As I stated in a previous post, there was a proposal created by Stand for Children backed PTA members Chad Magendanz and Alison Meryweather that squeaked by the Legislative Assembly. Many of the participants have told me that the gap would have been wider if not for the efforts of many of the legislative representatives from different schools who do not want to see charter schools in our state.
This proposal came out of the blue, see Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA?, and was a total surprise to many who are PTA members. When the material was sent out to all PTA legislative chairs and presidents of the different schools in the state, the proposal only provided a pro charter side and no information providing a balanced view of charter schools. The sad part was that the only reference given in this proposal were from the charter franchise websites of KIPP and Greendot with a nod to Wikipedia whose charter school page is well-groomed by the moneyed advocates. Well investigated? Not by my standards.
Then, during the Legislative Assembly, there was no time provided to have a debate during the session breakouts regarding charter schools. Fortunately, at the last minute, some of the printed information regarding the facts about charter schools, created by Parents Across America members and teachers within the PTA, was approved by the Washington State PTA. That information was handed out in certain locations and times as prescribed by the Washington State PTA (WSPTA) during the legislative session. These efforts did make a difference and I believe were the reason for such a close vote.
As one person noted who participated, she saw about five African-Americans in the legislative assembly and as I noted in a previous post, going to this assembly is expensive and many members, if the school has a PTA, would not be able to attend due to the cost of child care, it was on a school holiday, meals, transportation and sleeping accommodations. Did this assembly adequately represent the 99%? I don’t think so. Was there enough of an opportunity to provide members of the assembly with adequate material on the subject of charter schools to make an informed decision? No.
Out of curiosity, many of us as parents and teachers wanted to know exactly what schools had been represented at this assembly which would help describe the demographic. This is important because one of the arguments given by the Issaquah suburbanites was that having charter schools was for the poor minorities (African America children). Were there enough minority communities adequately represented so that they could make the choice for themselves? We think not.
I sent an e-mail to Ramona Hattendorf, Government Relations Coordinator and League of Education Voters, LEV, Activist who you will see marching to Olympia with her orders in hand to support the notion of charter schools in our state as our WSPTA lobbyist, and Bill Williams, the Executive Director of WSPTA requesting the following:
To PTA Staff,
We would like the information on what schools were represented at the Legislative Assembly that took place on October 14th and 15th of this year. If you have a comparative analysis of the percentage of schools that were represented at the assembly in terms of the number of schools in our state, that would be appreciated as well.
We will be awaiting your response.
And this is the response that I received from Bill Williams:
Ms. Taylor, thanks for your email. All members of Washington State PTA for whom we had email addresses (about 72,000 email addresses) were notified about the issues that would be discussed at our Legislative Assembly, and approximately 8,000 members responded to an online survey regarding those issues. Also, as I’m sure you know, every local unit had the opportunity to send delegates to the assembly. However, we do not release the kind of information that you requested.
Thank you for interest in Washington State PTA.
Washington State PTA
2003 65th Ave. W
Tacoma WA 98466
253-565-2153 or 1-800-562-3804
OK. So, we have a non-profit organization who postures themselves as representing all children, parents and teachers in the state of Washington and they will not provide information on what schools were represented at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly. Why not? We were not asking for names of individuals, just schools. Where is the transparency? This is a non-profit organization and as such is expected to provide pertinent information if not to the general public, at least to its’ members. Why the big secret?
If you would like to know just who was represented at this assembly besides the folks from Issaquah and a small contingent from Seattle, please contact Bill Williams and request this information, actually, demand the information. Let’s ensure that the WSPTA represents all of us and not just the few.
Mr. Williams e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.