Touchy, Touchy

Keeping in line with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel had a bit of a hissy fit yesterday when a local reporter asked where his children would go to school.  He just smiled and said he was elected, not his kids, and got up and left the interview.  (Christie, on the other hand, huffed and puffed.)

Obama's kids go to private, too.   McGinn's kids go to public school as do/did most of the School Board's children.

I have always said that I believe every parent has to do what is right for their child and only they know the right thing.  I don't have a problem with anyone who chooses private school for their child. 

Of course, for elected officials, it CAN be a problem because, well, if you are talking about public education as a part of your job and you wouldn't send your own kids to the schools you represent, for some voters it might not look good.  Naturally, if you are a billionaire who is trying to be a de facto deputy secretary of education and you send your kids to private schools that give them things that you don't advocate for public school kids, that's also a problem.

I got onto the UW COE's Dean Stritikus' bad side (for many reasons - most obviously by outing his e-mails on TFA) but a claim was made that I said where his kids go to school.   (This is an issue that Charlie and I both have to bear: things get said by readers and then attributed to us.)  I had no idea Stritikus had kids or where they go to school (and honestly, I don't care because it has nothing to do with TFA).   But it shows you how touchy many people get over this issue of public versus private school. 


Charlie Mas said…
My kids go to public school.

They each attended co-op preschool, but since kindergarten they have attended Seattle public schools.

We did consider a couple of private schools for my eldest daughter prior to kindergarten, and I think we may have actually made application to UCDS, but the kids have been in public schools all along and we have never looked back.

I don't pass judgement on other people's parenting. I wouldn't hold the choice of private school for their children against any candidate for office - even for school board. It doesn't reflect on their ability or willingness to do the work.
Dorothy Neville said…
Didn't someone say that Stritikus' kid went to the UW Experimental Education Unit? I thought the point was that his child benefited from expert professional teachers well-versed in special ed issues, while TfA folk would be good enough for the public school special ed kids. I think it's been pretty clear that that information came from comments, not from you.
Syd said…
I think what our leaders who send their children to private school are saying, or at least what I hear, is that they don't believe in public school.

How are they not saying that?
dan dempsey said…
" He just smiled and said he was elected, not his kids, and got up and left the interview."

Fine example of communication skills.... explanations are not required.

So as the oligarchs know best, we should not trouble ourselves with attempting to understand their actions.

Rahm might have tried: "These schools suck, I am not sending my kids there."
dan dempsey said…

Asked: "How are they not saying that?"

There is a vast difference between public schools. If you look at school testing results they closely correlate with poverty.

Some schools have a lot of disruptive behavior that makes creation of an efficient effective learning environment nearly impossible.

Now with the New Student Assignment Plan ... the Board has not set us on a path toward "Every School a Quality School" but rather separate and increasingly unequal academic opportunities for students based on ZIP codes.

I think that deciding that your children should not be subject to attending a succession of substandard schools ... hardly indicates that a candidate does not believe in public schools.

It is really interesting to look at Betty Patu's voting and how often it is not with the majority. I like Betty's votes ... she can recognize what needs to be happening.
Charlie Mas said…
I believe in public education, but I would not sacrifice my children on an altar to it.
StopTFA said…
Yes, that is what I said. His children benefited from a low ratio, outstanding classroom, and the EEU has trained instructors that help autistic children and those with special needs. Meanwhile he pushes his rookie TFA crap on everyone else. Provides some context for his hypocrisy. Sorry if he blamed you incorrectly. Obviously, he has alot to be defensive about.

WV: "prean", wow, how appropriate for a post about Tom Stritikus.
Syd said…
I don't think it is a sacrifice to send your kids to school with your neighbors.

I live in S. Seattle, and my kids attend neighborhood schools. Charlie - your kids go to public school. Obviously you work hard to make that work. So do I. I can't say I am always happy with the every action in our schools, but I just keep working on it. I don't think my children are being sacrificed on an alter.

I have heard the "I won't sacrifice my children for the ideal of public education" before. They may not be sacrificing their children's education, but it does hurt the children left behind. In a lot of ways it hurts everyone.
I get it though - everyone is just trying to do the best they can for their children.

But I think Melissa's point was a little different: as a leader it is a questionable practice to advocate for an education system substantially different than one the leader advocates for her/his own child. It is separate, but not equal.
peonypower said…
Yet teachers who have families are asked to sacrifice their own children on the alter of public education every day. The standard we hold teachers to is that they will do whatever it takes to help other people's children, and to not do this is to "fail" their students. This is why TFA recruits look so appealing, they live up to ideal of the teacher who sacrifices all. Of course few TFA folks have children or even spouses to sacrifice and by the time they do they leave teaching. Very few "award winning teachers" have families because they live, eat and breath their jobs, and if they do have families you should ask their spouses what they gave given up for that award.I know my family has suffered for the sake of my students, and I am not an anomaly. One of the things that burns me the most is seeing an elected representative that does not send their child to public school piling more and more on educators plates as if we don't have families and lives outside of our jobs. Perhaps public education would improve at a faster clip if legislators would keep in mind that my working conditions are children's learning conditions. No one should expect educators to sacrifice their health and their family for their job.
Momma Snark said…
Peonypower, RIGHT. ON. Your comment is pretty much exactly my response to all those "teacher of the year" awards or inspirational books about amazing teachers who somehow have 100% of their kids getting A's, graduating, etc. I would never begrudge any of these folks their successes, but I feel like it is such an unrealistic standard to set. Teachers are people, and usually teachers are parents - or at least partners. They need to have a life and follow their own interests, both for their own sanity and for the sake of their craft. You have to feed your own passion to instill passion in others!

Here's my two cents about people being "touchy" about private vs. public education. As a teacher who has worked in both types of schools, I am often asked my opinion on where my friends should send their kids to school, or whether I think private is better, etc. I used to be quite honest, explaining why I believe public education is usually not only adequate, but a better choice in most cases. My kids go to public school and I can't imagine doing otherwise. I am clear with people that I obviously don't have experience with EVERY type of public or private school, but I really do feel strongly about the benefits of public education.

However, I have learned to check myself when people ask me about my opinion on the matter. It doesn't seem to matter what my thoughts or experience is; it seems that people already know what they want to do, and they don't want to hear a different perspective. So many of my friends without any actual, personal experience in SPS have made up their minds that their children are too smart/sensitive/shy/quirky/demanding/needy/etc. for a public school. I'm not sure where this idea comes from, but it is pervasive in certain circles, and it makes me sad.

Hopefully my positive experience and that of my kids will speak louder (and more persuasively) than my words could.
Stu said…
I think what our leaders who send their children to private school are saying, or at least what I hear, is that they don't believe in public school. How are they not saying that?

Phew . . this has always been a tricky thing. I strongly believe that it's a parent's responsibility to make the best choice for his/her child, regardless of how it might look to others. Every student is an individual and every school and/or neighborhood offers a different educational experience. (This is especially true now that families can't easily choice other schools in the "cluster" and there's no real Spectrum in some areas.)

When we were discussing APP with our, then, 7-year-old, we felt it was important to stress that it wasn't necessarily about smart kids, it was about the WAY kids learned and where they were in the process at that time. I believe that's true with private school too . . you have to look at how the individual child learns and try to put him/her into the best setting possible.

Our son thrived at Lowell and I appreciate the education he received there; one of his best friends, who came with him from his elementary, had a very difficult time there and ended up going to private school. This child had some social issues and really required smaller class sizes with more personalized attention. While we ALL want smaller class sizes for ALL kids, I believe this student would have ended up failing later in his schooling if his parents hadn't made that change. His parents still support the public schools, vote for the levies, and of course pay taxes; THEIR child, however, needed something different. Same thing with friends whose son in an accomplished musician. They decided it was important that he attend a school that really stressed the arts and creativity; their local public school offered very little.

I would never begrudge anyone the decision to choose private school for their child, regardless of whether that person was a public official or even on the school board. (I wasn't crazy about MGJ taking advantage of free the free public preschool program that wasn't available at other schools.)

I believe in public schools but if I felt our son needed something different, and this is something we consider every year, I wouldn't look back. I'd still advocate for public schools, donate money when possible, and participate in neighborhood events, but I would have no problem having him go where he needs to be. That's my job!


PS - I would propose that security issues with children of presidents also plays a role in the where-to-send-the-kids decision.
Stu said…
So many of my friends without any actual, personal experience in SPS have made up their minds that their children are too smart/sensitive/shy/quirky/demanding/needy/etc. for a public school. I'm not sure where this idea comes from, but it is pervasive in certain circles, and it makes me sad.

While all this is true, the fact remains that there are great public schools and there are some lousy public schools and we live in a city that doesn't give you much of a choice if you live in the wrong place.

In this district. in certain circumstances, if a school is failing parents have the ability to choose "better" schools for their kids. How is that really different than choosing a private school. You're still leaving your neighborhood and saying to the world that "this school isn't good enough for my child."

Our children have had some good schools and, probably more importantly, some wonderful teachers. They've also had some mediocre experiences and, in one case, a teacher who was so bad we were trying to leave mid-year.

Advocating for public school over private school is wonderful IF the school that family can attend offers a quality education. With the current plan, however, if your assignment school isn't good, you have limited options and private school might be the best way to go for THAT family.

Momma Snark said…
Stu, I hear what you are saying and I completely understand. But what surprises me are the number of parents who DO have good choices for a public school for their child and seem to automatically assume these choices just aren't good enough. There are lots of great schools in Seattle, and plenty of kids attend them. But some parents would never even consider sending their own kids there.
There are many good reasons why someone might chose a private school for their child. Schedule, offerings, special needs, etc.

I am with Momma Snark; I counsel many parents to not just dismiss SPS. I think unless you really have a special need, I wouldn't spend the money on private elementaries. We have that many SPS ones that are good.

It would help if parents would at least take a look at their own neighborhood public schools given that it is now possible to know exactly where your child might go.
BRB said…
FYI, the EEU isn't a private school. It is a contract service provider for SPS. And its high staff ratio is a result of it being a training program for non-certificated teachers who are getting on the job experience while pursuing masters degrees.
Anonymous said…
Well said, peonypower.

StopTFA said…
BRB, gee when ya put it that way it sounds like a TFA program...NOT. An EEU K class has a head teacher, an assistant teacher, and an SLP and OT that assist in the classroom. I seem to remember a number of aides also. The classroom size is small, with special needs kids and typically developing peers. EVERY child blooms. Without MAP testing, imagine that.
hschinske said…
I think the private school I went to pretty much saved my life, but it wouldn't have been worth the freight to my parents if it hadn't been that important.

On the other hand, for those who can easily pay for private school (or who can afford it due to scholarships), I don't think it's *inherently* an immoral way to use one's money at all, any more than it's immoral to buy handmade furniture or something if you can afford to do so. I can think of some specific private schools I wouldn't support for moral reasons, but that's a different matter.

Helen Schinske
BRB said…
Stop TFA,

The EEU a research and teacher training program. The head teachers at the Experimental Education Unit are certificated teachers but the low staff to student ratio is accomplished by the "aides" your refer to, who are typically working towards teaching degrees. Some are undergraduates. Some of the SLPs are actually SLP-As (A standing for assistant) who are again students working towards earning masters and the CCC necesarry to be an SLP. Same for the OTs.

I get that you are one note anti-TFA. But that doesn't have anything to do with what the EEU is, nor does it matter if that is in fact where Dean Stritikus' children attend.
Anonymous said…
Well, well, well. We can all go on and on about the wonderful things at EEU. And it is a great preschool and K. But, the fact remains. It is staunchly nonunion for those certificated teachers and always has been. And let's not forget that the aides at EEU are also nonunionized, making minimum wage. District unionized aides are 3 times the cost and get full benefits. We all do know that aides in the district are unionized right? That is the primary reason EEU can operate far below district costs. Yes it is also a teacher training program. This program has some similarities to TFA in that it gets very cheap, and very inexperienced labor. The difference is that it is part a teacher certification program, and most of the people working there do wind up working as teachers (though less than you might think), and that the program is overseen by the university.

At least a pro-TFA person, Stritikus, is willing to put his kids in a similar (though not identical) environment. I give him credit for that. Most TFA reform elite I know have their kids in private school. It is hard to square with that, despite all the "do what's best for your own kid" banter.

StopTFA said…
If the EEU trainees and teachers were in it for two yrs, then out to Goldman Sachs, I would say screw 'em. But they are not and don't. They are skilled with autistic children and others with special needs. They worked wonders with my child, helping her learn to speak and use the potty long after others have. This caring model should be replicated across the district for children that need it. Instead the board and interim superintendent would rather hire these unskilled temps who think they're the anointed. Stritikus has shown he cares only for himself and his image. Now that TFA has their own "on-line" fast track to certification program, he gets to rebuild the UW College of Educations' morale and reputation that he managed to destroy all by his special little lonesome.
GreyWatch said…
Gotta say I think Rahm is a bit more famous than McGinn or our current/past school board members. wouldn't be surprised if his kids had security detail. private would be a no brainer in that case.

i'll be the first to admit i used to think private school was for people with money to burn or kids with issues, and if only everyone would put their kids in public it would all work out. I now know the former was wildly naive, and the latter naively optimistic. Some truth to both, however, but when it comes to your kids, you do what you need to do and don't look back.
Just Saying said…
Stop TFA,

Off my two friends who taught at the EEU, one is a lawyer and the other is an investment banker. Not at Goldmach Sachs, but Levman Brothers. Both taught for about 2 and a half years.

And SPS will be about to "replicate" the EEU when it gets the UW funding, state, federal, and private research grant funding, and 600K per year auction/donor proceeds that the EEU gets on top of the state funds through SPS for each site. Oh ya, and only when Washington becomes a right to work state and there are no pesky union salaries and benfits to pay out to the staff.
Meg said…
I'm sending my older kid private for middle school next year.

And I should be honest: unlike many people who are drawn out of the boundaries of strong schools, or whose children missed a testing cut-off by a point or two, our public option is good.

It would be pretty disappointing (okay, to me, which doesn't really have a lot of bearing on, well, anyone else) if suddenly my analysis of budget issues in public school was discounted because one of my kids is in private school.

Obviously, it's extra-convenient for me to take this line of thinking, but someone's ideas on education should be taken on the merits of the idea, not whether the person has adequately established their bonafides by sending their kids public.
StopTFA said…
Not even Dean Stritikus' own faculty think these TFA temps should be let near children with special needs. But the hypocrisy is rampant there, obviously.

Now that you mention it, TFA should hold an auction to pay salaries for Kopp and her thousands of minions. Give taxpayers back our $50M. Give us back our properly-trained teachers.
Stu said…
I'm sending my older kid private for middle school next year.


I firmly believe that, if the board had even glanced at your numbers over the years, this district would be significantly better than it is right now. Every single time one of your "crappy charts" came out, I would think "well, now they'll see the light," and I was always amazed when your analyses were ignored and when, after a couple of years would go by and your numbers were shown to be accurate while the district's numbers looked like someone had played a bad game of darts, I would keep hoping that someone, someone official, would FINALLY take notice of the amazing work you do. Before every single vote, your charts should be required reading!

Phew . . . now to the private school thing . . .

The amount of work you do for the public schools, the constant attention to the details that the district overlooks, and your tireless efforts for ALL children, shows the kind of person you are. Having a child in private school has no bearing on that and I look forward to every chart, number, post, protest, and goat, you choose to write about. I don't know if it was a hard decision or not and don't really care; every parent needs to do what's best for his/her child.

Anonymous said…
Just Saying is dead on, Stop TFA. Of the teachers I know from EEU, less than half wind up being teachers. Who cares where they work when they're done teaching? Sounds like you have a beef with success oriented people. Furthermore, the autism experts are usually not so expert at all. The EEU is famous for hiring people with next to no experience for autistic students, and for advising parents to hire the same. True, there are a few real experts, but they aren't the ones actually working with kids. Usually, they are training staff, who are training grad students, who are training aides, who are working with kids. Sounds very TFA-ish to me. It's a long way from the expert to the child. But, it usually works well. The district benefits from the cut-rate deal by the use of nonunionized staff and by the use of extremely young and cheap labor. The zeal and ethic of care you speak of is exactly the same thing those promoting TFA claim. People trust the oversight provided by EEU and UW. Why is everyone so untrusting of TFA? Is it just an issue of locality? I do agree with you on the credential issue. Every student deserves a certificated teacher. And that is where TFA drops the ball.

"The district benefits from the cut-rate deal by the use of nonunionized staff and by the use of extremely young and cheap labor."

Yes and this is the model all American business and government would love to follow but it doesn't exactly give protection to workers.
Stu said…
Every student deserves a certificated teacher. And that is where TFA drops the ball.

This really is the heart of the matter. I can understand and appreciate every argument about wider teacher searches, more options, best and brightest, new blood . . . however you want to phrase it. For the life of me, though, I don't understand how a district can even consider welcoming teachers who are not qualified.

Teaching is a learning process and bringing in "students" with 5 weeks of training and no classroom experience, who need a certain amount of babysitting by teachers who are already overworked, who are only committing to two years, and who are coming into a market not lacking in applicants . . . I just don't get it. Reform movement or not, you'd think the minimum requirement for a district would be SOME experience in the job. And then to foist these amateurs on the neediest students?


PS - If I was a student in the traditional teaching program at UW, I would sue for my tuition back . . . at least for the difference between the new TFA program and the "real" program. If MY university was telling me that I would be just as qualified to teach with the TFA program, I could not understand paying one cent more.
StopTFA said…
I have asked that question of state regulators. If the RCW sets entry requirements for Alt rte programs, and if the UW cannot and will not count the TFA "summer academy" for any credits under its U-ACT program, why can't anyone who meets entry reqmts be allowed into the program? Why can't anyone ask that their resume be hand-delivered to principals around the district, expect a job, and a mentor to hold their hand?
Anonymous said…
a good read on Private ed choices.

see here: good read

Jan said…
Peonypower and Momma Snark: One of the national ed reform leaders (can't recall now -- Rhee, or Wendy Kopp) floated as an idea turning schools into a system like large investment banks, or big law firms. You take "dozens" of bright bushy-tailed things in at the bottom -- and then work them 10 to 12 hours a day for 3 or 4 years -- most burn out or switch by year 5. A "few" who survive are rewarded with "partnership" (read -- master teaching gigs) with tenure and good pay. From the NYC folks I have talked to in this system -- kids are unthinkable for those at the "associate" level -- and many feel that marriage and relationships are as well. They are just supposed to "defer" them until they leave to do something else.

My recollection of the conversation was that it was sort of pitched as a "regretful necessity." Q: What about the fact that these hours 12 to 14 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week result in burnout?
A: Yeah. That does happen. Maybe we should just move to a model, like lawfirms, where that expectation is built into the model!

Boy, do I hope this does NOT happen!
Meg said…
I can't be the first person to observe this, but it's interesting to me that so many people who promote TFA and are pro-reform say "you wouldn't run a business like this" about school systems.

But what business would put a brand-spanking-new-employee who might not be suited for the field (but the business took a chance on because the newbie is bright and did well in college) in charge of their most important, most finicky client, who is likely to walk if the account is mismanaged?
Double system parent said…
I've done both and will continue to do both. My hellion of a kindergartener will go to a private school and be in a class of 14. However, my older child will do fine in public school next year.
Anonymous said…
Double system parent: I am (was) a double system parent too -- and kept MY hellion in small classes in private schools for years, until we were confident that he and the public school could "handle" each other. It worked great for us!

Hellions R Us
Anonymous said…
About Meg's crappy charts.... It has become quite apparent that information presented in an extremely clear form has ZERO effect on many board members.

On January 17, 2007 at the request of Sally Soriano I testified at my first board meeting about Math. I figured it would take two three-minute testimonies to make things clear to the Board.

The Board does not get it....
(fill in whatever "it" you wish)
because most directors have no interest in getting it. .... We have four rubber-stampers running for reelection.

You would think that the "Crappy Charts" would be a cause for at least some Board Director embarrassment .... but if you thought that .... well you have not been paying attention for the last four years.

-- Dan D

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