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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Diversity of Voices on the Blog

Things are getting tense and it appears that we need to come to some sort of consensus about the diversity of voices and perspectives on this blog.

There is little doubt that the blog is dominated by voices that speak in opposition to District practices. People who are happy with the way things are going rarely feel a need to speak up and say so. Those who have concerns or complaints, however, are strongly motivated to give voice to them. Hence, our discussions are dominated by the angry, frustrated, outraged, disappointed, and discouraged. It's just the way that people work. It's human nature.

The blog is definitely here for those people to find fellowship, to get information, and to strategize together. But it should also be a source of information for all interested parties - regardless of their perspective on district actions. The District's inability (or unwillingness) to share information and the local media's inability (or unwillingness) to report on local education issues create the need for someone to step in and provide that sort of information. When that information is provided it should be available in as unbiased a form as possible.

I think it would be well for the initial posts in each thread to try to be an objective exposition of the facts. Then, opinions about those facts can be expressed in the following comments. That will allow those who just want the news to get it as cleanly as possible and those who want to engage in discussion to read the follow-up comments.

Regarding those follow up comments...

For the blog to work well - for contributors, commenters, readers, and simply as an entity unto itself - we must establish and maintain a culture that is welcoming (not just tolerant) of a variety of perspectives. I REALLY WANT TO HEAR VIEWS DIFFERENT FROM MINE. I am ready to listen and seriously consider other perspectives. I desperately want someone to challenge my presumptions and perceptions. I am really disheartened when those voices are shouted down. I see a role for the blog as a place for civil discourse, but civil discourse can only appear where no one ruins it with incivility. Go ahead and question people's thinking, but there's no place for insults, personal attacks, or making conjecture about people's motivations.

That said, civil discourse can be vigorous and rigorous. People should be ready to support their contentions with facts and logic. You cannot reasonably expect to convince anyone without being convincing. You cannot fairly expect to make statements challenging other people's perspective without getting your perspective challenged in return.

The people who post here are adults. I don't want to take on the role of censor and delete or edit uncivil comments. I don't want to take on the role of policeman and enforce some code of civility. I certainly don't want to take on the role of umpire and remind you all to play fair. I refuse to take on the role of nanny and ask you all to play nice. I don't need you to play nice - just fair.

The question then comes, how do we respond to those comments that threaten the civility of the discussion? For example:
Anonymous said...
I think Charlie Mass is way out of line on here. His comments make sweeping generalizations and assumptions with no information from which to draw. His comments should be removed. They are wrong and only perpetuate divisiveness. Charlie and Dorothy also serve up their entry with a little racism. Way to go! It's ugly.
8/17/10 8:56 PM
There is so much wrong with this comment that I hardly know where to start. I do, however, know how to respond: not at all.

Let's hear what folks think we can and should do to make the blog more welcoming to a wider variety of perspectives. I want to know.

74 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with Charlie. Naturally, this blog has a POV but it adds so much when others can flesh out topics, locate research and add perspective. I can't tell you the number of times that I thought "gee, I didn't think of that" or was glad that someone printed a link to some info.

I think we do a good public service here (and especially since Harium's blog has gone away).

What I find interesting is that most of my concern and/or ire and/or frustration is directed at the Board or the administration. I rarely have issues with commenters here except when, as Charlie says, it becomes uncivil.

So why then can't we discuss differences in viewpoints without getting unpleasant? Again, I'd like to hear why others are supporting the Board and/or the Administration because it would help me better understand what other people are seeing. But no, it gets kind of personal and I think, where did the discussion go?

The policies here have been stated and so I don't want to act as censor to anyone's statements (except if the posting policy is not being followed) or it is obviously spam.

I would also like to ask that those who have very long comments be understanding that many people find multiple long comments in a row from one person somewhat frustrating.

We're coming up on a new school year so let's make this a good place to come for information and lively discussion.

Anonymous said...

I think the first thing that needs to be done is to figure out the anonymous post policy. In looking back at threads from 2007 I see a lot of anonymous posts. I agree that having multiple anonymous posters makes the conversations difficult and also gives people permission to post more recklessly than the would if their pseudo-identity was attached to it. I think it is detrimental to the blog for moderators to remove anonymous postings after they have been submitted because it corrupts the integrity of the conversation. We either allow the option (as it is currently set) or we remove the option so that people who want to contribute have to create a username.

As for the diversity of voices on the blog, I find myself not bothering to contribute anymore because threads are dominated by a few strong voices that gang up on anyone who shares a different viewpoint. The blog, for the most part, has moved from being informational to ideological. The anti-broad-gates-reform crowd is so blindly arrogant in their belief that they have the true answer to everything and have exposed the emperor's nakedness that they cannot listen to what it is that people are attracted to in the reform movements. Anyone who disagrees with anti-broad-gates-reformers is either ignorant, corrupt, or evil.

This dismissal of peoples genuine beliefs either turns them off from the blog or makes them defensive and that is where I feel a lot of the animosity from anonymous commentators is coming from.

Additionally, it doesn't move the dialog along to declare that so-and-so is connected to Broad/Gates in some tangential manner and therefore anything he/she does is discredited. When you do this, you are not discrediting the idea, you are discrediting the person and ignoring the idea and the conversation ends.

The bummer is that there is much truth to what the anti-broad-gate-reform crowd is saying but the way the message is delivered just turns people off and they ignore the message because they find the messengers distasteful.My suggestion to those of you trying to inform the greater population about your findings is to listen as much as you talk and understand what motivates people to get involved in school reform. Find new ways to address those issues together if the current way is flawed. Telling people they are stupid sheeple is not going to win many converts.

When I first started reading/contributing to the blog I felt it was a place that I could come to to ask questions or share information that I found. I didn't find people who were pushing an agenda.

posted anonymously to prove a point

@m

Anonymous said...

I think the first thing that needs to be done is to figure out the anonymous post policy. In looking back at threads from 2007 I see a lot of anonymous posts. I agree that having multiple anonymous posters makes the conversations difficult and also gives people permission to post more recklessly than the would if their pseudo-identity was attached to it. I think it is detrimental to the blog for moderators to remove anonymous postings after they have been submitted because it corrupts the integrity of the conversation. We either allow the option (as it is currently set) or we remove the option so that people who want to contribute have to create a username.

As for the diversity of voices on the blog, I find myself not bothering to contribute anymore because threads are dominated by a few strong voices that gang up on anyone who shares a different viewpoint. The blog, for the most part, has moved from being informational to ideological. The anti-broad-gates-reform crowd is so blindly arrogant in their belief that they have the true answer to everything and have exposed the emperor's nakedness that they cannot listen to what it is that people are attracted to in the reform movements. Anyone who disagrees with anti-broad-gates-reformers is either ignorant, corrupt, or evil.

This dismissal of peoples genuine beliefs either turns them off from the blog or makes them defensive and that is where I feel a lot of the animosity from anonymous commentators is coming from.

Additionally, it doesn't move the dialog along to declare that so-and-so is connected to Broad/Gates in some tangential manner and therefore anything he/she does is discredited. When you do this, you are not discrediting the idea, you are discrediting the person and ignoring the idea and the conversation ends.

The bummer is that there is much truth to what the anti-broad-gate-reform crowd is saying but the way the message is delivered just turns people off and they ignore the message because they find the messengers distasteful.My suggestion to those of you trying to inform the greater population about your findings is to listen as much as you talk and understand what motivates people to get involved in school reform. Find new ways to address those issues together if the current way is flawed. Telling people they are stupid sheeple is not going to win many converts.

When I first started reading/contributing to the blog I felt it was a place that I could come to to ask questions or share information that I found. I didn't find people who were pushing an agenda.

posted anonymously to prove a point

@m

Anonymous said...

A couple thoughts:

I continually encourage as many people as I meet, including board members, to read this blog. It is the most effective and consistent way to know what's going on, virtually on a daily basis. Having said that, I think it best that those who post should follow the time honored journalistic credo of giving factual verifiable information first, something sadly neglected too often by many of our public media sources. Personal opinions to invite debate can follow from the one posting if he/she clearly states this is "my opinion" and makes it distinct from the reporting part of the post.

Secondly, I make it a point to sign my name at the end of a comment I submit, even though I hit the "anonymous" button to send. I want to feel that I'm conversing with people at a social meeting face to face. I'm uncomfortable reading comments from someone who's disinclined to introduce themselves, much the same discomfort I would feel carrying on a conversation with someone who wanted to remain a stranger.

ken berry

Unknown said...

Well said anonymous @1;08. Especially your comments about the manner in which the anti-Broad-Gates-reform crowd conveys their message, their insistence on discrediting anyone who they can link tangentially to Board-gates, and their overall arrogance.

People can be pro-Board, pro-Broad, committed activists in the Alliance, employees or major (and small) corporations in our city, and also be completely committed to a radically different vision of SPS. It may be a vision different than the one held by the anti-Broad-Gates group, but that doesn't make it bad, or even less radical.

Sahila said...

Rosie calls a free market, capitalist, profit-driven, privatised education system radical and good.... and want that for SPS...

Obviously our definitions of what's good for our kids and our future differ somewhat...

And I'll fight till my last breath to make sure that the Rosie (pardon the pun), Alliance, Broad vision/future is not one my child has to endure....

Sahila said...

And now, do you (yet again) want me to go back and find and post all the references where Broad/Gates/Milken/Friedman et al all publicly state that is how they think public education should be?????

Dorothy Neville said...

Ditto with Rosie. Anonymous @M summarizes well my frustrations as well. (And I have already placed a hold on that Red Parent Blue Parent book. Thanks for the tip.)

Melissa would do well to read the official blog guidelines that Beth wrote. First in the list of links. Anonymous posts are allowed, but discouraged. It does help when someone chooses a screen name and uses it regularly -- and it gives credibility to the person's voice, because one gets to follow their arguments. That was the reason Beth changed the permissions a couple years ago to require one to sign in. Then a few months ago there was an issue where someone got ugly and out of line, so for a few days, Beth changed the permissions to completely moderated. When she undid that, she also undid the requirement to sign in.

zb said...

I think that our blog hosts don't have an obligation to do anything they don't want to do, and I also really do believe that they want to hear a variety of view points. I do think there are commentators on this blog who have a strong ideology. But, I have a simple solution to those comments -- I don't read them, or I just skim them enough to know whether they're going to offer information I'm going to be interested in. That's an important reason for me to have the signed-in name.

Anonymous said...

@Sahila, just 'cause you don't want it for your kids doesn't mean that others should not have access to it if they want it.

America is a free-market, capitalistic, pro-business country and it isn't shocking that many want public education to reflect those values. We know you don't agree and you are welcome to carve out your pocket of utopia but don't force that vision on others. If yours is the right/true way people will flock to it. Again, like anonymous @m said, you are not engaging the ideas you are citing boogie men (Broad/Gates/Milken/Friedman et al all) to discredit people's values instead of asking questions and listening to what it is that they value in those visions.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm looking forward to some agreement that we separate the news from the opinion a bit. Is there appeal to the idea of posting news without a detectable bias in the initial post and then coming back with opinion and interpretation in the comments? Of course, some postings are not news, but opinion from the start, so that's another story altogether.

Should they be labeled somehow?

Then we come to the real crux of the problem: intolerance expressed about opposing perspectives. This is the line I don't want to cross. I don't want to have to police or coach other adults in the conduct of a civil discussion of the issues relying on facts and logic.

The problem is that one person's incivility or boorishness can ruin that delicate state. It can be hard to restore the status. The only response to such voices is to ignore them.

In my defense - and I feel very much on the defensive here - I don't believe that I have been a party to any indiscriminate bashing of Broad/Gates Reform. I won't speak against people with a desire to be a positive influence in public education - even if I think they are misguided. My guilt, if any, is to stand back and allow it happen in the name of free expression. But, again, that's because I won't speak against people with a desire to be a positive influence in public education - even if I think they are misguided.

I have found that all stress is the result of conflicting loyalties. In this case I am feeling stress between my loyalty to a civil discussion and my loyalty to free expression. I don't want to stress over this. When this thing becomes more trouble than pleasure I'll just stop.

I will add that creating a blog is free and easy. If we develop news guidelines for expression on this blog and they prove unduly restrictive to some, they should consider starting a new blog more to their liking. There are folks who are frequent contributors here who have created their own blogs and use those blogs to express the bulk of their output. I applaud them.

zb said...

Hmh. Dorothy's comment makes me wonder -- who is administering the blog (commenting/permission settings, etc.)? I didn't think comment moderation was actually turned on, and am wondering if the anonymous posting permission is actually just a current accident.

WenD said...

anony ken: "Having said that, I think it best that those who post should follow the time honored journalistic credo of giving factual verifiable information first, something sadly neglected too often by many of our public media sources."

This is what I routinely hear from Mel, Charlie, Dan, Sahila. What I'm not pleased about are newer posters who dive in with insults. They're not presenting much counter evidence to date. I'm all ears.

As for anony, how difficult is it for you to get a user name if you take this conversation seriously? The archives show why everyone was encouraged to get a user name. It's difficult to follow multiple anony posts. If you care that much to post an opinion, get a handle. It makes it easier to read and lends more credibility than the point you were trying to prove.

I really don't see the need for the people doing the heavy lifting here to modify how they report what they do. They've done the work, they go to the meetings, they analyze the evidence. They're doing more than SPS has done for you. You can parse it or bring more to the table. If you disagree, just don't be a bore about it. The rudest comments I've seen have by and large come from newer posters who disagree with the muckraking focus on the district. Why would that be?

Newer posters who don't seem happy can practice what they preach, or start their own blog. I don't see a problem here, but please, get a user name. If you're honestly afraid of losing your job, do tell. Just take 5 minutes and register a name, go to library, whatever it takes to let us know you're not a troll or an intern.

I like hearing histories. Which schools have your kids attended, do you even have students in a public school, in a 50 mile radius of the Space Needle? Why do you disagree, not just disagreement for it's own sake or because A4E sent you over here to astro turf. Facts within context.

zb said...

Are we having a discussion on how we want this blog to be run?

I know that I don't want Charlie & Melissa to stop posting their articles and providing the information they do on this blog. I want to see the conversation conducted in a way that allows them to "still have fun" doing the work they're doing. I have found the blog to be an absolutely vital source of information.

If there's some way I can help to keep it fun, please give me a heads up.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of information being separated and somehow labeled. Many times I have gone back to look for information and can't find it amid all the rest.
I can tolerate everyone's opinions. But sometimes not their tone. I am put off by the repeated and lengthy posts by some that add little to the overall discussion.
Posters need not respond to **every little** thing that is said.
@FH

none1111 said...

Is there an easy answer to the site configuration?

I've managed blogs using other systems (not Blogger), and the ones I've used have a very fine set of controls. Looking at the options on "Choose an identity", there are 4:
1) Google Account
2) OpenID (LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad, AIM)
3) Name/URL
4) Anonymous

I don't have access to the admin page, but isn't there a way to require one of 1-3, and disallow 4?

As far as I can tell, requiring at least #3 is exactly what Melissa is trying to informally enforce, and seems like exactly what people want to see. It provides for spontaneous, non-logged in use, where the only thing you need to do is type in your pseudonym.

Does Blogger really not provide this option? Mel/Charlie/Beth?

(I'm not signed in, but there's my handle, above)

Unknown said...

Like Ken Berry, I continuously refer people, teachers especially, to this blog. While I feel that Melissa and Charlie don't always (understandably) understand a teacher's perspective 100% (which is why I sometimes chime in a bit angrily) I find this blog to be an invaluable source of information. All the information that I have about the Superintendent, her ties to the Broad foundation and NWEA, board meetings and on and on -- I have found here. I have gotten no info, zero, nothing from my own union or SPS. For those who believe the teachers union is all-powerful and protective of teachers, think again. The union needs to take a page from this book.

Thank you Melissa and Charlie and everyone else who has contributed information to this blog. I am so grateful for your dedication, the hours of work you put in, your persistence in challenging the powers that be. It is my opinion that anyone who does not see this blog as primarily a source of critically important information that is difficult to find elsewhere is looking at it with their eyes closed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That some who post here have an agenda is not something that Charlie and I can control.

We could make it purely an informational blog but because people always have thoughts/opinions about information, it probably wouldn't work.

@m, because you used @m, you're not anonymous.

ZB, fun? Hmm, I think I found some degree of fellowship here but not much on the fun side. But thanks for the thought.

Yes None111, those options are there. Frankly, I don't want to spend a lot of time "managing" this blog. I want to get information and write it up and share ideas. If there are people who, for whatever reason, just don't want to follow the rules (and Beth signed off on this a long time ago), then so be it. It shouldn't be a big deal and yet here we are.

I'll ask Charlie about changes but that may mean you have to register.

Jan said...

I like this blog just the way it is. That is not to say it is perfect -- but I value both the facts AND the opinions (perspective) that Charlie, Melissa, et. al bring to the posts. Having read their analyses for awhile, I think I am getting a little bit of an idea of where we agree, disagree, etc. -- but it is all informative. And I usually find that I learn more where I disagree with people than where I agree -- as it challenges me to face my assumptions, etc., and see where I may not be thinking honestly or clearly.
I also have liked the input of commenters like Rosie, whose comments have caused me to review my own attitudes with an eye towards whether I have become so "generally frustrated" with the district administration and/or the board that I no longer start from a "neutral" position.
And I have learned a great deal from Gavroche, Dan, Sahila, and others -- even if I don't always agree with them.
I am with zb here. I value this blog a great deal. If there is something I can do, or do differently, to help, I would like to know, because I don't want to lose this resource.

another mom said...

I frequent this blog when there are SPS issues that interest me. Sometimes that is several times a day and sometimes months will go by before I tune-in. The discussion about the teacher contract negotiations is one that I am following. While my children have aged out of the system, I still care about public education and want to keep abreast with what’s going on. This blog is but one place that I get information and seems to be a lively forum for folks to discuss issues. I’d hate for it to lose that quality and I must say it gets far more traffic or at least comments than blogs hosted by LEV and A4E.Those two are about as boring as a bucket of rocks. Most of the time I just read or “lurk,” but on occasion I will add my two cents -like now. Speaking as an outsider there are many points of view expressed here that I read. And from my perspective out here on the back bench, Melissa’s posts especially about things related to the various capital projects are usually a recitation of what went on in a meeting , and she makes it very clear when she is editorializing, snarking, or disagreeing. For all of the “anonymous” commenters, it really is easier to follow the conversations when you use a handle other than “anonymous.” But suit yourself.

Lori said...

One way this blog could be more welcoming is if people made a concerted effort to give others the benefit of the doubt if a post is ambiguous rather than going on the attack. It would be much more productive to ask someone to clarify what they meant rather than to assume that they are, for example, racist or stupid or whatever and go off on a tirade about that. Don't we all know by now how easy it is to misconstrue someone's word in a brief post or to miss a joke or read too much into an innocently used or poorly chosen word?

I'd like to see a few more posts that start off with "I'm not sure I follow your logic..." or "Could you clarify what you meant because I read it to mean this..." The way we chose to engage one another surely sets the tone and affects people's willingness and desire to share their thoughts.

I also don't see the utility of accusing new posters of being district lackeys or Broad Foundation plants. Frankly, who cares? I actually think it would be great if "both sides" of the debate could engage civilly and constructively on this blog. I don't think Eli Broad or Bill Gates are inherently evil or that they are sitting in shadowy corners plotting the demise of public education in this country, so perhaps that is why I am more open to trying to understand their methods and arguments. But even in this post, which is ostensibly about how we should be communicating with one another, someone is threatening to re-post numerous links about the Gates/Broad/Millken/Friedman cabal in an attempt to "educate" someone who has seen all those links before. It gets tiresome that every thread has to turn into an indictment of these men and their ideas.

Anonymous said...

Goodloe-Johnson and the other SPS admins do not believe in merit pay. Their own example would be the best way to sell the unproven but innovative strategy. Would Phil Brockman have taken his new downtown position if he knew that a significant part of his evaluation would be based on MAP test scores? Would Kathy Thomson, a former respected principal, have followed her ambitions with the possibility of early termination based on test scores? Where is their leadership, or have these and the other SPS admins just become the voice for the authoritarian Supt?

And where is the board's leadership? How can they stand by as Goodloe-Johnsonand her team of newbies wastes a year and half of negotiations to pursue a non-collaborative end.

What happened? Seattle admins and teachers had worked out a positive and collaborative environment. Yes there have been issues and all the educational problems have not been solved, but they haven't solved them anywhere else, but the teachers are working very hard.

Goodloe-Johnson's leadership and negative personality has poisoned the working atmosphere in SPS. Board members please do not allow this to go on. Michael Debell, Kay Smith-Blum and others, you are smart community minded people. This situation will only end with a broken and scarred teacher workforce. Will it be worth it? Look what happened to Bellevue. Their authoritarian supt. left and immediate changes were made to soften and re-create a collaborative environment.

Please step in!

Unknown said...

Okay, so I'm trying to be objective here. But I've got to say, when you're talking about the tendency of some to make personal attacks, wouldn't exibit A be Sahila's post at 1:28?

Sahila assumed that my comments about certain other perspectives being viable meant that I held those other perspectives. Then she told us she'd "fight to the death" against what she has declared are my beliefs. Finally, she made a stupid pun using my screen name against me, making me part of the dreaded "Alliance, Broad vision/future." A moment later she asked the blog collectively if we wanted her to, "yet again" (her words) post the dozens of links, etc., that to her "prove" she's right and I'm wrong.

As anonymous @ 1:08 says "When you do this, you are not discrediting the idea, you are discrediting the person and ignoring the idea and the conversation ends."

I'm not insulted or angry about it. I don't really mind ad hominem attacks directed at me. I know they're not effective, and believe that people who make them do so because they don’t have anything substantive to say. I also know that the idea of creating a strawman you can then attack is another time honored tactic. Easy to see through, but some people still do it. I’m used to people making fun of my name – my real name is quite ethnic sounding and has been the subject of stupid jokes since elementary school. I also like to argue, it was my career for 23 years in courtrooms around the country. Finally, I'm happy to continue to engage here, even though I know I open myself up to such childishness, because education in this city is so important to me as a Salmon Bay and Ingraham parent, and because my life partner is an SPS employee with front-line, child centered responsibilities.

But other potential-posters who have less intestinal fortitude than I’ve got (or maybe a better sense of self-preservation) have already commented that this type of behavior leads them to stop posting. This, in turn, deprives all of us of their thoughts and ideas, which is too bad when you have a bunch of people who are communicating precisely because of their joint desire to build a better public school system.

So what to do? Charlie has already expressed his unwillingness to delete posts, and as one of the two in charge around here, I can respect and accept his position. The idea of Charlie or Melissa publically calling out folks when they do this has some visceral appeal, but isn’t really a good idea either. First, because that’s way beyond their job description, second, because in my experience public shaming rarely has a positive impact.

But what if we informally accepted that, from time to time, Charlie or Melissa posted something like “Rosie, contact me off line. Here’s an email address.” If I failed to contact them, I’d be banned as a poster. If I wanted to continue to post, I would contact him/her, and we would have a private conversation (hopefully on the phone, since it’s far more conducive to such things than emails flying back and forth).

As an occasionally controversial poster I’d be game. What about the others of you who fall into that category?

kprugman said...

Education is sort of like parenting. Everyone feels that they have a valid contribution and that's why I don't think you should change a thing. Teachers take personal pride in what they do, I like to believe everyone does. Ethics is not the same thing.

Its difficult coaching teachers, because having a demeanor or a sort of temperament that works with kids is not easily learned, even for most parents. Most teachers fall into the practice of teaching as they were taught and it worked for them because they made it through college or they wouldn't be teaching.

Its really easy to shake a good teacher up with a poor evaluation, when they've been so much encouragement from people who've mentored them. Welcome to the GOBs.

The anons are usually a novice user's first-time attempts at becoming an activist.

Why do your critics choose to post anon? Its pretty obvious and you've handled it well. You should expect to get some hate mail. There's a lot of money riding on this levy and you made some important people mad.

Your blog has really done well at exposing some of the big problems in your district.

The administrators are under the gun to bring test scores up. I can understand their strategy of using evaluations to put pressure on the teachers, who will put more demands on their students. But that is in a perfect world and we know that our schools are imperfect.

The evaluation process that is already in place would easily suffice. Why hire more managers with less experience to perform the evaluations? Why spend $4 million for more software when it was only a few years ago that your district finally got networked so it could track problem children.

There are cheaper more effective ways of raising achievement and certainly buying better textbooks was one of them.

Why not follow the district procedures and guidelines that are presently not being followed, have never been followed, nor enforced?

Instead of testing students who can't even read the textbooks they're being given, let alone pass a test that isn't even aligned to the textbook - lets start with a basic classroom using tried and proven methods.

The problem with my current administrator is that he doesn't have a clue what he wants - other than he wants test scores to go up. That's not exactly very optimistic, but I'm trying to be realistic.

I know what's working, but it took me three years to figure it out by myself, nobody showed me how to do it, and when I'm done this year, I'm taking my program to a different school - he'll get his AYP up - but then I'm gone.

Go Shadow Board

Unknown said...

Okay, so I'm trying to be objective here. But when you're talking about personal attacks, wouldn't exibit A be Sahila's post at 1:28?

Sahila assumed that my comment that certain other perspectives were viable meant that I held those other perspectives. Having created this strawman, she told us she'd "fight to the death" against my supposed beliefs. She ended with a stupid pun using my screen name and linking me to the dreaded "Alliance, Broad vision/future."

As anonymous @ 1:08 says "When you do this, you are not discrediting the idea, you are discrediting the person and ignoring the idea and the conversation ends."

I'm not insulted or angry about it. I don't really mind ad hominem attacks directed at me. I know they're not effective, and believe that people who make them do so because they don’t have anything substantive to say. I also know that the idea of creating a strawman you can then attack is another time honored but ineffective tactic.I’m used to people making fun of my name – my real name is quite ethnic sounding and has been the subject of stupid jokes since elementary school. Finally, I'm happy to continue to engage here, even though I know I open myself up to such childishness, because education in this city is so important to me as a Salmon Bay and Ingraham parent, and because my life partner is an SPS employee with front-line, child centered responsibilities.

But other potential-posters who have less intestinal fortitude than I’ve got (or maybe a better sense of self-preservation) have already commented that this type of behavior leads them to stop posting. This, in turn, deprives all of us of their thoughts and ideas, which is too bad when you have a bunch of people who are communicating precisely because of their joint desire to build a better public school system.

So what to do? Charlie has already expressed his unwillingness to delete posts, and as one of the two in charge around here, I can respect and accept his position. The idea of Charlie or Melissa publicly calling out folks when they do this has some visceral appeal, but isn’t really a good idea either. It's way beyond their job description and public shaming rarely has a positive impact.

But what if we informally accepted that, from time to time, Charlie or Melissa posted something like “Rosie, contact me off line. Here’s an email address.” If I failed to contact them, I’d be banned as a poster. If I wanted to continue to post, I would contact him/her, and we would have a private conversation (hopefully on the phone, since it’s far more conducive to such things than emails flying back and forth) where they would encourage better behavior on my part.

As an occasionally controversial poster I’d be game. Anyone else?

kprugman said...

Good, honest, thoughtful writing is controversial; especially when you're writing about education reform. Your opposition hates you and they will continue reading everything you write. Keep up the good work.

Go shadow board.

tg said...

I too have found this blog informative and appreciate the effort put into it, but agree with Lori and others that the constant attacks on Broad/Gates, etc. have become tiresome, make the blog feel very one-sided, lead me to wishing I could find alternative views on the blog, and end up driving me away for periods of time. It would be refreshing to read a post on the opposite side as the more of the recent posts I read the more I start to think open discussions are out the window. I'm not an education expert, just a parent with a youngster I hope ends up in SPS but I'm still undecided. Sometimes a private school (yeah with a model that may look a lot like a charter school) just seems like a better idea. SPS seems broken in so many ways and reading this blog recently just makes me feel like there is such strong resistance to change when it is not the type that one side sees as having a potentially positive outcome.

Megan Mc said...

It seems like a gentle reminder is usually all it takes to bring regular contributors back to civility.

As for the anonymous posts, Dorothy Neville is correct. I remember anonymous not being an option when I started in 2008 and then (I think) Beth reestablished it after she turned the moderation on to stop people from intentionally exposing contributors this past spring.

I think we would hear more diversity of voices if some of the regular commentators weren't so quick to jump all over people (I am thinking about the way people jumped on Fighting for Kids when he/she first came on). I would love to see us be a more welcoming community by listening to what dissenting voices have to say and trying to understand where they are coming from. Give them a chance to build a case to defend their position before slamming them with information. Many new contributors might be new to the complexities of the district and the implications of local national education reform policies. They might have complicated reasons for believing what they do. Who would want to participate in a community where the first response they get is "you are wrong and if you can't accept that you are stupid and bad". Honestly, that is how some of the comments come across to me. I'm pretty sure that is not the message these commentators want to convey.

I should also point out that it is not Melissa and Charlie (as the main contributors) who shut down dissenting voices but other regular commenters (Sahila, I respect your passion and your advocacy but I wish I could hold a mirror up so you could see how arrogant and condescending you come off on some of your posts).

I really appreciate the news and personal perspectives on the blog and hope that it continues as a valuable community resource.

Sahila said...

BEWARE - THIS IS DEFINITELY A RANT:

@Rosie....
oh dear.... she accuses me of jumping to conclusions about her and yet she does the same about me...

We have something in common - having an "ethnic sounding" name and being subjected to name calling etc... something I get now here in the US, and something I got all may growing up years in NZ when I had my birth names, which no one could spell, let along say correctly (which, by the way, is not why I changed names)...

I didnt assume Rosie was a fan/supporter of Broad/Gates/Alliance etc... I took issue with the idea she stated that a pro-Broad/Gates vision would/could be good and radical...

IN MY OPINION...There is nothing good and radical about sucking the last of the money out of the public arena... its been done with health, with infrastructure, with corrections, with the military - education is the last bastion of public spending and greedy corporations want that too... not to mention controlling the populace by controlling what and how they're taught, to make them good little consumers and uncritical, acquiescent, low wage workers, needing to work three jobs just to survive because they're tied forever to the millstone of debt their "college education" hangs around their necks, the college education that qualifies them for jobs that don't exist...

And I would fight to the last breath to stop that Broad/Gates vision being implemented in public education...

Such twaddle the Alliance/Our Schools Coalition people spoke at the Board meeting tonight, wearing their orange T-shirts with For The Kids emblazoned on the front of them, as though only they care about our kids, AND THE TEACHERS AND UNION DONT - which is what they were implying...

And as Dora Taylor commented to me on the way out, not a single Our Schools Coalition person challenged her on the accuracy of her Board testimony that they are a faux 'grass roots' organisation funded by Broad/Gates... nor did the Stand for Children woman...

This is what it has come down to in this town, just as it has in all the other major centres... those who dont learn from the (recent) past (in other places) are doomed to repeat it... 2, 5 and 10 years of standardised testing in other areas, AND NO IMPROVEMENT in academic performance and no closing of the achievement gap....

So remind me, why are we doing this again? Oh yes, because Broad and Gates et al think its a good idea - DESPITE the data...

Why would they think its a good idea if the data says its not?

Could it possibly be because its about power and control of the system, of the teachers, of the curriculum AND THERE'S LOTS OF TAXPAYER MONEY (not their money cos they don't pay taxes) TO CARRY OFF UNDER OUR VERY NOSES INTO PRIVATE POCKETS...

Anonymous said...

The anons are usually a novice user's first-time attempts at becoming an activist.


You're an ignoramous. How would you know the experience level of an anonymous poster? You wouldn't. How would you know if they're trying to be an "activist"? You wouldn't. How do you know, teachers know more than parents? You don't. You're a newbie ranter an raver. Rant on. Like you said, don't change a thing. It's pretty clear you can't. Why should anyone else.

Maureen said...

I would like this forum to be more welcoming of pro-Broad posters because I really want to understand their reasoning. I think that over-reacting to their posts robs us all of the opportunity to analyze why smart people think differently on this subject. Clearly not all of them are making a fortune off of MAP or ed software (this is a great blog-but I doubt Bill Gates lurks here).


I have really appreciated that Sahila and Dan are now using live links to other blogs to make it easier for some of us to get through the posts and follow when we want to. I also appreciate that they always use their names so I can skim their posts if I think I have heard theat message repeatedly.

Re Charlie's post at 1:47: Personally, I don't want the primary posters to be restricted to news bulletins. Charlie and Melissa are both very well versed in District minutia and DESERVE to have a place where they can state their well educated opinions. This is a blog, not a newspaper. Read the Times if you want something unbiased (ha).

And ditto WenD and (as usual!) zb and Lori.

@Rosie at 6:09 I don't want Charlie and Melissa to have to manage us at that level, but I agree with much of what you said.

In general I try not to engage posters who I think are just being antagonistic: One of those things I learned from parenting!

I want all of us to reamin civil and open minded because I don't want to lose any opportunity to hear more perspectives on Seattle Schools.

seattle citizen said...

I like things the way they are. I'll also try to be more civil, tone down the...tone of some of my posts. Part of it is just the way I argue: my culture, my voice, my experience.

Anyhoo, speaking of "constant mention of Broad/Gates/et al....wellll...I believe that these organizations (and some local organizations associated with these national ones) are doing ALL THEY CAN RIGHT NOW to influence policy and all sorts of other things. So of course it's going to come up often: It's the big story lately, particularly as contract negotiations continue.

That said, it was nice to see some people from Stand For Children speak tonight, and argue before the board for some things I agree with. They weren't nearly as radical as I had imagined, given some of the materials I have read from that group.

So, as has been pointed out, people can agree with some things and not with others, and it behooves the conversation to keep that in mind as I post. Person A might like what Gates is doing but maybe not all of what Gates is doing. Surely they have their own ideas, and I should "listen more," as someone pointed out. That said, what the Gates, et al, organizations are doing as a whole is not promising and I will continue to attack their agenda on any fronts I deem against the best interests of children.

Really, tho', things are fine in this blog. If someone doesn't like reading what I have to say, or someone else....page down, for heaven's sake! It is not my job, nor the blog's, to make people "comfortable" here. If people get bored, or feel insulted....skip down, hit exit, or respond. It ain't the end of the world. I do feel that the constant comment about "insult" or "turning off people" etc is a distraction from the topics and it almost seems planned. Talk about straw men....Don't talk about education, talk about etiquette?

Unknown said...

Sahila -- you couldn't even manage an apology for the name calling. That's pretty sad. For a moment I thought you were going there, when you drew the attention back to yourself and your own names (both birth and current). But in the end your forged on to yet another 'my world view is smartest and I'll fight to the death to defend it' (THIS IS A PARAPHRASE!!!!) rant.

It's not all about you. We're a community. People in community need to treat other people nicely. Not "fight to the death," but nicely. Not Seattle nice, mind you. Take me on on the issues. But don't fight about me.

In another thread I acknowledged my own tendency to jump to conclusions when it's Melissa posting, and promised to try my damndest to hold myself to a higher standard in the future.

I have no control over you, but I wish to high heavens that you would, as Megan Mc @8:34 suggests "hold a mirror up so you could see how arrogant and condescending you come off on some of your posts".

And to tell you why I do read this blog and like it, it's precisely because several of you made the time in your busy lives to attend tonight's Board meeting, and I expect a few interesting posts tomorrow that will give me an interesting perspective on what took place. Thanks. I value and honor your commitment to such regular attendance.

I won't comment on this thread further, no matter the bait. So now, Sahila, I guess it's time to really take off the gloves and tell folks what a jerk you really think I am. Have at it.

Michael said...

Melissa - you need to post the statemetn you made at the Board meeting tonight. Very powerful. Good job.

Megan Mc said...

I wasn't able to attend or watch the board meeting, either. I'll watch the replay on public tv but am GREATLY looking forward to the perspectives of those who made it out. Thanks in advance to everyone who reports.

dan dempsey said...

I never read the entire Seattle Times, so I find the Skimming of Articles and topics to be a time honored tradition. I like the setup of this blog. If we could get Anonymous Posters to pick a name it makes skimming a bit easier.
(or skipping entirely... I include my picture to make skipping easier)

The difficulty that I have with much of what the district does is lacking both logic and evidence.
(MGJ contract extension and approval of MAP test on July 7, most recently)

The District pays for multiple consultant reports and then goes cherry-picking. This started with the Big Curriculum Audit shortly after MGJ became Superintendent. The entire audit was ignored.

The MAP situation is just beyond bizarre. The pilot last year revealed this will not work for the SERVE intended use. The evidence found on the MAP confirms same. Yet coming out of left-field in the negotiations at the end of a lengthy negotiation process comes Performance Management tied to MAP testing.

It is really difficult to find much positive to say about BUNKO ARTISTS. (opinion)

Sahila said...

This is what I think/feel about the education 'deform' agenda generally and SPS and MGJ locally....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spQQgQx4kPg

Sex Pistols Liar Lyrics:

Lie lie lie lie liar you lie lie lie lie
Tell me why tell me why
Why d'you have to lie
Should've realised that you
Should've told the truth
Should've realised
You know what I'll do

You're in suspension
You're a liar

Now I wanna know
Now I wanna know
Why you never look me in the face
Broke a confidence just to please your ego
Should've realised
You know what I know

You're in suspension
You're a liar

I know where you go everybody you know
I know everything that you do or say
So when you tell lies I'll always be in your way
I'm nobody's fool and I know all
'Cos I know what I know

You're in suspension
You're a liar
You're a liar
You're a liar
Lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie

Lie lie lie lie liar you lie lie lie lie
I think you're funny, you're funny ha ha
I don't need it don't need your blah blah
Should've realised I know what you are
You're in suspension
You're in suspension
You're in suspension
You're a liar
You're a liar
You're a liar
Lie lie

My frustration lies in the fact that I am a relative newcomer to this country and I spied out the lie of the land (pun intended) vis a vis this edu-deform agenda almost from day one of my involvement with public education...

Something did not fit, logically...

There was a dissonance between the words and the actions...

So needing to know why things didnt 'feel' right and wanting to dispel any 'paranoia' on my part, I went digging... and talking to others... and digging some more...

It was not hard... its all there, very easy to find and it only takes a few minutes here and a few minutes there... the edu-deform people are very upfront about what they are doing and why...

So, my frustration is: if I can do this in a very short space of time with no background knowledge/institutional-historical memory, how come those who have been here for a long time and know how the system works, cant do this for themselves and come to some (note, I did not say 'same') rational conclusions?

And why do they get so ratty when someone comes along and says: but hey...what you're saying doesnt make sense and is not supported by the facts... in fact, the facts say something quite different is going on...

Have I stepped on some toes here, attacked some sacred cows?

Are Americans so deeply insecure about their country, do they truly believe their own PR to such an extent that they get defensive when an outsider points out the obvious deficiencies in their society and attitudes?

If that's how it is, then they deserve what's coming down the track... but pity the millions of children and the future they're dragging into the mire with them...

And if that's an arrogant point of view that pisses people off... well, so be it....

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/11/25/the-benefits-of-pissing-people-off/

anne said...

The owners of the blog offer invaluable information and I do appreciate their opinion/perspective on the issues and I appreciate the time they invest in understanding the district and disseminating that information to the community.

Usually it is the comments that get carried away and I have learned to skim. I read contributors that I respect, ignore those that I don't, and read new contributors to see what they have to say. I think that is just the nature of how blogs work.

Megan Mc said...

Sahila, I followed your link on the benefits of pissing people off and it seems the advise/sentiment could characterize Maria Goodloe-Johnson's philosophy too. One of the comments stuck out for me:
"Just be careful with this one. An effective leader will inevitably piss people off but I’ve met too many folks who think that pissing people off is a sign that you are leading well. *Not* the same thing!"

It doesn't help the cause to piss of legitimate allies because you are too impatient to listen past their words to find out what it is they want in change. You might just find that you have a lot more in common than you think.

I liked the sex pistol's reference. Here is one from Face to Face called Everyone Hates a Know it All
In a flash I'll change the universe
Or at least the world I knew
I'm so sick and tired of watching those
Who say and never do
You're right

And this waiting seems to last for hours
As I wait impatiently
And it's hard to find the strength inside
To be who I should be
You're right

Why should I believe the words
You're telling me are true?
It doesn't seem like anybody feels the way I do

I'm not too proud to say when I was wrong
Everyone hates a know-it-all

So I thought I'd change the universe
And the world I thought I knew
But it seems that change is relative
To what we believe is true
You're right

And really, I am only keeping this up because I care about the message that the current reform path is not helping children.

dan dempsey said...

Take your Diversity of Voices to the Times HERE

On "Meeting airs split over how to judge Seattle teachers"

Josh Hayes said...

I am both enjoying this thread and being made uncomfortable by it - this suggests to me it's a good thread!

Nature abhors diversity - or at least, human society abhors diversity. It's an evolutionarily-ingrained trend to feel comfortable with fellow humans who are recognizably in one's tribe.

At the same time, it's silly to conflate evolutionary history with what is right: lots of abhorrent behaviors are, at least in some circumstances, evolutionarily favored. They're still wrong.

But practically nobody watches Fox News because they disagree with it. Nobody watches, uh... what, MSNBC, I guess? -- because they disagree with it. They watch because they know they agree with it.

The danger here is that this blog, no matter how data-driven, how reality-driven, will wind up being pooh-poohed as a bunch of cranks talking to themselves.

And the further trouble is, I have no solution to propose. To the extent that people are free to gibber and shriek, then we'll wind up with some unpleasant gibberish, and gibbering. But, without intensive moderation mechanisms, how can it be otherwise?

Frankly, I'd love to hear someone make a cogent defense of the factory-based model for education. One can only get so far demonizing those with whom one disagrees: sooner or later the world turns and facts will out.

Eric said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog but not to the Seattle School District. I am a parent of a 3rd grader at TOPS and have been concerned from early on about MGJ. What in the world is going on here? Why is the school board keeping her, and why in the world does there seem to be no way to stop whats happening?

My wife and I started out looking for the best school in the district. Found what we thought was the best. We had busing, we had a decent Principal, we had a decent start time. Now, since MGJ has taken over we are loosing busing, seeing the start time pulled back an hour to 8:15, and am seeing the school system turn into a corporate experience. WTF!?

I cannot read everything being written on this and am sure this has been addressed before so I apologize for not reading the minutia.

Numbers, statistics, etc, etc and on and on. It's all very hard to follow and in my opinion not doing anything to get us where we want to be. And that is a new school board and of course a new superintendent. That's what I'm interested in.

We can talk this to death and get nowhere. We need some action on the Board. We need a Super thats interested in what parents are saying. It seems we need to get new Board members in to get MGJ out.

You seem to be spinning wheels here.

I do apologize that I'm not informed about what you are talking about. But this just seems to be going nowhere. Am I wrong?

So again, one more time. School Board members out that don't support the Parents. New Superintendent. Is this that difficult?

Meg said...

Rosie- I hope you, and others with a different perspective, don't stop commenting. While I don't adore being told that it's entirely possible that I'm wrong (who doesn't love to be right? Someone much nicer than me, I would imagine), I genuinely appreciated a challenge from someone with a different perspective. I think it helps all of us consider the pros and cons of our views - if we don't fall into Churchill's category of fanatic: "can't change their mind and won't change the subject."

kprugman said...

With the economy in the state that's its in - I'd sure want to be a billionaire on the education bandwagon. One school at a time.

School reform is more lucrative than selling junk bonds and in Washington state, school boards just act stupid and hope they don't get frontlined by 60 minutes.

-Russ Moulting

kprugman said...

School board reform - Plunder the school district, accuse critics of name-calling, and then demand a round of apologies. That should keep everyone clueless.

Eric M said...

OMG-so much navel gazing. Don't change a thing about this blog.

Take it as a measure of this blog's success as an information source and forum. As we use simple facts to batter away at the regime at JSCEE, it's naturally going to hurt, like a scab coming off. Oooh- facts are indeed sometimes painful.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one (or make one using blog software and provide research that folks will read)

Someone feels "the constant attacks on Broad/Gates, etc. have become tiresome, make the blog feel very one-sided, lead me to wishing I could find alternative views on the blog"?

Have you made the same criticisms to the Seattle Times and their ridiculous public love letters to the Superintendent?

Really? I personally am soooooo grateful for a news source on education issues that DOESN'T spout the money line (that's this blog, folks).

There is a ridiculous amount of money behind charter schools, merit pay, the Superintendent, the School Board. IMHO, they don't need another forum to spout their revenue-based drivel.

However, those of you who feel the need to see more pro-Gates, pro-Broad stuff in this blog, why don't you provide it instead of whining about how the moderators ought to provide it? Or go the Alliance for Education website and read their propaganda and push-poll results until you get a spinning-in-space sensation?


Be prepared, if you want to promote a non-reality based program, that some of us will want to disagree with you. Many of us believe, with some sense of urgency, given the Superintendent's freight-train agenda, that merit pay, testing, and charter schools are not the way to go.

We're not just making this stuff up because we don't like the Superintendent (although we don't like the way she rolls her eyes at us during public testimony), but because of the facts.

Facts? Facts: the state audit, the NWEA/MAP test connection, The BROAD Foundation agenda.

Where can you find out more about the facts? Right here on this blog.

This is where the connection between NWEA, a multi-zillion dollar testing company, and SPS came to light. To review, for the umpteenth time: she sits on the NWEA Board. SPS now has millions of dollars worth of contracts with NWEA. She told our school board about the conflict of interest problem after contracts were signed. The contracts were sole-sourced (there's a lawsuit filed about this). The actual MAP tests themselves were goofy in schools - most students actually got dumber during the year, according to the MAP tests the took multiple times. The Superintendent now wants to use those same tests to evaluate teachers. Teachers have responded extremely negatively, and there is a stalemate at contract negotiations which may lead to a strike. Over this.

The Seattle Times has never written a word about this enormous and slimy conflict of interest. Not a word.

This blog has.

Speak truth to power.

Frankly, at this point, if you're not steamed up about what's going on in this district, I despair.

mirmac1 said...

Sahila,

You, more than anyone else, opened my eyes to the travesty around us. Right on! Keep up that passion.

Anonymous said...

A few things, first it's interesting how all of these anonymous posters complain about what people are saying and how it's being said.

I think that if people weren't so anonymous, they would take more care of what they said.

And for all of you "Anonymous" folks out there, just to keep track of who is who, could you at least demarcate yourselves by determining who can be "Anonymous 1", "Anonymous 2" etc? It would make it so much easier to follow your comments that way.

I also read a comment about how someone wants to know more about the Broad. If you want to know more, go to their website, that's how I found out about them then I googled for additional information. It's that simple. Many of us have done all of that work for you so you can just go to: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/
scroll down the right hand column and you will find everything that you ever wanted to know about the Broad.

Anyway, I visited this morning to say that there is a description of last night's board meeting at the Seattle Education 2010 website. You might want to check it out.

dan dempsey said...

Eric said:

I am new here ...
"So again, one more time. School Board members out that don't support the Parents. New Superintendent. Is this that difficult?

Some seem to disagree. I do not.

The question for me is: how to make it happen?

Recall "5" Directors is my current suggestion.

Sahila said...

it seems that Orange Shirts are the new Brown Shirts...

From a post over at the Seattle Education 2010 blog:

"The Alliance for Education, Stand for Children and Our Schools’ Coalition, basically one in the same group at this point, had dressed up unwitting students for the evening in bright orange t-shirts that said “kids first” on the front....

...Several of the speakers were the usual cast of characters from the Alliance. Someone wondered if they get paid for these appearances. I imagine that many of these folks are Alliance staff and do get paid but that can be the focus of another article. They went on and on about how we need to have effective teachers and how the state of Washington has relatively low test scores compared to other states. NO ONE in that group mentioned anything about the fact that the school system in our state has always been poorly funded and that there is a direct correlation between the amount of funding a school or district has and how well the students do. Inadequate funding has nothing to do with the teachers except for the fact that all teachers I know feel it necessary to use their own funds to make their class budgets meet, paying for books and materials. None of these folks mentioned class size as a determining factor or poverty and how that can impact a student’s life in school. Nope, it’s all about the teachers...

...What I want to focus on briefly is how the Alliance shamelessly used our students to promote their, rather the Gates and Broad, agenda last night. Under the umbrella of the Alliance for Education and paid for by Broad and Gates money is their offspring “Our Schools’ Coalition” developed and produced by Strategies 360, a national marketing firm paid for by Stand for Children. Stand for Children, also backed by Gates’ money, apparently has joined forces with the Alliance or at least they did last night.

Here were these people with shirts that say “kids first” using our children as a foil for their agenda. The Alliance staff made sure that they took lots of pictures of these kids that will more than likely be used in their literature and as photo’s provided to the press.

This to me shows a complete lack of respect for our students and reflects their willingness to do anything to achieve their ed reform goals.

How do I know that these students hadn’t even heard of Our Schools’ Coalition before last night? Because someone asked them! One student said “I know nothing. My friend brought me”. Another young person said that they had worked with the League of Education Voters on getting out the vote last year and they were asked to show up at the board meeting. Using young, optimistic, hardworking volunteers to promote the ed reform agenda. Another student said that he was part of an organization called “Youth Ambassadors” and someone told them that if they wanted their voices to be heard, that they should come to this meeting. NONE of these young people knew anything about what they were cheering about. This is truly shameless usury on the part of these groups. And they call themselves concerned about children.

The Alliance, Stand for Children and Our Schools Coalition showed their true colors last night and that color is more of a murky gray than a bright, sunny orange..."

Sahila said...

Not looking/feeling good in murky grey, but then last night's over-exposure to lying, misrepresenting, manipulative, corporate greedy, take-over-of-public-education, retina-blasting orange wasn't much fun either! Where's the anti-depressant when you need it?

MathTeacher42 said...

For those of you who think there aren't enough different voices - go to the League of Education Voters website, the Alliance For Education, Stand for Children ...!

You'll get to read:

1. rah rah billionaires
2. rah rah consultant Arne speak
3. rah rah blame teachers
4. rah rah billionaires brilliant AND teachers obstructionist union scum.

PLEASE show ME any REALISTIC plans they have to fix things -

plans which have detailed estimates of the time need implement their ideas, AND, the money needed to pay for their ideas!

They have GREAT sound bites -

who in their right mind is AGAINST children first, or who would stand AGAINST children, or who would NOT want accountability from teachers ... AND administrators, AND high level managers, AND the trainers, AND everyone drawing a paycheck from the community to teach our kids?

Oh yeah ! How come all the people who work for these billionaire boyz club astro turf orgs do NOT reply on this website?

http://www.educationvoters.org/about/staff/

http://www.alliance4ed.org/about/staff.htm

http://www.standleadershipcenter.org/Page.aspx?pid=1331

They're too busy toeing the astro-turf party line?

They're too scared to rock the boat in this 16% unemployment economy brought to us by thieving managements ??

+++++

And about this disagreement stuff. Yawn.

If you have 2 people, you have disagreement - unless they belong to the same cult, and 1 is in charge, and the other is a doormat to whoever is in charge.

A great friend of mine and I DISAGREE about the National Football League. I think football is the dumbest, most boring, most ridiculous sport going. He has little to nothing kind to say about my FACTS, because he thinks the NFL is great! But, he's wrong, so I don't care what names he calls me!

Our disagreement impacts our lives in that we can't have BBQ's on Sundays when the BBQ would conflict with Vikings games. Yawn.

Our disagreement does NOT require me to take time from teaching OUR kids math. His belief does NOT require that I fill out MORE idiotic paper work for ANOTHER consultant / bureaucrat / interest group, none of whom have a real knowledge of what it takes to get my job done.

Are the disagreements sometimes disagreeable here - oops! Go to your corners, count to ten, and move on.

MathTeacher42 said...

For those of you who think there aren't enough different voices - go to the League of Education Voters website, the Alliance For Education, Stand for Children ...!

You'll get to read:

1. rah rah billionaires
2. rah rah consultant Arne speak
3. rah rah blame teachers
4. rah rah billionaires brilliant AND teachers obstructionist union scum.

PLEASE show ME any REALISTIC plans they have to fix things -

plans which have detailed estimates of the time need implement their ideas, AND, the money needed to pay for their ideas!

They have GREAT sound bites -

who in their right mind is AGAINST children first, or who would stand AGAINST children, or who would NOT want accountability from teachers ... AND administrators, AND high level managers, AND the trainers, AND everyone drawing a paycheck from the community to teach our kids?

Oh yeah ! How come all the people who work for these billionaire boyz club astro turf orgs do NOT reply on this website?

http://www.educationvoters.org/about/staff/

http://www.alliance4ed.org/about/staff.htm

http://www.standleadershipcenter.org/Page.aspx?pid=1331

They're too busy toeing the astro-turf party line?

They're too scared to rock the boat in this 16% unemployment economy brought to us by thieving managements ??

+++++

MathTeacher42 said...

And about this disagreement stuff. Yawn.

If you have 2 people, you have disagreement - unless they belong to the same cult, and 1 is in charge, and the other is a doormat to whoever is in charge.

A great friend of mine and I DISAGREE about the National Football League. I think football is the dumbest, most boring, most ridiculous sport going. He has little to nothing kind to say about my FACTS, because he thinks the NFL is great! But, he's wrong, so I don't care what names he calls me!

Our disagreement impacts our lives in that we can't have BBQ's on Sundays when the BBQ would conflict with Vikings games. Yawn.

Our disagreement does NOT require me to take time from teaching OUR kids math. His belief does NOT require that I fill out MORE idiotic paper work for ANOTHER consultant / bureaucrat / interest group, none of whom have a real knowledge of what it takes to get my job done.

Are the disagreements sometimes disagreeable here - oops! Go to your corners, count to ten, and move on.

BM

Patrick said...

I'll add a vote. I find it confusing to have several people posting as Anonymous, and don't understand why the blog owners don't turn that option off.

I'm skeptical of Broad and Gates being some great conspiracy to destroy public education. I think their efforts are often misguided and counterproductive, but well-intentioned. Neither of them need more personal wealth from fleecing the public educational system. Gates's company needs to hire engineers, and they would have no place to hire them if public education was broken -- they can't get all of them from H1 visas. I think personal attacks on everyone who doesn't condemn Broad and Gates vigorously enough is counterproductive.

Sahila said...

Patrick - Microsoft lays off local staff (well educated, highly paid) and hires in H1 visas or outsources... and with the growing numbers of educated people coming out of asian universities, they can indeed get most of their work done overseas....

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9126721/Senator_questions_prods_Microsoft_on_inclusion_of_H_1B_workers_in_layoffs

You will see in this link that Gates (chairman of Microsoft) is in favour of hiring more H1B workers...

I understand you want to believe the best, you wish for the best... we all do... sadly, when you go dig a little (before you post) for even two minutes (using the key words - microsoft hiring policy H1 visas local layoffs critique analysis) you will find out what's really going on... and it truly is at complete odds with what you would like to see happening...

Gates isnt a bastard - he's a business man who believes process and scaling something up (as in his field of expertise) will fix everything...

Sadly though, we're not dealing with software (that we can rewrite the code for anytime we wish), we're dealing with human beings who are each unique...

And sadly, we cant really do the Microsoft thing of launching new (flawed, bug infested) products, force people to buy them because we hold the monopoly and we've shut down the competition, and then (maybe) issue subsequent builds fixing old bugs and creating new ones...

I dont think this is a good model for growing and educating our kids... do you?

hschinske said...

"And sadly, we cant really do the Microsoft thing of launching new (flawed, bug infested) products, force people to buy them because we hold the monopoly and we've shut down the competition, and then (maybe) issue subsequent builds fixing old bugs and creating new ones..."

Er, I thought that was *exactly* what the district's been doing.

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

Yes, Helen, that's the point I was trying to make... that is what the district is doing... and it might work for software (Gates)and insurance and building houses (Broad) and junk bond kings (Milken) and free market economists (Friedman), but it doesnt work for children.... cos children and teachers aren't inanimate, static "things" (or real or imaginary numbers in a formula or on a computer screen in the case of Milken and Friedman) to be manipulated and tweaked until they produce the desired outcome...

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

Sahila, could you point out where in that article or in its links it says that Microsoft is planning to layoff Americans and replace them with H-1b workers? I read through it all, and I think you may be jumping to conclusions when you say "Patrick - Microsoft lays off local staff (well educated, highly paid) and hires in H1 visas or outsources...and with the growing numbers of educated people coming out of asian universities, they can indeed get most of their work done overseas...."

I also don't follow that last bit. If they can get most of their work done overseas, why is Gates such a vocal proponent of the H-1b program, which brings foreign workers to this country, and pays them a US-based wage?

I'm just not following your logic here. The point of that article is simply that Senator Grassley sent Microsoft a letter, pre-emptively, inquiring how Microsoft plans to go about its upcoming layoffs. It looks to me like Grassley is trying to score points with his constituents who don't like immigration and/or the H-1b program. He is NOT responding to anything that Microsoft has done in this round of layoffs, at least not according to the article you found and chastised Patrick for not finding before posting his thoughts.

Anonymous said...

BTW. As to microsoft outsourcing.... the Indian contractor call center employees are now paid on-par with US workers. To top it off, they're not as productive, have many more vacaation days, etc. Call centers are now moving back to the US. And guess what? India is outsourcing the call center to even cheaper places. Microsoft bashing isn't all that useful.

Unknown said...

I'm not getting why anonymous posters refuse to give themselves a screen name, when it would be a simple courtesy to the other posters. It strikes me as disrespectful. Case in point, the latest anonymous requests personal info from another poster, but provides none of his/her own. That seems pretty arrogant.

Unknown said...

oops, no quite the latest anonymous, but maybe the same one. Maybe not. See what I mean?

zb said...

"I'll add a vote. I find it confusing to have several people posting as Anonymous, and don't understand why the blog owners don't turn that option off."

Me too. My current solution is that I'm not reading anonymous posts. I also sometimes don't read other posts (i.e. commentors who I think are saying the same thing over and over again). I don't find a need to make those people stop commenting, cause I can just not read. The anonymous commentors are harder to ignore, 'cause you have to deal with people who respond to them, but I can figure it out.

I'm sympathetic to Melissa's desire to investigate & report and not to have to administer. I don't want to investigate and report but I want to read. And, I really don't want to go to school board meetings.

So, my offer to help was sincere. If there's actually any way for me to do it, I volunteer to take on administrative duties with respect to this blog. Give me a heads up (I don't know -- do you guys have access to my email). If not, and I can help give me a way to contact you and I'll help if I can. It would require figuring out what you guys need done, but I can maintain links, moderate comments (under whatever guidelines you choose), etc. ).

ArchStanton said...

I vote (if I have a vote, that is) that the blog owners drop the ability to post as Anonymous. Too many Anons make it difficult to follow.

It's just not that hard to post using the Name/URL option (the URL is optional) and doing so doesn't link to an email or google account, so it's effectively anonymous.

As to the diversity of voices; I wouldn't change much. I get tired of hearing the same old repetitive rants by some posters (whether I agree with them or not), but it's easy to skim and ignore those.

This blog serves as a good source for information that SPS and the usual suspects don't want you to hear about. And it seems to have the most traffic of any of the "watchdog" blogs. I would hate to see its usefulness diminished either because it becomes an echo chamber intolerant of dissenting views or because it becomes moderated to death. Surely we can find a middle ground.

Sahila said...

I dont have to bash Microsoft... their own employees do that fine without my help...

see here for a sampling of more info on the layoffs and the HB1 visa situation:

http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2009/01/microsoft-layoff-2009-now-what.html

Patrick said...

Sahila, the letter that you linked to is one senator asking questions. There's no hard data in there.

H1B visas have a quota. Even if Microsoft wanted to, they couldn't hire enough engineers just from H1Bs.

Even if they did want to lay off all their U.S. workers, it's a big leap to wanting to destroy the U.S. educational system. You're suggesting that the chain is supposed to go, educational system doesn't produce enough technically educated people, so we have to get H1Bs, so Congress will expand the H1B program? Too many questionable leaps. They could move to having all their engineering done overseas. It's questionable that Congress would expand the H1B quota no matter how much Microsoft needed it. It would be much better for Microsoft if there were lots and lots of technically educated people, so that Microsoft no longer had to pay high salaries to attract them.

Jennifer said...

I tend to actually LOOK for the anonymous posters as they usually have something NEW to say, it is the regulars (who frequently post the same or similar ideas/opinions) I tend to skip over. I feel that I can fairly solidly guess what Dan & Shalia will post about most topics. The anonymous post and the regulars who bring new ideas and opinions to the table are what I most look for when reading this blog.

Sahila said...

Patrick - did you go to the links referenced in that page? There's plenty of hard data there...

And no, I am not saying any of those things...

LABOUR COSTS ARE THE BIGGEST FACTOR IN ANY PROFIT EQUATION... I am saying big corporations don't want to pay a living wage to people (and living wage is a relative term depending on which country you live in) ... hence outsourcing and HB1 visas (where they get to pay less than the going US rate)... and which Obama has said he's in favour of increasing...

see here for a statement direct from him on that topic:
http://pradeepc.net/blog/2007/11/26/barack-obama-on-h1b-and-immigration/

You push up local unemployment rates by laying off people, giving more H1B visas and doing more outsourcing, thereby pushing down local pay rates as desperate people (loaded with student loan, mortgage, vehicle and credit card debt) lower their financial aspirations...

I've seen it in my own field... used to easily get writing gigs paying at least $75/hour... am lucky now to score one paying $20/hour... and most writing outsourcing attracts payment of 1/2 - 1 cent per word!!! Go look at the ridiculous bids on any of the international communications outsourcing websites, bids coming out of India and eastern Europe...

And go look at what people are wanting/willing to pay on Craigslist job/gig postings....

Moose said...

You push up local unemployment rates by laying off people, giving more H1B visas and doing more outsourcing, thereby pushing down local pay rates as desperate people (loaded with student loan, mortgage, vehicle and credit card debt) lower their financial aspirations...


We are getting a bit OT from the post, but it is just not true that there is a glut of STEM graduates in this country, and that Microsoft and others are ignoring them in pursuit of foreign workers. US students are not pursuing STEM degrees in proportion to the demand for jobs (after a dip, enrollment in STEM is back to 1970's levels -- not enough to keep up with demand.) Further, students are not completing STEM degrees. See in particular pages 3-4 at this link: http://heri.ucla.edu/nih/HERI_ResearchBrief_OL_2010_STEM.pdf

seattle citizen said...

Moose, when you write that students are "not completing STEM degrees, do you mean that students enrolled in STEM programs (college level) are switching out? Or droppping out?

If either of these, the question I have is why.

If there are more jobs than grads, then why are grads dropping the program, either in favor of something else, or because they are dropping out (of college)?

This confuses me, it makes no sense and if there are programs that have seats and students already, but students aren't completing, then how will adding more STEM programs help?

But really, the first question to be answered is why students would be "not completing" existing STEM programs (and I wonder WHICH "STEM" programs, also: STEM at MIT, STEM at WWU, or ITT Tech?)

Michael said...

From the post that Charlie excerpted: "Charlie and Dorothy also serve up their entry with a little racism."

There is nothing like using the race-card in a shameful attempt to stifle or marginalize those that don't agree with you.

Moose said...

SC -- going out, so I will direct you to read the link I posted. STEM students as a whole (not disaggregated by instituton) are doing both -- dropping out and switching degrees. Degree completion for students who start out in non-STEM majors is much higher. Read the report and look at the appendices at the back.

Perhaps this is its own thread? We are getting off topic and that is one of my pet peeves about this and other blogs.

Charlie Mas said...

Every so often it helps me to know just what kind of a freak I am.

I listen to right-wing talk radio, mostly because it makes me laugh (their rhetorical devices are feeble and transparent), but also because it challenges my beliefs.

I listen to left-wing talk radio, mostly because it makes me laugh, but in part to hear them dodge their embarassments.

I, personally, LOVE to be told that I'm wrong. Not just "shut up, you're wrong" - that's just irritating. But I dearly love to hear people explain my mistakes to me in comprehensive detail. If I'm wrong, I want to be corrected.

In the end, however, it usually isn't a case of right or wrong. Most often it comes down to a values-based decision. Some people will put a higher value on one principle while some people put the higher value on the competing principle. In those cases I find the discussion beneficial because it can be distilled down to that choice.

I often say that I'm just like everyone else: I make the mistake of thinking that I'm just like everyone else. I'm surprised when people make choices different from mine or have values different from mine even though there is ample evidence of that EVERYWHERE I LOOK. Why does it still surprise me? When will I get over that?

When will I come to reconciliation with the fact that I'm just a total freak. My ideal vehicle is a scooter in a society that worships sports cars, muscle cars and SUVs. I loves anime and manga in a society that finds that childish, not to mention borderline perverse. I love rice and beans, curry, and asian noodle soups instead of steak. I see my whole industry - investment management - differently from anyone else in it. I have almost no interest in the incentives offered by our society or our society's tokens of "success": money, a big house, a fancy car, fancy clothes, or opulent vacations. I love bowling, the least cool thing in the world, and I love it for the everyday chaos, for the odd and beautiful patterns of falling pins, for the safe, cathartic, emotional investment in every ball and frame, and for the fellowship and beer. The two best jobs I ever had were the ones that paid me the least: foreign currency bank teller and Shuttle Express driver. I have a surprisingly deep education in religion, wine, and baseball, but I don't pray, drink wine, or watch games very much. I have strengths that you would never guess and an odd inability to feel embarassment. I have a mind that finds anomalies and keeps details that escape others.

I'm a total freak. And I hope that you're one, too - your own kind of freak, not necessarily my kind of freak.