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Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Civilized Discussion and Debate on Charters

I was honored to be asked to be the "expert" and fact-checker at a discussion about charters last night at Olympic View Elementary. It was what should be the example of what PTA units bring to their members (and what both the Seattle Council and State PTSA should be advocating).

I went for the fellowship part of the evening (a potluck dinner)and the business portion of the meeting. The discussion took place after these events.

First, a shout-out to the Olympic View PTSA Board. Boy, they know how to get things done. They had a great turn-out (which warmed my former PTSA co-president heart) that included their principal and many teachers. (In fact, their PTSA membership includes every teacher in the building - must be some kind of record.)

Second, I LOVE a meeting that starts and ends on time. That's being respectful of everyone's time.

Third, they have a force of nature in their volunteer coordinator who whipped through all their activities and the help needed to get them done. Someone should clone her. Or bottle her energy. Or something.

Then the principal brought them up-to-date AND they had a presentation by district staff about new geothermal heating that will be installed under their playground during the summer.

All this got done in an hour. Amazing.

ThenI had do something that is not in my nature (but not as impossible as some might believe) - be neutral. I just talked about charter stats, the status of the legislation and some particulars of the legislation.

Then, two parents, Beth Siegal (pro) and Kristen King (con), gave their spiel for their positions. Then questions. It was great because the assembled group listened and had good, pertinent questions. They did end up taking a vote on a resolution to ask the Legislature to not add charters and to focus on fully-funding education. The vote was 20-13 in favor of the resolution but I think many in the audience felt like they needed more time to consider what they heard.

I had heard that a couple of PTSA leaders in our region were not happy with me being in that role. (I did find this a bit amusing because, in the same breath, they also seem to believe Ramona Hattendorf can be neutral at the Region 6 charter forum coming up. She a paid lobbyist for the PTSA.)

But c'mon, we're all adults and it seems like people would be able to set aside their point of view in order to help advance parent education on topics of interest.

FYI, Arbor Heights is having a charter forum on Feb. 16th at 6:45 p.m. with charter pros and cons and me doing fact-checking.

5 comments:

Disgusted said...

"They did end up taking a vote on a resolution to ask the Legislature to not add charters and to focus on fully-funding education"

This is the second PTSA resolution (this week) against charters. Yet, Hattendorf is in Olympia using our voice to advocate for charters.

I find it laughable PTSA forums are taking place after charters were pushed in Olympia by WSPTSA.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Every PTSA unit is entitled to listen to state, regional and local leadership but, in the end, can take their own stand.

It would have been interesting to see how this would have played out if the charter legislation wasn't now twisting in the wind. Would the state PTSA end up looking a little out-of-touch as unit after unit stepped forward with resolutions against charters?

Elizabeth W said...

Speaking of charters, I'm reminded that we sometimes see statistics giving the percent of charters performing better, comparably, and worse than public schools for a given measurement criterion. Has anybody seen the presentation of the distributions of these criteria scores? I'm feeling that might be much more useful as a point of comparison and debate.

wv: "tazed" (!)

Aiko said...

Thanks Melissa for your post. It was great to have you at our meeting. As for the charter schools debate, better late than never! It's helped wake us up as PTA members and given us cause to work more closely with our teachers. Yes, 100% of our teachers at Olympic View are now PTA members! Working to put the T back into the PTA, a priority we hope the WSPTSA will embrace as well!

Anonymous said...

Arbor Heights?! I'm There!

Mr Ed