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Sunday, June 03, 2012

This is LEV's Example of Good Pro-Charter Opinion?

Monday Update:  So I did check with Washington State Wire and guess what?  In almost 3 years, I'm (apparently) the first person to get their Melvin G. Aston name.  It is a nom de plume "for a prominent Olympia player" and yes, the opinion piece was serious.  So take from that what you will but mystery cleared up.  (Note: I do Google names +Seattle quick often if I want to try to find out who someone might be say on the School Board public testimony list, etc.  It's amazing how easily you can find out basic info/connections doing that and it's quite useful.)

 Update: the name used for the pro-charter opinion at LEV (via Washington State Wire) seems off.  It's credited to Melvin G. Ashton and that's the name of a fictional senator in a 1947 film, The Senator Was Indiscreet.  The senator, according to a review at IMDb, is "bumbling, long-winded and crooked."  I'll have to give Washington Wire a ring tomorrow and see if they are pulling our leg.

I always like to hear what's going on at educational advocacy groups around our city and state so I check in at LEV's blog (which is a very quiet blog in terms of comments).

There was notice that the charter schools bill has been assigned a number - 1240 - and here is the text.
(I'll check but I believe that means it is now at the Attorney General's office to be assigned a name.  Given that Rob McKenna is AG and favors charters, I would assume this will get a fast turnaround.)

There is also a link to a pro-charter opinion.  It's not exactly the most calm and thoughtful piece I have ever read.  You know when someone starts out saying they would like to kill people (literally) over an political opinion that it's not going to go well.  Unfortunately, the writer has linked it with abortion rights(?!) and it doesn't work.

Honestly, if this is the opinion that LEV is supporting/using to get charter schools in our state, I am fairly appalled.  (I know the opinion writer was certainly using a lot of inflamed rhetoric to get his point across but it's over the top.  That LEV thought it worth posting, hmm.)

From what I wrote to LEV:

"Yesterday, I felt that urge to kill."  This opinion writer uses the word "kill",  and means it literally, twice in this piece.  As a pro-choice woman (which is what he references), I have NEVER wanted to kill anyone opposed to my point of view.  (That anti-choice people have killed doctors to support their views should tell you something.) And that he would like to kill people because they don't support his view on charters? 

Good to know who LEV stands with.

I find it amusing that he says, "...do not talk to me about how important it is that my children be part of your social experiment."  Public education is a social experiment?  I do not get that (and clearly, he doesn't know that charters ARE public schools so to have charters would continue the social experiment he so despises). 

He also says that anyone who puts their child in any school that is not the "greatest educational value available within your economic reach" is the "epitome of selfishness."  That's a pretty big (and decidedly incendiary statement. 

First, many of us are happy with the education our public schools give.  Some are not and are working hard to make their schools better.  Our Legislature has passed not one but two Innovation schools laws, plus a Lighthouse School Bil, to support and encourage more STEM programs.  Seattle Schools, with the teachers union, signed one is considered one of the best teachers contracts (at least for teacher assessment) in the country.  Doesn't sound like a static situation to me.

He is saying that putting your child in a less-than-perfect school is selfish.  (I would assume he means because you are too lazy to go out and find better which is a breathtaking value-judgment about others' parenting.)  Is there a perfect school - public or private?  I'm not sure there is.  Do administrators and teachers change schools so a school you picked that was "perfect" is now less-than-perfect because of issues you have no control over like personnel changes or curriculum?  Yes, it does happen.

19 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Your link, to Melvin G. Aston's business-model-of-education-is-best diatribe, on the Get YOur Hands Off My Kid on the Washington Wire,provides the following nasty little dismisaal of the lower fees at some private religious schools as mere advertising costs for their religion: They charge less so they the can "advertise" to the child?! Really? Nothing to do with their mission, their faith, their community? Lower fees are a business cost? Hogwash, and very disrespectful.

"...many parents also tolerate a constant flow of religious propaganda being fed to their children as an additional cost of securing better academic training. After all, if you’re not paying for a service, then you’re not the customer – you’re the product. Religiously affiliated schools are less expensive than secular schools because there is an advertising cost that churches are willing to pay to get their message to the target audience, namely school age children."

This guy is certainly of the Ayn Rand persuaion....

JS said...

Yeah, I don't get the "social experiment" rhetoric, especially coming from a charter proponent. You know why most of us put our child in public schools? It's the only choice we have. My family is nowhere near being able to afford any private school. We have a vested interest in preserving our public school system, warts and all. Charters are the true "social experiment" here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JS, yes, Mr. Aston is fairly tone-deaf on that point. And, as I say, if LEV thinks this is a good argument for their side, you really have to wonder why they are doing this.

Anonymous said...

LEV's posts are regulated and pre-approved before publishing. That may account for some of the perceived inactivity. Suggests to me that LEV is more a propagandist site than one which welcomes diverse opinions.

n...

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh! I thought I was reading a LEV site but I see it is The Wire. You can pull that last comment as I was thinking of the wrong site. Totally apologize!

n...

seattle citizen said...

n..., LEV, as well, monitors comments and selects which are posted. They have been generous with some, letting some relatively "anti-reform" comments and comments challenging LEV to be posted. They won't let me post, I guess I was too antagonist once and they hold a grudge, whatever.
LEV is a propaganda organization, and as such all parts of its website are propaganda.
I suspect they have little activity on their blog because they have very few members. LEV's "membership" consists mainly of big business, foundations, and others driving the Reform bus, and also some passengers such as small community/activist minority groups, at least one of which (I was on it) was co-opted entirely by its leadership and signed onto LEV (and OSC, etc)
There are many small minority groups in the city, anxious for a voice. As they have traditionally been ignored, there is a propensity for such groups to form for the purpose of gaining voice. I certainly can't blame them: I have been a member of a couple of there groups in advocating for social justice, and I know many in the city...
But their leadership often, alas, having found itself in a position of relative power, plays fast and loose with the group's good name, saying that such and such a group is behind something when in reality many of the group have no idea what the "leader" is talking about. Like me.
THAT is LEV and, most glaringly, Our Schools Coalition (spun off of LEV and OSC): A bunch of groups supposedly reprerenting communitie, particularly minority, a couple of business groups, Gates, etc, and local politicos hoping to score points with the minority communities.
It's sad, and really represents the co-poting of serious issues having to do with race, economics and power, to the cause of making schools cold, mechancial places geared mainly towards standarding workers for the production line.

Charlie Mas said...

This cannot be stressed enough:

"LEV is a propaganda organization, and as such all parts of its website are propaganda."

The League of Education Voters is a Political Action Committee. It is not an "education advocacy group" or an information service. It is all - and I mean all - about getting laws passed that conform with their vision of public education. They are not about anything else.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you both. I've been enlightened. So when a public tax-payor subsidized program like The Impact has Chris Eide on as an expert, we know that that program has an agenda. There's something wrong about that.

n...

Anonymous said...

The Impact is on TVW which means it is tax payor supported? Am I right? Yet their recently-aired panel of Mustafa, Varner and Eide is pro-charters. Wouldn't a tax-payor subsidized program need to air both sides? I think everyone should email them asking when the anti-charter panel will be aired. And I would recommend either Melissa or Charlie to be on that panel in Varner's place; a representative from the teaching ranks(WEA) in Eide's place and an anti-charter parent in Mustafa's place.

Sound reasonable?

n...

Anonymous said...

I need to go back to bed! It isn't The Impact but City Inside/Out on Seattle Channel that deserves our emails. :)

n...

mirmac1 said...

and charters continue to do their magic in Nashville. Apparently, not everyone's enthralled...

Nashville School Board Puts the Brakes on KIPP Expansion

Christina said...

Consider the possibility that a writer who uses that level of hyperbole and a pseudonym from William Powell's blowhard character in the movie "The Senator was Indiscreet" may have written for laughs.

Syd said...

I seem to missing what the definition of selfish is.

I thought doing something for me or mine that benefits me and negatively impacts others was the definition of selfish. So in my perhaps naive way, I thought that doing something with the community (sending my kids to public school) and spending my time, effort, money to make it work for everyone was the less selfish choice.

I thought using my efforts to benefit my children while at the same time negatively affecting the community (because when all the middle class parents who can afford to do so leave the public schools the education for the remaining kids is negatively impacted) was the selfish choice.

I choose to send my children to public school because I believe it is the right choice for them and for the community.

mirmac1 said...

Christina, you may be on to something. This would fit Korsmo's perverse sense of humor.

Jet City mom said...

Has anyone read the Bloomberg article about the Bullis charter schoolin Los Altos, or is that old news?

They serve the elite & demand that families "donate" $5,000 a year. These families who were used to paying $25,000 for tuition, consider that a bargain.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Old news, EK, but worth repeating. There was also one in Florida who had an "outreach" that was by invitation-only at a fancy hotel. You can guess who they invited.

Rufus X said...

Re: Washington State Wire - (and this isn't tin foil hat stuff, just pointing it out). Business manager (and sometimes contributor) listed as Isaac Kastama. A quick google search points to the fact that he's the son of Jim Kastama, he of the Roadkill Dems (and the only one of the 3 reported to be against charters).

Watching said...

" Update: the name used for the pro-charter opinion at LEV (via Washington State Wire) seems off. It's credited to Melvin G. Ashton and that's the name of a fictional senator in a 1947 film, The Senator Was Indiscreet. The senator, according to a review at IMDb, is "bumbling, long-winded and crooked." I'll have to give Washington Wire a ring tomorrow and see if they are pulling our leg."

Amazing. Keep us updated.

seattle citizen said...

Yeah, I googled that name, too, Watching and came up with the same film reference. Very strange!