Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Charter schools are for quitters

Charter schools represent resignation all across the board. To advocate for charter schools is to see the challenges in public education, to see the hard work needed, and to run away. Charter schools are for quitters. They are for the cowardly and weak.

Charter schools are not education reform - they are for people who quit trying to reform education.
Yes, there is excess bureaucracy, excess regulation, and mindless standardization in our schools. It's a real problem. The real solution is to reform our public school institutions. But charter school advocates see what a job that would be and they quit. They decide that it is too much work or too hard, so they aren't even going to try to reform our public education system; they will just start over with a blank sheet. And what do they do? Ironically, the bulk of them create a school that is no different from the public schools. Charter school advocates saw this challenge and quit.

Charter schools are not for challenging students - they are for people who quit trying to teach challenging students.
Our school system is designed around the students who enrolled in the 1950's. We do a great job teaching middle class, able-bodied, English-speaking students who are well-prepared and well-supported. Those students are cheap and relatively easy to teach and our public schools do it well. There are more challenging students in our schools these days. Students with disabilities, English language learners, students who are not well-prepared or well-supported, and students living in poverty and all of the impediments that brings with it. These students are expensive and difficult to teach, and our schools don't do a very good job of it. Charter school advocate see this challenge and they run away from it. Rather than addressing this challenge they create schools that exclude these students. Charter school advocates saw this challenge and quit.

Charter schools are not public schools - they are for people who quit the public schools.
I've written it so many times before: charter schools are not public schools. Ownership - and ownership alone - determines whether something is public or not. Charter schools are not owned by the public so they are not public schools. Access does not make them public. The phone company provides universal service but CenturyLink is not a public corporation. Government funding does not make them public. Defense contractors get the bulk of their revenue from government sources, but Lockheed is not a public corporation. Government regulation does not make them public. Investment companies are regulated by the SEC, but Goldman Sachs is not a public corporation. Charter schools are not public schools because they are not owned by the public. They are owned by the entity that holds the charter. Public schools are hard because you have to balance what you want with the things that other people want. Charter school advocates saw this challenge and quit.

Charter schools are not accountable - they are for people who quit trying to provide accountability.
The only difference between charter schools and public schools is the ownership and governance. And who owns and governs public schools? We do. We, the public own them and we, the public, govern them through our democratically elected school boards. If our schools are not accountable to us, then it is because we, as the owners, are failing to hold them accountable. Charter school advocates speak disparagingly of the idea of contacting your school board. But if we cannot make representative democracy work at this, the most local level, then what hope is there for longer range attempts at representative democracy? To quit on the public's ability to hold public school management accountable is to quit on the entire American democratic system. Because if you have no voice with the school board - a legislative body that holds small community meetings every month, allows you to speak at their meetings, and has a seat of government that you can walk to - what hope is there for county, state or, most distant, federal attempts at representative democracy? Charter school advocates saw this challenge and quit.

Charter schools are not a solution - they are for people who quit trying to fix the problem.
There is nothing that a charter school can do for students that public schools cannot do. There are things that need to change in our public schools - no doubt about it. But the changes we need are in the classroom, not in the ownership and governance of the schools. Charter school advocates saw the problem and the work needed to change it and they avoided it. They decided to change something else instead. They decided to change the owner and governance of the schools for adults instead of what happens in classrooms for students. Charter schools advocates often go on and on about teachers' unions being fixated on "adult issues", but charter schools are nothing but an adult issue: the ownership and governance of the school. There is nothing about what happens for students in the classroom. Charter school advocates saw this challenge and quit.


Anonymous said...

Love the name calling. Really what is your opinion?

-Amused by Mas (sometimes you got know when to walk away)

Anonymous said...

Right on, Amused. Typical Mas patrimony.



Melissa Westbrook said...

Let me just reminder our readers; at least at THIS blog, this site, you can express any opinion.

You can't say that about LEV and Stand for Children that are supporting I-1240. They will only take comments that support their side and not allow comments that they don't like.

Some people are more cowardly than others.

mirmac1 said...


You have a certain, inimitable style of expressing yourself and I like it. I may not agree with you on all things, but respect your "no holds barred" approach. At least no one has to guess at what you really think. : )

Patrick said...

I think Charlie makes good points here and expresses them well. It's easy to post "barf!", it's not so easy to rebut.

Anonymous said...

Let's have a quick review of how politics has worked in the last 3 or more decades:

1. right wing liars, (honchos, naifs and fools of the 1% - I'm stealign from Jack Whelan) - right wing liars from the mountaintop to the gutter, attack, attack, and attack.

A. make sure you attack your opponents as 'political', and as NOT seeking solutions, and as partisan, and as unwilling to compromise, and as not representative of the independently moderate central swinger.

2. From the Nobler, Smarter, Selflesser mountaintop the 'leaders' of the opposition start doing their defensive rebuttals, which are written Cirque Du Soliel contortions PROVING, defensively, that they're not afraid of compromise or discussion on right wing terms!

A.1. From random by-ways and alleys come attacks on the attackers.

B.1. From the mountaintop come counter attacks on the attacks directed at the attackers!
(We'll scare the middle and lose! Humphrey! Mondale! McGovern! Dirty Hippies!)

B.2. From the Nobler, Smarter, Selflesser wannabe mountaintop leaders, and from naif minions, come counter attacks on the attacks directed at the attackers!

3. Policy good for the 1% wins again, or wins too often, and defeating anti-community policy happens through dumb luck, instead of effective messaging, tactics and strategy.

The first 2 comments are from the defenders of the 1% attacking charlie - as they should ...

or, are the first 2 comments from people who are actually on charlie's policy side, but, with the sternly wagged fingers of censorship, they're


Charlie Mas said...

Tell me, Amused by Mas, when is the right time to walk away from our duty to children?

Anonymous said...

After tens yearas plus and still talking about the same issues maybe the guards needs to be changed.


Anonymous said...

Can't have it both ways, Charlie.

This blog has a long, painful list of ways in which our existing school system has resisted any effort by parents or anyone else to have more accountability, more foresight, more consistency, more equity. Charlie, you've written multiple screeds on the willingness of the board to violate it's own policies when led by the nose by district staff.

Suddenly this blog trumpets that SPS is succeeding without charters, that parent engagement in public schools is so important that charters suck because they lack it, and that charters will be less responsive than the district you've spent the last few years decrying as totally unresponsive.

I like Curmudgeon Charlie better than Cheerleader Charlie. To coin a phrase, "These are not the pom-poms you're looking for."

- RollerCoasterFabio

Charlie Mas said...

My conversations with Education Reformers - the smart ones - follow a pretty predictable script.

I say "Most of the resistance to the needed improvements in our public schools are among the management - from principals to the superintendent, and not among the teacher corps. Our problems are systemic. They are in the design of the system, the bureaucracy and the regulations."

They say "Yes! Exactly! That's why charter schools offer such promise, because they bypass that management structure, bureaucracy and regulation."

I say "That's just a work-around, not a fix. The real solution is to reform the system."

They say "I don't disagree, but how long have you be working at that? Eleven years. And you have been able to move the needle just a little bit -"

"I haven't been able to move the needle at all," I interrupt.

"Okay. Not at all. Maybe if the obstacle is too big and too resistant, the right answer is to go around it. How much longer do children need to wait for your efforts to be succesfull?"

It's a compelling perspective. It has merit.

But it only has merit because I am one a few, scattered small voices. They have a big voice. Wouldn't the work go faster and show more results if they were working at it with me?

Imagine, for a moment, how things might be different if the Seattle Times advocated for a school board that actually held the superintendent accountable. Imagine the League of Education Voters calling for authentic community engagement. Imagine if Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform were working hard against the culture of lawlessness. I have to believe that we would see more progress on the kind of reforms that would create real and lasting change.

mirmac1 said...


Who's stopping you from starting a blog?

Charlie Mas said...

Could someone please show me the part where I'm a cheerleader and saying that the District is doing a great job. I don't remember writing that.

I remember writing that we have huge and intimidating problems and the charter school advocates ran away from confronting those huge intimidating problems.

I don't remember saying that our public schools were accountable or filled the opportunity gap or even reducing bureaucracy. I don't believe that.

I'm happy to consider other perspectives with an open mind, but not if they are predicated on a misunderstandiing of my position.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a world where everyone agreed with Charlie? Or with me? Or with LEV? Yes, that would make this whole democracy thing much easier, I agree.

Not the world we live in, I'm afraid.

I also think you may be conflating tactics with goals, and implying that we all share the same goal but differ on tactics, with charters being merely a tactic. I suspect you are wrong there, and that some (not all) charter proponents have some very different goals in mind than you do---specifically, ideological goals regarding size of government or independence of education from government.

- RollerCoasterFabio

mirmac1 said...

Love it! "pom-poms"

Meanwhile, over at the Times...

Charter-school debate's 4th round no less intense

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, Charlie, as I look back the 'cheerleading' I'm referring to is primarily from other blog contributors.

However, my point still stands...the argument that charters are inherently less accountable than our current district (board + administration) just doesn't pass the smell test, and you don't even need to leave this blog to see that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a charter advocate, but I just don't think this is the 3x5 card to take to the debate.

My fondest hope is that the charter initiative doesn't pass BUT the fact that it is on the ballot results in discussions and actions that drive major improvements in our existing system. Which, I concede, would validate the central claim of charter proponents that an alternative to the existing system will drive competition and improvement.

- RollerCoasterFabio

Charlie Mas said...

RollerCoasterFabio not only has the greatest alias on this blog, he (or she) also has an EXCELLENT point.

There are a lot of people who can make an excellent argument that even if providing access to primary and secondary education is an appropriate duty of the government, it may not be appropriate for the government to be the service provider.

For example, the government provides access to healthcare for seniors through Medicare, but the government doesn't own and operate hosiptals and clinics and the government doesn't employ doctors to deliver healthcare for seniors.

We could get our access to primary and secondary education from private service providers who are contracted to do the work by the government. This would create, essentially, charter school districts.

This is a legitimate model and consistent with a lot of mainstream American political theory and practice.

After all, the government doesn't have its own construction crews to build roads and bridges, they contract that work out. In fact, the government contracts out most of its work - with only special exceptions in cases in which the power is too great to entrust to private sources (monopoly on violence such as criminal justice systems and the military and such) or the potential conflicts too great (civil justice and regulatory work by the FDA, SEC, and such) or there just isn't any profit in it (public health, disaster relief and such).

Education doesn't fall into any of those categories of things that the government couldn't contract out.

So congratulations to RollerCoasterFabio for raising the issue. That is a valid argument for charter schools.

Now, is anyone but RCF making that argument for them?

Charlie Mas said...

I do not favor charter school districts because I'm wary of consequences of introducting competition in primary and secondary education.

Free market enthusiasts are competition true believers who think it improves everything, but I'm not so sure about this case.

Let's remember that schools have finite capacities. Instead of schools competing for students, competition among schools would quickly become students competing for schools.

It's what we saw here in Seattle during the era of school choice. Because there wasn't much excess capacity (that would be wasteful), all schools were eventually pretty full. The kids had to end up somewhere. Even the charter school porn shows students competing for seats in schools, not schools competing for students.

If the schools were private service providers, the popular ones could set their own entrance criteria. They could choose the most promising students out of the pool of applicants. Isn't that how it's done? Doing so would only further burnish their reputations and make them stronger competitors going forward.

And what would happen to the students not chosen? Where would they end up? They would end up at schools that didn't have to make any effort to compete, but merely serve as the assignment of last resort. They would have no incentive to improve.

Competition in education would be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

It's a fundamental tenet of "Disaster Capitalism" (to use Naomi Klein's term) that the public sector represents a rich source of profit potential which can be broken into at times of deep crisis. And, of course, if there is no crisis, one can always be ginned up.

The proffered cure of privatization is conveniently aligned with small-government libertarian ideology, which has significant support in the voting public as well as (in this case) big-money donor support from the tech industry. The link between the cure and the disease appears to be malleable---one day the problem is teacher unions, the next day it is student achievement, the next it is something else. But the cure is consistent for a reason.

I agree, charter proponents don't seem to want to emphasize the ideological aspects of their proposed cure. And they don't really have to, because they can focus on the disease....the problems are real enough, and there aren't any other cures floating around. I'd like to see some competition in THAT marketplace of ideas---what's the alternative cure? "Working within the system" doesn't convince me, and I don't really hear you believing it, Charlie.

- RollerCoasterFabio

Anonymous said...

Maybe a new voice is needed and cannot be heard until the old ones are no longer moaning.

- Amused

mirmac1 said...

"A New Voice" can be the name of your new blog. And I'm sure your voice will be heard because of the silence.

Eric B said...

"...the argument that charters are inherently less accountable than our current district (board + administration) just doesn't pass the smell test, and you don't even need to leave this blog to see that. "

I think you're making a false comparison here. If you want to compare our Board to charters, you have to compare to what charters are actually doing. If you want to compare the inherent qualities of charters, you have to look at the inherent qualities of an elected Board.

So, the real question is whether a charter board set up through closed-door negotiations with an appointed board that is by definition favorable to charters is inherently less representative than an elected school board. I think the answer is pretty obvious.

I have a family member who is on a charter board in another state. He's been in that position for 12+ years because the charter board selects its own members. That school does make an effort to survey and engage students and families, but that's largely because he makes it a particular priority to do the hard work of data analysis. If he didn't do it, it probably wouldn't happen.

Even he says that the benefits of the charter movement have already been largely realized, and there's little point in adding new schools.

Anonymous said...


Not questioning the need for this blog. Questioning the value one adds after a ten year run at trying to provoke change. It is amusing to watch someone chase their tail.

I do believe that things need to be addressed and challenged I am just wondering if the Chralie is the guy to do it. People stop listening after 10 plus years. And rants such as this one do not help move the needle at all.


Charlie Mas said...

I wish I could find the one great key that would shower a solution down on us.

There isn't any one thing that people can do. Or even twelve things that would assure success. Consider all of the various efforts needed to create improvement at Mercer.

I do believe that whatever the various fixes needed, they will arise from a short list of principles.

One principle that we need to adopt is the idea that our schools need to meet students where they are and the school needs to take responsibility to helping some students over barriers to learning. The school needs to take responsibility for filling the opportunity gap. We cannot sit back and require students to arrive with a complete tool kit: able-bodied, English speaking, physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, socialized, fed, well-prepared, well-supported, exposed to a broader world, and free of every other barrier to learning. That's an unrealistic expectation.

Another principle has to be a focus on student motivation. Teachers need to see themselves as coaches - provide skill instruction, provide skill practice, but, more than that, provide motivation. For principals this means they need to see themselves as the curators of their school's culture. They should create and nurture a culture that values academics and the life of the mind. They should work to innoculate every member of the school community into this culture.

Teachers will have to make other changes in their perception of their role. We need to think about the best use of class time. Skill practice? Skill teaching? Higher level cognitive skills? Collaborative skills? What does technology do well and how can it help and what does it do poorly and how would it just get in the way?

Last for me to mention, but not last on the list, schools should adopt a practice of closely monitoring student progress and delivering interventions at the first sign that a student is falling behind.

Some of these changes will cost money. Some won't. All of these changes would require a wide range of practices to change. It's a combination of idealism and pragmatism.

I don't have an easy, quick answer for folks, but I know the way we should be heading and I can recognize something that doesn't point the right way.

Anonymous said...

Eric B-

Regarding inherent vs. actual accountability...there's a huge gap between the inherent or theoretical level of accountability that our current board + super + bureaucracy MIGHT provide and what they DO provide. And that gap has not closed much over the years---it's grown wider and recovered, but that's not the same.

Let's accept for the sake of argument that an ideal charter might not be able to achieve the same level of accountability and responsiveness as an ideal public system under our model. That has virtually zero bearing on whether a charter can outperform our current system---and the reason it has zero bearing is because of the gap between potential and actual in our current system. Charter schools didn't create that gap.

Arguing about inherent or potential aspects of two competing approaches is really irrelevant at this point. It's almost an ideological issue rather than a practical issue.

- RollerCoasterFabio

mirmac1 said...

OK Amused, just razzin' ya.

Charlie Mas said...

Gee, amused, you thought this was a rant?

If you want to be really amused, go into the archives and read some of the stuff I wrote years and years ago. I've totally mellowed.

As for the idea that someone else take the ball and run with it for a while... YES! Please! Take it from me.

Anonymous said...

Charlie. You wouuldnt let some step unless they were a mirror image. When challenged you state untruths and posture. Not worth going against such an ego. May if there was a void it would be filled.


Anonymous said...

...the fact that it is on the ballot results in discussions and actions that drive major improvements in our existing system.

Which, I concede, would validate the central claim of charter proponents that an alternative to the existing system will drive competition and improvement.

Thia doesn't make sense to me. How does the fact it is "on a ballot" and "being discussed" validate any claim that we need an alternative system or that it will be an improvement?

The charter bill has been fairly well elucidated on this blog. It needs to be improved. You can be for charters but you can't ignore your duty to regulate them well unless you don't care whether they will be an improvement or not.

... and that some (not all) charter proponents have some very different goals in mind than you do---specifically, ideological goals regarding size of government or independence of education from government.

That's the heart of the matter, isn't it? If we nationalized the banks, we'd no longer have to worry about banksters. If we nationalized healthcare, everyone would get it and cost controls would be in place. If we nationalized energy, everyone would have it and cost controls would be in place.

But we are slaves to ideology. We no longer put the common good ahead of a so-called market-based economy.

Proponents of charters really want the money. Deregulation and privatization for profit. But their tactic is to influence voters by labeling it a matter of "choice." And voters these days seem not to be able to deconstruct the arguments to get to the facts and then make informed decisions.

BTW, Eyman is re-upping I-1053 (now called I-1185). Is that an initiative that appeals to our civic-mindedness or to our base desires (otherwise called greed)?


mirmac1 said...

Okay, hilarious, looks like Chris Eide or his one TU cohort is trying to slander Melissa in the ST comments. Funny, because in "a seattle teacher"'s eyes, Charlie is the epitome of reasonbleness and sobriety.

"Lastly, two cents: interesting that blogger Westbrook is heading the charge against I-1240. This confirms what many of us teachers think about her blog: it is a platform for espousing one woman's ideas disguised as a place for information. Hopefully Charlie Mas will start his own blog- he seems to be generally reasonable and shouldn't be lumped in with a propagandist now officially on the payroll."

Sorry, Charlie, but this puts you in a bad light. Told you sleeping with enemy would backfire in ways you'd never guess...

And congrats Melissa, you're on the Gates payroll!? WooHoo! Oh...wait, that would be Teachers United....

Anonymous said...

How does the fact it is "on a ballot" and "being discussed" validate any claim that we need an alternative system or that it will be an improvement?

Privatization advocates claim that the presence of competition can improve service levels from public sector agencies.

I'm saying the proposal for charters MIGHT (if we're lucky) lead to such improvements in the existing system, because it COULD cause the board/district/super to address problems. That's totally different than saying we should accept a charter solution.

Maybe I'm being idealistic here, I don't know.

- RollerCoasterFabio

Anonymous said...

Damn - guess I'd better go resurrect my ST sign in and post a few comments from the perspective of one who fled the charter invasion already.

Charlie is pointing out some truths - in both Utah and Arizona, most of the charter schools are "white flight" schools, populated by kids whose families don't want their child around the "riff-raff" - meaning the brown kids, the kids of another religion, etc. They also tend to get kids who had been in private school for the same reason, but once the parents find out they can get the same segregated education for free, they move them. Arizona State University has quite a few studies out on the resegregation of schools with the advent of charters.


Eric B said...


My point isn't that we've got a great system or that charter schools couldn't be better. It's that charter schools as a system are less open and accountable to the public that public schools, by the nature of the way they are created.

Since the problem we have is that human nature (us vs. them mentality, reject ideas because they weren't invented here, close doors to negative outside input, etc.) has taken what should be a very open and accountable system and turned it into one that isn't. Why would we expect that a charter school system wouldn't do the same or worse after the initial honeymoon period?

suep. said...

Ah, the ubiquitous Mr. Eide. He would certainly know about being on a payroll, as you pointed out mirmac 1! He is on Gates payroll, which I daresay is a little deeper than the "No on 1240" campaign coffers.

A one-woman blog? Clearly Eide is being foolish. There are many opinions on this blog and not all of them agree with Melissa or Charlie.

Seems like he's trying a bit of 'divide and conquer'-- don't take the bait, Charlie and Melissa!

And last but not least, what qualifies ex-TFA-er Eide as a "teacher" these days? His token substitute gigs that allow him to maintain he's still legit even after he quit his job at Mercer Middle School after one year?

If he truly cares so much about teaching, why doesn't he devote all his energies to the classroom and the kids?

Instead, he appears to be far more focused on being a lobbyist for yet another anti-teacher's union, pro-charter, Gates astroturf off-shoot ("Teacher's United"). In fact, every other week or so he seems to be shilling his pro-privatizing, anti-union agenda in the Seattle Times -- using the local paper, one might even say, as a platform for expounding upon one man's ideas.

It's getting rather tedious.






mirmac1 said...


I'm just speculating it's him (OMG Slander!), but the resemblance is uncanny...

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a special education parent, bring the charters on quick. Nothing could be worse than what passes for normal in this district for special education.


Anonymous said...

Can someone clarify whose payroll Melissa is now "officially on?". I have heard this statement before but with no specific information.

Anonymous said...

Privatization advocates claim . . .

I'm saying the proposal for charters MIGHT (if we're lucky)...

...because it COULD cause the board/district/super to address problems. That's totally different than saying we should accept a charter solution.

You want a conversation. I get that. But to attribute the current campaign which is full of ambiguity and falsehoods to a quality conversation isn't idealistic but foolish. Where educational policy is concerned, I leave nothing to chance.

I don't care which side you are on. I respect facts. Even when I disagree with the interpretation of facts, I know when that interpretation is predicated on facts. This legislation and the campaign we see in Seattle is not predicated on factual information. It ignores the failures and the scams out there. And this blog - mostly from Melissa - and from posters - have pointed out over and over the the failures and the scams and the loopholes in the law. There are too many of them. If our bill doesn't address the causes of those failures, we will have accomplished nothing except to have blindly followed the sheep that came before in the interest of that right-wing mantra "choice."

These are different conversations. The bill must be addressed. If it passes, we will find ourselves in a world of hurt. It is inevitable.

The conversation about education in general? Well, fix the charter bill and maybe that will be a viable choice - alternative. I hope not. Chris Eide is looking to the day when he will be the Michelle Rhee of Washington State. It will catapult him to the kind of position expected of a Harvard grad. He's a politician. He's not an educator. And like all politicians, he has his following and he knows who to follow - the monied elite.

A conversation about education is impossible without including a conversation about the decline of our American civilization. Trying to use the charter movement to initiate or broaden the discussion on education generally seems to get us nowhere. I use as my proof this blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Darn. That last post was


Charlie Mas said...

"Privatization advocates claim that the presence of competition can improve service levels from public sector agencies."

That's an interesting idea.

Tell me how private security has compelled the police to step up their game.

How has Blackwater motivated the army to do a better job?

Does work by private ambulance companies spur Medic One to improvements?

On the other hand, it could be argued that if not for Amazon, our public library might not offer e-book downloads. There might not be any such thing as e-books. Without Federal Express would the postal service ever have offered overnight delivery?

Unknown said...

Amused, the blog hasn't existed for 10 years so I'm baffled by your number. Blogs are free and so anyone can start one.

Not worth going against such an ego.

Afraid of a challenge?

I do find it amusing that some find Charlie so fire and brimstone and over at the charter article at the Times, there's someone who says this blog is all about me and has no information. (Clearly not reading it for content.)

"I'm saying the proposal for charters MIGHT (if we're lucky) lead to such improvements in the existing system, because it COULD cause the board/district/super to address problems."

Well, it hasn't in 41 other states so I'm thinking...no.

Quitter, is that going to be from the frying pan into the fire? Because you are right about the not-great quality of Special Ed in this district but charters certainly have a much worse track record.

NEP, I am on the payroll of Google AdSense and that's it. Never got paid for any education advocacy (except a couple of articles at Crosscut and believe me, that's not much). Charlie and I have laughed about whether the Gates Foundation could buy us off to shut us up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa. That's what I thought.


Charlie Mas said...

Dear Gates Foundation, if you are lurking, I'm totally available. Call me.

Anonymous said...

Charlie's post today put a good laugh into my afternoon that has otherwise not gone so well! Thank you Charlie! I love the way you don't mince words.

Regarding Charter Schools, my primary concern is how Special Education Students would be enfolded, and to what degree they would receive the services that they are entitled to receive. Long ago my 'Special' nephew arrived to class in which there was literally NO CHAIR for him. Nice welcome. So I'm a bit sensitive on this issue. But the other problematic issue for me is (as in the stadium/monorail votes of years passed) is how the money seems to push having to vote on charters "yet again". In this place and time, 'the money' and where it is coming from is a problem for me. When I think of the enormous amounts of money being spent and how it could fund instruments and private lessons for every kid who wanted in the district, could fund C.A.N. and other similar programs to get first-in-the-family college-bound students into school, could probably provide incredible breakfasts to most kids at school with a bit of imagination/thinking outside the box........I am saddened at the amount of funds being spent in this way. When you worry about where your monthly rent is coming from, it's an entirely different picture.

22 months and counting....

Jan said...

I tend to agree with Roller Coaster Fabio (and others) here. The engine behind the charter movement, in my opinion, derives its fuel from the "limited government," crowd. Some of these people are "starve the beast" types, who want to shift education and its funding largely to private hands (either because they just hate government, or because they believe that it is intrinsically inept and/or corrupt -- so the less you give it, the less it can squander or steal.) They are joined by those who are happy to have tax money flow to education, as long as it can then be diverted to private companies who can use it to "maximuze shareholder value," pay large salaries, etc. For BOTH of these groups, unions and the public payroll are "bad," though for different reasons.

These folks have never been a majority, however, especially since most of the rest of us were educated in public schools and see merit in them, even if they are clunky and hard to reform. Where the core group above gains strength is from groups of parents who, either because their own schools are doing badly or because choice just sounds like a generally good thing, are amenable to being swayed by the "choice" argument.

Of course, the "core" groups have no intention of delivering choice to everyone, or of delivering better educational outcomes through government schools. They plan on either shrinking the amount of money that flows to the government or, if they are part of the Goldman Sachs coterie, of drastically reducing the cost of the delivery of services (by paying teachers less, raising classroom headcounts, delivering things "online" -- but charging full freight for them, and excluding, one way or the other, kids who cost more to educate.

I see no quitters here. I see duplicity and political shenanigans, covered in a candy coating of "choice" that is being swallowed by folks who either like the concept, or are frustrated with the slow pace of change we see in public districts. I see people being "used" by those with the money and sophistication to get them to sign on, hoping to get something (better "public" schools) that the architects of the scheme never intend to deliver.

But -- Dan is right. We need to give schools increased autonomy (not total carte blanche, mind you) to figure out what solutions work for them, and what tools they need, so that the kids in their school learn the most each year. We continue to see debates driven from the top down. The solutions, all the RIGHT solutions, will come from the bottom up.

Anonymous said...

Let's simplify.

Most charters are 'meh' and there are too many other educational priorities and $$ needs to deal with this now. Or ever. We don't need another bureaucratic state board. We don't need more diversions from plain old hard work in front of us.

Most parent-peers I talk to agree and are voting no.


Anonymous said...

Long ago my 'Special' nephew arrived to class in which there was literally NO CHAIR for him. Nice welcome.

When was that? Last year? No it won't be worse with charters. It might not be better. At least with charters, there's a hope of improvement. But, guys like Charlie don't get that. Their kids got great, private, exclusive educations in selective programs. He thinks he's doing everyone a big service by blathering on. His kids got their great education, and so sorry about yours. The "lawless" district did it to you again. But hey, don't quit! Trying something different? Don't do that either. It would be quitting! (Because we really know it's the kids who are to blame, anyway.)

At the end of the day, the blather doesn't help at all. Maybe the charter will. And totally true, maybe it won't.

-Don't denigrate other's choices.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! Can you smell the irony?

Don't denigrate other's choices.

Anonymous said...

I guess as long as one thinks of it as "blather," it is useless to continue.

I thought we were trying to reason it out. Words mean something to me. Facts mean something to me. Those are the things that change my mind from beliefs to reasonable choices.


Unknown said...

perhaps I should have said "from beliefs to reasonable conclusions."

That makes more sense.


seattle citizen said...

Amused writes, "...I am just wondering if the Chralie ["THE Charlie?!] is the guy to do it. People stop listening after 10 plus years. And rants such as this one do not help move the needle at all."
A) many blog commenters (and lurkers) have been doing so for years because they are interested in public schools - Most of these, I'd guess, have NOT stopped reading Charlie's posts because, right or wrong, they come from a deeply knowledgable background. He KNOWS this district, probably more than most of us, more than most people in the city;
B) This latest post is not a "rant" at all. In fact, I believe it captures a great truth: Those who advocate for charters ARE giving up on public schools. Charters, by their very nature, are less public, some drastically so. Charter advocates themselves tell us that "public schools don't work" (ignoring the many successes in EVERY building) so they simply HAVE to have a school with fewer laws and policies...hence, less public.
They ARE quitters: They've given up on the commonwealth of our public schools and want something of their very own...with my tax dollars. They don't want to quit THOSE, of course, just the rules and regs and policy and deliberation and all the rest of that damned, messy democracy.

seattle citizen said...

"[people like Charlie's ]kids got great, private, exclusive educations in selective programs..."
Yeah, that's it, NOVA public high school (a great alternative school, a CHOICE) is a "private, exclusive" program.
Hey, Don't Denigrate, where were you at the all the meetings I've seen Charlie at? Where were you when Charlie defended students in poverty when the district was closing safety net programs? Where WERE you all the countless hours listening, offering critique, acting, advocating...like Charlie has?
I'm not saying he's some sorta god or anything, but I have absolutely no doubt that he has done ten times as much for students in this district (again, right or wrong) than you have. PLEASE refute me: PLEASE tell me you have dedicated late evenings to the education of the children of this city. PLEASE tell us the meetings you've gone to, the people you talk to...I mean, you must have SOME experience, in order to denigrate Charlie in such a fashion, no? Surely YOU have done more in the interest of education in Seattle than Charlie....right? So: What have YOU done?

Anonymous said...

Awesome posts, Seattle Citizen. You nailed it.


Anonymous said...

What's the plan when 1240 passes?


Anonymous said...

Really, SC???? You know what others have done? You know what meetings other people have gone to? No you do not. I choose not to disclose my service. I'm not impresed by the list of "accomplishments" because they add up to nothing. Furthermore, people need to represent themselves. Well meaning, self appointed, blog illuminati can not do it for them as it will never be effective, and isn't particularly educated in the matter either.

The point is - you will not win votes by calling people quitters (as if it were some sort of crime to "quit"), it denigrates them. And it is a misrepresentation of their position. Pointing out hypocracy isn't denigration, and isn't for the purpose of changing someone's vote.


Charlie Mas said...

Hey Don't,

You ask if SC knows what others have done, and the answer is yes. He knows what I've done because he saw me do it. I expect that answers that question.

I don't list my accomplishments because I don't have any. You're absolutely right; they add up to nothing. In all my years of advocacy, I have never won. The best I've ever done was to delay some actions by a year or two or speed up some change by a year or two. But I have no real results. I'm pretty up front about that.

I also agree that people need to represent themselves. I've never claimed to represent anyone but myself. I don't speak for anyone else. I just don't speak only to issues or concerns that impact me and my family directly. I speak to other issues of fairness, honesty, engagement, and transparency as well.

The first time I went to testify to the Board I heard the people who spoke before me and I realized that they had much deeper problems than mine. The District's broken promise to them was much greater an issue than their broken promise with me. I had to speak of the greater deceit as well.

As for calling charter supporters "quitters", they are. And if they don't like being called quitters, they can always stop quitting. Maybe it's easy for me to point fingers because I have been at this so long and so relentlessly. But it is not a misrepresentation of their position. They saw the task, they saw that it was huge, and they quit. They looked for a work-around instead of a fix.

Here's the part I don't get:
"Pointing out hypocracy isn't denigration, and isn't for the purpose of changing someone's vote."

Then what is it for? See, I'm pointing out hypocracy all the time. Here's an example: It is hypocritical for you to say that I should not denigrate other people's school choices for their children as you denigrate mine. I, for my part, have never - NEVER - spoken ill of any family's school choice. I have no right to do that.

My daughter is at Chief Sealth International High School. You got a problem with that? My kids have been to Kimball, Lafayette, Lowell, Washington, The NOVA Project, and Sealth. You want to suggest that my family should not have made some of those choices? Go ahead, but it's a little late for me to change it.

Arguing against charters is not denigrating anyone's choice. No one has chosen a Washington charter school. The discussion on charters isn't personal, it's about policy. My policy is to fix problems instead of evading them. My policy is that democracy is a pretty good thing and I don't want it replaced with an executive balancing market forces. My policy is that we have a duty to ALL of our students. My policy is that we are all in this together. My policy is to keep our birthright and not to sell it for a bowl of lentils when we're hungry.

Anonymous said...

"Pointing out hypocracy isn't denigration..."

Irony? It's like Palmolive, Madge, you're soaking in it.


Anonymous said...

I have been on committees with Charlie, I have talked with past a Supe about Charlie. People on the committee turned their ears off, the Supe was not impressed. Not sure how productive you are Mr. Mas. Just a bit of feedback for you. Picking words that are not inflammatory are important. How the message is delivered is very important. When done poorly nothing gets accomplished even if there is value in the mesage. Done well, mountains can be moved in a reasonable amount of time.


mirmac1 said...

Ditto Amused.

Kate Martin said...

Charlie - I really like this argument - Charter Schools are for quitters - and I like the way you illustrated it. Very useful. Thanks. -Kate

Unknown said...

My belated two cents:

Charters are indeed for quitters--just as the frustrated embrace of libertarian/privatizing ideas in general is a gesture of having given up. It's as if to say We can't make this work as human beings, we are incapable of ruling ourselves, so let's abdicate our personal responsibility to some transpersonal force--the godlike invisible hand of the market. We don't know what it will bring, but maybe, just maybe, it will bring something better, and we don't have to take any responsibility for it; it will just happen. This is magical thinking.

We can watch what's going on in Tampa this week, and feel understandably discouraged that our democracy has come to this--and I don't expect that what we'll be watching in Charlotte will be much more edifying. But if we can't rule ourselves on the local level, if we can't find a way of managing our schools as a precious community asset, and if we have come to think that it is better simply to sell them off, then we have given up on the idea of democracy. That's the ideal that's worth fighting for here.

The school board isn't the "government". It's us. The people we send to the city council or to Olympia are not the government. They are us. The problem is that we have become so complacent as citizens that we allow the people we send to be co-opted by the factions in this country that very much want us to give up and let the market do it. But will the market actually give more freedom to parents and families, or will it give more freedom to predators to take advantage of them?

That's what this charter fight is all about, and that's why charlie nailed it with his "giving up" trope. And we owe him and so many like him our gratitude for not giving up.

Disgusted said...

If charter schools pass, the advocates will own this one. Advocates will have to live with the reality that they took resources away from needy students.

Carol Simmons said...

Charlie, I have often wondered where your children have gone to school. What a wonderful heritage they have had.

I doubt for a minute that you will give up........you are made of "sterner stuff."
Whether you know it or not, you have made a very positive and influential impact on our district. You are absolutely correct about charter schools, as well as many other issues.
Thank you for speaking up and taking action rather than remaining silent and doing nothing.


Jan said...

We can try, disgusted, but the fact is -- when the "advocates" fail, the LAST thing they will do is "own it." Have corporate America and/or the neocons done one single thing to "own" the fallout of any of their decisions of the last 10 or 15 years? Nope.

I don't think charters will pass, here, in part because this is such a poor piece of legislation, but if they did, and they were predictably a failure in terms of improving education and a further failure in terms of impoverishing public schools -- the "advocates" would look everywhere BUT in a mirror. It would be the fault of the kids, the parents, the school districts for not giving them enough money, the charter authorizers or the legislature (for making them take more of the "icky kids" than they wanted to take,) etc. etc. Every single thing that we currently foresee would be "something they never expected to happen. . .."

I hope never to have to have this discussion with the advocates. I hope to beat them at the polls.

Charlie Mas said...

It is foolish to ignore the content of a message because you don't like the messenger.

It is foolish to refuse to consider the perspective of others - particularly those who disagree with you.

I have been told before that something about my communication style puts people off my message and I have adopted other styles for a time. I was no more effective. I have observed others who practiced the recommended style from the start. They were no more effective. I have come to the conclusion that communication style does not contribute or detract from the effectiveness of the message when the audience isn't listening.

Why do so many people appear so shrill, loud, hostile, or aggressive in their communication with the District? Because this is not their first time trying to deliver the message. As in personal communication, you begin politely and calmly, stating the facts and recommending a change. There is no response. So you repeat yourself a little bit more insistently in an effort to gain their attention. Again, there is no response. You become a bit more urgent and a bit more insistent as you continue the cycle of delivering the message without response again and again. At some point your style has crossed over to aggressive and then you are chided for that aggressive style and you're told that the style of your communication is off-putting.

If calm, polite communication were effective, then it would have worked when it was first tried. The claim, made this time by Amused, that a kinder communication style would be more effective was proven a lie before it was even made.

The District doesn't like it when people communicate aggressively with them, but the District requires it by not responding to people who are not aggressive.

The District doesn't like it when people complain about decisions after the fact, but the District requires it by not allowing people to give input before the decision is made. The people are going to say what they are going to say. If the District lets them say it before it is input. If the District makes them say it after then it is complaint. The words are the same, only the timing is different. The District chooses the timing.

These things are within the District's control, but rather than making the changes they need to make, they prefer to complain about the consequences they create.

So, Amused, you're just plain wrong and, if you know that - as I suspect you do - then you're spreading a lie. The fact is that my message would not be more welcome or effective if it were coated in sugar instead of salt. The fact is that I never had any chance of effecting change no matter what I said or how I said it. The fact is that all of my efforts are futile - not due to any flaw in my work, but due to the fact that the people I'm trying to influence simply are not open to influence from the likes of me.

This is pretty much my defining character trait. You said it. I don't know when to quit. I readily (and frequently) acknowledge that all of my efforts are futile. But I happen to believe that fact does not excuse me from the obligation to make those efforts. So I have been banging my head against that wall for eleven years.

I tell you what, Amused. You try to effect change your way and let us know how much success you have.

suep. said...

@ mirmac1 at 8/29/12 1:16 PM

Oh, okay, then possibly it wasn't him -- but someone else equally misguided...;-) (I thought it was a bit hypocritical for him to be talking about payrolls!) Pretty much everything else I said still stands, though.

mirmac1 said...

Now we'll both get sued for slander...(along with that evil Melissa)

Anonymous said...

The fact is that I never had any chance of effecting change no matter what I said or how I said it.

The fact is, because YOU say, make it less credible. It turns people to the other side of your issue. I for one often am on your side before I read your expositions. Of course, those you preach to, are already on your side. So what's the point?


Anonymous said...

Mas you may be surprised but I do not disagreewith many of your points. It is human nature to turn ones brain off when called quitter, weak, and one othe word you used. People cannot hear after their point of view is insulted. Your tactics are a bit bullish. I did evoke great change at a school and it only took one and a half years. I did not use name calling in thr process. They heard my reasoning, info, and logic. Change viola.


Anonymous said...

Cowardly was the other word.


mirmac1 said...

Those who would rather shoot the messenger, than listen to the message - are already gonna do what they're gonna do. Unfortunately, some have to be shamed, yes, shamed into rehabilitation. Note how staff is less arrogant and more approachable, activities and transactions more transparent, insider manipulation less brazen, the board more inquisitive and "governy", after shameful district attitudes and practices were exposed. It's too bad it had to be that way, but it is what it is. Frankly, it takes all kinds of activism to bring about change. There's no viola' about it. Charlie and I aren't going to win any popularity contests but for quality education for all, I don't care.

Charlie Mas said...

Tell us about this change, Amused. I want to learn to be more effective.

Anonymous said...

No because I don't want you to know who I am. For our pathes cross often and I like that you cannot/do not take a bullish attitude with me when are in the same environs.


Anonymous said...

Can we PLEASE have open thread Friday already.

Move on.

Anonymous said...

@Amused: SOME people stop listening when their viewpoint is challenged or they are insulted. OTHERS engage, step up, fight back, and deliver counterpoints in the debate.

Progress usually occurs when people DON'T quit, take their ball and go home. It will never occur when the recipients can't handle the heat of a hot topic.

word said...

As I see it though, this discussion brings up a key problem that lies at the heart of the charter school argument. The SPS USED to allow school choice. This tended to give some leeway to the school (if the principal chooses to do it) to shape the school to the needs of the students and parents at that school. Whether it be hiring special ed teachers or using a different math program. This enabled principals and parents to become advocates for their schools. The downside: the SPS were so incompetent at managing school choice that it became a game of psychological warfare against the parents - no guarantee you would get in to any school if you risked choosing what was best for your kid.

When the SPS eliminated school choice, and also many of the programs that made our chosen elementary school special, they did it under the onus of "equalization". They wanted students to get the same education at each school in the district and be able to move freely from school to school. However, having experienced both systems I can see the vitality and wisdom of the choice system. This "normalization" is never going to work well, even if it were combined with excellent curriculum (presently missing) and high expectations. Our elementary school was an excellent fit for my kids and they excelled. Other parents thought our school was a horrible fit for their kids - with its drill and kill math program.

If the SPS does not restore some flexibility and give up the desire for complete normalization across all the schools in the district then there will always be an argument for charter schools.

I am against charter schools for all the reasons that have been posted on this board. But if the present MJG policies continue - the SPSs will end up as useless as everyone seems to think they are. I would hate to see that because, under choice, my kids have gotten a top notch education - arguably better and more rigorous than the top private schools in the area. I don't know how normalization and flexibility can be combined effectively - but I sure know that so far the SPS will manage to screw it up.

Anonymous said...

has nothing to do with the heat of the topic has to do with the delivery of the topic.


Anonymous said...

Right. It's all about the packaging, not what's inside. Got it. WSDWG

Chris S. said...

There is the seed of an excellent talking point in Charlie's post. Rather than calling them quitters, I would say to someone "I can't believe you are ready to abandon public education." At least in this town, they will protest and voila, you have re-framed the issue.

Michael H said...

Extremist words from an extremist, non-tolerant writer.

word said...

I found this recent Mas missive reasonably and cogently stated. Those offended by the rhetoric are too fragile to be of much use to anyone - sorry to say.

Either that or they are pro-charters which strongly suggests, as Chris S. states, they are ready to abandon public education. They also, won't be much use in improving public education.

I wish there were more useful ideas on how to reconcile the SPSs recent push toward normalizing all the schools with specialized programs to address the needs and desires of different neighborhoods.

Is it possible, for example, to slow the movement of principals around the district so that they will become advocates for their schools rather than district shills? I realize it is in the district's interest to move the principals around every 2-5 years and have them strongly beholden to the central office but this, based on my empirical observation of a few schools in the district, has been one of the most detrimental policies I have seen that directly impacts students. It also seems critically important to experiment within the district with more demanding curricula if the principal and parents are on board with that. I have seen lots of improvements in schools in the district who look specifically at where their own scores are weak and implement curricula to remedy that (often having to spend a huge amount of energy arguing with the district to impliment it).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Charlie is actually a charter school proponent! Maybe he seeks to turn people off with his oft blogged about, blow-hard stance against charters. If so, he's a winner! WSDOG - of course we expect you to be a charter hater, Charlie lover (as written).


seattle citizen said...

who is "we," reader? Not me. Both Charlie and WSDWG have made comments I've disagreed with. The point is that both, and me, and you, are engaged in discussion...aren't we? I mean, this is just a blog, a place to, you know, discuss?

seattle citizen said...

Regarding HOW one presents one's self, I'm in the camp that says it's WHAT is said, not HOW.
Consider the poet Dunbar's plaintive cry about the world as he knew it and the smooth talkers in it:
"The sugared mouths, with minds therefrae,
The figured speech, with faces tway;
The pleasant tongues with hearts unplain;
For to consider is a pain..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Seattle Citizen. I can't believe a whole thread on how Charlie addresses issues. PC is over. Listen to the message and try harder to use your intellect to consider it. If you can't, it is not Charlie's fault. It is yours.

I don't understand the point of talking about the delivery instead of the substance. Honestly, our Constitution and nation did not come about because everyone worried about how they were addressed. They got down to bare knuckles and argued the issues.

And amused, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" didn't come about because everything is solved by "honey" which apparently attracts more bees than vinegar. We are not trying to attract bees. We are trying to honestly debate issues and if it gets messy, so be it. Get over it.


Anonymous said...

n at 8/30/12 7:27 PM

The vapors exhibited by Amused have a long history - I've seen that kind of censorship in Democratic politics for over 30 years of my life. What can the personal bank account of Amused afford, and what can the personal bank accounts of those like Amused afford?

for those with some kind of security of income, hence security of housing and career retraining and health care access and retirement - for those with some kind of security of income, the sell outs of the last 3 decades to the string pullers of Chris Christie Ryan Rand Perry Palin Newt Mitt - it is easy to view those sell outs as "compromises". It is easy to view the garbage trade-offs and sell outs larding the AHIP-welfare bill as the latest moves in the great game. Can Amused afford the vapors?

For those of us without those income based securities, viewing the losses of the last decades as less than sell outs isn't helping anyone identify the problems, so we're sure as hell not making any progress towards solving the problems. None of us can't afford getting the vapors, but, a lot of those who can't afford the vapors seem to have getting the vapors as about their only strategy.

Oh well Amused and company - shoot the messenger and get the vapors all you want, as long as


mirmac1 said...

Yes n. hard to believe. But it makes me shake my head. What if the residents of the 13 colonies were afraid of pissing off King George, or putting Betsy Ross' panties in a bunch? They could've just said voila' and avoided a whole war and everything.

Laughing said...

"Not questioning the need for this blog. Questioning the value one adds after a ten year run at trying to provoke change. It is amusing to watch someone chase their tail."

Really, Amused? Do you seriously think this blog hasn't changed the course of SPS?

Mag mom said...

I am a 42-yr-old product of public schools (California) and I got a horrible education. I distinctly remember being in 5th grade thinking, "this is my only chance in 5th grade. Please teach me something." I attended many classes in jr high and high school where teachers literally read the paper the entire class while students joked around. Back then everyone said we need to change public schools, everyone is still saying we need to change public schools. It's not quitting, it's saying we've tried for 30+ yrs and it's time to try something different. Friends I went to public school with in California who still live there are so happy with charters and choose them in a heartbeat over public schools, because like me, they remember the horrible education we received.

Charlie Mas said...

mirmac1 wondered about where would we be if the founding fathers didn't want to upset King George III - The answer is Canada.

Surely people have been saying for at least 30 years that we need to change other public institutions such as the state and federal government. Should we replace those with private solutions as well?

Charlie Mas said...

I filled out a response form for KUOW this week that asked me about my thoughts on the upcoming election.

In the course of answering those questions, I answered a question about the issues that mattered to me. When I thought about it, I realized that what mattered to me was protecting civil rights and maintaining public resources.

Life is better - for everyone - in communities that invest in their public resources. Schools are among our greatest public resources, right up there with roads. I believe in maintaining them, investing in them, and keeping them public.

Anonymous said...

Last post on this topic. Funny how people misconstrue my point that delivery style is being PC and that people shouldnt take on the tought issues. Point is if you want to persuade people to your side of the table calling them names will not work. All it does is piss them off. The use of persuasion works, logic works, facts work. Name calling, degrading people does not. take on the hard issue but do it in such a way that there is a chance to change someones position instead of pissing them off which only makes them dig their feet in further. Basics people. Continue chasing tail. Over.


Anonymous said...

Amused @ 8/31/12 6:37 AM

Have you watched any of the thug speakers at their convention? I saw a bit of Rand Ryan Paul Newt Perry, and I saw Chris Christie.

You write like the type who doesn't deign to watch those kinds of circuses, or, if you do you watch, you probably know where all the disingenuous misstatements are.

You certainly missed the fact that the speeches were a lot like the emotional appeal speeches of ronnie raygun or the bush cheney romney klans. You certainly missed the fact that the emotional appeals worked in '80, '84, '88, '00, '02, '94, '10.

Maybe someday you'll notice you're living in a political sandbox where there are no missing pieces to the tinker toys and legos, where mummy or the nanny is always available to sponge off the sand and kiss a boo boo and wipe your sniffles, and where all play nice and all play by the rules.

When you can afford that political sandbox for all in the community, and we'll all be able to live in the nobler, gooderer, smarterer selflesser sandbox -


Anonymous said...

Oh that is right we live in a world where we say do as I say not as I do. So little Johnny dont call people names to get your point across, only the adults can do that. I can call people who have a differing viewpoint quitter, weak, and cowardly but you little Johnny may not. See this is why I am so...


Anonymous said...

I find all this Republican bashing very amusing. We live in a country where the Democrats control the executive branch and one house of Congress. We live in a state where the Republicans have NO power. We live in a city where the Republicans have NO power.

Despite this, so many commenters here blame the problems with our educational system on Republican boogeymen.

Shouldn't we be holding those actually in power accountable?

-Fed up with ideological zealots

Maureen said...

Amused, I agree that Charlie's post probably wouldn't work to persuade Chris Eide or Bill Gates to change their minds on charters. What it might do though is tip well meaning education supporters away from charters as a solution to what ails public schools. I'm a huge proponent of school choice (not because I believe the market will force improvements-just because I think no one model works for all kids.) But I worry, a lot, about the kids who get left behind when people like me exercise their choices.

Charlie Mas said...

I wasn't trying to get charter proponents to drop their support for charters. I don't think that's possible.

Nor was I thinking of influencing any "undecideds" out there.

I wasn't writing to influence anyone.

I was writing to describe my perspective. And, since it is not a perspective that I have seen elsewhere, I reckoned it should be described. I'm not trying to change anyone else's perspective; just stating mine.

As far as counting "quitter", "cowardly", and "weak" as name-calling, I don't see it that way. If you quit, then you're a quitter. If you run in fear then you're a coward. If you lack strength then you're weak. It isn't name-calling, it's simply being descriptive. If that's you, then own it, or at least own up to it.

If I wanted to write something in an effort to convince charter supporters to abandon their position... well, I don't think I would. That really would be futile.

The people who support charters are banking on a promise. It is a promise so vague and conditional that it is impossible to argue against it. There are no facts about Washington state charter schools, just beliefs. They are buying a lottery ticket. Have you ever tried to talk someone out of buying a lottery ticket? They aren't buying a chance, they are renting a fantasy.

Charlie Mas said...

I have thought a lot about what Amused has written, and it has made me question - again - the value in my crusade for accountability. Maybe I should just quit. I'm not doing any good and I might be doing some harm.

Anonymous said...

Amused: Oh that is right we live in a world where we say do as I say not as I do.

You are the one pointing out its the words that turn you off. I want you to look at what Charlie does and give him credit. I think you are confused, Amused.

And, Charlie, you're right, They are quitters. People who don't like the message will quibble with inconsequential items like the words you use. "Quitter" has a meaning. It isn't a mean or denigrating comment. It is descriptive and probably correct. I totally agree that if one quits one is a quitter.

Amused, you don't sound very amused to me. But you certainly are caught up in Miss Manners protocols. I'd much rather read your thoughts on the issues rather than read your judgments on the quality of other peoples' thought on them. Truly we don't need more people out there tut-tutting each other. That is a colossal waste of time.

Just me I guess.


Melissa Westbrook said...

No, N, me too.

Anonymous said...

Funny Melissa, you wrote something about name callers a few days weeks. Huh.


Charlie Mas said...

So it that what this is about? Is it the idea that calling someone who quits a "quitter" is denigrating and name-calling?

And yet, Amused wants me to quit. Wouldn't that make me a quitter?

Jan said...

My thoughts are two (well, maybe 3):
First of all, at least some of us concerned about the stridency of language are not worried about the effect that is has on Chris Eide, etc. We KNOW we aren't changing minds at LEV, A4E, DFER, etc.-- and franky, with respect to them, it is true. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. They ARE quitting on public education (and the KNOW it), not just evidenced by their support of this initiative, but their consistent support, across the board, for privatization, corporatization, and a whole host of policies that damage public education. They have cast their lot with the Goldman Sachs crowd, and are ready to sell out public education lock, stock and barrel. But it never occurred to worry about those folks. No. I am more worried about parents and taxpayers in the middle, who still believe in public education, but maybe have no good options for THEIR kids, and who may still be swallowing the koolaid regarding whether charters are public schools, and whether having them hurts or helps "public education" generally by providing choice. It is THOSE folks I want to stay in a conversation with, and whom I don't want to totally turn off and shut down, by calling them names (and yes, I think things like "quitter" and "coward" are names, just like "liar" and "cheater" are). I am fine with hurling fireballs against those who are spearheading the WA charter initiative.

Second, the business of names. You can call it "descriptive" all you want. But it attempts to characterize an entire person by your conclusion with respect to one activity. Have I ever slept in on a weekend when I had lots to do? Have I ever said I could come to an event, and then had a conflict come up? Have I ever resigned from a board, left a political party whose platform I no longer agreed with (rather than stay and fight it against increasing odds)? Yes. So, I guess that makes me a liar, a quitter, and a sloth. And -- it wouldn't matter if I worked my fingers to the bone 24/7 most of the time, kept all my other commitments excessively, and stayed involved in all my other activities and causes for 50 years? If I devote 40 years to a nonprofit, and finally leave the board when a toxic majority takes over and makes every meeting hell, does that make me a quitter? What about the other 39 years? When you turn a "one time" verb into a noun, and connect it to a person with the words "is a," you define that person, in the whole, with that verb. In politics, it is done all the time -- and I think that MOST of the time, it stinks. There are, in fact, certain politicians whose activities are so consistent across time, that it becomes arguably legitimate to define them by repeated behaviors. For political hacks whose modus operandi is to spin EVERYTHING for political advantage -- call them liars if you want. It has in fact become their recognizable method of operating. If someone has a consistent career pattern of leaving most jobs, most elected or appointed positions, most committees and boards, whenever there is conflict or they don't get their way, fine -- call them quitters.

Jan said...


If Charlie's comment had been aimed solely at those spearheading the charter initiative, those who know da*n well who has bankrulled it, and for whose benefit it is being pushed -- I would have had no problem with it. But I didn't read his audience that narrowly. If it is aimed at everybody, including folks whose special ed kids may have been horribly served by a specific school, or who may be looking at an empty bank account with no idea how to continue with private school for an emotionally disabled child who can't hack an elementary classroom of 30 kids -- and they are labelled quitters? Really!? Now, I don't for a minute think that charters will do anything for them (unless, like the lottery, they are just extraordinarily lucky and some charter lands here from a different galaxy that operates differently from charters in general). But saying their logic is flawed and they are ignoring the track record of charters and the language of the initiative is a long way from being justified in calling them quitters. I worry that these people look in the mirror, say (legitimately) to themselves -- I may be a lot of things, but I am no quitter." and then dismiss the rest of the arguments against charters.

And finally -- every one has to decide for themselves if they want/need a break from something, but if we lose Charlie's voice, it will not be replaceable. (An "irreparable loss," I believe, is the usual expression.) That said, I have been listening to, and following Charlie, for years and years (ever since the Spectrum battles of long ago, before ALOs were invented). It would demean the cost that I think has been involved in Charlie's unrelenting involvement with Seattle Schools to somehow try to demand that he stay involved if he truly doesn't want to, or want to at this level. But, Charlie -- I think this. The last 4 or 5 years have been, in my opinion, the worst. The horrible combination of Ed Reform PLUS MGJ has wreaked (and, in the case of ed reform, may still be wreaking) untold damage on Seattle's public schools. But, we have a new Superintendent who is neither MGJ nor her lieutenant, Dr. E. AND, I think that we can prevail in pushing back charter schools yet one more time, if we can get voters to stop listening to the unsubstantiated spin of the ed reform crowd, and to instead simply read (and think about) the language of the initiative. And then -- and then, maybe we can get back to trying to figure out how to make Seattle public schools better.