Just Try Them, You'll Like Them (and we'll throw in a vote to boot)

The lure to legislators, well, I'll let Lisa Macfarlane of DFER tell you:

Speaking of choice, why don't we let the voters decide this fall about whether they'd support a small pilot program for public charter schools? Lawmakers could pass a bill with a referendum clause adding the issue to the November ballot - making the Governor's opposition irrelevant.

Earlier this session, House Democrats insisted that they couldn't even let a charter school bill come to a vote, let alone pass one, because the issue was too important and had to be decided on by voters. So let's see how House Democrats feel about a referendum charter school measure that goes straight to the ballot. Any bets?

One, very clever.  Tack it onto the end of what is going to be an incredibly long ballot this November, get out all your yes votes and watch most voters ignore it.  You win!

Two, did she check in with Senator Tom?  Because he said this kind of vote on education was a "gamble."  Someone should get their stories straight.

Three, I'm sorry but the Legislature passes LAWS, not makes referendums.  

Four, I'd be happy for a vote but not tacked on at the last minute in a crowded ballot.  Then again, if it comes to that, I'm still good.  Because people don't like to be harassed about an issue they have already voted on (several times). 


Anonymous said…
I don't read a lot of Sahila's links because she posts a lot and I don't have time. But I happened to click on one from today's Open Friday thread a few minutes ago and it is SO important to Lisa MacFarlane's CHARTER CHARTER CHARTER chant.

KIPP is the darling of MacFarlane and Korsmo and their lot. Results for poor black kids! Well, OK, courtesy Sahila here's a real life look at a KIPP school, student, administrative attitude and teacher morale.

Hell no to charters in WA.

Why Students Call KIPP 'Kids in Prison'

Savvy Voter

PS: Apologies. Accidentally posted this in wrong thread elsewhere too.
Anonymous said…
Savvy Voter,

Putting Sahila down in a catty way isn't too savvy.

She's on it. Some of us are in various stages of being fed up(wise). Some people are further along than others. Sahila is one of them.

Next time, credit for the post would be sufficient.

--enough already (when I say "catty", I mean no disrespect to the OMG Cat)
Anonymous said…
Melissa piqued my interest, so I just checked out DFER. Here is the WA chapter.

1) How very telling that DFER does not allow public responses on its blog. I believe the correct name for the blog is "propaganda".

2) I see there's a sign up place to get DFER email. Best get on that email list to keep track of the propaganda being spewed about OUR public schools. (It appears DFER is run out of NYC.)

3) Boy, MacFarlane sure knows how to burn bridges. I would suspect she won't be first on most Democrat lawmakers' appointment lists.

4) What a waste of time and talent. She could be helping the system instead of taunting it, backed by hedge fund managers who want to make a buck in WA by getting their hands on public $$$.

Anonymous said…
@enough already:

Chillage. People have short fuses on this stuff, but all I meant was to encourage people to read the link if they are like me and usually don't have time to. Very valuable.

There was no dis' of Sahila. I too am fed up with what she calls 'ed deform'.

Savvy Voter
Sahila said…
Reposting from Friday Thread cos DFER strategy is standard ed deform MO:

wasnt going to do any activism stuff for next few days/week... but wanted to make sure we all know what we're dealing with.... this ed deform stuff is all VERY DELIBERATE...

ED Deform MO: advice for Gates and Co. at a conference last year in an article titled Selling Schools Out, selling schools out

Here is an excerpt:

But as recently as last year, the radical change envisioned by school reformers still seemed far off, even there. With some of the movement's cherished ideas on the table, Florida Republicans, once known for championing extreme education laws, seemed to recoil from the fight. SB 2262, a bill to allow the creation of private virtual charters, vastly expanding the Florida Virtual School program, languished and died in committee. Charlie Crist, then the Republican governor, vetoed a bill to eliminate teacher tenure. The move, seen as a political offering to the teachers unions, disheartened privatization reform advocates. At one point, the GOP's budget proposal even suggested a cut for state aid going to virtual school programs

Lamenting this series of defeats, Patricia Levesque, a top adviser to former Governor Jeb Bush, spoke to fellow reformers at a retreat in October 2010. Levesque noted that reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should "spread" the unions thin "by playing offense" with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, "even if it doesn't pass…to keep them busy on that front." She also advised paycheck protection, a unionbusting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly "under the radar."

If Levesque's blunt advice sounds like that of a veteran lobbyist, that's because she is one. Levesque runs a Tallahassee-based firm called Meridian Strategies LLC, which lobbies on behalf of a number of education-technology companies. She is a leader of a coalition of government officials, academics and virtual school sector companies pushing new education laws that could benefit them.

But Levesque wasn't delivering her hardball advice to her lobbying clients. She was giving it to a group of education philanthropists at a conference sponsored by notable charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Indeed, Levesque serves at the helm of two education charities, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national organization, and the Foundation for Florida's Future, a state-specific nonprofit, both of which are chaired by Jeb Bush. A press release from her national group says that it fights to "advance policies that will create a high quality digital learning environment."
Anonymous said…
Speaking of KIPP- I heard they are coming to town as part of the Gates grant recently awarded to St. Therese, the catholic school in Madrona.

I haven't confirmed- and can't find much online. Anyone know?

signed, KIPP ?
Sahila said…
From the Madrona neighbourhood blog:

Big News for Madrona School: St Therese Gets Huge Grant
Posted on March 12, 2012 by Casey Losh

Congratulations to St. Therese School located on 35th Avenue in Madrona. The local Catholic school just received word that they were awarded over a half million dollar grant to implement a program where teachers and students use technology in the classroom to improve learning. The grant to implement the new program came from at least in part from Fulcrum Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Again, congratulations to St Therese and the Madrona neighborhood.
Anonymous said…
Yes- I found that, but no mention of KIPP. Part of why I'm so curious.

dan dempsey said…
Three, I'm sorry but the Legislature passes LAWS, not makes referendums.

Unfortunately the legislature is not big on following all the laws they right or requiring others to follow all of them. The powers that be are selective in what needs to be followed.

3 B =>Try this law that the legislature passed in 2010.=> And then failed to follow some provisions of the Law that it wrote.


First is a bunch of stuff that will be happening in education ... maybe if anyone follows written laws.

From page 15
(2)(a) A joint select committee on education accountability is established beginning no earlier than May 1, 2012, with the following members:
(i) The president of the senate shall appoint two members from each of the two largest caucuses of the senate.
(ii) The speaker of the house of representatives shall appoint two members from each of the two largest caucuses of the house of representatives.
(b) The committee shall choose its cochairs from among its membership.

(3) The committee shall:
(a) Identify and analyze options for a complete system of education accountability, particularly consequences in the case of persistent lack of improvement by a required action district;
(b) Identify and analyze appropriate decision-making responsibilities and accompanying consequences at the building, district, and state level within such an accountability system;
(c) Examine models and experiences in other states;
(d) Identify the circumstances under which significant state action may be required; and
(e) Analyze the financial, legal, and practical considerations that would accompany significant state action.
(4) Staff support for the committee must be provided by the senate committee services and the house of representatives office of program research.
(5) The committee shall submit an interim report to the education committees of the legislature by September 1, 2012, and a final report with recommendations by September 1, 2013.

NOTE ALL THE ABOVE WAS WRITTEN before the state was found to be violating the WA Constitution by inadequately funding schools..... (SO WHAT?)

continued ....
dan dempsey said…
Page 42 =>
(i) Be accepted and maintain enrollment in alternative certification routes through ((the partnership grant)) a professional educator standards board-approved program;

Jennifer Wallace is the executive director of the PESB and she likes TFA better than following existing state laws.


Next comes the section of the law written for SPI Dorn that he did not follow but who cares ... the legislature did NOT.

Page 46 Common Core Standards

(2) By January 1, 2011, the superintendent of public instruction shall submit to the education committees of the house of representatives and the senate:

(a) A detailed comparison of the provisionally adopted standards and the state essential academic learning requirements as of the effective date of this section, including the comparative level of rigor and specificity of the standards and the implications of any identified differences; and

(b) An estimated timeline and costs to the state and to school districts to implement the provisionally adopted standards, including providing necessary training, realignment of curriculum, adjustment of state assessments, and other actions.

(3) The superintendent may implement the revisions to the essential academic learning requirements under this section after the 2011 legislative session unless otherwise directed by the legislature.

The above specifically directed SPI Dorn to complete a task (a report) on or before Jan 1, 2011.

SHALL is a mandatory requirement and Dorn was 30 days late ... but who cares its only state law....
and the spending of $183+ million dollars ... $165 million right out of local school districts' funds. But no one noticed because this report was so late hardly anyone read it before the hearing.


The legislature writes a lot of laws ... but it rarely makes an evidence based decision. Most of the above is modeled on complete hooey. Just like most education decisions in this state are made by persons pushing something rather than looking for solutions......... few if any decision-makers are interested in an unbiased analysis of the research ... What a State ... What a Country ... Obama/Duncan/Dorn
dan dempsey said…
TYPO above

Unfortunately the legislature is not big on following all the laws they (right) write or requiring others to follow all of them. The powers that be are selective in what needs to be followed. .... Sorry
seattle citizen said…
Instead of charter schools as some sort of panacea, how 'bout we all read this op-ed by David Brooks and see if we can get something like that going.....

The relationship school: An experiment in education reform

"The New American Academy in Brooklyn is an exciting experiment in education reform that centers everything on the teacher-student relationship…When you visit The New American Academy, an elementary school serving poor minority kids in Brooklyn, N.Y., you see big open rooms with 60 students and four teachers. The students are generally in three clumps in different areas working on different activities. The teachers, especially the master teacher who is floating between the clumps, are on the move, hovering over one student, then the next. It is less like a factory for learning and more like a postindustrial workshop, or even an extended family compound.
The teachers are not solitary. They are constantly interacting as an ensemble. Students can see them working together and learning from each other. The students are controlled less by uniform rules than by the constant informal nudges from the teachers all around.
The New American Academy is led by Shimon Waronker
…students are less likely to sit at individual desks than around big tables or areas for teacher-led discussions.
The students seem to do a lot more public speaking, with teachers working hard to get them to use full sentences and proper diction. The subjects in the early grades (the only ones that exist so far) are interdisciplinary, with a bias toward engineering: how flight, agriculture, transportation and communications systems work. The organizational structure of the school is flattened. Nearly everybody is pushed to the front lines, in the classroom, and salaries are higher (master teachers make $120,000 a year).
The New American Academy takes a different approach than the other exciting new education model, the "No Excuses" schools like Kipp Academy. New American is less structured…”
Bird said…
Everything old is new again.

The school Brooks' describes sounds very much like the school I attended in the Kindergarten and first grade in Hawaii in the 70s.

We had a big open class room, 60 kids to a class with three teachers. First grade and Kindergarten shared one enormous classroom. There was a lot of moving from area to area, a lot of self directed learning, and a lot of flexible grouping. There were no assigned seats or rows of desks.

It was, you may be surprised to learn, the absolute worst educational experience in my 13 years of public school, and I attended a lot of schools, public and private.

From my perspective, I was a super quiet and very academically advanced kid. The last kid out of 60 you'd bother to pay attention to. I was miles ahead of my classmates, so spent almost all my time alone or with a handful of other kids. When I was with other kids, I'd frequently finish my work early and wander off to some "station" to work on a project alone. I rarely had any significant interaction with any of my three teachers, and I was pretty vague about which was which.

In my first two years of schooling, I made not a single friend. Looking back, it's easy to see why. I was almost entirely either with all sixty kids or alone. The fact that the teachers could ignore me without personal cost, didn't help to get me integrated into the classroom either.

Also, I pretty much stuck to reading almost all the time since I knew how to do it and I was too shy to ask if I could try anything else. I managed to come into second grade not knowing how to write a basic sentence. Luckily for me, I was a quick study and was able to catch up mighty quick on the things I had missed, but it's easy for me to imagine another kid not making up the lost time as easily.

There may be some differences that make the school Brooks describes not as awful as my own. My school didn't loop teachers past first grade. The superficial description of the school, however, made me shudder.

I know many folks who clamor for "progressive" self-directed learning in open classrooms and with flexible groups, but honestly, I was so excited when I saw my kids would go to a Kindergarten with 24 kids in a small class where they would sit at desks, next to neighbors, whose names and personalities they would learn. I thought it was great that they would start out working together as a community.

Glad my kids are stuck in the educational hinterlands.
seattle citizen said…
I hear you, Bird, and certainly don't long for chaotic, large classrooms over-filled with kids and staffed by teachers who ignore students.

I admit that Brooks' description is superficial (and that I didn't study it closely). What I think I was responding to was a model that is interdisciplinary (and with staff working as a team to provide the connections between disciplines) and the student/staff ratio, which is, apparently, 15 to 1. I was also suggesting (in my head, at last!) that here is a different sort of model that requires no charter.
Jan said…
Another interesting point that Bird's post makes is -- that kids are not all alike. The experience that worked so poorly for him/her would also have been a bad one for me. But it might have been a home run for a wiggly, gregarious, socially adept kid, one with a fairly short attention span (that would lengthen with age and brain development) who was a kinetic learner. One of the things I most liked about the "old" choice system (before NSAP and curriculum "alignment" was that it gave schools and teachers some ability to offer truly diverse educational environments, where all kinds of learners could find a home. I never felt like the District took full advantage of what what choice system offered, but they did SOME stuff (mostly the alt schools and montessori, but even within the regular schools, parents knew that the learning environmet/style was VERY different at Montlake, say, as compared to Kimball. The last five years have been a huge backslide in that area -- and there are kids out there whose educations, and lives, will be seriously and irrevocably damaged as a result. And they get NO air time with this District or its administration these days.

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