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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Odd Corners of I-1240

There are some potential consequences of I-1240 which have not been much discussed.



The proponents of the initiative are proud to say that the teachers in the charter schools will have to meet the same certification requirements as public school teachers. That's true, but it neglects to consider how the charter schools are much more likely to hire many more teachers with conditional certificates. As we know, the state doesn't make any effort whatsoever to confirm that candidates for conditional certificates actually meet the requirements for a conditional certificate. They rely entirely on the school districts to do that work and they automatically approve every application they receive. Charter schools, therefore, could submit dozens and dozens of requests for conditional certificates - including a lot which do not meet the legal requirements - and see them all approved. Charter school teachers probably will not have qualifications equal to those of public school teachers. Teach for America, for example, places a lot of their corps members in charter schools.

The proponents of the initiative love to point out how the initiative requires charter schools to enroll every student who requests assignment to the school and then, if they get requests in excess of their capacity, must use a lottery to determine which students they enroll. This is supposed to assure that students with special needs have equal access to the charter school. While it is true that every student who requests enrollment at the school has an equal chance for assignment (except the children of those who started the charter; they are assured of enrollment) there are some quirks which will work against certain populations.

  • Students with non-English speaking families are much less likely to know about the charter school or how to request assignment to the charter school or be able to complete the necessary paperwork for it.
  • Students with un-involved families are much less likely to know about the charter school or how to request assignment to the charter school or be able to complete the necessary paperwork for it and are much less likely to negotiate the process.
  • Students from low-income families may not be able to afford transportation to or from the school.
  • Even after students are enrolled, there is no assurance that special needs will be adequately addressed. In the absence of services, families are likely to withdraw their children from the school. So the charter school can shed special needs students by refusing to serve them.
  • Charter schools can drive out students with special needs through discipline practices. They can suspend and expel the students. Families are not assured any due process or appeal at a charter school.

Through these methods, and others, charter schools can manipulate their student body to reduce the number of students with special needs.

Let's remember that charter schools don't need to have any appeals rules. You won't necessarily have anyone in authority to hear your concerns and address them. I would not expect a charter school board to have much involvement or to overrule any action taken by the principal, and there is absolutely no hope of appeal to the charter school authorizer. That's not their role. The authorizers are supposed to set "a performance framework that clearly sets forth the academic and  operational performance indicators, measures, and metrics that will guide an authorizer's evaluations of each charter school". That means that if the authorizer didn't set an objectively measurable performance target for something, they cannot hold the school accountable for it. Also, those "Annual performance targets must be set by each charter school in conjunction with its authorizer and must be designed to help each school meet applicable federal, state, and authorizer expectations." Get that? The school has to agree to the target and the target has to be set in a way that helps the school reach it. That's strong accountability? Education reformers belittle teacher performance targets that are determined in the same way.

So what if a school misbehaves badly in a way that was not anticipated by the authorizer? Too bad. If it isn't among the performance targets the school cannot be held accountable for it.

Charter school proponents speak of the accountability for these schools and how they will be closed if they don't perform. While this promoted as a positive, this kind of test score pressure has lead to a variety of bad behavior.

  • Schools in districts with heavy test score pressure have been guilty of test scandals.
  • Schools in districts with heavy test score pressure have been guilty of driving out students who will lower their scores.
  • Students in schools with heavy test score pressure have been subjected to stress to do well on the tests.
  • Schools under heavy test score pressure have narrowed their curriculum to the test subjects.
  • Schools under heavy test score pressure have narrowed their curriculum to the test questions.
Conversion charter schools have to allow all of the current students the opportunity to remain. They do not, however, have to accept the school district's determination of the school's capacity and they are free to reduce future enrollment. A school that had four classes per grade and was very crowded when it was a public school can have three classes per grade and be un-crowded as a charter school.

On the other hand, charter schools are not constrained by any class size rules. Class size rules in Seattle Public Schools are set by the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union. In the absence of that agreement, charter schools are free to make class sizes whatever they like. They are not constrained by any state laws on class size either. There's a lot of money to be saved through larger class sizes.

Those last two may seem contradictory - saying on one hand that charter schools could constrain enrollment and, on the other hand, they could crowd the classes. Some may do one while some may do the other. There is also the possibility of both. A school with two classes of 40 will still have fewer students than a school with three classes of 30.

There will be more unintended consequences of this initiative if it becomes law. These are just of few of the ones that can be foreseen.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Competition just may be what the doctor ordered.

-We shall see

Anonymous said...

Which doctor? Mengele? Kevorkian?

-- Ivan Weiss

mirmac1 said...

No. Witch doctor.

Melissa Westbrook said...

We shall see, that competition idea has not been shown to work in any other state with charters. So sure, after 20 years and 41 states, we can see if it works in WA state.

Anonymous said...

Melissa-

I am fully opposed to charters and I am voting "no."

It is very important, however, to come up with a succinct comeback to the competition argument. Even though competition doesn't work for the consumer's benefit in so many ways - cell phones and cable comes to mind - it is still a strong selling point for the charter proponents. Americans in general seem to have a Pavlovian response to the notion of "competition."

Combine that Pavlovian response with the atrocious decisions and poor management by the district in recent years and I fear the battle may already be lost. There will be many who vote for charters just so that they can see what color the grass is over there.

-hope I am wrong

Unknown said...

Hope, if the evidence that the "competition" in 41 states has brought no real change to those systems isn't enough, then I honestly don't know what else to say.

Minnesota, the land of charters, ruefully admits they haven't moved the bar for traditionals or charters in their state test scores.

You can only lay out the issues to voters and they make their choices. If they decide to ignore the evidence in front of them for pretty promises, that's their choice.

Anonymous said...

Can we replicate this model or even compete with it ?

http://www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/goldman-sachs-gives/building-and-stabilizing-communities/index.html

The public schools may need to focus on marketing and branding as seen in many NY charters.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/eva-moskowitz-success-academy-charter-schools-disproportionate-share-state-education-money-article-1.1101668?localLinksEnabled=false

Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

Link for above comment. Oops.

http://civicbuilders.org/assets/news/4-6-11-EpochTimes.pdf

Great results but this is an entire community project.

Public School Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Competition doesn't work and it doesn't work for three fundamental reasons.

First, schools have finite capacities. So no matter how wonderful and popular a school may be, it can only hold a limited number of students. As a result, instead of schools competing for students, students compete for schools. We saw this ourselves when Seattle had an open choice assignment system. The popular schools were over-subscribed and the competition was among the families, not the schools. Even in the charter school propaganda, like Waiting for Superman, the students are competing for the school. The schools are not competing.

Second, there isn't much excess capacity. So after all of the schools get filled in order of descending popularity, since all of the students eventually have to go to school somewhere, even the least popular schools get enough students to continue. There were years in which the number of families naming MLK Elementary (the old one, not the renamed Brighton) as their first choice for assignment were 4, 2, and 0. Yes, zero. Yet MLK had a full kindergarten class all of those years because all of the other schools were full. So even schools that don't bother to compete or compete very badly will still enroll enough children to stay open.

Third, there is no incentive for schools to compete. This is the public sector, not the private sector. No one has an economic interest in the competition. There is no prize for winning it and no negative consequence for losing it. No one makes more money if they can attract more students (except maybe some charter school executives). Teachers, who don't have much influence on a school's ability to compete for popularity, don't get paid any more or less if the the school is popular or not.

The competition is a myth. It only exists as a competition among students for schools, not among schools at all.

Charlie Mas said...

We only have to look at all of the other states with charter schools. Which of them has become an educational paradise as a result of schools competing for students? None of them.

The competition is a myth.

Maureen said...

Re approving alternatively certificated teachers, Charlie said: They rely entirely on the school districts to do that work and they automatically approve every application they receive.

So would the individual school districts (via their School Boards) in which the charters are located be responsible for approving these teachers? Or, since charters exist outside of the district rules in other ways, would it be the state level charter authorizing committee or even the individual charters' boards of directors who would approve them? The few TfA recruits Seattle has approved took up so much of the staff and Board's time and energy. I would hate to see them have to deal with whole schools full of untraditionally certificated teachers.

Unknown said...

Charters and TFA go together like a hand in glove (I got contacted by a researcher doing a paper on this subject).

Yes, the charters would be responsible for approving the teachers; after all, they are their own district. The authorizers would have nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting no on 1240 (actually, already did), but I am not against the very idea of charters, and I believe that competition in some form could be a good thing for WA schools. I just have too many problems with I-1240. I don't like the possibility of conversions with parent signatures, for one thing.

My point is that people don't have to be completely against charters to vote no on this initiative.

-not this time

Anonymous said...

Charters in the current form (not as Albert Shanker originally envisioned them) are based on a business ideology: that competition is good and improves products. There is a difference, however, between products and students, and that is where that ideology fails, yet people still cling to it.
Unlike businesses, where you can throw away flawed raw material, public schools must take all kids, no matter their flaws. Unlike the raw material or other components, which have a set way to behave when variables are applied, kids do not follow those same chemical or mechanical rules - they are independent thinkers and have been exposed to way more variables in their short lives than any component for manufacturing or business. In business, if a product doesn't come out as planned, you pitch it, take a monetary loss, and start again. Public schools cannot do this.
Yet charter schools try to. Got a flawed product? Counsel them out. Their test scores don't come out as planned? Get rid of them. Want to ensure you have a relatively decent product to begin with? Create an application process to weed out the less desirable materials.
And this is good?

Anonymous said...

Charters in the current form (not as Albert Shanker originally envisioned them) are based on a business ideology: that competition is good and improves products. There is a difference, however, between products and students, and that is where that ideology fails, yet people still cling to it.
Unlike businesses, where you can throw away flawed raw material, public schools must take all kids, no matter their flaws. Unlike the raw material or other components, which have a set way to behave when variables are applied, kids do not follow those same chemical or mechanical rules - they are independent thinkers and have been exposed to way more variables in their short lives than any component for manufacturing or business. In business, if a product doesn't come out as planned, you pitch it, take a monetary loss, and start again. Public schools cannot do this.
Yet charter schools try to. Got a flawed product? Counsel them out. Their test scores don't come out as planned? Get rid of them. Want to ensure you have a relatively decent product to begin with? Create an application process to weed out the less desirable materials.
And this is good?

Anonymous said...

Sorry - both of those were me (CT). Blogger is ticked off at me again.

suep. said...

I think the corp. ed reformers purposely got TFA, Inc. into Puget Sound first, in advance of their push for charters, for the very purpose of being able to say that charter schools will only hire teachers who meet the same requirements of teachers in real public schools.

So the fact that they only have a few hired in local schools right now is no skin off their nose. They are biding their time, waiting for charters. Sleeper cells, of sorts...

But as Melissa points out, short-term, often non-union (i.e. more pliable, exploitable) TFA-ers are the workers of choice of many charter operations. There is no better example of this marriage of disposable labor and charter franchising than the actual marriage of Richard Barth, the CEO of KIPP, Inc., and Wendy Kopp, the CEO of Teach for America, Inc., further cemented by the fact that the Obama administration gave them each $50 million (of our taxpayer money) for their companies.

To those who are cheering the concept of applying a cutthroat business mentality to our children's education, I ask: What is being competed for? If you believe the 'contest' is for best 'results' for kids in these schools, and if it is indeed a competition, you can bet that the best way to win such a competition is to only select kids who are most likely to provide these desired' results,' ignore or 'counsel out' the rest, and make the results measurable, which most likely means test scores, which in turn means teaching to the test

Even Geoffrey Canada kicked out an entire class of 8th graders from his acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone because they were not likely to do well on the tests -- the charter currency of choice.

Is that your vision of a successful school or education? For it isn't mine. It sounds pretty bankrupt to me.

Anonymous said...

CT and Sue have it right. If people don't get it by now, they either can't or don't want to. Show me where competition in the public sector is delivering a better product for a lesser price. Healthcare? Energy? Education? I've been waiting my whole life so far. Dollar for Dollar, even the so-called "best" charters can't deliver the goods for less cost, but cost anywhere from two to four times what average public schools cost. Imagine where we'd be if public schools were properly funded right now. WSDWG

Jan said...

Charlie, Melissa, CT, et al.: I think "-hope I am wrong" has a really good point. And while Charlie's points on competition are spot on, especially about "who" ends up "competing" (the families, not the schools), I don't think that answer fully carries the day. To me, the heart of the issue is better viewed as "choice," not "competition." Families want to be able to make educational choices for their kids that work. That means the ability to choose direct instruction, rather than "discovery" learning for a child who learns best that way, schools with ample recess, versus schools with none, for wiggly kids who can't learn if their bodies are contorting from the effects of sitting still too long; schools with good, dedicated teachers, instead of untrained TfA teachers (on the one hand) or burned out, clock watching teachers on the other (2 of my 3 kids at some point had teachers whom we honestly could not figure out WHY they were teaching -- every indication was that they despised kids, despised, teaching, hated being there every day; they were a tiny minority -- and stood in stark contrast to the many creative, fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable teachers each child had, but they were there.

The choice spectrum runs from "ultimate choice" -- which frankly is homeschooling. You pick everything -- subjects, scope and pacing, materials, methods of showing mastery, pedagogy -- and you can pick differently for different kids. At the far OTHER end is "standardized" public education, where the learning tasks of each grade are set in stone, teachers are required to use one single set of materials, and are accountable to a pacing guide. Required hours of study for each "credit" are set (whether you know the stuff, or whether you dont). Working ahead is forbidden, and working behind is seen as failure and is also forbidden or punished.

"The system" is trying to turn out a "product" or "service" -- the "education of kids who attend public schools." The easiest choices "tend" towards standardization (less management and oversight required, less independent judgment required at manager levels, greater defense against parents claiming that because things "differ," their child is getting less. We saw this all in spades with MGJ's standardization and "top-down" management decisions. She was steadily and relentlessly anti-alt (except for Cleveland STEM).

Done the "Shanker" way, charters would have allowed groups of like-minded parents to organize and manage community schools that would have better matched the needs, talents, and interests of kids (and teachers), rather than the needs of a cash-short district to find the cheapest, easiest way to deliver a service to a whole bunch of kids.

cont'd

Jan said...

Charters promise (though they rarely deliver) choice. What we need to focus on is that just like the "illusion" of competition, most charters present an "illusion" of choice.

If they are full, they work by lottery -- which is not a choice system (though the popular choice schools under the old SSD system had this EXACT same flaw).

Once your child is in, parents have no voice, and thus no "choice" in how they are run, what policies they adopt, what teachers are hired, etc. Accountable only to an appointed board in Olympia -- parents in charters have no choice whatsoever -- except to leave, which has huge costs to kids. And, since the money is being paid by the state, not the parents -- the charter doesn't have the same worries private schools do (if too many paying parents leave, and the reputation is that we are not doing a good job -- NEW families willing to pony up $15,000 or $20,000 per year are not going to show up for NEXT years' class. That tends to get their boards busy firing heads of school and/or teachers, and doing whatever is necessary to once again attract paying families. For charters in a crowded district -- they are fine as long as they are at least as good as the lowest tier of public schools. All they need are bodies in the door that would otherwise have gone to the worst public school.

The reason I actually LIKE creative approach schools, or innovation schools, or whatever you want to call them, is that they actually CAN create "choice," by peeling away from district policies that "standardize" things in ways that don't permit their kids to learn well (or learn what they want them to -- in the case of immersion schools, STEM schools, etc.). But parents don't lose control of them.

We are a decade, if not two, late in adapting public education to the various learning styles, interests, talents, and needs of kids. We have incredible wealth in teachers and their abilities. We have incredible families. And of course, we have incredible kids. We have had utter failure, of talent, creativity, and will at the management level, and close to utter failure of vision and ability at the governance level. And the degree of "enabling" that has gone on at the union level reduces me to inarticulate rage.

The answer to the legitimate request by parents for more "choice" in the system needs to be answered by pointing out that "choice" in charters, much like "competition" in charters -- is largely illusory. But if it stops there, we lose. We have to convince parents that public schools can in fact be nimble and creative, can offer choice to parents of kids who thrive at Pinehurst, as well as those who thrive at GH Montessori. And then (and this is hardest of all) -- we have to deliver on it. It can't just be a "pitch" and then people go back to a District smothering in discovery math and writers' workshop drivel.

suep. said...

Yes, Jan, but how can we parents, on our own, be expected to "deliver" on all that the district is supposed to do? With what power, mandate or platform?

Instead we are constantly having to do battle against bad decisions and policies by a mostly anonymous bureaucracy in John Stanford HQ, but driven or influenced, as SPSLeaks docs show, by a semi-secret cabal of political and business interests who exert unelected and undue influence on the direction of our school district.

To say that unless we parents can cough up the resources or clout to offer a counter world to SPS, then we have no argument against charters, is mightily skewed thinking.

Let me put this another way:

Why aren't the rich and powerful underwriters of I-1240 instead using their money or influence to persuade school districts like ours to allow all the schools in our district (and state) more choices (of curriculum, etc.)?

Where were Bill Gates, Chris Korsmo, Sara Morris, Shannon Campion and Nick Hanauer when the Seattle School district took away choice from Seattle families by implementing the New Student Assignment Plan?

Where were Bill Gates, Chris (“these kids don’t have pause buttons, y’all!”)Korsmo, Sara Morris, Shannon Campion and Nick Hanauer when Supt. Goodloe-Johnson kicked out the (primarily) poor kids of color from Cooper Elementary, Meany Middle School and the African American Academy in the school closures debacle? When did any of them speak out against that inhumane mess of a “Capacity Management Plan” that hurt so many kids they claim to care about?

Where were the op-eds of protest from the Seattle Times and other pro-STEM folks like Gates et al, when the district foisted multiple versions of "inquiry based" math textbooks on Seattle School kids which have proven to result in weak mathematical knowledge and are especially harmful to English language learners and kids whose families cannot afford supplements or tutoring ? How can we build any kind of 'high tech workers for the 21 century' that Microsoft claims it is eager to hire if we only feed our kids crappy math? That is such an obvious contradiction for those who tout STEM. Why hasn’t Gates poured money into fixing the math curriculum in SPS?

And on and on it goes.

There are so many useful things that Gates, LEV, the Alliance could be doing with their money and time that could make Seattle a world-class school district. So why don’t they?

Instead they keep pushing their pet agendas of reforms that don't work and remain silent on outrages that we parents have tried very hard to bring to light and change.

It makes one wonder what their real intentions are.

But it does not make the case for charters.

Jan said...

suep: everything you say (except one -- Ill get to that later) is spot on. The fact that we "have to deliver" doesn't mean it is an easy task. If it were, Charlie, Melissa, Dorothy, and many others too numerous to list here would have accomplished it years ago.

We USED to only have to battle the bloated, moribund District staff. Now, in the "neocon" age, we have to battle the big money ed reform folks -- who use the bloated, ineffective, sometimes corrupt District staff as a weapon AGAINST us. AAGGH. Boggles the mind.

Where we (and by "we," I mean the "District watching parents" who have advocated and worked for public schools in Seattle for years) went wrong -- or at least where I did) was in failing to recognize what Don Nielsen and others were up to when MGJ and her new "corporate style" board were ushered in. There were all these pieces (ed reform, NCLB, charters, teacher evaluations, accountability) on the move, and at least for me, it took me way to long to figure out where the deceit was, who was baldly lying, and what the real agendas of some players were (thanks to Sahila, wherever she is -- I didn't agree with everything she said, but she had some great points (and terrific links).

We need to organize, school by school, neighborhood by neighborhood. Not just parents. Everyone who cares and/or pays taxes. We need to flatten the learning curve for new parents who arrive assuming benignity by the District, and honesty on the part of civic leaders. I can't tell you how many posts I have read by people who think that maybe charters as set up under 1240 will somehow "all work out ok" to provide the choice, common sense, and autonomy that they don't see in the district. It is like watching a puppy run into a busy street. I can hardly stand to watch what will happen, what the positive, idealistic ones among them will say after this has been in effect (especially assuming that they are willing to care about ALL kids, and not just theirs-- but maybe even if it is just theirs).

We don't all have to agree on what a great school looks like. I just think we need to start to get some backbone around who sits on the School Board (who they listen to, who finances them, etc.) and what the process for getting and maintaing a system of good, varied, inclusive community schools looks like.

Where I don't agree is where you say "it makes one wonder what their intentions are." I used to wonder. I don't anymore. Their intentions are to substitute the power of money and corporate influence for the power of broad civic participation through voting, localized school control, and democratic principles. They want to replace representative government with oligarchical government. Nothing less.

suep. said...

Hi Jan. Believe me, I have no illusions about what they are up to...

Why I Am Not A Defender Of The 'Status Quo' In Education

The Lines of Influence in Education Reform

The Doublespeak of Ed Reform

How to tell if your School District is infected by the Broad Virus

How to Create a Faux Grassroots Education Reform Organization

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/who-we-are/founders-and-partners/

suep. said...

(p.s. and those of us in ESP Vision were onto MGJ & Broad pretty quickly. We organized the protest rally and petition (1,750 signatures) against the closures, and gave MGJ a pink slip back in 2009!)

Unknown said...

Jan, for God's sake, run for the School Board. Yes, to organizing. There's another BS group out there - the Parents Union - started by yet ANOTHER Microsoft millionaire and we need a REAL parents union. One with teeth.

Organize people, that's where the power is (and where the PTA squanders it with their flailing around). The PTA is a subject for another thread. They are going to lose their power if they don't flex it for ALL parents and not the few.

mirmac1 said...

You got that right. Sat next to the Parents Union table at the Family Symposium. Pretty slick. Had the commercial display signs, business cards, slick brochures, Scott Oki's expert book on education (of course). S'funny, the nice young man asked for my card. I said my millionaire didn't buy us any.

Anonymous said...

The Ed Reform crowd is taking a page right from Exxon's playbook. Have you all seen the commercials where Exxon engineers talk about some superman teacher that inspired them to become engineers? For Exxon of course, the company doing everything within its power to keep us addicted to planet-destroying fossil fuels. And what do they say? Get a STEM education so you can get those GREAT jobs of the future - if we survive that long. Slick, slick, slick! On on message, penetrating deep into the minds of parents worried about their kids' financial futures, and their own. Clean air & water? Bah. WSDWG

dw said...

Jan, for God's sake, run for the School Board.

Oh yes! Please, Please, Please, Please, Please!

I don't know who you are IRL, but from your abundant writings here over the years, I feel like I know you quite well. IMO you are the smartest and most rational education advocate in Seattle, period. Yes, I think I would even give you the edge over other wonderful potential directors, like Melissa, Dorothy, etc. Besides, Melissa's role here on this blog is extremely valuable, don't want to lose that.

Any chance at all of this happening? Would you be comfortable sharing which district you live in?

Maureen said...

Thank you to Jan and Sue for that thoughtful exchange. I wish we could make the powers that be read it and respond.

Jan said...

I live in Kay's district -- and support much of what she has done and voted for. We part ways big time on TfA, of course, and this BEX will be her debut into the madness of District capital facilities decision-making. I wish I lived in HMM's District, or MDeB's, or Carr's.

Actually, I think what we need to do is much bigger than the District. I think Jack has it right. It is the privatization of all of our public life -- on all levels, local, state, and national. I don't think I really got it (sorry, Suep -- you are so many light years ahead of me that it is ridiculous) -- until the Ohio voting law issue (which was not a voter ID law -- it was blatantly a voter access law, designed solely to limit or prevent access to those who might vote for Democrats) arose this fall. It is far more serious than I realized. For far too long, I thought the 1% believed in representative bureaucracy -- they just thought that private enterprise was far more "efficient" than public administration, and so wanted to encourage the "public side" to operate more like the private side. Many 1240 proponents still sound like they believe this is the issue. I no longer believe this. I believe that the intent is for those few who control wealth to ultimately control all political action and decision-making. They don't want the public sector to act more like business. They want business to control the public sector outright.

dw said...

Just when I went and said you're rational... ;-)

Actually, I agree with most of what you said here, and with Jack/Sue that it's much bigger than our district (or state). But the vast majority of charter supporters, and even ed-reform supporters in general, really are of the "efficiency" mindset, and of the "we might as well try anything new" mindset.

I also believe that the majority of the "1%" that support these measures are in this camp as well, and believe in democratic representative bureaucracy. I know people in this category, and they're really not that different from many of us. In fact there are lots of 1% parents in our district, most people just don't know who they are.

That said, there is most definitely a very tiny slice of that 1% crowd (and they are NOT parents in our district) that I agree wants to control political action and decision making.

So my only small bone to pick here is that I think the truly Bad thinking is concentrated in a very tiny portion of even our well-off citizenry. They just leverage it smartly by essentially buying other people's favor, like the various staff in these astroturf groups. The Kopps and Rhees of the world are different, I think they're in it for personal gain, wealth and power. The Ballmers and Waltons are not, they already have wealth and power; I think they truly believe in the cause. We have some small players like the former in our city, that I think are trying to position themselves for a larger stage.

I wish I lived in HMM's District, or MDeB's, or Carr's.

Yes, unfortunate indeed. I agree with your assessment of Kay as well. Much of what she has done has been solid, but the TFA vote was a big jolt that made me question her motives and loyalties. I know there must be enormous pressure on the directors when these things come up for vote, so I'm not ready to toss her out over one vote, but it really ticked me off.