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Friday, October 05, 2012

Now is the Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

Remember my thread about the list of who does and does not support I-1240?  Remember how the No On 1240 group list dwarfed the Yes list AND had the biggest diversity of educators, parents and community groups?  Well, consider the list of individuals, particularly elected officials who are, as private citizens, taking a stand against 1240. 

I have written to many elected officials to not stand by and be silent.  Any elected official who thinks they can be silent and think voters might not remember that silence in the future if 1240 passes - when schools have EVEN less money and non-failing schools get taken over by a charter - is wrong.   And I will be the first to say it out loud.

What's interesting is if you go to either the No On 1240 campaign or the No On I-1240 campaign, they both have endorsement pages for both individuals and groups.  The Yes folks?  No such list; in fact here's all they say about their endorsements:

The Washington Public Charter Schools Initiative is supported by a growing bi-partisan coalition of education advocates, teachers, parents and community leaders, including Democrat and Republican legislators State Sen. Rodney Tom (D), State Sen. Steve Litzow (R), and State Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D), as well as the League of Education Voters, the Washington Chapter of Stand For Children,
and Democrats for Education Reform.


Of course, they leave out the business interests like the Washington State Roundtable. 

I hope to put up the link soon to last's night debate because it was great.  My hat is off to the hard-working members of the League of Women Voters who formulated clear and thoughtful questions.  This was a step-by-step "how will this play out" explanation of the initiative.  I had been nervous about an hour debate but it was well-worth it (and to the Pro side half, Tim Ceis was nothing but a gentleman).

I bring up that debate in this thread because Tim did go on about charters being in 41 states.  Okay, but WHO wants them in this state?  Are parents clamoring for them?  No, we all know that isn't true (especially given the heated debate when the Washington State PTA brought it up this past year).  It certainly isn't true given their lack of endorsements from parents, educators and community groups.

So you ask yourself, who is really pushing this?  I think the supporter lists speak for themselves.

Today, I learned that, as private citizens, both Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and City Councilwoman Jean Godden, are going to say No to 1240 and applaud them standing up and being counted.

I urge you to tell the School Board (who CAN issue a resolution about this issue) to say No.  I urge you to tell individual School Board members to publicly say no. 

 I know this is already true of Director Sharon Peaslee and Director Marty McLaren.   I feel sure that others on the Board would say no as well (because, after all, Martin-Morris and Carr said no to charters last November at several debates so I would think 1240 would be a no for them as well) but I want to ask them personally.

Write to the Board at schoolboard@seattleschools.org.  Urge them to take a public stand both as citizens and as a Board.  They need to hear from you.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, I've had enough! (RANT WARNING)

I take great pride in the fact that what's good enough for 41 other states isn't good enough for us. It's called setting our own standards. And it's the primary reason most of us tolerate the wet weather, short summers and snarled traffic: Because despite those warts, it's worth it.

Let the "non-WA 41" have their "monkey-see, monkey-do" policy standards. When they all crash and burn, we can let out a collective "Whew! Glad we dodged that bullet," while the others smolder in ruin. There is nothing wrong with standing on principle, especially when what the other 41 states are doing clearly isn't working. Duh!

Nobody will guilt me into following suit, or make me feel alienated from their foolish cliques. Just look at how much all these supposed super-star Ed Reformers contribute to society tweeting their propaganda all day long, undermining parents and teachers actually in the classroom, getting the hard work done. Nothing. From a bunch of supposed superstars who couldn't themselves hack the classroom over the long haul. What commitment. What role models. I'm so impressed.

And honestly, what job did Arne Duncan ever have that wasn't given to him by friends? Did he ever endure multiple resume submissions and interviews? Who do these privileged, snot-nosed "leaders" know about real work anyways?

Sorry, but the rest of the country can have all the Michelle Rhees, Arne Duncans, Ed Reform Think Tanks and various astro-turf groups they want, as they genuflect and sell their public schools (and souls) to the privatizers. Not us. Not Seattle. Not Washington State.

Okay. Rant over.
WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

It would take 2 out of the 3 members of the Executive Committee to allow a vote on an endorsement. I expect DeBell wouldn't want to disappoint his business friends and buddy Frank Greer. Kay and Betty, please act on this NOW.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't count on the full board being against charters. In fact, you should get them on the current record. I well remember that Steve Sundquist, ex-president, said he wasn't for charters when he campaigned last year. Then after he lost he showed up in West Seattle with some LEV-ites trying to push approval for charters in the 34th LD. (He was hooted down.)

If the past president of the school board talks out of both sides of his mouth, then I have my suspicions that the current ones do too. Will DeBell go on record? Will Harium-Martin Morris? Sheri Carr? Kate Smith-Blum? Let's hear from them.

I would also like to have Banda on the record on this. I've heard he's a 'no' but I'd like an official statement. And what about the opinions of the current Seattle PTA leadership? And back to the city: What about Burgess, aligned with the Corporate Reformer crowd. Will he go on record? Will the mayor?

Seriously, how do we get these people to clearly state whether they are pro or con. It matters. I for one am watching closely.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Shoreline and Tacoma school boards have both had unanimous votes against the charter school fiasco. It would be nice to see the largest district in the state have a school board that votes in the best interest of students and public education by unanimously voting for a resolution against the charter initiative. Unfortunately I don’t see several members of the Seattle SB voting in the best interest of students and public education. Makes you wonder why they’re on the school board to begin with....

CT


Anonymous said...

I hope 1240 goes down in flames, and the reputation of the business people(Bezos, Walmart heirs, Hanauer) and the non-profits carrying water for them (LEV, Democrats for Education Reform, Gates, and Stand for Children) goes right down with them. There is a small ray of hope that this could happen, despite the millions these corporate interests and their pet philanthropies have thrown at it. From the Seattle Times just now:

Washington voters appear to like three statewide initiatives — gay marriage, marijuana legalization and tax limitations — enough to put all three measures on the November ballot in positive territory, according to the latest KING TV SurveyUSA poll.

The poll shows support for Referendum 74 (approving same-sex marriage) at 55 percent, for approving the tax measure, Initiative 1185, at 56 percent, for legalizing marijuana for adults, Initiative 502, at 57 percent.

The only statewide ballot initiative with less than majority support is Initiative 1240, the charter school measure. The SurveyUSA polling data shows that measure with a 49 percent “yes” response.

The poll of 540 likely voters around the state was conducted from Sept. 28-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

-critical-

JS said...

To clarify the King5 poll:

For: 49%
Against: 30%
Undecided: 21%

Got a month to help some people decide.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Elway has said a couple of things about their experience in polling:

- if measures aren't polling at 50%+by August, they are likely to fail

- support for initiatives tends to fall as you get closer to the election (meaning, if people don't know about an issue and/or may believe it is pocketbook issue, they vote no)

I have every faith that 1240 will fail.

Anonymous said...

Ken Schram has a large audience. 6-18-12

http://www.komonews.com/opinion/kenschram/Ken-Schram-Charter-schools-not-the-answer-159448805.html


Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

So, if charters are being touted by white liberals as the saviors of poor, disadvantaged minority students ( I was at a meeting where a person gave a passionate plea to her audience about 'how can YOU in good conscious DENY children their only possible shot at escaping the cycle of poverty via a good education???), please Melissa tell me this: of the 41 states, how many charters in all are there, and what is the percentage break-down in terms of institutions with more than 75% FRL, 55% FRL, 35%FRL, 20%FRL, and less than 10% FRL? I would love to state the fact about WHO is served in these charter schools, and I have a sneaking suspicion that less than half of them have more than half of their students in FRL. I would love to rebutt the next pro 1240 speaker at my next meeting with data. Deflate them then and there. I know that charters disproportionately don't serve sped or ELL, but it's the poverty that can readily be measured and compared. Thanks

-wanting to fight fire with facts

Unknown said...

Wanting, that's a HUGE amount of data you ask for and no, I don't have it. In fact, I'm not sure anyone does as every state has its own charter law and many charters don't have to report (or don't) about their student population. If I get the time I'll try to find out.

What you can tell them is this:
- if charters are so great, why isn't there data - huge, quantifiable data from every single charter state - that says charters work better? There isn't because they don't work better.
- anyone who says that all a child in poverty needs is a good education is putting a lot of pressure (or blame) on education. A good public education may be the only hope for some kids but you can't lay on the ills of society at the feet of public education. (Many try but it's just not reasonable or fair.)
- I would also tell people that this initiatve mandates NOTHING for at-risk kids. In fact, it makes quite clear that ANY kind of charter for ANY kind of student is possible. As well, it doesn't even mandate charters to provide transportation, not even for F/RL students. So that "choice" or "hope" is largely negated for poor students if their families have no way to get to that charter.
- charters are quite segregated, either largely white or largely minority. So you can indeed have a large number of F/RL students in one building. It creates a system of haves and have nots and that's why the NAACP does not like or support them.

Eric B said...

At the andidate forums, I've been telling the audience that I-1240 is all about aspiration. The initiative is full of words like should, can, if any, and may. There is very little must, shall, will, etc. This may seem like a minor semantic difference, but it makes a huge difference in implementation. All of the pro-charter arguments are about what charters could be, not what they are required to be. As a regulatory compliance person, I can assure you that everyone will be looking for the loopholes to make their lives easier.

Gretchen said...

FYI...this topic was just brought up on the West Seattle Blogs forum, asking for opinions about both sides. http://westseattleblog.com/forum/topic/i-1240-charter-schools-your-thoughts

Anonymous said...

Here is some data from Washington D.C. about public schools scoring higher than charter schools. The blog author states that much of the data hasn't been released in a long time, which is why he doesn't have results parsed out by FRL, ethnicity, etc.

http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/if-youre-keeping-score/

CT

Carol Simmons said...

The Charter School debate which was aired on television last night prompted my husband to inquire if the commentator was supposed to be neutral? Melissa did a spectacular job of responding and keeping her composure even when the opponent rudely stated that Melissa's response was "ingenuous." Director Peasly was shown in a brief spot speaking against Charter Schools and Kevin Washington was given a longer (it seemed) spot speaking in favor of charter schools. The program appeared as blatant media bias, but Melissa held her own and presented facts supported by abundant research.

Anonymous said...

Wanting,
A couple places where you can find various pieces of data:

http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/ (he also provides great, understandable explanations of why VAM in inappropriate and debunks quite a few of the "Miracle Schools"

www.dianeravitch.net

Rachel

Anonymous said...

fighting fires... I have that same FRL question on my wish list of data (though I doubt it exists).. (ie - How many of those 17% charter successes do not serve/aren't situated in areas of at risk students at all?)
Another one I have is....
Of the 17% of charters do better - If they do serve at risk populations, how many wraparound services and extra funds are expended on services and interventions for the students at the success stories? (therefore making it not an apples for apples comparison. Anyone can improve scores if enough money and supports are rolled out.)

On another note: Got the notice for the PTA's General Meeting. Part of it includes:
Information Session on Charter School Initiative 1240

The Charter School Initiative will be on the ballot this November. This is a hot topic, and we want Seattle PTA leaders and members to have the opportunity to better understand what is inside this initiative so you can make an informed decision when you vote. Ramona Hattendorf, Government Relations Coordinator of the Washington State PTA, will be answering specific questions about the initiative as it is written. We will collect questions about the initiative ahead of time. If you have a question you'd like answered at the informational session, please email it to Rita Sheckler at president@seattlecouncilptsa.org by October 8.

-no on 1240

Charlie Mas said...

Responding to pro-charter claims.

"41 other states have them"
Did you mother never ask you if you would do something stupid just because all of your friends were doing it? Which of those 41 states has become an education paradise as a result of charter schools? Washington State has the highest average SAT scores among states with our level of participation. Beating all 41 of those states.

"This is just another tool in the toolbox"
Except that this tool is useless and expensive. We don't have to buy every tool at Home Depot if they cost a lot of money and are of no use to us.

"This doesn't take any money from public schools"
If it takes money - and it does - and it doesn't add at least the same amount of money to the public school system, then of course it takes money from public schools.

"Charter schools are public schools". No they aren't. They aren't owned by the public so they aren't public schools. It is ownership that determines if something is public or not. Public funding doesn't make Lockheed a public corporation and it doesn't make charter schools public schools. Universal access doesn't make Puget Sound Energy public and it doesn't make charter schools public. Regulation doesn't make Goldman Sachs public and it doesn't make charter schools public schools.

"Our schools don't work" And neither do most charters. The change needs to come in the classrooms, not in the ownership and governance of the schools.

"The people who control public schools don't care about kids" WE are the people who control our public schools. They are controlled by democratically elected school boards. If you don't believe in democracy at this most local level then how can you believe in democracy at any level? Are you really so eager to replace democratic control with corporate control?

JS said...

The New Yorker that came in the mail yesterday has a full-page ad from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Not much to it, but these 2 bullet points amused me:
"Charter schools are designed to boost student achievement."
and
"Charter schools can make innovative changes to meet a student's individual needs."

One question to both points: "Nice, but DO they?"

Wondering said...

Where is Tim Burgess on 1240?

Unknown said...

Wondering, I have been trying to get Burgess to tell me that.

I think he is hedging his bets for the Mayoral election but as I say, if 1240 passes with all the poor outcomes I would expect (given its language), it will be counted against him that he remained silent when he could have spoken up.

But I'm sure he will do the right thing.

As for that new tool in the toolbox - why don't we take care of and sharpen the ones we already have? That's what Grandpa would say to do.

seattle citizen said...

"I'm sure [Burgess] will do the right thing."

Hmmm.

He WAS one of the first, if not THE first, to sign onto the Gates/Strategies 360 "Our Schools Coalition."

Maybe he'll do the right thing, but that action suggests to me that he is in the pocket of the reformers.

Anonymous said...

"Tool in the toolbox" is one of the most hilarious of the Education Reformers' lines. I have serious doubts that there are many of them that actually have real toolboxes. Or know much about using tools. "Another tool in the toolbox"??? Pretty much just makes the toolbox heavier and harder to carry.

Oompah

seattle citizen said...

Yes, and Blackwater/Xe, the private mercenary company, is "just another tool in the toolbox" to carry out American foreign policy alongside our REAL soldiers.

Of course, both the "reform" business (including charters) and Blackwater/Xe are not tools; they are siphons, designed to suck public dollars into private bank accounts, and in both cases they are profiteering. I'm not sure which is more dishonorable: Replacing our soldiers with mercenaries or replacing our public schools with edu-factories.

Anonymous said...

My vote is no on 1240. However, I am not sure I see a solution out there to give an immediate and practical way out for kids from bad or poor performing schools. Do we skip another generation while we work this out? How long do these communities wait for the fix? Where are the political platform from national educators, politicians, union groups to counter charter? Schools in big cities are becoming more segregated regardless of charter presence. Economics of minorities have a great deal to do with this. So how do we counter the negative effect of that?

I hope 1240 fail, but I wish we had more concrete solutions for kids stuck in bad or not so great schools.

voter

Charlie Mas said...

voter asks if not charters, then what?

There is a long list of reforms that the public schools can adopt which have proven successful.

Now is the time for the Board, the superintendent, the district officials, the principals, and the teachers, to implement those reforms.

Anonymous said...

Noone should even consider voting for 1240 until they've read the language of the initiative. And to anyone who's considering voting in favor, I guarantee you will not support it after reading it. GUARANTEE IT!

It's a wolf in sheep's clothing people. Not only does it funnel massive amounts of public dollars into private hands, non-profit or not, it immediately slices off 4% of a school's budget to go directly into the pockets of private "Charter Authorizers" who get paid that 4% as an administrative fee for overseeing a "portfolio" of charter schools. Then, in addition to that 4%, the "Charter Authorizers" like KIPP or any other Educational Management Company ("EMO") are permitted to set up a nice little kickback scheme where they can charge and collect consulting fees and other sales-driven fees directly from the Charter School budgets. Privatization 101 and the modern ethos of "If you can't kill a public entity, bilk it 'til the cows come home." WSDWG