Ed Reform Marches On In Washington State

Lisa Macfarlane, who helped co-found LEV, has moved on and is now the head of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) with this modest-sounding goal:

"..a political organization focused on encouraging a more productive conversation within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform public education.  DFER operates at all levels of government to educate elected officials and support reform-minded candidates for public office."

Basically, a PAC for ed reform.   (One thing that strikes me is all these ed reformer love a new org; I'm thinking it makes it look - to elected officials - like "hey, look at all these groups for ed reform" when it is generally the same 25 people.)

There is a national DFER and it's supported by the infamous Koch brothers as well as Steve Klinsky, a former hedge fund manager and founder of the for-profit charter company, Victory Schools, Inc.   He gave the max he could to DFER but it was the only Democratic group he supported - all his other donations went to Republican candidates and PACs.

Interestingly, Tom Van Der Ark (former Federal Way superintendent and former first head of the education division of the Gates Foundation and a serious do-nothing) said this recently:

"I'm touring high performing California charter schools with Washington legislators today along with the fledgling WA DFER steering committee.  Washington is one of a handful of states that does not allow charter schools."

I wonder who those legislators could be - I'm thinking probably Rodney Tom, Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Tomiko-Santos.

Vander Ark is a one-two punch of activist/businessman for public education.  He also said that one question charters can't answer is if they "take money from already cash-strapped districts.  The answer to that objection depends on whether you think public education exists to serve students or district employees.  DFER stands squarely on the side of children and families."

That's pretty breathtaking in its arrogance.  Everyone who believes that what we have now, and what we are moving towards with new reforms that don't include charters, that we are only for district employees?   And aren't we supposed to be supporting our teachers and staff?  Or is that "district employees" is code for unions?

That actually sounds like an argument from the right and not the left and that should be a big red flag to anyone paying attention.

Now this PAC was called to my attention by Michelle Buetow (not letting any grass grow under her feet) and she and I both had gone to the new DFER website and seen the list of who was on the steering committee for the Washington DFER.  It had Chris Korsmo, Mrs. Vander Ark and Shannon Campion of STAND.  But boy, that got taken down fast and now it looks like Lisa is a one-person office.  Hmmm.


Po3 said…
I recall that SPS tried to get Van Der Ark to come onboard as super to replace Raj Manhas.
Anonymous said…
At the invaluable Web site DFER Watch, which everyone should read often, they list DFER's national board of directors. Here is the link:


-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
When there are SYSTEMIC problems, is it logical to blame and hold accountable those who've actually been leaders of the system?

NOT when you're paycheck is dependent upon appeasing the leaders!

When there is the WORST economic mess of 8 decades, do you blame those who were leaders during the last decade or the last 2 decades?

Of course not! The leaders hire lackeys to blame the other lackeys!

When a massive system of 50,000,000+ children and adolescents, and millions of adults stumbles in places, do you blame the leaders, OR

do you blame the lackeys?

For those of you who skim & comment on this blog, who support public education and who rarely vote Republican, have you EVER seen any factions of the Democratic Party effectively beat the hell out of their opponents in energy policy, or health policy, or security policy, or mass transit policy, or reproductive policy ...

or education policy?

It isn't amazing how consistently the lackeys in the buildings are taking the blame for the systemic failures?

How many teachers or principals or custodians or librarians decide district, state or federal budgets?

At some point you have to recognize that there people you disagree with, and then there are people who are

seattle citizen said…
Van Der Ark says DFER stands squarely with the children? Fat chance: As pointed out, there's a new lobbying group ("coalition" or "Alliance" or "Stand" every other day, and the commonality is that these groups have no interest in talking to parents or community members: They don't "stand" (interesting choice of word) for children; they stand for their own, ill-informed vision of what THEY want.

They're not about children. They're about their grand plan, a plan that has proven to be full of holes.

Ridiculous. But powerful - It's really an eye-opener to see how the deep pockets of those who want to manipulate policy can be used to take our legislators to California to see charters. Must be nice to be wined and dined, then come home and pontificate that one has found an informed perspective...Will DFER pay for our legislators to go hear Diane Ravitch speak? Prob'ly not.
seattle citizen said…
Here's the Board of Directors (and advisors) for the national DFER, full of charterites and hedgefunders:
Kevin P. Chavous (chair) - Former Washington, DC, City Council member and chair of the Education Committee; Board Chair of Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).

Boykin Curry - Eagle Capital; Co-Founder of Public Prep.

Tony Davis - Co-founder and President of Anchorage Capital Group, LLC; Board Trusteer for Achievement First Brooklyn charter schools.

Charles Ledley - Highfields Capital Management; Board Member of the Tobin Project.

Sara Mead - Bellwether Education Partners, Associate Partner; Former Director of Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation.

John Petry - Columbus Hill Capital Management; Co-founder of Harlem Success Academy Charter School in NYC.

Whitney Tilson - Managing Partner, T2 Partners LLC and Tilson Mutual Funds; Board member of KIPP-NYC, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Council of Urban Professionals; Co-Founder of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Rewarding Achievement (REACH).

(Note - Organizations listed here are for identification purposes only and do not imply an endorsement or affiliation.)


The DFER Board of Advisors


Steve Barr - Founder and CEO, Green Dot Public Schools.

Cory Booker - Mayor of Newark, N.J.

David Einhorn - Founder of Greenlight Capital, LLC.

Joel Greenblatt - Founder and Managing Partner of Gotham Capital.

Vincent Mai - Chairman of AEA Investors, LP.

Michael Novogratz - President of Fortress Investment Group.

Tom Vander Ark - Partner, Revolution Learning.
seattle citizen said…
Here's a link to Wikipedia on Kevin P. Chavous, co-founder of DFER, a politico through and through, and hey, he likes vouchers!

Some tasty tidbits:
"...in 1996, Chavous became Chairman of the Education, Libraries and Recreation Committee. His elevation as the committee chair coincided with the passage of charter school legislation in the District. Under his committee chairmanship, the DC charter school movement became the most prolific in the nation, with over 25% of the District’s public school children attending public charter schools."

"...In 2003, Chavous and Mayor Williams publicly supported a controversial proposal by President George W. Bush and Education Secretary Rod Paige for a federal school voucher program ."

"...Since leaving the Council of the District of Columbia in 2005, Chavous has emerged as a leader in the national education reform and parental school choice movement. In 2008, Chavous served on Barack Obama’s campaign education policy committee. He is also a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Education Reform (CER) and a board member with the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). Chavous is a co-founder and Board Chair of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a New York based political action committee whose mission is to encourage the Democratic Party to embrace progressive policies which will fundamentally reform American public education."

Chavous is a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, law firm, which represents bog corporations, and in 2005 opened "the Legacy Charter School in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, one of the city’s most economically challenged."
Anonymous said…
Blog by Tom Vander Ark:


dan dempsey said…
It should be becoming increasingly apparent to moderately observant members of the public that few if any of the Ed Reform efforts are aimed at improving education. The aim is to take over public education from the public.

Look at the practices known to be effective at producing academic gains .... the SPS has ignored these for years. The same can be said for much of the nation.

The D-fer D-form advocacy is for doing different stuff that won't work or to structure schools differently.

So the politicians can now listen to the collective voices of a large number of Reform boosting organizations that want all the Reform Agenda items .... but do not have a shred of evidence to indicate their "pushed" agenda is likely to produce improvement.

Jay Greene concludes the really interesting result from the recent $45 million Gates Foundation study is ..... the inability to use the classroom observations to tell teachers the “right” way of teaching is another way of saying that the classroom observations are not able to be used for diagnostic purposes. The most straightforward reading of the Gates results is that classroom observations appear to be an expensive and ineffective dud.

Now that "ineffective dud result" could be because the current ED System Leaders are clueless on "What actually has been proven to work".... but are great on telling teachers what to do. ..... Need an example? Try 10 years of SPS math and $10+ million annually on instructional coaches for math and reading.
seattle citizen said…
You said it, Dan. It's not about education, it's about money. Let's look at that list of DFER board members and advisors in condensed form (pairs separated by colons represent people who represent both entities in pair):

DC City Council; Education Committee;
Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).

Eagle Capital;
Public Prep.

Anchorage Capital Group, LLC;
Achievement First Brooklyn charter schools.

Highfields Capital Management;
Tobin Project.

Bellwether Education Partners;
Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation.

Columbus Hill Capital Management;
Harlem Success Academy Charter School in NYC.

T2 Partners LLC

Tilson Mutual Funds;

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Rewarding Achievement (REACH).

Green Dot Public [sic: charter] Schools.

Mayor of Newark, N.J.

Greenlight Capital, LLC.

Gotham Capital.

Investors, LP.

Investment Group.

Revolution Learning
Sahila said…
heard on the grapevine that the first of at least two charter bills will be "dropped" in Olympia very very soon - as in the next week or so...

I understand that a bill being "dropped" means that it's in draft form and is being sent for rewriting in formal, legal language, after which it will go to committee...

all of the astro-turf groups have been involved in creating these documents - chatter on the PTSA listserve is full of it, and the astro-turf group leaders have not been very shy in proclaiming their activities...

IF YOU DONT WANT CHARTERS, IF YOU WANT YOUR LEGISLATORS TO KNOW THAT THE ASTRO TURF GROUPS AND THE PTSA DONT SPEAK FOR YOU - now is the time to start ringing doorbells, making phonecalls and emailing Olympia...
Anonymous said…
Look at the practices known to be effective at producing academic gains .... the SPS has ignored these for years.

Tired old song. Ok then. Why NOT charters? If public schools (esp SPS) suck so bad, might as well let others in on the party. Can't suck worse, right? You can't really have it both ways. Public schools suck. AND We can't have a private alternative.

Anonymous said…
I noticed all those financial abbreviations, Citizen. But what's the endgame? Do these people want all the money that is going into public ed? They pretend to care until they get their hands on it? Then it's another institution that gets raped and left to die?

I can't believe the Koch brothers care about anything but money. Is it all just about money?

Anonymous said…
Put a bunch of WA education advocates in a room and every well-meaning individual will have his/her pet emphasis for moving our public education system forward.

I consider myself a highly informed, thoughtful advocate for stronger public schools -- birth-higher ed -- in the state of WA, and specifically in Seattle. On *my* list of priorities for a stronger system, charters are at rock bottom. My thoughts on charters are too long for this post, but one of the reasons for my pushing it to the bottom of the barrel is the very divisiveness of the subject itself, as well as the divisiveness that many charter schools bring to their communities. At a time when our society's ties and responsibilities and civility to each other seem weaker than ever, and the amount of work around public education on the plates of our legislators is staggering, I see charters as a tactic creating more problems than solutions.

(There are exciting things happening right here in Seattle that take the best of charter's intent, without their inherent problems, and if Melissa or Charlie agrees, or if the keeper of LEV's blog agrees, I would like to write a post on that initiative at a separate time.)

I do not believe that WA being part of a handful of states not currently allowing charters makes WA an education luddite. Perhaps it means that we're independent and a leader in working through the cons and pros of charters. I also know I am not alone in this view, as many of the Democrat legislative districts in Seattle currently are passing resolutions rejecting charters.

Being anti-charter for WA does not mean I -- or other non-charter-believers -- are anti-progressive change within the education system, or "for the adults instead of kids" ...or even anti-"parental choice"...a current buzz term in Ed Reform...any more than it means Lisa Macfarlane, a long-time advocate for public school funding, should be hounded for following her views. In fact, I am looking forward to hearing her agenda as the new head of DFER-WA, as perhaps the local flavor of DFER will have an agenda wider than just charters. No doubt Macfarlane will be happy to share the agenda once she is up and going. (It appears that she has just taken the job? I noted her move to the organization when she posted the announcement on the LEV site, then subsequently noted the involvement of outspoken activists Campion, Korsmo and the Vander Arks.)

It will certainly be an interesting state legislative session. My personal hope in the education arena is that the various voices of education advocates -- in this state, no single voice or group has the "corner" on speaking for public education's consumers and taxpayers -- can come together and make a solution for more stable and sustainable funding for (court-ordered!!) K-12 as well as early childhood ed and higher ed the laser focus of our legislators. In my opinion, other agendas dilute the funding crisis that the court has noted in K-12 and that advocates for higher ed and early childhood learning are shouting about with increasing desperation...and rightly so.

Michelle Buetow
Sahila said…
@northender.... there's $600Billion/year in public ed money up for grabs.... yes, it is all about the money....
BeanBug said…
Anyone who thinks the WEA and the SEA are not PACs needs to read the book Special Interest by Terry Moe. Honestly people (all 5 of you who seem to have nothing else to do with your time but post hundreds or thousands of comments on this blog, Seattle Times, Crosscut, etc.) - educate yourselves. Lord knows you have the time to read a book. Or here's an idea - go actually DO something to improve education. Step away from your computers and your conspiracy theories and volunteer in a school. Tutor a child. SOMETHING.
KG said…
The rich have just about won
dan dempsey said…
it was written:

Public schools suck. AND We can't have a private alternative.


Ever wonder why the decision making is so poor in Ed USA? .... I still think it is largely about money.

The "exemplary and Promising" math text series of 1999 .... had not been field tested with large samples of students .... they were selected because they aligned with what the ed experts believed. .... A lot of real math experts could recognize "crap" when they saw it.

Publishers made a bundle on this ... as did several universities that developed much of this "crap".

"Exemplary" was Connected Math Project and "Promising" was Everyday Math.

Meanwhile the UW shafted Cleveland with three years of "Exemplary" Interactive Math Program. IMP (2006-2009)

Charters are hardly a solution for idiocy .... the answer is intelligent decision-making .... Now if only the SPS directors, the legislature, and OSPI could read research and act accordingly. Really one does not need to be brilliant to buy and read John Hattie's $40.00 book.

Forget the UW ... they just want the NSF money. ... and TFA prestige & money. .... can't have Gates wasting those millions pumped into TFA Puget Sound.

Do not miss the contribution of Steve Leinwand .... who has been an "expert" advising Puget Sound area districts on Math.

It is not likely that the mainstream views of practicing mathematicians and scientists were shared by those who designed the criteria for selection of "exemplary" and "promising" mathematics curricula. For example, the strong views about arithmetic algorithms expressed by one of the Expert Panel members, Steven Leinwand, are not widely held within the mathematics and scientific communities. In an article entitled, "It's Time To Abandon Computational Algorithms," published February 9, 1994, in Education Week on the Web, he wrote:

"It's time to recognize that, for many students, real mathematical power, on the one hand, and facility with multidigit, pencil-and-paper computational algorithms, on the other, are mutually exclusive. In fact, it's time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive and downright dangerous."
{{{ Honest .. I am not making this stuff up .... these are beliefs held by the "experts" that many heed .... little wonder we have an enormous math mess. }}}

In sharp contrast, a committee of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), formed for the purpose of representing the views of the AMS to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, published a report which stressed the mathematical significance of the arithmetic algorithms, as well as addressing other mathematical issues. This report, published in the February 1998 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, includes the statement:

"We would like to emphasize that the standard algorithms of arithmetic are more than just 'ways to get the answer' -- that is, they have theoretical as well as practical significance. For one thing, all the algorithms of arithmetic are preparatory for algebra, since there are (again, not by accident, but by virtue of the construction of the decimal system) strong analogies between arithmetic of ordinary numbers and arithmetic of polynomials."

..... Good Luck kids and good luck nation.
Sahila said…
there are issues around student privacy with ed deform; Gates and Murdoch have managed to win the right to create a database that tracks every child from preschool into the workforce...

meanwhile, here's a piece about FERPA: CHANGES MADE TO FERPA
Anonymous said…
It's really nice to see establishment types like Bean Bug finally taking the time to sign in and publicly (if anonymously)criticize people who are working hard for better schools in Seattle. And, yes, keeping an eye on the pointless crusade for charter schools (which have had so-so results elsewhere and are more of a placebo than a cure) is a good use of people's time in addition to volunteering in schools, coaching kids, working on school board campaigns, etc. Remember, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you (Hi Bean Bug!) and then you win.

Anonymous said…
BeanBug, Let's get this straight: It is OK for people like Korsmo and Campion and Vanderark to spend all their time talking about their brand of reform in fact to get paid to do so but if the people on this blog do the same in public arenas like the press then they are a pox on the system?

With friends of democracy like you this nation sure does not need any enemies. These people are very involved in their schools and do many of us a great service in the information they provide, which is poured out here straight up not whispered in some venture capitalist charter school shill's boardroom or by sidling into some backroom in Olympia or infiltrating the ptsa.
"Power to the Little People"
Anonymous said…
it's worse than you think, Power to the Little People. Check out today's Tacoma News Tribune where Frank Ordway, the LEV lobbyist, makes his big charter play. Frank is alsothe lobbyist for seattle schools in Olympia i've heard. but no, no conspiracy going on. no sireeeeee. no group of "select" citizens trying to run the state for us ordinary voters. shut up Melissa and charlie and the rest of you. let the lobbyists handle things.

Jim Katsama, a democrat from south puget sound, also says he is pro charter. i think he is trying to run for some other state office and probably wants the Republican votes. he won't be getting progressive democrat votes.

news reader
Anonymous said…
From "The Emperor Has Zero Clothes":

What a mistake for Mac Farlane to join forces with VanDerArk one of the bigger self-promoters in ed reformland. You can fool lots of the people lots of the time but you can't fool the New York Times.

This article makes short work of VanDerArk's charter 'genius' and needs to go to each state legislator and staff in Washington. Pass it on, as it was passed to me. It documents everything wrong with thinktanky reform blowhards who want to 'fix' Washington Education.

Quote from the article, which has generated knowing laughs from many owners of Seattle email inboxes this fall, says, “He’s flying 30,000 feet on the air, but can’t do it on the ground,”. It also talks about former partners cursing him.

Sounds a hell of a lot like Her Departedness Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

BeanBug: I'll take a bunch of bloggers and some critical thinking over VanDerArk's Management Consultant M.O. (B.S. is more like it) any day. These Corporate Reform people are full of it. Charters are not the answer. Just a moneymaker for people like VanDerArk.
Charlie Mas said…
Here is some good news!

The 37th District Democrats voted and adopted a resolution to oppose Charter School legislation.

Moreover, they voted to censure any of their representatives who sponsored, supported, or voted in favor of charter school legislation.

The democratic legislators from the 37th are Eric Pettigrew, Sharon Tomiko Santos and Adam Kline.
Jack Whelan said…
Excellent article in the Nation (h/t Dora T.) about online profit charters. Our friend Vander Ark gets some ink. Key graf:

"Vander Ark, a former executive director of education at the influential Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, now lobbies all over the country for the online course requirement. Like Moe, he keeps one foot in the philanthropic world and another in business. He sits on the board of advisors of Democrats for Education Reform and is partner to an education-tech venture capital company, Learn Capital. Learn Capital counts AdvancePath Academics, which offers online coursework for students at risk of dropping out, as part of its investment portfolio. When Vander Ark touts online course requirements, it is difficult to discern whether he is selling a product that could benefit his investments or genuinely believes in the virtue of the idea."


Walrus said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan dempsey said…
Above I mentioned what Jay Greene found by actually examining the data from the Gates Foundation study, which made claims about teacher evaluations.

Jay found that Vicki Phillips was spinning the truth .... her message did not align with the facts.

Here is a Times article reporting on what Phillips had to say.

Here are Jay's responses debunking the Phillips propaganda: ONE "How the Gates Foundation Spins its Research" and TWO Anticipating Responses from Gates.

If you check the Districts used in the Gates report .... most are big on School Reform ... little wonder that the teacher evaluations did not correspond well with actual student performance on tests ..... The Ed Reformers are detached from the truth and reality in most cases...... Evaluation is yet another case.

Have Science teachers work as a team to develop science instructional improvements and have them to the evaluating to improve practice .... the Top Down edicts from JSCEE and then passed to building Admin are not effective and certainly not eficient.

The Times reports: Higher-ed woes tied to state 'leadership vacuum'.

Seaquist, the higher-ed committee chairman, described the state as "undereducated" and called for "a radical and rapid increase in total education productivity."

Education Productivity is missing in action in Seattle's k-12 program because of a Leadership Vacuum.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
Anonymous said…
Jack Whelan.... wrote...

When Vander Ark touts online course requirements, it is difficult to discern whether he is selling a product that could benefit his investments or genuinely believes in the virtue of the idea.

What we do know is that the failure to complete courses is much higher for online courses .... but a lot of $$$$ is being tossed at online courses.

--- ThrowMyMoneyAway
Anonymous said…
Seattle’s 37th District Democrats Pass Anti-Charter Resolution

Let's see what Pettigrew and Tomika do now.

"..establishment types like Bean Bug.."

Wait a minute. First of all, no one know that who anyone is except those who sign their real names. This person is entitled to their opinion without everyone jumping down their throat. (This is the one major complaint I hear about this blog. Yes, we are passionate about the way we feel but we have to allow that for others without stomping on them.)

Second, we do NOT out anyone on this blog no matter how certain you are who someone is. Those who want to remain anonymous have that right and I do not want to see anyone interfering with that ability.

That said, Bean Bug, you honestly think no one here is volunteering at their schools? C'mon. That's an old argument and a cheap shot.
dan dempsey said…
It seems to me that if Mr. Vander Ark's online courses were good to excellent that online courses' taken would increase through demand ..... but NO ... He wants students mandated to take an online course or two. .........

When the supply is looking for some demand ..... using legislation to require increased demand ..... is a hallmark of a poor product.

Idaho is a little state ... so I guess decision-makers there are easy to fool.
Sahila said…
creating a meme:

Twitter campaign:

Time to apply the hashtags #MrRuddyPants & #MsRuddyPants to all the people working to keep $$$, power and control at the top of the pyramid, for their own benefit and to the detriment of everyone else and the planet... for example: #oligarchs = #MrRuddyPants, #BROADFoundation = #MrRudyPants, #Monsanto = #MrRudyPants etc....

People will say this is childish.... but it makes a point re calling it for what it is, while still being relatively light-hearted, kinda humourous....

#edreform = #MrRudyPants
#charterschools = #MrRudyPants
#LEV = #MrRudyPants
#A4E = #MrRudyPants
#S4C = #MrRudyPants
#DFER = #MrRudyPants
#OSC = #MrRudyPants
#CommunityValuesStatement = #MrRudyPants
Anonymous said…
The links provided in this discussion are invaluable. Thank you. I just finished reading

1. The New York Times article cited by "Emperor Has Zero Clothes" on Vanderark. Extremely troubling.

2. The Nation article cited by Whelan. Again, very troubling.

Read the articles for yourselves. Unfortunately I agree with those who believe the opportunity to make a buck underlies a lot of motive here.

I hope charter school doubters are calling their legislators. No doubt the would-be profiteers have been doing so for months.

Educated Voter
Josh Hayes said…
I've asked a number of charter proponents a simple question that none of them can answer: What could a charter school do in Seattle that an alternative school can't? Don't we get the benefits of flexibility and innovation with Thornton Creek and Orca and [your alt school here]?

Seriously. What benefits might we see from charters that we don't already have?
Anonymous said…
Head hurting.

Just read another link in this thread supplied by "FYI." It is Tom Vanderark's blog. What is featured on Vanderark's blog? Chris Korsmo's own blog from the LEV website.

Is it true that a handful of people are setting the Washington reform agenda for the rest of us? That's what it looks like.

Korsmo. Vanderark. Campion. Macfarlane. Ordway (another name new to me until this thread.) All these people and their organizations circle back to >> themselves. And other organizations run by themselves.

Can someone build a chart or something? The picture I am seeing - THANK YOU Save Seattle Schools Blog for supplying this forum - is definitely bothering me.
Sahila said…
Using the new Twitter meme #MrRudyPants #MsRudyPants is like standing in the streets, pointing/laughing at the oligarchs - calling the BS, thumbing our noses at the bullies, taking our power back ....

its childish, AND its funny AND it makes several points on various levels...
Sahila said…
@head hurting....

Some of us worked on two lines of influence diagrams about two years ago...

one for the national scene and one for the Seattle situation...

they need updating now, but are still helpful...

Lines Of Influence in Education Reform

you can find them here:
dan dempsey said…
WoW!!! Check out this on Vander Ark's blog ... a defense of the Pearson Foundation's influence peddling.... Oh my gosh that nasty nasty NY Times reporter is at it again.
Anonymous said…
Keep up the good work folks. This blog speaks for enough people to make a difference, so Hail Democracy!

Watch Pettigrew & Santos. Last year Pettigrew sponsored Stand for Children's pre-printed legislative package without knowing a damn thing about it, what it did, or why it was needed. Pettigrew was interviewed by KUOW about it, and weakly deferred to Stand for Children's Campion, letting her do all the talking as he sat their dumb-founded and ignorant. Not his best moment. I'm sure it's in the KUOW archives.

Hopefully he's enlightened himself, or been enlightened since then, we can hope. But we gotta watch our state reps and get both sides of the story into their ears before they get brainwashed and bribed by the reformers. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
@Head Hurting: It gets worse.

There is a survey about the "A+ Washington Project", sponsored by "Excellent Schools Now" making the rounds. The survey appears to be a way to gather support for a number of reformie ideas. Guess what is the first idea presented? Charters! What a surprise! (Go take the survey!!!)

Excellent Schools Now is a long list of respected groups, but lurking within, just like last year's fake grassroots Our Schools Coalition, is that core duo of reformies - Korsmo and Campion.

This is not a conspiracy theory. This is teachers doing their research, so read on:

The Excellent Schools Now site does not own up to who is driving the organization. But over on the Partnership for Learning site, it says that Excellent Schools Now is lead by LEV (Korsmo!)and Stand for Children (Campion!) and the Partnership for Learning.

The Partnership for Learning group appears to be a regional business counterpart to Seattle's business group Alliance for Education.

In summary,
1) Know who the players are. Follow links on Corporate Reform websites.
2) Recognize that the core of these overlapping circles boils down to just a couple of people, apparently acting like Oz behind the curtain. It is Korsmo and Campion. The curtain is an extremely liberal shower of Gates $$$$.
3)The Washington reform movement is supported by a whole bunch of business people who like to think that they can improve classrooms because -hey! they went to school too!! and clearly, being successful in business means you know how to run public education!!
4) Educate your legislators and school board members. The direction of our public school system needs the voice of teachers, principals and parents. Not corporations and paid lobbyists.
5) Beware of Vander Ark. Great self-promoter. #snakeoil.

cascade said…
12:20 Ross Reynolds on KUOW is about to talk about charters. Call in.
cascade said…
Love KUOW, minus their firing of Cliff Mas.

This is the call-in number: 206.543.5869 (800.289.5869)

Just got an email saying that Publicola has a conversation on the same topic under the headline Most Democrats Will Cringe. Here is the link

Interesting conversations all over the place.
Anonymous said…
Zero mention of charters from Gov. Gregoire in today's state of the union education reform proposals.


Educated Voter
dw said…
Sahila said: there are issues around student privacy with ed deform; Gates and Murdoch have managed to win the right to create a database that tracks every child from preschool into the workforce...

Thanks for the reminder on the slow but constant evisceration of student privacy. This topic is not getting nearly enough attention, and it will be very, very difficult to undo once started.

I think this article JC posted recently was better, getting right to the relevant points without pussyfooting around:

How the Feds are Tracking Your Kid

Parents, you need to look carefully at those packets that come home at the beginning of every year and consider opting out of a bunch, if not all, of it. That won't take care of everything, but it's a step in the right direction.
Anonymous said…
Josh I'd answer your question this way. What do you think AS1 would look like with much more autonomy, or at least as much autonomy as the average charter school has? What would their materials look like? Would they use EDM and CMP? NSF science kits? Writers workshop? Would the middle school start later? Would AS1 be all city draw? Would they use grades on report cards in middle school? Would they select teachers in a different way? Would they select a principal in a different way?

These are some of the freedoms that charter schools have, that at this point, our publics do not. Not saying that our publics can't have this too, but at this point they don't, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Lori said…
Sorry, but where is the link that shows that Gates and Murdoch are leading some sort of national student database effort? I didn't see support for that statement at Sahila's like or dw's link.

From what I do know about the DOE effort to incentivize states to capture detailed longitudinal data on students, I actually think it's a pretty good idea. Isn't one of the mantras around here that to improve a system, one needs to intelligently apply relevant data? Well, that all starts with having relevant data.

As someone who's spent her career in medical research, I'm often frustrated that we can't do better epidemiologic studies here in the US. Unfortunately, we're hamstrung by our disjointed health care system and lack of national databases. Countries with universal health care generally have the appropriate sort of data and are therefore way ahead of us in this area. It's really a shame.

If I were a social sciences researcher trying to tease out how to improve student outcomes, access to a longitudinal database with not only student outcomes but also all of the socioeconomic variables that might affect learning and therefore need to be part of my regression analysis sure seems like a fantastic idea. As long as data are redacted to remove specific identifiers before being provided to researchers, I'm having trouble seeing why this is a bad thing.
Sahila said…
@FBF - AS#1 already has all of those options, under policy C54.00... or it would if the District/Board would honour its own commitments...
Sahila said…

My point is that Gates and Murdoch - two of the biggest players in the ed deform arena - will now have access to data they can use for their own profit-making and policy-creating activities/agendas...

and you could go and find the details/link yourself you know - its not hard to find on Google...
dan dempsey said…
Reform from WA DC Marches on in three states ... NY, Hawaii, and Florida

U.S. Faults State’s Progress on Race to the Top Goals ....

See Arne D push around those RttT winners. The Ed Reformers love this approach.

Guess WA needs charters so WA can be one more of Arne's lap dogs.
Anonymous said…
@BeanBug: You're comparing (or confusing) direct action with policy debate. Both are valuable and necessary, without being mutually exclusive. How about if you do as you see fit and let the bloggers do the same. Fair enough? WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Nice work Teacher&Voter. Time for SeattleEd2010 to update their "lines of influence in Ed Reform" drawing to show the regional and local strings.

BTW - The Center for Reinventing Ed has been on Pro-Charter-Full-Throttle for the last several months. I'm on the e-mail lists and by now, I'd think God himself blessed Charters if all I relied on was Lake, Hill and the rest of the Ed-Deform hacks at UW-Bothell. WSDWG
WSDWG, agreed. I'm on their e-mail list and all I can think is that they are just some sub-group that Gates uses for their charter research. I'm not sure they do much else (or if they do, they don't broadcast it much).
CT said…
We usually refer to anything coming out of the CRPE as CRAP....
Anonymous said…
Since they did away with summer school and night school for credit retrieval as of this year, the only way for students who have failed a course is to take it again online. The approved online choice for two SPS high schools is K12. Headed by Board of Directors named Tisch and Packard, senior managed by guys from business, marketing and finance backgrounds, and charging our failing students $334 a class. They have an online credit retrieval counselor onsite at both high schools one day a week (who I think is an SPS employee if having a district email address is any indication). I was inquiring about online health for my student, and she directed me to Aventa. I asked about taking it through Running Start, and she didn't know anything about it. Kinda strange. And scary. Turns out you can take it online through Running Start and it is free to the student. Here is a link to the parent company and the actual subsidiary that handles the credit retrieval courses is called Aventa Learning. This is way off on so many levels. Ed Reform is here, folks.



3 more semesters to go
Anonymous said…
I recall distributing copies of "Lines Of Influence Of Education Reform" at an SEA meeting in August 2010 - before we went to our little last minute, half assed, Potemkin Protest at a school board meeting about the SEA contract negotiations.

I spoke with several WEA types, and I was VERY insistent, saying that what Dora etc had done was work that WEA should do, AND, given 70,000 members paying over $70 / month, WEA NOT doing it was inexcusable.

While my WEA email notifications are finally regular and half useful, as of the last 3 months or so, when you look at all the OUTSTANDING work YOU citizens have done about these yuppie raiders lining their pockets,

(sorry Michelle)

raiders who LIE about those of us who oppose their thievery,

the WEA's effort fighting these lying thieves has been stunningly pathetic. Unlike the "leaders" in the Democratic Party, I'm still torn between the view that that they're sell outs too terrified of missing a rubber chicken banquet, versus viewing them as incompetents.

Yo WEA messaging people ...

Anonymous said…
Ever wonder why the decision making is so poor in Ed USA? .... I still think it is largely about money.

Money? or Marketing? Capitalism at its best . . . or worst.

Tom Vander Ark said…
Hi Melissa, in case you're interested, here's my blog report from the charter school visit to CA and my rationale for suggesting that DFER "may be the most important advocacy group in America: http://gettingsmart.com/blog/2011/05/democrats-for-education-reform-dfer-may-be-the-most-important-advocacy-group-in-america/

I had a great meeting with the DFER team in Denver today and appreciate their mission.

If any of your anonymous commenter would like to discuss online learning, I'll be in Olympia tomorrow.
Tom Vander Ark
Anonymous said…
If you tell me that the Rules of our schools are what is the way of a great education for my students then I say Change Them in place.

Get rid of mostly useless PD. Stop sending multiple highly paid administrators through my room who can tell me exactly nothing useful but whose salaries are multiples of the whole operational budget for the school.

Let me be more strict, more rigorous, more demanding, and more supporting of every student.

Spend the time and money lobbying and paying for letterhead for all these groups and give me lined paper and pencils and some postivity!

Do this before throwing one hundred years of graduations and millions of Washington students successfully educated into the dustbin of history over the fact that we both want students to succeed but as a public school teacher I can do it while getting middle class pay and my students a world class education. Get rid of the bloat and the profit motive.

Anonymous said…
FBF: What makes you think charter schools are going to have that kind autonomy?

Sahila: I believe in framing and trash-talk myself. No, it isn't very nice but it works and sometimes you just have to do what has been proven to work. That's being real. On the left, we need more real.

I'm not talking "attack" which is what BeanBug did. I'm talking framing negatively the people who are fronting for big money and the corporate take-over of ed.

anonymous said…
"Since they did away with summer school and night school for credit retrieval as of this year, the only way for students who have failed a course is to take it again online. The approved online choice for two SPS high schools is K12."

Hale and Roosevelt now offer SPS credit retrieval classes in house and onsite, and I understand from Phil Brockman that all high schools have been asked to do the same- though I'm not sure how or even if the district has funded it.

Our school counselors also recommend BYU (Brigham Young UNiversity) classes for credit retrieval. They are online and very reasonable priced, and they are not-for-profit

You do not have to go with K12.

Sahila said…
I believe K-12 is being investigated by the Securities Commission.... I posted a link to a story on it at the Miseducation Nation Facebook page I administer last week....
Anonymous said…
How rich that Tom Vander Ark invites people to OLYMPIA tomorrow. It's Charter Week! Of course he'll be in Olympia.

But obviously none of my cohorts can join him because while he is schmoozing legislators we are actually TEACHING.

Teacher & Voter
Anonymous said…
Ah! Now we know! Van der Ark is BeanBug!

My name is Ed, but you can call me Mr.
Sahila said…
@Tom Vander Ark ....

got to give you credit for having the balls to come post here...

but really - kinda insulting to think we are going to fall for your ed deform weasel words...

as I tweeted to you:
well, as an ed deformer, you would think they (DFER) were the bees knees; truth be told, they're just greedy capitalists sucking ed dry ...

They're capitalists controlled by the oligarchs - the adjective/noun democrat means nothing at this level of political and economic manipulation ...

I dont know how you sleep at night - what you're doing certainly is not good for our kids - the research is quite clear on that...

There you go pushing for online "education" - you do realise that K-12 is under investigation for fraud, dont you?

" Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a leading national securities law firm, is investigating potential securities fraud at K12, Inc. (“K12” or the “Company”) (NYSE: LRN).

The investigation focuses on whether the Company and its executives violated federal securities laws by failing to disclose that: (1) according to various academic benchmarks, K12 students were chronically underperforming their peers at traditional schools; (2) K12 has aggressively recruited students to their schools, regardless of how well-suited they might be for the Company’s curriculum; (3) as a result of K12’s haphazard recruiting process, the Company experiences student retention problems resulting in high rates of withdrawal; (4) K12 schools often have far larger student-to-teacher ratios than the Company advertises; and (5) K12 teachers have been pressured to allow students to pass regardless of academic performance, in order to receive federal funds. ...."... K12 under investigation

here's another piece about online "charter schools":

Public Ed Being Outsourced to Online Schools

Seriously - you think that many of us here are naive enough to fall for the ed deform lies and manipulation?

3-4 years ago maybe - now, not so much...
Jan said…
Lemons: I totally agree. Except in very rare instances, the only PD that teachers need is the time to work with each other to ensure their efforts together enhance the learning experience for kids -- so the 4th grade teacher knows what his kids need to have learned to maximize 5th grade, etc. These people have all had professional training in coming up with lesson plans, curriculum development, and teaching in their fields. I don't deny that they are "learning all the time" -- so that a teacher in her 7th year is better than she was in year 1, but they do NOT need herds of downtown PD folks using up district money, and teacher time, with stupid stuff. Good teachers teach well, and want to teach better! That is why they went into the field. Give them some collaborative time to work together, and stay out of their way!
Sahila said…
For Tom Vander Ark's benefit:

What Real Education Reform Looks Like

Friday, Dec 9, 2011 5:00 AM PST

What real education reform looks like...
Teachers unions aren't the problem. Poverty and punitive funding formulas for poor schools are...

By David Sirota

As 2011 draws to a close, we can confidently declare that one of the biggest debates over education is — mercifully — resolved. We may not have addressed all the huge challenges facing our schools, but we finally have empirical data ruling out apocryphal theories and exposing the fundamental problems.

We’ve learned, for instance, that our entire education system is not “in crisis,” as so many executives in the for-profit education industry insist when pushing to privatize public schools. On the contrary, results from Program for International Student Assessment exams show that American students in low-poverty schools are among the highest achieving students in the world.

We’ve also learned that no matter how much self-styled education “reformers” claim otherwise, the always-demonized teachers unions are not holding our education system back. As the New York Times recently noted: “If unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn’t labor’s pernicious effect” felt in the very unionized schools that so consistently graduate top students?

Now, at year’s end, we’ve learned from two studies just how powerful economics are in education outcomes — and how disadvantaged kids are being unduly punished by government policy.

The first report, from Stanford University, showed that with a rising “income achievement gap,” a family’s economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child’s academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.
Sahila said…

Because of this reality, schools in destitute areas naturally require more resources than those in rich ones so as to help impoverished kids overcome comparatively steep odds. Yet, according to the second report from the U.S. Department of Education, “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding.” As if purposely embodying the old adage about adding insult to injury, the financing scheme “leav(es) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” In practice, that equals less funding to recruit teachers, upgrade classrooms, reduce class sizes and sustain all the other basics of a good education.

Put all this together and behold the crux of America’s education problems in bumper-sticker terms: It’s poverty and punitive funding formulas, stupid.

Thus, we arrive at the factor that decides so many things in American society: money.

As the revelations of 2011 prove, students aren’t helped by billionaire-executives-turned-education-dilettantes who leverage their riches to force their faith-based theories into schools. Likewise, they aren’t aided by millionaire pundits sententiously claiming that we just “need better parents.” And kids most certainly don’t benefit from politicians pretending that incessant union-busting, teacher-bashing and standardized testing represent successful school “reforms.”

Instead, America’s youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas — not the other way around.

Within education, achieving those objectives requires efforts to stop financing schools via property tax systems (i.e., systems that by design direct more resources to wealthy areas). It also requires initiatives that better target public education appropriations at schools in low-income neighborhoods — and changing those existing funding formulas that actively exacerbate inequality.

Policy-wise, it’s a straightforward proposition. The only thing complex is making it happen. Doing that asks us to change resource-hoarding attitudes that encourage us to care only about our own schools, everyone else’s be damned.

In America’s greed-is-good culture, achieving such a shift in mass psychology is about the toughest task imaginable — but it’s the real education reform that’s most needed.
Anonymous said…
Dear Tom,

Thank you for gracing the blog and sharing your thoughts.

The thing is, our schools are not in complete crisis or utterly broken to the point that we need crusaders sweeping in to save our poor souls. Washington has voted to not place their salvation (and public dollars) in the hands of Charters.

Is there room for improvement? Most certainly. Improvement will come from a unified effort – to think that only Democrats have the answer is hubris.

Seattle and other Washington school districts already have alternative schools that operate within the public school system and provide families with choice.

At a time when every dollar counts, why should we gamble on Charters?

One of the riff-raff

P.S. Gotta watch that spell-check. I'm sure you meant to say public...
Anonymous said…
Amen, David Sirota, Amen.

Hear him at 760Progressive talk Denver

Anonymous said…
I am horrified to learn that SPS uses K12, Inc, a for-profit online charter, and has Seattle students pay K12.

Just last month the New York Times ran a mammoth story detailing the many ways K12 puts profits ahead of students, not to mention the teaching profession.

K12 is EVERYTHING WRONG with the push for privatizing public education. It is the opposite of online teaching innovation. And Sahila is correct. It is under investigation for fraud.

Vander Ark uses his blog to deflect criticism of K12. In fact, he sits as a director on the online learning industry board that promotes K12.

The thought that he has any sway with our state legislators makes me almost physically ill. Is this where public education in WA stands? Can our legislators really be this gullible?

You teachers may not be able to go to Olympia, but nothing stops you from contacting the Seattle School Board and your state legislator about both K12 and Vander Ark's passion for profit, via crap companies, in the public school sector.

And as far as MacFarlane now heading up the Vander Ark -backed DFER, I'll say what others are too polite to say: What an Incredible Disappointment.

District Watcher
Leonard said…
Should we really trust Mr. Vander Ark's advice? I'll continue to put my faith and trust in our public school teachers.


Furthermore, I've worked in Bedford-Stuyvesant- it is like no other place. These kids need human contact.
Anonymous said…
I was in the counseling office just yesterday talking to the counselor who is there on Mondays only for "digital learning" which includes classes for credit retrieval, health and Washington State history. Researching our options for health courses today, I looked up the website at the bottom of all the forms I was handed yesterday to enroll our student in health through Aventa. That website is digitallearning.k12.wa.us, and these are the schools in SPS who participate in this particular program (copied right from their website):

Seattle School District
Garfield High School
Homeschool Resource Center (Seattle)
Madison Middle School
Sealth High School

I know it is true that there are other options at other high schools, but currently at one of these high schools listed, students who want or need to take online classes for credit retrieval, health and WA State history are only being directed to Aventa. At least that is what happened to me, a well informed parent, yesterday. My research then led to K12. And before a student is enrolled in these classes, they have to take the money to the main office at the school and bring the receipt back to the Monday only counselor who is handling the online registration, and she then gets them processed.

At our high school, you cannot take credit retrieval onsite, and the counselor does not recommend any other online program. And does not know about Running Start.

Only three more semesters
Anonymous said…
"Curious" says: Tom Vander Ark, thank you for posting in this thread. Which Washington legislators went with you to California for charter school tours? I do not see their names on the blog link you provided. I do not see the names of those on the "fledgling WA DFER steering committee" either. Please share. Thank you.
suep. said…
@Tom Vander Ark 1/10/12 7:38 PM

Well, Tom, I guess it depends on one’s definition of “important.” If you mean important to the agenda of DFER’s moneyed funders, then yes, DFER has been able to lobby quite loudly for that.

But I happen to believe that we parents are far more important than the likes of DFER and you because we are the true stakeholders here. Those are our children in the schools that you and your pals are trying to control and privatize, whose lives you are trying to affect.

What’s more, no one is paying us for our views. We advocate for sound policies and inspired curricula because we believe and have a stake in public education -- not a profit incentive. Give the all-volunteer, fund-less parent advocates the money and connections that you have -- a level playing field, in other words -- and we’ll see who is more important and successful in winning over the general public, our legislators and media, and with what definition of education “reform.”

I for one don’t hold much stock in the nature of reform that DFER pushes. Privatizing our schools by handing them over to charter operators? (“September 13, 2011 DFER APPLAUDS CONGRESS FOR BIPARTISAN PASSAGE OF H.R. 2218 - THE "EMPOWERING PARENTS THROUGH QUALITY CHARTER SCHOOLS ACT" http://www.dfer.org/list/issues/advocacy/)

Online learning? -- That could ultimately eliminate the jobs of countless teachers and opens a market of even more tech-dependency.

Nor does the research support DFER’s agenda. As many as 83 percent of charters perform no better or perform worse than regular public schools. And more research is emerging that shows that online learning gets poorer results than actual person-to-person learning. ("Students of Online Schools Are Lagging," N Y. Times http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/education/students-of-virtual-schools-are-lagging-in-proficiency.html?ref=charterschools)

You’re in Olympia, you say. We’re in Seattle, where our kids are and go to school. Why don’t you come here and meet us where the 48,000 public school kids are who are on the receiving end of the “reforms” that enterprises like DFER have unilaterally declared good for our kids and are pushing?

My son’s teacher passed away two weeks ago, after a valiant battle with a long illness. By all accounts she was an inspired, life-changing educator whose students from her three decades of teaching remembered her years after they left her history or language arts classes, as her memorial service last week attested.

You will never convince me that any of the online learning products and approaches you are promoting will ever replace someone like this teacher. They will never match or replace the quality, depth and importance of the human connection that students receive from a real, live teacher working with them in the classroom directly.

She was also a veteran teacher, the kind the ed reform groups like DFER senselessly oppose with their prejudice against seniority. So no, I will not come to Olympia to talk to you about a product I believe has serious limitations. In fact, I believe DFER’s focus overall is wrong.

We need to support our teachers, not constantly dissect and harass them; decrease class sizes so kids can have more individual attention, not add more cyber distraction. And we as a state and nation need to fully fund our schools, not divert our limited resources to privately run charters.

You make these essential and long overdue reforms happen and then I might consider DFER “important.”

And I am not anonymous.

Sue Peters
suep. said…
Yes, we do need to update our “Lines of Influence” chart. (http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-lines-of-influence-in-education-reform/)

(My working title for it was "The Tangled Web of Ed Reform" -- which has only gotten more tangled in the last few years.)
Anonymous said…
Why do these people like Tom Vander Ark, Kopp's TFA people and others in their affiliated crowd sign-off their emails with "Best"?

These seemingly meaningless touches are actually significant.
Like the up-to-the-minute jargon that people like Susan Enfield and HRR are using-"the work" needs to get done; we need to focus on "the work"--these linguistic flourishes (aka robospeak)indicate to each other membership in the club.

When you are in the business of education outside of an actual school, jargon is currency. Something as simple as when administrators started using words like "kiddos" and "kinder" (to replace kindergarten) a few years ago gave evidence about who was hanging out with, and affiliating, with whom.

When you are in an inane, political climate like this one,
jargon is a very efficient way to quickly identify the stonesteppers and phonies.


--enough already
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I'm guessing after 75+ comments, the whole charter legislation and PTA involvlement is just a coincidence while the "Ed Reform Ark" are in town to lobby for MONEY for their "good for the children" cause. Hopefully it's just a coincidence also about the Washington SC ruling that came out last week. No pressure on legislature there huh? What was that about "efficient" on-line learning and obstructionist Teacher unions in recent ST editorial? NO coincidence of course.

Our elected representatives are very good at passing tax bills to support "public venues" for the "public good" such as sport stadiums, $50 million for a 1 mile trolley line, $125 million from car tab fee for the nonexistent monorail, etc. We must fund big ed, oops... I mean basic ed. The courts are watching after all.

Or perhaps Mr. Van Der Ark is in town for another go at being Superintendent? What's 1 or 2 years out of his busy schedule. After all we have been "Waiting for Superman" to save our kids with charters and on-line learning.

to the Oscars
Anonymous said…
Guidelines for On-Line Courses at Garfield High School (one of the forms I was given on Monday):

1) only Credit Retrieval courses for core classes or Health or WA state History can be taken.

2) Only Aventa courses offered through DLD (Digital Learning Department - a division of OSPI) can be taken.

3) Student's family is responsible for paying for the course. There are No(the form's caps, not mine)scholarships or priced reductions for FRL. There's a $50 registration fee in addition to the cost of each course. All costs must be paid at the time of registration.

To Students: Steps for applying:

5) Bring a cashier's check or cash for the cost of the course plus the registration fee to the counselor appointment.

6) In three day to one week you'll receive your log in and password to start the course!

Reading these details is even more shocking. The credit retrieval students are our most vulnerable poplulation, and this is their only avenue to graduate from high school? They have already fallen through the cracks, and the solution is for them to come up with over $300 and access to a computer outside of school to retake a course they have already failed, without any guidance from a live teacher. Not to mention the claims against the organiztion (K12) offering these classes regarding fraud. FRL students (and other vulnerable kids) are being forced to give K12, a big for-profit business with a sizeable and expensive Board of Directors and senior management team, over $300 a class to retrieve a credit or credits that will allow them to graduate from a Seattle public high school. This is the future of public education? This is the best we can do? I am dumbfounded.

Only three more semesters
Maureen said…
Why does SPS allow (require?) HS counselors to reinvent the wheel themselves all over town? There should be one central clearing house for credit retrieval AND college counseling AND career resources. It's crazy to me the variation in services (not to mention pointless repetition of effort)that exist depending on which HS you are required to attend.

It sounds like RHS > GHS for credit retrieval, but GHS > RHS for college counseling (why not have Naviance District wide--not just for schools whose counselors have a clue?)
Anonymous said…
VanderArk couldn't get enough money to open charter schools in NY and he's not very happy about NEPC study giving a major thumb down on On-line Charters and their effectiveness. See:


Just google him. Find him in NYT and Education Week articles. He smells money and an opportunity. That is why he's here. Just can't believe we've lost the PTA to this debacle. Why is the PTA doing this? Do they smell money and career opportunities too? Certainly more money than from bake sales and dues. This is making me cynical. And if any of my elected officials even go to mat for this idiotic EXPENSIVE charter legislation, they will have lost my vote. Funny how the WEA and SEA seems quite silent on all of this. No letter to editor. No op Ed piece. Where's Randy Dorn on all of this?

An interesting 2010 paper out from NYU by Corcoran and Stoddard, two researchers who have been following charter legislations in Washington. A couple of findings about support for charter:

1. more support when charter provide alternative to neighborhood zoned schools (NSAP). Seen as providing school choice. More suppport in urbanized/suburban school distrticts.
2. support for charter grows in district with poorer academic perfomance.
3. "within-school racial heterogeneity in enrollment was consistently related to greater support
for charters at the neighborhood level."
4. less support in districts where there is strong support for teacher unions and where the WEA is more vocal against charter legislation- as seen in 2004.

There's a lot more stuff in this paper, including about the charter money drain. Stuff that you see play out in our district, cluster by cluster, school by school. Good place for strategy if you are looking to pass a charter legislation.

Anonymous said…
For the paper:


Anonymous said…
Until this year there was one central clearing house for credit retrieval - night school and summer school offered through the district. That has been discarded in favor of the new online options. The schools seem to have some choice in the online options they adopt. I have no idea why some high schools are able to offer onsite credit retrieval classes and others do not. I would think it might be tied to FRL monies, but that doesn't correlate with Roosevelt offering onsite credit retrieval but not Garfield. The old district wide system of credit retrieval certainly made a lot more sense (but did not force families to pay for the classes, which seems to be part of this equation).

Three more semesters to go
Anonymous said…
Randy Dorn is apparently fully on board with the online charter idea. His office, OSPI, has approved Aventa and K12 as an online course provider in Washington State.

"Only Aventa courses offered through DLD (Digital Learning Department - a division of OSPI) can be taken." (from the Garfield online course guidelines)

Three more semesters
Anonymous said…
The Corcoran and Stoddard paper is an interesting analyis of Washington charter referenda. The initiative which lost by the smallest margin was in 2000, when Paul Allen contributed $3.275M to the cause. The strongest predictor for charter support? Republican vote share.

Look to the WSPTA members supporting charters - according to the WSPTA proposal, they are from Issaquah, Bellevue and Richland school districts. Where do our local PTAs stand?

Seattle parent
Anonymous said…
I just have to point out that on the K12 website there is a tab at the top of the home page for Investor Relations. All kinds of interesting stuff on that page, including a real time ticker so you can track the stock price! It's up today, BTW.

Three more semesters
caroline said…
Vander Ark did get money for a charter in NYC -- and then didn't open it. Discuss among yourselves.

I check in on this blog from here in San Francisco from time to time because it's so interesting to watch the people of Washington grapple with the charter question and (hopefully) see through the hype, which those of us in states that jumped on the charter bandwagon early had no chance to do.

In reference to some comments here, the corporate-ed-reform movement has made a concerted effort to portray itself as connected with Democrats. Not that there AREN'T Democrats involved, unfortunately. But overall, it's a movement that comes from the far right, promoting right-wing ideas such as privatization, profiting from public services, crushing unions, and imposing segregated, rigid, regimented, military-style schools on the children of the poor. Names like Democrats for Education Reform are a fully intentional,calculated effort to deceive the public about that.

I note that some so-called-"reform" defender has resorted to the desperation move of snarking at the advocates challenging the hype, sneering that they have nothing better to do and should get a life and go volunteer in schools. I've gotten that crap over the years too. Those voices are generally paid employees of so-called-"reform" operations sneering at committed volunteer advocates -- even though they're just bullying and blustering into the wind, there's still a special hell for them.

And by the way, Melissa Westbrook, your comments are awesome. The first time I saw this blog I was jumping down your throat because you had unknowingly quoted some outrageous lie from the charter sector (one of their many). I apologize, belatedly.
Anonymous said…
@Vander Ark:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his job depends on not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair.

Take SueP's comments to heart, Mr. Vander Ark. And try working on your spelling and punctuation while you're at it. It's embarrassing, but sadly not surprising, that a supposed "education" advocate can't write or punctuate correctly.

Then again, I doubt Jack Abramoff bothered with pesky details like proper punctuation either.

Anonymous said…
@Caroline from SF: Simply Awesome!!

Melissa: You've gone Regional!!

suep. said…
@ Voter at 1/11/12 10:50 AM

"Just can't believe we've lost the PTA to this debacle. Why is the PTA doing this?"

This may have something to do with why the national and state PTA leadership has recently embraced corporate ed reform:

National PTA gets $1 million from Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving the National PTA $1 million to teach parents about education reform. -- Seattle Times, Dec. 1, 2009

And look how quickly Gates got a return on his investment -- the very next day! (Common Core is his baby):
National PTA to Mobilize Parents for Common Core Standards


CHICAGO (December 2, 2009) � National PTA is positioning itself as a key player at the front line of education reform. The association today announced a new three-year effort to mobilize parents to advance key education priorities, beginning with common core state standards�a voluntary, state-led, internationally benchmarked set of high academic standards in English language arts and mathematics. A $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help support the effort.(...)"

To which I say, Et tu, PTA? And, when shall we begin the PTA membership boycott?
suep. said…
(Clearly the PTA doesn't need our paltry membership dues anyway.)
Guichon said…
"That actually sounds like an argument from the right and not the left and that should be a big red flag to anyone paying attention."

Arguments from the right are a big red flag? Are you nuts? You are obviously not a student of history. No wonder you aren't considered a journalist.

@Caroline: "But overall, it's a movement that comes from the far right, promoting right-wing ideas such as privatization, profiting from public services, crushing unions, and imposing segregated, rigid, regimented, military-style schools on the children of the poor."

Where the hell are you getting this leftist clap-trap? Oh, that's right, you're from San Francisco - being a lefty know-nothing is in your blood.

Yes, how dare those that want charters want their children to be prepared to succeed by sending them to schools that actually teach them what is required to succeed.

And although I never attended a military school, what is wrong with military schools? And don't spout any of that war-monger crap - that won't be answering the question.
caroline said…
Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response, @Guichon.

Interestingly, here in San Francisco, I'm viewed as rather a moderate, and our further-left factions have tended to be pro-charter. Go figure.

I've been following the corporate-education-reform movement closely for well over a decade now, so I AM something of a student of history on that specialized topic.

I'm not even inherently an opponent of military schools, though of course I'm an advocate of peace. Unless one is a completely absolutist pacifist, it would be inconsistent to declare them wrong, and a close family friend is at West Point now.

But it's hypocritical, unethical,immoral, arrogant, racist and numerous other adjectives for so-called "reformers" to espouse harsh, rigid, march-chant-n-drill schools for dark-skinned poor kids while sending their own children to gentle, nurturing private enclaves where their creativity can flower and their leadership and critical thinking skills are developed. All advocates of that type of reform (and this means you, @Tom Vander Ark) have a moral obligation to force their kids into the schools they advocate for poor kids. Those "reforms" also include beginner temporary teachers with five weeks' training, and/or their newest "it's a miracle!" fad, virtual education with as little contact with teachers as possible.
CT said…
@Guichon - clearly you've had your head buried in the sand for awhile, plus you misinterpreted some of Caroline's comments. Perhaps YOU need to become a student of history and read up on some Ed policy and the political history of this reform movement before you take personal potshots at someone.
dan dempsey said…
Speaking of that Military precision and dedication to duty .... consider this.

In the Spring of 1991, my oldest had an audition in San Francisco for acting at Julliard. That year Julliard took 22 drama students out of 850 applicants. He got a call back and had a discussion with the selection folks on that day.

Upon his return home to Olympia, he told me that at Julliard one is expected to never miss a class. There is work to be done and every member of the group needs to be involved every day. If you miss classes, go home. .... He did not get in ... he went to NYU.

What I notice about the Ed Reform movement is there exists little valid research that supports much of anything pushed by the Ed Reformers. Meanwhile the bogus statements of UW Center for Reinventing Public Education are given credence.

So what makes the anecdotes and stories of UW experts worth considering ..... it must be the erroneous belief that these folks base what they push on valid research. In far too many cases the anecdotes are just nonsense.
Disgusted said…
LEV's advocacy training to include charter schools. Don't see anything about the fact majority of charters either under perform or perform same as public schools.

Guichon, you didn't explain why you believe I am wrong. Could you do so?

"Yes, how dare those that want charters want their children to be prepared to succeed by sending them to schools that actually teach them what is required to succeed."

Are you saying traditional schools don't do this?

Disgusted, I saw that as well and will have a separate thread on that. A very skewed view.
Disgusted said…

LEV and WSPTSA have decided to work (in my opinion- together) at an alarmingly new low level to promote their agend. Deception seems acceptable to these individuals. Failing to provide individuals with complete information is serious. I hope it comes back to bite them
anonymous said…
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dan dempsey said…
Here is a most interesting piece Teacher promotes awareness of GOP's support of liberal education reform policies from the St. Louis Political Buzz Examiner.

.... The story not conveyed to tax payers is most of the legislation proposed, so far, early into this session, promotes the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program for educational reform, and the drivers of the educational reform school bus are republicans.

The state department of Elementary and Secondary Education had already adopted common core standards, one component of RTTT implementation. Much of last year’s legislation promoted attendance across school district boarders to encourage the expansion of charter schools, the parent trigger, and teacher performance evaluation programs, all of which were elements of RTTT, and much of it was introduced by republicans.

Because none of the more than 130 education bills introduce in the House and Senate last year, passed, republican education committee leaders have invited high profile lobbyists to Missouri to help sell the Obama administration’s brand of education reform.

The state department of Elementary and Secondary Education had already adopted common core standards, one component of RTTT implementation. Much of last year’s legislation promoted attendance across school district boarders to encourage the expansion of charter schools, the parent trigger, and teacher performance evaluation programs, all of which were elements of RTTT, and much of it was introduced by republicans.

Many conservatives are scratching their heads at the republican support of the democrat party’s educational agenda and the media’s vast under-reporting on the issue.

Doug Lasken, dedicated to his profession, says he has been:

“… continually amazed at the misguided meddling of government, starting in the 80’s with bilingual education, Whole Language and “constructivist” pedagogies in science and math, and culminating now in Obama’s unnecessary and wildly expensive Common Core Standards (CCS). As our public schools sink into bankruptcy, CCS carries a price tag of $30 billion, but the Republican party and its front running candidates, supposedly opposed to reckless spending, refuse to take a stand on CCS or for that matter any educational issue, a particularly galling refusal since the republican party bills itself as the opposition, which, at least in education, it definitely is not. Compounding the GOP’s dereliction of duty is the media’s failure to treat education as a national issue.

The dishonorable selling of Education crap should be a national disgrace .... but watch how many WA legislators join in on the dishonest selling .... Enfield and her TFA voting school board make fine local examples of educational dishonesty.

See if you can find any honest studies that validate the worth of what Rodney Tom, Eric Pettigrew, and Sharon Tamiko Santos are selling.
anonymous said…
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anonymous said…
Three more semesters, SPS has a credit retrieval approved provider list. Your school counselor may suggest that you use a particular provider on the list but he/she can not force you to use that provider. You can choose any provider from the list that you choose to. The list includes several non profit and not for profit organizations including BYU, YMCA, and a couple of neighbor public school districts including Shoreline and Bellevue.

You can see the 2011 SPS provider list here. Perhaps you can share this list with your school counselor, your schools PTSA, and the student journalists of your schools HS newspaper (so it can be published for all students and families to see).

While some of the providers on the list are quite expensive, and some are for profit, others like LEEP at Lakeside are free, and some like Satellite HS are very reasonably priced ($65 per .5 credit). And some organizations, like BYU which charges $125 per .5 credit, offer scholarships.

Also, Phil Brockman had said that all high schools will be required to offer credit retrieval in house by this summer. I know Hale and Roosevelt have already established their programs but I'm not familiar with what other high schools are offering. Perhaps you can ask the principal of your school, or Phil Brockman, about it if your school counselor is clueless.

You do not have to use K12. Repeat you do not have to use K12.

suep. said…
Another damning article about the educational failures -- but Wall Street profits -- of online learning and charters:

December 12, 2011
Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools

(N.Y. Times)

By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing.
Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.
By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers.
Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States. (...)

The New York Times has spent several months examining this idea, focusing on K12 Inc. A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.

Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards. (...)
suep. said…
And here are some links (requested earlier on this thread) about the unholy alliance of Gates and Murdoch and their Big Brother scheme to gather data on our kids in one massive database:

Friday, December 16, 2011
Regents agree to give NY student data to limited corporation run by Gates and operated by Murdoch's Wireless Gen

And the huge Gates grant to build this database:

Shared Learning Collaborative, LLC
Date: July 2011
Purpose: to build, manage, and promote the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI)
Amount: $76,500,000
Term: 7 months
Topic: College-Ready Education
Region Served: Global, North America
Program: United States
suep. said…
Lastly, here's an earlier, interesting post from an Anonymous (that might otherwise get zapped by a blog administrator for being nameless) with a link to a very troubling article about Vander Ark (love the apt reference to con man Harold Hill from "The Music Man"!):

Anonymous said...
From "The Emperor Has Zero Clothes":

What a mistake for Mac Farlane to join forces with VanDerArk one of the bigger self-promoters in ed reformland. You can fool lots of the people lots of the time but you can't fool the New York Times.

This article makes short work of VanDerArk's charter 'genius' and needs to go to each state legislator and staff in Washington. Pass it on, as it was passed to me. It documents everything wrong with thinktanky reform blowhards who want to 'fix' Washington Education.

Quote from the article, which has generated knowing laughs from many owners of Seattle email inboxes this fall, says, “He’s flying 30,000 feet on the air, but can’t do it on the ground,”. It also talks about former partners cursing him.

Sounds a hell of a lot like Her Departedness Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

BeanBug: I'll take a bunch of bloggers and some critical thinking over VanDerArk's Management Consultant M.O. (B.S. is more like it) any day. These Corporate Reform people are full of it. Charters are not the answer. Just a moneymaker for people like VanDerArk.
1/10/12 12:22 AM
Kathy said…
Throwing another charter article on the heap.

Charlie Mas said…
Am I the only one who thinks that "Democrats for Education Reform" sounds a lot like "Jews for Jesus"?

Hey, if you're for Jesus, then you're not a Jew. And if you're for Education Reform then you're not a Democrat.
Carol Simmons said…
Please read Sue Peters comments on 1/11/12 at 12:11 a.m. addressed to Tom Van Der Ark.

Especially about teachers.

Thank you Sue, they are excellent comments.

dan dempsey said…
If you're for Education Reform then you're not a Democrat.

So ....

Rep. Eric Pettigrew
Majority Caucus Chair

Is the (D) for Dummy or Defector?

or have we been Duped?

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