Sunday, November 22, 2015

FYI - Act Now for Washington Students? Astroturf Group

I may have mentioned it but to clarify, this "new" group, Act Now for Washington Students, is an astro-turf, Gates-funded group made up of DFER, League of Education Voters and Stand for Children.  You don't get more ed-form and Gates-guided than those three.

From their Facebook page,
Act Now is a coalition of parents, students and educators who are asking the Washington State Legislature to keep our schools open.

I always have to be suspicious of any Facebook group whose "About" section is limited and vague. This particular one is also not honest because those three groups are the organizers and yet there is no mention of them. There is no website or any other information if you Google their name.

I perceive that the outcry across the state for charters is not as great as they might have thought from the original Court ruling and the reconsideration ruling.     After the initial ruling, I checked the Times' comments and I was fascinated to see so many comments along the lines of  "wait, what did we vote in?"  (Feel free to go check yourself.)  

Also they are touting "Legislators have the chance to be heroes for Washington's students" unaware that 1M+ students are still waiting for ample funding for class sizes, arts education, safe buildings, etc.  So 1200 kids in schools open for less than half a year trump those other 1M+ kids?

There may have be a worry that the backing for spending money out of the General Fund might not come so easily.

This should be one rough tuck-and-tumble Special Session.  

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

By the way,
Where are you getting that 1200 charter kids enrollment statistic? I know for fact they lost over a hundred students in the first month...
Do you have a link to current enrollment numbers?

Thanks, Jules F.

Anonymous said...

Why are you acting like this is all clandestine? I went to their Facebook page and the first thing on their timeline is a link to an article in the Seattle Times describing the group. It clearly states Act Now was created by DFER, LEV, Stand, and the state charter school association.

And if you scroll down, avoiding if you can crazy Sahila's ranting, you will see several links to articles describing the group.

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope, I'm just going with the most-commonly heard number. I don't even know if OSPI know the number.

Re: the Facebook page - a link to an article is not "About" - they should be honest at the only page that represents them.. Sahila got banned for asking hard questions (your "ranting.")

seattle citizen said...

Too bad they block people who post comments that question charters. Charter supporters are free, there, to make all sorts of slanderous comments about public schools and public school teachers, but question charters and you're out.
Certainly emblematic of the lack of transparency and accountability of charters. "Don't look behind the curtsin, don't question, we won't countenance critical thinking..."
Similarly, Act For Washington Student's ostensible leader, the Washington State Charter School Association (DFER, LEV, and S4C are merely added on to make it seem as if there is community support in articles such as the Times, another Gates paid mouthpiece) also can provide no transparency. I've been asking and asking on THEIR Facebook page for a link to a charter school website that has all the important transparency and accountability information on finds on a public district's site: board meeting schedules, agendas, intro and action items, speaker slots, minutes...videos!; polives and procedures, rules and regs; committee meetings, volunteer opportunities, outcomes; salary schedules and contracts...In short, all the ways one can be involved in a school district as a citizen and a taxpayer.
Response from WSCSA? Or its supporters?
Crickets.
This lack of access, in addition to the lack of an elected board, is what makes charters non-public. If I can't participate in them (and how WOULD I, even, if the district were a bunch of individual schools? How would I have time?) then they aren't public and can't have my tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

What is an astro-turf group?

Soccer dad

seattle citizen said...

Soccer dad, an astroturf (fake grass) group is a fake grassroots group. Set up to appear as if it's community, when in fact it's a product of whoever is trying to influence policy.
In this case, we have a Times article about WSCSA's new group, Act For Washington Students, purportedly a "parent" group, but set up in collaboration with DFER, LEV, and S4C.

WSCSA has received upwards of $10,000,00 from the Gates Foundation. The other three groups have likewise received hundreds of thousands, if not millions from Gates. Go to Gates, the to Awarded Grants, and see how much money is poured into these groups, and similar groups around the country.

So this article gets into the Seattle Times (itself a recipient of almost $500,000 from Gates...), telling us about this new group of "parents", and we're led to believe that these three other "community" groups are in support and helping out...

And yet it's all fake. All bought and paid for, fake "community." Astroturf.

Oh, Melissa, it was I who was blocked, not Sahila...yet. She doesn't "rant"; she pours out a stream of important information in a, well, acerbic tone...

Anonymous said...

Interesting, seattle citizen. I looked at both Excel and SOAR websites and found the information you're looking for. Did you try them?

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

The NY Times had a great article a couple of years back about how Gates sets up various groups - parents, teachers, etc. - and voila! A so-called "community group." And then those groups lobby state legislatures and apparently, legislators don't check to see how long these entities have even existed.

I will wait to hear what real parent groups like PTA (especially Seattle Council PTA) have to say on this issue.

seattle citizen said...

No, aka, no one on the fb sites pointed me to them. Guess they didn't know where to look. ; )
I'll take a look.
But I participate in my district, now; how would I find the time to participate in the district and, what, four? charters in Seattle?
Charters dilute a citizen's ability to participate in how their taxes are spent in schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And I'll just note that unlike this astro-turf group, this blog does not fear dissent or challenge.

Think about that.

Anonymous said...

Biggest non-surprise of the season. Seattle Times has posted its Legislature MUST fix Charters editorial. Took a day longer than I personally expected.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I in all sincerity applaud your openness to dissent and challenge. But it's not apples to apples. Act Now for Washington Students was set up specifically to support students and their families in charter schools and to advocate for a legislative solution to keeping their doors open. It's not a forum to debate charters. Why would an advocacy organization be open to criticism and dissent on their own page?

I imagine if I went on the Washington's Paramount Duty page and railed against school funding and income taxes and capital gains taxes, my comments would be deleted. The very purpose of WPD to to support these things. They won't tolerate contrary views. They've been explicit about this. How is Act Now any different?

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'd say because what WPD benefits every single public school student in Washington State as opposed to a more narrow group.

I don't know that you can say WPD would delete your comments.

Aka, challenge me all you want but again, I sign my name to everything. How about you?

seattle citizen said...

aka, have you been deleted from WPD? If so, that's not right. People shouldn't be afraid of open discussion, particularly charters. One of their biggest problems is their lack of transparency, one would think they'd want to engage, if they're so sure of their positions.
Oh, btw, I just remembered that I HAD gone looking for info, to Summit Seattle (and how ironic that Summit Alternative was closed, only to have a charter called Summit come to Seattle ....)
There is very little in their website. Meeting agendas only, and those very sparse....no links to details on items, very few items...

Watching said...


Another group has begun campaigning for Wa. State Charter schools. Their name: The Seventy Four

https://www.the74million.org/article/wa-charter-fight-turns-desperate-as-supreme-court-denies-review-hours-after-hundreds-of-parents-rally

I've not researched this group, but they appear to be a national pro-charter organization.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, this is former journalist Campbell Brown trying to step into the Michelle Rhee role.

seattle citizen said...

Funded by Walton....

Anonymous said...

Aka--

"I imagine if I went on the Washington's Paramount Duty page and railed against school funding and income taxes and capital gains taxes, my comments would be deleted. The very purpose of WPD to to support these things. They won't tolerate contrary views. They've been explicit about this. How is Act Now any different?"

Um, No. We don't delete contrary views. We are very clear that the conversation on the FB group needs to be focused on funding, because that is what we are focused on. You can easily see our Group guidelines in the Files tab. Yes, you might not be very popular if you posted Anti-public school funding stuff, but we wouldn't delete you.

And I'll tell you how we are different from Act Now. We ARE a grass roots group of volunteers with ZERO funding. We don't have the bunches of paid staff and $$ to throw at sponsoring facebook posts and paying for the busses and t-shirts for kids to visit Olympia.

We just find the time in between parenting and jobs and other responsibilities to advocate for all kids in Washington. Everything you have seen from us so far has been built by parents who care about ALL kids, not just a chosen few.

Our mission is very simple, and I hope that you and LEV and Stand and DFER will join us in fighting for all kids in WA.

Our mission is to compel Washington State to amply fund basic education and swiftly fulfill its paramount duty.

We envision a future where all children have equitable access to an amply funded basic education, as guaranteed by the Washington State Constitution.

Please join us!

Eden

Charlie Mas said...

I think the Gates Foundation has been very clever with how they have conducted their advocacy on public education. They could just speak for themselves as a single voice identified as the Gates Foundation. Or they could create and fund a single advocacy group to speak their line. But they were very clever. They created and funded a number of advocacy groups to speak their line creating the illusion of a chorus of voices all calling for the same reforms. They can take all five seats at a panel discussion and express agreement. It creates the illusion of a consensus where there really isn't any consensus, just the Gates Foundation alone in support of those changes.

The Gates Foundation themselves, having delegated the advocacy work to those groups, gets to cast itself as a research institution and a philanthropic institution rather than a political institution. They get to put their name on studies rather than pamphlets.

It's really very clever.

I believe that all of the leaders and members of Stand for Children, League of Education Voters, Teachers United, and Democrats for Education Reform believe what they are saying, but there can be no question that they owe their existence and the strength of their voice (far out of proportion to their membership) to funding from the Gates Foundation. They are all finger puppets on a single hand.

Anonymous said...

I'll always question the motives of a supposed "grassroots" group who's spokesperson is the head of a PR firm and one based in California at that.


reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

And, to note, none of those groups - not Stand, not LEV, not DFER - none are really parent groups. LEV and Stand are advocacy groups that claim to teach parents how to advocate and DFER is a political group.

Real parent advocacy groups have decisions made on what they advocate for by members. It's groups like PTA, Soup for Teachers and Washington Paramount Duty. Those are parent groups.

Anonymous said...

i dont rant....

i call out BS (lack of accuracy, truth, history, failures in logic).... and i supply the evidence that proves the BS is BS....

i'm a journalist by inclination and by training.... if a group is going to make a habit of disseminating lies - actual lies, or lying by omission - and of dissembling and manipulating by taking/publishing out of context, then i respond... i consider it my civic duty...

what people do with the information i supply, is up to them... most deformers get mad and then block me... which says a lot about them and their BS!

sahila

Anonymous said...

should have signed off that comment "Crazy Sahila"...

love the handle - as Krishnamurti and Einstein and all those other lovely self actualised people said - “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”


oh well - next time... ;-)

Crazy Sahila

Charlie Mas said...

I would like it to be known that, for an appropriate sum, I would be very happy to parrot the Gates Foundation position as if it were my sincerely held belief and that of the army of people I will pretend to represent. For a low six-figure salary I would express the Gates Foundation opinion online, in guest columns for the Seattle Times, at panel discussions on public education, and on the radio and television. Anywhere they like. I'd do podcasts.

I could come up with some sort of catchy name for my one-person education reform organization or we can go with the name that Gates Foundation has found to rank highest with their focus groups.

I'll write blog posts. More than that, I'll write comments to my blog posts to enhance the illusion that more than one person is involved in the organization (Hey, Alliance for Education: that's a free tip from me.)

Anonymous said...

good idea charlie....

have often thought of doing this --- after all, i have the perfect combo of skills --- local knowledge, professional-expertise in writing, marketing, PR...

somehow, could never bring myself to do this, no matter how broke my boy and i were...

wonder why that is? hmmm --- could it be something to do with the idea of "integrity"? "ethics"? "morality"? "honesty"?

seems there's no profit (or glory) in having a strongly-defined and held personal values system... oh well....


~ Crazy Sahila

Melissa Westbrook said...

I know, Charlie, I always wonder why they don't just hire us to sit on some group and poof! we're gone.

And yes, these groups and their "blogs." If you don't allow comments, it's not a blog.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

This discussion stirred a few memories...(!)

The Lines of Influence in Education Reform – Seattle Education Blog

seattle citizen said...

What Sue said.
: )

Teacher Greg said...

If you want to know the number of students currently in charters you can look it up at this link: http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/Reports.asp

You have to look up each one, one at a time. Use the "Headcount" report. The Charters are below 900 students as of November 1st.

Allen jeley said...

Great act of Washington student i agree with you because every should learning education thanks for sharing personal statement business studies .