for their classrooms.

Inventory records from Tacoma, Lake Washington, Bellevue, Everett, Shoreline and Seattle school districts reveal thousands of pieces of equipment are missing from local schools, KOMO-TV learned through public records requests.

A review of those records by the Seattle television station found nearly 9,500 items purchased with tax dollars have disappeared, with the most troubling audit report in Tacoma Public Schools. District records show an inventory of 37,205 assets; 4,795 of them are missing.

The items missing in Tacoma range from Apple computers to a Genie forklift that vanished during the Stadium High School remodeling project. According to Tacoma’s records, the cost to taxpayers was $6.08 million.

Ha Ha

Anonymous said...

In the earlier investigation, the Auditor’s Office identified $280,000 in losses and questioned $1.5 million more in expenditures. This latest audit covers the district’s small-works program, which awards public-works contracts that cost $200,000 or less. Potter oversaw that program from 2005 through 2009. With the additional $1.3 million reported Monday, the district’s loss now may total as much as $3 million. Sherry Carr, the Seattle School Board member who chairs the district’s audit and finance committee, said the $1.3 million alone is equivalent to the cost of the teaching staff for a small elementary school for an entire year. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/seattle-schools-lost-additional-1-3-million-in-stolen-funds/#sthash.go7dieou.dpuf

Ha Ha

Anonymous said...

Again, CT, Chester Upland is NOT broke because of charter schools. Chester Upland is broke because its a terribly managed district and has been so long before charters. Let's not lay this at the feet of charter schools. Plus, the Chester Upland teachers chose to work without pay recently because the state legislature didn't pass a timely budget and they didn't receive funding. That state is a mess.

It's really disingenuous to blame any of this on charter schools.

And again, are you asking me to start listing the fraud, waste, financial mismanagement, theft, etc. in public schools?

--- aka

Anonymous said...

The shoddy reporting and bookkeeping gets worse. Employees charged $250,000 in gas,
Officials cannot explain why in a 30-day span, nearly a quarter of fuel purchases charged to district credit cards occurred between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Auditors look at personnel records and found no employees working at those hours. Kennedy wonders if the gas pump time clocks were off. That would be some coincidence.

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, blames employees turning in late expense reports. For why receipts from three credit-card transactions totaling $5,172 were missing, Kennedy had no answer.

We do know what the $3,802 charged on a district credit card paid for: a retirement banquet.

Ha Ha

Anonymous said...

What do you get when you take a child and spend $18,361.00 for him to be educated in a public school?

Well, if that child lives in Detroit, Michigan, you get a kid who can’t read.

In fact, 93% of Detroit 8th graders are not proficient in reading.

Ninety-three percent.

It could be worse. It could be 96%.

Actually, come to think of it, 96% of Detroit 8th graders are not proficient in math.

And yes, Detroit spends $18,361.00 a year for these kids to make it to the 8th grade stupid and illiterate.

Of that $18,361.00 a year to educate a child in Detroit, taxpayers are footing $15,434.00. Which means Detroit is spending more to not teach children to read or do math than they are strong-arming taxpayers to pay. And not just taxpayers in Detroit and Michigan. Every taxpayer in the United States is paying $4,046.00 of that $15,434.00 a year for Detroit Public Schools to not teach children how to read or do math.

Think of it this way. One of the finest private schools in Detroit, Cornerstone Schools charges $10,000.00 per year. In other words, every single child in Detroit public schools who would really like to get a quality education could go to Cornerstone Schools for almost half what it costs taxpayers to send them to a public school system that isn’t teaching them to freaking read or do math.

This is yet another story on why “free” public education is nothing but a con job.

And now, Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to do the same damn thing with college.

Ha Ha

Anonymous said...

The public corruption that has long plagued Illinois has also seeped into the state’s biggest school district, which happens to be the nation’s third largest with more than 400,000 students.

According to an annual report published by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General, a record 1,012 cases of fraud and waste were investigated last fiscal year, including a district manager who spent nearly $70,000 to buy 30 cappuccino machines for a work-school program. Most of the machines haven’t even been opened and a few disappeared.

The Inspector General’s 31-page report includes charts and graphs that help illustrate the crisis in one of the country’s biggest public school districts. It reveals that the competitive bidding process—mandatory in all public sectors—was repeatedly ignored, high school staffers changed grades to help student athletes and employees at a restricted-enrollment school falsified addresses to get relatives admitted.

As a result of the falsification, the district spent more than $250,000 a year to bus dozens of children, who lived within the overcrowded school’s boundaries, to other campuses. In all, the Inspector General said 940 investigations were completed, many resulting in termination recommendations and some referred for criminal prosecution.

It’s no surprise that the widespread corruption of Chicago’s political machine has spilled into its public school district. After all, the system is run by a notoriously crooked mayor (Richard Daly) who has been federally investigated for fraud, violating a court order banning politics as a basis for hiring city workers and taking bribes for city business contracts.

Dozens of administration officials have been convicted throughout Daley’s six terms as mayor and many are currently in prison. Most were busted for their involvement in a fraud-infested project—created by the mayor—that hired private trucks to do city work. More than 800 truckloads of asphalt intended for public projects mysteriously disappeared.

Ha Ha


Anonymous said...

Oh yes Tacoma does just as badly with academic leadership as with inventory control.
Carla Santorno's district ... WOW!!

Tacoma tries to put every 8th grader into algebra or higher. Unprepared 7th graders get placed into algebra for grade 8.

For all Tacoma students:
27.4% 2013 MSP Math -- 7th grade class at well below standard
32.7% 2014 MSP Math -- 8th grade class at well below standard


For Black/ African American Tacoma students:
39.8% 2013 MSP Math -- 7th grade class at well below standard
45.8% 2014 MSP Math -- 8th grade class at well below standard


Malpractice. Wonder what the Tacoma school board does in the way of supervising its one employee. ... I think charters would be a lot more popular in Tacoma than most other places.

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe in public education and, despite their assertions, I don't think most charters are true public schools.

AKA, I misspoke what I think. I think the law - as it applies to current charters - is mostly dead. The ruling struck it down. The whole thing. If they had said, well, charters can exist but they have to find their own money somehow but no, they struck the whole thing down. (Which is just as well, since it had OTHER constitutional issues.

Now the dissenters suggested that the Legislature could find the money to fund them from the General Fund. That's true and let them. The problem is that those funds - barring any new revenue - would have to take that money from OTHER programs/departments. Wanna see a fight? Try that one.

"Now you want taxpayers to supply even more cash to public cheaters, the question is why? What role does the UW play in your quest to expose problems with SPS?"

I have no idea what this means. Who are the public cheaters? UW has nothing - zero, zip - to do with my work. The only part UW played is having one UW professor confirm that Michael Christophersen was mistaken in his assertion that a grant would be lost if he were not elected. (And oddly, he did nothing to defend himself.)

I haven't had time - because of the pressing SPS issues - but the backlog of charter problems is legion. I'll get to that. I can't tell you how many fellow bloggers in other states tell me how lucky Washington State is to NOT have charter and TFA all over the place.

And Ha Ha, you know that because I reported on it first.

Anonymous said...

And, Melissa, when you get to the backlog of charter problems list, I'll go ahead a post a similar list of public school district problems. It will be a waste of time and effort for both of us.

And I'm shocked that other anti-reform/pro-union bloggers don't like charters. Shocked, I say!

--- aka

Ebenezer said...

aka, you say there have also been problems in public schools. That's true, but you forget that there are a lot more public non-charters than charters. Charter school problems are rampant, and there's less sympathy in the corporate press for charters now after more and more problems emerge. Melissa has discussed the skimming problem in depth, as well as the Stanford study which showed charters don't do any better job educating students on average than standard public schools.

And you say that there is "increased public support for charters." What evidence do you have of that? The charter initiative that was ruled unconstitutional barely passed, 50.7% to 49.3%, and charter supporters had to outspend opponents by 17 to one. Do you think charter supporters will spend more on the next initiative?

stop name-calling said...

And I'm shocked that other anti-reform/pro-union bloggers don't like charters. Shocked, I say!

Melissa simply told you what she thinks. No need to call names and take the conservative emotion-laden sensationalist route. A lot of what you say is true about public education as well as charters. Still, I hope we can meet the vision that was laid out in Washington State's Constitution: to provide a public education for every child. In a society of profit-making capitalists who are determined to keep their wealth ratio properly skewed compared to that of the average person, I doubt we'll succeed until all the voices I read here get out in the streets and demand change. Our pitiful strike was a symptom of a large malady and your post symbolizes it well: attention to the art of name calling, looking with bias at insufficient evidence, and name calling over the art of thinking and cooperating to find solutions that follow our state's Constitution.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Funny how this post is about what to ask the Mayor and the Governor in THEIR roles. And yet I get the grief.

Anonymous said...

Referring to Melissa and other NPE bloggers as "anti-reform/pro-union" is name-calling and sensationalist?

Sorry, Melissa, that you're catching grief. If you had left the "no charters" comment out of the overview of the summit, all of this likely wouldn't have happened.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

For Mayor & Governor:

Where did your children attend for K-12?

-SW Mom

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

aka,

Nice way to blame someone for your own bad behavior.

West Seattle

Anonymous said...

Bad behavior? What would that be?

--- aka

stop name-calling said...

Unfortunate that you can't own up to your snark. As a pro-reform/anti-union blogger - is that correct?(notice I'm asking before labeling), does that mean you "automatically" prefer charters and hate unions? Am I to make that inference?

And if I am to make that inference, what is the advantage of charters which you seem to agree are as corrupt as public ed or do you think charters are not as corrupt? And what do you say about the many employees of charters now trying to unionize?

Trying to stay politic here. What is your argument for charters?

Anonymous said...

I can see an argument for charters in Arizona based on the results from charter schools especially for highly capable students and low income students.

One thing that disturbs me about AZ is extremely low teacher salaries.

If charters are to be in WA State, there should be a salary schedule same as the salary schedule in surrounding districts. A soon as McCleary funding happens, we should have those salary schedules.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Remember we should not be experimenting with kid's lives but should be offering each child the opportunity to maximize his/her learning.

Some level 1 math students and parents in Tacoma SD should sue Tacoma SD over the failure to provide an appropriate math course in grade 8 for "well below standard" students.

Hey Gov. when will McCleary be settled? What can be done about Tacoma SD?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask the Mayor why he thinks he would be so effective running SPS when he:

a) has a less-than-stellar record on supporting ed funding while he was in the state legislature, and

b) has proven with Bertha that actually he isn't very good at overseeing big projects.

Personal opinion: rainbow crosswalks are very uplifting, but should they REALLY be a priority given how many more important traffic issues there are? Eg, the miles and miles of streets in the north end that don't have sidewalks or proper crosswalks, let alone rainbow-colored ones.

-flibbertigibbet

Watching said...

Please ask the mayor if he is committed to finding shelter, food, clothing, and providing mental health and dental care for the city's 3000 students. If the mayor accomplished this task, he would be doing a lot. Otherwise, I believe we are just looking at a group of individuals that want a power grab ie. allowing the mayor to hire the superintendent or allowing the mayor to appoint two board members.


I would also ask the mayor if he is willing to use the Family and Education Levy to put counselors and nurses in all schools. My bet...the city would be unwilling to use Family and Ed. dollars for this purpose- even though voters approved this levy for wrap around services.

Anonymous said...

Well, since the Mayor hasn't exactly been stellar at overseeing large project so far (Seawall project, Bertha, traffic issues, homeless issues) why oh why would we trust him with overseeing our children. Granted SPS admin has some serious management shortcomings, but Seattle City gov't under this Mayor is hardly a shining light of functionality.

Can't wait to get out of this blasted city.

reader47

Anonymous said...

I'm posting again without the UW reference, since I understand the sensitivity.

LMFAO

MW you perform a fantastic job with this blog in making the case for charter schools in Seattle. One just needs to read through the 8 plus years of documented SPS debauchery preserved here to see that. You supposedly stump for the public schools, unions and teachers, but in reality you expose your hand by providing a open and shut case against public cheater schools and for charters.

Perhaps MW you could provide your analysis of my theory?


Bravo MW

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bravo, future reference, don't use my initials or anyone else's in your name, it's disrespectful.

You can take what I have written - for years and year - about charter schools (and I've done detailed research) and take from it what you want. That was the whole purpose of my charter school series - is to let people make up their own minds.

I do NOT stump for unions except to say that I think, overall, they are a good idea. But I do stump for teachers and public education. Public ed is the backbone of our country.

I'm not going to argue about whatever "public cheater schools" are. I DO know what charters are and are not and luckily, they prove it nearly every single day.

Anonymous said...

aka, you're doing a great job of making a fool of yourself. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who researches the Charter issue with the slightest degree of objectivity and critical analysis can reach only one conclusion and that is that charters are not a sustainable or appropriate method for reforming public schools. And, as Charlie has aptly stated time and time again, there is nothing a Charter school can do that a public school cannot. And as another commenter pointed out above, charters are merely a small percentage of public schools nationwide, thus, it's no brilliant discovery that plenty of public schools have had scandals, which likely far outnumber charter school. Your conclusions and "proof" on the matter are not the least bit reliable - scientifically speaking - due to your erroneous reliance on a completely inappropriate sample size.

Thus, your arguments' only value lie in the rhetoric you generate from them to support your theory.

Those of us who are extremely happy with our schools, teachers and students do not, therefore, need the disruption and agitation directed at our district by your types. The only place you and I would agree is that the administration of our district is pathetic and corrupt - which charters have almost nothing to do with and will not change. Thus, it's erroneous to suggest that charters are a solution to our problems, versus a solution looking for a problem.

The best and most reliable charter comparison study done to date remains the CREDO study that found that only 30% of charters outperform their public counterparts and more than two-thirds do no better, with over 40% doing worse.

All you're really doing is playing a tit-for-tat game of "I know you are but what am I." I'm sure you're extremely proud of yourself, but persuasive? No. Not to anyone who's actually studied the issue in depth.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"And I'm shocked that other anti-reform/pro-union bloggers don't like charters. Shocked, I say!"

aka - That comment tells me everything I need to know.

Can't believe I missed it as I scrolled through the comments before.

What's your stand on McCleary, btw?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Oh, and aka, how many kids do you have in SPS? And what grades?

WSDWG

Outsider said...

I agree with MW that charter schools are a form of crony capitalist looting and a terrible idea. They are sometimes appealing to families stuck in non-functional public schools, but in rich neighborhoods with functional public schools, no one would choose a for-profit or Gates-run charter. Because there is a herd of elephants in the room that no one is allowed to talk about, it's ultimately hard to unpack everyone's motives, but the impetus behind charter schools seems more anti-union and anti-government than anything to do with education reform.

Making non-functional schools work would be easy in principal, but is nearly impossible within the limits of political correctness. The M.O. of charter schools is generally to accept the PC groundrules at the start, but then try to weasel out of them as much as possible to eke out better results. That is the value added for which they want to extract a profit. How ridiculous to fight over such a dumb thing.

Vouchers would be a much better approach. I never thought I would say it, but after a year's experience in SPS, the only thing I want is a voucher and to say goodbye.

Anonymous said...

"Those of us who are extremely happy with our schools, teachers and students do not, therefore, need the disruption and agitation directed at our district by your types."

WSDWG, that comment tells me everything I need to know. As long as you got yours, it's all good. Screw the rest of the kids who are stuck in awful, demoralizing, and chronically-underperforming schools.

And speaking of CREDO, you must have missed the latest report that shows that charter schools in urban cities do significantly better than traditional public schools. And frankly, aren't these the charter schools we should be focused on? These schools give kids in chronically-underperforming districts another option. But I'd assume you'd take those options away! Shame on you if you would.

And although it's none of your business, I'll say I have a kid in a SPS high school. Can't say I've been extremely happy with our SPS schools.

--- aka

Lynn said...

aka,

What do you think causes a school to be chronically underperforming? If you pulled all the students out of one of these schools and placed them in your average charter school (and kept them there) do you think the charter would produce better results?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, these schools were chronically-underperforming BEFORE charter schools. Charter schools didn't cause them to be underperforming.

Also, no one (except New Orleans) is pulling students out of these schools. Parents are CHOOSING them. That's the point.

--- aka

n said...

But the impetus behind charter schools seems more anti-union and anti-government than anything to do with education reform.

That's sure the truth. Well said.

aka, you haven't answered the questions above so am guessing your opinion isn't very well thought out. And, just because parents choose something different doesn't mean they won't be disappointed with their choices. Isn't that the problem? Once many charters have over-paid administrative staff, they disappear. A lot of charters started because the government was funding them. Once that money supply disappeared, so did the charters. Your public school will not disappear. As bad as it may be, it will still be there accepting all students. If you want to make that public school better, you should be a voice of change within that school and within the district.

It is so frustrating that we continue to rail against administration, teachers, curriculi, and yet fail somehow to really get active in a truly face-to-face way. We are so correct - blogging seems to be the answer to everything. Melissa puts herself on the line - she is the face of the blog. A few people go to board meetings. Pickets and emails to the superintendent and board and letters to the editors en mass would help. But it has to be a ground swell. SPS has money but the priorities are not the children. I will say the same thing about our union. Does anyone know where on-line I can find what our union officials and agents are paid? I am really curious. We wasted a strike which netted pitiful results and has lost teachers the very days they give the district at no pay - all those little holidays which many of use to catch up and plan ahead. Except for a few teachers, we are missing as well. But, to be fair, it is a paycheck for us.

Ah, aka, you sound reactive to me. Think this out before you vent with silly talking points like pro-union/anti-reform accusations.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one being reactive? That's pretty funny. Other than my snark about NPE bloggers, what haven't I presented in a reasonable manner? If my one snarky comment is all you're focused on, theres' nothing I can do about that. You can disagree with me but I've responded to nearly every question asked of me here (except for ones not germane to the topic at hand).

And let's not pretend you and WSDWG and other charter opponents have even "the slightest degree of objectivity" when it comes to charter schools. A simple review of this blog and your comments over the years demonstrates this.

Finally, are suggesting that NPE bloggers aren't anti-reform/pro-union? Should I have said anti-corporate reform/pro-social justice organizing? Would that have been more precise?

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, this was about the Mayor and the Governor and what we should be asking THEM. Not me.

When I did my charter series, I did it in the most objective manner I could. You can go back and look at it.

I have visited charter schools.

So yes, I believe I have done a lot of homework and research and my opinion is based on that.

I note that when I stated that the Legislature COULD indeed fund charters but that the money would come out of some other department/program, there were crickets.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree somewhat with Bravo MW.

I think this blog is instrumental in exposing an innumerable amount of systemic issues with SPS and possibly other districts.

This blog does lean anti-SPS administration, anti-SPS Board and reveals a 8 year pattern of SPS not serving our students of color, special ed ,Ell, and HCC.

Maybe MW hopes by exposing the issues SPS will change, but that never really happens. The issues documented here from 8 years ago to present, are still being documented and discussed here.

I imagine many parents would have second thoughts of sending their child to SPS after reading this blog, which is a good thing to consider. So, maybe this blog S/B required reading before enrolling a student in SPS?

PBT

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll end the crickets. Funding for charter schools doesn't have to come from another department/program. Our schools, including charter schools, are funded from the General Fund. The Legislature no longer segregates the "common school fund," except for the common school construction fund out of forest sales.

Instead of their per-pupil allocation going to their traditional public schools, it will go to their charter schools. As far as the General Fund is concerned, it's all one and the same. One year the Legislature funded this kid in a traditional school, the next a charter school. There's no increase to the General Fund to fund charter schools.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

We just elected a new board with very strong candidates. To not allow this board to have a chance to address many concerns raised on this blog over the years is irrational. This is the first time since 2007 we've got candidates without their seats bought and paid for by the Corporate Ed Reformers.

Therefore, right on cue, supporters of Corporate Ed Reform want to take them out at the knees before they even start their work. How Newt Gingrich-like. Cripple and under-fund government, then call for reforms when it can't function correctly.

Page right out of the far Right's playbook. WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am not anti-SPS adm or Board. I am anti- lack of transparency, lack of fidelity to either curriculum or policies, lack of accountability.

I have helped and supported MANY people running for School Board - if I were against the establishment, I wouldn't do that.

Actually, some things have changed and I am proud to be a part of that. I long for more and I think with this new, younger (and rather large group of parents), things will change. The Mayor would do well do heed that.

Yes, AKA, we all know that but again, for the third time, the money for charters will have to come out of someone else's program/department. Obfuscate all you want but it's true.

Anonymous said...
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GarfieldMom said...

Melissa, if you want to switch to moderating comments for a while, I would support that. Some people are really sinking to new lows in an effort to hurt you, and it's disgusting and cowardly.

Lynn said...

Me too. This is too much.

Jan said...

Holy Cow, good night, aka, and Ha Ha. Reading through your posts is as bad as reading the worst of the APP argumentative posts! Not sure WHERE to weigh in on this hair ball, but let me say this:

1. There is NOTHING grandiose (not sure what "grandiose think is -- so maybe this is nonresponsive) about Melissa. She has the courage of her convictions. She is direct and above board when she is stating her opinion, rather than trying to report facts, and she has been a tireless resource, for years, in advocating for better public schools for Seattle kids. Honestly, maybe "grandiose think" is not actual name calling, but it seems darn close, and is certainly both pejorative and wrong. Get a grip.

2. As for charters -- there was a time (back a few decades ago) when at least some people thought it would be nice if the public could find a way to fund some alternative schools (especially in districts where there was a perception that low income kids were getting less than great educations) with schools that could be run with less entanglement in the bureaucracies of public school systems and unions. Unfortunately, it was either a facade from the start -- or was promptly "taken over" by big corporate enterprises whose goal was NOT educating kids -- but making as much profit as possible, with as little investment of capital as possible -- using as much public money as possible. Many of them (including me) never thought of the possibility that charter school governance would exclude parents (except as consumers) and exclude most state oversight. As a result, many of the group of people who originally thought charters might be a good idea have changed their minds, and no longer support them.

COULD a charter law be written in Washington that resolved these problems and passed constitutional muster? Probably -- but in my opinion, it would require local control of the charter schools -- almost like co op schools operate. Would big business want to "invest in these schools?" HAH! No. And since the last initiative (and presumably the coming one) were written by and for big business/investment interests, the next one will just be the latest model of the sheep shears -- designed to fleece the public and enrich hedge funds and big ed companies.

My fondest hope is that the charter movement has been so bloated and greedy (not specific schools -- I continue to hear good things about BASIS schools in Arizona, etc.) that states that do not have charters will reject what has now become a corporte/big ed model of faux school reform and look for different, better ways to innovate, individualize, and improve public education.

We will all see, I guess.

Also, if someone can recall, or knows where the numbers are -- my recollection is that the charter law BARELY passed last time on a state-wide basis, and did not pass in King County at all. Am I remembering right?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You are remembering right Jan - the King county vote was 51.6% against.

I find it truly fascinating that as soon as the mayor starts talking about this Summit and how he sees Seattle Schools as the "next" place he can make an impact, all this negative (and frankly, rather slimy) stuff comes out here toward the Blog. Worried much oh ye of the Ed Reform cadre? Think you are losing your grasp on the message and so therefore, must attack one of the more effective messengers?

Very interesting. Said it before. Will say it until the cows come home. I think the mayor and most especially THIS mayor has ZERO business getting directly involved with the management of SPS. Hey, if he wants to focus on making it safer for kids to get to school? Spiffy. But anything else, short of perhaps tossing in an empty building or two for free - hands off. Way off.

reader47

Chris S. said...

We need to stop engaging with trolls. I'm puzzling with how to spot them... but some have this pattern of jumping on something you say in your response, like:

"I hate to tell you but charter schools are far from a dead issue."

to sort of make it personal and get people irritated. I love the thoughtful discussions we have here and you can tell right away this is NOT going to be one of them. We all have better things to do, but especially Melissa who has such talents for investigation and analysis.

I would not recommend necessarily moderating or closing the thread - how about just posting a link to one of the many thoughtful posts on charters and just go on to the next post.

Chris S. said...

Ah, I see there are several links to thoughtful posts on charters right on the main page!

Anonymous said...

Some pro-Charter/anti-union folks will never get off that stump, but to them, I have just one thought to Ponder: Saturn. Remember, the "new" kind of car company? (new = Tennessee-based, right-to-work, non-union paradise.)

If the union was the major flaw, why did that company fail?

And why are the test scores in right to work states worse than the most unionized states?

Maybe it's not the unions.

Maybe slogans and fads aren't the answer.

Maybe real progress is often hard, painful, and slow. And worth every step.

And maybe the Board we just elected is the first in more than a decade to have a majority not bought and paid for by non-educator billionaires.

WSDWG