Monday, January 09, 2017

Senator Murray Wants Your Stories about Public Education

From Senator Patty Murray's office:

President-elect Trump has nominated someone to lead the Department of Education who has spent her career trying to privatize public education. We need real stories about the value of public education to help fight back -- share yours today.


Anonymous said...

Our kid had a good education in the SPS but, unfortunately, the programs that she was able to access have now been dismantled (Spectrum) or are in the process of being dismantled out from under our feet (HCC), I do not think that I can in good faith write a good story about Seattle Public Education. In fact, attending SPS has been a constant nightmare. We have had to spend lots of money on outside classes to overcome the district's poor curriculum choices. We also have had to change schools to escape principals who were adversarial toward advanced learning. Chalk up 2 hours commute each day for that. There are still some great (really wonderful) public school teachers in the district but they seem demoralized (to my eye) and a few have switched to the local private schools. This puts me in a general dilemma because when we recruit new employees at my place of work I can no longer advocate for the Seattle public schools. At this point, I have come to believe that this district is a bad choice for Seattle parents. I won't go so far as to complain to Senator Murray, but before the district made so many poor decisions in the last 7 years, I could have written a good report. Privatizing public education will be completely useless at best, and a disaster at worst, but I cannot hold up the SPS as a glowing alternative. Perhaps someone from Northshore or Shoreline can weigh in. Colleagues of mine from those districts seem to have a drama-free school experience as far as I can tell.


Stuart Jenner said...

I have felt compelled to do a lot of shopping for high schools because of similar poor choices made in the Highline School District, where I live. There are some positives in our district. And I see many positive happenings going on in many of the Seattle schools. But, this whole education system seems like a big roulette wheel, where you never really know what's going to happen. Both our district and Garfield rolled out "honors for all" in a secretive manner, with no parental involvement, input, and really any proactive notice. Something that looks really good seems likely to be swatted down.

I don't know what Ms DeVos has up her sleeve. The attempt at creating "choice" and "markets" has failed miserably with the small high schools in Highline. Is that the fault of public education? I think not. If anything, it is the fault of attempts to give up local influence in exchange for outside money, compounded by administrative decisions and school board silence.

So, as I'm writing this, I think that will be my message to Sen Murray. Probably not the one she wants though, since the money that created the small schools came from the Gates Foundation. But the Gates Foundation essentially seemed to be running the US Department of Education during the Obama years. Do a Google search on "gates foundation running us department of education" and you'll find plenty of links.

Highline Parent

Stuart Jenner said...

So, I just left my comment. Melissa, your headline needs to change. Patty doesn't want a story. She wants money. The next screen after you fill out the form says "what amount of donation would you like to make." I guess she needs to raise money now for 2022. I thought this was a legitimate request for information and stories she could use to help, but I guess not. What will be really interesting is to see if I get a response from the campaign. Or her office.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I saw that Stuart but you don't have to give a donation. I think she does want to konw.

Anonymous said...

She would like you to be a part of her team, Stuart. The site is her fundraising site and you will be on her mailing list. She assumes anyone interested enough to leave a comment in favor of public schools would be a likely supporter.

Senator Murray is a great senator, honest and very down to earth. I've met her a couple times while working for the dems. She will go to the mat for us against the neo-fascist regime of the sexual assaulting, pathological lying, hate mongering president-elect.

I don't know if you are new to the United States Stuart, but we here in Seattle are the only place with public financing of elections that I know of. Just received my Democracy Voucher today, in fact. Otherwise politics is driven by money, lots of it, and Senator Murray needs money to retain her seat so if people have some money to give along with comments, in my opinion, it's is money well spent.

Stop Trump

Anonymous said...

My stories about public education involve constant battles with an uncaring bureaucracy that focuses far more about maintaining itself or pursuing a nebulous social agenda loosely tied to education. My first kid, an SPS student performing several years ahead of grade level, is an afterthought to SPS leadership because he easily meets common core standards. My second kid was forced into our neighborhood school by the new assignment plan. The principal there was very vocal in announcing that his job was to make sure each kid met grade level standards, and nothing more. We skipped out on that hellhole and sent #2 to the local Catholic school, where #2 receives a far better education (at a much lower cost per student served) than they would at SPS.

In summary, I'd say that SPS provides the same customer service that most monopolies do. It's just like Comcast. In other words, they suck.

We need a public policy that encourages SPS leadership to pay closer attention to the kids, not themselves and their agenda.

Bring on the charters.

Fed Up

Spectrum & Special Ed Mom said...

One kid tested into Spectrum (a program that's more about a kid's socio-economic background than capabilities as highlighted in that stunning piece by the poet who can't answer the Common Core questions about her own poem.)

The second kid is mostly in a self-contained special ed classroom. I can't imagine ANY private school--charter, religious, or other--meeting the needs of my second kid. By law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), he gets an education equal to his older sibling. Many of us "SpEd" parents won't sing praises about the Seattle School District but they're making significant improvements. My youngest is learning to read, to write (type) and the life skills that will allow him to live life to his fullest potential. Private schools have no obligations to meet his needs. This is not a place for the market to decide. Providing education for our widely varied student body-- e.g. special needs, ESL, poor, abused, teen parents among the many others--is not about which kid has the money to make it. At the state level, funding is unequal across school districts. We don't need money spent on private schools to make the system we have, albeit with need for improvement, worse.

alicia said...

I am really disappointed that most comments so far have been focused on the parents' own children. Don't we have an obligation to consider the needs of all children? Isn't important that all children have access to a good public education system? We can't give up because the needs of our own exceptional children aren't met. My oldest child is on the spectrum and receives special ed services (so he is on the other side of your HCC continuum). It is not a perfect system. It doesn't always meet the needs of its students yet I am not so cynical as to simply give up. Cynicism is luxurious in that it allows a person to relinquish all personal responsibility. I have good stories to share with Patty Murray and look forward to doing so while I continue to dedicate as much energy as I can to right the wrongs I see every day.

Anonymous said...

@ Alicia, it's risky territory to talk about the needs of students other than our own, unless we're teachers or similar. Should I tell Sen. Murray how I think we should provide special ed services for your child, even though I have little experience with special ed? Should I talk about things happening at schools that aren't my own, even if my "knowledge" is based on rumors and blog posts/comments? I don't think she's asking for generalities and philosophical support for the idea of public education. More specific examples will naturally be more personal. And unfortunately, many of us haven't had great SPS experiences about which to wax poetic.

Reality bites

SeaMom said...

Why on earth should other parents support your attempts to ensure *your* child is adequately served by public school if you don't support them as they seek the same goal? That's what makes public education a truly central democratic institution: it has a mandate to serve ALL children, no matter where they come from, what they bring or who they are. You can debate about how well or poorly it's carried out but that is the unique and vital role of public education in a democracy. This administration is trying to scrap that mandate altogether. It is going to double down on the long-running 1%-er project of completely privatizing public education. None of us is getting what we want or need, but the alternative this administration presents is not a better public school system but no public school system at all. Petty infighting is deeply unwise, to say the least, when there's a common enemy at the gates.

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