Tuesday, May 22, 2012

That Divide Among Democrats on Education? Widening.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle has come out on his blog with a post that firmly aligns him in the ed reform camp.  This is his choice to make but it is not what I have heard from him in the past.   He also says some very unfair things and uses straight-out-of-the-book ed reform jargon.  (Seems he's starting getting the daily faxes from Stand on talking points.)

I predict this divide is going to really be sharply felt next legislative session.  I think it is going to make for some really hard feelings (and hard choices) for many Democrats, both voters and elected officials.  But frankly, so be it.  I just wish that the ed reform side had the courage and courtesy to make some real acknowledgments about the other side - the "there are plenty of other things we can do" side.

But I just want to go through Carlyle's piece and point out a few things:

He completely echoes Nick Haneur on many points and I suspect these are the new talking points that are being passed around.  The "old" Democrat guard is out of touch and hunkered down and has no vision.  Sounds just aged and tired, no? But wait, here is the fresh-faced "new" Dems with all the answers (although they like to demure on those answers.)

Today, I must acknowledge that I fear that when it comes to the issue of public education the Democratic Party has lost our ability to hear the silence as well as the noise. We have lost our intellectual interest in challenging the institutional grip of the status quo relative to experimenting with new ideas, new approaches, new policies, new possibilities.  

For the last time - there is NO one that wants the status quo.  That is a ridiculous point to keep saying over and over but yes, valuable in making it look like the other side is just being stubborn.

Perhaps, instead, the yellow canaries in the coal mines of public education are calling out for help to modernize and update our 200-year old approach to education?

Sorry Reuven, that's another piece of nonsense.  We no longer have the one-room schoolhouse.  There is nothing remotely like what we were doing 200 years ago but again, keep up that "old and tired" theme.

Even the old idea that a high school degree is somehow a tool of educational empowerment is stale and disconnected from today’s reality. Some sort of post secondary education is essential to economic survival, and yet we see young people saddled with unimaginable debt and few options for careers. 

A high school degree, especially with new CTE offerings, does not have to be stale and disconnected, not if we don't want it to be.  And, few options for careers?  I have no idea what he is talking about.

One of his main premises is that Washington State is standing idly by, doing nothing.  That is not true but he wants everyone to think so.  Does he think so little of the work by other legislators who wrote and passed the Innovation Schools laws?  The Lighthouse School law?  The Creative Approach initiative in SPS?  The teachers' contract in SPS?

We lose credibility when we pretend that an Educational Industrial Complex does not exist that often prioritizes adult financial interests over childens’ educational interests.

Yes, it DOES exist and if you need it all laid out for you, just give me a call.  Do NOT pretend like there aren't armies of people trying to co-opt education for their own purposes (some for good reasons but many who are out to make a buck and gain power over how our children are taught and by whom).

Seattle’s inability to attract and retain great leaders is not an accident, it is a reflection of our unwillingness to own the hard work together of improving our schools and openly dealing with seemingly intractable academic challenges. 

BS.  In Seattle, our problem is the inability for us to have a well-managed and well-run district.  We don't have a whole lot of time that gets devoted to thoughts on how to have better academics.

Then he rails over how people don't want TFA and how people get angrier over that than the graduation rate? Maybe that should tell how badly TFA comes off to people.  Saying it over and over or louder is not going to make them look better.  As for the graduation rate,  look to Everett and Tukwila, Representative, they're getting it done.  But see, if you say that out loud it undercuts the "we need ed reform", right?

He also gets upset over the lack of support for the charter bill.  That really disappoints me because when he came out in a photo standing shoulder-to-shoulder with sponsor Eric Pettigrew, I called him.  Reuven told me he did it as a friend and colleague and NOT because he supported them.  I guess now he does. 

When Washington State applied for a Race to the Top grant and came in 32 out of 36 states, there was deafening silence in our lack of willingness to make it a teachable moment.

Or, it might mean that people don't care about money that comes with many strings and hoops to jump through.  If he were keeping up, he'd know this is an issue for states that DID get the money.

The learning from thousands of hours of research, task forces, studies, consultant hours, parental meetings, teacher discussions and more were all lost to our fear of an open public discussion about why we scored near the very bottom in the nation. 

Bottom in what?  Washington State is not at the bottom of anything except funding and RTTT money.

Talking about Stand:

The organization is politically aggressive in the context of education reform and the establishment prefers to respond to their proposals with what some might consider patronizing contempt rather than engagement on the merits.

I'm not patronizing them; I'm saying they are not grassroots and are going after legislators by giving or denying them money. 

Stand for Children, a leading advocacy group for children founded with the hands-on support of progressive icon and Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, endorses the top Republican in the state in an open gubernatorial race and the only response is cryptic denial of it’s importance? It is easy to rationalize, justify and excuse the decision as somehow innocuous or irrational or politically driven, but Jay Inslee is unlikely to be the next governor if he personally and the Democratic establishment structurally does not hear the silence of this quiet move.

He says Marian Wright Edelman founded Stand and she didn't; her son, Jonah did.  Odd that Reuven leaves that out except that she's the more famous one.   Who is saying that it doesn't matter that Stand endorsed McKenna?  It matters because Stand has money to throw at races and well, money matters.   Next paragraph.

Leading Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer has argued that the Democratic Party has lost its way on the issue of education. The response to his clarion call to the Democratic Party is less about the moral outrage of an undereducated society in a global economy–and the substance of the issues themselves such as how to bring innovation to public education– and more about an anti-education reform litmus test.

It's not a litmus test - it's a test of being a Democrat.  If you want to leave your party or not support them over one single issue, that's your choice.  Do not make it the litmus test for others.  

The only path forward is a sense of conviction to work together: Teacher’s unions and education reformers, Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural, parents, teachers, students, business leaders and more. More money for public education is vital and essential but it is not the sole answer; the money must be wisely invested into meaningful results. New money cannot be seen simply as a ‘backfill’ for previous cuts, it must be seen by the public as an investment in something new and energetic and invigorating in our schools that gets to the heart of addressing a 73% on time graduation rate.

Great.  Stop saying that people who disagree with you want the status quo.  How about listening to their solutions?  Or even admitting they have other solutions to offer?

But charting a course forward requires us to hear the silence of the children as well as the noise of the grownups. It’s not anti-union to question the inability of a principal to select a teacher for her building. It’s not anti-education reform to ask that teacher evaluations be conducted with dignity and fairness. 

What does "silence of the children" mean?  Baffling.  And we are rapidly moving towards principal selection (and, in fact, principals have a great deal of power about who they hire for their buildings at least in SPS).  And again, I don't know any one who says teachers should not be fairly assessed but the devil is in the details.

I do not understand his unhappiness with anyone who disagrees with him and yet he says, "let's all talk."  You don't get people to listen by saying they aren't listening. 


disgusted said...

Carlyle is up for re-election and has an opponent. I don't know anything about this individual, but it is worth checking out. If the person is half way decent, it is probably worth getting behind them.

Don't make this easy for Carlyle.

Sahila said...

This is a national issue re the Dems...

read this Daily Kos article on Cory Booker - references made to his education stance:

The REAL Cory...

and this, by Gary Stager, written two years ago about Booker, Obama and Education:

First We Kill The Teacher Unions

Anonymous said...

"It’s not anti-education reform to ask that teacher evaluations be conducted with dignity and fairness."

I wish, I wish I had a clue as to how the many GOOD senior teachers who have been driven out of SPS in the past few years by evaluation methods meant to sabotage their teaching careers -- not to fairly evaluate or inform their teaching -- could pull something together to tell their collective story. Because so many families have had an experience or two with the "one bad egg" -- the teacher who really DID need to move along, they all think that the new teacher evaluation tools are removing those teachers and no others. My impression is that is hardly the case -- but to date, it has all been done in the dark. How to shine light on this?


Sahila said...

From Mark Naison, professor at Fordham University (working hard with many of us to stop ed deform):

If you follow the money trail
It will tell quite a story'
About who gets the profits
While others seek glory
Their civil right talks
Is just bait and switch
They speak for the children
But front for the rich

Jack Whelan said...

I think that anybody who is serious about advancing his career in politics above the local level is persuaded by the political professionals that he has to carry water for the corporate reformers, because that's where the money is. It's a simple calculation founded in expediency for politicians whose fundamental driver is advancing their careers.

A run for governor or a run for national office costs a ton of money, more than the readers of this blog are going to be able to scrounge up to support an anti-reform candidate. That's just political reality. The only way ordinary folks make a difference is when they have the power of numbers and when they dominate their local district legislative Democratic clubs. We have to start from the bottom up. Guys like Eric Pettigrew are targets next time they come up for election, and they should be, and so should Carlyle.

BTW. If you live in the 46th, I want to put a plug in for Sarajane Siegfriedt who's running for the open house seat there. I've gotten to know her pretty well, and she gets it. She has the 46th LD's endorsement, and she will be a very strong, outspoken, knowledgeable, anti-ed reform force to be reckoned with if she's elected to the house.

Education and ed reform is big issue for her in a way it just isn't for the other candidates against whom she's running. We need her and people like her representing us, not unguent careerists like Carlyle.

Anonymous said...

if you look at the bigger state and national picture, rueven's phony 'moderates' are running scared - they're looking at a al gore - scott walker - scott brown kind of turnout mess -

after decades of being lying turncoats, with infinite glib excuses for letting the big guys whomp on the little guys and gals, the little guys and gals are voting for turncoats with indifference, apathy, and negligence.

Does that mean the little gals and guys want the whacky right, or, will benefit from the Reign Of The Whacky Right? Nope.

It means the little guys and gals are fed up with turncoats & rueven and his lying buddies will, obviously, stop at nothing to keep running that sell out gravy train.

If our retirement security, employment security, unemployment security, health security, housing security ... weren't train wrecks, rueven buddies ... would still be