As noted in an earlier post titled Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA?! Charter schools?!, the state PTA has proposed a plank in this year’s platform that would be used to convince our state legislators in the next session that all parents want charter schools in our state. That’s what happened last year with merit pay when Ramona Hattendorf, Government Relations Coordinator for the Washington State PTA, provided testimony in sessions considering such bills. The implication being that because Ms. Hattendorf represented the PTA she therefore represented the majority of if not all parents in our state. Ramona was also busy meeting with our legislators trying to convince them of that as well.
Many of us countered with phone calls, e-mails and visits to our representatives in Olympia explaining to them what was important to us and how we believed that merit pay would only harm our children due to tests becoming over-emphasized and learning only becoming an act of rote memorization. See House Bill 2111:Legislative Action Alert. Legislative Bill 1443 passed the House last year with plenty of support by our state PTA mainly through the efforts of Ms. Hattendorf but didn’t get through the Senate because of push back from parents, teachers and concerned community members like you and me.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of making your voices heard in the state of Washington regarding this and any other issue that you might have concerns with particularly if the PTA is not representing your priorities. Let your PTA and state legislative representatives know what is important to you and what isn’t.
The proposal that each PTA member is to receive and review regarding charter schools only has a pro side. No opinions are offered providing another viewpoint. Apparently this is how they roll in the state of Washington and I can attest to that during my time as a PTA Legislative Chair. At the PTA legislative session last year where the guest speaker was Bill Gates, Sr., there was an ed reform proposal for merit pay and the only voice in the wilderness at the time against this plank was mine. There was no one there to officially provide a “con” to every “pro” that was proposed. So much for fair and balanced.
Then I found out this morning who the guest speakers were to be for the PTA legislative session and who should be on it? None other that George Scarola, Legislative Director with the “facts don’t matter” League of Education Voters (LEV), a Gates backed organization that has beat the drum for charter schools since last year when they started a speakers series on the subject. The speakers included the ed reform all-star list of Richard Barth, President and CEO of the KIPP charter franchise, his wife Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, Inc., Steve Barr, founder of the Green Dot charter franchise, Ben Austin of the failed Parent Revolution, Tom Vander Ark former Executive Director of Education for the Gates Foundation and now failed charter school entrepreneur, John Danner, who assisted in the creation of a charter school law in Tennessee and subsequently founded 12 charter schools in that state and then to top it off, Kevin Johnson who spoke to an almost all African-American audience at Mt. Zion Baptist Church talking about his charter school St. Hope Academy. And now LEV’s lobbyist will be speaking to the PTA legislative session about all things ed reform including charter schools and their next big push, online learning.
There is no one on the speakers’ list who would be there to provide a counter viewpoint. So much for fair and balanced with the Washington State PTA.