Most Disturbing

I am deeply disturbed by Seattle Times editorials regarding education. It's not because the Times Editorial Board, and Lynne Varner in particular, doesn't share my perspective. I'm okay with that; I have a lot of good relationships with people who disagree with me. I am disturbed by the disingenuous, thoughtless, or deceitful tone of Seattle Times editorials about education which create contradictions.

The Times often calls for additional education services, such as summer school, or professional development for teachers, but the Times doesn't seem to realize that these additional services will require additional funding. The Times actively opposes paying for these additional services with either new taxes or with cuts in other spending.

The Times often calls for accountability - whatever that means - and slanders public education for a lack of accountability, but the Times also wants spending to go into the classroom rather than administration. Accountability efforts create additional administrative work. The Times becomes offended when anyone suggests that management - rather than just teachers - should also be held accountable. They bristle at the idea that principals or the superintendent need oversight and occasional correction.

The Times is quick to accept the Alliance for Education as a community group, but discounts the input of actual community members. I have to wonder about this. Has the Times been deceived into believing that the Alliance represents the community in any authentic way? If so, then they are hopelessly naive.

I don't think that's the case. I don't think they are the unwitting victims of deception. I think they are the agents of deception.

More and more I am driven to the conclusion that the Times is the mouthpiece for a very small, patrician elite here in Seattle and promotes their interests ahead of every other interest. As such, they are dedicated to representing the views of the Downtown Seattle Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Gates Foundation, Amazon, Vulcan, developers, and big construction companies. This is the community they serve. They will support any policy or project that profits these interests against the interests of the larger community and the neighborhoods. They are practicing advocacy journalism under the guise of impartiality.

We can regard the Seattle Times as discredited, but it is Seattle's daily newspaper and it carries influence. We can correct every story in the online comments, but a lot of people don't read the online comments and never see the corrections. The Seattle Times, while not as influential as it would like to be, continues to shape public opinion and frame issues for a lot of people. The Times was successful in labeling the Butler-Wall school board as "micromanaging". The Times saved Sherry Carr's board seat and Harium Martin-Morris' seat as well with some very biased reporting and editorials. They contribute to the manufacture of consent.


word said…
With a small exception for some of Danny Westneat's articles, I completely agree.

Fortunately, I will no longer be reading the Seattle Times as their brainwashing is not worth paying for.

My new sources for local news and opinion are, as always, The Stranger, and also Publicola and Crosscut.

Goodbye ST and good riddance.
I agree, Charlie.

Lynne Varner only listens and talks to a very small group of people. She will not admit any inaccuracy, no matter how much evidence she gets.

I believe there is a very small group of people in our state trying to drive the education conversation and trying to marginalize anyone else.

Our Schools is NOT a community group - it's the Alliance, as employees of the Chamber of Commmerce, gathering a number of groups and then having them rubber-stamp what the Alliance says. They rarely have meetings and yes, the Alliance creates the agendas and goals.

Nothing community about it.
Anonymous said…
I don't think most Seattle Chamber members know what the org is up to regarding education. Having asked why they didn't do more small business lobbying and advocacy (the core of their members demographics I was informed years ago that they lobby for their largest members alone -- Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Small businesses get workshops and networking events as token crumbs of benefits back. I dropped our corporate membership over 10 years ago as a result.

Maybe we can lobby their members. I think most belong for the insurance program benefits but you can get cheaper rates working directly with a broker.

Unbelievably, Varner now has her OWN editorial on this issue. Boy, they are pushing the Our Schools group like no one's business.

They must want something. SEA, beware. (Or maybe, good luck with Knapp doing the negotiating).
Anonymous said…
Also interesting is that today's editorial about this same thing has disappeared.

The new one by Lynne can only be found by clicking on her name via the opinion page menu.


suep. said…
Varner's redundant new pro-"Our Schools Coalition" editorial smacks suspiciously of a game of hide and seek -- a move to ditch the thread of comments on the first pro-OSC editorial, which convincingly contradicted the Times and outed the artifice of this fake organization that she is unquestioningly cheerleading.

If anyone wants to correct the record again, there's always the option of cutting and pasting comments from the first article and adding them to the new one.
suep. said…
Here's my comment, for the record:

Times readers should not be fooled. The “Our Schools Coalition” is not an authentic organization. It is an artificial construct created by the Alliance for Education (a division of the Chamber of Commerce) with money from the Gates Foundation, with the sole purpose of influencing the teachers’ contract to include the corporate ed reforms that the Alliance/Gates favor.

See: Alliance for Education
Date: October 2011
Purpose: to provide the Alliance for Education and its sub grantees, the League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Technology, funds over three years for Our Schools Coalition
Amount: $760,100


Have a look at the list of the Our Schools Coalition “members.”

Of this list, only about a quarter of the members are genuine community groups.

The rest are an array of enterprises that represent business interests (Alliance for Education, a division of the Chamber of Commerce), highly political and controversial non-local, national corporate ed reform lobbying operations (Stand for Children, Inc., Democrats for Education Reform, aka DFER, Teach for America, Inc., a multimillion- dollar enterprise), Gates-funded corporate ed reform / anti-union enterprises (CCER-Community Center for Education Results, Partnership For Learning, Teachers United), individual politicians (councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Richard Conlin, Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, Steve Sundquist, former Seattle School Board President voted out of office in 2011) or redundant listings of organizations that are divisions of other “members” (Alliance for Education and the Urban Enterprise Center are both divisions of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, yet all three are listed separately, the New School Foundation merged with the League of Education Voters, yet they are also listed separately, LEV and the Alliance are also linked), and the Washington Policy Center is a conservative think-tank comprised of about two people.

Stand for Children, Inc. is a national political lobbying enterprise which has boasted that its goal is to weaken teachers’ unions and force ed reform legislation in states throughout the nation. It has no legitimacy or business insinuating itself into the Seattle School District’s dealings with its teachers.


suep. said…
(cont'd from above)

The origins of the “OSC” are also shady, beginning with a push-poll paid for by the Alliance for Ed and created by political marketing firm, DMA Marketing/Strategies 360, which used the private contact information of students and teachers which was obtained illegally by DMA/360 with the help of the Alliance and Schools First, in violation of FERPA.

See: Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

The Alliance and LEV then created another faux group like this in Tacoma with the same purpose, called the “Vibrant Schools Coalition.” We also wrote about that on the Seattle Education Blog here:

Heads up, Tacoma teachers! Don’t be fooled by the 'Vibrant Schools Tacoma Coalition' -- Connecting the dots… Yet another ed reform Astroturf organization emerges out of nowhere.

Seattle’s schools do NOT belong to Stand for Children, Inc., the Alliance for Education/Chamber of Commerce or Bill Gates. They belong to the families and real community of the Seattle Public Schools District.
Anonymous said…
this diary is so depressing.

My SEA dues cost $84.25 a month. Some chunk goes to WEA, some goes to NEA.

IF I were dedicated to turning 600,000,000,000 a year of public education money into a bunch of strip mall 7-11s of education, Lorded over by 6 and 7 figure fat cats, I could NOT deliberately set up opponents more incompetent on messaging and on tactics and on strategy than the SEA-WEA-NEA.

The SEA is focused on getting people to sign up for the WEA pathetic WEAK-PAC. WEAK-PAC is fighting Rodney Tom bills, and WEAK-PAC is fighting Rodney Tom bills because WEAK-PAC is so obsessed with its pooh-bahs having "access" that WEAK-PAC consistently supports sell outs like Rodney, or, their enablers.

Will WEAK-PAC counter the incessant lies which form the firmament of debate? Ummmm ... anyone remember the anti-charter fight, were WEAK-PAC did nothing to counter the daily deluge of pro-charter lies, and at the last minute wrote some big checks to appear engaged?

I wish I could re-direct my dues to Charlie, Melissa, Suep and Dora. At least some citizens are out there fighting the forces of darkness.

Anonymous said…
fromerci 42ThankyouThankyou,
You are the SEA and it's your 85 bucks. I know cleaning up a union is hard work, having been very tangentially involved in a cleanup of an ILWU local back in the late 70's that included burned records, corruption, theft, and at the same time, murder of reform activists in the Seattle local. It's a UNION of it's members and you need to claim it and fight for it. Talk to other white collar unions like SPEEA at Boeing.

Anonymous said…
Wodfrey - I am more sick of people like you than the banditos crushing unions. I waste plenty of my life sticking my fingers in the multiple holes of the leaking dike -

Why don't you go write an idiotic movie like 'Norma Rae' or 'Freedom Writers' - the kind of garbage that comes straight out of my Catholic heritage - 'It is the fault of us underlings for not saving the world!! See The Movie!'

And what do the insular, unaccountable, 6 figure a year incessant roadblock "leaders" have to do with making everything a mess? YOU are saying

'Don't blame them! Blame yourself!!'

Anonymous said…
I think Wodfrey was saying that a union is a democratic organization accountable to its members, but those members need to get off their bums, go to union meetings and vote in officers that represent them. Not make a movie!
My recollection is that less than 15% of members of SEA bothered to vote in their last election.
School mom.
n said…
,,,the Times is the mouthpiece for a very small, patrician elite here in Seattle and promotes their interests ahead of every other interest."

That's all there is to it. It is and continues to be about money. Everything today is about money.

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