Timely Education News

Update 2:  So there is more to flesh out here on Jones.  Here's what she said:
I didn't use those exact words. What I did say is that often the parents of those students who are most impacted by lack of funding - poor, brown, recently immigrated - often don't have the same ability to advocate for their children, because they either don't speak the language or don't know their voices matter.
What I said is that I want to help families who have not had access. Typically, PTA is the platform for engagement in school-based decision-making. I have spent years training educators and community-based organizations on how to more effectively engage those who may not see the PTA as a mechanism with which they feel comfortable. Although I was a PTA member for several years (when I had time), I was the only person of color. There is a reality that the image of the PTA does their business in a certain way...has a reputation for serving soccer moms (not saying that is truth, but that is how many in communities of color perceive PTA). 

And I wasn't just speaking about SEATTLE. I am speaking based on my personal experience with Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, Puyallup, Yakima, Spokane - the places I have spent the most time. On the East Side of our state where there are large migrant communities, PTA doesn't make sense, because adults are often working 2-3 jobs or don't speak enough English to feel comfortable engaging in these kinds of processes. In Spokane, I worked at the poorest school in the district. Getting parents to show up for a meeting of any kind at school took incredible creativity, and our entire neighborhood was poor, so there was not any ability to raise funds, even had their been a PTA.

My greatest desire is to educate families who have not been engaged about the importance of funding, about what full-funding means, about how to advocate with their local leaders.
I queried The Stranger to ask if they felt they have misunderstood/misinterpreted what Jones said.  Here's what they say:
I think Erin’s comments to you jibe with what she said in the interview. I don’t think we misinterpreted anything, and Erin hasn’t said we did. 
They went on to say this:
When I followed up with you on charter schools, you acted quizzical about where anyone could have gotten the idea that you like them. But you briefly praised the region’s charter schools during our meeting, calling them “fabulous," then backtracked when another candidate objected: “Well, they would say they are fabulous.” You can’t act like no one has a reason to doubt your position on the issue. We just don’t find those concerns overriding or convincing, in the end. You are the best person to lead on racial justice in schools and you also criticized charters, which is why we endorsed you.
So there you have it.  Like The Stranger, I have my own concerns about Jones and charter schools.

On the one hand, she has a lot of charter supporters in her endorsement/funding.   (She also did speak in support of a charter school when it was filing its application but I truly believe she was trying to support a friend who was to be the principal.)

On the other hand, she has said, publicly, that she doesn't like/support charter schools.  But, as The Stranger found out, it's hard to gauge how firm that belief is.

I suggest we all follow the campaigns of these candidates and see what else is said.  That's why I'm not endorsing in the primary.  I just haven't made my mind up.

end of update

Update: Both The Stranger and the Times have endorsed Erin Jones for State Superintendent (for different reasons so both endorsements are good to read.)

But Jones did have a quote at The Stranger that gave me pause:
Too often, as Jones pointed out, who gets what in our under-resourced schools is determined by wealthy white parents with time on their hands.
I'll have to ask her to flesh out that statement because there's a lot said there in just a few words and I don't want to miss her meaning.

end of update

At our very lively discussion on the goings-on at Garfield around "Honors for All," one person stated there was to be a noon rally for HCC parents at Garfield tomorrow.  I am working to confirm whether that is true or not.

As well, I had reported that the Washington State Charter Commission had cancelled their July meeting but I just received notice yesterday that they are having a meeting by phone on Wednesday.  Here are the details:
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 │ 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This will be a Special Meeting that will be accessible by the telephone.
Dial-In-Telephone Number(s): U.S. and Canada:
(800) 245-9874 Access Code: 7784207


1. Call to Order (2:00 pm)
1.1 Roll Call
1.2 Agenda Review
1.3 ESP Contract Requirements
1.3.1 Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6194 (Charter School Act) (2:05 pm)
1.3.2 Charter School Contract (2:15 pm)
2. Executive Session (2:30 pm)
3. Commission Action Regarding the ESP Contract Between Excel Public Charter School
and Green Dot Washington (3:00 pm)
4. Identify Next Steps (3:15 pm)
5. Commission Adjournment (3:20 pm)

Also to note, Jack Archer from the BOE and Dan Grimm from OSPI are both voting members. I had assumed that Mr. Archer just substituting for someone else and was not a voting member because the minutes of the WCC April meeting reflected that he was not.

In legal news on public education, the AP is reporting that the state of Mississippi is being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of several public school parents against the charter school law in that state.  The claim is that the law violates their state constitution over the use of property taxes for schools.  There are only two charters in the entire state (both in Jackson where the lawsuit is based) with a new one to open in the fall.   Their charter law was enacted in 2013.

Lastly, your primary election ballot will be coming to your mailbox next week sometime.  Here's a link to the Washington State election guide (in four languages) and video statements by candidates including those for State Superintendent for Public Instruction.
A quick rundown after viewing the videos:

- many of the candidates have teachers in their families or were themselves teachers
- some have children/family members with disabilities
- many want to cut back on standardized testing

Robin Fleming
Has a good background as a nurse (13 years in SPS) and at OSPI in health services. She will work for fully-funded schools as well as early learning.  Her video was very health-based in its message.

Ron Higgins
He has been a teacher and bus driver in Washington and California for both traditional and charter schools.  He has taught at the Juvenile Justice Center and is a Vietnam vet.  He seems to be a Tea Party candidate - doesn't like testing or Common Core, wants to get back to the "principles of liberty" and teaching "computation" and wants boys to be boys and girls to be girls.  Mr. Higgins ran in 2012 against Randy Dorn.

Grazyna Prouty
An ELL teacher in Kent (she sued the Tahoma School district once.) She has taught early childhood to high school. She doesn't like charters or Common Core.  She spent much of her video time telling viewers good books on education to read.  She didn't time her video and gets cut off mid-sentence.

Erin Jones
For someone I know to be so vivacious in person, she comes off a bit flat.  She hit a lot of talking points like zip code not being the determination for success for a student and fully funding schools.  She did not mention charter schools.  It just didn't resonate as she does in person.

Chris Reykdal
Comes across very energetic and sincere.  Wants to work on public education financing and would be one of the few (with David Spring) to have children currently in the public school system.  He,too, wants to reduce standardized testing and bring back more CTE (Career and Technical Education, formerly vocational ed.)

David Spring
Spring is always a direct speaker and said his three foci would be class size, school funding and high stakes testing.

Al Runte
He starts off by saying "If more funding is the answer, then our schools would already be top-notch."  He has a PhD in "American Environmental History" and has been a teacher.  He said gender identity is not an academic basic and why would it be taught in schools?  He said there are too many administrators and not enough teachers in the system.

There appears to be two other candidates but there are no videos of them - KumRoon (Mr. Mak) Maksirisombat, a teacher from Seattle and John Patterson Blair, a former teacher and school board member from Vashon Island.

KumRoon (Mr. Mak) Maksirisombat has been Special Education teacher  and ELL teacher and has taught on a reservation. He has worked for SPS for 10 years as a school counselor and has two children in SPS.

Mr. Blair also ran for this office in 2004, 2008 and in 2012 and seems to support vouchers.

It's an interesting group because there are two people who would seem to appeal to many voters in Eastern Washington.  The front-runners seem to be Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal but if Eastern Washington could muster up votes for Runte or Higgins, someone could get bumped.

There's a candidate forum for this office next week on Tuesday, July 19th at the New Holly Gathering Hall at 7054 32nd Ave South.  Doors open at 5 pm with the event starting at 5:15 pm and ending at 7:30 pm.


NO 1240 said…
I've noticed a few articles related to charter schools and Washington State Charters are circulating these articles. I figured some are trying to rally support for charter schools- again.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to listen to the meeting.

Chris Reykdal is the candidate that consistently fights the privatization of public education. Gates seeks to influence SPIs and has provided the Chief of State Schools with $15M. I'm going with the candidate with a proven record in opposing the privatization movement and that person is Chris Reykdal.
Anonymous said…
Imagine the media firestorm if any other race than "white" was in that quote.

Stop Racism
Anonymous said…
Erin comes from privilege herself, class privilege. She grew up in an overseas private school in an affluent family.
Good News? said…

There is an evangelical organization named the Good News Club. Their mission is to evangelize children in elementary schools.

According to the Voters Guide, Jones was a YoungLife leader2006-2008. Young Life is a religious group that tends to bring religion to middle school students.

There was a YoungLife volunteer at our school. The individual was attempting to pick a student up and take the student to a meeting.

I would like to know more about Ms. Jones position on the Good News Club and YoungLife.

Jones often asks for prayers. I've not seen this from a candidate, before.

Patrick said…
I'm unhappy with the "white" in the quote. It's parents who are upper middle class and have at least one parent who is either not employed or who can easily take time off to advocate for their child. Sure, we can connect the dots and more than half of such parents are white... but there are significant numbers of other races as well. It's an economic class issue, not a race issue.
Anonymous said…
In other education news, Education Next has a report on declining state participation in SBAC/PARCC testing consortia.

The Politics of Common Core Assessments

Anonymous said…
I read and re-read the answers that the candidates provided you in response to your questionnaire. I remain very unconvinced that Erin Jones has what it takes to reform special education. I'd like to say that that I care about all the issues, and I do, but the only issue that I am voting on is special education. Her responses to the questionnaire implied that she hadn't actually read the OEO's report to the legislature on the creation of a state-wide special education task force. Erin began work at OSPI as a Director and worked with the initial Achievement Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee. She then went on to be the Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement for OSPI where she was the "voice on state cabinet as a voice for students of color, ELL students, and students in poverty."

It is not an accident that students with disabilities are not included in the definition of opportunity gap in this state, and I am guessing that she is one of the reasons why they are siloed out. The State is now at a "Needs Assistance" point in Special Education because it fails to address the outcomes for students with disabilities. With a miserable 54% graduation rate, you'd think she could come up with some specific issues on how she would improve education for students with disabilities, but she failed in the questionnaire to do so, and talked generally about supporting teachers. I think she would fail to reform special education at OSPI. Right now, I am leaning Chris Reykdal, who gave specific answers on how the state illegally uses money to determine type and amount of services, what the impacts of McCleary are on students with disabilities, and the need to follow the law!

Anonymous said…
Just googled Erin jones to see what she looks like, and what impressed me the most was her hair style. Love it. What a courageous woman!!
Sinderman Alert (!!) said…
Jones testified in favor of her friend being the founding principal of a charter school and Erin Jones claims charter schools are "fabulous":

"When I followed up with you on charter schools, you acted quizzical about where anyone could have gotten the idea that you like them. But you briefly praised the region’s charter schools during our meeting, calling them “fabulous," then backtracked when another candidate objected: “Well, they would say they are fabulous.” You can’t act like no one has a reason to doubt your position on the issue."

Hard to believe The Stranger would give this individual an endorsement.

Erin Jones has also hired Christian Sinderman. Sinderman is considered a premiere campaign consultant and he is enormously expensive. He has the reputation of supporting corporate backed candidates.

Jones is supported by leaders of the charter school movement. Is that because she does not support charter schools??

Sinderman, I think that The Stranger has fairly good radar and will call her out mightily if she changes what she has repeatedly said about charters.
Anonymous said…
The fact that Jones has been associated with YoungLife is a HUGE red flag to me. It will take a lot to convince me to vote for her now that I know of her connection to that...group.

-Seattle parent
Anonymous said…
Perhaps her participation in Young Life explains Erin's anti-gay response to a blogger in Southwest Washington: http://www.swweducation.org/?p=2751

Her reply to the question about a new LGBT curriculum is here: http://www.swweducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Erin-jones-response..transgender-education.pdf

The idea that teaching 4th graders about sexual orientation and gender identity is somehow going to turn kids gay and must be stopped is a core right-wing argument. This is really scary stuff to be coming from an OSPI candidate.

Horatio Hornblower
Anonymous said…
She will never get my vote. I think she's a fraud. I'll be voting for Chris Reykdal.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Wow! Her responses are very telling and worrisome. I'm very concerned and think this warrants further discussion. Not only does she misconstrue the self-identity portion of the sexual health teachings, but she has broadcast that she believe being gay, lesbian, or transgender is a choice.

Here's Erin's response to the blogger (http://www.swweducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Erin-jones-response..transgender-education.pdf):

I do not think it is developmentally appropriate to talk about gender or sexual orientation with 5 year olds. I do not think it is appropriate to talk with 4th graders about sexual orientation. I do not want 4th grade students to feel additional pressure to "choose an orientation."

Did she even bother to read the outcomes for Kindergarteners and 4th graders before offering this statement? I ask because her responses don't even align with the actual recommended outcomes. It feels very much like she has purposely misconstrued the outcomes as a fear tactic, which concerns me greatly.

Here's what the Kindergarten outcome actually says:

Understand there are many ways to express gender. H1.Se5.K (Note that there is no mention of sexual identity like Erin discussed)

Here's what the 4th-grade outcome actually says:

Identify how friends and family can influence ideas regarding gender roles, identity, and expression. H2.Se5.4
Demonstrate ways to show respect for all people. H4.Se5.4
Define sexual orientation. H1.Se5.4 (Note that there is no mention that 4th graders would have to "choose an orientation.")

It appears that the blogger in SW Washington is very conservative. I would hope that a blogger or media from the other side of the spectrum would explore this issue with Erin.

-Ballard Locks

I actually just found this website and I want to explore it. That said, it is interesting to read candidates' responses to their questions.
Good News? said…
There must be a separation of religion and state.

Both YoungLife and the Good News Club puts religious entities directly into schools. YoungLife ambassadors can be found in schools- during the school day.

Some families have run into problems when a principal or superintendent believe students need religious influence. There are times when principals have turned a blind eye.
Good News? said…
Horatio Hornblower provides a link and here is Jones response:

"Draw your own conclusions regarding those who responded vs. those who chose not to
Share your thoughts on the topic with your local school board"

What kind of an answer is this from a SPI candidate? The candidate does not take a position, articulate understanding of curriculum, express an opinion and passes concerns to local school boards.
Good News, I don't have a problem with the State Superintendent respecting local control and especially realizing that he/she is not the only elected education official in the state.
Good News? said…
As I understand it, the issue being discussed is state standards.
Anonymous said…
Erin does come from privilege and was schooled overseas. Chris Reykdal has real experience and could probably relate better and do more for working class & lower socio kids. I personally have witnessed people propel her into various roles because of the color of her skin to "add a black voice" to the conversation. She plays up her "blackness" in conversations to make the case she is most qualified to work on achievement gap issues. However, those in educational understand that much achievement gap research (Standford etc) has demonstrated income is the issue.
BL, while Jones went to a private school overseas, I'm sure she has had to live every single day of her life as a person of color.

I find your belief that the only reason she has been on panels, committees, etc is because she is black to be offensive. She is a bright, capable person with passion and commitment. If she "plays up her 'blackness'" well, she is black. Not referencing that in the context of the role she wants to play in public education would be odd.

I agree that poverty is a huge issue but race plays into poverty.

I also agree that Reykdal is also bright and capable with many assets to bring to the table. This is why I have to hear them both debate before I can make my choice.
Anonymous said…
Melissa- To clarify, I am objecting to those (& I have heard people state this) who may believe that Erin Jones is best qualified to address the achievement gap "because she happens to be black". Or people voting for her because they "like her most recent hairstyle" like TT posted. Class plays a very strong role in how we relate to people and she comes from an affluent & quite privileged background. A person who came from a lower socio background (like Chris Reykdal for example) might better relate to poverty issues impacting achievement. However, class background is not as visible as race. Research has indicated income as the predominant factor of the achievement gap. I am urging people to look beyond skin color to the personal experiences, as well as qualifications of the candidates.
No Fool said…
Senator Fain is among those leading the effort to privatize our education system. He has endorsed Jones. Those that seek to privatize our education system have contributed to Jones campaign including Evelyn Rozner (Matt Griffin's wife), Kelly Munn (LEV), Chris Eide, Bree Dusseault, Eric Pettigrew, Dawn Mason and others.

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