How to Make a Point in a Discussion?

From recent elections, there are those who confuse arguing with attacking in order to get what they want or to marginalize others. 

I saw this during the charter school election when I got personally attacked by both Lisa Macfarlane and Shannon Campion at several debates.  (What is interesting is that Tim Ceis, the former city official who was known as a pitbull, could not have been nicer at the debates.)  I had thought, in the moment to respond back, but my reward was watching the faces of the audience and clearly, people think little of personal attacks. 

Now from Ms. Campion, I expected that.  She's a shill for Stand for Children.  But Lisa and I have known each other professionally for years.  We have stood together on issues around the World School.  I expected better from her but apparently they wanted to win the election at any cost. 

Now, over at the Times, there is an op-ed - well, really an advertisement - from the head of the Northwest Evaluation Association, the group that sells and services MAP.   I've seen other business-types write op-eds but generally they don't push their own business/product. 

I give the CEO, Matt Chapman, for being quite careful in what he says about teachers.  

Educators are rightfully concerned. In a decadelong quest for accountability, we have lost sight of the real purpose of assessments in the schools, and the mission of public schools themselves — student learning.  

But then he says:

We understand that some educators are concerned that students are being over-tested and are growing more frustrated as student performance is included as part of teacher evaluation.

No, teachers aren't frustrated over using student performance as part of their evaluation.  They are frustrated AND worried over tests that don't help them be great teachers to their students.

He says MAP was developed by researchers, educators and psychometricians.

(FYI, I didn't know that word, psychometrician, so I looked it up:

A psychometrician is someone who practices the science of educational and psychological measurement, or in other words, testing.)

So I weighed in and simply stated that while Mr. Chapman calls NEA, "an organization", it is, in truth, a business.  

So then, here's Lynne Varner of the Times:

Great discussion here and honesty is critical to that. You're right testing is a business. But why is that a problem?

Isn't your blog a business in which you're accepting advertising in the hopes of turning a profit? 

And again, making it personal.  The argument is not about me or the blog but somehow she thought it worthy of inserting it into the discussion.   And, the blog existed for YEARS before we monetized it.

Folks, Charlie and I make gas money.  If I had time, yes, I would spend time trying to make more money off the blog but guess what?  Most of my time is spent reading, talking to everyone I can, attending meetings and pondering.  Oh yes, and writing. 

In other words, this blog is not a business.  

I know that people in power in this town like to marginalize the blog.   They worry about cold, hard truths getting out there especially about what they are doing behind the scenes.  They wish we would pack up our tent and go away.  So I take their comments with a grain of salt and a smile.


Anonymous said…
I can tell from this posting that she got to you! Thank you for what you do and informing the public. I do hope that your message in your post is a model for all on here. Creating a safe space to discuss divergent views is scarce in our city!

A friend
Anonymous said…
As a parent and taxpayer in the SPS, thank you for what you and Charlie do everyday!!! I sometimes feel like you are my only advocates.

Anonymous said…
Melissa and Charlie are out and about in the district most every day. Varner sits in her office every day. Sometimes people drop by. People who most likely are not out and about in the district every day.

Advantage: Melissa and Charlie (even if The Powers that Be in the district, city, business community and The Old Seattle Times clearly despise you)

mirmac1 said…
I find it very amusing that Varner's Op-Ed quickly feel of the Editorial page. Probably because the comments show how wrong she is.

Varner wrong again
mirmac1 said…
I would think Mark Chapman would not show his face around here, after using sleazy peddling to fob MAP on our district....
Anonymous said…
I just read the comments after the editorial and Lynne Varner actually publicly invited Charlie to call her or come to her office. Even printed her phone number in the comments.

That's a big change from how she has or has not dealt with this blog's authors in the past. Old dog, new tricks? I find it a positive development. Now if she'll also put a few public citizens other than the usual ed reform and business alliance mouthpieces on her speeddial, she'll really be turning over a new leaf!

Ed voter, are you reading the same op-ed? Because Lynne doesn't invite Charlie to call her or give her phone number. I'm not seeing it.

And actually, I used to have regular conversations with Lynne. She used to try to do her homework and we had a good working relationship.
Maureen said…
Melissa, I wish you guys did make real money from this blog--that might ensure its longevity.

I saw Varner's invite to Charlie too--it must have been in the comments to the other editorial.
Anonymous said…
Lynne DID invite Charlie to visit her, email or call, and she DID give a number and she also invited him to bring along others. It's right there in the comments.

Another anon
Anonymous said…
MW: Since it's just "gas money," why not disclose the actual amounts the ads generate and be totally transparent, in order to further shove it in the opposition's face that you believe in open, transparent advocacy, done in the sunlight vs. the backrooms and editorial round tables Varner & Co. chum in? No matter what the amount, it won't touch what overpaid do-nothings in JSCEE earn. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
MW and Charlie: Independent, critical thinkers are of little use to either political party, or cause/agenda-driven group (or Clique, to be more accurate). Most of our society prefer to let "the smartest" people in their cliques do all the talking and messaging, while they sip coffee or wine, celebrating their inclusion and acceptance within a group they believe is ascending in the public eye, hoping to catch a little attention on those coattails. Social climbing 101. Our local press panting puppy brigades, comprised of the likes of Varner & Balter are perfect examples as the nonsensical words of the rich and powerful trickle down through their fingertips, without a single interruption from critical thought. Varner writes what she hears from the Ed Reform groups, and Balter equates enrollment increases with a better product (MGJ) instead of the most basic cause: population growth.

It reminds me of what Barney Frank once said to a Tea Party member: “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to have an argument with a dining room table.”

Anonymous said…
Melissa - I've seen the same pattern for decades from the righties, and from the phake democrats like Mcfarlane.

They're incessantly smearing people and ideas, all the while spewing crocodile tears over the lack of civility and bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle and representing the middle ... burp... yawn.

The Most-er Clever Thing about these fracking lies is that they structure the lies to get their opponents to shut up - and The Most-est Clever Thing about their lies is they get their opponents to censor each other!

There is toooooo much evidence that their arguments are lies and they're legal bandits out for big time robbery. Of course they want to you to shut up, and, if you'll take the bait with their incessant implications, you'll shut up & they'll win.

Even better for the lying bandits is when all the scolds come out of the woodwork to hand wring and shout down those of us who aren't going to spend megabytes and gigabytes writing fancy words to describe lying and stealing.

Did ANY of the real day to day policies of Ronnie Raygun EVER increase the freedom of anyone, except for the freedom of the powerful to rip everyone off and not be accountable? NO.

A shoe is a shoe, a brick is a brick, and a lying bandit is

Rufus X said…
Inviting CM to visit her and giving her phone # is one way to say it.

Another way to say it is Varner threw down a middle-school snarky dare.

LKV to Charlie in the comments:
If you don't feel I know enough about Seattle Public Schools, please feel free to email me or meet with me to educate me further. You can even bring other commenters with you if you work better with an audience. My number is (206) 464-3217. Letters to the editor and/or Op-ed submissions on this topic or any other are also welcome. At more than 1,400 comments you probably already know these things but thought I'd point them out anyway. thanks, Lynne Varner

And then there's this at the end of LKV's comment, which I can only assume is a straggler non-sentence left over after a botched cut:

We , I know you find your courage in the
Anonymous said…
Most of the middle school girls I know would behave better. They know there's nothing as entertaining as a catfight. Reoooww. Hissss.

Someone said…
I read something the other day, (and of course, now can't find it) about how public discourse has degenerated as a nearly direct result of the proliferation of online commenting. There is something about the anonymity that brings out the darkest in even the most pleasant of folk. And how that's now spilling over into spoken comments.

I always figure if someone has to resort to insulting ME personally rather than my ideas, they don't actually have a clue how to refute my arguments - it's a grasping at straws kind of thing, in my view.

The only way to counteract such behavior is never sink to it - stay above personal comments (which is difficult) and stick to, as Joe Friday so eloquently put it "just the facts, ma'am" - harder to do that it seems...
suep. said…
LKV to Charlie in the comments:
If you don't feel I know enough about Seattle Public Schools, please feel free to email me or meet with me to educate me further. You can even bring other commenters with you if you work better with an audience.(...)

Who'd like to go with Charlie to this meeting? I'm in!
FG, really? Women disagreeing is a cat fight? What do you call men who disagree? Not good.
Anonymous said…
Today we have to actively search for more than the Seattle Times provides.
This blog is definitely useful for education coverage, especially now that we are no a longer a 2 newspaper town. LV's education editorials in the Seattle Times were usually fluffy pieces even when the PI existed (in print). I always preferred to read the ed op-eds in the P.I. It's not that I have to agree with what I read--I want good substantive writing!

The bottom line is that LV gets more money for what she writes than what this blog generates in "income". I still can't stand reading LV's stuff (Lord knows I have tried)
I am grateful to this blog, to the SLOG, seattleeducation2010, West Seattle BLOG, and others trying to make a difference *locally*.

I can't remember how to put links in!

--Old School Music

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