In a race to promote charter schools and teacher performance evaluations based on test scores, it seems that the League of Education Voters (LEV) is hurting rather than helping the community that they purport they are trying to assist. With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

LEV is a 501c organization with no membership but the financial backing of Nick Hanauer, one of its’ co-founders, who at the moment is having a hissy fit because the Democrats who he has backed in Olympia are not doing his bidding, and Bill Gates who is all about charter schools. LEV has been pushing for charter schools for two years now. The organization is a cardboard cutout of “concerned citizens” trying to depict itself as an advocate for education. My question recently has been  ” Who decides within the organization what is worthy of the staff’s time and effort?” Apparently those with the biggest wallets determine its course.

LEV recently came out with a pamphlet that was distributed throughout the Central District area that Representative Eric Pettigrew represents. It is predominately a minority community but recently has become increasingly integrated. It has a proud history and a bright future. This pamphlet has caused a lot of ire within this community and for good reason.

The first sentence on this pamphlet reads: “It will take the state of Washington 105 years to close the achievement gap”. Wow! Now that’s a real show stopper! As I have stated before, it is not an “achievement gap” it’s a poverty gap. And, unless we begin to fund our educational system in the state of Washington, our schools, our students and teachers will continue to struggle. The notion of 105 years of the continuation of any set of circumstances is ridiculous and reflects poorly on LEV. Just who do they think they are speaking to anyway? A bunch of folks who wouldn’t know any better? It is an insult to the community that they are catering to. It’s a scare tactic that has backfired.

Then LEV goes on to say “But there is hope!” in Representative Pettigrew who wants to bring charter schools and teacher evaluations based on test scores to your neighborhoods. He is your leader and he is the same color that you are! Don’t think that this wasn’t lost on LEV when they first approached Pettigrew with their notion of ed reform. The Broad Foundation does it with their Superintendent’s Academy populated with people of color who will march forth into the minority communities promoting salvation by way of charter schools.

This pamphlet has touched off a firestorm in the community particularly around the fact that LEV basically disses Rainier Beach High School, a school whose community is working hard not only to support itself but promote it as the great school that it is. See last week’s post on Rainier Beach High School for those details. LEV states that only half of its’ students passed the reading assessment test in 10th grade.

To follow is the response from The Rainer Beach High School PTSA Vice-President and Alum Rita Green:

Please note that the information in the League of Education Voters  targeting Rainier Beach High School is misleading and inaccurate.

As always we find ourselves defending our school.

Rainier Beach graduates the highest percentage of African American males in the District. Furthermore, our growth rates in reading and math exceeded the district growth rates by 1.5 and 2 times respectively.

Students are entering Rainier Beach from Middle School at 5th and 6th grade Reading and Math levels.

Also, a high percentage of our students are ELL and SPED.

There is not a problem with Rainier Beach there is a problem with Middle Schools not preparing students for high school and ELL students being placed in high school even though they cannot read English.

Rainier Beach just happens to have a very high percentage of underperforming students which is why the district, the media and the outsiders have chosen to negatively target Rainier Beach for at least the past 10 years.

Please note that there is no mention of the superlative gains that Rainier Beach is making in student growth even though the district continues to allow middle schools to promote students who are not ready for high school.

Nice goin’ LEV. You’re just starting to show your true colors.