Was I using inappropriate language? No.
Was I being rude and derisive in my remarks? No
Was I stating the truth? Yes
Let’s begin this post with one fact, that the WSPTA received in March of 2011 $191,424 ” to assist with technology communications infrastructure to push for key policies in Washington” from the Gates Foundation.
And what are Bill Gates’ “key policies”? Charter schools and teacher evaluations based on test scores.
And what has the WSPTA been doing? Well, first there was the charter school plank that was quietly slipped in by the League of Education Voters (LEV) “Key Activists” and Stand for Children (SFC) members Alison Meriwether and Chad Magendanz last fall. You can read The Washington PTA Stacks the Deck Towards Charter Schools for additional information on the WSPTA charter school maneuver.
Chad Magendanz, by the way, is now running for state legislator in the upcoming election and backed by LEV/SFC. First the PTA, then SFC backed his successful bid as school board director in Issaquah and now he is running for state legislator. Some say that he is being brought in by Nick Hanauer/LEV et al, to support the passage of the charter school bill that will undoubtedly return next year in Olympia. We will be following that campaign.
Getting back to the charter school plank that was voted into the WSPTA platform, we have yet to find out whether there was a quorum for this vote that occurred during the WSPTA legislative assembly and what schools and districts were represented. We can’t even get the minutes from the WSPTA although several PTA members have requested the information. One PTA member is concerned that no minutes were taken during that legislative assembly session and that is why there are no minutes forthcoming.
Now back to being kicked off of the WSPTA listserv, it actually began when I first got onto the listserv a couple of months ago. It was a very clubby group with Kelly Munn, State Field Director for the League of Education Voters, and several other LEV activists basically providing their take on all issues related to education. Truth be told, that’s why I joined. I had heard that several SFC and LEV activists had basically taken over the listserv, a message group that is made up of legislative representatives from schools around the state. I wanted to see for myself if this was the case. It was. Ramona Hattendorf, WSPTA Government Relations Coordinator and LEV “Key Activist”, would basically provide what the WSPTA was doing and everyone would read it as if taking their marching orders. Kelly Munn would add her two cents with her LEV cadre of ed reform soldiers applauding her every word. Others would try and question the directives but they were usually slammed down.
So after I got on and began to share my viewpoints and opinions, there was a challenge as to whether I was a member of the PTA because the chatter on the list serv was starting to take on a different tone, a tone of questioning and dissent. Hmmm. So at that point I had to verify that I was actually a PTA member. Then I was able to join the listserv again. After another week or two, the same challenge came up for several other members of the listserv. So a directive went out to all members of the listserv. Whoever wanted to remain on had to prove that they were a member of the PTA and sign onto a set of rules.
At this point, just about everything that the LEV activists were saying was being challenged, from charter schools to teacher evaluations, how “bad” the teachers’ union was and how great online learning was so this group was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
I signed on to follow the rules as did everyone else who wanted to participate. But that wasn’t enough. Kelly Munn chirped in one day that the charter school bill was about to be dropped that Thursday and someone asked who wrote the bill. At that point I provided the information that in fact LEV was involved in creating the bill and posted excerpts from the Seattle Ed blog regarding that. You can read my response at the end of this post.
At that point all hell broke loose. Now before this I had my hand slapped for even mentioning Alison Meriweather or Chad Magendanz as writing up the charter school plank and their involvement with SFC and LEV and almost got kicked off once because I forgot to “erase” my signature as editor of Seattle Education. One of the new rules was that we were not to mention other organizations although LEV and SFC seemed to be OK to bring up on occasion.
Then when I posted who was involved in the charter school bill, Kelly Munn contacted me directly and stated that if I didn’t have anything nice to say about LEV and SFC then I shouldn’t say anything at all. Humph. It started to feel like the same bullying tactics that Hanauer uses with the state legislators or WEA.
In her own words Kelly wrote:
I ask you to refrain from posting about LEV or Stand unless you have something positive to say.
Well, that would have been a stretch.
I answered that I was just stating the truth and it didn’t have anything to do with being nice or not, I was stating the facts and let the chips fall where they may.
In the last of our exchange of e-mails I wrote:
I will continue to provide information that I believe to be accurate. How others receive the information is up to them.
Kelly’s one line response was:
Understand that you are choosing to not respect my wishes.
Because I chose not to “respect” her wishes, I was voted off the island.
Bill Williams, Executive Director of the Washington State PTA, and Ramona were copied on this e-mail exchange and at the end Bill Williams said that I was off the listserv.
Does this have anything to do with “communication infrastructure to push for key policies in Washington”? Was the attempt to tightly control the message also include what PTA members say and share on the WSPTA listserv?
I am on several listserv’s and generally communication is free and open as long as what we say remains in the realm of “civil discourse”. Why was this listserv different? Is this just supposed to be a method to issue directives from on-high from Ramona and Kelly and simply be accepted and not challenged?
Fortunately, as I was rejected from the listserv, others took my place. They might not be hearing it from me anymore but now they are hearing it from many others.
If you are a PTA member in the state of Washington, I would recommend that you contact Melissa Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, and request to be a part of the listserv. Let your voices be heard.
To follow is the listserv post that I wrote that got me kicked off the WSPTA listserv. I was answering the question as to who wrote the charter school bill:
It is public information.
Before I get into who the authors are, you need to understand some background of Stand for Children. For that see: The Truth Behind Stand for Children, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/the-truth-behind-stand-for-children-a-video/ and Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/stand-for-children-stands-for-the-rich-and-the-powerful/.
Their agenda is charter schools, charter schools and charter schools. They are back by the Waltons as in Wal-Mart and Gates, both big proponents of guess what…charter schools!
Edelman, the President of SFC stated in a video that after their big win over the teacher’s union in Illinois that they were headed to our state to basically bust our teacher’s union. It is shown in the video that is part of the post Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful shown above.
Now, an excerpt from https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/tag/chad-magendanz/:
Prior to this assembly, a proposal had been sent out to the PTA legislative chairs and/or presidents of all schools that have PTA organizations. This proposal was basically out of the blue not only for me but also to all of the PTA members that I communicated with. See Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA? Charter schools? Part 1. After further research, it was discovered that the primary writers of this one-sided proposal were also Stand for Children members. Stand for Children (SFC) is all about union busting and thereby creating a cheaper workforce to staff charter schools. One of the writers of the proposal, Chad Magendanz, is referred to as a “Stand Leader” by the SFC organization. Mr. Magendanz was supported through funding and hands-on support as described by SFC during his successful bid for School Board Director in Issaquah, WA.
So, who is Chad Magendanz and what does he have to do with Stand for Children and charter schools? Apparently a lot. It might have happened innocently enough for Mr. Magendanz who received campaign funding from SFC and endorsements from Kelly Munn and Lisa MacFarland both with the Gates backed League of Education Voters during his campaign in 2008 when he ran for the Issaquah School board and again in 2009 when he ran for re-election. Even before that he was a member of SFC but this boost to school board member seemed to help him rise up through the ranks of SFC and become a spokesperson for the organization during the last legislative session.
According to SFC 2009 report, as one of their achievements they state that they:
Helped elect four strong school board members in two districts: Marnie Maraldo and Chad Magendanz in Issaquah and Catherine Ushka-Hall and Kurt Miller in Tacoma.
And at a statewide SFC conference it is noted in their handout that one of their accomplishments was the:
Election of strong school board candidates:
– We endorsed and campaigned for four successful school board
candidates; Marnie Maraldo (Issaquah), Chad Magendanz (Issaquah),
Catherine Ushka-Hall (Tacoma) and Kurt Miller (Tacoma).
And now Chad is referred to as a “Stand leader” in the SFC Olympian Connection news update on legislative action in a committee meeting with our representatives in Olympia.
At Wednesday’s committee meeting Stand leaders from Issaquah, School Board members Chad Magendanz and Marnie Maraldo, shared a Board resolution that opposes removing the 2018 dates and did a great job fielding questions from committee members.
So, where did that name just surface again? As one of the PTA members involved in developing the proposal for charter schools that will be introduced in the Washington State Legislative session this week. The same session where one of the Gates backed organizations, LEV, an organization that is pushing charter schools in our state will be speaking. See So much for fair and balanced with our Washington State PTA. The speaker is George Scarola and he is a lobbyist for LEV.
I believe that the WSPTA has been heavily influenced by LEV and SFC and that we need to begin to have a frank conversation about what the PTA does and should stand for and how careful should we be with our alliances with outside affiliations. Even Ramona is an “LEV Key Activist”. Could that be at times a conflict of interest? I believe it can.
And speaking of teacher evaluations see: Stand for Children, School Board Elections, Washington State PTA and Charter Schools, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/stand-for-children-school-board-races-and-the-washington-state-pta/.
As I previously posted in Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful, Stand for Children (SFC) has proudly declared by way of its’ co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jonah Edelman, that he was successful in busting the teachers’ union in Chicago and he plans to do that again in the state of Washington. He has led the fight in other states by his own admonition in a video taped session during a seminar at the Aspen Institute, for “pension reform”, meaning cutting back on pensions or eliminating them altogether, and a teacher’s evaluation based on a student’s test scores.
The entire transcript will provide insight into how the 1% thinks and how they operate politically from backing state representatives to school board members
As Edelman says:
I’m being quite blunt here, the individual candidates were essentially a vehicle to execute a political objective…
And after the successful election of the SFC backed candidates, Edelman says that now he could go back to the governor, with his newly found political clout.
After the election, Advance Illinois (another Gates’ backed organization) and Stand had drafted a very bold proposal we called Performance Counts. It tied tenure and layoffs to performance…It streamlined dismissal of ineffective tenured teachers substantially, from 2+ years and $200, 000 in legal fees, on average, to three to four months, with very little likelihood of legal recourse, and, most importantly, we called for the reform of collective bargaining throughout the state.
In Edelman’s words:
“We’re already getting going. We’re doing this level of work in every state. In Washington state, same goal. We could readily outspend the WEA. Massachusetts, very similar. It might be a ballot measure in Washington. It might be we have a ballot measure on the ballot in Massachusetts, and we use it as a lever.”
After reading the transcript or watching the tape you wonder just how SFC’s involvement with union negotiations particularly because they were negotiating basically against teachers and not in support of them helps our children in any way.
And where did Edelman get the money to successfully wage this campaign against teachers? From the wealthy few including hedge fund millionaires. See Emanuel’s billionaire donors also bankrolling “Stand for Children”, pushing union-busting organizations in Illinois.
Last year Bill Gates, a big promoter of charter schools, gave Stand for Children $3,476,300 in funding.
And then there’s PIE, another moneyed group, who is also funding SFC and is a big proponent of charter schools.
It’s time to take our PTA back in the state of Washington. And…don’t forget the charter school debate tonight sponsored by the Seattle PTA.
Co-editor: Seattle Education
Founding Member: Parents Across America
PTA Member in good standing (so far)
You can view the correspondence between me and Kelly Munn and my letter from Bill Williams at this Google website. Please note the 18 minutes between Ms. Munn’s last e-mail to me and when I received my “off the island” e-mail from Mr. Williams. Coincidence? I think not.