KnowledgeWorks, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the push for competency based learning

big money

How can I have a problem with competency based learning? This is a question I get asked quite a lot these days.

To be fair, critics of my stance usually take the time to patiently explain in the comment section how my concerns miss the point – competency based learning doesn’t have to be done online or on an electronic device; it’s all about students showing mastery.

Let me lay out my concerns.

I think the term competency based learning has multiple meanings, based on the goals of those who are using the phrase.

It’s a clever strategy to introduce an idea the public would reject outright – like students spending their time on computers rather than being taught by human teachers – and wrapping it in a concept the public does value.

Who doesn’t like the idea of students showing mastery of material in an independent, self-paced manner?

Dick DeVos, husband of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, laid out how to use this stealth approach to ed-reform during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

The goal is to re-package destructive policy initiatives by co-opting ideas that are considered social positives. This marketing strategy both disarms critics and cuts across ideological lines.

So, while personalized learning can be done in a hands-on way in the classroom, the big money is behind the push for students on devices, working their way through adaptive learning environments.

KnowledgeWorks is just one organization working to replace traditional brick and mortar public schools with kids on laptops, learning at anytime and in any place.

KnowlegeWorks has dreamed up an entire pay as you go, privatized, just-in-time education economy.

Students learn to earn, by mastering very specific skills. These narrow competencies can be traded for money or re-invested in another education opportunity offered by the gig economy. All of this is wrapped in the gee-wiz veneer of a high-tech, innovative, learning ecosystem.

This model works if we, as citizens, accept the idea that the value of education is purely financial. Students are nothing more that vessels to be filled with knowledge which later can be traded in a market. Competition will decide who has access to the best educational opportunities, colleges, and careers.

The problem for KnowledgeWorks is everyone knows that the old system of college and career is broken. Today’s crushing student debt coupled with the disappearance of living wage jobs proves it; preparing for college and career is a lie.

This is why the re-imaging of public education away from the liberal arts and towards personalized learning is so critical; it prepares kids for the coming gig economy and redirects attention from the current human suffering caused by of the old college and career self-betterment strategy.

There wouldn’t be much public buy-in, especially from parents, if they knew what all this innovative talk was really about. What if coding for kids and STEM programs run by big cultural organizations like the WISE Consortium, didn’t put their children on the fast track for success, but rather was preparation for their role as future precariats in the cognitive gig economy.

Personalized learning is a way for the wealthy to remake the economy in a way that allows them to keep their fortunes, while dealing with, and profit from, future job scarcity. It also avoids a public discussion about wealth inequality or how to create a system where all could benefit.

It’s no surprise then that KnowledgeWorks is absolutely giddy over the opportunity to push personalized learning into more states during the implementation of the ESSA. This strategy fits perfectly with Dick DeVos’s plan to take education reform to the state level, with local advocates who know the political landscape.

In fact, KnowledgeWorks has a created a tracker to document future markets for personalized learning – thanks to the ESSA.

From Yahoo Finance:

The first federal deadline for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan submissions is quickly approaching, and a new KnowledgeWorks tool gives a comprehensive look at the ideas states are considering to personalize learning for their students.

A Nationwide Look at State Strategies to Advance Personalized Learning,” highlights the strategies that states are exploring in their draft ESSA plans to increase personalized learning opportunities for students. States are finalizing draft plans to submit to the United States Department of Education (USED) either on April 3, 2017 or Sept. 18, 2017.

As citizens who care about public education, we need to push past the feel-good sound bites when politicians make education policy proposals and really research what is going on below the surface.

Follow the money. Find out who profits or loses when these friendly sounding initiatives are made law. Details matter – now more than ever.

-Carolyn Leith


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Time to Keep Your Promise to Olympic View Elementary

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 1.26.32 PM

On November 2, 2015, one day before the general election, Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference on the steps of Olympic View Elementary to promote The Levy to Move Seattle.

Students wore their orange safety patrol vests, parents applauded enthusiastically, and the Mayor promised that a YES vote would mean sidewalks, always promised by the City – but never delivered, would finally be built on 8th Ave. NE..

Here’s what Q13 reported that day:

Outside of Olympic View Elementary on Monday afternoon, the mayor said the lack of sidewalks in the neighborhood is one reason voters should approve Proposition 1, known as the “Let’s Move Seattle” transportation levy.

“This is one of many Seattle neighborhoods that lack basic infrastructure like sidewalks,” said Mayor Murray.

At a cost of $930 million, the levy would replace the Bridging the Gap levy that expires at the end of 2015. The plan seeks to repave 180 miles of arterial streets, reinforce bridges and add new bike lanes and sidewalks. It would be paid for with a property tax that would cost homeowners $275 dollars a year on a $450,000 home, which is $145 more than they pay now.

“Ultimately, I’m giving you my word we are going to deliver these projects on time and on budget,” Murray said.

The next day, The Levy to Move Seattle won big. YES earned 58.67% of the total vote, NO just 41.33%. Mayor Murray’s last minute push for support seemed to have eased concerns raised by the opposition group, Keep Seattle Affordable. Many levy supporters were worried efforts made by this and other opposition groups, would sour voter enthusiasm for the levy in North Seattle.

So, Where Are the Sidewalks?

Given such a high profile promise from Mayor Murray, it would be reasonable to expect Olympic View’s sidewalk problem to be at the top of the list of projects funded by the levy.

Amazingly, that’s not the case. Of the 44 projects planned for the first five years of the nine year long Move Seattle Levy, Olympic View Elementary didn’t make the list – at all.

I have a big problem with the Mayor or any other public official making a promise to a school community during a campaign and then forgetting about it once the election is over. I’m guessing many parents probably feel the same way.

I also understand there are many schools in our district in desperate need of sidewalks and other safety improvements. Olympic View is far from alone on this issue.

However, at this point, sidewalks are really a side issue. My concern is trust and accountability.

If simple campaign promises can be ignored without consequence, how will that play out with our elected officials ever growing desire for even more say and control over how our public schools operate.

When Mayor Murray uses a school community, like Olympic View Elementary, as prop to further a short term political goal, I believe the Mayor needs to be held accountable for this type of pandering. In addition, when Mayor Murray makes a huge public promise to any school in our district, I expect him to keep it.

-Carolyn Leith, Parent of two Seattle Public School Students.

Hybrid Learning, Cicada Killers & the Next Big Fight


Those seeking to privatize our schools know framing the conversation is key. That’s why institutions like the MacArthur Foundation have put serious time and money into social science research. Focus group results have been refined into sophisticated campaigns designed to convince us that digital education for children is superior to face-to-face instruction with a certified teacher. The goal? Put technology front and center in 21st century school redesign, and push human beings to the sidelines. Please disregard the fact that many giants in the tech world choose to send their children to Waldorf schools where natural materials and learning in relationship are the norm. I’m hoping this cicada killer post will be a bit of a shock to the system, one that can help reframe the current conversation about digital education and spur us to action. I know you’re curious, but bear with me, the insect portion of the story comes near the end.

We’re actually making it easy for the digital education lobby. Most of us ARE enamored of technology. It’s tempting to be lulled by arguments that adaptive online learning will somehow optimize our children’s brains for the new economy. If it’s innovative, it must be good. Personalization? Bring it on! And for students in underfunded schools with leaky roofs and tainted water, the arrival of technology brings a glimmer of hope that someone actually cares. But are we bridging a digital divide? Or are we setting our schools up for digital dehumanization down the road?

Over the past decade education activists have been conditioned to see the struggle between neighborhood schools and charter schools as our primary fight. Pitched battles have been waged for years, up to and including the successful opposition to Ballot Question 2 which would have lifted Massachusetts’ cap on charter schools. While we’ve exhausted ourselves fighting bricks and mortar charter expansion a new threat has slipped in with little fanfare, and that threat is hybrid or blended learning. It could actually end up being MORE devastating than its charter predecessor.

Barely a month after Question 2 was voted down, the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Ed Tech Consortium was launched to leverage technology in K12 education across the Commonwealth. MAPLE was funded in part by the Nellie Mae Foundation, the force behind the roll out of  Competency Based Education  in New England. The Center for Collaborative Education has also had a hand expanding personalized learning in the region through their involvement with the Next Generation Learning Challenges program (use the link to check out the partners, really!). According to minutes from a June 2016 briefing of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on the Digital Learning Program, the idea for MAPLE was drawn from a 2014 report, The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years,  prepared by Sir Michael Barber, of Brightlines who is also Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, and the Massachusetts Business Education Alliance with funding from the Barr, Nellie Mae, and Gates Foundations.

LearnLaunch Institute  was selected to manage the consortium, which will connect entrepreneurs, inventors, and industry affiliates with school districts interested in adopting what is essentially a value-oriented digital approach to instruction.

The MAPLE personalized learning webpage hits all the CBE touchstones:

  • Competency-Based Progression-check
  • Personalized Pathways-Go as fast or as slow as you want, but stay in your lane.
  • Learner Profiles-Just sit back as we mine your data, academic and behavioral.
  • Flexible Learning Environments-You don’t even have to come to school!
  • Technology-It makes all of the above affordable, at scale!

The quality of cyber education has been roundly criticized. Which leads me to question why so many give it a pass when it’s brought into neighborhood schools dressed up as hybrid-blended learning? We owe it to our children to examine digital education critically. In an era of ongoing austerity, we must set priorities. What is actually BEST for children, human connection OR devices? Make that determination and then fight for what is right and just. Do not settle for cheap and expedient.

Reed Hastings founder of Netflix, investor in the NewSchools Venture Fund, and supporter of KIPP and Rocketship Academy Charter Schools is opposed to locally controlled school boards. He sees wide adoption of technology as a strategy Charter Management Organizations can use to cut costs (human staff) and expand their brand. As charter brands expand, local control shrinks. Now, we are entering a NEW phase of privatization where ESSA policies favor “innovative, personalized” learning and assessments. Those policies support the rapid deployment of technology that will give Hastings and other ed-tech entrepreneurs a platform to launch an assault on neighborhood schools from WITHIN.

In 2010, Reed Hastings through the Charter School Growth Fund bought Dreambox Learning for $15 million with an additional $10 million to develop new content areas and aggressively promote the company’s e-learning footprint in schools across the nation. While Dreambox was purchased with an equity investment from the Charter School Growth Fund, this learning management system is widely used in neighborhood schools across the country. This includes affluent suburban districts that imagine themselves to be tech-forward having jumped on the personalized learning bandwagon. While “Product Partners” for MAPLE have yet to be identified, it seems likely Dreambox will be in the mix as their Vice President of Learning is among the speakers at LearnLaunch’s annual “Across Boundaries” Conference scheduled for February 2-3, 2017 in Boston.

Realize this: neighborhood schools are allowing themselves to be colonized by low-quality online education, the very same programs used by charter companies to cut costs and reduce teaching staff. And the software fees school districts are paying  directly benefit privatization interests. What’s wrong with this picture?

Now for the insect part of the post: in the dog days of summer here in Pennsylvania you will sometimes see lawns full of large wasps that circle intently a few feet above the ground. Reaching up to two inches in length, cicada killers patiently hunt their prey, capturing it on the wing. After paralyzing an unfortunate victim, the wasp drags the cicada into an underground burrow where an egg is laid on the immobilized host. As the larva grows it consumes the cicada, still alive, from within.

It is a graphic image, but in many respects apt to our present situation. Hybrid learning is the cicada killer larva poised to consume our schools from within. Weakened by prolonged budget cuts, teacher shortages, and facilities beyond repair, our schools are highly vulnerable to such predation. What many are welcoming as innovative and cost-effective, will ultimately lead to the demise of neighborhood schools as learning communities of people who collaborate, discuss, and grow together in relationship beyond the watchful eyes of devices and data extraction.

So one year 10% of the instructional day is given over to canned online curriculum, 25% the next, then what? 40%? Eventually you reach a point where your neighborhood schools are no longer YOUR schools anymore. No one should be diverting public funds into the coffers of those who seek to dismantle public education altogether.

Now is the time we all must take a stand for the things we believe in. The next fight, the REAL fight for the future of public education will be digital versus human. Are we willing to put ourselves on the line for the rights of children to have an education grounded in face-to-face interaction and freedom from profiling? Will we fight to preserve neighborhood schools as physical spaces within our communities? Or will we cede that ground to devices and drop in centers? Massachusetts you are on the front lines now. We are looking to you. Will you quietly accept a statewide ed-tech “personalized” learning program? Or will you question MAPLE? Will we all take a loud, public stand for humane education? Can we live with the consequences of silence if that is the choice we make?

-Alison McDowell

Save the Date.

Alison McDowell will be speaking in Seattle on March 25th, from 10AM-1PM at the Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library (12501 28th Ave. N.E. Seattle, WA 98125 ).

Her talk Personalization or Profiling: Childhood in the Ed-Tech Era, Ed Reform 2.0 is free and open to the public. 

How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?


You cannot fully understand what is happening with Future Ready school redesign, 1:1 device programs, embedded assessments, gamification, classroom management apps, and the push for students in neighborhood schools to supplement instruction with online courses until you grasp the role the federal government and the Department of Defense more specifically have played in bringing us to where we are today.

In 1999, just as cloud-based computing was coming onto the scene, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 and created the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative or ADL.

Section 5 of that order set up “The Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities” to advise the president on what should be done to make technology-based education a reality for the ENTIRE country. The intent was not only to prioritize technology for “lifelong learning,” but also shift the focus to developing human capital and in doing so bind education to the needs of industry and the economy.

Representatives of Cisco Systems and Jobs for the Future co-chaired the committee. Others around the table included the e-learning industry, student loan financiers, educational testing companies, human resource managers, labor market analysts, universities, community colleges, chambers of commerce, city government, and a futurist. George Bush incorporated Clinton’s work into Executive Order 13218, the 21st Century Work Force Initiative, the following year giving the effort a bipartisan stamp of approval. The Obama administration continued this push for online learning in the National Broadband Plan, which contained an entire chapter on digital education, as well as through a variety of 21st century school redesign efforts like ConnectEd, Future Ready Schools, and Digital Promise.

ADL began as an electronic classroom for the National Guard and later expanded to serve the entire Defense Department. In 1998 the government decided to use it for ALL federal employee training. And by leveraging its influence over federal contracting the government successfully pushed for standards that enabled wide adoption of cloud-based instructional technology.

As the Department of Defense worked on e learning for the military in the mid 1990s, the Department of Education put together the nation’s first educational technology plan, which was completed in 1996. A tremendous infusion of federal funds was released into schools to support technology purchases and expand Internet access. The FCC’s E-Rate program was established that year.

At the same time IMS Global began to advance implementation of e-learning systems. This non-profit began as a higher education trade group and now has over 150 contributing members, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Pearson, and hundreds upon hundreds of affiliated companies and institutions that use its open source specifications. The Gates Foundation is a platinum level sponsor of four major IMS Global initiatives.

Over twenty years IMS Global members shared research and resources, and built up an industry now valued at $255 billion annually. So if you still wonder why they won’t give education back to human teachers, you simply need to take a close look at the many politically connected interests that are counting on digital education becoming the new paradigm.

IMS Global and ADL teamed up to establish common standards for meta data and content packaging of so-called learning objects. In the world of 21st century education reformers anticipate school will become largely about children interacting with these online learning objects-a playlist education if you will where based on your past performance algorithms will serve up what they think you need to know next. For folks like Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos, or Mark Zuckerberg, such an education where students consume pre-determined content seems the ultimate in efficiency. Gamified experiences and online simulations being developed through ADL and DARPA in partnership with many universities and non-profits, will also provides a structure for to capture students’ soft skills and shape their behavior.

The first product ADL and IMS Global came up with was called SCORMor Shared Content Object Reference Model. SCORM provided pathways for the bits and pieces of e-learning content to get to a particular learning management system, like Dreambox, accessed by a particular student. It tracked elements like course completion, pages viewed, and test scores.

By 2008, there was a desire to track a student’s interaction with devices OUTSIDE of fixed learning management systems. New devices and games often did not work within the SCORM framework. Ed-tech proponents wanted students to be able to interact with online content in new ways, so they could record interactions taking place on mobile platforms, directly through browser searches, or via Internet of Things sensors.

ADL commissioned a new specification that could track activity streams as students interacted with online media. The result was xAPI or Tin Can API, which debuted in 2011. Now all sorts of data can be monitored, tracked, and put into data lockers or learning record stores. LRS’s can store information about what videos you watched, what online quizzes you took and the results, what websites you visited, what books you purchased, what games you played, what articles you read or annotated. It can also capture data gathered via sensors, RFID chips, and biometric monitors. LRSs collect data about all sorts of so-called “informal” learning experiences. The MacArthur Foundation has been funding considerable research in digital media learning (or DML) in informal settings for youth.

With the development of xAPI, the Ed Reform 2.0 vision of “anytime, any place” learning, learning where human teachers and school buildings are no longer required, could proceed more quickly. IMS Global is now supporting Mozilla’s open badge initiative. xAPI meta data could eventually be combined with badge programs and Blockchain/Bitcoin technology to create e-portfolios (online credential systems). And if automatic credential verification and micro-payment systems come to fruition, a virtual wallet voucher system could devastate already precarious public education funding.

The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative is a major player in the development of mobile, game-based, and virtual learning environments. They also conduct extensive research and development on online “personal learning assistants” and with the aim of creating digital personal tutors for all of us. Their research is carried out at four Cooperative Laboratories or co-labs, which are located in Madison, WisconsinAlexandria, Virginia; Memphis Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida. Each lab supports partnerships with private sector interests and institutions of higher education.

The Wisconsin co-lab works specifically on academic projects, many involving the Florida Virtual School with whom they have a long-standing relationship. The co-lab’s focus is on competency-based education. They’ve partnered with the Educational Psychology department at the University of Wisconsin Madison to create educational gaming platforms and maintain over 60 other partnerships to research and refine game-based online instruction. Another focus has been on developing MASLO or “Mobile Access to Supplemental Learning Objects,” which is enabled by xAPI technology. The Tennessee co lab has been doing research on an intelligent tutoring system that even recognizes human emotion in the person using a given device and tries to counteract negative emotion.

DARPA-the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also in the business of developing gaming simulations and intelligent tutoring systems. They work closely with the office of the Navy. Their “Engage” program was set up in 2012 and through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, UCLA, and the University of Denver, created numerous games for K12 students based on Alternate Reality Teaching “Our Space” in virtual environments. Instruction in Social Emotional learning was built into the games. Their Full Spectrum Learning project aims to create an online platform that can monitor students and identify their strengths and weaknesses and revise the experience adaptively based on the data generated.

The arrival of ADL, changed public education in a very fundamental way. It is no coincidence that the destructive No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in the year after it was created. Over the next fifteen years, with bipartisan support, education incrementally gave way to training, creativity to compliance, serendipity to standards, and human connection to digital isolation. As the curriculum became narrower and narrower, emphasizing standardized test scores and demonstrations of skill, education became a hollowed out exercise, something could be digitized and outsourced to corporations.

Data-driven, standards-based tactics have been intentionally employed to regiment the very human process of teaching and learning. During ADL’s first decade, the imperative was to get technology and Internet into schools. Once that infrastructure was in place, they could concentrate on restructuring the curriculum making screen-based education central and pushing the teacher into a secondary role on the sidelines.

Common Core State Standards were a big part of that process. The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers created the standards in 2009. Not as many people know about the Common Education Data Standards that were established at the same time. CEDS enabled the collection and sharing of vast amounts of data across sectors from Pre-K through Community College.

The Learning Registry is another important piece of the puzzle. It was created in 2011 as a partnership between the US Department of Education and once again the Department of Defense. It is an open source distribution network of learning resources that holds meta data and para data. It is important to understand that learning objects can be tagged in many ways, including adding tags for a variety of standards. For that reason even if we get rid of Common Core State Standards, it wouldn’t necessarily make a dent in slowing down the rollout of adaptive, digital curriculum.

In addition to meta data, which is data that describes individual education resources, the Learning Registry also collects para datathrough the use of emitters that can be mounted on smart boards in classrooms.

Para data describes how online learning resources are used:

  • Who’s doing the searches?
  • What students are in the room with the person doing the searches?
  • A history of searches conducted
  • What is being viewed, downloaded and shared?
  • What is favorited or embedded?
  • To which standards is the selected content aligned?
  • What tags have been added to content?
  • How is it being incorporated into the curriculum?
  • What grade is it being used in?
  • Where is it being used?
  • What is the audience is for the item?
  • What the instructional setting is.
  • What is the experience level of the class and the teacher?

The devices in our children’s classrooms are largely there because a specific set of government policies have prioritized technology over human educators for the past fifteen years. These devices are watching us as much as we are watching them. And we should be aware that many of the programs in use are direct outgrowths of work done by the Department of Defense in partnership with private sector interests and institutions of higher education. Technology can be used for good, but not if it is given an unconditional pass in our classrooms. Shine a light on educational surveillance. Ask questions. Talk to others and organize!

-Alison McDowell

Save the Date.

Alison McDowell will be speaking in Seattle on March 25th, from 10AM-1PM at the Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library (12501 28th Ave. N.E. Seattle, WA 98125 ).

Her talk Personalization or Profiling: Childhood in the Ed-Tech Era Ed Reform 2.0 is free and open to the public. 


McCleary Crime Scene Find the Money Word Search


A year ago Teacher Retention Advocate Parents (TRAP)  hosted a coloring contest to draw attention to Washington State’s criminally under-funded public schools.

Today, TRAP is back – because the Legislature STILL can’t find the money. Let’s help them out.

Please print out your own copy of the word search, find the money for the Legislature, and then share your work on Facebook: McCleary Crime Scene Find the Money Word Search. (printable link at the bottom of the page)

Once you’ve done that, please mail your word search to the legislator you think needs the most help finding the money.


Get your word search here:


More information available at:

Twitter: @McClearyCrime

Facebook: McCleary Crime Scene Find the Money Word Search

hashtags: #McClearyCrime #FundMcCleary , #ParamountDuty


-Carolyn Leith & Shawna Murphy

The Ugly Facts About Ed-Reform, Partisan Bickering and the Resistance


I find it disturbing how quickly basic facts are flushed down the memory hole.

Yes, Betsy Devos is the extreme example of the type of privatizer destroying public education, but the Democrats – with Obama at the helm – opened the door.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at Obama’s Digital Promise Initiative, whose purpose was to break open the education market for companies to sell personalized learning products to school districts. Why employ actual teachers, when computers and software can do the job.

How about the ESSA’s inclusion of “innovative assessments” – which edutech predators like iNACOL can’t wait to leverage into more online learning software and continuous testing in the classroom.

The ESSA also gave the charter lobby everything they wanted, and then some.

How can financially stressed public schools, always under the threat of being labeled “failures” based on test scores, compete with flush and unaccountable charter schools? Answer: They can’t.

I believe facts still matter and will fight alongside anyone who wants to protect our public schools, but I refuse to be a cog in anyone’s machine.

I won’t be participating in the partisan blame game, where public education plays the pawn. I’m over the constant maneuvering to score political points – while our schools burn to the ground, but neither of this country’s two cynical political parties seem to smell the smoke.

I’m also convinced it’s impossible to fight and win using the same structure that makes neoliberalism so destructive.

So don’t ask me to become a faceless member of your public education defending non-profit. Paying dues and then walking away isn’t enough for me now.

I’m also sick of powerful, god-like leaders sitting atop hierarchies which rob members of their voice, conscience, and agency.

How can we claim to care about democracy when we refuse to practice it?

If we are truly fighting against the commodification of public education, why would it be acceptable to treat members of our own groups as objects – either as an unintelligent mass that needs to be lead to the truth by an “enlightened” leadership or – at the most cynical – a captive audience to be manipulated for personal gain and advancement by the vanguard of a revolutionary dictatorship.

How can we claim to care about the unique gifts of every child and at the same time be afraid of our own individuality and power?

Barbara Deming – deep thinker, feminist, and champion of nonviolent social change – had this to say about the power of individuals:

If greater gains have not been won by nonviolent action it is because most of those trying it have, quite as Oglesby charges, expected too much from “the powerful”; and so, I would add, they have stopped short of really exercising their peculiar powers – those powers one discovers when one refuses any longer simply to do another’s will. They have stopped far too short not only of widespread nonviolent disruption but of that form of noncooperation which is assertive, constructive – that confronts those who are “running everything” with independent activity, particularly independent economic activity. There is leverage for change here that has scarcely begun to be applied.

If the solution was easy; we’d already have done it.

These are trying times. What used to work has failed us.

We’re scared. The question is what to do with this fear? I see two choices:

We can allow this fear to push us into a panic-stricken frenzy; forever reacting to the latest crisis, allowing those we oppose to set the agenda.

Fear also has a way of justifying tactics which compromise our integrity and over time robs us of our humanity.


We can pause, go deep, and really consider Barbara Deming’s challenge to come up with a new “form of noncooperation which is assertive, constructive – that confronts those who are ‘running everything’ with independent activity…”

In it for the long haul.

Fighting back against ed-reform is going to take a lifetime. Undoing the damage and creating schools which foster face-t0-face democracy, will take even longer.

This is good news. We have the time to get it right.

Since the United States was built on the double fault line of genocide and racism, this is an opportunity to begin to right those wrongs; build on the lesson that ignoring past oppression guarantees more oppression in the future.

Flattening hierarchy, promoting individual agency, and increasing the public good means no one or any group gets tossed aside in the name of expediency.

There’s time to do our homework, to dig down and learn what has worked in the past and the powerful insights mixing in with the failures.

This is an opening to deeply learn our history. Get to know the labor radicals, socialists, populists, anarchists, and all the other colorful rebels of the past.

It’s also an opportunity to face and understand the ugly facts buried in the past: Manifest Destiny and genocide, lynching, eugenics, and the human/environmental carnage brought about by the industrial revolution and perpetuated by modern capitalism.

The architects of ed-reform have given us one clue to their system’s weakness: They love the idea of highly processed children, who will grow up to be widget-like adults.


Because beaten-down children, all taught from the same script, have the potential to create the most compliant worker class the world has even seen; afraid of authority, accepting of the master’s world view, and willing settle for anything.

Bootlicking is the career our business pleasing politicians are really getting our children ready for.

If there’s going to be any hope for a sane and equitable future, we desperately need to encourage and develop the independent, divergent thinkers among us. These are the individuals who will be the first to shake things up.

Want to be a rebel? Start buying books and reading. If you want to be a revolutionary, organize a reading group.

Crisis of courage. 

Unfortunately, teaching, as a profession, is on a different timeline.

I believe due to the recent alignment of technology and federal law, the United States is now on an accelerated track to diminish and ultimately eliminate the role of teacher as a professional career.

Instead, the idea of the teacher will be re-purposed. First, as digital facilitators. Later, the human component will be replaced all together with digital mentors and tutors. 

Teachers, at this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing up and fighting back against the push to destroy our public schools.

The only thing missing is the courage to do so.

Final thoughts.

The small bit of success I’ve experience as an activist has occurred by refusing to play the game and forcing my opponent to engage using my parameters and rules. Other critical elements have been: fearless friends, humor, and the willingness to let others join in and put their own spin on the action.

I believe all of us already have what’s needed to make change possible: a conscience and the ability to act. All we need is the courage to use these gifts.

-Carolyn Leith





Seattle Event: Closing the Opportunity Gap Detracking and De-Testing. An evening with Carol Burris and Wayne Au



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Garfield High School

Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center

400 23rd Avenue

Seattle, WA 98122  

This event is supported by the Garfield High School PTSA, Seattle Equality Educators (SEE), the Center for Race and Equity and the Seattle Education Association.

Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Foundation, will deliver a keynote address regarding the tremendous benefits of detracking, and how ranking students based on their perceived intellectual abilities creates de facto segregation in our schools.

Wayne Au, Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Bothell, will also be joining us on a panel of local educators and students who will share their stories and insights regarding inclusion and high-stakes testing.

Carol Burris is the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Foundation and has been a teacher in both middle and high schools. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is a former high school principal. In 2010, she was named Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, she was named SAANYS New York State High School Principal of the Year. Dr. Burris co-authored Detracking for Excellence and Equity (2008) and Opening the Common Core: How to Bring ALL Students to College and Career Readiness (2012), and authored On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the 21st Century Struggle against Re-segregation (2014). We welcome her to Seattle to share her wisdom, as we strive for equity and excellence in all of our schools.

Click here for a flyer.

It’s time to restructure the US Department of Education

The structure of the USDOE as of 2013 and now with 5,000 employees.


Two of our constitutional amendments played an important role in public education. In 1791, the 10th Amendment stated, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Public education was not mentioned as one of those federal powers, and so historically has been delegated to the local and state governments.

The League of Women Voters: Role Of Federal Government In Public Education: Historical Perspectives

Let’s restructure the US Department of Education so we don’t have another DeVos or Duncan.

Donald Trump Holds Weekend Meetings In Bedminster, NJ
Betsy DeVos with Donald Trump.

For the last decade, educators and parents have been in a reactive mode in terms of federal policies on education starting with No Child Left Behind, then Race to the Top, charter schools, vouchers and now the selection of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education.

Looking at the last eight years while following public education closely, I have continuously been in a reactive mode, constantly writing about what shouldn’t be rather than what should be.

It’s time to turn the tables and look at where we are now, how we got here and a better way forward and I suggest starting at the top with the US Department of Education (USDOE).

Over the years there has developed a disconnect between what teachers are doing and achieving in the classrooms and what a President with a politically appointed Secretary of Education has in mind for those teachers and their students. It has become a top-down approach to education with little to no public participation and loss of local control over the priorities of the community and how money is spent.

The USDOE has become less responsive to the needs of students, teachers and parents year after year.

In the last few decades, the USDOE has created a constant state of flux in our public schools, based on the whims of politicians and guided by big money with the tacit or explicit approval of the President in office.

duncan-broad (1)
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with Eli Broad at Obama’s first Inaugural Ball.

For example, billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad, influenced federal policy that affected teachers and students around the country in every district and township. Neither have credentials in education or child development, have not taught in a public school and have no direct knowledge of what’s happening in classrooms or neighborhoods around the country, and yet they determined education policy for millions of students. The revolving door of employees between the Gates Foundation and the Department of Education has been well-documented and the Broad Prize trophy is displayed in the offices of the USDOE.

How did we get to the point where education has become top-down, starting with the President of the United States appointing a cabinet level Secretary of Education – in clear violation of the 10th Amendment? Many of the past appointees have not been educators. Shirley Ann Mount Hufstedler, the first Secretary of Education, was a lawyer and judge, while William Bennett, Lamar Alexander and Richard Riley were politicians, and Arne Duncan, a basketball player who, through personal connections, found his way to being CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

And, has the U.S. Department of Education gotten too big to be accountable? If so, how can it be streamlined? What should its role be? Where is the accountability in terms of its policies’ successes or failures? And finally, what has the cost been to enforce Federal policies on a state and district-wide basis such as the required and costly technology upgrades of school districts and the computerization of classrooms to provide access to the Common Core Standards’ required testing?

These are the questions I began to ask after chronicling the many failings of former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with his push for the Common Core Standards, high-stakes testing, merit pay based on students’ test scores, Race to the Top, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the privatization of public schools by way of charter schools and the weakening of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Duncan’s final “accomplishment” was the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that places greater pressure to adhere to Federal “guidelines” with the threat of withholding Federal funding, a push to increase the number of charter schools in the country and promotion of “personalized” or “blended” learning in which you have a student interact with a computer, rather than a human instructor, for the greater part of their class time.

And let’s not forget the millions of dollars in grants that the USDOE provided to Teach for America and to aid in the proliferation of charter schools.

“Personalized learning” and the Common Core State Standards provides an inexpensive way to provide an “education” to students. This is particularly useful for charter school owners wanting to keep their operating costs and staff budgets to a minimum. It’s also being seen as a path to digital edu-bucks, “Edublocks”, and digital badges creating a permanent gig economy of piecework employment.

In the last few decades, the direction of public education has gone from bad to worse, starting with former President Clinton’s propensity for privatization of public schools in the 1990s by way of charter schools and a desire to establish national standards which is unconstitutional, George W. Bush’s unrealistic No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy which required 90% of high school students graduate on time by 2015, (The date was moved to 2020 by Arne Duncan) and the rewrite of it by President Obama’s administration titled Every Child Achieves Act (ESEA), and Race to the Top legislation.

Now with a new President and Secretary of Education along with a rearranged Congress, no one knows which way the wind will blow for us or our students. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be like this.

When do we begin to take back public school education on a local level and have it reflect the goal of creating well-educated responsible citizens with the capacity for thoughtful, critical and creative thinking and discourse? An informed citizenry that is necessary to support a strong democracy? When will we have a curriculum created by educators who have an understanding of child development and the requirements of a diverse population? Do we need the behemoth of a bureaucracy that has become the USDOE passing down to us the latest edicts for us to faithfully adhere to?

Let’s take a look at the evolution of the US Department of Education. It’s time to determine if we should go back to its original intent with modifications to address our growing and diverse population or leave it as it is now which doesn’t seem to be working for anyone but the 1%.

The state constitutions of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the early 1780’s, set up systems of public education that reflected the thinking of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Horace Mann who understood the importance of an educated citizenry to grow a fledgling democracy.

Money was raised through taxes for public schools along with the buying, selling or renting of public land and Congress granted land in the public domain as endowments. The federal government also granted surplus money to states for public education.

In 1867, the Office of Education this minor bureau was established within the Department of the Interior. Seventy-two years later, the bureau was transferred to the Federal Security Agency, where it was renamed the Office of Education. Then in 1953, the Federal Security Agency was upgraded to cabinet-level status as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

President Carter advocated for creating a cabinet-level position for the Department of Education and in 1980, a bill to create the Department of Education was approved by Congress. The primary functions of the Department of Education were to “establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal assistance to education, collect data on US schools, and to enforce federal educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights” and “to increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress and the public.”

Since the approval of a Department of Education to be run by a political appointee, that arm of government has grown into a bureaucratic behemoth retaining approximately 4,000 employees in 32 different divisions with a budget of $70.7 billion in 2016. Imagine what each state could do with their piece of $70B in one year. Which leads to the question of where is this money going? No one sees it in our schools, some which are in poor repair and unsafe. Nurses, librarians and counselors are rare in urban school districts and teachers pay for their own supplies many times.

Even though the term “Accountability” was used ad nauseam during Arne Duncan’s era as Secretary of Education and reverberated throughout school districts across the country, no one seems to be holding the USDOE accountable for anything.

With all of the new regulations that have been passed due to ESSA and the NCLB waiver requests, the USDOE asked Congress for additional employees in 2015. The question is, were these policies necessary? How successful have these programs been? And, how much are they costing school districts and taxpayers? Where is the accountability?

A principal said to me when I raised the concern about the Common Core Standards, “Wait a few years and it will all change again”. But is this the way we want to teach our students, with changes made according to the political whims of those in power and the whimsy’s of a few billionaires?

To follow is how our students have been affected by those in power on the federal level.

The report “A Nation at Risk” was published in 1983 and promoted by William Bennett, a politician who served as Secretary of Education under President Reagan. Bennett later went on to co-found K12, Inc., a publicly traded online education company.

There is much hyperbole in “A Nation at Risk” and yet it is devoid of substantiated evidence, statistics or peer-reviewed studies but it was enough to open the gateway for privatization, first with Milton Friedman stating that school vouchers were the answer to this dire emergency, and continued with charter schools, the privatization of a public trust. This phenomenon is described in Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine where she outlines how public education privatizers exploited the devastating event of Hurricane Katrina to reconstitute the New Orleans school districts entirely with charter schools (which, by most measures, has been a failed experiment).

With President George W. Bush, work began on national standards and a national assessment system, which is illegal according to ESEA, and an education reform program called Goals 2000: Educate America Act  “To improve learning and teaching by providing a national framework for education reform” and establishing “school choice” as a priority. The term “school choice” is a euphemism for vouchers and charter schools. It is the “choice” of profiteering education reformers whose goal has been to redirect public funds into private hands and replace elected oversight of school districts with appointed boards with no public accountability

President Clinton continued Goals 2000 setting up a “Goals Panel” and a Director position with staff to determine “voluntary national content standards, voluntary national student performance standards and voluntary national opportunity-to-learn standards”.

Along with Goals 2000 came AmeriCorps which funded a new organization, “Teach for America”. This multi-million-dollar enterprise hires recent college grads, no background in education required, trains them for five weeks and sends them into low income schools and charter schools for a two to three year stint to teach the most vulnerable of our children. With the influence of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the USDOE has granted Teach for America, Inc. $100 million so far in grants, although certified teachers could be hired for these same positions.

Then former President George Bush brought us “No Child Left Behind,” which included punitive measures if schools and districts did not perform to a specified standard and the unrealistic goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2015. If schools did not meet the standard, federal funding would be diminished or cut off entirely, taking money away from schools as opposed to supporting them.

President Obama stepped up “No Child Left Behind” a notch by introducing “Race to the Top” with $5 billion to incentivize states to accept the Common Core State Standards and offered four possible options for addressing “failing” schools which was defined as the bottom 5 percent of all schools in each district based on standardized test scores. These extreme, at times draconian measures, included closing the schools, converting them into charter schools, firing half of the school staff or replacing the principal.

President Obama with Melinda Gates at Tech Boston Academy.

This policy was greatly influenced by billionaire Eli Broad, a proponent of charter schools, and Bill Gates who has spent millions of dollars promoting charter schools, merit pay and the Common Core State Standards.

What have we gained with these presidential decrees that have been influenced by politicians and their multi-billionaire backers who have their own ideas about education?

So far we have an explosion of unregulated charter schools with little regard to whether they are any better than public schools, high-stakes standardized testing, which has taken classroom and recess time away from students and substituted it with test prep, and the unproven and costly experiment known as the Common Core Standards where every student is to be on the same page as all other students around the country with no exceptions, sucking the creativity and opportunity for critical thinking out of the classrooms with little room for teachers to respond to the student’s needs and intellectual growth.

Somewhere along the way, this nation has forsaken the opportunity for parents, teachers, students and the community, to be involved in public education and instead handed over all policy decisions to politicians with no understanding of the methods, practices or the art of teaching and the processes of learning.

This was not the original intent when an arm of the federal government was established in 1780 to ensure there were public schools and teachers available to all school-aged children.

In Finland, a country that is held up as a model of providing quality education, decentralized governance in the early 1990’s. Per Finland’s Board of Education:

Education providers are responsible for practical teaching arrangements as well as the effectiveness and quality of the education provided. Local authorities also determine how much autonomy is passed on to schools. For example, budget management, acquisitions and recruitment are often the responsibility of the schools.

And while we’re on the subject of making major and much needed changes to our educational system:

Most education and training is publically funded. There are no tuition fees at any level of education. An exception are the tuition fees for non-EU and non-EEA students in higher education, effective from autumn 2016. Most higher education institutions will introduce such tuition fees in 2017, and more information can be found here. In basic education also school materials, school meals and commuting are provided free of charge.

With the majority of $70 billion going to the states, we could fund community and state colleges and provide lunch to students free of charge. I was shocked to find that my daughter had to pay for lunch in Washington State public schools. Lunch, snacks and transportation were covered when I attended public school and there is no reason it shouldn’t be covered now.

Back in the day we also had nurses, librarians taking care of well-stocked libraries, counselors to bridge the gap between school and families and then other counselors who helped us reach our goals when graduating from high school.

Much of the money that could have stayed with the districts instead has gone to every failed federal policy since No Child Left Behind.

Taking local control of schools and how federal money is spent is not a radical idea.

If we are to survive as a country, and we are in a survival mode at this time, we need to look at all of our institutions and question what has worked and what hasn’t and make the necessary changes for this country to thrive. Of the greatest importance is having an educated and informed citizenry as understood by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Horace Mann, but at this time, we have failed reaching that goal.

It’s time to look at the history of public schools and evaluate where we need to be today in terms of federal edicts. It’s time to reassess the role of the US Department of Education and whether the head of the USDOE should be a cabinet level position that is influenced by the party in power.

This is our opportunity to affect change, through conversation and debate. In four years we need to be prepared to take back the reins and have structures in place which will make for a stronger society and democracy.

Dora Taylor

Suggested reading:

  • The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, And The Attack On America’s Public Schools, David Berliner
  • The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein
  • The Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch
  • Role of Federal Government in Public Education:  Historical Perspectives, the League of Women Voters.
  • Got dough?: How billionaires rule our schools, Joanne Barkan for Dissent Magazine

During this time of giving, some recommendations

With a Trump presidency and administration, we need to strengthen and support organizations and news groups that fight to protect democracy and the rights of all human beings.

To follow is a list of organizations that I created based on my personal holiday giving. I don’t have the finances to donate to all of these groups but I hope that readers can look at this list and support one of more of the following individuals, organizations and sources of actual news and information.

Within the US



The first group are the Native Americans and their supporters who are doing all that is humanly possible to protect the water on their land for themselves and others. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is to go under the Missouri River and with the history of oil leaks and other disasters related to the transfer of oil, the Native Americans are fighting back with the help of numerous groups and individuals.

Orignaly, the pipeline was to go above/through Bismarck but the city had concerns about their water becoming polluted by pipeline leaks so it was decided to run the pipe south of Bismarck and instead through unceded Native American land and adjacent to a reservation.

An oil spill anywhere south of theMissouri River will affect the lives of thousands if not millions of people.

The water protectors are facing a harsh winter and have determined to stay the course.

For more information on what is happening and how to donate, go to:

The Oceti Sakowin Camp



For more on #NoDAPL, see Bill Moyers’ report Activists Around the World Take #NoDAPL Fight to the Banks.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. are all involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline, and activists in Tokyo demanded the financiers divest. (Photo: Japan)

The ACLU, North Dakota Chapter

The ACLU-ND is working with the water protectors, ensuring they are represented in court.

Also, on their website they provide this handy list on knowing your rights:

You can donate here to the ACLU.

The National Lawyers Guild

The National Lawyers Guild provides observers during confrontations with the police, sheriff units from around the country, private security firms and whoever else is out there with guns and militarized weaponry, protecting the interests of oil companies and big banks. The National Lawyers Guild also filed suit in the US District Court against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force against peaceful Water Protectors on the night of November 20, 2016.

You can join here with the option of becoming an active member.


The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC)

CLDC attorneys, Lauren Regan & Cooper Brinson, are providing legal support to the water and land protectors in North Dakota.

They are in North Dakota now providing on-the-ground frontline support for the #NoDAPL movement. I have seen them in interviews at the water protectors’ camp and observing the confrontations with the militarized police and other armed groups protecting the interests of the pipeline investors and providing legal representation to those arrested.

They are awesome.

To donate to this effort, go to

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Angie Spencer, a female water protector and trauma counselor from Seattle who was arrested near the Standing Rock Sioux camp on October 27th, 2016.

To follow is her account:

News and information outlets that are not bought and need our support:

The Progressive

Yes, I am a bit biased with this selection but the Progressive has provided a national platform for bloggers around the country providing insight into what is happening regionally and beyond on all things education.

Rethinking Schools

From their website:

In 1986, a group of Milwaukee-area teachers had a vision. They wanted not only to improve education in their own classrooms and schools, but to help shape reform throughout the public school system in the United States.

Today that vision is embodied in Rethinking Schools.

Rethinking Schools began as a local effort to address problems such as basal readers, standardized testing, and textbook-dominated curriculum. Since its founding, it has grown into a nationally prominent publisher of educational materials, with subscribers in all 50 states, all 10 Canadian provinces, and many other countries.”

This publication is always ahead of the curve on issues of education and their articles are top notch. A must read for anyone involved with education or concerned about the future of our schools.

You can donate here.


Democracy Now

Need I say more? OK, I will.

Amy Goodman and her staff cover all of the news that mainstream media doesn’t.

Amy’s co-host, Juan Gonzalez, has done some great work reporting on charter schools in New York City and beyond and the privatization of our public school system.

You can donate here.

Seattle Education

We have never asked for donations since we started this blog seven years ago but…while this is the giving season, we could really use a new laptop, I mean, really use a new laptop.

You can contact us directly at if you would like to donate to the cause.

Organizations fighting for our rights


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

These folks do a lot of good work in the realm of freedom in usage of the internet, issues of privacy and the protection of online journalism.

I’m a member and encourage all bloggers to join this organization.

There is lots of good information for online journalists on their website.

This is their description of the organization:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

You can donate here.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center

I wrote about a specific arm of the CLDC that is working with the Water Protectors in North Dakota but these folks do good work everywhere.

This is the description provided on their website:

Civil Liberties Defense Center’s mission focuses on defending and upholding civil liberties through education, outreach, litigation, legal support, and assistance. CLDC strives to preserve the strength and vitality of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as to protect freedom of expression.

We will need these people in the next four years.

You can donate here.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU’s homepage has a photo of Trump with the words “See you in court” across the page.

What else can I say?

Besides working with the Water Protectors, they have joined forces with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood in lawsuits to protect and expand access to medically safe abortions as well as other health related services for women.  In October they simultaneously filed three challenges to medically unnecessary abortion restrictions in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Per their website:

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Our civil liberties will be under attack more so now than ever and we will need the ACLU to provide legal protection for citizens.

To donate, go to


Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood provides health services for women who cannot afford to see a doctor.

Per their website:

These health centers provide a wide range of safe, reliable health care — and the majority is preventive, primary care, which helps prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screen for cervical and other cancers.

With the threat of Medicaid being cut, the Affordable Health Care Act abolished and the possibility of Federal cuts to Planned Parenthood, more and more women will need a health provider with a focus on their needs. Planned Parenthood has been in existence for 100 years and counting and needs our support to continue particularly during these difficult times.

To donate to Planned Parenthood, go here.

International support

Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees

I heard about this program on Democracy Now and was struck by the woman who was being interviewed, Ninaj Raoul, Executive Director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and a board member of IFCO/Pastors for Peace.

When Amy Goodman asked her how people could help after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, Ms. Raoul said that giving to the people who know what the Haitians need goes much farther than giving to international organizations.

To follow is the interview:

To donate to Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, go here.

There are other groups and organizations worthy of our support.

If you would like to add to the list, please share in the comment section below.

Dora Taylor

Seattle’s response to the election: Student walk outs, community meetings and more

Trump Protests Seattle

This is one of the many reasons I love Seattle.

First, a press release:

All School Walkout and Students Protest for Solidarity

November 14, 2016

Students all across Seattle, will be hosting a walkout and gathering to protest the election of Trump to office. There have been several walkouts organized after the election of Donald trump. Now, students invite the community to come see for themselves why they are so opposed to Trump’s leadership.

The walkout will take place starting at 1:30 from the students school of origin (included schools: Franklin, Garfeild, The Center School, Nova, Sealth, and UW). Students will then meet up at Cal Anderson park (1653 11th Ave, Seattle WA, 98122) at 2:30. It’s a positive opportunity to show the greater Seattle community how much they care / are impacted by the issue.

The students will also be hosting a later “Protest for Solidarity” at Westlake Park (401 pine st, Seattle WA, 98101), at 4:15 pm, to express their feelings after the election and how they plan to about it going forward. Hosted by Emma Reid, Viv Nicole, and Samantha Wisner-Simmons. “EVERYONE is welcome…”

“Seattle is a diverse community, and it’s our immigrant/refugee populations, LGBTQ folks, religious diversity and colorful mix of racial demographics that makes us who we are. as students, we grew up in classrooms that reflect that. Trump is threatening our core value of tolerance as a city. We had to use our voices and numbers to show that we stand with members of our community who may not feel safe now. we’ll continue to resist attacks on those around us with any/all forms of student activism!”

And from the Capitol Hill blog:

“Seattle Public Schools is steadfast in our support for all students,” a spokesperson said about the planned Monday protest. “While the protests are not sanctioned by the district, SPS students do have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their personal views.”

The citywide walkout would follow a walkout last week in West Seattle and a major demonstration involving more than 5,000 people that marched peacefully from downtown across Capitol Hill Wednesday night. Unrest and protest in major cities across the nation has continued including protests in Portland that have been declared “riots” by police after violence and property damage.

Trump protest

There is more to come in Seattle. City Council member and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has lead her Socialist Alternative party’s call for a massive general strike on Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2017:

This is only the beginning. Plans are underway for huge nationwide protests around Trump’s inauguration on January 20th and 21st to send a clear message that we reject his right-wing agenda of bigotry and pro-corporate policies. We need to build a grassroots movement against threats to escalate mass deportations of immigrants and a clampdown on Muslim communities, among other attacks. Socialist Alternative will be at the forefront of building these demonstrations and organizing broad community coalitions to stand united against bigotry and hate.

Mayor Ed Murray has also responded to the election, taking part in a rally at City Hall and declaring that Seattle will remain a Sanctuary City welcoming immigrants and standing in defiance to any new policies from the Trump administration.

This weekend will bring opportunities to gather — and organize — to Capitol Hill.

Sunday, a group of SPU graduate students in marriage and family therapy are organizing a community gathering in Cal Anderson Park with hopes of a non-political show of “love, support, and togetherness.” Organizers of Love Over Hate are looking for community members to be part of the demonstration. Organizers of the family friendly event hope people will bring sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and more to help mark the day. Bring an umbrella, too.

Protect what you love

Sunday night, a more structured event is planned at 11th Ave’s V2 in a Post Election Community Response Forum “to process what happened, and develop next steps for protecting the people we love, fighting the national dialogue of hate and defending our rights.”

Local Democratic organizers are also stepping back for some soul searching. Tuesday night, the 43rd District Democrats are coming together for a “Where Do We Go From Here?” gathering.

Many smaller efforts are also popping up.


Seattle Public Schools said students who participate in the walkout Monday will not face discipline. The walkout is not a SPS sanctioned event. “Staff are not taking part in the student-organized demonstrations,” the spokesperson said.

“As a district we are responding to the requests and needs of our community and many schools are developing lessons and activities to have appropriate, post-election conversations in school buildings,” the SPS statement on the planned Monday actions concludes.

To follow are Seattleites at Cal Anderson Park on Sunday:









On Sunday there was a meeting to discuss where to go from here. 600 people showed up and the overflow went to Cal Anderson Park.