Our Schools Coalition Teacher Quality Town Hall

The Our Schools Coalition held a "Teacher Quality Town Hall" at South Lake High School tonight. The turnout was good, about 70 people, many of whom were already members of the OSC. The food was good, it was from Maya's. The conversation and the structure were only fair.

Everyone was civil and courteous, as we typically are at these sorts of things. There were some quick presentations on what the OSC has done so far and then they got to the questions for small group discussion. There were eight groups and they had four groups tackle one question while the other four took on another. Then came the report out from the small groups. Then with did it again with another two questions and reported out again and then they closed it up.

There were a lot of people there to disagree with the OSC and what they were doing, but there really wasn't much opportunity for that. There was one thing that the OSC folks did that was irritating, paternalistic, and disrespectful. Everytime someone expressed disagreement with them, they kind of shook their heads and wistfully apologized that they hadn't educated those folks, or those folks didn't properly understand the issue, or they hadn't been clear enough for those folks to understand. No. That's not the case. The people who disagree with you have an excellent understanding of the issues; they just disagree with you. The OSC just isn't open to the idea that they might be wrong. That's not only arrogant, it's a little scary.

Oddly, the OSC's own material shows that they are wrong. They asked teachers what they needed and the teachers said autonomy, time, and professional respect. While the OSC proposals address the time concerns (time for planning and time for collaboration) they do not address the autonomy or professional respect issues at all. When they asked community members what they thought was important, the community's issues were (in descending order) evaluation, hiring/distribution of talen, advocacy, capacity, training and mentoring, and student growth. While the OSC proposals address four of those, they do not address advocacy or capacity. These represent serious oversights and reflect a failure to pay attention to the very people that you claim to regard.

The poll data is badly reported. They do not report the number of people who responded "don't know". For at least two of the questions that answer may have been the top one. It's unclear why they didn't report these numbers.

I think the Our Schools Coalition is aware that they do not have the public behind them. I don't think they have made any effort to get the public behind them. I don't think they really care if they have the public behind them because I think they know that the public doesn't matter. Honestly, I don't know how much they really believe that they will have ANY impact on the teacher contract negotiations.

I can't imagine that either of the parties to the negotiations give this flea circus any notice at all.


grousefinder said…
George Orwell once wrote this about OSC (or at least he could have): "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink."

Just love that cuttlefish (squid) reference.
Interestingly, our original "coalition" the Seattle Organizers got turned down by the Times for an op-ed because of the Our Schools group's op-ed the week previous. But the reason given was that the Our Schools group gave specifics and we didn't. This on the same day that there's a vague "let's stand behind arts in schools" op-ed with no specifics. Oh.

I concur with Charlie that the district/Board and the SEA aren't going to listen to anyone. Despite Seattle Organizers urging the district to put something on the Board agenda so parents can express their thoughts on negotiations (or, have a public hearing), no such opportunities have occurred. They aren't even encouraging people to e-mail their thoughts.

So this is a contract that affects almost every part of our children's school day and the Board, our elected reps, aren't interested in any of our thoughts or concerns.

Remember that around election time.
gavroche said…
My take is that the primary purpose of the "Our Schools Coalition" is to influence (read: intimidate) teachers into believing that there is widespread public support for the ed reformite agenda ("merit pay" tied to standardized testing, etc.), and thus pressure them to capitulate to the reformites' demands at the bargaining table.

But in fact, there isn't genuine or widespread public support for this coercive and seriously flawed agenda. And that is why the Alliance/LEV et al fabricated a faux 'community coalition' of their own (OSC).

I also have a hunch that the Alliance jilted your group, Melissa, because they may have felt your list of objectives didn't go far enough down the reformite road (to privatizing, teacher-bashing perdition), or they determined they couldn't completely control you guys and your message, thus you were not the best vehicle through which to launder their anti-teacher agenda.

If so, maybe you should take all this as a compliment.

But they felt they needed at least the facade of a supportive 'grassroots community' organization fast (in time for the teachers' contract negotiations this month), so they invented one themselves, overnight, so to speak, did the bogus push-poll and got the S. Times to mindlessly publish their false data uncritically (once again illustrating why so many of us no longer subscribe to the Times).

This is just a theory....but based on some knowledge, and experience of politics. And that's what all these Alliance/LEV/NCTQ/OSC machinations are: political strategy at work.
dan dempsey said…
gavroche.... nice analysis of the Alliance

Consider this TEAM MGJ has little idea about how to effectively and efficiently educate students. Great at political infighting but with few other apparent skills. However excellent at taking direction from above ( Broad et al.) and suppressing public comment.

Why would the Alliance be any different as they serve the same masters? Clearly any M. Westbrook organization will not fit the plan.

Two thoughts:
#1 I am making a sign: Bye-Bye Broad + MGJ

#2 A group is forming:
Seattle Shadow School Board

more to come on that soon.
grousefinder said…
I learned when working on a textbook adoption committee about the tremendous amount of human capital that goes into manipulating decision making and public perceptions in SPS. On some days, I would see 8-10 district coaches hovering around our break-out sessions to make sure that no one person or group led the committee astray; that is, down a pathway away from a preconceived outcome.

Now multiply that human capital manifold to include all the committees, and all the staff whose job it is to communicate with and coordinate organizations like A4E, OSC, Broad, Microsoft Math Partnership, NTE, etc., etc. etc. Very quickly it becomes patently evident that the SPS Administration is running and paying for a massive public relations staff that exists in the shadows. Some may even be masquerading with respectable job titles like Coach, Assistant Administrator, "Cabinet Member." I have witnessed a few talking to the press during controversial decisions.

OSC is a public relations fabrication supported by input and data from willing SPS administrators whose jobs are defined loosely enough as to allow this charade to occur. It is my contention that the invisible side of SPS's efforts to encourage these alleged partnerships should be unmasked as a wasteful expenditure of human capital in a time when budgets dictate the efficient use of resources.
seattle citizen said…
Charlie, you write that you can't imagine either party (union or management) paying any attention to OSC. But as grousefinder indicates, OSC is partly a creation of management - the Alliance is a "partner" to SPS (management); Karen Waters has been contracted to Alliance, LEV, Excellence for All...GATES.
It is clear that there is a concerted effort by SPS and OSC to influence the direction of contract talks.

Your statement indicates you believe OSC to be separate from SPS. I don't believe that is the case. SPS has been "paying attention to" OSC backers for a decade, and now that we have a Broad Supt, and two Broad employees (!) you can bet they are all cozier in bed together.

WV is off today, getting its dentals.
I agree; I think when the Seattle Organizers contacted and met with the district leadership, they panicked. They realized that we actually did have a lot of parents in our corner and didn't want to have to listen. Imagine, parents wanting a voice, a process to give imput. How dare we.

Solution? Go to the Alliance and have THEM start a so-called coalition. Want to make it about ed reform and not what would serve parents and teachers in SPS best? Go to the Alliance.

I have no doubt the Alliance is working very hand in hand with the district.
Sahila said…
Well, maybe I'm just naive and a bit slow on the uptake, but it had not occurred to me until I read this that what is happening (apparently driven by the Alliance et al) is actually a completely conscious co-creation with SPS management - super, staff and Board?... I mean, I know about the Super and Broad and the Kool Aid the Directors have imbibed and the links with the Alliance, but a solid, conscious, deliberate partnership with a commitment to a predetermined outcome? Good God ....

If this is really how it is, then what does that mean? We parents and teachers are completely disregarded, merely pawns in the game, sheep being herded here and there - or at least to a pre-determined outcome about which we have no choice and will never have a choice...

My mind boggles at what this means in terms of the law, civil rights etc... that the entire management of public education is (already) controlled and pre-determined and is devoid of any democratic process.... WOW... I mean, the cynic in me believes that is how life is to a great extent in the outside world, but to have that happening within individual education districts (basically confirming conspiracy theorists' view of the world) really blows me away...

In mourning, grieving for the loss of yet another naive belief and faith in the core goodness and integrity of people... Sahila
Unknown said…
I would love to see parents and the SEA teachers union come together on a range of issues. Then we could really get some student centric ideas out there that are community supported and educationally relevant. Especially since Union Elections are happening. Maybe get some candidates to commit to working tightly with parents to at least help frame the issues in a pro-student and pro-community way.
seattle citizen said…
I agree, Theo. The union has been, and could be, more than just a voice for working conditions for its rank and file (tho' of course that IS the basis for its existence. But working conditions often benefit students, go figure)

And in these crazy times, when it seems the whole structure (administrative and funding) is toppling, perhaps the union and parents can find common ground to protect students and educators from these drastic forces.

Of course, the union has been under massive attack on all fronts, so there would be some bridge-building to do...
gavroche said…
What really and desperately needs to be reformed in public education is the administration of our schools.

The "intervention," "transformation," and "restructuring" that the reformites talk about doing to our schools actually needs to be done to the school district headquarters and bureaucracy.
That's where all the most serious waste, "ineffectiveness" and downright corruption appears to occur.

It's the John Stanford Center that needs an overhaul, audit and budget slashing -- not our kids' schools or teachers.

The SPS central office admin (including the Supt and School board) stands in the way of our kids having smaller class sizes (thanks to unnecessary RIFs) and solid textbooks (instead they select unsound math texts like EDM and Discovering).

Above all, it is increasingly evident that when funding does get allocated to our school district, most of it never finds its way to the classrooms, but instead gets hijacked by the central administration and redirected to fund excess staff, excess salaries, "teaching coaches," outside consultants, unproven testing products, layers of management and an overpaid Superintendent.
seattle citizen said…
In these days of automation and digitization, I wonder if a top-heavy, automated system is the goal. People in high places have known for years that a) education is expensive (and we have wars to fight! Munitions to buy from Boeing!) and b) if it is put into an industrial model of production, with streamlining of systems and standardization, it can be sold, lock stock and barrel, to companies to run.

But first we need to be convinced that a) public education really, really sucks; and b) standardization is a fine model of measurement and education.
Anonymous said…
Theo, a beginning for parents and teachers coming together can start now, first by talking to your student's teachers about the issues, how you feel about what is happening and share with them your appreciation for what they do.

Many teachers in our district feel that they are under siege and a few kind words of appreciation from a parent goes far. I have found that to personally be the case.

Another action that parents can take is to go to the Education Reform forum this Saturday at 1:30. This would be an opportunity for parents to meet with teachers and union leaders and discuss the issues that are great concern to everyone.

See below for additional information.

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.

Hopefully I will see you there.
seattle citizen said…
I think Theo's comment about the union and parent/guardians finding common ground is a very good one.

Please spread the news about the forum on Saturday, 1:30, at St. Marks.
"Above all, it is increasingly evident that when funding does get allocated to our school district, most of it never finds its way to the classrooms, but instead gets hijacked by the central administration and redirected to fund excess staff, excess salaries, "teaching coaches," outside consultants, unproven testing products, layers of management and an overpaid Superintendent."

Joan NE said…
Theo - I agree.

I went to the A4E dinner last night.

I enjoyed the meal very much.

I sat in three different groups.

The within-group icebreaker was this: Tell us about a teacher how made a big positive impact on you.

I was the last to respond.

My response: I had many fine teachers; no one stands out. Is it not true that the 9th recommendation of the OSP is that the union should agree to allowing college grads trained by outfits such as TFA to be hired as teachrs? [The facilitaor confirmed that this is true.] Well, these are not the kind of teachers that are going to be the inspiring mentors that each of you has described.

I then asked how many of the ten people in this group were at this event because

A) They liked the work that A4E was doing

B) They didn't like the work that A4E was doing.

About eight of the ten attended for reason B. The other two seemed to not have an opinion, my sense being that these two were not yet being well acquainted with the work of A4E/Broad, etc., and with SPS dynamics.

In each of the three groups I sat with I explained that my purpose in attending was to invite parents, teachers and commun. members to join with a group of activists (myself included) that want to work together to bring about constructive, non-corporatist reform of SPS.

There were many people last night who expressed interest and who asked for the flyers that I was offering. Most of these interested people appeared to be already well clued up and unhappy with the role that The Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation are playing in SPS.

In only one of the three groups did the A4E facilitator try to cut off my short spiel.

I was handing out two flyers created by the owners of Seattle-ed.blogspot.com. I wrote my contact information on these flyers.

I don't really understand why the SEA president (Olga Addae) and so many SPS teachers attended the event, especially given that most of the teachers it seemed, were opposed to the A4E's meddling and many of the Our Schools Petition recommendations.

Can someone explain this?

It was clear to me that A4E was not really interested in dissenting opinions. In response to the few dissenting opinions that were voiced to the at-large group of attendees, the moderator said several times that he hoped attendees would share with A4E how the OSP recommendations could be rephrased so that less dissent would be engendered.

In other words, he was asking us to help A4E refine their propoganda campaign. He was clearly not interested in revising the intent of the recommendations, but merely in how to present them so that they would be more palatable.

The whole event struck me as having the purpose of creating additional false evidence to add to A4E's evidence base that the OSP represents widely-held community values.

There was a photographer present thoughtout the evening. These photos no doubt will serve as some of the proof of communty support for OSP, even though it was clear to attendees that there was a signifant amount of dissent.
I'm very disappointed in this whole "Coalition" vs. "Organizers" mess.

What the Alliance/Coalition is suggesting sounds very much like what the Legislature's Basic Education Funding Task Force suggested a year ago. It was called the "new career ladder" for teachers.

I supported the career ladder when Ross Hunter suggested it, and I support what the Coalition has suggested for the Seattle teacher contract as well.

The Coalition wants:
- more teacher prep time, collaboration time and mentoring
- a 4-tier teacher evaluation scale (vs. the current satisfactory/unsatisfactory)
- student growth as a factor in teacher evaluations
- teacher performance considered in staffing decisions, including layoffs (vs. seniority only)
- lowest performing teachers removed in 12 mos (vs. 18 months)
- opportunities for increased teacher compensation based on performance, responsibilities, subject matter expertise in hard-to-staff areas and placement in high-needs schools

I support all those things and I really feel they are worth trying.

You guys are are getting caught up in the adult drama (who got picked to write op-eds, whose group got "jilted" etc, etc) and forgetting that these kinds of changes could really benefit kids.

I'm tired of seeing the best teachers get laid off just because they don't have seniority. What is not to like about changing that???
Anonymous said…
I also went to the Alliance meeting last night and took notes. This is a long post so what I am going to do is start it here and if you want to read it in its' entirety, go to


It's our new site that is under construction and the best place to put this post for now. If you visit the site, bookmark it and then return in a couple of weeks for our open house.


Notes From the Field: The Alliance Meeting on "Teacher Quality" held on April 20, 2010

“No Time”

Everything is controlled and scripted, from the time you walk up to the door of the building until you leave. I arrived early, thinking that I could hand out a few flyers before the meeting but there was nowhere to comfortably stand. It was the territory of the Alliance from the front door into the area that we were to meet, very similar to how the Alliance handled the NCTQ event. So I went inside to see what was going on. I was directed to an area where they were serving dinner and I must say it was a sight better than what I had at their last event (remember the cold cuts and mayonnaise?). It was actually pretty good Mexican food and plenty of it. I sat down to eat and others began to arrive.

I kept waiting for what I thought would be community parents and students arriving but at that point, there didn’t seem to be anyone. It was teachers, parents from other areas of town and other familiar faces. I saw Sundquist go by but saw no other elected officials, just the usual red Alliance t-shirts with the big “A+” scrawled on their chests but no red jackets this time. This was much more low key than the Alliance/NCTQ event where Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wore her red jacket that coincidentally (?) matched the Alliance jackets and it wasn’t even Christmas.

After dining, people started to drift into the meeting area which was set up in circles of ten chairs each with a large screen that had the theme of the evening on it, “Teacher Quality Town Hall”. Wow, so this was going to be a town hall style meeting where we would be able to ask questions and have some back and forth with members of the Alliance? Not quite, well, actually, not even close.

I counted about 70 people while we all were finding a place to sit. As we settled down, the principal of South Lake High School came to the front of the room and gave us a warm welcome, the only sincerity that I heard that entire evening coming through that mic. I don’t know her but from what I had heard earlier and saw then, it seemed that South Lake High School is in good hands.

I looked around again to see if more community members had joined our group but I would be hard pressed to say I saw anyone.

George Griffin was introduced and he said a few words like this is a “defining moment in time” and something about “what we need to do to support our teachers”…a pretty bland hello and introduction and then the facilitator was introduced. This person at least had some spark but I suppose that was what he was paid to do, keep the meeting going and at least give it a sense of life and spontaneity. This guy did seem like a pro. Mind you, so far, all of the faces that we saw at the mic were African American. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge.
Joan NE said…
Isabel - I don't understand why you view all the posts here as petty concerns about adult drama. Certainly my post had nothing to do with that.

Have you seen this op-ed? I think this op-ed is a very good, well-informed response to your question:

"I'm tired of seeing the best teachers get laid off just because they don't have seniority. What is not to like about changing that???"


This is written by SPS teacher Patricia Bailey.

I am interested to know your opinion of this op-ed. Please post your response to this site.
Joan NE said…
That link again, broken into four lines:

Sahila said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said…
Repost, correcting a typo:

Isabel - we could deal with those issues through good old fashioned dialogue; we dont need fancy/smancy manipulative PR exercises, paid for by phony 'grassroots' organisations, funded by venture/vulture philanthropists, who have a reform agenda aimed at busting unions, privatising public education and dumbing down our kids to be good little workers and consumers via the tools of high-stakes standardised tests, standardised and aligned currila and materials and untrained cheap labour parroting scripted lessons in each and every classroom in the state...all the while making several billions of dollars at our childrens' expense...

Sorry - but its just not as simple as:
"What's wrong with trying to make sure the best teachers aren't RIF'd just because they dont have seniority?"

And if you dont believe my analysis of what's going on here and around the country, please, please prove to me that I am wrong/paranoid/delusional/imagining all this... I would so love/be unimaginably relieved to hear/see your evidence to the contrary

Maybe you and Ms. Bailey don't have kids in schools?

Principals do not lay off ineffective teachers.

The term "satisfactory" applies to pretty much everyone.

Teachers rarely speak out during curriculum adoptions.

And it wouldn't "financially benefit" a district to keep the inexperienced (but sometimes great) teachers if teachers were paid for performance, responsibilities and skill more than simply years on the job.

The Bailey article is remarkably shallow and fails to see reality very well (at least reality as I know it based on 8 years with kids in public school).

And accusing the Alliance of a "propaganda campaign" is, I'm sorry, adult drama.
Joan NE said…
Dora - your field notes are very entertaining and right on the mark.

A must read. Too bad our local daily won't tell the truth about A4E, etc. Your websites go very far to fill this gap. I hope they become well-known.
seattle citizen said…
"I'm tired of seeing the best teachers get laid off just because they don't have seniority."

So the best teachers are the ones without seniority? Interesting perspective. Sounds sort of like the "shiny new" teachers line.

Furthermore, seniority and evaluation (as I've oft repeated) are two different things: Eval goes on regularly, and fairly looks at skills. It suggests remediation, and if none is forthcoming an exit is offered.

This is a separate process from RIFFing - by the time RIFs come along (god forbid) the eval process is already doing its job - educators are either in remediation or gone. So then what? Without seniority, it becomes merely personality and who is the better suck-up (or works the longest non-contract hours)

And look at management: With all the churn at principal and AP level, who is around long enough to make that decision?

What do you make that decision based on, after a fair evaluation process is already being used on a regular basis?

Unless by "best" you mean "cheapest" and "most likely to be malleable to 'reform' "
Sahila said…
Isabel.... vis a vis The Alliance and the opinion shared by many of us that its merely a propaganda machine and a Gates/Broad-funded manipulative 'corporatist education reform' tool ... I'd draw your attention to two truisms:

a rose by any other name is still a rose; and

if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flaps its wings like a duck... chances are it is a duck...

I know that JoanNE has kids in SPS and I know Pat Bailey - she is neither shallow nor living in an unreal world...
seattle citizen said…
Isabel, I recalled a great letter to the editor you wrote a few months ago, googled it, and found this:
"The authors want to privatize the sale of liquor and workman’s compensation insurance so big companies can reap huge profits from something that should be serving the interest of the public. The mantras of “choice” and “competition” sound good, but in the end they just raise the price for the public and enrich the fat cats."

Isn't this what's happening to education? THIS is why some of us are so vocal in daylighting what we see as attempts to privatize education (and make no mistake, the "teacher quality" and "seniority" and "merit pay" ideas, promulgated by large foundations and others who stand to make money from the destruction of the public ed system, are harbingers of privatization.)

This isn't to say there AREN'T teachers who struggle, just as there are surely students who struggle and lots of other people that stuggle. But to change the system in this way is not to create a better educations system, it is to destroy a public one and create a private one.
Tamp down the dramatic, paranoid conspiracy theories and you will be more effective.

The Alliance, the District and even the State Legislature all include many hard-working, sincere people who genuinely do care about kids.

The only evidence I have of that is my own opinion and perspective. (And the fact that I'm not competing with them for District-Alpha-Dog status).
Making teachers responsible for their performance has nothing to do with privatizing the entire system. That is a completely ridiculous assumption (and making up crazy assumptions is what gets you in trouble).

When I wrote my letter to the editor, the Legislature was looking at privatizing the entire State Liquor system -- that was an actual proposal, not something I made up or jumped to crazy conclusions about.
Sahila said…
The problem occurs, Isabel, when compelling and vast quantities of real, solid EVIDENCE (true and accurate information in black and white, not conjecture or assumptions) comes to light that what I see happening is a FACT and not a fantasy or paranoia...

And when that happens, what is a citizen to do?

Do the ostrich thing, pretend I dont know, be quiet and turn away?

Or shine the torch on it, call attention to it, in the hope that what is no longer a nightmare but a reality, will be undone...

You base your writings on your opinions and perspectives... I base mine on FACTS... spend some time doing the research,connect the dots, follow the money. Its not hard - these people are not very good at covering their tracks...

And then come back and tell me I am wrong and just obsessed and caught up in some adult drama...
Sahila said…
Duncan's RTTT carrot-and-stick tactic requires states to allow charter schools... and charter schools are private entities sucking money/funding out of the public school system...

If that's not privatising the public education system, what is?

And Duncan is aligned with Broad and Broad/Gates fund the Alliance and all the other fake 'grass roots' organisations around the place, such as Stand For Children, and the directors of all of those organisations are on the Board of Broad and various Charter Schools chains, such as KIPP, and on the boards of testing companies and connected to Teach For America (TFA)... and if my memory serves me correctly, the founder of KIPP is married to the founder of TFA...

Its one big incestuous, closed circle looking to control public education and make money from it...

Did you know hedge funds are marketing public education as the last frontier for making fortunes?

It stinks...
It is not a "fact" that the Alliance is in a conspiracy to privatize public education.

I'm sorry you've had bad experiences, but try not to lose faith in all the other people that are trying their best to work for kids.
Sahila said…
Isabel - I havent had a bad experience and I havent lost faith that other people are working hard to make sure our kids get the best education possible...

I just dont think the Alliance is part of that group of people...

I'm a journalist and researcher by training... I check the facts and the sources... and I cant agree with you that the Alliance is one of the 'good guys' here... and thats because:
1: the facts
2: their linkages - people and money
3: their manipulative and deceptive modus operandi
4: their track record
5: their tactics of co-opting other groups' work
6: their using of spin in their messaging

just dont support that conclusion...
Sahila said…
And wiser people than me have seen this for what it is:

"President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's 'Race' has nearly $5 billion as a lure to persuade states to climb aboard the express train to privatization."

Diane Ravitch
Republican, Bush advisor on education, former enthusiastic supporter of NCLB, who has recently completed reversed her opinion on education 'reform' and acknowledges its deleterious effects...

"Teachers rarely speak out during curriculum adoptions."

You obviously don't have kids at Roosevelt because the teachers there have spoken out plenty.
Sahila said…

check out the trailer.... we will get more of the same with RTTT and charters and more high-stakes standardised testing, standardised curricula and materials, merit pay, performance evaluation etc...

Isabel, do you want that for our kids?
seattle said…
SC says "So the best teachers are the ones without seniority? Interesting perspective. Sounds sort of like the "shiny new" teachers line."

No, I don't think that is at all what Isabelle meant. I think she meant that having seniority, in and of itself, does not necessarily make a "best" teacher.

Many teachers with seniority are fabulous. But some aren't. Some are counting the days until retirement. Some are not receptive to trying new things and using best practices.

By the same token some young, new teachers are talented too. Some young teachers are amongst our "best" teachers.

Should a teacher get riff'd based on seniority alone? No, I don't think so. I agree with Isabel in that performance/evaluations (no, not test scores, don't get riled up) should have something to do with the decision.
Charlie Mas said…
I agree with Isabel to a large degree.

I don't really believe in a dark, long-term conspiracy to privatize education. I think lazy thinking, incompentence and arrogance are much more common and much more likely than evil intent. I can't find it within me to speak against people taking action in support of education.

And I agree, to a large extent, with the Our Schools Coalition.

I would like to see teachers get more compensated time for planning and collaboration with their peers. It's part of treating them as professionals.

I would like to see the mentoring program used more.

I would like to see more meaningful teacher evaluations.

I would like to see student progress as an element of those evaluations, but only if it is done in a thoughtful way. I'm very fearful of careless use of student progress as part of the teacher evaluation.

I would like to see incompetent teachers removed more surely - if not more swiftly - but I think principals could be doing this now.

I would like to see something other than endurance as the basis for pay increases for teachers.

I disagree with the Our Schools Coalition on a number of points.

I would not like to see the coaching programs expanded.

I would not want student progress to be a significant factor in teacher evaluations and certainly not primary.

I would not want peformance to be a significant factor in staff placement, transfer or layoff decisions.

I would not want inexperienced, untrained people taking teaching jobs on a temp basis as with Teach for America, although I would like to see additional paths to teacher certification.

It's not a black and white, all or nothing kind of thing.

Then, again, there are those who believe that some of the items on this list are window dressing. There are some who might doubt that the OSC really cares about the teacher support. There are those who believe they only really care about the evaluation and compensation issues. That's certainly where they have put most of their focus.
seattle citizen said…
Sully, what she meant might be one thing, but what she WROTE was that she is "tired of seeing the best teachers get laid off just because they don't have seniority. What is not to like about changing that???"

They got laid off because they had the least experience, the least invested, and because they were the last hired. IF the evaluation system is working, that is emminently fair.

If the evaluation process is working as it should, then who would be left to RIF based on performance?

If teachers were evaluated as satisfactory or above, or were in remediation, or were exited, who then would one RIF?

Who would make that decision? Based on what? All factors, hopefully, are taken into account during evaluation, so what would one use at RIF time?

There is way, way too much opportunity for politics and personality in that model.
Chris S. said…

I don't have a problem with people with lots-o-money. I don't have a problem with anyone's personal opinion. I won't even object if a person with lots of money expresses their opinion far and wide.

What I do object to is people with lots of money spending it to create the illusion of grass-roots support for their opinion. Have you read the posts about the Alliance/OSC survey? Somebody is doing EXACTLY this, and in the Alliance's name. What do the good people at the Alliance have to say about that?

I don't even have to say that it's deceptive or unethical. This action speaks for itself, loudly, and what it says it that the owner of those opinions KNOWS they won't gain support through genuine community engagement. In fact, in this case I suspect that the Seattle Organizers was an attempt by the same parties at semi-genuine public engagement that was somehow unsatisfactory; that's why they got thrown over.
seattle citizen said…
Isabel, you write that there is no "conpsiracy" etc, and say we (I) am being hot-headed and paranoid.


Broad Foundation -> Broad Supt who is on Broad board, and TWO Broad hires this year (did nthey interview?) -> Broad/Gates gives SPS nine million for "strategic plan" including "performance management" which is obviously predicated on somehow measuring teaches by MAP scores, allowing the "teacher quality" crowd (hmm...Broad Gates Walton?) to crow their spiel -> the nine million is given to the Alliance, which started out as a coaliiton of business, among other groups -> the Alliance hires NCTQ to say "teacher quality! teacher quality!" -> thus leading to some supposed groundswell of citizen concern about....teacher quality! (and comments about the best teaches being the first laid off) -> Leads to "community meetings" that are scripted...Who is advising these people (Gates, Alliance, LEV, Excellence for All)? Karen Waters, a PR consultant from Strategies 360. -> Alliance does an online survey, nasty little thing, telling people what they want and having them check the box. The last section REQUIRES people to select Alliance favorites to finish the survey! After a hullaballoo by a public that is smarter than they think, this survey is taken down, disappears forever, hidden from sight so know one else will catch on.... -> a NEW "coalition" is created, consisting of five business groups, the three "coalitions" (Alliance, LEV, E4A) one religious group, about twenty minority groups....and Youth Ambassadors. -> the only contact person for THIS new "coalition" is Karen Waters, who had in the past been doing PR for Gates, Alliance, et al. -> This "coalition" works with the district to get the names and phone numbers of teachers (but, strangely, only half the teachers....I guess they might've talked and decided some might not answer right, eh?) and then does ANOTHER push poll, consisting of innocently worded questions (nin) that just happen to meet the nine points so dear the Alliance and Gates and SPS and all those people...
THEN this new coalition, "Our Schools Coalition", which had ripped off the colaition of parents who had done all the ground work, stood up and said, "WE are the Voice of the People! We are NOT with SPS or anybody, we merely want to voice the WHOLE city's voice (tho' the groups it lists as members are all SE groups) Even tho' it had worked with the district in getting the popints and names, even thou' the Alliance calls itself a "partner" of the District and manages its nine million dollar "strategic plan" money (a gift from Gates, Broad and Boeing...the Alliance also received $200,000 in two other grants from Gates in the last two years)...

It is plain as day that these people are in cahoots: deals were made with the minority groups represented (or their leaders); district had a say in the survey; all parties confered on the PR strategy to use (and note that the Times was part of the package: They dutifully had an editorial extolling the "broad-based" support for this survey and for OSC, and even conveniently NOT mentioning the first three of the nine points, because those all had to do with actually supporting educators and would cost money...)

It is obviously a group effort, and the connections are plain as day. Who is the politician affilaited with OSC? Tim Burgess. Who's running for Mayor soon? Burgess. Who would want some votes from SE Seattle? Burgess.

C'mon, conspiracy? We're just reporting the facts.
Charlie Mas said…
How would it be if the Our Schools Coalition put as much muscle behind their proposals that support teachers as they put behind their proposals to grade them based largely on student outcomes?

How would it be if the Our Schools Coalition put as much muscle behind principal and central administrator quality as they are putting behind teacher quality?

How would it be if the Our Schools Coalition put as much muscle behind getting more funding from the state as they put behind their proposal to alter teacher pay?

How would it be if the Our Schools Coalition put as much muscle behind implementing early and effective interventions for students working below grade level as they put into promoting Teach for America?

How would it be if the Our Schools Coalition engaged teachers as partners instead of attacking them as objects?

There is work for the Our Schools Coalition to do, but they can't go about as they have, like a Texan tourist in France trying to force shopkeepers to speak English (and speaking louder and slower when they don't understand), accept US dollars as payment, and do everything the same way they do it back home.

The arrogance, bad manners, and destructive crashing about is no way to win friends and influence people - particularly when they are NOT in a position to dictate ANYTHING.
seattle citizen said…
oh yeah, and the Broad Supt who is on the Broad Board is also on the Board of NWEA, which sells SPS its MAP test (can you say, "judge teche quality by MAP tests?")

Nope, no reason for thinking any of this connected. No one gunning for power or money here, nope. Nobody riding the "acheivement gap" to the top of the pile to end up ins some cush job at Dept of Ed with Duncan and Rhees, telling states to buy MAP tests to ascertain "teacher quality." Nope, and those tests won't be used to call whole SCHOOLS "failing" and shut 'em down, fire half the staff....THAT would NEVER happen, nope.
seattle citizen said…
Charlie, OSC won't do any of those things you mention, that might actually create dialogue, partnerships between teachers, admin and parents...because those are not the goals of the people pulling the strings and funding the effort.
The whole thing is set up to somehow provide respectability to the points desired by people with bigger agendas, and it has little to do with actually working together to make education better for everybody: Students, teachers, parents, business...
MathTeacher42 said…
1 of the Publicola authors, Chris Kissel, has his/her typical slanted "reporting."


If this person thinks his / her writing is "reporting", he / she should get a job on the fair and balanced network.

Joan NE said…

You are insinuating that some of us are just making things up or are jumping to crazy conclusions when we accuse the A4E etc as pursuing a certain hidden agenda.

Can you not defend your discounting of our premises any better than by calling us names?

How can you possibly know that my conclusions are not based on hundreds of hours of effort to try to understand what "Education Reform" means, and what the goals of the Broad Foundation are?

I have noticed in many venues that the people who resort to name callng and complaining about "tone" of a conversation are always people who are not able to mount any credible, reasoned statement to explain their support for conventional education reform and the organizations that advocate for this.

This is tiresome.

What don't you compile a set of "facts" that will prove that our conclusions are baseless, and report back to us?

If you can make a convincing case, then I will be glad, becuase this activist hobby of mine is very time consuming.

Who can know if the Broad F. is heavily influencing the present and future of SPS? Anyone who is interested can easily find tons of evidence on this.

Is the Broad F. deeply committed to privatizing education? Yes. The evidence for this is abundant and incontrovertible. This is no conspiracy theory here. This is fact. Just ask - I will show you the data.

Is what the Broad wants for SPS good for our children? Many opinions on this. Mine is that the Broad priorities will lead to much harm.

Do a majority of the local residents who care what happens to our schools, and who know of the Broad F.'s influence approve of the Broad's agenda, and support its hegemony over SPS?

I don't know. I can only say that I personally know many people who are very strongly opposed to this influence, and want to try to evict the Broad F., the Gates F., the current superinentdent, the gang of four, and the A4E.

I am one of these.

If folks like me try to educate the local population, and after this still a majority of parents in SPS are happy to have the Broad F. influencing SPS as much as it is, then I say the Broad F. has earned the right to be as influential as it is, and I will retire from my hobby as an anti-corporatist reform activist.
KG said…
Really the problem with this whole
ablement to get rid of teachers is already in place in the collective bargaining agreement. We should have no sympathy for, administrations laziness when the written agreement is before them and they do not enact it. Maybe MGJ and cronies from Alliance should get together and figure out
why the example at the top has little accountability and how they could demonstrate it by perhaps getting her education directors to actually do something and train building administration how to use the comtract and actually read it.
This notion all boils down to the District just wants to pay entry level teachers to save on paying
and tell them they are lucky to have a job, of course until they learn the rights of union membership and MGJ and crew then simply put the lowest level kids in their classroom and say the teacher cannot teach properly, thus firing and re-hiring a new one to save money. That ought to work, RIGHT? Democracy?
Meg Diaz gave a report that the District was way over-administered, so why do they not just use the contract they agreed to since obviously the case shows administration to the MAXIMUM means better student acheivement.

Charlie Mas said…
I've said it before but it bears repeating.

If there is an incompentent teacher, then it is the job of the principal to remove that teacher.

If the principal cannot remove an incompetent teacher, then that principal is incompetent.

If there is an incompentent principal, then it is the job of the education director to remove that principal.

If the education director cannot remove an incompetent principal, then that education director is incompetent.

If there is an incompentent education director, then it is the job of the superintendent to remove that education director.

If the superintendent cannot remove an incompetent education director, then that superintendent is incompetent.

Consequently, we can conclude that the continued presence of incompetent teachers is proof that the superintendent is incompetent and should be removed.
jason said…
Charlie -

I actually wonder how easy it is to remove problem teachers. When we were touring kindergartens a few years ago, one of the principals told a story about trying to fire a teacher he thought was incompetent. He said it was extremely stressful, and caused him health problems due to the stress, and it's not likely he will even attempt do it again. This is a person who is still working as a principal in this district.

Just to be clear, I am very supportive of teachers and don't like the new meme of fix the teachers and all of our education problems will go away. As in any field, there are people who shouldn't be there. I am a parent in the district and it's hard for me to know what to believe. Is it really so easy for a principal to remove a teacher, or isn't it?
Sahila said…
"Consequently, we can conclude that the continued presence of incompetent teachers is proof that the superintendent is incompetent and should be removed....

Makes sense to me.... now, tell me, with all the incompetence happening in the District management arena, which ultimately is the Superintendent's responsibility, what's standing in the way of firing the Superintendent?
KG said…
Thank you Charlie, that was well said.
SolvayGirl said…
My experience is that when our school had incompetent teachers, we DID have incompetent principals. When a competent principal came in the incompetent teachers were gone—quite quickly!

Charlie states it well. The procedure is in place; people need to use it.

I fear the new language will result in test scores as the real determining factor for teachers in many schools because the principals will NOT do the other factions of the evaluation. If they're not going through the process now, why do we think they will once they have the "easy" test scores to use when evaluating "quality teaching."

I believe the majority of SPS's problems are in the ranks of principal and up. My past experience at SPS made me realize that many of the people in charge did not have a clue
seattle citizen said…
Beyond the problem of using mere test scores to evaluate teachers, the entire "reform" movement, as near as I can tell, is predicated on using simplistic test scores to evaluate EVERYTHING. This is really my bigger concern: The entire movement is towards what's called "data," and while various sorts of data can be formative and help to make teachers better, address student need, etc, it appears that it is becoming the be-all and end-all of public education.
This would follow the mindsets of those who are proposing it: Many of the proponents (or their funders) come from technical and business backgrounds, used to measuring, quantifying, calculating...esential on the production line, perhaps, and also in the minute operations and systems of the digital age, but is this what education is?

It's been said before: Students are not all the same, they do not arrive at school in long trains loaded with extremely similar loads of raw material awaiting the assembly line set up to process them mechanically. Students are all different.
So education is necessarily fluid, dependent on an immeasureable quality identification of, and reaction to, unique children on a moment-to-moment basis. Education is, often, conducted on the fly.
This is not to say that there shouldn't be systems, or expectations, but that these systems and expectations will often be challenged, modified, readjusted for each child over the course of many classroom minutes during twelve years in school. Meanwhile, the "raw material," the child, is still firmly a product of its original ore and, everyday, runs out of the factory to reconnect to the place from which its mined.
Next day? Again, an immeasureable quality and quantity, changed from the day before, waiting to learn.

They want to measure this? Evaluate on this? Determine pay and school standing and the child's future based on little numbers flickering across a PC?

dan dempsey said…
"My past experience at SPS made me realize that many of the people in charge did not have a clue."

Since madam Super's arrival this sad situation is even worse.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
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Sully, do you really think Our Schools would want Charlie (no offense, they wouldn't want me either)? They want solid citizen groups that don't challenge the status quo or point out the obvious.
gavroche said…
Blogger Sully said...

"I don't really believe in a dark, long-term conspiracy to privatize education. I think lazy thinking, incompentence and arrogance are much more common and much more likely than evil intent"

My thoughts exactly Charlie!

Sully, Charlie -- It all depends on what you consider "evil." But it is a fact that there have been concerted efforts in this country for the past two or three decades or more, mostly from conservatives, to privatize public education.

Vouchers was their last effort; charters, NCLB, is their latest. What's different this time round is that neo-liberals are now also signing on to this heretofore conservative, Republican, business-backed agenda.

This is not a conspiracy theory; it's a simple fact. Close your eyes to it if you want, but it's there.

Check out Diane Ravitch's book: The Death and Life of the Great American School System, http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2010/0316/The-Death-and-Life-of-the-Great-American-School-System
gavroche said…
Isabel D'Ambrosia said...
You guys are are getting caught up in the adult drama (who got picked to write op-eds, whose group got "jilted" etc, etc) and forgetting that these kinds of changes could really benefit kids.

Nope, and that's just the point, Isabel. I believe -- and studies indicate -- that these changes would NOT benefit kids and may in fact do serious damage to teaching, our schools and by extension, our kids.

The fact that the Alliance has chosen to resort to such questionable behavior and expense to push this agenda -- dishonest surveys and push-polls, bringing teacher-bashing NCTQ to town for $14,000 to critique our teachers, creation of a fake grassroots organization -- justifiably raises red flags and indicates that it has failed to win genuine, organic community buy-in for this agenda.

If their intent is somehow noble, then why do they have to contrive 'support' this way?

Their methods cast a shadow on their intent.
Anonymous said…
First of all, in my line of work, "last hired, first fired" has been the credo as it is in most companies.

Why should it be any different with teachers?

Let's just get over that and move on.

Secondly, it is interesting how the term "conspiracy" comes up when people have a disagreement with the idea that there are folks who want to privatize our educational system. Why should it be any different for education when almost everything else that is publicly funded has been privatized?

Let's again look at what Eli Broad said in his annual report for 2009:

The Stars Have Aligned for the Broad Foundation

From the Broad Foundation's Annual Report for 2009:

"The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of
Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted."

Some of us, Isabel and Sully, out of sheer curiosity, have been digging and un-burying a lot of information about what has been occurring in this country starting with the likes of Eli Broad and ending with Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education for the last year and a half.

What we have found independently and collectively are facts. We have all come to our own conclusions and they have added up to some very simple observations.

If you at all bother with looking into the information that has been collected and is available to all who care to spend the time to educate themselves at:


you might actually find that what we have discovered comes from a synthesis of information.

I might be called many things but what the two of you are referring to would never cross anyone's mind who met me or knew me.

It's time that you stopped demeaning people who have different ideas and educate yourselves to what is happening on a national level.
Anonymous said…
"The overwhelming majority of principals are not doing their job- they are not weeding out the ineffective teachers, and parents are frustrated."

Sully, how do you know this, that the majority of principals are not dong their job of weeding out teachers who are not living up to a particular standard?

(The word "ineffective" has been bandied about by reformites for so long now that I try to avoid using that term.)
Anonymous said…
"It is not a "fact" that the Alliance is in a conspiracy to privatize public education."

Conspiracy? Who said that besides yourself?

Isabel, I'm starting to think that anytime you want to discredit someone, you use the term "conspiracy" just like the words "Effective" and "Ineffective" have become the new buzzwords for education reform in terms of teachers.

Let's look at the Alliance and just see where their money is coming from. Last time I checked, it was $9M from Gates and $1M from the Broad. Now let's dig a little deeper.

From the Alliance website:

Community Engagement –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Data, Assessment, and Performance Management –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

School Board Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Staff Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation, and
The Stuart Foundation

Hmmm. I don't see conspiracy, I see money...and lots of it.

And what do Bill Gates and the Broad have in common? Hmmm, something about charter schools? Which is based on non-union teachers? Because they are cheaper and are willing to work longer hours? What a bargain for our kids and an even better bargain for those folks who plan to make money, and lots of it, from establishing and running charter schools.
Joan NE said…
It has happened numerous times on this blog that someone comes on calling people like me, Dora, Sahila, Seattle Citizen, Gavroche and many others imaginative conspiracy theorists, or naive and poorly informed, or having some hidden vested interest.

Are any others besides me getting rather tired of beating this old horse every time this happens?

Next time, let's just suggest that these people read this strand, review the content of seattle-ed.blogspot.com, and then get back to us (via a blog comment) as to whether they have any strong basis for challenging the assertions that we have so ably defended many times over.

It is my secret wish that someday someone will be able to persuade me with copious data that I have completely misunderstood the education reform movement, and that at heart is really about doing what's best for the kids.

I would be in profound awe of a person who could succeed in this. For I know how big is the mountain of evidence that they will have to match and exceed in order to tip the scale in their direction.

I would be profoundly relieved if someone could achieve this, because then I will know that children are well-served.

I would become an ardent supporter of conventional (corporatist) education reform if someone could achieve this.
Sahila said…
Echoing JoanNE, I would welcome the day someone shows me EVIDENCE I am wrong in my assessment of what's going on in education....

I have a life to live, a young son to raise, a living to earn... there are many, many more appealing things I can think to do with my time, energy and focus than spending it on hours and hours of research, letter/email writing, meetings, rallies, law suits, attempting to educate people about what's going on under our very noses and working to stop this plague from spreading further...

And its not my favourite thing in the world to be criticised/ridiculed for speaking plain truth ... you think I enjoy sticking my neck out telling it how it is, and getting vilified for that, being branded a disgruntled, loud-mouthed trouble-maker???

The thing that keeps me doing this is that its real, its wrong and its hurting our kids and our most vulnerable communities... and it has to stop...


Charlie Mas said…
Melissa Westbrook wrote: "Sully, do you really think Our Schools would want Charlie (no offense, they wouldn't want me either)?"

I think they would. Well, they wouldn't want me, but I'm pretty sure they would want my endorsement.
seattle said…
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Charlie Mas said…
People who have applied a formula and achieved success in one area of endeavor often presume that this same formula, if applied in other contexts, will delivery that success again. Sometimes they are right, but they are usually wrong.

We see this pattern over and over again. I see engineers do it all the time. They try to reduce all kinds of things to engineering principles. I see lawyers who believe that their legal training makes them qualified as experts on all kinds of things. And we see it with businesspeople.

Someone has great success in business and then they try to apply their formula for business success or their business principles to some other enterprise, such as public service, and they are confused when it doesn't work or isn't welcome.

It's perfectly understandable. It doesn't make them bad people. It doesn't even make them stupid. You could call it lazy thinking to presume that the principles of x can be applied to y, but it isn't really thinking at all. They are creatures of their culture. They are just having trouble seeing and understanding life beyond that culture.

So successful businesspeople who genuinely care about public education want to improve it. Naturally, they view it through the lens of their business culture and want to encourage changes that will make public education cleave to the structures and practices that delivered success in business. It's understandable, but it's wrong.

Public education is not a business - no more than it is an engineering problem or a legal puzzle. The fundamental rules of business simply don't apply. There is no profit motive. There is no drive to gain market share. There is no free marketplace. Without those foundations, the rules of business are simply misapplied to public schools.

Teachers don't go into teaching to make money. It isn't the highest paying job they can get. Teachers teach because they are called to it. If they are treated, to some extent, like volunteers, it's because they are, to some extent, volunteers.

Teaching is about relationships. You can't break those bonds of loyalty for a 5% raise. Teachers know what it is like in the classroom. You can't lie to them about their daily reality. They know what makes for a bad day, what makes for a good day, and what makes for a perfectly brilliant day.

Teaching is creative work; you can't slap it on the counter and measure it objectively. Teaching is improvisational work; you can't script it. Teaching is personal work; each individual teacher/student relationship is different.

There's no business model quite like teaching. I think a newspaper might be close, but I'll have to ponder it more. It sure isn't like insurance, banking, retail or software.

So, I can understand people who have been successful in those arenas trying, in a positive public spirit, to apply their formula for success to public schools. I don't find it evil or stupid (okay, maybe a little stupid), but I don't think it will work. I don't think they see what's wrong with it.

What I really don't like - what frightens me - is how they are unwilling to even listen to other voices. They are so convinced that they are right. I heard it about six times at the Our Schools Coalition Town Hall: the people who appear to disagree with us must not have understood the question or they misunderstood the issue or they just need to be educated about it.

No. Those people did understand the question, they do understand the issue, and they don't need to be educated about it. They just disagree with you. Your view is an opinion, not a fact. You could very well be wrong. In fact, you probably are.
seattle said…
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Sahila said…
"Last on, first off" is completely 'normal' in many industries... I know that is true in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and here... I have known many people this has happened to and I dont necessarily think its a bad thing for a number of reasons including:

1: the loss of experience, well developed skill and expertise and institutional memory can be very costly... these are assets many companies think twice about losing and generally are not found in workers with less seniority...

2: more senior workers generally have a lot more invested in the company, are more reliable and more loyal, less likely to throw it all in on the whim of travelling abroad, for example...

They have a lot more to lose because they're more entrenched in their lives with mortgages and families and a greater need for the benefits the job provides...

I know this is a two-edged sword and can stop some who ought to move on from taking that step...

3: from a societal view, it makes sense because younger workers are more likely to be flexible and adaptable and able to find other employment...

Except for the shackles of education debt (a form of economic slavery invented by right-leaning capitalists), younger workers generally are more able financially to survive a lay-off than more senior workers... they are more likely to have family support than people further down the life path...

I know this is true because I've supported my young adult children when they've been laid off... At 51 I dont have that kind of safety net...

4: Emotionally, I think its 'right' that more senior workers ought to have some kind of protection... its a 'right' they have earned by their years of work and study... they've already put in the time...

5: As previously stated (ad nauseum), there are mechanisms in place already to deal with the small percentage of ineffective teachers... the problem is principals (and then their managers) dont use them... I dont see the need to punish all teachers with seniority because some principals wont use their administrative power to get rid of the few bad eggs... that's pretty senseless and counterproductive, if you ask me (which you didnt, I know:-)!
Sahila said…
And I kinda like 'last on first off' for another reason.... it goes some small way to avoiding the place where people are fired at layoff time based on personality issues... I've seen perfectly competent, highly creative and productive colleagues at Microsoft and other tech companies be fired for no other reason than that there was a personality difference occurring between them and their managers... Stuff that... if a 'last on, first off' policy goes someway to avoiding that, that's a really good reason to keep it...
seattle said…
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Sahila said…
I dont see the point in overturning the seniority system in schools BECAUSE principals and upper management are not doing their jobs...

the measures/policies are in place... why not work to get them used, than swap one system for another that is punitive to all teachers not just the few ineffective/abusive ones...

I've had three kids go through all three levels of education in New Zealand and Australia - primary, secondary and tertiary, and now a young son in grade one here in Seattle... Because we moved around a lot, my kids went to at least 15 primary and secondary schools (conservative count - cant remember them all)...

My kids have had teachers I didnt warm to but they liked, teachers I liked and thought were effective that they didnt like, some teachers that were maybe less than 100% effective or dedicated in a performance sense but nevertheless had other qualities my kids were the better for, for having encountered.

We've had teachers who were old, young, gay, straight and transgender ... thinking back, they were mostly white though from a variety of nationalities, cultures - Italian, French, German, Polish...one or two Maori or Polynesian people

I've had dealings with principals who were too hard, too soft, too casual, too formal, too lax, too rigid, good with people especially kids and poor with management and administration, amazing in the classroom and very bad outside it, good communicators, poor communicators...

Maybe I've been lucky that there have been none that have done permanent harm to my children...

And remember, I'm not obsessed about measuring their 'progress' by standardised testing results and grade level expectations so I am coming from a place where I think we learn across many areas - intellectual, emotional, social etc - and I value what they are learning in all those areas and I think its OK for that experience to be in the social skills or emotional maturity arena, for example, at the 'expense' of their academic progress at any given time/year...

I dont think they're not going to get into college cos they had a year with a 'bad' teacher, that they've lost ground they cant make up, that they havent learned anything valuable in that experience...

Really, I think that the Alliance has been working very hard to vilify teachers and some of their spin has touched a sore spot with some parents, which is why they think this merit pay/performance evaluation thingy is such a good idea...

I think it does more harm than good and creates more problems than it solves...
seattle said…
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I think there has been an awful lot of attack on Isabel. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the answer if you disagree just say it once. Otherwise, it does look like any dissent from the majority view of posts gets ganged up on. Not saying you can't say "I think you're wrong" but once is probably enough. (Just my two cents).

I think Charlie's last post has it right. Many people, for whatever reason, see success in a businessperson and think, "Man think of the problems that person could solve in area X."

As well there is the idea that if you repeat something enough (and you have the money to spread it out broadly), then people will think it's true (hence the war in Iraq and its original premise).

Is there a conspiracy? Like in a back-room with two guys rubbing their hands together saying, "heh, heh, heh". Probably not. It's two guys like Bill Gates and Eli Broad (who do each other and have clearly talked about their education goals) who express frustration over what they see as a lack of forward progress in public education and are putting their money where their mouths are. And they are doing it fairly aggressively and broadly.

That said, I do want to go on record as saying that the Gates Foundation does a lot of good. The face of public health in the world will be better because of them. Balancing everything out, it will.

Starting a grassroots organization from scratch with only donations is very hard. I am guilty of being suspicious at times when I see organizations that have Gates money. But it has become clear to me that sometimes Gates' funds are seed money, not "now do this money". CPPS got started like and I was told yesterday that they are applying for a Gates grant to help S/SE parents learn advocacy skills for their children. CPPS could not do this without the money (if they get the grant). Sure, they could probably set up a couple of workshops without it but a grant allows planning, implementation and most important, some longer-term follow-thru.

I have deep concerns over many foundations and their seemingly coordinated efforts to upend public education. But I cannot blanket condemn them because they do help organizations who are doing good work. We should all keep that in mind.
seattle said…
Thank you Melissa (and Charlie), for being open minded and seeing both sides of the coin. It's inspiring.
Chris S. said…
Here is the relevant part of my testimony from last night:

There’s an anecdote in Diane Ravitch’s book about Erik Robelin for Education week doing an article about education reform in [2005]. He didn’t find much dissent in the education advocacy ranks and discovered all had received money from the Gates foundation. The lone dissenter was Seattle’s own Brita Butler-Wall, who said “I don’t recall Bill Gates being elected to run any school districts.” (note added: I had the book last night and I read the quote verbatim, which was more like “Bill Gates didn’t elect anyone to run a school district.” Which is extremely ironic, if you keep reading.)

Sadly, our dissenter didn’t run again for the office of district III director. The 2007 school election set records for campaign contributions. The winners, who you see sitting up there tonight, raised almost half a million dollars, 4 to 10 times the amount their opponents raised. The number one contributor to the district III campaign was the Raikes family, executive director of Gates foundation) and this to a candidate running unopposed! Other local billionaires, including the Ballmers, the and the Hanauers, made up almost half of the contributions to all 4 campaigns. Incidentally, much less was spent in 2009.

One last example of money driving the discussion: the day before your last meeting, the Seattle Times published a story about Our schools coalition, which includes the Alliance for education. This new coalition had a PR firm conduct a survey in which parents and teachers were asked whether they preferred their merit pay shaken or stirred, and concluded that everyone hates seniority. Where did this money come from? I wonder.
Chris S. said…
The last part of my testimony, where I try to touch on a positive vision different from RTT:
Better ideas:
Diane Ravitch: rich, inspiring curriculum
Why don’t we stop racing for the bottom of the education funding pile? Create sustainable state revenue for education.
Empower teachers rather than measure them.
Take dollars out of central administration and reduce class size.

Open-mindedness - that's what I want! But the reformers from Duncan on down have such a vast array of messaging resources that there is little chance to hear the otherside outside this blog. That's why we all flip out when people call us conspiracy theorists. And sorry to gang up on you, but there are more than a few of us!
Sahila said…
"forward progress in public education"...

What does that mean to these people?... They have been quite clear and explicit - kids leaving school fit to be good workers and good consumers, cos that's what the ecomomy system/value mode (under which they made their billions) is built on...

BUT - its an unsustainable system and we've been fed an out and out lie to keep us participating -
"work hard, do the right thing, and success can be yours too."

We're already sitting at 20 million plus unemployed and underemployed people, and official news is that statistic is here to stay... 20 million people plus their families - not statistics, PEOPLE - your friends, neighbours, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins...

There's no way there will be enough 'quality' jobs for all of those high school and university graduates, since IT has been outsourced, we don't want to pay living wages to health professionals and teachers so we're sourcing them from 2nd and 3rd world countries, there's practically no more manufacturing, farming has been almost completely mechanised and we're reduced to having a predominantly service sector range of jobs available...

The arts, music, crafts etc are not valued enough for talented people to earn their living from practising their vocations...

And starting up your own business? That takes money... how are you going to save money if you're working two minimum wage jobs just to pay the rent and you've got student loan debt weighing you down? Where do you get the capital for starting your business? From banks and venture capitalists/venture philanthropists who want a huge percentage of ownership/profits - you're basically buying yourself a low wage job minus the benefits...

So, what is the point of narrowing curricula, more high stakes standardised testing, pushing children into Core24 when there will not be any meaningful jobs for these people when they complete their schooling?

All they'll have is a millstone of debt around their neck, before they've even settled into their lives and many cant think about committed relationships and children and owning homes...

It sticks in my craw that Gates/Broad are manipulating education into their version of working reality - a reality that serves them but not many of the other six billion souls on the planet - when neither have children in public schools and (Gates in particular) have no experience of living at the bottom of the heap...

If you take another perspective, this attempt to (take back) control of education is just a continuation - perhaps the last battle - of the class war...

From a sending relating to a vote by Capistrano teachers (87% of 1,848 teachers who voted) last week, to allow a mass strike, after the School Board ordered a 10.1% pay cut be imposed on them...

"People will fight back, eventually, because they
must in order to live. At issue is whether they will make any sense of why they must fight and,
therefore, win and sustain victories, or whether they resist in isolation (teachers for teachers, students for students, public vs private sector workers, etc) and lose.

The education agenda is a war agenda. It is a class war agenda and an empire's war agenda. It
is a violent assault on both life and reason emanating from a very real ruling class that is
ruthless and calculating. It will not be voted away. It will not be written away, though writing
is surely part of how the education agenda can be overturned. This is a fight, not a chat."
seattle citizen said…
If Isabel was "attacked" by me, it was because she came in, guns blazing, and said we (I) were worried about "conspiracy" etc. Her tone was dismissive and condescending - I'm not an idiot and I resented being treated like one.
That said, I apologise - I did go off on a tear and I wish Isabel no ill will.
Sahila said…
Sully - that last comment was crap, utter crap.... I'm sorry, but really!

Melissa - Gates Foundation and health... Gates is not welcome in most parts of the third world either... its aligned with Monsanto and completely ruining local, sustainable farming, and local farmers have no choice if they want to survive but to fall in with them...


"But how much it will succeed in meeting Gates' ambition of eliminating hunger across much of Africa and the developing world, and how much it will in doing so boost the profits of large agricultural companies at the expense of small farmers and rural communities — as critics fear — remains to be seen.



PLEASE PEOPLE... dont take anything you read/hear at face value... do the research yourself... go check things out, read/notice the positive and negative and then make up your own minds rather than allowing yourselves to be influenced by the bright and shiny PR spin... the future of our kids depends on it...

Actually, CPPS is applying for a City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant, not a Gates Foundation grant. But your point is still very valid.

Thanks for a great discussion!
seattle citizen said…
hmmm, I guess I myself often have guns blazing, and often group people by their affiliates...make generalizations...

yet another mea culpa, probably my seventh or eighth in this blog.

Sorry! I'll try to take a more balanced view, but as I've said, when they have the money and media, it seems like all one can do is shout.

"when in danger, when in doubt,
run in circles, scream and shout!"
(multiple attributions)
Sahila said…


You'll notice in these sources the repeated observation that the Gates Foundation focuses on supporting health research in areas where there are large PROFITS to be made by the pharmaceutical and technology companies, and not on low cost, high value activities that really help reduce/eliminate diseases from which people are suffering and dying most.

"Another imbalance is the poor correlation between funding and childhood disease burden. In particular, funding for research on pneumonia and diarrhoea, which cause about 40% of global child deaths,8 and maternal and child undernutrition, which is the underlying cause of 35% of child deaths,9 are relatively underfunded by the Foundation. For global research into the development of new products, funding for pneumonia and diarrhoea is much lower than justified by their high disease burden.10,11 For these diseases, selective new vaccines and drugs would be useful, but there are effective preventive measures, such as breastfeeding and treatments, including antibiotics for pneumonia and oral rehydration therapy and zinc for diarrhoea. These crucial interventions have inadequate coverage in low-income countries and research can help identify and overcome barriers to correct practices.12,13 Inexplicably such research that could lead to rapid improvements in child survival programmes and mortality reduction within 6 years rather than 20 years, has received only a few percent of the grant funding from the Gates Foundation.1
seattle citizen said…
(GREAT job last night!)

you write that
"sometimes Gates' funds are seed money, not "now do this money". CPPS got started like [that]and I was told yesterday that they are applying for a Gates grant to help S/SE parents learn advocacy skills for their children. CPPS could not do this without the money (if they get the grant). Sure, they could probably set up a couple of workshops without it but a grant allows planning, implementation and most important, some longer-term follow-thru."
Parents/Guardians COULD do this without the money donated by large foundations and corporations: they could operate a fine series of seminars using donated time, donated instruction, etc etc.

Yes, money helps with printing etc, but that money could come in littler chunks, out of the goodness of people's hearts.

Some of these big foundations are NOT "seeding," they have clear expectations about what will be done with their money - the money is tied to their expectations. See Clevaland six years ago: small schools, didn't work as anticipated, money pulled.

AND: the money is like a drug - more more more. An organization is built using grant money, then becomes dependent on the money. Lots of these groups have paid staff. That staff wants to keep their job - it's awful tempting to see how Gates or whoever could say, we'll give you $100,000 (each year) to the Alliance, but we want this, this and this.
THAT is not seed money. The group that relies on this funding is in great danger of becoming the funder's lap dog.
seattle said…
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seattle citizen said…
"Outside the union contract, the employer tries to balance the need to cut costs with what skills they need to keep in the workplace. Employers must determine at what point they can cut costs enough to make the layoff effective without impacting efficiency to the point that they cannot get the work done that needs to get done. KEVIN T. MCLAUGHLIN is the labor and employment practice group manager for Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C."

Just one view pulled off the internet using a search of "how do companies decide who to layoff", but raises interesting questions re education - which skills are valued at any given time? What is "efficiency"?

And, of course, who is the person in SPS that would make these decisions?
seattle citizen said…
This from
Many companies follow the rule of seniority when lay offs take place. Employees who have the most time with the company have less risk of being laid off than those you recently hired. If your workers form a union, the union may demand that you give preference to people with seniority. The thinking here is that senior employees have more job experience and more company training. Since the company has invested more time and money in these workers, it seems natural they should keep their jobs.

Instead of seniority, other companies look at their business operations. They find product or service areas that are losing money. If a company wants to refocus on its core business, it may want to drop a whole business segment. In these cases, the company gets rid of all jobs associated with these areas. The employees holding these positions are laid off.

Yet another way to reduce your workforce is to offer early retirement packages. Here the business assumes that some employees will retire soon. These workers will voluntarily leave their jobs if the severance package is high enough. Of course with a voluntary lay off, the company may not meet its lay off quotas.

Finally, you may use an employee rating system where all workers get regular feedback on their performance. If you have applied your system consistently across the workforce, you can use it to lay off a group of workers. For example, the manager can rate the employee from a 1 to a 5 where 1 is an excellent worker and 5 is someone who needs continuous coaching and retraining. In this case, you could lay off all employees with a rating of 4 or 5.

However you decide to lay off employees, you must do it consistently. Be aware that selecting an entire group is less risky than cherry picking who gets a pink slip. Conducting lay offs this way also minimizes negative effects for the remaining workers. The lay off will feel less personal to those employees losing their jobs, and it immediately gives security to those who remain. That said lay offs will still wreak emotional havoc on your workplace. The best way to get through them is quickly. Be up-front, take responsibility and allow your workers some time to grieve only then can you move forward to full business recovery.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's the problem with using any system other than seniority in RIFs: public schools are not for-profit institutions.

From the District's perspective, all teachers in each category are equally effective. They will all provide leadership to a classroom of students. The District is no better off if the teachers perform their job well and no worse off if the teachers perform their job poorly. Either way they handle 30 kids (or 150 in secondary schools).

So why in the world should the District pay anything more for a good teacher or even for an experienced one? What does the District get (not the students, not the learning community, not the principal or school) from an experienced teacher that would make that teacher worth twice as much as a new teacher? Nothing. If the District didn't have any experienced teachers it would only save them money.

So, from the perspective of economic motivations, the District would be better off shedding every teacher who has any experience at all. And if you got fired as soon as you started earning more money, then no one would pursue a career in teaching.

That's why the teachers need a union. That's why the teachers need protection. That's why layoffs and just about everything else has to be done by seniority - because the District's economic interest is entirely in getting rid of senior teachers who are earning more.

In any other business, the workers generate different value - economic value - for the employer. In public schools, all of the teachers generate essentially the same economic value.

This is one of the primary reasons that business models simply don't apply to public school teaching.
seattle citizen said…
That's one of the best decriptions of the issue I've read, Charlie. Good job.

The only way the two (education and business) MIGHT be compared is if one could somehow compare the products (learning and money)

Learning as money: How would it be measured? "Value-added"? How? Which learning is more "valuable"?

How does the school "profit" off of the increased knowledge of its students?
Lori said…
"Gates is not welcome in most parts of the third world either...You'll notice in these sources the repeated observation that the Gates Foundation focuses on supporting health research in areas where there are large PROFITS to be made by the pharmaceutical and technology companies...PLEASE PEOPLE... dont take anything you read/hear at face value... do the research yourself..."

I don't work for the Gates Foundation, but I do have a Masters in public health and have a passion for this field, as well as a bit of knowledge about how things work. Nothing Sahila has posted supports her contention that Gates' money and support are not welcomed in developing countries or that their main goal is enriching US corporations.

Rather than rely on a quote from an editorial in the Lancet that Sahila posted, I pulled the actual paper that spurred the editorial, in which the authors lead off their discussion by saying "The findings presented here should be interpreted with caution..."

Indeed. Nothing is ever black and white. Sure, the BMGF funds research into vaccines and drugs. But before we conclude that that is inappropriate or being done at the expense of other potentially effective options, we'd need to also know who requested money from the foundation and was turned down.

Does BGMF disproportionately fund US companies and universities? Yes, that was clear in the Lancet paper. But the authors themselves said they could not assess how much of that money was then distributed to sub-recipients in the targeted countries. And, it's my experience that universities at least use that sort of money not here at home, but often for field research; it's not ivory-tower stuff. University-based public health endeavors are in-the-field, get-your-hands-dirty sorts of things.

You know, most people who go into public health aren't doing it to get rich. I met people from literally all over the world who came to my alma mater to study epidemiology and clinical research methods, people driven by a desire to help their fellow citizens, happy to give up the comforts of life in the US to go live in places where they could use their knowledge to make a difference. For a field like public health that has never gotten its fair share of dollars relative to its potential benefits to mankind, BMGF is a welcome addition to the club. They have brought attention to global health issues, which resulted in increased NIH spending on global health. Through a "Grant Challenges for Global Health" initiative, they demanded that grant recipients share the results of their work to further scientific advances by all. They also required that grantees include a plan for how they would make their discoveries affordable for people in developing nations. For the passionate, driven people that I met in school, the BMGF provides an amazing option for seeking funding for important work that might go unfunded otherwise; and most of the folks that I know aren't doing this to make a buck for a corporate master or to enrich themselves.

I don't mean to make this sound like a hagiography of the BMGF; I just want to point out that its probably not the inherently evil organization that it's portrayed to be here on this blog. Are they perfect? No. Do they make decisions that not everyone in public health agrees with? Yes. But at the end of the day, they are doing much more good than harm.
seattle citizen said…
Lori, I am probably one of those who makes the Gates Foundation out to be "inherently evil," but I don't mean to do that. What I see is someone(s) with a large amount of money, maybe trying to do good....but that money sets up a chain of dependencies and relationships that might not be in the interest of whoever it's directed at. I bemoan the influence of the Gates Foundation, not because they are some evil empire but because they have disproportionate access and influence, and many, many people are "under their umbrella," either paid or volunteer.

The ideas of these foundations, right or wrong, have become, due to their influence, THE ideas - they take over the discussion.

Regarding the grey area, tho': I often see and respond to "black and white," with few shades of grey, and this is a problem. I am reminded of my dad: He was a lawyer for a large chemical company and also an early-adopted environmentalist. I would complain about damage to environment, such as that caused by DDT, and he would, with good arguments, suggest that DDT had problems, certainly, but so does malaria. Humans act; we DO things. Unless we want to take NO action, step on NO bugs on our path, our actions will have repercussions. What this suggests is the very grey area you propose: while a Gates action might have some "bad" repercussions, perhaps they do some good, too, and it would be wise for me to keep that in mind.
mirmac1 said…

I work for a multinational engineering firm. All things being equal, it's last on, first off.

Of course, all things are rarely equal. As a middle-aged highly compensated latina, I have more experience than many. On the other hand, my wage and benefits may make me a RIF target. Or someone may not like my skin color. Or I might be considered uppity in a male-dominated field. These realities, "facts," whatever, exist in private industry and public institutions.

As for the principal who struggled with removing an unsatisfactory subordinate. Sorry, that's why you were promoted. To lead and to make decisions. If you can't stand the heat etc.
Thanks for the correction, Isabel. Went from memory and not notes, not a good thing at my age.

I agree that taking money from Gates usually comes with strings. But it does take money to get started and to then be find ways to be sustainable. I'm with Charlie (whoever said it), life is not black and white. It just isn't and I can't forget that while we had a lot of robber barons in this country, some of them had the good sense to be philanthropic robber barons.

What I think I now understand about the SEA's position on RIFs and seniority is this. If the district operated as it should, principals would be able to exit ineffective/poor/crappy teachers. If that system worked correctly, then when RIFs came, seniority would be a fair way to know who goes first. Meaning, all the teachers in the system, if the system has been exited the bad ones, would be good and so seniority would be fair.

That's in a perfect world and so while I see what that argument is saying, I can't support it because that perfect world is likely to ever exist.
Sahila said…
A robber baron becomes something/someone to be lauded, because they then do 'good' with their ill-gotten (hence the term robber baron) gains?

And the 'good' is fine, despite the fact that the way its being done is designed to make more profit, often from the people who were robbed in the first place?

I dont know people - a bit too convoluted for me...harking back to my ethics/philosophy classes at university, you're all on very shakey moral/ethical grounds here... and in my book, there's not a lot of grey around to make this so complicated...

But hey, what do I know? This is the US after all - land of cowboys and renegades... maybe this is all 'normal' here and I just dont know what the heck I'm talking about...or as we say back home in our oh-so-colourful way: "maybe I'm just talking through a hole in my arse!"

Ghee Whizz....
seattle citizen said…
Melissa, I understand that perfect world (perfect manager/principals doing perfect evaluations) might not ever exist, but if THAT is not happening, WHO will make the determination to RIF someone based on performance?! If the principals aren't doing the eval for regular, contracted evals, then who on earth would do them for RIFs?
Would RIFs depend on mere MAP scores? HSPE?
Sahila said…
See Wiki's definition of the term robber baron and its history...


Think Gates (Microsoft), Broad (Sun Homes and AIG) and Milken (convicted junk bond kind) all qualify for the description of robber barons...

Guess we're back to the 'a rose by any other name is still a rose' and 'if the cap fits, wear it' part of this discussion...

Apologies for not putting in live links - just cant get my head around the process...
Chris S. said…
I also work in public health, used to work in global health. If I broaden my critique to all of the Gates foundation's work, I would tone it down a little, yes, they do good things.

I think part of the problem is that a person/group having that much money/power is simply unprecedented. The biggest problem I see in the global health are is that just by virtue of the amount of money and star power, they do drive the agenda, the global agenda, perhaps without even intending to. The effect we see in malaria research, for example, is 1)Gates is into it, lessening the perceived need for others to support it and 2)He's focusing on vaccines, making vaccines the popular area, resulting in lessening funding for other valid solutions.

It's just something we need to keep in mind, as we grapple with the unintended consequences of the extreme concentration of wealth in this world.
Chris S. said…
ps: I did thank Grandpa Gates last night for the tax initiative!! Thanks again, Bill Sr.!
seattle said…
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Lori said…
Chris, I agree with the good points you make about the global health agenda being driven by Gates Foundation, intentionally or not, and how that requires oversight, which is exactly what we get when researchers publish studies such as the one in the Lancet that looks critically at exactly what Gates is funding. There is some level of transparency here, and the affected community can speak out if it has different priorities and bring much-needed attention to overlooked issues.

Applying this to education, I'd love to see an in-depth study of what the Gates Foundation has actually funded with respect to education over the last decade. In our own backyard, many people seem to believe their only support is for a corporate-backed reform agenda. But I don't know if that's true. A quick perusal of their web site shows all sorts of interesting education grants going to organizations all over the US. Are they all secret corporatists who are planning to privatize the entire educational system? I seriously doubt it.
Sue said…
I would just chime in to say one might think private schools can get rid of an ineffective teacher easily. This is not the case.

I can tell you from personal experience that private schools have their bad teachers in place too - and the same problem with removing them that exists in SPS. If the Principal is unwilling to do anything about it, you are stuck.

Having had bad teachers in both private and public schools, I have found it is really up to the principal to stand firm, get the support of the ed director (and someone please tell me Gloria Mitchell is NOT being re-hired), and get rid of the teacher. The SEA does make it extremely difficult, but it can be done. You just have to have a will of iron.

So perhaps we really need to be looking at "Why aren't principals doing their jobs?"
Sahila said…
Gates Foundation and conflicts of interest in health and agribusiness...

I spent time backtracking through my research and came back to the 2008 tax filings for the Gates Foundation...


Only got through Attachment A & B (about half the information listed) of the list of investments, and here are the rounded figures for investment in pharmaceutical and agribusiness companies:

Merck: $245M
Abbott Laboratories: $185.6M
Novartis: $159M - vaccine development
Glaxo Smith Kline: $156M
Johnson & Johnson: $151M
Baxter: $107M
Roche: $62M
Pzizer: $60M
Takeda Pharmaceutical: $34.5M
Lilly: $33.7M
Seattle Genetics: $31.5M
Sanofi Aventis: $31M
Nestle: $24M (pushes baby formula into 3rd world countries)
Teva Pharmaceuticals: $17M
Bayer: $6.3M
Novo Nordisk: $5M
Syngeta: $2.5M (agribusiness, genetic engineering)
Smith & Nephew: $2M
Kimberley Clarke: $2M
Taiwan Fertilizers: $1M (exports fertilizer, pesticides etc to Asia/Africa)
Amgen: $600K
Proctor & Gamble: $500K
Monsanto: $350K (agribusiness, genetic engineering)

Now, the conflict comes when you read the document listing their grants, showing funding for research into biomedicine (including vaccine development) and genetic engineering...


Gates funds research, the results are patented and then marketed/sold by companies he has a financial stake in....and these pharmaceutical companies make huge profits... and as previous reports have indicated, Gates is focused on high-tech, high-cost, not immediately available solutions, (that dont even address the major diseases affecting maternal and child health), rather than low tech, low cost solutions that can be implemented easily at a local level with minimum expensive external intervention, supervision and funding....

He's doing the same in health and food production as he's doing in education...

He's faced some criticism for this conflict of interest and in 2007 announced the Foundation would divest itself of its interests in those companies where there was a conflict. He then reneged:


The foundation invests the assets that it has not yet distributed, with the exclusive goal of maximizing the return on investment. As a result, its investments include companies that have been criticized for worsening poverty in the same developing countries where the Foundation is attempting to relieve poverty. These include companies that pollute heavily and pharmaceutical companies that do not sell into the developing world.[49] In response to press criticism, the foundation announced in 2007 a review of its investments to assess social responsibility.[50] It subsequently cancelled the review and stood by its policy of investing for maximum return, while using voting rights to influence company practices.[51]"

News media carried extensive coverage of this issue at the time...

I'm kinda done on this issue... if you want to know more, you can research this for yourself...
wseadawg said…
Sully, Charlie's laid it out plainly, simply, and intelligently, from chain-of-command issues to the wisdom of LIFO RIFs, to the inapplicability of private sector business models and methods to a public, constitutionally-mandated socialistic welfare model (and thank God for that), yet you just refuse to budge. Private Business is an Apple. Public Education is an Orange. It doesn't mean nothing can cross over and work in the other arena, but it smacks of incredible over-confidence, hubris, and a shallow understanding of all the issues a public institution must reckon with that a private business doesn't, like poverty. No money? No customer. Next! Schools can't do that.

Stubborness is a hallmark of Education "Reformers" as well.

So here's what's perplexing: You believe many parents have bad teachers, principles (administrators) not doing their jobs, and an administration that won't rid the system of bad teachers. Fair enough. But then you advocate handing those same incompetents even more power over teachers?

Wouldn't competent leadership be the first place to start, vs. giving incompetent leaders more tools and more power? Would a private business reward incompetency with more power and influence, or less? Or would they terminate them?

Wouldn't the most prudent route be to insert strong, competent leadership, and giving those leaders a whack at using the current system you complain isn't used, before changing the rules?

If incompetence and laziness of administrators is a current plague in the system, how do new rules favoring that group help that problem?
Anonymous said…
Sully, "last hired, first fired" is heard a lot in the corporate world. I am an architect and have done most of my work in the corporate whelm. It's true, that's the way it is in many different industries. That's reality.

I've been thinking about this "effective", "ineffective" teacher business that you have been referring to endlessly. You know, in all of the conversations that I have had with parents from the time that my daughter was in kindergarten until now, she is a junior in high school, I never had a discussion about whether a teacher was "ineffective" or not. I think that if most parents reflect on it, they would probably come to the same conclusion.

Some teachers my daughter didn't like for one reason or another, but we worked things out. Maybe it was a conflict in personality, an approach to teaching that my daughter was not comfortable with or did not feel challenged by. My daughter has done well and I honestly can't say that a teacher was "ineffective". If you think about it, it would be an odd word to use in everyday conversation. I'm trying to imagine two mothers talking about their children saying "oh yes, my son's teacher is so effective, Johnny can read now". The words are just not real and would not normally come to mind.

Anyway, you said that you would report back about the PTSA meeting.

How did that go?

You said in an earlier post:

"Cuts: Millions will be cut from SPS this budget cycle, and millions more in the next. What does it mean for us, and more importantly, for Seattle's kids?

Taxes: Will we support raising taxes to pay for K-12 education? A proposal is before the Washington State PTA, and we need to know how to represent you. Fund schools resolution

Reform: Do we have a stance on merit pay? What are the options for "including student growth" in evaluations? The president of the teachers union will answer questions from her perspective as we continue our discussion of how reform ideas might (or might not) work in Seattle."

Wow, that sounds just like someone I heard in that same meeting. Hmmm.
So how did that go, Sully.

Can you report back to us?

Also, Olga spoke at that meeting, right? Do you have any comment about that or were you not able to make it?
Sahila said…
Lori said re the Gates Foundation-critical study published in the Lancet "here is some level of transparency here, and the affected community can speak out if it has different priorities and bring much-needed attention to overlooked issues.

Yes of course - poverty stricken communities in the US, Africa and Asia have plenty of opportunity to speak out if they have different priorities to the Gates Foundation and to bring attention to overlooked issues....

I dont think Lori shares the same reality as these disadvantaged communities, even the home-grown ones...

Please, step out of your world and imagine what its like to be one or two days, or a monsoon season away from death, focused on survival - where the next meal is coming from for yourself and already malnourished children - with no access to a working bureaucracy, the media, citizens' groups etc to air your concerns...
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said…
Dora, my son has had several teachers that were objectively ineffective. And yes, at the time, that's how I described them. Disorganized teachers that would start a project and abandon it (regularly). Elementary school teachers who ignored math or writing. High school teachers who could not write a coherent rubric or follow their own syllabus or have draconian grading rules that they selectively enforced.

I'd say those elementary school teachers who throw away late homework are ineffective. I'd question whether they could know how their kids are performing academically when all they care about is timeliness. Since the high stakes testing is about academic skills and not on whether kids are mature enough (or have organized parents) to turn in homework on time, then perhaps those teachers will have to change and actually look at the homework they assigned and evaluate it.

And yes, over the years I have had conversations with at least three different friends with kids in five different schools about teachers with these or similar issues. Sure, sometimes it is just about personality. But other times, it's damaging.

Yes, the union-busting reform movement is obfuscating the distinction between incompetent, competent and excellent teachers. That's an important issue. But the reason that the rhetoric appeals for many parents who aren't really thinking about it is that too many kids have had an incompetent teacher or more.

Oh, and about the principal who was stressed out over having to dismiss an incompetent teacher so he decided not to do it anymore? Yikes. It's a supervisory job, fercryin'outloud! Can you imagine someone else in a supervisory position openly admitting that they won't do their job and getting away with it?
Lori said…
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Lori said…
Sahila, clearly you missed my point. Just the fact that people in the public health community are scrutinizing the foundation's work and publishing those efforts in top-notch medical journals for others in the public health community to read is the transparency I'm talking about.

No, I don't think someone literally battling a monsoon somewhere is going to be outraged and called to arms by the Lancet paper, but those who are fighting for that person's needs and issues will. And if you think the public health community isn't out there on the front lines doing that sort of work, then you are very wrong.
Sahila said…
I'm kinda appalled at all the harsh criticism of teachers... I'm wondering if Sully and Dorothy have ever encountered a 'good' teacher...

I dont see a problem with a teacher ignoring a late-returned homework assignment - if I miss deadlines in my line of work, sometimes my clients fire me and sometimes I dont get paid or I lose a portion of my fee...

I'm not into that kind of thing myself cos I believe in keeping things much more fluid, but if you want your kids to do well in the capitalist economy, be good little producers on the production line, that's what you do - train them to abide by the clock/calendar... tangentially (which is more of what I'm into), its actually a lesson in meeting commitments and showing respect for yourself and your teacher...

And you know what - I regularly lead workshops and have taught a curriculum that was spread over 11 months for one of my programmes...I've sometimes gone completely off lesson plan in what I teach because there was an spontaneously/organically-created opportunity to explore another facet of whatever we were looking at, to go much deeper, and we never got back to the initial starting point... we never completed that aspect/project....BUT my students learned something else, possibly more valuable than the originally-intended outcome...

Real teaching is not a factory line process... if you all want that, then why dont you lobby for scripted lessons, where someone (any one will do - haul people in off the streets) stands at the front of the class and parrots the material line for line and by golly, we'll get to exactly where the books says we need to be in 40 minutes (or whatever the lesson duration is), and we wont stop for anyone, we wont check to see where people are at in understanding, there wont be any questions or discussion, because we sure as heck cant not get to the end...

I wonder how many people here criticising teachers would volunteer to do the job themselves, could do the job themselves, and could do it better than the teachers they criticise...

And I wonder how many people here would have people in their own workspaces thinking and saying exactly the same thing about them... "you know so-and-so? S/he is so flakey they cant deliver their reports on time... absolutely hopeless on the detail...totally spaced, more interested in texting their friends than working...wastes so much of company time... cant deliver on a commitment so if you ask them to do something, you'd better have a backup plan... cant write a report to save themselves... treats the customers like dirt...did you see that last powerpoint - hopeless... etc, etc..."

What do your bosses, co-workers and clients think about your performance?
Sahila said…

Last on, first off... normal in many parts of the world, as well as here in the US...

from a TV series made by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) - Australia's equivalent to PBS:
He has lost his job, not because he is uncapable of his work, on the contrary he is a perfectionist, it's just that he is a shop steward, in the Union, that makes him vunerable.

He cares what happens to his work mates. He has seen men fall off the top of Collins place, and other such buildings.

He cares about the lives of people who slave to make a living, putting food on the table for his loved ones at home.

The Government says that building workers are evil and take money home far and above what other workers do, but people who work in Canberra dont see a body splatterd on the ground from the lack of safety rails, or a body splattered in a lift well from lack of satety tape.

Working Safe! what a joke! When a lift doesn't work and they have to get to their destination to work, by death's dark doors does the Master builder care?




As long as there is Profit who cares how many men die or are miamed for life, their backs a liability at 50.

It has happened again.

He has been left on the scrap heap, not because he is uncappable of his work, on the contrary he is a perfectionist, and that makes him vunerable.

Last on, First off!


From a UK professional pilots' website re job losses in 2008:...


Commenting on the announcement from Bristow Helicopters, the largest operator in the North Sea, that they are being forced to make up to 30 of their helicopter pilots redundant, Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of BALPA (British Airline Pilots' Association) said:

'Talks between BALPA and the company start on Friday.

'The news comes as a disappointment, but BALPA has developed an approach to tackling the impact of the economic downturn that has 4 key stages:

1. pressure testing the employers financial claims that cuts have to be made

2. looking at alternatives to compulsory redundancy such as early retirement packages and offers of part time working

?3. ensuring that if compulsory redundancies are necessary they are dealt with by the industry-standard method of
Last In- First Out


From a British legal firm dealing with employment law in the UK...

"If a pool (of workers) is identified, the selection procedure applied could be "last in, first out" or based on a scoring system, with the employer giving points to employees based upon factors which should be as objective as possible. The lowest scorers would be those selected.

from a UK governmental site...
"Last in first out

Your employer can look at all employees’ length of service with the company, and select those with the shortest service (the last ones to join). This can sometimes be indirect discrimination on the grounds of age if it affects one age group more than another, unless your employer can objectively justify it."

Sahila said…

In the EU... from the Netherlands:
The order of priority for redundancy is, within each category of 'interchangeable functions', basically determined by the seniority rule ('last in, first out').

RIFing advice to US companies operating in Europe, the UK and the Americas...

Statistical adverse-impact-selection models and other nondiscriminatory US-style selection procedures, for example, are almost worthless in countries where RIF-selection laws affirmatively require factoring in age, marital status, number of children, or date of hire (such as last-in-first-out by job category)

from a 1963 US Court of Appeals case, showing that 'last on, first off' has been a long-time RIFing criteria in the US:...
Selle, a janitorial employee, had been in respondent's employ for eight years, had been regarded by all as a good worker, and was known by respondent to be a union member. Although respondent had a 'last-in, first-out' seniority policy, Selle was discharged, while respondent retained the services of one Morelli, a non-member of the union, who had two years of employment tenure. The evidence supports the finding that they were of generally equal ability as to their duties. We find substantial evidence to support the Board's finding that Selle was discharged because of union affiliation in violation of Section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the Act. Universal Camera Corp. v. N.L.R.B., supra.

Really Sully, go and do your homework before you preach about what is and isn't the 'norm' in labor practices...
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
Sahlia, please re-read my post.

I said NON UNION, PRIVATE, U.S. corporations.

Good try though.

Joan NE said…
Sully wrote "I named 3 major NW employers that do not use the cave man "last hired, first fired" policy for cuts (Microsoft, Amazon and Adobe)."

Sully, you've already told us that these are the companies your husband has worked at. Basing a claim on nothing more than limited personal experience proves nothing. Am I right that this is what you are doing?

Is Sahila doing the same? I don't know. She can tell us.

IF someone would would look for a recent scientific journal paper that investigates this very question, share the citation with use, and provide us with a summary of the findings, this would greatly advance this discussion.
seattle citizen said…
Sully, I posted four or five ways companies trim workers (or at least the frameworks) Last hired/first hired was one of them.

If, in your model, some sort of performance indicators were to be used, what would those be?

Secondly, I'd ask this question of private companies and those who would prefer RIFS to be evaluatory:

WHY isn't a regular evaluation process identifying those who need remediation or exiting on a regular basis, BEFORE layoffs?

If these companies are so fantastic, you'd think they would be all over regular evaluation, and if someone wasn't "up to snuff" (whatever that means: in a company of course its the profitability of that person - what is it in public education?) then why aren't those people gone during the good times? Do companies just carry the dead weight until the time to lay people off?

This reflects a point you've heard from me before: REGULAR evaluation, by the principal, has already identified those teachers who aren't working "to potential" or whatever. What, then, would you use during layoffs? ANOTHER metric?
Joan NE said…
Let's remember one of the reasons WHY corporatist reformers care so much about seniority:

If the seniority policy is overturned, then RIFFS become an opportunity for further the reformist agenda.

Why? because

1) the supe will have the freedom to fire those senior teachers that are not cooperating with curriculum alignment and teaching-to-the-test expectation.

2)the supe will be able to retain the low-cost TFA-type union-busting hires.

Un summary, it seems to me that winning on the seniority issue is an empty victory for edu-reformers if the district rejects high stakes testing, and disallows the hiring of underexperienced, under-trained union-busters as teaching staff.

Remember that constraining the ocnversation to "Teacher Quality" issues in the manner that the A4E is trying to do, makes a lot of sense if we buy the concept of High Stakes Testing.

If we reject HST, then the way A4E frames the teacher evaulation debate makes little sense.
Joan NE said…
Sully, I fail to see why only private for-profits in U.S are relevant?

I'd say the score in this debate betwen you and Sahila far is this:

Sully: 3
Sahila: 9

Sahila, unlike you so far, is NOT getting all her data strictly from limited indirect personal experience.

It is sounding more and more like you don't genuinely care to find out what is the prevalent practice, and the cited rationales in support of this practice.

What gives? Have you got some personal stake, besides your husband's linkage to Microsoft? Having a community-rep position on an A4E panel is an example of what I mean by personal stake. Do you have an affiliation of some sort with A4E?
Sahila said…
Nope, haven't based any of my comments re last on, first off on personal experience... nor on the experience of my first husband and my grown kids...

But...my son's father (we are not together) here works for the Seattle Times, has more than 25 years seniority, is a Teamster union man and, I believe, there IT IS "last on, first off" within whatever category of job gets down-sized, after offering those who are eligible/appropriate early retirement/redundancy packages...

Fancy that, The Times - bastion of support for corporatist education reform - having such "Cave Man" labor practices as "last on, first off"
seattle said…
"If, in your model, some sort of performance indicators were to be used, what would those be?"

SC, I stated my ideas for perfromance indicators/evaluation in a post earlier in this thread. I'm not at all opposed to seniority being a piece of criteria used to determine which teachers get rif'd, I'm just opposed it being the sole critera. It's not done this way in the greater community, so why should it be done this way for teachers.

And, Joan, of course you think I have a hidden agenda, and I'm part of the conspiracy. You think anyone who disagrees with you is.
Sahila said…
Actually Sully - my son has not had an ineffective/bad teacher ... but then he's only in Grade 1... last year he was at AS#1 and this year he is at Room 9 in Shoreline... his kindergarten teacher has a philosophy of emergent learning through play. She spent most of the year focusing on emotional intelligence and social skills - there was not a lot of formal reading/writing/math going on in that class and some parents were uncomfortable with that (as was I at times, when I let myself get sucked into the 'performance' obsession). BUT... what she gave the kids was love and security, confidence and excitement about learning, the space to go at their own speed and my son now is learning by himself/teaching himself... he works things out for himself and doesnt need it fed to him by another person and a book... that is the greatest gift a teacher can give a student...

My other kids - 3 of them - attended primary (elementary-middle schools), secondary (high school)and university in New Zealand and Australia... many, many schools, (somewhere around 15 - public and private) because we moved around a lot... and not one of my children EVER had an ineffective/bad teacher....

Dont tell me that was just plain luck...

I myself went to 4 schools in New Zealand and I too dont remember having any ineffective/bad teachers... some I didnt like much, but they were none of them ineffective...
Sahila said…
Well of course, in a non-union company, employers can do what they want... especially in an 'at will' state/country...BARBARIC... as most British, European and Antipodean countries have recognised, workers need protection... which Broad/Gates are trying to dismantle...

I worked for Radio New Zealand and they wanted to fire me because I developed Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)... thank god for the union...

I worked for Microsoft last year... someone pulled some strings and got me fired (around the time Marie Goodloe Johnson tried to get another Microsoft person fired, as she tried to get Phyllis Fletcher of KUOW fired) because "you dont look the part" (seriously) despite my high, daily, performance evaluations... no union, at will state - no redress... BARBARIC...

You think that wont happen to teachers? And you want that for all of them, just to get rid of a few bad eggs? That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater...

I hope you someday experience an unjustifiable dismissal, just so you get the understanding that comes with that experience...
seattle said…
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Joan NE said…
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Sahila said…
Who are you Sully - come on, give me a name...

You're just pissed off because I can back up with facts and stats everything I say here...

Its on the record that Marie Goodloe Johnson tried to get another Microsoft employee fired - lawyers were involved...

Its on the record that Marie Goodloe Johnson put pressure on Phyllis Fletcher's boss at KUOW to have her fired... Phyllis told me herself at the courthouse a few months ago...

My immediate Microsoft manager and my recruiting boss tried for two weeks to get that decision to fire me reversed, with no luck... someone high up in the company, who never was identified, insisted that I be fired, despite my excellent performance stats... My recruiting company felt so bad, they paid me two weeks extra salary, when there was no legal requirement for them to pay me anything and said they did not consider it a firing and that they would be happy to place me elsewhere..

I have never gotten fired for what I have said or done... I can play the 'nicey-nicey' tell-them-what they-want-to-hear corporate game as well as the next person...

Radio New Zealand tried to fire me because I was a long-term casual employee (3 years) and I developed a workplace injury because of non-ergonomic equipment in a poorly designed workspace - along with 75% of the newsroom - and it was going to cost them to retrain me to work in another area... They already had 50% of the news staff off on extended sick leave and it was cheaper to get rid of me than to face yet another increase in their Accident Compensation Commission levies...

AS#1... a teacher there who did not like what I had to say - much of what I say here - got SPS IT to cut off my access to all SPS addresses, including the AS#1 lists, claiming I was a business spamming those addresses - because I use a signature block on my emails... I was on the BLT of the school, elected on a platform of keeping the school as alternative as possible. One of the things I objected to, was Roy Merca and the teachers rewriting the school mission and values statement WITHOUT SCHOOL COMMUNITY INPUT over the summer break...one of the other things I objected to, was Roy Merca refusing to implement the school's policy and commitment to Positive Discipline - he said while he had been trained in the strategy, he didnt use it at Summit because it required too much paperwork and time for the teachers - which is probably why Summit had such outrageous suspension figures...so much for alternative schools, so much for a democratic community, so much for Policy C54, so much for free speech... and Roy Merca had the IT access reinstated...

So, as we say in NZ - stick that in your pipe and smoke it....
Sahila said…
And just to be completely transparent, I have gotten fired TWICE for things I refused to do... the first time because my publisher employer wanted me to defraud my advertising clients by lying about magazine circulation figures (a non-unionised private business), and the second time because I wouldnt agree to work twice the hours for half the pay, when my job's funding was cut by my boss' joint-venture partner, again in a private, non-union business... both of these situations happened in Australia...

I took both of these employers to the Industrial Relations Commission, suing them for unjustifiable dismissal, and WON BOTH TIMES, being awarded a substantial payout...

But those experiences left such a bad taste in my mouth that I started my own business and, except for the Microsoft experience last year, I have been self-employed ever since...

I dont trust non-unionised private companies to treat their workers fairly... they really dont have any commitment to their workers, rarely have any ethics because there is nothing in place to hold them accountable, are focused only on their profits and will do whatever they have to, to protect that bottom line...
Sahila said…
and from:

I visited Sahila on two occasions for a 90 minute "breathe". I was having intense anxiety and many maladies associated with it. I found her studio to feel safe and inviting. I felt completely at ease and relaxed. Sahila was very professional as well as empathetic and caring. I came away feeling far better, more grounded and able to find the peace within me. Thank you Sahila."

BB, Seattle (client)

"Oh my, we had a wonderful service! It was heart opening. Sahila, you brought us amazing, beautiful messages. I hope you will come back and speak for us again. Warmly..."

Diana Piermattei, Swedenborgian Church, Puget Sound

"Sahila ChangeBringer has offered meditation, breathwork classes and Sunday morning messages as a guest presenter for worship service at Interfaith Community Church. Sahila has a warm, loving and inviting presence balanced with the fire of change and transformation - for the greater good. We are fortunate to have such an authentic and powerful healer in our midst. I wholeheartedly recommend Sahila's classes and workshops for those desiring to create a new expansive reality for themselves, their families and the world. It is truly possible. Now is the time!"

Rev. Karen Lindquist, Seattle,
co-founder Interfaith Community Church.

"I have participated with Sahila in several group settings. She effectively uses mind-body processes to help people move towards wholeness. I have been impressed by her ability to intuitively determine where the group needs to go."

AM, Kent
(participant, From Fall to Winter: Harvest Meditation Series 2008, 2009)

"The circle talk was focused and substantive, even while it was adaptive to the individuals. Sahila is very balanced between being warm and supportive, while also willing and able to push buttons. Authentic."

CB, Redmond,
(participant: Life Unlimited 11-month workshop)

"A very surprising and wonderful experience. Thank you!"

KH, Shoreline,
(participant: Life Unlimited 11-month workshop)

"Kind, caring, trusting, very professional"

SP, Shoreline,
(participant: Life Unlimited 11-month workshop)

"Core belief worksheet helped discover where these come from. (Sahila was) very clear, helpful. Great drawing out your inner needs, thoughts, work to be done, etc"

CM, Kenmore
(participant: Life Unlimited 11-month workshop)
Sahila said…
So, Sully :

Now that I have done justifying myself and establishing that I am actually quite a nice human being, (who's actually very good at what I do, if you want to see my references at:
and the recommendations at my LinkedIn profile)

Who will, if necessary call it like it is in very plain, blunt language, and use stats and facts to back up my position...

Perhaps you'd like to grow up and bring some other factual information to the table to substantiate the validity of what you have to say...

(the Divine in me recognises and honours the Divine in you)

seattle said…
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seattle citizen said…
Sully, I reviewed your comments on this thread and these are the comments speaking to evaluation:
(and I quote)

4/21/10 4:36 PM - Should a teacher get riff'd based on seniority alone? No, I don't think so. I agree with Isabel in that performance/evaluations (no, not test scores, don't get riled up) should have something to do with the decision
4/21/10 10:04PM - The overwhelming majority of principals are not doing their job- they are not weeding out the ineffective teachers, and parents are frustrated. If parents can't rely on principals to weed out the bad teachers then they will welcom in a "policy" or "district evaluation" to do it....Parents want accountability, and they will get it one way or another.
4/21/10 10:07PM - Topics for Nathan Hale's April 22nd PTSA meeting: Cuts, Taxes and reform.....Reform: Do we have a stance on merit pay? What are the options for "including student growth" in evaluations? The president of the teachers union will answer questions from her perspective as we continue our discussion of how reform ideas might (or might not) work in Seattle.

10/22/10 7:01AM - When layoffs come [Adobe, Amazon and Microsfot] make cuts based on the business needs of the company, and in some cases performance. Never by seniority.
10/22/10 8:38AM - ....I named three major NW employers (Amazon, Microsoft and Adobe) for whom the age old, tired, practice of "last hired first fired" is not used to determine who is let go.

4/22/10 3:05 PM - ...if there were some kind of valid evaluation process in place for teachers (not test scores/student performance) then the union could use that criteria to protect teachers instead of protecting them solely based on their seniority. Evaluations could consist of a teacher's attendance (not students), a teacher meeting a set of goals, teachers awarded certifications above and beyond what is required, and many things that a principal can and should be evaluating regularly (ability to follow and teach the state EALR's, use of best practices, etc).
4/24/10 8:33 AM- I'm not attached to the word inefective, to describe a teacher that is, well, not effective, so please feel free to substitue "ineffective" with another word more to your liking ("incompetent", "unfit", "bad", etc.)

The most clearly stated evaluation metrics seem to be:
"teacher's attendance (not students), a teacher meeting a set of goals, teachers awarded certifications above and beyond what is required, and many things that a principal can and should be evaluating regularly (ability to follow and teach the state EALR's, use of best practices, etc)."

1) "Teacher's attendance"?!
2) WHICH "set of goals"?
3) "Awarded certifications"? You mean like the clock hours and trainings that most teachers do regularly, partly as requirement for 150 every five years to re-cert with state?
4) "many things that a principal can and should be evaluating regularly (ability to follow and teach the state EALR's[as measued by...MAP? HSPE? what about Art?, use of best practices [WHOSE best practices?], etc ["etc"? which "etc"?)"

So you've got some ideas: attendance (ah, there's a data point! a teacher is out a certin number of days. Should we weight that score to acount for illness? Death in family? Should teachers bring principals a note from their mommy?) And the always amporhous "set of goals." Which goals, can you be specific?

And about them EALRs....do you consider those to be measurements of all a teacher's teaching? What about Art?

WHAT data would you use to evaluate an educator? Please be specific.
seattle citizen said…
And Sully, I also asked this, a question you ignored:
IF there were effective evaluation, THEN a teacher would already be evaluated, and either gone or not. So when RIF comes along, would you apply yet another set of criteria to "re-evaluate" the educator, or would you use the existing, regulare evaluation? If the regular evaluation already "remediated" (helped or exited) struggling teachers, who is left, given an effective eval procedure, to RIF if not by seniority? Or would you use regular evaluations to rank teachers in case their was a RIF?

Furthermore, you write that "If parents can't rely on principals to weed out the bad teachers then they will welcom in a "policy" or "district evaluation" to do it....Parents want accountability, and they will get it one way or another."

So you would be content to have a district evaluation determine merit and employment? And parents will get "accountability...one way or another"?

Sooo....if the Principal is "ineffective," and thus cannot, evidently, supply a proper evaluation, you would use a district evaluation of the educator to determine their status?
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
"IF there were effective evaluation, THEN a teacher would already be evaluated, and either gone or not"


Let's use the if/then principal.IF effective evaluation happens and all the teachers are adequate teachers, THEN perhaps it would be appropriate to go by seniority.

However, and it's a huge however, effective evaluation doesn't happen right now. Nor has it hasn't happened in the past. And I doubt it will happen in the future.

So right now your theory is a fantasy.
seattle said…
Sc, I know you are not a parent, and it's difficult for you to see from a parents perspective but please try.

1) Attendance: There are teachers who chronically abuse the time off policy. My son has one of them this year. She has been out of her classroom once or twice a week all year long, and not for an illness either. It is devastating to a class to have revolving substitutes all year long. Most employers would fire an employee who chronically missed one to two days of work per week. Give one reason why a teacher who is not ill or taking care of an ill family member, who already gets 3 months vacation in the summer, should be able to miss 1/3 of the school year, without any consequence?

2) A teacher could meet a set of goals? You asked which goals? That, I would think, should be defined by the principal, the district, and the teacher.

3)Which certifications: Certifications or training beyond what is required.

4) Principal evaluation: A principal should be able to evaluate whether a teacher is teaching the EALR's and using best practices by sitting in and observing the teachers class regularly. Of the principal can't do this then they shouldn't be a principal.

Then you ask what are "best practices"? You were on the alt school committee so I think you have a good idea what "best practices" are. But to clarify teachers could collaborate to come up with a common set of "best practices" that are acceptable to all.
Sahila said…
Sully - would you try not to be patronising with SC?... how do you know he/she is not a parent anyway?

I'm a parent and I dont see it from your perspective; dont assume/claim that YOUR perspective is OUR perspective - you're not speaking for me and I'd guess there are quite a few contributors here who did not (and would never) give you authority to speak for them...
seattle citizen said…

You keep insinuated that "I don't have kids" (so I'm supposedly ignorant) - please stop making presumptions and public declarations about things you know nothing about. It's dumb. Who died and made YOU a) the "decider" which kids are "our kids" and b)holier-than-thou - "you just don't KNOW what I know!" Your family and relationships are your issues, no matter what relationship you have with children; mine are the same. You know very little about me, so please stop this "you don't have children" crap. It's insulting and hurtful. Unless you really need me to tell you a bit of my (and my wife's) background...?

Again, you don't tell us what metrics. What, exactly, would YOU evaluate on? Exactly, not just generalized ideas. YOu do write, "EALRs and best practices" What about non-EALRed teaching? Should that be evaluated too?
And what do YOU think are "best practices"? It's easy to spout the words, but what are they? Yes, I have my opinion. but what is yours?

And I'll ask again: If a principal isn't doing the evaluation, then who will, for either eval purposes or RIF, and what metric would they use?

You have stated in this thread that you believe it is okay for the District to evaluate educators, rather than someone on site. Do you hold to this belief, and if so, what metric would they use to that evaluation that would be acceptable to you?

If eval weren't building-based, what metrics would you like used by non-building staff to evaluate educators?

Lastly, please tell us how a teacher can be absent two days a week for forty weeks without using up their sick leave in the first quarter? The teacher you mention? How do they do that? Nobody has that much sick leave, and if they do they've saved it for years and years, or had it given to them by concerned colleagues who donated their own time.

The teacher who is absent all the time? I sympathize, but wonder why the principal isn't involved, and if they aren't then what would YOU suggest? Replace principal or have District make decisions about this teacher outside of the usual mamagement hierarchy (i.e. employee -> manager -> boss, like all the companies you tout.)

The crux of my argument with your argument is that you are looking for accountability in the wrong places: You seem to throw up your hands and say, the principal is not doing their job, so the District should do it. You seem to think that is the avenue to take. Yet other times you say that evaluation should be done by the principal...

Me, I think eval is the duty of the principal, and if they ain't doing it, then they need to be trained to do it or replaced with someone who will. I don't think handing the reins to downtown mangement to use the barest of criteria to determine the profitability, uh, performance of the educator benefits anyone, least of all students.
Joan NE said…
Sully has made clear that:


It is quite pointless to get sucked into a dialogue with her.

In the last four days while followng this strand, I have blown valuable time that could have been put to much better use: Fighting the good fight.

I am going to try not to be so stupid again as to get sucked in to conversations on this blog with closed minded people. This does not support my goals.
Lori said…
You know, this thread is a prime example of why many folks that I talk to who are interested in the state of our schools don't bother reading or posting on this blog. It seems that those who do express a different opinion here are subjected to mockery and derision, and then if they try to defend or clarify their position, they're told to stop patronizing other people, as if they started the whole thing! It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

I think folks would be wise to stop and give pause before attacking one another. People read this blog because they care about our schools and our children. We are all technically on the same side! Yet, there are those who post here who treat others with so little respect and understanding, I can only wonder how in the world they expect to be effective change agents within the district.

You don't win people to your position with insults and defensive self-righteousness. Nor do you win them over when you act as if your opinion is the divine truth and anyone with a different perspective is less worthy of opining here.

I come here with an open mind, and I have learned a lot from many of the highly credible bloggers who make this blog work. But more and more, I find myself wondering why I waste my time trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. I'd love to see a variety of diverse opinions represented on this blog, but it doesn't seem that's likely to ever happen. Right now, I bet there are a lot of informative and interesting voices out there that are suppressed because they don't want to subject themselves to attack in a public forum. And that is really a shame for all of us who'd like to hear all sides of an issue.
seattle citizen said…
C'mon, Lori - Sully was extremely patronizing to me - you write that "you [don't win people] over when you act as if your opinion is the divine truth and anyone with a different perspective is less worthy of opining here."

Sully has TWICE written that I supposedly "don't have any children" so I can't know....

Furthermore, I'm not demeaning or sinulting Sully when I ask for some real answers to what, exactly, the metrics are that might be used to measure educators. Sully throws out glib words and phrases "ineffective," "EALR-based measurement," etc without going deeper.
And Sully evidently beleives that "If parents can't rely on principals to weed out the bad teachers then they will welcom in a "policy" or "district evaluation" to do it....Parents want accountability, and they will get it one way or another"

Si I ask (again): If principals are doing the evaluation, and you beieve, Sully, that the district can do it, how is this more "accountable"? You wuld favor a party more distant from the actual educator to determine that edcuator's worth via standardized tests alone?

I've not received an answer, and it is in no way improper to continue to ask. Sully continues to comment withour coming up with concrete answers, and it is, in my opinion, a mere extension of the "reform" agenda/ If Sully can't (or won't) cite data or research or ideas that back up the desire for "teacher attendance," "sets of goals," "additional certificates" and "principal observation" and deepen those to actually have some sort of measureable component, then I forced to beleive that Sully just doesn't know. If Sully doesn't know, why, then are these the favored evaluation tools?

Yes, I'm all over Sully to produce some way for us to understand what it is to "observe a teacher," to use standardized scores (to the exlusion of other measures? we don't know), to look at the teacher's attendance, for heaven's sake...

Lastly, sometimes strong attacks merit strong response: As we've seen, some few organizations have tried to control the narrative on "teacher quality" (and so far failed) but they have lots of money, they're essentially bribing local "coalitions" to mouth their platitudes, they are NOT research based (look at today's NY Times: There are studies showing that new teachers are NOT as effective as teachers who have been around five years or more)

These strong and powerful forces (nine milloin-plus Gates/Broad money to Alliance to buy "survey" (with help from District, which the Sea Times then parrots like the lap...parrot it is...These are powerful, powerful forces ranged against creative and innovatice classrooms, forcing the argument into the narrowist of frames ("standardized test scores" and demonizing an entire profession because of a few teachers who are struggling.

Sully would, apparently, throw away all the 100 years of public education policy and allow "district-based evaluation" (necessarily standardized-test based), the elimination of seniority, the transformation of collaborative teaching into a competitive model (because Goldman Sachs is such a fine, upstanding model of that competition...)

If Sully wants to patronize me ("oh, SC, you just don't KNOW...") then I'll give it right back, but I do it by asking for data and research, which evidently is not forthcoming.

Ah well. I guess I'm a mean ol' grinch for asking for such things. It's not like "data-driven" action is important....
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle citizen said…
you write: "I know that you don't have kids in SPS"

Whereas before you wrote: "SC, you are not a parent (4/21/10 10:04PM )"

Soo....please tell me where you got the information you posted 4/21 at 10:04, and why you now change it to "no kids in SPS"
seattle said…
SC, not sure why you would call me patronizing? I know that you are an SPS teacher - I know what school you taught at. And I know that you do not have any kids attending an SPS school. I'm trying to be considerate to you, but if you insist I'd be happy to prove it.

I very much appreciate your perspective as a teacher, even though I may not always agree with you. I must admit though that I am perlexed as to why you won't identify yourself as a teacher - it's a bit disingenuous, don't you think?
seattle citizen said…
Sully, all I want you to prove is your assertions about evaluation. You've proposed that if principals are ineffective evaluators, you'd have the District do it through "policy" or "district evaluation";

So you would be okay with removing the evaluators one step further from the teachers (from principal to district)? Can you explain how this would help accountability?

And why, if you believe principals are ineffective in evaluating, would you not simply advocate for principals to be made effective in evaluating?

Why would the district be any more "accountable" to whatever metrics are used if the District is not even in the building?

I'd also like you to "prove" the details of your proposed evaluation metrics:
* "teacher attendance" - is this a problem in SPS? State your data on this
* "set of goals" -which goals do you think it is important for educators to meet? How would you measure their attainment?
* "teachers awarded certifications above and beyond what is required"
What kind of certificates? From whom? Teachers already HAVE to go "above and beyond what's required" by taking classes to maintain their cert. What certifications do YOU mean? Which would YOU value "above and beyond"
* "many things that a principal can and should be evaluating regularly (ability to follow and teach the state EALR's, use of best practices, etc)."
So, the HSPE and...which "best practices"? and which "etc"?

And, strangely, you are somehow suggesting that if a principal is "ineffective" in evaluating, you'd like the District to evaluate based on these same metrics? I'm confused: If you want to District to evaluate teachers, which of the above metrics would THEY use?

If you want acountability, make sure principals are following the existing eval language in the CBA - It basically lays out the same points you do above. If principals aren't doing these evaluations, wouldn't it be prudent to see that they did, rather than distance the evaluators even further from the classroom by giving the task to District? You'll have to explain to me how that is MORE accountable than what we have now.

Sully, unless you can convince me that you have research behind you, that you have some ideas for
seattle said…
"And why, if you believe principals are ineffective in evaluating, would you not simply advocate for principals to be made effective in evaluating?"

After having two kids in SPS for over 10 years and being very involved both on the school and district level, I have come to the conclusion that most prinicpals are completely inept in the teacher evaluaton process. Staff stick together. Principals try to keep peace. Schools try to fly under district radar. And the end result is bad teachers remain in their schools year after painful year. That may be what's easiest for a school, but it absolutely sucks for the students.

I've given up on the process. My kids are on their way out of SPS. I need change now. If principal's can't effect change then I am open to looking at who can.
seattle citizen said…
So if you believe principals can't "change," what is your suggestion as to who would evaluate educators? You've written that you would accept "policy" or "district evaluation" WHO in District would you task with this job of evaluating teachers, if not principals?

And: details of the evaluation tools? Could you think about those and provide suggestions as to the exact tools these district evaluators might use?
Joan NE said…
Sully, if you kids are on their way out of SPS, why do you "need change now?" You kids won't get much benefit, so why is it so urgent?

You are kidding yourself if you think ed reform is going to make your kids schools better.

You are naive if you think this ed reform is not going to cause far more harm than good to large numbers of children in SPS.

Probably your kids won't suffer, but many children will, and especially minority and low-income students, ELL students, and Spec-Ed students.
Joan NE said…
IMHO arguing with Sully is hardly likely to be any more productive than arguing with any corporatist education reformer. Sully has made up her mind already, data notwithstanding.

It seems to me that Sully's purpose here may be in part to

1. provoke us in to getting angry. When we get angry, then others stop listening to the very important information that we are trying to get across. This doesn't help us fight the good fight. No matter how poorly Sully defends her viewpoint, she is winning points for the corporatist reformers when we loose our cool.


2. to distract us from doing more productive work.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
Here is some data for you Joan.

The dictionary definition for ed reform: Education reform is a plan or movement which attempts to bring about a systemic change in educational practices

Note the definition for Ed reform is not Eli Broad. Do you know why Joan? It's because Broad is but one form of education reform.

I know you think Broad is evil, but ed reform (change) in and of itself isn't.

Even you must agree that the US school system needs some change. It is not working for everyone. Just ask families of color, low income families, and families of kids with special needs how the "system" is working for them. Just ask the special ed community here in Seattle if they think the Special ed system needs an overhaul. That's reform.

Ed reform (change) must happen on some level. You can either cross your arms and plug your ears and scream Broad a thousand times, or you can work toward responsible, community driven, change/ed reform.

What did you think of Charlie Mas recent blog post topic "The good and bad of education reform"?
Joan NE said…
"Here's some data for you Joan...."

Sully, what is the dictionary defintion of "opinion?" It seems to me that you are expressing opinion.

What does your dictionary say is the definition of data?

Where is your data to counter Sahila's?

Why don't you do the RESEARCH I suggested? I am really interested in the DATA that you might find to support your ASSERTION. Or are you really not interested in whether the proponderance of DATA supports your assertion?


Ed reform is certainly about changing the educational landscape. But is this the change the community wants for OUR SCHOOLS?

Not me!

No-one can understand what [Corporatist] Ed Reform REALLY means ON THE GROUND by looking up the term in up in a dictionary.

What dictionary do you have, anyway? Mind does have this entry.

This next statement IS A STATEMENT OF OPINION, so don't go accusing me of MAKING UP DATA: As far as I can tell, a majority of attendees at the A4E event were not supporters of A4E.

One of my definitions of Ed Reformer: One who is interested in the DATA that supports their agenda, and will try to CREATE DATA that supports their view.

The A4E Town Hall event provides an example of this.

Data created: photographs and attendence numbers

Data ignored: evidence that many people present do not like what A4E is doing.

Sully, this post more than any other of yours shows you to be an apologist for Corporatist Education Reform.

One question. Why? What's to like about Corporatist Ed Reform?
seattle said…
Joan your post gives me a good laugh and some satisfaction. When one disputes a dictionary definition I know they've completely lost it.
Anonymous said…
I went to the Seattle Council PTSA meeting last Thursday when Olga Addae introduced herself and talked about the proposed teacher evaluation system. It touches on what is being discussed in this thread.

Again, it's fairly long so I will start the notes here and you can go to:


for the remaining post.

I went to this meeting because Olga Addae, the Seattle Education Association President, was to introduce herself and provide information on the association.

When I arrived there were about five PTSA members and one teacher. By the end of the meeting there were three more PTSA members including myself. I was expecting more parents to attend but that’s why I write these notes. I know how it is with work and family.

First there was the Council business. I arrived late and came in during the presentation made by a representative from the Office of the Education Ombudsman. This office seems to be a great resource for families. Briefly, they help you “understand and navigate the public school system”, assist families in communicating with their child’s school and make “special education work for you”. I won’t go into details, but if you want additional information, see www.waparentslearn.org or call 866-297-2597.

After that Heidi Bennett, the SCPTSA Legislative VP, talked about state funding of schools and said that our state is one of the bottom five states in terms of school funding. We are 45th out of 50 states per pupil funding. (That’s pathetic and in this state there is no reason for that.)

Heidi went on to say that the state of Washington has the most regressive tax structure with the lowest 20% of earners paying 17% in taxes and the top 10% paying 4% of taxes.

I do admire Gates, Sr. for pushing a state income tax which seems the only way to properly fund many of our public systems including education.

As with all of the ed reform action that is to take place because of the passing of Bill 6696 in our state, the question comes up as to how this will be paid for. It will cost millions of dollars and with little chance of “winning” the Race to the Top “lottery” (see: http://epi.3cdn.net/4835aafd6e80385004_5nm6bn6id.pdf), the state of Washington will have to come up with the money.

Heidi mentioned that there will be a vote in the June meeting about whether the PTSA of Seattle should support the Our School Coalition petition (yet another Alliance attempt to declare their efforts “grass roots”). Stay tuned.

Now it was time for Olga to speak.
Olga said that she wanted to bring the “T” back into the PTSA in Seattle. She said that there are two stakeholders in our educational system, the parents and the teachers (I appreciated her saying this because you hear that term so much these days when speaking of ed reform. WE are the stakeholders, not Arne Duncan, President Obama, Bill Gates, Eli Broad or the KIPP Board of Directors.) and that it all comes down to the teachers and staff, the student and the family.

Olga went on to discuss the proposed four level evaluation system that is required by Bill 6696 but also said that the this evaluation system had been decided upon last August by SEA. At this time we received a handout titled “Domain Level of Performance”.

Olga said that she brought in everything that she could legally, because negotiations with SEA and the superintendent are happening now.

It was clarified that now the evaluation cycle is two tiered with satisfactory and unsatisfactory being the outcome. With the proposed evaluation system, which I have posted at: http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/ptsa-meeting-with-olga-addae
Sahila said…
Sully - Joan asked you for the source of your dictionary definition - she said she could not find it in hers...

Maybe you could tell us if it was Websters, Mirriams, the Oxford???

without you giving us the source, some of more cynical parents and educators MIGHT be inclined to think you're blowing smoke/made it up to suit your agenda, as so many corporatist education reformers and astro-turf coalitions do their information and 'data'...

Please, humour me... what dictionary did you get your definition from, name and page number would be good... even an online dictionary would do, if you provide the link...

hey - I showed you all the sources I used for my perspective/stance... show me yours! Its only fair....
seattle citizen said…
Here's where Sully's "definition" of ed reform apparently came from (I googled her definition, this was the first hit):


the [Freidman} foundation has been a leader in both the field of education research and providing support for state-based education reform organizations[click on provided link to definition:]Education reform is a plan or movement which attempts to bring about a systemic change in educational practices. Educational theories, curriculum reform, and operational structure are often areas targeted for change...."
Sahila said…
From the Friedman Foundation's webiste: http://www.edchoice.org/about/

"The best way to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education is to give all parents the freedom to choose the schools that work best for their children. Milton Friedman first articulated and applied this idea of liberty and free markets to our education system in 1955. As he has pointed out numerous times, this was not merely a reaction to a perceived deficiency in schooling, but rather an interest in a free society.

Milton and Rose Friedman have long been associated with the worldwide revolution in favor of free markets and liberty that has done so much to transform international politics and economics."

There we have it, people... in plain English, front and center... the focus on bringing the free market - private enterprise - into education...

But then, what did you expect from anything started/funded by Milton Friedman, the adoption of whose theories arguably has led to the latest collapse of the American economy, and the current Depression, which is worse than that of the 1930s....

And I'm supposed to have faith in this approach to education reform?

I dont think so...
Sahila said…
Friedman Foundation Board of Directors...


notice their affiliations - a bit short on educators if you ask me... started to google some of them, and the same theme emerged - all corporatist 'free market' education reformers... will leave you to find out more about the rest

Dr. Patrick Byrne (Chairman)
Chairman and President of Overstock.com

Robert C. Enlow (President & CEO)
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Janet F. Martel (Secretary & Treasurer)

Lawrence A. O'Connor, Jr. (Assistant Treasurer)
Executive Director, Butler Business Accelerator

"Operationally, the Butler Business Accelerator is a consulting business, targeting privately held central Indiana companies that have been in business at least five years, have $5 million to $50 million in annual sales and are poised for growth. Select companies work with a team of professionals, faculty and students, who engage them in a four-step process to improve competitiveness and profitability."


Gordon St. Angelo (President Emeritus)
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Charles H. Brunie
Brunie Associates
member of right wing think tank and contributor to republican election candidates


Dr. David D. Friedman
Professor, Santa Clara University
Professor of law and economics, havent traced back a familial relationship, but he sure looks like Milton Friedman!

William J. Hume
Chairman of the Board, Basic America, Inc.
corporatist ed reformer from way back - see

Samuel H. Husbands, Jr.
President, Husbands Capital Markets

Sandra Jordan
Owner & Creative Director, Jordan Winery

Fred Reams
Reams Asset Management

Howard S. Rich
Rich & Rich

Dr. Michael Walker
Senior Fellow, The Fraser Institute
Sahila said…
Other Friedman Directors and their affiliations:

Howard S. Rich
Rich & Rich
real estate property magnate, wants less government and taxes in the US... also wants vouchers for education...


Dr. Michael Walker
Senior Fellow, The Fraser Institute
economist, founder of conservative think tank coming out of Canada,


Sully - you might like to reconsider your strategy here... I'm a journalist and researcher by inclination and training... I check everything you put out here... so if what you put here cant stand closure scrutiny, I's suggest you dont bother...

My son's got a T-shirt a friend created for him... mama dragon standing behind baby dragon with a line of flame coming out of her mouth above his head... a 'wall' of flames at the bottom of the T-shirt with a piece of bread burning inside them, with the caption: "Mess with my mama and you're toast!"
Joan NE said…
Sully, you're not doing yourself any favors here.

You supply what you call "data" (a definition of Ed Reform), claim that it is taken from a dictionary, and then one among us who knows how to do internet research finds a non-dictionary quotation that exactly matches your quotation.

Now, it is still possible that your dictionary does in fact say what you say it does.

We would like to fact-check your "data." We need to know the title and year of publication of your dictionary.

Would you provide us with this information?

I don't expect that you will answer this request.

Lack of response is telling.
Anonymous said…
(A continuation of my meeting notes regarding the PTSA meeting with Olga Addae)

There is more depth in terms of the evaluation and levels of accomplishment (in this 4 tiered system). Olga said that it would take 24 hours of professional development per teacher to do this evaluation system well. (That could be a reason why this had not been done before, money.)

This evaluation of teachers was being developed by Charlotte Danielson but funding for this was eliminated when our new superintendent moved into SPS.
Olga said that an environment needed to be developed that supports this framework of expectations and where teachers feel comfortable taking a risk in trying something else to reach the students.

After Olga’s presentation of this new evaluation system, there were questions. Olga said that the four level system was to be implemented by 2013 and that there needed to be an estimate done on the cost of implementing this new system. (Could it cost more that the MAP implementation with a price tag of $4.3M? I see far more value in this new evaluation system than having students and staff spend 4-6 weeks each year with MAP and WASL tests.)

Heidi then asked about teachers and “tenure” and what is being done to move them (I suppose the “bad” teachers) out? She went on to say that this was a “burning question” that parents have. Olga first clarified that teachers in Seattle do not have tenure but seniority. She went on to say that it was a matter of training the principals to know how to evaluate and then take action in terms of a teacher. Olga said that this training should be done, and paid for, by the district. She said that “removing someone’s livelihood should be a difficult process” (indeed). According to Olga, the union pays for two mentors who work with teachers who are on probation.

There was a clarification made at this point by Olga that principals have their own union.

More questions and more answers:

According to state law, there is no peer review or 360 system in place for evaluation of teachers.

Lake Washington has used this four tiered evaluation system successfully for nine years.

At the end of her presentation, Olga said that teachers should be evaluated out of the system not dropped out through rif’s.

(Olga is planning five community forums around Seattle to connect with parents and students. I would suggest that any school who wants to host such an event get in touch with Olga. Her contact information is (206) 283-8443 ext 107, omaddae@washingtonea.org.)

Then a teacher, Donna, was introduced to discuss the MAP test.
She said that she has always been accountable to the principal for test scores. Donna said that MAP should be a part of the student plan but not the MAP alone.

(Teachers receive reams of paper on each student describing what needs to be done in terms of preparation for the next MAP test according to the scores.)

45%-65% is considered “above average” on the MAP scores and 35% is considered below average. According to Donna, the superintendent wants to ties these percentile descriptions to the performance of the teacher.

More on http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com
Joan NE said…

All you can say in response to my post is that you got a good chuckle?

Here in Sully's response we have an example of a typical response from an Ed Reform advocate when they don't have a good answer to a legitimate question:

Don't answer (refuse to acknowledge the question);

give a response that has nothing to do with the question.

Sully - it's not too late to answer the legitimate questions.

I can certainly understand why you don't, however.
Joan NE said…
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Joan NE said…
Sully, do you need a little help?

You can try these tactics:

1. Instead of answering the question, introduce a distractor. Examples:

a. name-calling

b. complain about the tone of the interlocutor's speech.

2. Say that this is what is done in most of the large urban districts in the country. Few people will know to counter that this does not prove best practice; it merely proves prevailing practice.

3. Say something like this: "While there are a few peer-reviewed articles that question this practice, overall, the research shows that this is best practices in educaiton." A statement like this is pretty hard to refute. If someone challenges you by asking you to name some articles, you answer thus: "I am not going to do your research for you." In other words, you are suggesting that the interlocutor is lazy. This challenges his credibility in the lay audience's collective mind.

4. Cite as evidence a peer-reviewed study that actually exists. Whether the article actually supports your assertion is irrelevant. The purpose here is to convince the public that your statements are evidenced-based and represent proven best practice.

5. Make up a citation: Give the mame an existant peer-reviewed education journal, and say that a recent article from this journal supports your claim.

NOTE: Do NOT use #3 - #5 if you have reason to believe that your interlocutor will look up the citations, or, in the case of #4, if there is a risk that the interlocutor is familiar with the citation, and can make a convincing argument on the spot that the citation doesn't support your positions.

[Just to be clear: my purpose here is not really to help Sully out, but to describe what I find to be common tactics of Reformers. If you know about these tactices, and recognize them, then you can point these out when you see them, so that naive people are less likely to be duped by these tactics.]
seattle said…
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Joan NE said…
Sully - moving on to a response to an earlier post directed toward me.

You wrote:

1. "Even you must agree that the US school system needs some change."

My response: Yes, I ardently agree.

2. It [Public Education as we currentty know it] is not working for everyone. Just ask families of color, low income families, and families of kids with special needs how the "system" is working for them. Just ask the special ed community here in Seattle if they think the Special ed system needs an overhaul. That's reform.

My response:

Based on my "research," I have concluded that PART of the reason our schools are not working, is especially BECAUSE of the reforms that have been forced down the throats of local school districts like ours, by the proponents of the kind of CHANGE for which YOU are a cheerleader.

3. "Ed reform (change) must happen on some level."

My Response: There are many possibilities for ways to CHANGE public schools. Ed Reform is just ONE possible prescription for CHANGE.

There are other models for CONSTRUCTIVE change.

Ed Reform's recipe for change is NOT constructive.

4. "Just ask the special ed community here in Seattle if they think the Special ed system needs an overhaul. That's reform."

I personally know SpecEd advocates in Seattle, one of whom was recently invited to join the Board of a local education astro-turf org. She hasn't decided whether to join yet.

She is no fan of education reform. She and her constituency are disgusted with what MGJ is doing to Spec Ed.

5. "Just ask families of color, low income families, and families of kids with special needs how the "system" is working for them."

I have done so. I am hearing outrage about what our Broad Superintendent is doing.

What are you hearing?

Do your families like what MGJ is doing to their schools? Do they understand what "Ed Reform" means?

Seriously, I would like to know.

Give them my phone #, and ask them to call me. You know Olga probably. Next time you run in to her, ask her for my #.

6. "You can either cross your arms and plug your ears and scream Broad a thousand times, or you can work toward responsible, community driven, change/ed reform."

No, there is a THIRD alternative.
Joan NE said…
Sully - certainly you read my post "All you can say in response to my post is that you got a good chuckle?....it's not too late to answer the legitimate questions. I can certainly understand why you don't, however."

The lack of response suggests strongly that you are not able to provide a satisfactory response.


I see you didn't need my help with strateigies for interlocuters when you can't legitimately defend your stated assertions.
seattle said…
And here is the Webster dictionary definition of reform:

1 a : to put or change into an improved form or condition b : to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses

Please folks, are you seriously challenging The Merriam-Webster dictionary and Wikipedia? Seriously?
seattle citizen said…
Yes, Sully, mea culpa, yours is ONE of the definitions of ed reform on Wikipedia.
Here is the actual link to the wikipedia definition found on your link (one of three links on the link you linked):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_reform#cite_note-0 which gives a much deeper understanding of the various aspects of reform, the various proponents and opponents over time (a LONG time) and other interesting information.
Here are the other two “definitions” provided on the link you had in your comment (I wonder why you chose just the one and omitted these…):
Education reform: Horace Mann was the leading advocate for the public school movement in the mid 19th century. People advocated for learning by doing models, moral education and the expansion of adult political education. New college formed during this era, such as Mount Holyoke. Adult education was also expanded through lyceum lecture societies that provided lecturers for local communities.
Education Reform:
The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives identifies many levels of cognitive functioning, which can be used to create a more holistic education. In authentic assessment, rather than using computers to score multiple choice test, a standards based assessment uses trained scorers to score open-response items using holistic scoring methods. In projects such as the North Carolina Writing Project, scorers are instructed not to count errors, or count numbers of points or supporting statements. The scorer is instead, instruct to judge holistically whether "as a whole" is it more a "2" or a "3". Critics question whether such a process can be as objective as computer scoring, and the degree to which such scoring methods can result in different scores from different scorers.
seattle citizen said…
and Sully, I'm still curious about how a teacher evaluation would proceed sans principal, and about what metrics, exactly, you would recommend...Care to address these issues?
seattle said…
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seattle citizen said…
Sully, if you would merely respond to points raised here instead of hemming and hawing and accusing people of being ridiculous, perhaps we could actually have a discussion.

I believe the district cannot do evaluations because they are not in the building, not cogent to the many variable and details of an educator's day-to-day practice. Do you agree? You've said we can't "fix" the evaluation system, and you would be okay with district doing it instead. Can you tell us WHO at district, and what exact measures of "performance" the are privvy to and would take into account?

WV, sidelined as usual, eats pringls contentely while awaiting your cogent and detailed response.
seattle said…
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Joan NE said…
"Please folks, are you seriously challenging The Merriam-Webster dictionary and Wikipedia? Seriously?"

In this, Sully is providing us a textbook example of how to handle a debate when you can't provide strong, legitimate support for your assertions.

The purpose of Sully's "dictionary definition-as-data" distractor in this case is the make us forget what was the original question.

IT is not working very well: I for one haven't forgotten, however, and I bet Sahila has also not forgotten.

The score is still
Sully -3; Sahila -9.

I am pressing Sully on this NOT because of the importance of the question (the question being debated by Sahila and Sully to me is not that important);

What I am doing trying to draw out an demonstration of the chief characteristic of Corporatist Regression Education Reformistas:

She (the archetypal Reformista) is NOT interested in any DATA that does not support her point of view. She is only interested in citing whatever data she can find that happens to support her view. It matters NOT to her what amount of contradictory data exist. No amount of contradictory evidence is sufficient to cause her to change her belief. This means that her views on how to best change public schools have nothing to do with what is genuinely best for children. If what she advocates is good for kids or accords with genuine best practices in education-at-its-best, then that is a likely coincidence.


This is NOT a personal attack on Sully.

This is my profile of an archetypal Reformista.

This is not data, this is not fact. This is my view, born of much recent reading and experience.
seattle said…
SC, I'm not sure how evaluation can happen sans principal? I certainly don't have all of the answers. I threw out a few ideas - that's all. I have no power, no hidden agenda, and no ulterior motive. Just a few thoughts I chose to share.

The current system for evaluating teachers isn't working very well in my opinion, and I think there should be some change. What that change is, and how it will look is the million dollar question.

My ideas set the aggressive anti ed reformer clan into a frenzy. I'm tired of that. This blog has quickly deteriorated from the productive form of communication and info exchange that it once was. It has been reduced to an outlet for aggression.

I rarely agree with you SC, but I appreciate that you have your own opinion and perspective, and hear (er, or read) what you have to say. And I appreciate that you are coherent and civil, which is far more than I can say for the others.

So - you obviously don't agree with my ideas for how to improve teacher evaluation. What are your ideas? Or do you think the system is A OK the way it is?
seattle citizen said…
Sully, it's not that I don't agree with your ideas for evaluation, I just don't see them as fleshed out. They don't seem to be based in pedagogy or research about what's best for children, but instead appear to mimic the "ed-reform" language we've been been seeing so much of lately.
You write that you don't know what the answer is - well, then why would you want to do away with what we have now until we HAVE and answer (furthermore, I believe the argument that "there is a problem" in education is framed in a very narrow way, standardized scores, so as to create an impression of a bigger problem and make it appear more widespread then it actually is)
I keep referring to your comment that you believe the current system of eval is broken, can't be fixed, and yet you are willing to replace it with an untried, probably detrimental one that a) is further removed from the real work going on at schools, and b)appears to be based on the barest of metrics (standardized tests)

And, Sully, this blog isn't some "nicey nice" "place for information"; it's a place to discuss, from widely divergent points of view sometimes, very, very important issues that effect the very direction of this country. If you want to join in and discuss, well, join in and discuss. You've only been on since November, so I don't know what you're on about, saying "it used to be so nice and informative!" but it's never been "nice."
Joan NE said…
In Sully's 2:12 post, we see the tactics I listed on display, plus one more that more that I hadn't thought of yet:

"I don't respond to your posts anymore Joan..."

[Tactic: Do not answer the question posed.]

"... because you are difficult to correspond with.."

Translation: "because you ask reasonable questions that I cannot provide a good answer to..."

Tactic: Name-calling

"..., you twist what I say,..."

[I don't know how to label this statement yet - but it is quite a good rhetorical tactic for people who face difficult questions.]

"...and you are verbally abusive."

[Mixed mode tactic: name-calling, criticizing the tone].

Sully's mistake here is several-fold.

1. There is a transcript of the conversation, and it is freely available, so any one following it can very easily review the transcript and make their own judgment as to whether the accusations have merit.

2. The dialogue is occuring on a blog, so

a) it is not really possible to stop someone from asking the hard questions, regardless of whether the person wants to answer them or not.

b) it is not really possible to stop someone from commenting and the party's expressed opinions.

c) if the interlocutor asks a fair question, or makes a strong counterargument, the onus is on the aggrieved party to defend their assertions, whether they want to or not.
Bird said…
I'm sorry, SC, Sully is right about the tenor and content of the comments on this blog. It's gotten ugly, embarrassing, and most importantly increasingly irrelevant.

I don't think you're a bad player in this regard, but you can just read through this comment thread and see things go comically off the rails.

It's a shame, there still is genuine informational posts mixed among the vitriolic, long-winded screeds and personal attacks, but it's difficult and unpleasant to fish through. I'm increasingly inclined not to bother.

I'd say the more prolific, problematic posters should write their own blogs, but I think they all already do. I suspect they find few readers there, and they post here in hopes of finding an audience they can't muster on their own.

Unfortunately, I doubt the hostile tone and monotony of their posts wins them very many real readers here either. Too bad, I think they probably have something worth saying.

Sully has my sympathies.
Sahila said…
Bird said...
I'd say the more prolific, problematic posters should write their own blogs, but I think they all already do. I suspect they find few readers there, and they post here in hopes of finding an audience they can't muster on their own.

I'm here because I'm passionate about good quality public education for all kids... and I dont like what I see happening in education 'reform' and I think the focus on teachers and principals is misplaced and a diversionary tactic - a 'divide and conquer' approach driving a wedge between parents and teachers through which to push free market education reform...

And so I post a counter perspective here every time I see something that smacks of support for corporatist education reform, because I have been aware of the misinformation being peddled so thoroughly around this town by the A4E and its machinations through the Our Schools Coalition, the bogus OSC/PR firm 360 Straqtegies survey, Stand for Children, the Alliance(Broad-Gates)-funded NCTQ 'report etc, etc...

Broad now is advertising itself on NPR/KUOW - have heard the spot a few times in the past couple of weeks... seems Broad Director Marie Goodloe Johnson couldnt get Phyllis Fletcher fired (she's been on maternity leave), so Broad is doing its own overt PR campaign... and, coincidentally, we have a KUOW programme last week(?) dedicated to espousing the virtues of KIPP charter schools...

You want to tell me there is no connection?

If I was a strategist working for Broad, these are entirely the steps I would be taking...

And then we have people here who either ignorantly or deliberately feed into that misinformation campaign and I'm sorry, but I cant let that stand unchallenged...

And in this thread, it was Sully who started the name calling with her 'trouble maker' characterisation of me, calling into question my employment record and my relationship with AS#1... she said I was delusional about the possibility of MGJ getting involved in the hiring and firing of people critical of her actions ... I cant prove anyone got me fired at Microsoft, but two instances in the same time period of MGJ putting pressure on Microsoft and KUOW to fire people make me wonder...

Sully wont answer questions and wont say who she is and who she's affiliated with... if she wont come clean, then she leaves us no choice but to assume the worst - that she's an apologist for corporatist education reform...

I dont want corporatist education reform for our kids...

And no, I dont write on my own blogs, so am not lacking in readership there and spending time here in a desperate attempt to get an audience/following ... have a couple sitting in the wings but this topic and this forum take enough of my time as it is, without diversifying - there's a good business growth term! - into other arenas...
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
Thanks, Bird, but as you can see it's useless.

This blog really has been a fantastic source of information and great place to share ideas. It's to bad that a few chronic posters are bringing it down.

Maybe Melissa or Charlie can start moderating? I know in the past they would delete inappropriate or derogatory posts.
Sahila said…
Sully said on 4/24/10 at 6:50 PM...

" Sahila, since "multiple" employers have tried to fire you, and you were banned from online communication at one of the most liberal schools in the district (AS1), that tells me that it is you who have the issue, not the employer, and not AS1.

Why not take a good look at yourself and the way you communicate with others? Why not try to figure out why you are being continually singled out and rejected?

It is not productive to exucse your poor behavior and/or performance with a pile of excuses, especially outrageously dellusional, self indulgent, excuses like MGJ pulled strings to get you fired from Microsoft."

I guess this would be one of the posts deleted then?
Bird said…
Maybe Melissa or Charlie can start moderating? I know in the past they would delete inappropriate or derogatory posts.

Yeah, moderation would be tricky. To be honest, I think even the most problematic players have something of value to contribute. Once you start trying to draw the line between the reasonable and the unreasonable, it gets mind-boggling tricky to sort out.
Online communities are delicate things.

It all makes me sentimental for Usenet. What we need is self-controlled filtering.
Dorothy Neville said…
Bird. This blog is set up so you can subscribe to comments separately from posts. I use Google Reader and subscribe to the comments. That way, when a few people get long winded on a topic that I don't want to follow, it is really easy just to hit a key quickly flip through the comments.

I agree. Some folks get long winded and I just don't want to read it, but everyone has had something thoughtful and useful to add as well. The google reader interface lets me keep reading without wasting too much time.
seattle said…
Agreed, Bird.

And, thanks for the tip Dorothy. I'm going to try it!
Anonymous said…
I am going to venture out here and try to duck any flying frying pans to suggest that we can get this conversation back on track by looking at what Olga Addae brought to the PTSA meeting last week in terms of the four tier evaluation system. This is a system that I have heard our supe mention several times.

If you can find my last two posts in this thread, you will see the meeting notes with a link to the handout that she provided. I have notes scribbled in the margins of the handout so please forgive the messiness but I would like to hear what people think about the proposal.
seattle citizen said…
Okay, we've agreed to be pleasant, could someone who thinks our current evaluation process stinks please inform us of their preferred alternative, including what evaluatory metrics would be utilized, who would do the evaluation, the research behind this practice, the research behind merit pay, charter schools, "performance-driven" RIFs, standardized, high stakes tests...

Of course, since we're in it for the students (and I mean that most wholeheartedly) all of the above factors need to reflect first, how does the proposed element help or hinder students (research please) and second, how does it help or hinder educators (research?)
I've seen a lot of general, "oh, the horror!" on here lately, but few constructive suggestions (DETAILED suggestions) as to what might make the "horror" go away. (We won't even get into my opinion about how "the horror" is inflated beyond recognition by using standardized tests and race/class categories to label whole groups of children and schools and teachers as "failing"...this, of course, is simply untrue on its face: INDIVIDUAL students and educators and parents and community members and economic forces, etc, FAIL: NOT "African American children," nor "Native American children," not "The F/RL crowd," not even ANY group. It's an insult, it's racist, it's classist.
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Sully, it seems that much of the conversation on this thread has been about the evaluation of teachers and the proposal that Olga was putting together seems viable.

There are four "Domains", Planning and Preparation, The Classroom Environment,Instruction and Professional Responsibilities. Each Domain can be evaluated on four different levels of performance, Unsatisfactory, Basic, Proficient and Innovative.

During the first two-three years of teaching, you are to be evaluated as Proficient in the first two domains, Planning and Preparation and The Classroom Environment. Year three a teacher needs to be proficient with Domains 1-3 and at least receive an evaluation of "Basic" with level four, Professional Responsibilities.

This system seems fair and is clearly defined. I would feel comfortable being evaluated within this framework.

It does seem that a conversation regarding teacher performance could begin with this proposal that Olga described in the PTSA meeting.

I recall you mentioning, Sully, in this thread I think,that you had planned on attending that meeting. Were you able to make it? And if so, maybe you can give your thoughts on what Olga and Donna discussed.
Sahila said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said…
REPOSTING, left out an adjectival phrase...

For the record -
I have absolutely no problem with the concept of an evaluation system that teachers think is fair and realistic...

And if Olga and her membership think a 4-tier evaluation system akin to the one detailed by Dora is fair, realistic and appropriate, then that's completely cool with me...

Where do you stand on the 4-tier system, Sully?
seattle citizen said…
Sully, what did I say between:
4/26/10 2:40 PM, when you wrote: "So - you obviously don't agree with my ideas for how to improve teacher evaluation. What are your ideas? Or do you think the system is A OK the way it is?"
4/26/10 6:57 PM when you wrote: Anyone who has a differing opinion from Seattle Citizen, Sahila, and Joan NE are setting themselves up for attack.

to cause you to think I was attacking you? No forget it, you aren't going to actually discuss anything, anyway: you're just gonna keep moanin' and groanin' about these mean ol' bloggers who gang up on you....Well, good luck with your endeavors and all that. (See? That was nice!)

btw, most of the other bloggers have moved onto the newer threads, leaving us to duke it out. They didn't give up in disgust at me or my views, as you try to suggest, they merely tired of our banter. I mean, c'mon, 200 posts? I'm moving on, too, because this is pointless. It's like pulling teeth.
Joan NE said…
Dora - I like the way you ignored Sully's attempt to provoke you.

I am going to try to follow this model. That is much more productive. And less messy (I am covered in mud, and must take a bath).

It does seem that Sully just wants to make us look bad by provoking us. We - especially me - fall for it. Maybe that is the role she has been assigned by --*---.

She is actually very good at this:
She has all manner of devices at her fingertips that serve well the purpose of deflecting attention away from her inabilty to defend the territory she stakes out for herself.

In short, I am going to TRY TRY TRY to resist reaching for the frying pan when provoked in the manner that Sully is so good at.
Sahila said…
Weird, weird, weird... PBS tonight, sometime between 6.30-7.30pm, a Monsanto ad, followed IMMEDIATELY by an ad for a particular grain that's supposed to solve the starvation problems on the planet (cool pics of golden fields and fields of what looked like wheat, no people in the shots), followed IMMEDIATELY by a list of corporate sponsors including at the top of the list the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation... this is twilight zone territory :-)...

Broad on NPR/KUOW which is airing KIPP-friendly interviews and Monsanto and Gates on PBS, when ENRIQUE CERNA WAS INTERVIEWING MR CANADA OF HARLEM FAME...

Coincidence or Carl Jung's synchronicity... or STRATEGY?
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