Monday, May 14, 2012

The Charter Fight Continues

Over at the Washington Policy Center, their education person, Liv Finne, is claiming I am spreading "disinformation" about the support for charter schools in Washington State (specific to my column in the Washington Post).

I have to smile.  I don't have to spread anything.  What I wrote was factually true.

She does want to argue over why the two charter bills didn't make it out of committee.  Her take is that the leadership "employed procedural maneuvers" to prevent a vote.  (I'd say that's akin to what the WA State PTA did with their alternative schools resolution.)  That's true but I think if the argument was valid, why couldn't they convince the leadership.  If not, then fight to get new leadership, right, Liv? 

She is also claiming I didn't put enough detail into the piece (like when the last vote was on charters which was 2004 and those are dog years to her).  I can only say that anyone who has written for media knows you get a certain number of words and yes, some degree of detail gets left out.

And look at who she singles out for support:

The influential Washington State PTA voted the week before last, in a nearly 2- to- 1 vote, 170 to 92, to make charter public schools a permanent part of their legislative platform.

I would take issue that the state PTA is all that influential.  I mean, I marched a number of years at the Legislature - we all have voted numerous times - and yet, education is still not fully funded.  But they are good to use as cover and this is precisely what we all thought would happen if this vote went through. 

She also cites Nick Hanauer's e-mail on how terrible Dems are on education.  Yet, she doesn't acknowledge that what the road-kill Dems did  - jumping ship from their own party - on the budget to try to get charters in.

She cites two "polls" showing Washington State voters want charters but fails to state that one of them was done by her own organization and was practically a push poll and the other one was also from a right-wing think tank.  But I'm the one leaving out facts.  

She ends on this note:

Washington has not deliberately said “no” to charter public schools, as Ms. Westbrook claims.  Reactionary forces have won a temporary victory, yes, but the public and fair-minded legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, all want to lift the state ban on charter schools.   Washington’s students will soon be allowed access to this successful option for learning. 

It's reactionary to speak out?   Funny  how all this civility stuff keeps coming up and yet anyone not on their team gets called a name. 

Bring it to a vote and we'll see.

But until then, we will continue to disagree.


JS said...

"Reactionary" - And all the time I thought I was one of those damn Liberals.

About that overwhelming 172-90 vote. According to wastateptsa.org, they have 138,775 current members. Seems like the convention turnout is a little low.

Someone said...

Well - as Albert Einstein once said "if the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts"

or maybe Mark Twain is more applicable "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

Sahila said...

direct Liv to the blog that keeps track of charter school successes/failures/scandels.... she's a researcher - its easy to find on Google....

Anonymous said...

That it was a 172-90 vote, out of 138,775 members should be repeated every single time the Charterites manipulating the PTSA from within try to use the PTSA to push their agenda in the newspapers. If that Lyvve lady's blog allows comments, someone should go comment.

172 people is not representative of the PTSA membership. The vote is not representative of the people of this state. PTSA continues to devalue its image. An image which has already been devalued in my part of town.


mirmac1 said...

I would love to join the UN-PTSA.

Eric B said...

I prefer a different Mark Twain line: "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Finne, and MacFarlane at 'Democrats' for Education Reform, and Korsmo and Kelly Munn at LEV, and Campion and Anne Martens at Stand for Children - all who appear to enjoy commanding a conversation---and who draw salaries to do so---are probably pretty steamed that it's Melissa Westbrooke who made it into the Washington Post.

LOL and power to the little people.


JS said...

They really should be saying in their press releases that only 0.06% of the WSPTA membership voted against charter schools.
Pretty overwhelming if you leave out that 0.12% voted in favor.

Dorothy Neville said...

Be careful. This PTSA voting is not on a per member basis, but on a per individual PTSA basis, yes? How many chartered PTAs are there in Washington? I suspect several thousand, which still makes the voting look weak. But it's going to be in the low thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. Does each PTA get one vote or two?

Anonymous said...

More PTSA members, more delgates to vote at the convention. Per WSPTA's voters guide.
Up to 299 memberships:
2 voting delegate

300-499 memberships:
3 voting delegates

500-699 memberships:
4 voting delegates

700-899 memberships:
5 voting delegates

Over 899 memberships:
1 voting delegate for each
additional 200 memberships

(looking for a PTO)

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just realized that Ms. Finne said I was spreading "disinformation" not "misinformation". She might want to watch those terms.

Disinformation is that I would be deliberately spreading intentionally false or inaccurate information.

Her past analysis of charters is FULL of disinformation because she wants to win her case (as I do). The difference is that while I want to win, telling the truth and educating people is the way to do it.

MoreMath said...

I get 917 local units from WSPTA's information. No breakout on membership size, but that means at the bare minimum, the best they did was 9.3% of potential voting delegates voting in support of charters, but presumably less.

I learned math in public schools!

Patrick said...

You have the advantage, Melissa, that the truth supports your case...

Anonymous said...


You could pull an Enfield and tell Liv Finne to retract the "disinformation" accusation or else.

What a sore loser Liv Finne has proven herself to be in her article.

Also, I just had a conversation with some primary students on what to do when you're jealous: Don't be mean or insulting, instead try a compliment--it will make the jealous person feel better. (That's advice for you, Ms. Finne.)

It clearly has rattled some cages that you were in the Wa. Post--you and your "community blog" that have long been dissed and dismissed by the powers-that-thought-they-be. It's a lot harder for them to rationalize you away now.

It's pretty slim pickings when Finne's primary source for credibility is Nick Hanauer--one of her own clique.

Keep up the good fight--you rock--and you are way ahead of the curve.

--enough already

Nick Esparza said...

I don't think anyone hasd been a larger cheerleader for the chater school movement than melissa westbrook. i say this because we have a person spending her entire career maginalizeing minoritity kids and advocating resources in the wrong direction. she advocates for an unequyal system. Her brand of philosophy is everything for the north end and sqrew the south end. This can be found in her rainer beach articles anbd how she goes after them. we find that she always finds fault in what they are doping wrong. She never points out schools that are white and failing like pathfinder.

The other part that is amazing is she can not have a pushback on on such things like funding for school. You are not going to solve anything unless you reduce the drop out rate. I lay a lot of blame on melissa westbrook and her lap dogs who fail to have a pushback and solutions.

The other part i find odd are the people whom write on here are good on the reactionary stuff, "the sky is falling". But they are not able to orchastrate a solution to TFA or funding for schools or IAs. That is often why I refeer to westbrook as the mit romney of the save seattle schools blog.

Just so yo know I am not in favor of charter schools.

Anonymous said...


I will never vote for you for school board, if you choose to run again. Your post here makes no sense and does not at all fit with was Melissa advocates for.


David Masters said...

Well don't vote for Nick. He may not be your favorite candidate but he has plenty of valid ideas of his own. I know melissa and her fellow followers want change but I never see or read anything worth while on here. If you have anything positive to say about the school district and how we can change it, the bring it up. Let's see some action not just ranting. I am excited to have a new super coming in. The last two seemed to be less than adaquate. I want change for the school district as much as the next guy. We need to come up with solutions and put them into action. People want to have faith that thier money is supporting a good cause and to know that thier children are getting a good education. Not everyone can make it in the current system. We need summer school and counselors, we need to use our money for what is right. Let's solve the problems and not just complain about them.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, my disappointment is that truth doesn't always win the day. Not in this atmosphere of corruption and spin. They have ten messages and messengers to Melissa's one. Those are not good odds.

Watching all the politics and seeing corrupt governors and big money spinning every message, I feel sometimes as if it is futile. Just look at Wisconsin.

I watched Ruth DeMauro (I think that's her name)- head of the California Nurses - on Bill Moyers last weekend. She is dynamite and she's all for actively getting out there and empowering her people. I wish educators and nurses could join ranks because this really is a war on women. We have nothing similar in Washington. We need it. The spin and the lies are having an effect.


Nick Esparza said...

well mr sheesh I don't respond to anonymous people. If you really have something to say you should be yourself and use your real name. I don't5 care if you vote for me. You are free in a democracy to vote for whomever you choose.

I think my criticism of meilissa westbrook is right on the money. When you marginalize a class of people of race or ethnicity it is not building a stranger school for anyone. I think that melisa never offers a solution to the problem. End this or stop that. She never offers up anything to make progressive change. She does it all for her. Her ego, her pr and herself. Her Her Her. She is so phony she can't even come out and defend her own phoney baloney positions.

I guess the other part I want to see is people advocating for equal education for all people and races. But that will never happen. Failing schools affect everyon. Not just the white or black or asians, etc. The people of this blog got what they wanted. A school board that will do just what they want. We have a proxy school board. Until we change a situation and get rid of all the people whom have mismanaged money and run the school into the ground, we will be stuck in this rut forever.

I think the difference between melissa and I is that I am willing to sacrafice my time and effort to get change. I don't care if I say or do something that ruffles thier fethers. Change needs to happen one way or another. I think the only way to get change is if the Department of Education comes in and takes charge. There are too many problems at this time. Or just fire the whole board and start fresh.

The other thing that has to happen is we need to step away from the blog and inact change. We have to have salary caps on administration pay. We have to reduce the amount of central admins and give money back to the classrooms. We have to have a legislature on how money is spent. Mandate that money be used for Summer School, or x,y and z. Money is going in the trash and not being used correctly. We can save millions by getting rid of our consultants that do nothing for us. And we could stop educating children that are brought here illegally. it is a waste of our money and resources. Lastly, dump running start and bring it back to the k-12 system.

If we had a school district that would be transparent about how they spend money and selling schools are record losses, and fix problems with ignoring them we would be in a better place.

My challenge is to melissa to sacrafice some of her time and stop writing pointless blogs. Go out and accomplish something. What have you done or changed in your 11 years of blogging? Whenever you get critisized you run and hide and attack back "that is not what I said".

I am hoping for once in your career "YOU" can defend your own positions. But I am likely to come up snake eyes on that one.

-Nick Esparza- nickesparza@seattleschooldistrictexposed.com

Anonymous said...

David Masters: I hope you do what you asked Melissa to do and that would be to present some ideas. What are yours? Ideas and action plans can come from you as well as her? Are you going to watch from the sidelines again and hope for the best? Are you the eternal optimist?

Journalism is actively educating. Her role is to inform. If you want more, then I would look to myself to do more if I were you. Our forefathers in their wisdom granted the press (ie blogs - modern day press) great latitude to keep the people informed. Thank you, Melissa, for doing an excellent job of keeping us truthfully and factually informed. What we do with that is up to each and every one of us.


David Masters said...

I dance on melissa westbrooks grave. That is more action than she give us.

Anonymous said...

Finally, Nick: You seem to be angry that Melissa doesn't carry your angry banner of activist change. I think she does. By informing and continuing the conversation, at least the reformers are getting some pushback. Don't let your desire for her to lead in a more activist way diminish her current value. She is doing what she can just as you do what you can. I think you are one of the people who can bring real change if you can mobilize your community with the passion that you show here. Don't hate someone because they manifest their passion differently than you do yours. Frankly, we need both of you. And I think you are more in the DeMauro mold. Check her out.


Anonymous said...

Oh my, David. I didn't know it was personal. That makes your comments irrelevant. :)

Nick Esparza said...

I think MEliss and I have different strategies. My strrategy is to not be the middle of the road and follow the crowd. I for one do not see melissa as a journalist but a paid typist. She is like the typwritter on sesame street that would say things and then type things. I will say that we want decent schools for everyone. Not just one group. This is a broken record. The let's move on and ignore the problem mentality does not work. You have to stand up to your mistakes and fix them, no running from your problems.

I think the other thing that stands out in my mind is, there is too much goup think. We are not debating the issues and solving the problems. I have to agree with you to make this blog work is insanity.

I basically lay it on melissa's doorstpe. I think melissa happens to be a racist. She constantly marginally talks about people of color. She constantly writes about what wrongs they do. She never says anything about the rich and welloff kids.

Someone whom never worked a day in her life has no right to criticize a super whom has been an teacher and administrator. What eduacational background do you have?

The part that amazes me Melissa is that you are missionary of the blog and you are going to save the minorities. We need to be saved by your lack of intelligence. We did just fine before we met you. You did nothing then to help and you are doing nothing now.

This blog is like a lifetime movie. The guy attacks the girl and she does nothing to fight back. Nothing to show you mean business. Fight back toe to toe against the Ed reform. Everything in this blog is proving the ed reforms business. Unless you have push back or fight in olympia the ed reform will win and we will have charter schools.

Solutions are needed and cleaning house is what we need. Currently we have more people in office becomeing part of the problem then the solution.

Always saying the seattle times is beating me up and saying I an not a journalist is crazy. You are not a journalist. You give no real solutions or arguments.

I know this will just blow though the hollow halls between your left and right ear. I look forward to your response.

David Masters said...

If it was irrelavent than why did you reply to it?

Nick Esparza said...

The majority of families are not even part of the Parent teacher association. So why do we act like the PTA is the only way to get involvement? Again a one size fits all respoinse to the situation.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Melissa is my eyes and my ears. She attends EVERYTHING—everything that I can't because of time and logistics. She reads EVERYTHING—everything the District and other sources write on websites and in print. She reports the truth: the problems with the maintenance backlog, BEX issues, etc. This blog brings out hard facts about how administration plays shell games with the budget and CA staffing.

I don't believe her job is to be out there crusading for anything but the facts and the truth. It is up to the rest of us to enact change if we believe it to be warranted. Her job is to give us the information we are not getting from any of our mainstream sources.

This blog is a news source. The recent personal attacks against her and this blog are irrelevant; it would be like attacking Walter Cronkite because he wasn't marching in the streets against the VietNam war. Bloggers are not activists; they are the new journalists.

Melissa, Charlie and other regular contributors to this blog spend a lot of time and effort to keep us all informed—time they are not being financially compensated for (unlike the various paid entities of groups like LEV, the Alliance, etc.). So lighten up, and stop the hate.

The attacks against Melissa (especially those that claim she "wants everything for the Northend"—back that one up with some facts or retract please) are unproductive.

I, for one, am glad to get some information that has not been distilled through the filters of some PR machine from downtown or other big-money sources.


Anonymous said...

there is reporting, there is advocacy, and there is despicable lying scum.

since the goo-goos of the world want the world to be a better place and operate under the ethic of "do unto others as you'd have ..."

the goo-goos are ill suited with dealing with these nixon mccarthy tactics.

it wouldn't matter that the goo-goos are ill suited, if the goo-goos could recognize that they need their own roves and atewaters and ailes types -

given that despicable lying scum are bullies, and bullies LIKE whomping on people, especially whiny goo-goos, we end up where we are today -

messaging and policy and tactics that could activate and energize the bottom 75% doesn't happen, cuz, if it did happen, the lies and the policies of the despicable lying scum would be so socially unacceptable that the liars would get to have their annual march with the white guys burning the crosses and goose stepping under swastikas ... and that would be it.

dear goo-goos, it is o.k. if you're genetically too nice to fight bullies - just get the hell out of the way of those who are willing to put bullies in their place.


StopTFA said...

Okay, I feel like Alice in the Hookah bar. Some people not making too much sense here. Anyway, I'm happy that I, and others like me, have tough cookies like Melissa. She's the good cop to my snarky one. I bust my ass for positive change and can point to some results. Maybe not what some of you may have in mind but where's yours? Melissa is my partner and I have her back, so watch it!

dw said...

I think we should let this thread die a quiet death. Melissa, I think you should ignore the rants here and let the rest of us back you up, IF it's necessary at all. I intend to make this my only post here.

Nick, I know you have a good heart, but dude, you need to sober up before writing any more posts here because you're embarrassing yourself. Writing posts with different names doesn't help your cause, especially because your writing style when you get like this is, well, uh, pretty easy to identify.

There are so many inaccuracies in your comments that I'm not even going to try to address them one by one, but Melissa is not only a journalist, but one of the stalwart citizens who actually DOES take time to do the real work to effect change. Things like getting on the FACMAC and ALTF committees. Advocating for changes to help ALL schools, in ALL areas of the city -- for years. Until you have a track record of doing the same thing week in and week out, year after year, you have nothing to complain about. And no, a short stint running for school board doesn't even compare.

Sober up, come back again and join the cause instead of doing these drive-by rants.

nick esparza said...

First of all i am not david masters. Second of alli amnot drunk. Your comment is rediculous. Third this proves my point thay melissa cant defend her own position. She needs her lap dogs to do it for her. Providingtheinfirmaion that isonthe fustrict web site is not journalism. It is cut, copy and pasting. If she such an accomplishef blogger in her 11 years, csn you tell me about 5 of them.

The otheother part is i write as myself not under a fake name or anonymous. I take the credit and blame for everything i say and do. Idont believe that my view point of what she does and did are far off.

I am somewhat puzzled as to why she is always the victom. Why cant she come out and defend her position. This shows she stands for nothing. I am used to being attacked on this blog. I believe in an opposit view. I dont group think.

I would say unless you are in favor of getting rid of the terrible board and newly bad members we are in for the same. No reason to have a board if they keep handing powet over to the super.

I am always puzzled as to why someone has a different view you assume they atewring, drunk or crazy. You need to have other views to get things moving and disscusdions going. If melissa jumped off a brindge you would all follow.

I happen to be a person whom want am
education for everyine. But you want an education only for the north end andthe well to do.

Anonymous said...


I am a doer, not just a writer on this blog--have been teaching for over 20 years--and have worked anywhere but the north end. I have been fortunate to achieve all of those outcomes you say you want for whom you mistakenly believe are "your" kids. Your blanket generalization about the people of this entire blog makes you sound like a Seattle Schools version of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. You are woefully misguided--you do not have a monopoly on caring and doing.

This blog does a great service but
doesn't fulfill all services. It gives information about those who want to corporatize schools. It speaks to the corruption in the school district. It allows people like me to write anonymously and be heard after 20+ years in the trenches. It is a source of change--look at the transportation about face that was catapulted from this blog, as one recent example.

Melissa Westbrook is not the enemy but is quite the opposite. Your attempt at divide and conquer has been the historical tool of those who seek to weaken the less powerful.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating that neither David nor Nick have widely read blogs of their own, so they come here, a place with an actual audience, to complain. Nor do they offer solutions themselves, just their own rants. Interesting.

I disagree vehemently that active solutions are not discussed in this blog. If anything, I think there is too much discussing, since there is rarely anyone in the district who listens to the ideas. Not that I am complaining, mind you, I just think it is a bit too much like tilting at windmills.

Though I completely agree that south end schools get the short end of the stick far too frequently, I usually learn about it from this blog, and from Melissa and Charlie. Again: the focus should be on the board and the district -- who control the resources and have the power to effect change -- and not on those who simply report it or uncover the news. Melissa cannot change these problems, but the superintendent, downtown staff, and board members most certainly can. Why not focus your rage on them?

- definitely an Alice moment on the blog