Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

Update: I heard from former Board director DeBell. He says that it was an innocent error on the part of his wife who does work for the district and was making the donation on their behalf.  He said that only he, not she, knows the PDC rules.  All that may be true but I would also add it's an odd error to put your husband's name, then your workplace and then put the wrong title for your own job.

end of update.

Why would former School Board director, Michael DeBell, give a $250 donation to District V candidate, Omar Vasquez, and put down "Seattle Public Schools" as his employer and his occupation as "Director?"

So you'll recall there was a recent survey that found that support for charter schools is down.  Now a new poll from PDK says this:

And while the findings reinforce that most public school parents (62 percent) like their local schools – more give their community schools an A grade than at any time in more than 40 years of PDK polling -- there is also considerable demand among the general public for schools to provide more work readiness via career skills classes, licensing and certificate programs, and technology and engineering classes.

The findings show that Americans “support the academic mission” of public schools, “but they also want local schools to position students for their working lives after school, including programs to develop interpersonal skills,” said Joshua P. Starr, chief executive officer, PDK International, publisher of Kappan magazine.
The district just hired a new head of college readiness and CTE, Joshua Baldwin.  Here's hoping the district gives him the supports to create programming that meets this demand.

When it comes to supporting vouchers, however, substantially more Americans oppose rather than support using taxpayer funds to send students to private school (52 percent to 39 percent).  Opposition increases to 61 percent when the question includes vouchers for religious schools.
So all this drumbeat for charter schools and vouchers is not really what many Americans say they want.  Hmmm.

Hey, look at the topic for this Saturday's "This American Life" on NPR (KUOW at 11 am) - Betsy DeVos' early work in education in her home state of Michigan.  Hmm, that sounds interesting.

Speaking of Betsy, she visits Florida and many are not happy about it.  I'll let their state superintendent explain why:
“It’s obvious that the secretary and our federal government have very little respect for our traditional public school system," Hanna said. "And it’s insulting that she’s going to visit the capital of the state of Florida, to visit a charter school, a private school and a voucher school."

"I’m not going to be used as some sort of token from the public school system like we’re in support of her and the president’s agenda. How are you going to go visit a private Christian school, and not visit any public school?”
Speaking of ed reform, here's news about Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, who is spending money - in a big way - on her billionaire ideas on public education.  (Who works for her group? Arne Duncan. Hmm.)
Another wave of PR dropped yesterday, touting a four-network, celebrity-packed, media event, proudly trumpeted everywhere from Variety to  USA Today. On September 8, a huge line-up (including Tom Hanks, Yo-Yo Ma, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson and (sorry) Common) will present "an hour-long live television special about reinventing American high schools."

EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live will be highlighting the efforts of the XQ Institute, simulcast on all four major broadcast networks.  (Editor's note; there are no other sponsors listed so apparently Powell just got out her Apple checkbook.)

Last year at this time, XQ announced the ten winners of a Boatload of Money (roughly $10 million per school). It included some public schools, but here the reforminess becomes more apparent. One winner is the Vista Challenge High School in San Diego. They are supported by Personalized Learning company Digital Promise, and VCHS will use the money to spread rigorous personalized learning and “authentic examination.” Betsy DeVos's beloved Grand Rapids public schools will turn a museum into a high school. A RISE charter (Revolutionary Individualized Student Experience) will launch in Los Angeles. In Louisiana, New Harmony High School is going to launch its "school on a barge" concept. Arne "Katrina Was the Best Thing Ever" Duncan got announce that one and said, "I've never been to school on a barge." And another $10 mill went Summit, the Oakland CA charter system that may be lousy at education, but is great at fund raising-- they've also attracted money from Gates and Zuckerberg with their brand of "all you need is a computer" schooling. 
A high school on a barge? Why didn't someone think of this before? Hmm.

And didn't Bill Gates already try to reform high schools?  How'd that turn out?  Hmmm.

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, has now thrown into question whether Harriet Tubman will be on the $20 bill.   (Not sure if this is a true "hmm" or just a "hell no."
After nearly a year of debate, former Treasury secretary Jack Lew announced in April last year that Tubman will be placed on the front of the $20 bill while Jackson gets reassigned to the rear.

Mnuchin on CNN: "Ultimately we will be looking at this issue," he said. "It's not something I'm focused on at the moment." 
Here's a way to send him a message. 


Unbelieveable! said...

Another misrepresentation from the Vasquez campaign!!

Anonymous said...

What's unbelievable is the 42nd giving its chosen candidates the forum questions in advance. Yes it happened!

Rigged again

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rigged Again, what do you mean by "chosen candidates?"

Anonymous said...

Most every elected official does exact the same thing.

Governor Gary Locke endorses Jenny Durkan
Governor Christine Gregoire endorses Jenny Durkan
Former County Executive and Deputy Secretary of HUD Ron Simms(for Durkan)
It seems they don't put former in front of their latest office, even if they are no longer serving.


Seattle Voter

Lynn said...

Is it illegal for a contributor to provide false information to the public disclosure commission?

Anonymous said...

There's got to be a line. You can't lie about money that's donated. If you lie on that it's big trouble.
Can you lie about your life is your question. illegal?


Melissa Westbrook said...

No, former is one thing. But saying you're a director on a legal document is another. So Seattle Voter, I'll go check Durkan's PDC reports and see what all those people put down on it.

I queried the PDC on this.

Eric B said...

I see endorsements as different from the employer field in in the PDC disclosures. It would be more accurate to use former, but it's also traditional to give someone the Governor, Senator, or President title even after they've left office. DeBell using Director, SPS as his employer on his disclosure form is really weird because SPS isn't his employer anymore.

Anonymous said...

The PDC has no power. Get used to it.


Lynn said...

That was sloppy of him. I don't believe SPS was ever his employer. Directors don't receive wages.

Patrick said...

I am okay with the former governors and county executive giving their former job as occupation, because those were their full-time jobs, how they earned their living. No one lives on their honorarium from serving on the school board. Can I put down "stamp collector" when I make political contributions?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not sure if you are not getting it. The document is a legal one and you must be truthful. DeBell is not.

Of course, electeds get to use "former so and so" but that's not the issue.

I looked Jenny Durkan's PDC page. Sue Donaldson, Jan Drago, Martha Choe and Sally Clark, all formerly City Council members, put their employer or "retired." Sherry Carr put her employer as did Christine Gregoire.

Not Good said...

Anyone that makes a political contribution in excess of $100 is required to put down the name of their employer. Those that make political contributions are well aware of this fact. It seems to me that DeBell would have made more than one contribution in his life. Not sure if this was done by the campaign or contributor.

Did Omar Vasquez delete all references to charter schools on his bio?

NESeattleMom said...

I think certain people get to say the title even when they are former: President Carter; President Clinton (Bill); I don't know but it possibly could be the same with senators and governors. But I think it is not true for mayors or school board members. It should be former mayor or former school board president.

Anonymous said...

But Jimmy Carter would not list as his occupation "President" or his employer "United States of America" when making a donation. DeBell is trying to give Omar an unfair boost here by making it look like a current Director endorses him. So far, none of his future colleagues have endorsed him, and I doubt any will.

Peanut farmer

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm astonished that so many of you are either not getting the point - it's a legal document, not an endorsement - or you are obfuscating. Weird.

Peanut farmer has it right.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One "hmmm" thing about Vasquez'campaign page - it has "endrosements" on its endorsements page.

I know a lot of people don't think spelling matters anymore but for someone who touts himself as a former teacher running for a school board position - it probably does.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eric B said...

If it makes you feel any better, I half-seriously proposed an elementary school on a barge for the NE capacity crisis a few years ago. My parent company provided a similar sized classroom barge to the Navy for about $10M, which sounds pretty good compared to $30M for a new school, especially if you could get low-cost moorage off of Magnusen Park.

Yes, I know that there are lots and lots of problems with the idea and it probably wouldn't work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Always with the good ideas, Eric.

Anonymous said...

Hey MW,

Agreed that the PDC mistake is unacceptable.

Did you endorse DeWolf? I must have missed that post.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I did not endorse DeWolf in the primary. I will have an endorsement for that race soon but given who I rejected in the primary, you'll probably guess who I will endorse.

Anonymous said...

Hey MW,

To clarify, you endorsing him is on his website now. I didn't see you publicly name that, so I was curious about that. that's all.