Crosscut Article by Jordan Royer

Here's a story by Jordan Royer which is current on Crosscut. The headline is: "In search of rational, productive talk about education".


I talked to Jordan after the meeting. I'm a little puzzled about what he wrote because although the meeting got somewhat tense, I felt like people just wanted answers and not that people didn't want to listen or meet in the middle.

The teachers were begging for someone to listen to them and in terms of MAP, why not? Why implement a new assessment system and NOT ask for feedback from those using it?

Also, none of leaders asked for help or gave advice about what might be done. If you want people to buy in or help you, tell them what they might do.
Chris S. said…
I was also at the meeting. I think the Crosscut piece is simplistic to the point of being inaccurate, and written in such a way as to stoke the flames of the very divide he is pretending to decry. Not a quality journalist like MW :)
cascade said…
Stand for the Children's tone is patronizing to local parent activists and shrill, no actually downright disrespective, to teachers.

I went and read the fineprint on its platform statement for WA and I disagree with much of it. It does not fit our local needs. Not to mention that they are a national PAC that has decided to put its tentacles into our city. Who invited them, because I say yuck. And how many people are on SFTC payroll anyhow?

At least LEV is homegrown and somewhat more inclusive. I now put myself on auto-turnoff when I hear someone is a big SFTC fan. I'm with the teachers who humorously refer to them as Stand On the Children. Jordan and others beware. Pick a different organization, even if you think Ed Reform is Your Thing.
cascade said…
Here is more. SFTC was a BIG backer of Race to the Top in WA. It proudly presented Waiting for Superman in as a fundraiser/marketing event.
And afterward its leader talked a lot, a whole lot, about the need for GOOD teachers for our kids (zero praise for the good teachers already in the system) and also about how they were focusing laserlike on election financing and legislative lobbying to get their agenda passed. The organization is smart, if also humorless and we-know-best attitudes about OUR kids and OUR community.

It is pro-charters and very big testing-as-means-of-teacher eval proponents. It says in its literature that even though Value-Add testing is new and has issues, this is no reason not to deploy widely and rapidly.

Its own description says
Stand for Children establishing an influential, independent statewide voice capable of:
o Electing pro-education reform candidates to the state legislature and local school boards;
o Persuading state and local elected officials to adopt research-based best-practices in education reforms and financial investments; and
o When necessary, passing statewide ballot measures that enact these research-based best-practices in education reforms and investments.

Here are names of its advisory team in case you want to question them yourselves.

Washington Advisory Board
Connie Ballmer, Emeritus
Laura Kohn
Jennifer Vranek
Bill Sherman
Lisa Wissner-Slivka
Dr. Doreen Cato
Judy Bushnell
Tonya Dressel
State Strategy Team
Kent Agda Burchard
Tacoma Jennie Tibbitts
Seattle Lisa Hofferber, Shannon Braddock
Issaquah Marianne Kersten
Bellevue Sarah Powers

Washington Staff
Shannon Campion
Washington Executive Director
Brooke Brod State Organizing Director
Amanda Erekson Office Manager
Anne Grant-Anderson Communications &
Development Coordinator
Jessie Hasken
Bellevue & Issaquah Organizer
Monique LeTourneau Tacoma Organizer
Daniel Morris Kent Organizer
Alma Villegas Seattle Director
Lorna Walsh Spokane Organizer
Eric Withee Clark County Organizer
cascade said…
Find more about SFTC stances here.

Also note that it was one of the participants in last year's notorious push-poll and that one of its members was the same attorney who worked to weaken the liability of SPS partner organizations passing on SPS private family info to 3rd parties. (To Carr's credit, when this was discovered, the language was remanded back to its stronger form.)

Again, know your organizations before becoming big fans. What sounds great on the surface is often not as straightforward in motivation or tactics underneath the grand marketing presentation.
klh said…
Cascade, thanks for the description of what SFTC does. It's political action and adult issues. Sure, they hope it will trickle down to real benefits for children...but none of those activities directly affect kids.

On the RIF topic in the Crosscut article, I have to say that the whole seniority issue is a little bit like the STFC mission above - a few steps away from the real problem.
They seem to believe that idea of not using seniority during RIF's should help solve the issue of variable teacher quality. But they don't talk about what you do when all the teachers are good. If all the teachers were quality teachers - would seniority still be a bad way to make painful decisions during RIFs? If there are bad teachers, then we need them to be let go because they are bad teachers. We shouldn't wait until there is a RIF and then put them at the front of the line. They need to be gone way before any RIF.

And a personal aside on the idea of a bad teacher...there was one teacher at my child's elementary school that I thought was great. We didn't talk much, but she communicated expectations clearly, answered questions directly and pushed my child to improve his abilities. Although he grumbled a little during his years with her, he did have some laughs in her class, and I saw his performance improve and his self-esteem improve with it. Turns out many other parents didn't like her, for exactly the reasons I did like her! There were lots of complaints about her pushing kids too hard, not chatting with parents about personal life details, and just giving school related information instead of a more personal connection with parents. Sadly, most of the other kids and parents "knew" that she was a teacher you didn't want. All I could do was call the principal to make sure I had put in my two cents worth for her file - but this teacher (who was one of my favorites at the whole school) had lots of parent complaints.
Chris S. said…
Also, an Olympia contact told me that while LEV at least advocated for I-1098, S4C did not. They can try to explain that one to me.
Anonymous said…
I just checked out Stand's WA affliliate page. Mirthless photo of lobbyists talking AT teachers? parents? kids? Think I'll skip any happy hour fundraiser invites.

Anonymous said…
I have the answer to Chris' question.

I think anti-1098's biggest contributor was Steve Ballmer. On Cascade's 2:35 p.m. post, did you note who the top (biggest) name in Stand's WA organization is? His wife.

Yup, let's get rid of bad teachers. Oh, but don't touch my private fortune or mess with the business establishment.

-skeptical- (and these are the sorts of reasons why)
Maureen said…
Cascade, Is that the Laura Kohn who is the Executive Director of the New School Foundation?

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