Using the "Negative" Trick

I wanted to follow-up on Charlie's thread about negativism(so skip this if you are not interested but please don't bother to comment're not interested).

I've heard this rap before about me or Charlie or the blog.  As you can see, we are not likely to change much.  We are guided by our own experiences, both as parents in the district and as activists.  We are just a lot more clear-eyed and maybe jaded than most of you.  That's important to understand.  We've been through the seven stages of this district and yes, we're a little jaded.

But we have no agenda.  We certainly believe what we think would help, starting with a well-run and well-managed district.  If that were the case, our critics could undercut many of our arguments.  But it hasn't been despite the many "professionals" both as superintendents and on the Board.  (That the powers that be never seem to get this is mystifying.  Don't they want a well-run district?  Because they had their professional Board and professional Superintendent and it STILL didn't work.)

We, of course, have our opinions but there are only a few things that I would say I'm hardcore on.  I certainly can be persuaded.  I know there are better thinkers out there than myself.

But back to being negative. "Oh, they're so negative."  It's easy to pretend that we never say anything good about anyone or anything in the district.  It's easy to say that all we say is "no" to anything, again not true. 

It's a great way to marginalize us and the blog. If you put out the word that nothing we write is credible and besides "so negative", well, then you put us out there as hysterics and nattering nabobs of negativism.  

One person who does this is someone I have consistently defended - Reuven Carlyle, one of our state legislators.

I have found Reuven to be smart, calm and thoughtful.  But, to my surprise, many people have told me  I shouldn't trust him.   I puzzled over this a long time.

Reuven has written a blog, he has tried to find ways to reach out and yet, he on matters of education, anyone who disagrees with him is negative.  Always. 

He came to mind because I subscribe to comments from his blog on any education posts.  One of his old posts had a new comment today.   He wrote the post back in September of 2010 about TFA.  On the one hand he says:

Perhaps we should convene an open meeting to engage in a healthy, vibrant, safe and appropriate dialogue together to discuss how Teach for America (and other non certified programs) might be able to contribute to the children of our state? We would want it, of course, to be an appropriate forum for all sides to present the case for why the law in Washington should or should not be modified to more easily enable programs like Teach for America to establish a presence here in Washington.

Well, that's reasonable (sort of because why would having a forum be unsafe?).

But the paragraph before that one?

Notice the passion, conviction and energy in the voices of TFA alumni. Notice the anger of those who do not support the program and direction. Surely there is a way that we can together engage in a more meaningful dialogue?

First, if you group all the comments of the TFA alum as good and all the comments against TFA as bad that doesn't exactly point towards everyone wanting to come to a forum with an open mind.   It's hard to come with an open mind if you have been accused of having the opposite. 

So I read thru the comments:

Seattle Education 2010:  not angry at all but asking how they bring value to the classroom

David Edelman, teacher: There's no anger there but a thoughtful expression of concern and a challenge to Reuven use data and knowledge to guide his public policy.

Ivan Weiss (Ivan is a well-known and fairly aggressive union backer who wouldn't want it any other way).  Ivan tells Reuven that TFA is a scab organization.  He also says anyone who would support TFA would not have his political support.  Aggressive, sure but angry?

Me: I give a plethora of data but angry?  Nope.

Don: Well, he is against unions and writes partially in all caps but he's for TFA and yet seems pretty angry to me. 

Seabos84 - pretty angry I'd agree

Charlie - He wrote one sentence, not so angry

Appalled - wrote more about the superintendent than TFA

Mr. Brown - former TFAer.  not angry but not especially passionate or energetic.

Eric Muhs (teacher):  Angry but angry at being told out the gate that he is angry.

S. Garcia (this is just from today so I guess this person found this late):  ex-TFA and boy is he TFA.  I wonder what Reuven thinks of his passion.

Thinking back, I realize that Reuven uses this a lot.  If you aren't on the same page with him, you're angry.  Speak out on the opposite side and you're not passionate, you're angry.

Neat trick. I'll have to remember that one.


Sahila said…
If you get labelled as a 'nut job', you are in good company....

According to Joel Klein, James Merriman, DFER et al - DianeRavitch is a "deranged crackpot", Deb Meier is "idiotic", & Leonie Haimson is "unstable".

see here:
crowd sourcing
Anonymous said…
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem (or excessive negativity)*, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”
― William Gibson

*parentheses my addition

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Melissa - is "angry" a molecular weight? A specific sound frequency? An exact light wave length?

"Angry" is a term used to describe psychos who go on water tower shooting rampages or on generic walking shooting rampages.

"Angry" is a term used by the Rueven social class against people who are blunt about calling his lying labels crap, 'crap'.

I know many of the respondents - and - good going! You're playing the Rueven game! You're lumping us with the "ANGRY" nuts who run around shooting people! And, now you're carrying water for the the Ruevens to define life according to their upper middle class lies!

There are several key reasons the 1% have done fabulously over the last few decades, and 1 of the most important key reasons is that the 1% have lackeys like Rueven defining all conversation away from getting to the point, away from calling toadies to the aristocrats 'toadies', and away from calling bandits 'bandits'.

Wendy Kopp and her KIPP running hubby are racketeers. If Rueven wants to defend them by claiming that those of us who are blunt are "Angry", that is his right. And those of us who are fed up with the Rueven cla$$, and who are NOT going to piddle around with obfuscation and euphemism, we're just supposed to cower, so we're not lied about?

What wavelength is "Angry"?

"Angry" IS a McCarthy-ite smear.

NegativeNancy said…
If you put out the word that nothing we write is credible and besides "so negative", well, then you put us out there as hysterics and nattering nabobs of negativism.

Yeah. I'm ok with that.
Anonymous said…
No agenda, huh? Does meeting with the Seattle Times and trying to get on staff there count? Rather shocking you even tried that. Go figure they rejected that proposal. First Crosscut dumped you and then the Times snubbed you. You are not a real journalist. Rumor has it you are looking to monetize this blog. What say you? I think you definitely have an agenda and it is to get attention and ultimately to make money.
- Skeptical
Sahila said…
@Skeptical..... what a wonderful world of delusion/illusion you live in.... make money off a blog like this? as a marketing consultant I say "Good luck with that"...

there isnt enough controversy here to make enough of a splash to get any real attention to make any real money...

Its not "nutty" enough - it doesnt have enough ranters and ravers as show up to spiel their right-wing crap as on the Crosscut or Times comment sections...

Dont you know - I'm the only ranter and raver here... I'm the crazy person...

Thanks for the best laugh of the day....
Sahila said…
People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have gray fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake. ~ Winnie the Pooh
Jet City mom said…
I voted for John Bubank.
Anonymous said…
Well, this column fits in the group of ones I don't really understand, 'cause they're a bit too insider for me (I don't know who Reuven is, for example).

If there was a "donate" button to support this blog, I'd click on it and have no problem paying you a salary for the work you do. It's well worth investing in.

Anonymous said…
Playing the "angry card" is Seattle's self-appointed 'leaders' favorite way of marginalizing those who disagree with them. But what the 'angry lobbers' REALLY mean, I think, is that those who disagree with them are a threat to their comfortable status quo hold on power.

Which is a GOOD thing.

Who uses it? In education, listen for the code in City Council (Burgess) the Alliance 4 Ed (Morris) LEV (Korsmo, Munn), Gates Foundation players (Greer), the school Board (Martin-Morris, DeBell, Carr)...

Of course all of these people have meltdowns, sometimes quite publicly (Korsmo on TV last year) so they look silly pointing the fingers at others. More than that, they look insecure. Sort of like a sorry high school clique.(And they should be insecure, since Seattle voters do like to think for themselves and this blog helps us to do so.)

Savvy Voter
Noam said…
One of the best descriptions of the way the supporters of status quo at SSD marginalize critics was the "belittle and dismiss" phrase used last week.

This "negativity" charge is the first step and I hope you two public servants don't let it get to you.

As far as I'm concerned, you print to much positive stuff. My first thought is of "boosterism" when I see those threads but theres lots of them and we know that your leadership is not without cost.

PLEASE keep standing up for truth.

Without you, we would be much worse off. And MGJ would still be here.

WE think "truthsayer" has amuch too high opionion of himself and is probably employed by Strategies 360.
Anonymous said…
Keep doing what you're doing, damn the critics. This blog fills a necessary function in our district and raises the bar for other media. I don't expect to agree with the content or tone of every post. Good heavens, we're adults here, right? And if you need to monetize the blog, by all means do so. For years you have volunteered gazillions of hours of research and attending meetings on our behalf. Let those of who benefit help pay the bills.
Josh Hayes said…
It's puzzling: suggesting any sort of improvement implies that something is at least a little bit broken, doesn't it? Does that make someone "negative"? I suppose, in some minds, it does.

But as the old riddle goes - what's the biggest room in the world? Room for improvement. This is, to my mind, a positive attitude: problems exist but we can attack them and make progress on them. Literacy, numeracy, achievement gaps, on and on, it's not negative to point out that we fall short in these, and it's only positive to propose changes that will help to improve them.
Anonymous said…
Rosencranz: "You have a flat tire."

Guildenstern: "I have three tires that hold air, as well as a spare tire in my trunk."

R: "But your tire is flat."

G: "Stop being so negative. Let's focus on the tires that are holding air. And I already told you I have a spare."

R: "Have you considered replacing the flat tire with your spare?"

G: "The majority of my tires are fine."

R: "There are risks driving with a flat tire."

G: "Alright already. I'll put on the spare."

R: "Good idea, but it looks like your spare is flat."

G: "Why are you so angry?"

R: "I'm not. I just noticed that your spare tire appears to be flat."

G: "The majority of my tires are still holding air. I think we would be able to make better progress if you would focus on that."

R: "What is this that you're driving?"

G: "Weird question. It's my car."

R: "And how many wheels does it have?"

G: "You belittle yourself by focusing only on the faults with my car. Besides which, you are not a mechanic, nor do you sell tires. I don't believe that you're even qualified to hold an opinion as to the status of my tires."

R: "Say what you will about me. You still have a flat tire, and your spare has no air."

Yes, Charlie and I have written this blog for 6 years for no money and no investors.

And NOW the time is ripe to make money? Skeptical, very funny.

If we choose to monetize the blog (and we probably will), that's really our choice.

"Does meeting with the Seattle Times and trying to get on staff there count?"

I have never met with Seattle Times staff about a job nor ever applied for a job at the Times. I did have a meeting - by the Times' invitation - to sit down and listen in on one of their editorial meetings.

You really don't have very good sources for your information.

ZB, I explain who Reuven is in my thread.
Josh Hayes said…
Perhaps "skeptical" is mixing you up with Goldy, from over on the SLOG, who has applied to the ST to be an editorial writer. I think you both have about the same chance of getting hired over there, however.
Anonymous said…
"Sorry", it's actually worse than that: the scenario is the same, except that G is accusing R of negativism, to move towards "belittling & dismissing" while at the same time suggesting that the solution to his *one* flat tire is to throw away the entire otherwise functioning car and buy a boat to drive around town with.

Anonymous said…
The quotes on here are hilarious. And this blog is where I come to read solid information, critical thinking, informed opinion. Very thankful for it.
Catherine said…
Let me see if I get this straight- They (Gates, LEV, Stand) see a problem in Seattle Schools and come up with their approach, and they're "all that" and wonderful.

Anybody else sees a different problem, or a different solution to the same problem, and those anybody else's' are negative, angry, nut-jobs?

Did I get that right?
Someone said…
Yes Catherine - that's the argument in a nutshell.

The problem ultimately comes from that human inclination to divide the world into "us" and "them" - it's caused more wars than nearly any other kind of thinking.

It's certainly what causes most of the friction here, in my humble view.

For myself - somedays I'm an "us" and somedays I'm a "them" - I do not subscribe to entrenched opinions and am willing to listen to ideas, no matter who has them (with one or two minor exceptions).

While I totally appreciate your personal needs and right to choose to monetize the blog - I do think there are inherent pitfalls in that - because then it becomes about "who" is behind the money and no longer a neutral (theoritically) ground. More "us" vs "them"
Anonymous said…
Reminds me of the "serious" and "adult" pundits who call Krugman and the like "shrill." Somehow, the "serious" and "adult" folk forget how to debate the issues and resort to name-calling. An often effective means of distraction, but not a respectful way to debate.

- Ebenezer
Carol Simmons said…
We only just returned from being out of the country for 4 months. This Forum/Blog and Chris Jackins are the first contacts I make for accurate and informative School District information. Thank you Melissa and Charlie and all contributors. Love Charlie's photee of Susan on his postings and his rationale for placing it there.
word said…
Keep up the great work!!!
Anonymous said…
This blog is my Talk Radio, it's not news and I'm not a big fan of the hosts, but it can be very entertaining when interesting "callers" show up.

-Ann O'Nimmus
Anonymous said…
Thanks Dan for the Reuven's moment. Surely, it can't be a conincidence it comes on top ot the ST's Rosenthal piece on US Chamber of Commerce assessment of SPS. The content of Reuven's piece nicely match the content of the USCC's theme. ST is more than happy to put all of this out there and our politicians are too keen on winning endorsement, contribution$, and elections that they are more than happy to hand out education dollars to business interest. This isn't about micromangement anymore, it's about "working together" to give away public assets to private interest.

Who's the canary here? Business leaders as model education leaders? Oh Captain, my Captain...please, how many billions of taxpayers' handout and more tax breaks are needed to prop up these busineses and their leader's "sloppy" and "stupid" mistakes.

We already know what happened to the canary in the financial coal mine.

Disgusted said…
It appears Carlyle is in bed with Hanauer. Interesting.

Throw Carlyle in with the rest of the union busting democrats. I guess he didn't notice EVERY Democratic District in Seattle signed onto anti-charter resolutions. So, who does he represent? Glad he is showing his full hand.

Carlyle is still going off on RTT. Has he noticed states are applying for exemptions?
Jan said…
Nice name, Ann.

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