The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There

There is a movement underfoot to take our rogue PTA back in the state of Washington.

It has been taken over with the likes of Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters (LEV) who have been setting the agenda for the WSPTA for the last two years, an agenda which includes merit pay for teachers, evaluating a teacher’s performance based on test scores and the introduction of charter schools in our state. What is  even more frightening is that since Lisa MacFarland, who founded LEV, is now with WA DFER, Democrats for Education Reform, the stakes have gone up. We have been watching the basic melding of LEV and DFER in our state and it’s not pretty.

Two SFC/LEV activists who are also PTA members, Chad Magendanz and Alison Meryweather, pushed through a proposal regarding charter schools at the legislative assembly and this plank in the WSPTA platform, couched in the language of “Equitable Educational Opportunities”, will be voted on at the PTA Convention in two weeks. If this resolution is passed, it will be a part of the official agenda for the WSPTA for the next two years. That means that Ramona Hattendorf, the WSPTA lobbyist, and Bill Williams, Executive Director of WSPTA, will be speaking to our representatives and saying that they represent all of the children in our state and all of the children, parents and teachers want to privatize our public schools. That’s it in a nutshell, it’s that simple.

The motto of the PTA is Every Child, One Voice.

It would behoove all PTA members who can, to be involved in this convention and make your voices heard.

It does cost money to be a part of this convention. There is the registration fee of $190 and if you don’t live close to Seattle, there will be the cost of lodging and food. Members of Parents Across America, Seattle will be glad to house PTA members who need a place to stay to help defray the cost of attendance. Also, some PTA’s can help with fees. There is also the opportunity to volunteer during the convention which will defray the cost of the registration fee.

The Washington State PTA convention is being held on May 4, 5 & 6, 2012 at the Doubletree Hotel-Seattle Airport, SeaTac, WA.

There are many reasons why the people in our state do not want charter schools. To follow are a few of those reasons:

For additional information on charter schools, see these papers and studies:


Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness 1

Mathematica: Charter School Study Shows No Significant Overall Impacts on Achievement

Mathmatica Study on Merit Pay


Schools Without Diversity

Study: Chicago’s Democratically-Led Elementary Schools Far Out-Perform Chicago’s “Turnaround Schools”

Teacher Turnover in Charter Schools

UCLA Report Says Charters Are Causing Resegregation Of American Schools

Vanderbilt: Instructional Conditions in Charter Schools and Students’ Mathematics Achievement Gains

There is nothing “Equitable” about charter schools.

To follow is a list of state studies on the effectiveness of charter schools compiled by Dr. Michael Fabricant (Hunter College) and Dr. Michelle Fine (CUNY) in their new book Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education, page 41-2.

By early 2006, “only 25 public schools had opened in New Orleans. Eighteen (72%) were charter schools and 10 (40%) had selective admissions standards.” By the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, 85 schools had opened and more than half were charter schools. The assessment scores were mixed, demonstrating that, “more charters showed declines in their test scores than improvements” (Dingerson, 2008, p. 32).

In Newark, New Jersey, Barr, Sadovnik, and Visconti compared the performance of charter and public schools and found that students in charters perform less well on standardized tests than public school students, in particular on language arts tests as compared to mathematics (Barr, Sadovnik, & Visconti, 2006) .

In California, Rogosa found advantages for regular public schools in grades 7 and 8. A more recent report by Margaret Raymond of the Hoover Institute also examines the California experience with charters. Her findings for middle school achievement confirm Rogosa’s findings-the performance of public and charter elementary schools is comparable (Rogosa, 2002).

Eric Bettinger noted that in Michigan, “When charter schools are compared to public schools with similar characteristics pupils in charter schools score no better and may even be doing worse”

(Bracey, 2004, p. 19). Randall Eberts and Kevin Hollenbeck “found [that] charter students [in Michigan score] lower by 2-4 percentage points on the MEAP 4th grade reading, 4 percentage points lower on the science testing and 6 percentage points lower on the writing scores” (Bracey, 2005, pp. 19,43).

The sixth evaluation of Texas charter schools performed by the Texas Center for Educational Research concluded that “across six school years, traditional public schools have outperformed charter schools. Only 14% of charter schools earned the highest Texas accountability ratings while 86% received the lowest rating” (Bracey, 2004, p. 25).

In Ohio, the Legislative Office of Education Oversight (LOEO) concluded on the basis of their research that “14 of the 20 comparisons were statistically significant and 13 of those 14 favored traditional public schools.”

And finally, the NAACP Resolution regarding charter schools.

What we need to do is focus on bringing all schools up to a standard that provides equal opportunity for all of our students through adequate funding of all schools and programs. This is an achievable goal.


5 thoughts on “The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There

    1. Amy,

      It is interesting to see how many upper middle class folks in Bellevue and Issaquah want to see students who live in the Central District go to KIPP-like militaristic charter schools.


  1. I have some experience attending the statewide PTA meeting, back when a group of us at Garfield High School were attempting to raise awareness about the level of aggressive military recruitment that is taking place in the state’s high schools. It was not an experience for the faint of heart! I recommend bringing a buddy and wearing a thick skin. The organization is dominated by suburban, relatively right-wing, men and women whose interests do not extend much to poor or disenfranchised kids. The rules mongers are out in force, and try to shut down anything that doesn’t look like it fits solidly into the mainstream discourse of the rural and suburban viewpoint that dominates the scene. You won’t find many Seattle or other urban schools there–they do their own thing elsewhere. I recommend wearing a school sweatshirt and tennis shoes, as it helps to blend in. Consider it an ethnographic experience.

  2. I’ve attended this annual meeting of the Washington State PTA in the past, primarily in hopes of raising awareness about the rampant and aggressive military recruitment that goes on in our high schools. I have to say the experience is not for the faint of heart, and you need to bring a buddy. The suburban upper-class, right-wing voices in the PTA are loud, strong, and dominate the the discourse. Their concern about poor and disenfranchised kids is low, and they are not at all interested in things the state PTA should care about–for example, they aren’t at all particularly interested in raising revenues to increase school funding. There is something decidedly creepy about the whole enterprise, and the controlling rules limit the ability to raise objection. Be warned, but you’ll learn a lot and it’s a fascinating experience. Wear your school’s sweatshirt and some tennis shoes–it’ll help you fit in.

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