…and other connections.

Our Schools Coalition has not been active since September of 2010 after congratulating themselves on being a part of the bargaining process between the teacher’s union and the superintendent.

According to their website:

The coalition formed here strongly supports the following changes to the Seattle Public School teacher contract, to be renegotiated beginning April 2010 for agreement by the start of the 2010-2011 school year. We advocate that all reforms outlined below be fully implemented in time for the 2011-2012 school year.

Our Schools Coalition proposed changes to the teacher contract*: (This is when they used their push poll to justify their argument by putting polling numbers next to each of their reform items.)

To follow are excerpts from their website:

5. Student academic growth should be used as a significant factor in teacher evaluations. (…polling shows 66% of taxpayers, 59% of parents and 21% of teachers agree.) (By “student academic growth” they meant measuring a teacher’s performance based on test scores and specifically in Seattle, the MAP test.)

6. Teacher performance, as opposed to seniority, should be a significant factor in staffing decisions, including placement, transfers and layoffs. (Polling shows 83% of taxpayers, 79% of parents and 40% of teachers agree.)(Test scores, test scores and more test scores should determine the fate of a teacher in our school system.)

7. Currently, the process to remove ineffective teachers can take 18 months or longer. Instead, the lowest performing teachers should be removed in less than 12 months.(Polling shows 82% of taxpayers, 82% of parents and 63% of teachers agree.) (If specific guidelines are not followed, a company or a school district can be sued for unlawful discharge.)

8. There should be opportunities for increased compensation for teachers based on performance, additional responsibilities, subject-matter expertise in hard-to-staff areas, and placement in high-need schools. (Polling shows 88% of taxpayers, 90% of parents and 58% of teachers agree.) (This is basically merit pay based on test scores.)

9. The teaching profession in Seattle should be opened up to attract additional talent, including through programs such as Teach for America. (Polling shows 72% of taxpayers, 60% of parents and 51% of teachers agree.) (Ah yes, Teach for America, Inc.)

I would love to know what 72% of taxpayers and 60% of parents they are referring to when asked about Teach for America, Inc.  because many people didn’t know until very recently who TFA, Inc. was and most people still don’t know.

These inaccurate numbers were used to convince the union leaders and teachers that the majority of citizens in Seattle were for the edicts of corporate reform.

And who did they co-opt into their scheme? The list on their website includes:

African American Parent Community Coalition, a group in California that says on their wesite to come back later to see their list of sponsors.

African American Men’s Group, located in Duluth, Minnesota. There is no such group listed in Seattle.

The Alliance for Education, who hired Strategies 360.

CEER (Coalition for Equal Education Rights), when I Google this group it just takes me back to the Our School Coalition Page.

El Centro de la Raza, one of our PAA Seattle members questioned the leadership about their role with OSC and they stated that they did not know at the time what they were signing on to.

League of Education Voters, also Gates and Broad backed pushing the corporate reform agenda of privatization of our schools.

Stand for Children, ditto but a national organization.

Youth Ambassadors. During negotiations with the teacher’s union last summer, there was a school board meeting where groups such as Stand for Children and Our Schools Coalition had on orange tee shirts and were cheering for SERVE, a proposal that would have given the superintendent power to fire teachers at will and would have linked student test scores to the evaluation of teachers.

There was a large group of students there with orange t-shirts on who had been applauding anytime someone got up to testify in support of SERVE,  Alliance for Education and Stand for Children folks. Anyway, I asked one young man after the board meeting what school he attended. He said that he was a Youth Ambassador and went to a school in Bellevue and that someone had approached him and others and asked them if they wanted to show their support for their schools. They thought that they were doing this to support their schools. They had no idea what SERVE was.  I thought that it was shameful that Stand for Children and the Alliance for Education would use children in this way. I find it deplorable but it made for great photo op’s.

Now we have come to find out that Strategies 360 who was hired by the Alliance for Education to promote the edicts of corporate reform in our Seattle schools and created Our Schools Coalition out of thin air  just made up a similar organization in Tacoma, “Vibrant Schools Tacoma Coalition”.

And how do we know that Vibrant Schools Tacoma was the direct creation of Strategies 360?

Well, someone did a little cyber sleuthing and sent this to us on Friday:

Strategies 360 is definitely involved in Vibrant Schools Tacoma as well. Looking at the registration of the vibrantschoolstacoma.org domain, the person listed as “registrant” is Emily Owens at Strategies 360 (emilyo@strategies360.com). Below is the result from a WHOIS inquiry for the domain.

Same MO, same PR firm behind it.

Domain ID:D162066526-LROR
Domain Name:VIBRANTSCHOOLSTACOMA.ORG
Created On:18-Apr-2011 22:20:06 UTC
Last Updated On:18-Apr-2011 22:22:52 UTC
Expiration Date:18-Apr-2013 22:20:06 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:CR80921765
Registrant Name:Emily Owens
Registrant Street1:1505 Westlake Avenue North Ste 1000
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Seattle
Registrant State/Province:Washington
Registrant Postal Code:98109
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:            +1.2062821990
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:emilyo@strategies360.com
Admin ID:CR80921767
Admin Name:Emily Owens
Admin Street1:1505 Westlake Avenue North Ste 1000
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Seattle
Admin State/Province:Washington
Admin Postal Code:98109
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:            +1.2062821990
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:emilyo@strategies360.com
Tech ID:CR80921766
Tech Name:Emily Owens
Tech Street1:1505 Westlake Avenue North Ste 1000
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Seattle
Tech State/Province:Washington
Tech Postal Code:98109
Tech Country:US
Tech Phone:            +1.2062821990
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:emilyo@strategies360.com
Name Server:NS1.STEFFENRASILE.COM
Name Server:NS2.STEFFENRASILE.COM

DNSSEC:Unsigned

Strategies 360 set up this Tacoma faux roots website, it’s in their name, and they are doing exactly what they did in Seattle.

Now I want to carry this a step further. This brings me to the question of why it took 39 individuals to hire  a communications director for Seattle Public Schools. And I would like to add  here that there were 4 or 5 personnel listed as part of the communications department before this new person was hired. Unfortunately with the district’s new website, they no longer list the people in each department so I can’t count how many people are within any department, interesting modification to the new site. Either way, how many people do we need communicating with Seattle, particularly when the superintendent is considering rifing teachers and counselors due to budget concerns? The individual who was selected, Lesley Rogers, comes from Strategies 360 and was part of the dishonest campaign to manufacture consent over the agenda of basing teachers’ performances on test scores, merit pay and bringing in Teach for America.

Included on the list of people involved in the selection of this new Communications Director were  “External Organizations”, Kimberly Mitchell with the GATES Foundation, Sara Morris with the Alliance for Education and George Griffin, past chair, Alliance for Education board.

I can understand damage control in the wake of our former Broad-trained superintendent’s poor performance and involvement in scandals, but a Strategies 360 veteran taking the lead, and an expensive one at that? And it took 39 folks to decide on the proper candidate including the Gates Foundation and the Gates backed Alliance for Education? What’s at stake for these folks besides the control factor over our school district? Gates doesn’t do anything regarding education unless it’s part of his specific agenda of charter schools and merit pay based on student performance.

Sue and I have been mulling over this and I do believe that we have found the connection. It’s the levy.

There is a lot of money at stake in this levy, two times as much than previously requested. Some of that money is to go to items that are part of the package of corporate reform.

As Sue pointed out in a recent post, Councilmember Tim Burgess has referred to the levy as a “lever” for ed reform.

A group called CCER, the Community Center for Education Results, which opened shop in 2010, is collaborating with the City of Seattle in the development of this levy. That organization was established by the Seattle Foundation. The Seattle Foundation came out for Teach for America with an op-ed by the CEO Norm Rice. The Seattle Foundation received $1M in funding last year from the Gates Foundation. No doubt CCER would be up for funding with the passing of this levy. The sponsors of CCER include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the League of Education Voters.

This levy is in part based on “the Seattle Youth and Families Initiative”. And who is on that committee? Three people are on that committee and one of them is Norm Rice, CEO of the Seattle Foundation.  In all of this, by the way, no regular folks like teachers or parents are represented.

In the language of the levy, there are these excerpts:

Implementation Principles:
1. Use an accountability structure based on student outcomes, indicators and performance-based contracts,
(Hmmm, are we talking merit pay again?)

2. Encourage course corrections to improve outcomes; defund projects that do not achieve outcomes,(This language is extremely vague and leaves the possibility of broad interpretation, something that I’m not comfortable with considering who has had their finger in this pie.)

And in the summary of the levy on page 21 of “Recommendations of the 2011 Families and Education Levy Advisory Committee”, it is stated under the heading of “Teacher Quality”,

Key elements of high quality teachers include:

Cultural competence

Well trained (with regular professional development)  (I guess that leaves out Teach for America)

To ensure high quality teachers, teacher tenure should be eliminated and a system of performance based retention should be implemented. Student input should be a component of teacher evaluation. (Implement high stakes testing and base a teachers’ pay and career on those test scores.)

It’s now starting to make sense why it was so important to hire a Strategies 360 veteran to prop up the image of Seattle Public Schools. There is a lot at stake here for Bill Gates and other corporate interests. It is to be education reform their way and we are to pay for it.

This does create quite a conundrum though, we all want additional funding for our schools but at what price?

Dora

Post Script: Here comes the first op-ed spun by Strategies 360 in Tacoma. Sound familiar Seattle? They really do have a playbook that they go by.

Post Script 2:

They just keep promoting each other in this vicious circle brought to you by Bill Gates & Co.

From the League of Education Voters website:

Give Me a “V”: Way down yonder in Tacoma way, folks aren’t waiting around for the legislature or policy makers or Superman to make change, the people are doing it for themselves. The new Vibrant Schools Tacoma went “live” last week to much fan fare. The coalition is rallying around the Tacoma teachers contract negotiations. The diverse group is focused on  academic achievement, supporting teachers and putting a community voice into the negotiations. Modeled in part after the Our Schools Coalition that worked for change to the Seattle teachers contract, Vibrant Schools represents a new way forward in community engagement.