In yesterday’s post I described one of the connections between Stand for Children, charter schools and the Washington State PTA, that being Chad Magendanz. Mr. Magendanz was one of the PTA members to write the proposal for charter schools to be part of the legislative platform that would be lobbied for by him and Ramona Hattendorf who is the Government Relations Coordinator.
It has come to my attention that there is another player involved, who is a member of Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters who was also on the committee that wrote the proposal for charter schools in our state, Alison Meryweather.
Per a Issaquah Education Association memo dated September 15, 2011. The memo describes the connection of Stand for Children, Jonah Edelman, Chad Magendanz and Alison Meryweather:
Stand for Children encourages its members to gain positions on school boards and PTAs – especially the legislative representative position. SFC members seek to persuade parents in the community to support SFC-sponsored education legislation. This is why teachers (T) are seeing PTSA support on legislation regarding RiF/seniority/evaluation in their PTSA Newsletters and why Alison Meryweather, the ISD PTSA Council Legislative Rep, and Chad Magendez, an ISD School Board member have proposed legislative goals to the State PTA on merit pay and charter schools.
It would be interesting to see if Chad Magendanz and Alison Meryweather were part of the committee that drew up the proposal for merit pay that was voted on in last year’s PTA legislative conference and is now under consideration of repeal by the same body this year.
But this is where it starts to get really interesting. Ramona Hattendorf who was the President of the Seattle chapter of the PTA last year and successfully rammed through the Community Values Statement in one evening with the help of the legislative representative of the PTSA Seattle Council, Heidi Bennett, which was used as a platform to lobby for merit pay and teacher’s evaluations determined by test scores in last year’s legislative session in Olympia, is also a member of the League of Education Voters (LEV). Since her success at lobbying on a local level for all things RTTT she was then selected to be a paid lobbyist for the Washington State PTA.
In a letter sent to our state representatives last year in support of Bill 6696, an ed reform bill, Ramona Hattendorf was a signatory and her titles were noted as “Seattle Council PTSA President” and “LEV key activist”. Heidi Bennett and Alison Meryweather were also titled as “LEV key activist”.
As I have stated in several other posts, LEV’s goal this year is to lobby for legislation to have charter schools in our state. LEV has provided us with the who’s who list of charter school operators and proponents in their speakers’ series and Kelly Munn even did a presentation regarding charter schools recently in Seattle. See: The fact’s don’t matter with the League of Education Voters.
So now we have two PTA members who drafted the proposal for charter schools and are both active members of Stand for Children and Meryweather who is active with the League of Education Voters as well, we have Ramona Hattendorf who lobbied for Bill 6696 last year and the following ed reform bills after that one failed on the behalf of the Washington State PTA and is a “LEV Key Activist” by her own admission and we have a keynote speaker at the PTA legislative session this week, Frank Scarola , who is a lobbyist for LEV who will speak about the virtues of charter schools.
But it doesn’t stop there. As legislative chair last year, I attended the PTA legislative session and this is how it works. There are workshops where you can hear about the various proposals that might be a plank in the Washington PTA legislative platform. I expected that in these sessions there would be both sides described and debated but it’s not like that at all. The folks who created that specific proposal stand in front of the room and tell you why you should vote for that proposal. That’s it, end of story. You can’t even get in front of the room and speak your case if you are against that proposal as I tried to do in last year’s session regarding merit pay. You remain in your seat and you have only so many minutes to speak and that’s it. There will also be in the room other proponents of that proposal so one can easily get drowned out by their voices. I was not drowned out but it was a fight to state my case against merit pay. The process does not allow for debate.
But it gets worse. The only printed material allowed in the conference must be PTA approved. No information is provided except what the PTA wants you to see. There is a vast amount of information regarding the failed promise of charter schools, much of it in the right hand column of this webpage, but none of that information will be allowed. You cannot leaflet in the hotel near the registration desk during sign-in and of course no leaflets are to be handed out during the session unless it has the PTA stamp of approval.
The very worst of it is that the conference is always held on a Friday when school is out. Last year I heard stories about how hard it was do be a part of the conference because of childcare issues. Many I heard could not make it because it is a two-day conference and parents couldn’t afford childcare, a hotel and meals. Meals, by the way, that the PTA was charging $30 for. Some PTA’s don’t have enough money for the registration fee, let alone the other costs that are involved.
Is this a democratic process? As much as the WSPTA wants you to think it is, it isn’t.
If you are a parent of a child in public school in the state of Washington, even if you’re not a member of the PTA, contact your PTA representatives and let them know where you stand on the issues. Let’s make sure that all voices are heard, not just the ones of a powerful few.