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Friday, June 29, 2012

Trying to Figure Out the Message in I-1240

So there seems to be a couple of themes emerging from the pro-charter side.  First, it seemed it was about choice.

"Why do you oppose choice for poor children?"  This is what one of the $100k donors said to me.

So first of all, that's a fairly unfair and disrespectful thing to say.  There is no one that would oppose choice for poor children.  

What is hard to understand is this belief that you can equalize everything in education for all children.   (Teach for America and charter school supporters believe this and it's a great slogan but it's not reality-based.)

For example, we can't give every single child the option of a private school education (Bill Gates not withstanding as he recently lauded his childhood school, Lakeside, and said he wanted a Lakeside experience for all kids.  Don't we all, Bill, don't we all?) 

Better education?  Absolutely.  But what is interesting is this idea that charters are so innovative and that we will see all sorts of new and varied education options.  I categorically reject this idea (based on the evidence from the last 20 years and 41 states).  We can hope that will be the outcome but I doubt it.

What the initiative will give is choice and only choice.   No guarantee of better or more innovative schools being the charters picked and that they can deliver.  For parents who want different (read:better), it will be a hollow choice. 

Now, we hear from Shannon Campion, the head of Stand for Children, that this initiative is "modest and reasonable with high accountability."  (And, that's funny because the $100k donor ALSO told me it was "reasonable."  Looks like the fax machine spewing the daily talking points is working well.)

There is nothing modest about this proposal.  (And fyi, embedded in the initiative is the ability to raise the number of charters beyond 40 without going to the Legislature.  Thanks to Kate Martin for pointing that out.)  This is a very aggressive charter bill with the most wide-ranging conversion section/trigger in the entire country.

Accountability?  It's in there but it's vague on enforcement.  Remember, the DOE even said that one of the number one complaints from authorizers around the country (to everyone's chagrin) is the inability to shut down poor-performing charters. 

Over at Washington State Wire, they get it right in their headline "The Gang's All Here!  Tech Biggies Backing Charter Schools - Gates Now at $1M." 

Yes, the gang is all together with Gates at the head chair.    (I'm certain as I write that Stand and LEV are desperately trying to get parents and regular folks to throw a few bucks at I-1240 so it won't look at skewed as it does.) 

But it looks like what it looks like - a small group of wealthy white people acting paternalistically who believe they "know" what is the right answer for poor children.  Now, charters will not come to their children's schools nor will their children ever attend one but really, they know best. 

Lastly, I have to laugh.  Apparently Anne Martens, the Communications person at Stand, has this to say about me, "She is batshit but that was on a completely different post."  (This was in response to someone who called her out on that description of me.) 

I have never met Ms. Martens.  But that she desperately wants to marginalize me and my work against charters by name-calling? 

Weak. You don't win arguments (or votes) by name-calling.

24 comments:

KIathy said...

http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/school-board-rejects-great-hearts-approves-kipp-and-purpose-prep

"Why don't you want to give poor kids a choice?"

The above argument is weak and offensive. I think it is a way to put individuals on the defensive and discredit valid charter concerns.

The proposed Washington State charter legislation does not guarantee charter schools would be used to provide support for low income students. The legislation supports theme schools. Click on the above link and see what is happening in Tennessee.

I also find the "money follows the students" to be a weak argument. We all know charter schools receive greater per pupil funding. The legislature has not provided a funding stream for additional levels of bureaucracy and transportation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Klathy, charters don't have to provide transportation (but it's in their best interests to do so but it is expensive). The choice becomes less so if you can't get your child to school.

Your link is great and part of a thread I need to write about the segregation of charters and how charter, having saturated urban cities, are now pushing out into the
suburbs (much to the consternation and anger of the suburban parents who don't want their district dollars taken away).

Name said...

If choice is so important why did they let MGJ dismantle the Seattle choice system?

Maureen said...

Name, when I am wearing one of my tinfoil hats I believe that this was all part of the plan: that "Public charter schools" wouldn't be able to gain traction in Seattle (the primary target in Washington state), until alternative schools (true choice schools with nonstandard teaching materials and methods, open to all Seattle kids with transportation paid for) were weakened or destroyed.

Then again, I'm not sure MG-J ever actually knew what the Alts were. She selected a firm for the proposed Alt Audit that was known for auditing 'reentry' type alternative schools, not magnets or other schools comparable to Seattle's Alts. And that was after she had been here a couple of years.

I'm hoping someone at CRPE is working on a study that examines the academic impact of the reduction in choice in Seattle Schools due to the NSAP and revision of transportation. It makes for a very interesting natural experiment. It could end up supporting the need for increased choice in other Districts.

Last one standing said...

Oh jeez. Sorry about that.

Here's what happened. Dominic, from The Stranger, who has never taken anything I say seriously, posted something about Melissa. I wrote a flippant comment, expecting that nobody would take it seriously, because it's Dominic. Anyway, everybody freaked out, and now here we are.

So, I apologize. And you can make up your own mind about whether any of this is batshit or not.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ms Martens - I'm guessing you meant what you said until you got caught in it.

How about that cherry-picked research on Stand's site to go along with the cherry-picked students in charter schools - was it too scary to look elsewhere? You missed quite a few peer-reviewed studies on charters that should be up there if you truly wanted to fully inform the people of Washington State about charters. I-1240 is poorly written, with too many loopholes and openings for unscrupulous charter organizations to take advantage of. But I suspect that's what many of your big corporate donors are hoping for.
I know what charter schools do to a public education system, Ms. Martens - I've lived it, and it is not pretty. The lack of charter schools in Washington State is one of the things that drew me here.
If anyone is batshit, it is you people who think charter schools are going to miraculously solve all of the ills of public education.

CT

Melissa Westbrook said...

Name, the dismantling of the choice system was started long before MGJ. This was a parent-driven want and the district wanted to save $$$ on transportation.

That said, I think Maureen's assessment was correct.

Ms. Martens, that's a lame "apology" but if it makes you feel better, great.

Yes, my readers ARE quite capable people who can figure out what makes sense, what is reasonable and what possible motives people have for their actions.

Jack Whelan said...

CT--

Your comment about how you "lived it" interests me. I wonder if you could elaborate.

If it turns out that we have to fight this charter initiative, I think it will be very useful to build at least a part of our messaging around a sense of pride in our identity in WA in having been so adamant about resisting charters: We don't do charters in this state. That's not who we are, and it's good that we haven't. We haven't had to go through what X has gone through. Let's not go down a road that has proved elsewhere that it creates more problems than it solves.

Can you explain what "X" was for you?

Glady Alice said...

OMG - somebody talked about me once too, and it took me a long time to get over it. You should call me. We should talk. Words hurt.

Megan the Vegan said...

Gladys, stop with blog therapy. Melissa wears big girl pants and can handle it. And I've heard that from more people than Anne Martens.

Open Id said...

Melissa, you must take yourself very seriously.

You're a Rose said...

The Times has endorsed McKenna. Yuck.

If Melissa wears big girl pants, then she doesn't need to share that someone called her crazy as batshit, or whatever it was, seek consolation here and then be a jerk when Martens explains the context. Melissa, if you're going to spend as much time as you do reading emails not meant for you, then you surely know a lot of people have said worse things about you than that you're crazy as batshit. Please.

Sahila said...

Melissa - you know, there IS the money in the public purse and IT IS is perfectly POSSIBLE, FOR ALL KIDS TO HAVE THE KIND OF EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE BILLY-BOY HAD AT LAKESIDE, AND OBAMA'S KIDS GET AT SIDWELL FRIENDS...

its just this country chooses to spend that money on dropping bombs on kids in other countries....

If Bill really wants all kids to have the kind of experience Lakeside gave him, HE WOULD NOT BE WORKING TO TAKE AS MUCH MONEY OUT OF THE CLASSROOM AS POSSIBLE....

The charter schools and the curriculum and daily experience he offers POOR KIDS, dont resemble, one single iota, to what is offered to kids at LAKESIDE AND SIDWELL FRIENDS...

so what was that about giving poor kids choice again??? Gates is not offering choice - he's stealing candy from babies...

Sahila said...

oops - grammar issues in 2nd to last para of last post.... thinking/typing too fast...

Melissa Westbrook said...

I could give a rat's ass what Ms. Martens thinks of me personally (and frankly, yes, I have heard worse) but when someone tries to call me crazy in the context of my advocacy, yes, I will speak up. You would if someone challenged you professionally.

Sahila said...

I dont know if the link to this graph will work, but: military spending vs education spending

Gist of image is that of the 2012 federal budget, 59% ($553Billion) of discretionary spending gets spent on military activities and 6% on education

Anonymous said...

re "don't we all" want a Lakeside experience for our kids? NO! What many of us want is a good public school education for our kids.

signed,
Not A Brainwashed Microsoftie

mirmac1 said...

What is hilarious is that Martens gets PAID to say stupid shit, while some of us do it for free.

It is obvious we are getting to them and, yeah, they do take us seriously.

Megan the Vegan said...

Point taken!!!

Anonymous said...

Earth to PUBLIC Ed Advocates -

this is not politics as evaluating ideas and estimating costs and getting King Solomon to decide where to chop the baby -

This is

THEM Vs. us.

In 20 and 30 and 40 years, when this cast of insiders (DeBell, McFarlane, Kormos, Stritkus, Burgess ... Gates GAtes GATE$) has shuffled onto whatever next great thing there is to wreck, there will be a new cast of characters for insiders caste. They don't and they won't give a fiddler's crap what we think - other than wanting to know how to beat the enemy - and the enemy is everyone not in their caste or cast.

This is about THEM winning, and us losing. period.

What lies are they spewing, how effective are the lies, and what kinds of things can be done against the lies? Lots of people are doing great fabulous detailed boring grunt work, proving with facts that ... the disingenuous misinformation is a pack of lies.

And, now for the soundbite war. Soundbites help people STOP and think and change their minds ... and maybe look into facts?? How to persuade the relatively affluent busy adults who are unwittingly being played as rubes to the ed deformer leader caste?
How to persuade the non relatively affluent? How to persuade that 90% of the population who hate attack politics, and, 29 seconds after an attack ad, are repeating the talking points?

Beware the temptation to have The Sound Bite!!! If an attack soundbite works for a segment of the voting population, you don't have to embrace it or repeat it or like it ... but

HowAboutWinning?

nostalgic for the Beth-run blog said...

Sigh, remember when this blog was about people sharing information about what was happening in their schools and helping others find answers. I really miss that.

There used to be a lot more people who could contribute too. Is there any chance you would be willing to authorize new contributors? Maybe representatives from the Alt, Sped, South Seattle, BLT, PTA communities where they could start up topics that would be of interest to parent who are interested in the nuts and bolts of how to be active participants in their children's schools.

I am pretty sick of the non-stop charter coverage. And I know, if I don't like it I can start my own blog, blah, blah. This one has readers who are interested in other things and the site used to be Save Seattle Schools which many of us are trying to do at a local school level. We used to have a forum to do that but now we don't. The open threads are not enough because you have to navigate through so many unrelated topics. Its also not enough to say that you will create a thread because that takes power away from people who have direct knowledge of their communities.

Jack Whelan said...

Nostalgic--

If the big-picture political issues don't issue you, and you to want to focus exclusively on the more technical issues that affect your local school--fine. But surely at some level you must understand that whatever happens at local schools is profoundly affected by what happens in the big-picture political world. And surely you must understand that Charters are a big deal, and even if you don't think so, many well informed, credible, serious people do.

No one hopes more fervently than I do that I-1240 won't get the required signatures so that we can focus on more important things that actually might solve real problems, but if I-1240 goes to the ballot, the people behind it are highly motivated and have enormous resources to jam it down our throats, They are relentless, and they will eventually succeed unless unpaid citizens with no resources get motivated and organize to stop them. Maybe you just don't care one way or the other.

But the Hobbits who care only about what's happening in their little Shire, whether they realize it or not, owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who do care, who are informed, and who are doing what they can to keep WA charter free. Maybe some day they'll realize that.

Disgusted said...

Calling someone "batshit" is less than professional. Certainly does not lend any credibility to Ms. Marten's professionalism.

Anonymous said...

http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/capo-hires-outside-mediator-to-manage-conflict-at-shared-campus

Sad news and fighting over shared campus in California school. Prop 39.

Public School Parent