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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrity Gossip

Gee, a lot of local education news seems to be about specific individuals these days, like our own People magazine.

We have Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37) making yet more news for placing $3 million for Seattle Schools into the state house budget. There are a number of interesting bits about this story. First there is the obvious conclusion that he (and his backers) hope this will save his political future in the 37th District. Kind of like a celebrity donating to charity to save his reputation after getting caught in a scandal. Second is the characterization of the funding as a "gift" by the Seattle Times. Later today I'm going to present my children with the "gift" of food, clothing and shelter. Third is the lack of interest in the similar state funding for small, rural high schools. Isn't that also a "gift"? Will this money for southeast Seattle schools restore Mr. Pettigrew to the good graces of his local party supporters? How will the District spend it? What accountability comes with this money? Stay tuned.

We also have our own version of The Bachelorette starring Dr. Enfield accepting the position of superintendent of Highline Schools. Lots of interesting celebrity-style gossip here as well. Why Highline instead of Bellevue? How did Highline steal her away from Bellevue? Was Bellevue too slow? Why will her husband now move to the area when the he didn't move here after she got the Seattle CAO job? How little confidence did she have in that job and why does she have confidence in this one? Will she introduce Highline to Teach for America, Discovery Math, Fidelity of Implementation expectations, and merit pay for teachers? Will Southwest Seattle families choose Highline schools in greater numbers - or fewer? Stay tuned!

Finally there is the story with real star power - the celebrity gossip around Nick Hanauer's famous tantrum and all of the responses to it from WEA President Mary Lindquist and others. You absolutely have to read the response from WWU professor Bill Lyne. It currently tops my list of "Things that I wish I had written". Of course, there are those who have sided with Mr. Hanauer, including Jon Bridge, Jabe Blumenthal, Paul Brainerd, the Seattle Times and all of the Gates Foundation finger puppet organizations. They remind me of the question "If you're so smart, how come you ain't rich?" and the traditional response: "If you're so rich, how come you ain't smart?". There are the 99% who think Mr. Hanauer has exposed himself as a thoughtless, childish, self-important, entitled prat, but who cares about them - they aren't celebrities. This story is getting a lot of oxygen right now because we have no use for celebrities who behave themselves. We want them to explode spectacularly like Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise.

Is it me, or do these stories read more like celebrity gossip than anything else?

16 comments:

dan dempsey said...

This is an easy answer:

Why will her husband now move to the area when the he didn't move here after she got the Seattle CAO job?

Seattle CAO was only a stepping stone to Superintendent. No sense moving for a short period of time. Enfield needs a large playing surface to look for that Superintendent Job, a house would complicate this.

Now that the pearl is in hand .... it is time to move and buy a house.

Anonymous said...

Active Democrats in the 37th District tell me it's a pipe dream to expect even a challenge to Pettigrew, much less his ouster at the polls. The best thing we can do with him, according to what they tell me, is to continue to press the point home to him -- and to the rest of the District -- that his position on K-12 education does not enjoy anything close to majority support.

My guess is that whereas he has carried water for the Gates Foundation, they will give him a job soon as a charter school advocate, or a lobbyist, and that he will leave electoral politics.

People in the 37th should be watching this potential succession very closely. Until such time as the prospect of succession becomes a reality, Pettigrew will need to feel the heat, as often as we can inflict it.

-- Ivan Weiss

GrowUp said...

I have an even easier answer:
Maybe Ms. Enfield is an actual human being with a personal life, and her family decisions are none of our business?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree. It's been entertaining how this has been playing out.

When I saw Pettigrew got money, well, I thought it was basically a pay-off because he didn't get charters and wanted something to take back home. But Charlie's question are valid on the spending of the money.

As for Enfield, this was a saga of her own making. But again, I wish her well.

I wrote a little script of the conversation between Hanauer and Brainerd.

Paul: Hey Nick, what's up?
Nick: Man, we can't get any traction on ed reform in Washington. I sure told Chopp off but still nothing.
Paul: I hear you.
Nick: We really need another wealthy white guy to step up and tell everyone else that we really know best.
Paul: Sure,have your people contact my people.
Nick: Done and Done

That's how the up-the-food-chain people get it done. That they have been so obvious about it (you can't read the article about Brainerd without seeing the questions as leading and him as coached.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Whoa new look! I like it.

Anyway, this "gift" from Pettigrew to his constituents isn't a gift at all, it is for a "turnaround initiative". A "turnaround" is a Race to the Top euphemism for either closing a "low performing" school and turning it into a charter school,firing half of the staff or firing the principal.

The only thing Pettigrew deserves at this point is a boot out of his position as legislative representative of his district.

Dora

Anonymous said...

Actually Charlie, Jon Bridge has been quoted as NOT being in favor of charters.

But he was, infamously, the source of the "teachers don't matter" email letter to Dr. Enfield as he pushed to get Teach for America into our District.

My lesson is that not for a moment will I allow The Alliance for Education or League of Education Voters, where both men hold sway, to speak for the interests of Seattle students, teachers or non-wealthy parents.

DistrictWatcher

Melissa Westbrook said...

GrowUp, Dr. Enfield specifically brought up her husband and the issue of leaving apart numerous times. That's why it's okay to point it out - she said it.

Charlie Mas said...

I do the grocery shopping for my family - I like to do it and my wife hates it, so it's a perfect Jack Spratt sort of situation.

I see the celebrity gossip magazines as I'm in queue to check out, and I gauge my success as a human being by how few of the names and faces on these magazines I can recognize.

I absolutely agree with Grow Up that these people's personal lives are none of our business. That's why I have absolutely no interest in them. After all, who are they to me? I am not friends with Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, or Jennifer Aniston and there is no reason that I should know - or want to know - about their romantic entanglements.

The most ironic of these magazines is titled "InTouch", which is absolutely hilarious. As if this magazine's readers were actually in touch with the celebrities featured in the articles. Ha! Tragically, I suppose, the readers do feel like they are close to these folks, instead of being close to the people who truly are part of their lives and with whom they really should be in touch.

I would much rather that our news focused on news. Trouble is, I'm not sure if even the news is really news anymore.

If you have not read it, I strongly recommend Neil Postman's brilliant treatise, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Mr. Postman also wrote other very interesting books including The End of Education, and Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Mr. Postman was a student of Mashall McLuhan (and has quite a lot to say about that experience), and the chairman of the department of communication arts at New York University. He passed away in 2003.

Want to have a sense about what is wrong with our world and how to fix it? Read Postman and Deming.

Anonymous said...

Charlie missed the biggest celebrity gossip of the past days about LEVs Chris Korsmo -leader and Kelly Munn -p.r.- who are Big Personalities in Ed Reform.

To say again, because this incident did not get enough press, Kelly and Chris sent out a pro-charter piece using misleading and incorrect information about Rainier Beach High School. They used Eric Pettigrew as an African-American poster child in the piece.

These "leaders" piece highly offended to our community. An email saying so went to every city council, school board and big name school activist in the city. They were disgraced and your blog readers need to know it. LEV promised a public apology. Where is it?

And, drama continuing, why is LEV suddenly sponsoring an event with Seattle Black School Educators? Do they think they can wheedle their way into the southeast?

These Celebrities have no shame.

Southie

mirmac1 said...

That's right Southie. That whole kerfuffle could have its own thread!

Anonymous said...

Why do we criticize pork barrel spending as waste when the money goes to someone else, yet welcome it when it comes to us?

Let's call a spade a spade. Pettigrew brought home some bacon.

Signed,
Fed up with wasteful government

Melissa Westbrook said...

Southie, I did mention this issue earlier but not in its own thread.

I would agree that LEV does not seem to know how to offer help or give advice. It doesn't matter where you live - it feels wrong when someone comes in and tells you what should be happening in your school/community.

About that event on March 17th, curiously, it is not on SPS's calendar event though they are a sponsor. They don't have a press release on it either (or none I could find). The announcement at LEV doesn't say LEV is a co-sponsor.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Teaching as a Subversive Activity was the first book I read before I started my first teaching gig 18 years ago! It still profoundly influences the decisions I make as an educator.

The most important question a teacher can ask her students is "what is worth knowing?"

-subversive teacher

dan dempsey said...

Hey Subversive Teacher,

It is not just what is worth knowing but what is worth doing?

The worth doing part depends on whether your goal is improving student learning or improving your position of the Ed salary Totem Pole. In math these have become mutually exclusive choices.

It burns me that Pettigrew and the money boys ... Blah Blah Blah about improvement yet conveniently ignore the facts.

We have reached the point where improving Academic Results is NOT important for professional advancement in Education. Get a PhD and set it on cruise control. Be sure and talk the Ed PC talk.

============
Here comes the next phase of this NONSENSE in math:

This CCSS movement will be just a much larger more invasive push to enable the Elites to tell the worker bee teachers how it should be done.

For Math .... This will be the NCTM Standards on steroids when it comes to the process standards.
8 process standards will trump 300+ content standards k-12.
I predict in many places we will "Watch the pushing of the 8 math process standards dictate pedagogy in actual practice".

I earlier mentioned that Dr. Shannon McKinney the turnaround principal had produced no results in math at Hohokam MS.
In fact negative results. Her resume can be found here =>
http://www.school-truth.com/McKinneyResume.pdf

She became Hohokam MS principal in June 2009.
Thus we should have been expecting improvement by Spring 2011 testing.

Math cohort on Arizona testing ... pass rates at Hohokam MS.
6th grade 2009 => 40% (before McKinney took over as turnaround principal)
7th grade 2010=> 23% (McKinney year one)
8th grade 2011=>24% (McKinney year two)

The disconcerting part is that this lady had a BA in math and was Magna Cum Laude and yet must have descended into all the unproductive Blah Blah beliefs and became a NO Results leader. (Pretty much what I would expect from a Math Program manager these days and an Education PhD.)

See Resume for all the Blah Blah talk. As I've said before Results are NOT IMPORTANT. Apparently no one vets candidates for results.

Enfield selected this lady as STEM K-5 Principal at Boren in West Seattle.
Highline selected Enfield as Superintendent.

I rest my case. Producing academic improvement is not relevant to getting a better job in Ed USA. .... Yet Pettigrew and company never mention any of what is really needed for improvement as they want charters and individual VAM for teachers.

Neither the SfC, Lev, PTA or the WEA have shown themselves to be effective leaders in advocating for effective efficient teaching practices. As for the School Directors Association ... it is a complete joke when it comes to improvement.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

dan dempsey said...

Continuing from above.

Add the WA legislature's House to the above list of the clueless...

According to KOMO news, Washington legislators passed the teacher eval bill that will used student test scores as part of the eval. Not even a close vote in the house (82-16).