Oops, I Did It Again!

What happens when you have a Broad resident doing the numbers for a Broad trained superintendent?

You get whatever Eli Broad wants.

Sounds pretty simple and basic doesn’t it? We had our naysayers but not anymore.

Brad Bernatek

It’s a long story with an interesting history that I am tackling now for an article but let’s just start with Brad Bernatek, a Broad resident, who was hired by Raj Manhaus in 2006. Raj, as he is referred to, was superintendent of the Seattle Public School system at that time and had received “corporate training” at the Broad Foundation shortly after his appointment as superintendent . The person responsible for him being sent to the Broad borg will be revealed in that article that I am working on so stay tuned for that interesting tidbit.

Brad was brought on board to be the interim manager for research, evaluation and student assessment and was paid by the Broad Foundation. He was a History major in college and received an MBA from Indiana U but has no experience in education. But education, schmeducation as far as Eli Broad, Bill Gates or Wendy Kopp with Teach for America, Inc. are concerned.

If you follow the ed reform movement closely enough, you will start to see a pattern develop. Whatever Bill Gates or Eli Broad want in terms of ed reform, they pay for. Right now, one or both of them will be paying for the next three years of TFA, Inc. recruits that will be marching into our school system in Seattle, that is, if they win one or two legal battles first. The other pattern you might be noticing is that the less experience you have in the field of education, the better candidate you will make to work  in the field of education, at least in the minds of Broad, Gates and Kopp. But hey, they don’t have any experience whatsoever in that area of expertise so who needs it?

Anyway, getting back to Brad. When I found that in 2008 he had been made head of the Department of Research, Evaluations and Assessments (of students) I was bowled over. To me that was like the fox watching over the hen house particularly when you understand how numbers can be manipulated to make a point. Brad was in charge of the MAP roll-out which later became the tool of choice for our supe to evaluate teachers. Oh, but “oops!” , according to Brad who several of us had met with previous to the superintendent’s decision to use the MAP test in that way,  said that the MAP test was not designed to measure a teacher’s performance. But I guess at the time he had no idea what the supe would do with this new tool of hers. Is it also a coincidence that he never mentioned that again to anyone, ever? Hmmm.

But that was not the only “oops” Brad has made recently.  The next one is even more egregious.

Our superintendent’s entire campaign to force the Broad’s idea of ed reform down our throats in Seattle was based on her 5 Year Strategic Plan, which to me seemed more like how long it would take to get TFA, school turnarounds and charter schools into Seattle and therefore into our state but that’s another subject for another article.

This 5 year plan of hers was based on the premise that, according to Brad’s numbers, only 17% of students who graduate from Seattle high schools meet the entrance requirements to make it into a four-year college. Wow, that was shocking! People started to freak out and ask the great one, our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, what shall we do?

Well, she had a plan and it included re-segregating our schools, therefore allowing less choice for families particularly in the minority communities (Can you see where this is going once Broad and Gates get our legislative representatives to vote for charter schools? Something that they are working on as we speak. Also, the League of Education Voters (LEV), backed by Gates money, invited the CEO’s of KIPP and Greendot charter schools to share with us the wonders of charter schools. Kevin Johnson, also sponsored by LEV,  was in town recently singing the praises of charter schools to an African-American audience at an African-American church here in Seattle. As the topper, we will be graced with the presence of Ben Austin, the director of the Parent Revolution, who has taught parents how to demand charter schools in their neighborhoods. All of this through the overwhelming generosity of the League of Education Voters by way of Gate’s  and Broad money ).

This “strategic plan” also included more testing for students, the MAP test, and new teacher and principal evaluations based on these MAP test scores. Because you see, with the ed reform movement, part of introducing charter schools into a community is to say that a school is so bad that it has to be “transformed” into… a charter school!

Just to let you know, our supe was on the board of the company that sold the MAP test to our school district, NWEA. She resisted stepping down after the community discovered this connection and demanded that she do so. She recently stepped down quietly. She was also on the Board of Directors for the Broad Foundation until recently when she again stepped down with no fanfare. Someone brought it to our attention one day that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was no longer on the Broad’s Board of Directors’ list. That was news to us and a huge surprise. We loved pointing out that fact every time that we wrote an article about our supe. No more fun for us. Oh well.

This 5 year plan of hers was the reason given by the school board to extend the supe’s contract. This is something that the teacher’s union and many parents and students were against. The school board members in their infinite Broad trained wisdom, decided to go along with her game plan and extend her contract.

And yes, it was Broad trained wisdom shared with the board directors through their Alliance for Education funded, Broad run school board retreats. The last retreat was led by Don McAdams.

But getting back to the “oops!”

The Alliance for Education, another Gates and Broad backed faux roots organization, along with the League of Education Voters, started beating the drum of ed reform based on this number that Brad had produced.

But Sunday, the Seattle Times, to their credit, came out with an article on the truthiness of that number.

As presented by Linda Shaw of the Seattle Times:

The claim: Starting in 2008, Seattle Public Schools reported that a meager 17 percent of its high-school graduates met the entrance requirements for four-year colleges. The district quietly quit using that number then recently revised it, without comment, to 46 percent.

What we found: A little shock wave went through Seattle’s education community when the district first began suggesting that so few of its students took the courses they needed to apply to a four-year college in this state.

The 17 percent was one of the numbers district leaders used to justify the district’s five-year plan that included a new system of assigning students to schools, more testing for students, and new teacher and principal evaluations.

That statistic was false, but the district used the number in presentations to the School Board and to the public.

Other groups picked it up as well, using it to lobby for their own priorities.

The Seattle Council PTSA, for example, cited the statistic in stating why the district needed to make the high-school curriculum more consistent from school to school. In a newsletter sent to school PTAs all over the city, the council said Seattle Public Schools’ data “shows that only 17 percent of its students finish high school able to meet the actual admission requirements to public four-year colleges and universities in Washington.”

And as recently as August, former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice cited the statistic in a similar way in arguing for what he wanted to see in Seattle’s new teacher’s contract.

The new teacher’s contract, by the way, includes merit pay based on student scores, a method used in charter schools to keep teachers focused on test taking and little else. The supe also tried to push through her agenda item of bringing in TFA, Inc. but that had been tabled during negotiations with the teachers’ union. Then the supe found another way to bring in TFA, Inc, through our school board, but that’s another story for another article. One thing that I must say as an aside, this supe has been keeping many of us busy on developing our writing skills.

All joking aside this is a very serious situation. Everything that our supe has gotten through in terms of her and the Broad’s agenda was based on a lie. A lie created by Brad Bernatek, a Broad resident.

A lie that was perpetrated and echoed far and wide.

And what does Brad have to say for himself at this juncture in his professional life?

From the Seattle Times:

In retrospect, Bernatek said, he wished he’d done more to make sure the public knew the issues with the number and why the district stopped using it.

“I didn’t communicate that well enough” he said. “In fairness to the people who used it, it was still on our website.”

Kind of sounds like Michelle Rhee when describing her failure as Chancellor of the DC school district. It was just a matter of not being able to get the word out about her program.

And our supe? What did she say? In her usual corporate style double speak, she was quoted as saying, “We should have changed the public conversation”. Huh? That’s all she can say after two rounds of unnecessary school closures, based on bogus census numbers that Brad’s office produced for the school board, and a new assignment plan that has been an enormous failure in terms of logistics and the overcrowding of schools and leaving others without appropriate programs?

Because you see, for some unknown reason, the number was recently changed from 17% to 46% with no announcement or fanfare. The 46% was always the true number but was misrepresented by the use of a much lower percentage.

As written by Linda Shaw:

While staff understood what the number was supposed to be, she (the superintendent) said, she acknowledges the district didn’t make its meaning clear to the public, especially after it decided to quit using it.

“We should have come forward sooner,” she said.

We should have come forward sooner!? How about just starting out with the truth and sticking with that?

One of my many reasons for disliking this ed reform movement is that it has not been a transparent process, at least not here in Seattle.

There are faux roots groups backed by Gates and Broad touting their idea of ed reform. The methods used have been underhanded. An example of that is when the supe put the TFA, Inc. proposal on the table to the school board. Our superintendent and the school board president Michael DeBell decided that community engagement regarding bringing Teach for America, Inc. into the Seattle Public School system, a huge deal to all involved, would simply be a Q and A with a TFA, Inc. rep, the President and Vice President of SEA, the teachers’ union in Seattle, and the Chief Academic Officer of SPS during a board meeting for about 15 minutes. The premise of such a hurried process without community input was based on TFA’s requirement that they needed to have a certain number of districts to buy into this idea within a very short period of time. If TFA had sufficient buy-in, they would move into our state, something that they had been planning to do for a while now anyway.That is what you might call the tail wagging the dog or the supe putting the pressure on the board to make a hurried decision without any significant community notification and involvement. Take your pick.

There are many examples of this tactic being used to gain the school board’s approval on the superintendent’s proposals including school closures.

Some people think that if the community as a whole understood what the final result of this push to ed reform would be, that we would not want it, therefore clandestine methods have been used by Broad and Gates to achieve their goals. The process that they are using does reflect a paternalistic approach to governing and is undemocratic. It also illogical due to the fact that their approach is corporate rather than based on the understanding of successful approaches to educating a child. There is a huge conflict in terms of their vision and what is reality.

Getting back to Brad and our supe. We have had too many disingenuous “oop’s!” by both of them. Whether this was based on complete incompetence, which I doubt, or a willful use of misinformation to mislead the public, we don’t need this in Seattle. We don’t need them and we don’t need the Broad/Gates agenda which is doing nothing in terms of encouraging the success of our children in the Seattle Public School system and has only brought about confusion, chaos and a lack of confidence in the leadership of SPS.

By the way, Jim Horn with Schools Matter did an even more brutal piece on this debacle. (I must be getting too “Seattle nice”.)

Looks like this story is taking on a life of its’ own. Check out Substance News.

To read what the Seattle Public School community is saying about this Brad/Broad lie, see the Save Seattle Schools blog.

Dora

5 thoughts on “Oops, I Did It Again!

  1. It’s the way these folks operate.

    The only reason that a few of us saw this coming towards Seattle is because we saw this pattern develop over time in New York, Detroit and of course where this all started, in Chicago.

    It was inevitable that it would come here not because we have blighted neighborhoods and schools as in these other urban areas but because this is the backyard of Gates and we truly need to be the model of ed reform, whether we need it or not, for the sake of the ego’s of Gates and Broad. From watching them and listening to them they both have become perfect examples of megalomaniacs.

    This kind of ed reform we don’t need.

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