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Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Schools Coalition guest column in the Times

Those horrible people at the Our Schools Coalition placed a guest column full of lies in the Seattle Times.

37 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Let's not forget that Sara Morris wrote this nasty little anti-democratic guest column back in 2007.

Sue said...

I read the Times piece, and found it too simplistic, but I certainly didn't expect otherwise.

I would like to see a follow up piece by the Times (ha ha - like that is going to happen)

But when I went to the link provided for the group, I found links to a few news stories in other papers, like The Bellingham Herald, that were a thoughtful critique of the group's mission. I thought it at least spoke well to the group to put negative stories on their own website.

And I know this is an extremely unpopular opinion to have on this blog, but I do agree with some of what the group is saying. Let's look at teacher performance. Lets look at ways besides seniority to remove teachers. Will these two things be done right? Probably not, due to Olga Addae and MGJ, but that does not mean they don't need to happen.

Again, I know this is a verboten opinion here, but it is an opinion shared by many regular parents in this district. Fire away and have a nice weekend!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I certainly put in my own cheerful little earful at the Times' comment section. I'm thinking that the first meeting I have with Sara Morris might be my last but well, at least we'll be able to put a face to a name.

Oh please, anyone can have any opinion here. No, many might not agree but no one is going to eat you alive.

I have no problem with other measures than seniority being used. It is the SEA that considers it sacred (as Olga said at the Board meeting).

I think we can ALL agree; something has to change. What we have right now doesn't work. But I am not willing to lay it all at the feet of teachers or on the backs of teachers (or any other body part). And that's pretty much what the Alliance is saying.

wseadawg said...

Seniority is appropriate at RIF time. Performance is relevant always. I don't object to better measures for performance, if they can be objective or empirical, nor do I think your idea is verboten Keepin'On.

But you're conflating the issue of RIF's & Seniority with the proverbial "bad teacher" problem. Those are separate issues.

Judging from how MGJ and others operate, do you think a talented teacher who speaks out against the administration won't suddenly receive low marks when RIF's are on the horizon?

Come On, Keepin'On. Let's be realistic about this. You think a teacher's due process would get the light of day during a large purge of teachers at RIF time, under such exigent circumstances as a budget crunch panic?

We've seen how this goes down. You really want to throw evaluations into that mix and believe you'll get any sort of fair or acceptable result? Sorry, but I have zero confidence in that.

I also know a lot of parents who aren't doing their job at home whining about teachers and schools. Let's not pretend that doesn't go on.

Sorry to those of you who get stuck with "bad teachers," but seriously, how did your principal deal with the problem, and if they didn't, what did the CAO or Administration do about it? If they all sat on their butts and blamed the union, then guess what? They weren't doing their jobs. Where's the push for their performance evaluations?

MathTeacher42 said...

wseadawg at 4/16/10 7:28 PM

I've gone in front of the school board twice to criticize policies.

In my microsoft days, my employee badge and my employee email would have been shut down before I left the meeting - boat rocking got people chucked over the side.

There was a 18 year gap between graduating high school in '78 and volunteering in a middle school. The ONLY differences in that time? The problems are WORSE!

Clearly, the solution is to focus blame on those running to fall behind on the incessantly increasing list of things to do, instead of asking what are the office jockeys accomplishing, other than dreaming up newer, shinier, prettier whirly-gigs and doo-dads.

It has taken me some time to partially digest that indigestible Seattle Times piece implying management wonders. I just realized that what this hype belongs to is the the Gordon Gekko / "Masters of the Universe" Raygunesque senior management worship.

All we need is Elvis belting out "How Great Thou Art".

B.M.M.

wseadawg said...

It's ironic that since "A Nation at Risk" came out in 1983, and the Business Round Table getting involved right after, we've had 25+ years now of increasing involvement of business methods in the education field, yet things seem not to improve, and in fact get worse. This doesn't mean "blame the BRT anymore than blaming the teachers union. I think most Reformers genuinely try to make things better. But so much has been tried that doesn't work, yet where is the honest critique and debate? Instead, as we see Goldman Sachs sued by the SEC today, and Blackwater's CEO indicted today, bearing witness to the corruption and failure of so many models we've followed and held dear for the last 30 years, things seem to just plod along, business as usual.

We once had a great public education system, yet, day by day, year by year, we seem to get further and further away from it. Why is that?

I think part of the problem is that we focus so much on job prospects, job training, skills training, and the economy, The Economy, THE ECONOMY(!!!), that we've strayed too far away from schooling's chief mission of teaching people the relevance and necessity of a solid understanding of all subjects in order to be a good citizen first. Find your calling when you become an adult, kid! For now, learn your ABC's, how to write, and how to do math, and how to communicate your ideas with your mouth or on paper, versus some little dwiddling electronic device.

We all know how too much television polluted our brains, interfered with homework, and wasted huge amounts of our time, yet, today, we think it's great when our kids use our iPhones or master our computer. Something is amiss here folks.

I know I sound like an old grouch, but is it really that hard and complicated? Do we have to constantly stimulate kids to get them to learn? If we do, who's fault is that? Ours, for caving into the lure of constant entertainment, constant contact, and constant internet access?

I'm rambling, and I haven't even had a drink tonight. But honestly, what happened to public ed to get us where we are today, where the typical middle to upper class kids still do fine, as always, and the minority, poor, and at-risk kids still lag behind, as always, except, again, after 25 years of help from the business lobby, things are not only worse, but a lot worse.

This reminds me of Gen. Westmoreland's solution in Vietnam, more men, more men, more men...or Iraq/Afghanistan, more money, more money, more money...

At some point isn't it time to listen to the educators and the people who deal with our kids up close and personal everyday, instead of all the PhD's in leadership positions Googling and propagandizing from their think tanks all day long? Is it that hard to see that all this "bringing of the Big Guns into education" just isn't working, and what's more, is just not a good idea after all?

I'm thrilled that so many benefactors give to public ed and want things to be better. But could it be that we're just simply mixing too many apples with oranges, giving the wrong prescription for the ailments, and ultimately just not reaching enough of the kids we really want and need to reach? I think there's a lot of that, and it can't be "owned" by teachers. It's all of our faults.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Just brainstorming here...
I'd love to see SEA take proactive leadership on their priorities for improving Seattle schools. I've heard anecdotally from a few very successful 25+ year teachers (ones that everyone seems to love & get great results) that nobody in the district or the union wants to hear from them what needs to be done. Well, how about gathering some of the favorite teachers from across the district so they can voice their collective opinion? The names of these beloved teachers would carry much more weight in the community than Olga Addae's voice (or the Superintendent's or CAO's). Maybe recently retired teachers would even have some quality time to put into this. I know favorite does not necessarily equal best, but judging from my own kids and their friends, their favorites are based more on learning & inspiration than friendliness & popularity. Do you think this would be worth trying to organize?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Andrew, I think there are a whole lot of teachers, old and young, who are not happy with SEA leadership. I sat in a meeting with the Super, the SEA leadership, a Board member and many reps of parent/community groups only to have the SEA reps virtually brush off the parent/community groups. I felt like standing up and saying, "excuse me, WE'RE the groups who actually support teachers and you're dissing us?" It was very strange.

I don't know how to pull such a thing off because of the ramifications to teachers who are in the union (it may have to come from within) but I agree with your idea.

seattle citizen said...

So here're the changes to the "polling summary" (methodology) that Our Schools Coalition has posted on their meager website. Seems there's a couple last minute edits to this methodology between April 16 and April 17. No explanation given, but I guess someone called BS on a)where they got the teacher's names and phone numbers (SPS, of course) and how COME only 1400 teachers? Was there selection going on at SPS in deciding which teachers to submit? and b) the accuracy of the poll...

They can't even get their own data right:

Our Schools Coalition Polling Summary Version One (April 15) compared to Version Two (April 16)

LINE 8:
OLD: each segment provided by Seattle Public Schools

NEW: each segment provided by Seattle Public Schools and cross-referenced with the King County voter file.


LINES 12 and 13:
OLD: Given are [sic] available sample size, 175 calls to teachers were completed for this study.

NEW: Given that [industry] standard [of 10:1] would have required 2000 names with phone numbers, rather than 1400, 175 calls to teachers were completed (an actual ratio of 8:1) for the teacher segment of this study.

Sahila said...

Andrew - for once we agree, which is lovely...

I believe there is internal movement within the union... I have asked within my own spheres of influence whether teachers and parents can get together to discuss where things are at and begin to work together... I know other (parents) are making the same request...we shall see where that goes...

I think the education forum planned for April 24th might be a good place to start...

seattle citizen said...

I still find the whole Our Schools Coalition effort extremely hilarious (if it weren't taken so seriously, evidently, by our friends at the Times and by minority commnunity leaders who are hoping for some access to power)
I mean, c'mon:
Broad/Gates (broadgatesbroadgatesbroadgates...hee hee) funds the Strategic Plan, including performance management, which includes NWEAs MAP tests (remember the Supt is on both boards of Broad and MAP); The Alliance manages this money; The Alliace spins off OSC to "speak as a neutral voice of the community" or whatever; the OSC consists of a woman down at that 360 polling company, who is given a list of teacher names and numbers by the district, in order to conduct a poll to influence contract negotiations...It's blatant manipulation, and it's clear as day:

Broad Supt uses Broad money to influence Broad Alliance "poll" by supplying teacher info (legal? maybe...right? no) to conduct biased push poll which is then touted by the Broad Alliance as the voice of the people.
It's laughable.

Chris S. said...

SC, if you haven't already, you should put that on the times web site.

owlhouse said...

SC- That would make a lovely, circular diagram. :)

gallemann said...

And not one mention of smaller class sizes in that guest piece. Ask teachers what could help them be better teachers...that would be one thing that most would mention. But, boy is it expensive! So let's just not go there.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, anyone notice that the Broad Foundation put in a sponsor notice on NPR about their Superintendent Academy? That's an interesting piece of their work they chose to single out (I heard this both on Tucson NPR and KUOW.)

MathTeacher42 said...

4/17/10 8:14 AM

Sahlia,

At the risk of being not a team player ... yawn ...

hasn't that conventional wisdom / don't rock that boat stuff from our "leaders" just worked out so well for us in the bottom 80% for the last 30 years...

Where and when is the meeting on the 24th? I'd be interested in meeting / yakking with you & ??

To all - on Monday April 19th is the Representative Assembly meeting of the SEA at Washington Middle School at 16:30.

I don't know what is going on Monday cuz we don't use the web for much of anything cuz ...

remember we can't let the ruskies see The Big Board ???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZV_lIwmz5E

B.M.M.

Charlie Mas said...

The Our Schools Coalition petition has 45 signatures. I wonder how many of them are real names.

I wonder if they are checking to see if the names that people send in are real or fake. I wonder if they would recognize a fake name.

When I was in high school I was one of about 20 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists from my school. I remember that our school had the most of any non-magnet public school in the country. When the rival high school got a newspaper story about how they had a whopping eight, our principal got worked up about it and wanted publicity about us. All of us were summoned from our classes one afternoon to the administration office for a group photo.

Here's a story about how NOT to manage smart teens. About three didn't bother to show. Another five drifted away when they learned the reason for the summons. They grouped us together before the rest could scatter and took the picture. Then they wanted our names for the photo caption. They passed a piece of paper from person to person and had us write them down in the order we were standing in the photo. When the sheet got to me I saw that all of the names after about the third one were false. I assure you that Phil Harmonic did not go to my school. Neither did Niels Bohr. I added a false name for myself (I think I went with Christopher Marlowe) and took off. The joke was discovered - I think it was the "Albert Einstein" that gave us all away - and most of us were compelled to report our real names. I seem to remember that some of the more obscure ones did make it into the paper.

Do you think the Our Schools Coalition would know that Christopher Marlowe couldn't really sign their petition? Would they recognize Niels Bohr as an unlikely signer? How about Bill Gates, John Holmes, or Sue Donim?

Why am I such a stinker?

seattle citizen said...

I wonder if they have Click and Clack's attorneys doing their legal advising over there at OSC. You know the firm: Dewey, Cheetum and Howe?

Sahila said...

Mathteacher:
The information you asked for follows... I am supposed to be teaching a workshop that day... if it cancels, I am going to this...

I and some other parents have asked one of the organisers if parents/SPS community members could have a speaking part - we feel its time parents and teachers began working together in reply to the reformists' attempts to set us against each other... I dont know where that request will go/what its outcome will be....

Anyway... if you want to talk with me outside this venue, I'd be glad to meet for a coffee and a natter... you can email me at:
metamind_universal@yahoo.com and we can set something up...

Namaste
Sahila
The Seattle Education Association (the local teacher's union) presents:

Education Reform: Knowledge is Power!
A Forum
Sat, April 24 | 1:30 PM
St. Marks Cathedral
1245 10th Ave E Seattle, WA 98102

What do you know about “ed reform?” What is the "Race To The Top" initiative really all about? What do you know about merit pay? standardized testing? charter schools? Come hear the teacher's perspective on the debate about how to transform our schools.

Speakers:
Mary Lindquist, WEA President
Olga Addae, SEA President
Jesse Hagopian, RIF’d Teacher
Juanita Doyon, Mothers Against the WASL

Why attend this forum? You can't afford not to:

The attacks on teachers and public education are mounting. Policy makers are implementing a series of corporate measures on our schools under the guise of "education reform"--and many of the worst "reforms" could be coming to Seattle next school year as powerful, moneyed interests attempt to shape the up-coming bargaining process between the school district and the teacher's union. These reforms are tied to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "Race To The Top" initiative that is trying to bribe states into fostering competition (instead of collaboration) between teachers by adopting merit pay and the high-stakes curriculum- narrowing-tests that come with them. Another centerpiece of Duncan's plan includes privatizing education through the use of statistically proven under-performing charter schools.

A few of these latest attacks show the dire situation for public education in our country:

1. The closure of half the schools in Kansas City

2. The firing of the entire staff at a Rhode Island High School

3. The rapid-fire passage of legislation in many states to qualify for additional federal education funding by opening the doors to charter schools and tying teacher pay to test scores

4. The proliferation of non-union charter schools run by outfits backed by billionaires like Eli Broad

5. Sweeping layoffs and budget cuts imposed on teachers' union locals and schools, from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

Everyone agrees that our schools must be reformed. The question is, should we listen to corporations and billionaires about what reforms work, or should we listen to teachers, parents, and students? Come hear about these threats to public education and help construct what real education reform should look like.

Sahila said...

Mathteacher...

I have it on good authority that at your Monday SEA meeting a resolution will be put to a vote on whether the union should support RTTT...

And at Wednesday's SPS Board meeting:
An introduction to Resolution 2009/10-12 Race To The Top Grant (Executive) - Approval of this resolution will authorize the superintendent and board president to sign on to Washington State's Race to the Top Partnership Agreement.

Here come charters, merit pay, high stakes testing, aligned curriculum and scripted lessons and cheap, unqualified 'teachers' replacing seasoned professionals....there wont be anything in the way after this...

Did you know that Washington receiving RTT funds puts less than $22/child into SPS coffers, and who want to bet that money will actually make it into the classroom? I dont...

I think my child is worth more than $22 and I wouldnt see his and every other child's education soul to this particular devil for 1000 times the price!

So, if you dont want this for your kids and you dont want public school money siphoned off into private hands, then get busy and make a noise about Washington and SPS not accepting RTT funds....

wseadawg said...

I'm with you on that 100% as well Andrew. But here's a curious thing: Most really good teachers are busy as heck teaching our kids and simply don't have time to devote to protecting their backsides or changing stubborn ways within the union. This could be a huge % of teachers, btw. But I agree that if we could at least get them on record, or somehow involved with parental efforts, we could advocate for them.

And SC, its not laughable; it's 100% political. Gates's dad has had a lobbying law firm in DC for over a decade. They know how to play politics to get their way. This local effort probably seems like chump change.

wseadawg said...

I'm with you on that 100% as well Andrew. But here's a curious thing: Most really good teachers are busy as heck teaching our kids and simply don't have time to devote to protecting their backsides or changing stubborn ways within the union. This could be a huge % of teachers, btw. But I agree that if we could at least get them on record, or somehow involved with parental efforts, we could advocate for them.

And SC, its not laughable; it's 100% political. Gates's dad has had a lobbying law firm in DC for over a decade. They know how to play politics to get their way. This local effort probably seems like chump change.

seattle citizen said...

wseadawg, you're right, it's not laughable. I mis-spoke. I'm jsut aghast that anyone who looks at this paper tiger could believe a word they say. But you're right, this kind of stuff has proven very effective.
I mean, look at advertising: they wouldn't pay the big bucks if it didn't work, even when the ads themselves are indeed laughable.

So it's not laughable, it's cryable

Sahila said...

I've been looking at who Gates/Broad etc are in bed with....

Its a long, long list of unsavory characters, including Halliburton, Blackwater/XE, Monsanto and Raytheon... some of it is directly working together, some of it is in funding the same education reform efforts, some of it is in the form of having shares in Halliburton, Monsanto and Raytheon and some of it is in the form of legal work done by Gates' father's firm for these clients...

I'm just connecting the dots....

Sahila said...

I invite you to listen to this speech by FDR, and tell me that this is not what's happening (in the country generally and) in public education ...
(with thanks to the person who pointed me in this direction)...

I wish Obama would listen to this a few times and take his cue from FDR...


http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385x365197


". . . For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace - business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master. . ."

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/text/us/fd ...

seattle citizen said...

Here's the list of those groups/people who are "members" of the Our Schools Coalition, divided into the "categories" of their affiliation:

Government:
Councilmember Tim Burgess

"Coalitions":
League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, Alliance for Education

Business:
Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Technology Alliance, Technology Access Foundation [see also "minority"], Urban Enterprise Center [see also "minority"], Washington Policy Center

Religious:
Urban Impact

Minority Groups and/or their supporters:
African American Parent Coalition, Central Area Motivation Program, East African Community Services, El Centro de la Raza,
Horn of Africa, King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,Mona H. Bailey Retired Seattle Public Schools District Administrator,
Rainier Scholars,Seattle Breakfast Group, Somali Community Services of Seattle, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Technology Access Foundation [see also "business"], Urban Enterprise Center [see also "business"],
Kevin C. Washington, Chair, Tabor 100 Education Committee, Powerful Schools

Unknown (many "youth ambassadors"):
Youth Ambassador

Sahila said...

On his blog, Harium directed another writer to the national certification board for the definition of a quality teacher....

you can read the definition/description for yourself at the following URL...

http://www.nbpts.org/userfiles/File/mc_gen_standards.pdf

You'll notice that the description does not define a good teacher by the WASL or MAP stats his/her kids achieve each and every year....

I asked Harium if, based on this definition of teacher quality, he would you help us head off this reformist agenda that is so focused on test-result based 'merit pay' and 'performance management'.... it will be interesting to see what is his reply...

Sahila said...

Sent to the School Board today... if you feel the same way about MGJ's conflicts of interest, feel free to copy, paste, amend and send your own letter also...
school board member email addresses are:

peter.maier@seattleschools.org, michael.debell@seattleschools.org, harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org, sherry.carr@seattleschools.org, steve.sundquist@seattleschools.org,betty.patu@seattleschools.org, kay.smith-blum@seattleschools.org


Dear Seattle Public School Board members:

I find it completely incredulous that you allow Superintendent Marie Goodloe Johnson to maintain her conflicts of interest - with the Broad Foundation, with NWEA (MAP testing) and with the recent pro-education reform political fundraiser she attended...

I have lived in several other countries and nowhere has it been the accepted practice for a Public Servant to hold office with those kinds of conflicts continuing. There are laws and regulations in place in most western countries, in addition to professional standards of conduct, specifically to prevent conflicts of interest such as these occurring. I am certain that the US does also subscribe to those codes of conduct.

Assuming you really believe there is nothing wrong here, I don't know how you've gotten to your respective ages, levels of education, levels of work experience and business acumen to not know and recognise this as a problem.

And if you do know that this is problematic, surely your own personal and professional ethics and integrity (as public servants yourselves, representing our children and the broader community) would dictate that you could not allow this situation to continue?

The Superintendent is supposed to be working for us and our children, not for Broad or NWEA or helping out in the political arena pushing a reform agenda that is aimed at busting the unions, privatising public education, making money for testing and text book companies, firing seasoned professionals and hiring untrained cheap labour to 'teach' our children...

Don't you (and SPS) already have enough lawsuits on your hands? Do you want to face a recall action?

It is your job to manage the Superintendent on our behalf. Please do what would be required in any other public institution - either order her to divest herself of those links and activities (permanently while she is in the employ of SPS), or fire her...

seattle said...

Yes, Andrew, it would be well worth organizing!

Charlie Mas said...

If given the opportunity to run a guest column in rebuttal, here is what I would write:

A few well-financed foundations practicing a highly politicized form of philanthropy have been pushing an agenda leading with the false issue of "teacher quality". These foundations, each funded primarily by a single individual with breathtaking wealth, have worked to create the illusion of a popular movement. They have co-opted (if not outright purchased) the names and reputations of local groups and they have created a number of ironically named puppet organizations to promote their views on education. Don’t be fooled. There is little or no public support for their perspective and there is absolutely no research or rationale to support their claims.

The people aren't fooled, but a number of institutions have bought into their blather. Some because they were desperate for the financial support, some because they share the political perspective, some because they were awed by the names and wealth, and some because they just didn't know better.

Here's the truth behind the "teacher quality" nonsense.

First, there is no reliable measure of teacher quality or teacher effectiveness. Nor is there a standard measure of teacher effectiveness. So those who start in talking about it have to be stopped immediately and asked how they define and how they measure "teacher quality" or "teacher effectiveness". They will not have a ready answer. They will not, in fact, have any answer. If they don’t know what they mean by "teacher quality", then how can they talk about it?

They may resort to student test scores, but, as anyone knows, students arrive in a classroom with a broad diversity of preparation. Some are working two or more grade levels ahead, some working two or more grade levels behind. The teacher should neither get credit for the tests passed by students who could have passed the test on the first day of school, nor should the teacher get blame for tests failed by students who started school further back than they could be expected to catch up.

If we were to rely on student test scores to identify effective teachers then all of the teachers in gifted programs, regardless of their practices, would be judged excellent and all of the teachers in remedial programs, regardless of their practices, would be judged incompetent. A teacher could improve their rating simply by transferring to a school where the students are better supported and prepared. Is there anyone who thinks that if Bryant and Brighton swapped staff they would also swap test scores? Is there anyone who thinks that if they swapped students they would not swap test scores?

Second, it is unclear if the "teacher quality" movement is about sorting the competent teachers from the incompetent teachers or if it is about sorting the competent teachers along some spectrum from fair to good to great. The movement is intentionally ambiguous about it. They want to gather the strong feelings people have about incompetent teachers to promote the unrelated grading of competent ones. No one thinks that incompetent teachers should remain in classrooms, but it is up to their managers, the principals, to get them removed. The failure to do so rests entirely with the principals. Where is the "principal quality" movement?

continued...

Charlie Mas said...

continued...


Third, the movement tries to overstate the importance of having a good teacher instead of a fair one or a great teacher instead of a good one. Teaching quality has, at most, an incremental effect on student achievement. Study after study has shown – and we all know – that student academic outcomes are determined almost entirely by the active involvement in the student's education by an adult in the student's home. Schools and teachers, for good or ill, have little or no influence on student outcomes. If they did, then students would leave classrooms at the end of the year with similar outcomes. If the quality of the teaching were a major determinant of student achievement, then students in the same class with the same teacher would have similar test scores, but they don’t. The truth is that there is no school so bad that a motivated student cannot wrestle an education from it and there is no school so good that it can press an education into an unwilling student. Home influences dwarf any influences at school.

Studies show that the academic achievement gap is formed at home. It actually narrows during the school year and then expands over each summer. Studies that have tried to attribute the sources of the gap place nearly all of it at home. Student achievement is determined at home, not at school.
Oddly, the "teacher quality" propaganda often supports the use of well-meaning volunteers such as Teach for America. If there is anyone who thinks that an inexperienced and untrained person in a temp job can do the work better than those with experience, training, and a career commitment, then you must be able to ignore all of the data available on the topic that shows the value of experience, the value of training, and the value of commitment. You’d have to be so committed to an ideology that you could ignore all reason.

Here in Seattle the "teacher quality" banner is carried by the Alliance for Education. The Alliance is almost entirely funded by the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. Only a tiny fraction of Alliance funding comes from local individuals. The Alliance has created an "astroturf" organization called "Our Schools Coalition" to try to influence both public opinion and the Seattle teacher contract negotiation. It's doomed to be a pathetic failure.

I don't mind people lying to me; I've come to expect it. But I am insulted when they tell me such a thin and easily debunked lie. If the Alliance president is going to spread lies – and she did in a recent guest column – I wish she would show us enough respect to invent more plausible ones.

wseadawg said...

Amen Charlie.

The scary part is: People actually buy into it. Not because of it's merits, but because there is only one viewpoint ever expressed in the papers, on TV, or around town, because only one side has the huge war chest (and the US President's bully pulpit and the US Dept of Ed) to ensure only their voice is heard, while the other works on raising their kids and partnering with their teachers and schools, trying to do what's right.

Having almost no opposition, the reformers win the battle for form, but continue to lose the battle for substance, because they create so little of it. Dog and pony shows, and photo ops all over, but actual improvement? Very hard to find.

Chicago's Students 2009: "Still Left Behind" - Commercial Club of Chicago (The group that started it all).

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you for that point, wseadawg. The opposition to this nonsense doesn't have the ink or the cash to create a public relations opposition to what is essentially a public relations battle. All the opposition has is the truth and rationality. In a public relations battle those are antiquated and relatively feeble weapons.

seattle citizen said...

If you don't have money, you need numbers. We need ten thousand people in front of JSCEE tomorrow, with "no to OSC" signs.

PTSA?

Support your teachers?

Sahila said...

Charlie - why dont you submit what you wrote as an Op-Ed to the Times, the PI, Crosscut and/or whoever else will publish it...

You would be helping spread the word, which is what many of us are working hard to do...

SC is right - when you havent got the moolah to compete in the PR competition, you need the noise and the numbers... and some of us are working on making that happen...

Seriously, now is the time.... if you (anyone) want(s) to join in, email me at metamind_universal@yahoo.com and I'll connect you up with the various efforts ...

Sahila said...

Charlie - why dont you post this on the Alliance blog, and ask Dora Taylor if you can put it as a guest piece on http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/...

Sahila

seattle citizen said...

Karen Waters, Strategies 360 Senior Vice President:

She is the only contact listed on the supposedly community based Our Schools Coalition. Turns out she has Gates, Alliance, LEV, Excellent Schools Now as clients, and was involved in NCTQ report.

"Karen Waters runs Strategies 360’s education division, using her extensive knowledge of government relations, public affairs and communications to drive reform and create change.
Karen manages a wide range of clients and projects, from directing voter campaigns to crafting policy solutions at the state and federal level to implementing grassroots efforts and conducting media outreach. Past and current clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, League of Education Voters, Alliance for Education, Excellent Schools Now Coalition, PlayWorks and the Clover Park School District.
News Release by Alliance on NCTQ report, October 2009
“….Seattle, Wash. – Today the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a
report on the ability of the Seattle Public Schools to attract, develop, retain and evaluate
teachers, concluding that many SPS and Washington State teacher policies hinder
improved student achievement…..”
Contact: Bess Keller, NCTQ
Tel: 202-393-0020 x15
Cell: 410-302-3425
Email: bkeller@nctq.org
Tel: 206-282-1990
Cell: 206-334-0822
Email: Karenw@strategies360.com"