Did You Get Your Robo Call?

I've been receiving e-mails of parents receiving robocalls from Stand for Children and A+Washington.

First, I thought it was discounted that these things work.  Even when Mayor McGinn calls, I generally don't listen (sorry Mr. Mayor, really busy).  Apparently Stand and A+Washington think they work.

Here's two calls (that one person received - note, this person does not even live in Rep. Pettigrew's district so even more annoying):

Hi, this is Ann from Stand For Children. I'm calling to publicly thank your legislator, Representative Eric Pettigrew, for his leadership on education in this year's legislative session. Thanks to Representative Pettigrew, kids in Washington state will have better access to great teachers, and principals will have the flexibility to evaluate teachers on performance and skills, not just seniority. Next time you see Representative Pettigrew, please thank him for his leadership for children this year.

Hi, this is Mary Grace from A-Plus Washington, and I'm so sorry I missed you. We called earlier today to invite you to join our live telephone town hall with your local representative, Eric Pettigrew. We discussed the new law that ensures our students here in Washington have a high quality teacher and principal in every school. We're gonna be having future events, so please visit our website at APlusWashington.org to learn more. Again, that's APlusWashington.org. Thanks so much, and have a great day.

I took the time to look at A+Washington's webpage (and their sister org, Excellent Schools) and guess what?  There are no real people at either place.  No staff, no contacts, nothing.   They do go on about who they represent and yet, there is no one person you could directly connect, by name, to either organization.  You can't get much more astro-turf or non-real than that.   Basically, both A+ and EXS exist in name only to bring gather a bunch of groups to put on list.   (You could also add the "Our Schools" group to that bunch as well.  After Monday, I think I'll have yet another new group to add to the list as yes, another one is coming out as well. 

I haven't received one of these calls - what about you?


Anonymous said…
I've received two calls, today and yesterday or the day before for the Town Hall. I was too busy or I would have listened—both were during the day; I work at home. I don't have a child in SPS, so I know the list they used didn't come from there. So where? I'm on the "Do Not Call List" too.

Anonymous said…
Today was the LEV "town hall" featuring the Corporate Reformies anti-union ex-teacher Chris Eide, charter poster boy Eric Pettigrrew and Dave Powell the policy director for Stand on the Children.

So Stand, which has lobbying $$$$$ from DC probably used its list and $$$ to call. Remember, that was its Town Hall tactic in the SPS Schoolboard Race.

LEV promoted this Town Hall on its site and also announced its alliance with A+ Washington on its site. A+ Washington is a site run by (and I use the quotes with mirth) "Excellent Schools Now".

And who is behind Excellent Schools Now? Well, the web address is registered to...GMMB, the AGENCY OF RECORD OF BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION.

And I do believe that Kelly Munn was the operative behind Excellent Schools Now via her position as the League of Education field director. Someone please confirm. Or don't. Because these people are all one big tangle of Corporate Reform.

A+ Washington site, btw, boasts more than 5K people were on that call. Corporate Reform is dumping serious $$$ and propaganda into killing the union's influence and privatizing schools.

Part II to follow.

Charlie Mas said…
I got the call and listened to the "town hall" today.

The best part was when the policy director from Stand for Children spoke about districts assigning their most expert and experienced teachers to struggling schools. He decried the way that these schools typically have the least experienced teachers and the most teacher turnover. This makes sense, of course, but it would be diametrically opposed to the assignment of Teach for America corps members in those schools.
Anonymous said…
Part II is a comment I posted at the end of a thread a couple days ago. The point is what a political operative Kelly Munn is. This is a fact, not a criticism, as Kelly is so fond of boohooing about being attacked, or having these one-ball-of-wax groups attacked, when they are called out for their sneaky tactics.

Kelly Munn is Field Activist or somesuch at LEV. She is also highly visible in the Seattle area PTSA. She monitors the PTSA legislative listserve and uses it freely to push charters. Chris Korsmo, the CEO of LEV and Kelly appear hell-bent on shoving charters down this state's throat whether or not the voters want them.

When education activist Dora Taylor started fighting back, pointedly offering a different perspective, Kelly pouted that Dora was being disrespectful and then went to the head of the WA PTSA and got Dora removed from the listserve. Kelly herself got to keep pushing her version of corporate reform and apparently she had worked with a couple of players from the East Side to get charters adopted into this year's PTSA platform,which most unsuspecting parents and teachers knew nothing about. Then she has been able to run around claiming "PTSA wants charters" and with little vocal opposition to her claim in Olympia.

It's a tawdry story but then this Corporate Reform push is all about political conniving. Its MO is to get to the state legislators via paid and unpaid lobbyists and do backroom deals. If anyone says STOP IT, they pout and say it isn't nice to criticize. Then they go right back to their political shenanigans.

It needs to be exposed and it needs to be exposed NOW.

More documentation of the Dora story on her blog.

Then spread the word.

I'm going to have to do another thread on PTA. I see that in New York, yet ANOTHER astro-turf group has taken that moniker (and confused the hell out of parents).

PTA's role as advocate and the voice of parents is slowly being taken away by these shadow groups who never say how many people in their groups really are public school parents.

State PTA seems to be slowly being taken over by a few people who are trying to control the agenda and the discussion. This IS not PTA.

And, fundraising was always supposed to be about enhancement and enrichment in PTA, not funding the basics. I have received some news from several parents at different school who feel the PTA demands (some of them via the district) are just getting to be too much.
seattle citizen said…
You want to see astroturf? Compare League of Education Voters's blog/news page with Our Schools Coalition's blog/news page.

Not too very different, eh? Because, of course, OSC is LEV. OSC is LEV's attack arm, it's "Reform" arm, supposedly separate from the LEV that also does stuff like advocate for early child hood ed and full funding...OSC is LEV's Gates mouthpiece.

What is not especially pleasant is how many of the people who will be on the superintendent committee are also on OSC. Six of the twelve "for sure on the committee" are also members of OSC:
TFA (as represented by Tom Stritikus);
Technology Access Foundation (as represented by Trish Dziko);
Alliance for Education (as repreented by Sara Morris);
Powerful Schools (as represented by Tre Maxie);
El Centro de la Raza (as represented by...?);
Tabor 100 (as represented by Kevin Washington)
Anonymous said…
I believe some of the Our Schools Coalition members don't realize how they are being used. Same idea as the Reformies infiltrating the PTSA without nice moms understanding.

El Centro does good work on its own. Tabor 100 - a bunch of African American business men can be talked to (although Kevin Washington worked closely Burgess on the Families and Ed levy so that connection is a problem as Burgess = Reformies). Dziko marches to her own beat it seems.

Stritikus = heart of the Corporate Reform beast - and a UW Dean too. Blech. And then there is Sara Morris, BFF with the Stand/Lev/Biz crowd. Funny thing about Morris is that she looks at parents like they smell funny. Really. Check it out sometime. But of course business deserves representation and that's their pick. Figures. At least we didn't end up with Korsmo from LEV or Munn or Stand's Campion or Macfarlane from 'not actually Democrats' for Education Reform or throw-a-tantrum big $$ Hanauer. The committee could have been worse.

The committee is all for dressing, though, anyhow. It's there to placate we the masses who don't actually get to talk to the finalists. Which is infuriating. What is this, the Politburo?

Anonymous said…
I haven't received robocalls.

I also listened to the "town hall" today, and was actually a little impressed, both with the tone of the conversation and with the callers. I thought it was worthwhile, and Jeanne Harmon is someone I want to hear more from.

I'm really worried about the superintendent search. Who would want to step into this mess?

West Seattle
seattle citizen said…
I agree, District watcher, that many of these groups do good work on their own, and that they signed on to Our Schools is....disheartening. In some cases, a leader of the group may sign the group onto OSC or another such "coalition" in order to gain bargaining power. Sometimes it is done without the knowledge of the membership of the group. I was a member of one of these groups when OSC first formed (or was formed by LEV, more accurately), and no one said anything to me about signing onto OSC.

It's unfortunate that well-meaning people are affiliating themselves with this sort of Reform nonsense. I'm sure some might call me out, say I don't know what they need, etc, but I think OSC is nonsense and I think the membership of some of these groups is either ignorant of the use of the group in OSC or mis-informed about what OSC represents. (waiting for accusations of calling members of these groups dumb, etc, when of course I mean no such thing. Just not informed about what it means to have curriculum narrowed to mere test prep, etc. I mean no insult to the membership of these groups; I understand the need for power and access, and quid-pro-quos.)
seattle citizen said…
On a smiliar note, I was once contacted by Stand For Children, as they knew I was an advocate for struggling people in the city. Ignorant of who they were, I agreed to discuss these issues with a Stand representative. This young person (college age) was very eager and sincere, and wanted me to join with them in a crusade. I didn't commit, and went home and studied up.
Nothing was mentioned in that meeting about charter schools, teacher evaluations based on test scores, and the other major Reform talking points Stand parrots with the rest of them in its legislative actions.
I could easily have joined and become one of the borg without knowing it.
Phew. That was close.
But many other well-meaning citizens are similarly brought along on plaintive and sincere ideas about helping, and many don't learn the nefarious agenda and actions of this Reform lobbying group.
Anonymous said…
Well- GMMB, the registrar of A+Washington is a marketing firm that has the contract for all communications work for the Gates Foundation - they bill themselves as " an issues and advocacy communications firm"

I believe they have other clients, but it's certainly disingenious to appear as if you are a new entity when clearly you are the same old same old gang.

Ditto Excellent Schools Now - who's list of "coalition" membership is a who's who of the, dare I say it, "usual suspects" ;o)

Apparently, the Excellent Schools Now coalition began in 2007 as "Washington Leads". Their website is registered to LEV's Chris Korsmo.

It just all goes around back to the beginning doesn't it.

a reader
"Who would want to step into this mess?"

What mess is it you are speaking of?

Seattle Citizen, same story with me on Stand.
suep. said…
Re-post from 2/28/12:

Astroturf Alert!

"A+ Washington"

was apparently spun off of the "Excellent Schools Now Coalition"

which apparently gets money from the League of Education Voters (LEV) (and possibly the Washington Progress Fund)

originating from the Gates Foundation (of course).

From the Gates' grants site (grants given to):

League of Education Voters Foundation
Date: September 2011
Purpose: to launch a regional teacher advocacy group supportive of the Excellent Schools Now Coalition goals
Amount: $150,000
Term: 1 year and 6 months
Topic: Community Grants
Region Served: Global, North America
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Web site: http://www.educationvoters.org

Washington Progress Fund
Date: March 2011
Purpose: to better understand the positions and perceptions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community on education reform topics, such as those put forth by the Excellent Schools Now Coalition; and to provide training and opportunities for these communities to get more involved in education change across Washington state
Amount: $300,000
Term: 2 years
Topic: Community Grants
Region Served: Global, North America
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Web site: Not available

Source: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/grants/Pages/search.aspx
Jet City mom said…
Haven't had a landline for a few years. Its wonderful. So no robocalls.
Anonymous said…
What would schools be like if "Reformers" put as much time, energy, "political capital", money and power into helping actual schools and individual students? Real, direct, actual help. Asking questions like "What do you need?" and "How can we help?"

Good grief I'm naive.

Someone said…
@oompah - you and me both - I'd love to see less "politics" and more hands on. We had 3 hangup calls starting at 8:30 this morning - reverse number research indicates it was some political survey - so guessing that was our robocall. Does that actually work? Does anybody actually listen? aiyaiyai
Anonymous said…
I respect Trish Dziko with TFA. She works hard on behalf of her school and kids. I like to think she is capable of seeing through the BS and is not just a step in line drone like others. She appears more independent minded and I hope if she truly does have a hand in our district's Superintendent selection, she can look through for qualities that a poster put it so well in a different thread, from Bird:

"I want the least reformy supe possible. Not because I'm against reform, but because it's essential that we have a supe that can see the actual problems before them, not the imagined problems that fit a predefined agenda."

Robo call is not the best personal get to know your community needs effort. It tells more about the people and the shell groups behind such tactic. They have made the control over educational funding into a political battle worth holding a state budget hostage over. You have to be talking about some serious money pay out to get so many politicians', the governor's, and gubernatorial candidates' knickers in such a twist.

Anonymous said…
OOPs, my bad I don't mean Trish's TFA, but TAF school

seattle citizen said…
I respect Trish Dzikos, also. She's done great work.

But when she lends her organization's name to LEV/Our Schools Caolition she lost some of my respect.
Charlie Mas said…
West Seattle wrote:

"I'm really worried about the superintendent search. Who would want to step into this mess?"

There are apparently about 130 people who would want to step into this mess.

And what "mess"? Seattle is an urban district getting better test scores than the state average. Public interest and support is super high. We have passed a ton of school operations levies, capital levies, and additional taxes like the Family and Education Levy. The entire central administration (except Teaching and Learning) has been newly reformed. The Teaching and Learning department is ripe and ready for reform; the new superintendent gets to re-design it as they wish. The Board that hires you will support everything you want to do. You'll have the support of one of the most educated, literate, internationally focused cities in America with a strong high tech, bio-tech, and aerospace industries.

Where would you rather go? This job rocks.
Anonymous said…
There were apparently 5,700 people on the townhall call on Friday. I thought it was a pretty good conversation with lots of different viewpoints, but respectful. Jeanne Harmon was great.

- Encouraged parent
Anonymous said…
I received the call today and found it quite interesting. I think it is a somewhat good use of business tools since it is usually difficult to allot the time to go to these events in person.

In full disclosure, I don't have kids and perhaps that is my bias but some of the questions that were asked and the concerns seem to be quite ridiculous in my humble opinion.

I am in my forties and took standardized testing when I was in school. I really don't see why this is such a big deal. There should be some set of standards so that nationally the expectations of a high school graduate are similar.

The couple of questions that really bothered me were questions about one's child being anxious and not testing well and wanted accommodations made for her child. Yea, tests are nerve-wracking. Last time I checked there were no special accommodations for tests like the SAT or other college entrance exams. Meetings can be nerve-wracking too. At some point you have sit down and take the test. College is pretty nerve-wracking and probably offer even less allowance so why coddle the child? How else do you overcome things like stage fright without getting on a stage(metaphorically)?

It seemed to me that many of the things parents were focused on were peripheral issues. Every parent wants their child to be the best and have the best but do they not think their education was acceptable? There are many ways that schools should change and adapt but the citizens on today's call weren't concerned about the big picture.

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