League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County Urges “No” Vote on Proposition 1

LWV King County

From the League of Women Voters of King County October Newsletter

The Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County unanimously voted to oppose Seattle Proposition 1, the Families, Education and Preschool Promise (FEPP) Levy. In addition to urging the city to convene a coalition to address concerns about the proposed levy before taking further action.

Although the Board’s decision to oppose Proposition 1 was unanimous, it was not made lightly. Children from low-income families deserve high-quality preschools. High school graduates deserve to attend college, even when they cannot afford it. But the levy’s vague language and regressive nature make it an inappropriate vehicle for funding these priorities.

Chief among the League’s concerns is the confusing language in the proposition on how levy funds will be spent. Specifically, the measure providers that:

Proceeds may only be leveraged to support Seattle School District and Seattle Colleges, programs or functions with the existence of a current, effective Partnership Agreement (emphasis added). (Prop. 1, Sec. 10)

This clause creates the possibility that levy funds will flow to charter schools, a possibility that city officials have yet to deny. The League has consistently opposed public funding of charter schools because they lack transparency and public accountability. They can also exacerbate segregation and educational disparities.

Moreover, the League has opposed the use of levies as long-term funding sources, particularly in areas where funding responsibility lies with the state. “Taxpayers cannot continue to bear the burden of filling the funding gaps in our communities, the importance of these services notwithstanding,” said LWVS-KC President Stephanie Cirkovich. “Homeowners can expect their taxes to increase by an average of $112 annually under this levy, and they deserve to know how those funds will be spent.”

The League also opposes the Levy because it prioritizes special programming over basic education. Officials concede that it would reduce funding for K-12 over the expiring levy, straining Seattle Public Schools during a period of economic hardship. The timing of the FEPP Levy vote puts public schools in further jeopardy. In February, SPS will be asking voters to renew its operations and capital levies through its sole funding source— property taxes. If voters approve the FEPP Levy in November, they may reject additional taxes desperately needed by SPS. The city has a duty to ensure that K-12 is fully funded before expanding services under the levy.

Earlier this year, the city modified Proposition 1 in response to public outcry when an earlier version cut key services. The city owes voters the same transparency now and should invite further public input on the content, scope, and implementation of this measure. Unless the city commits to resolving the concerns of the League expressed her, voters should reject Proposition 1.


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LETTER: Why I’m opposed to the next Families and Education Levy

By Melissa Westbrook of the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

Mon, 09/17/2018

I’m Melissa Westbrook; I’m the writer/moderator of the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog, the most widely-read public education blog in the state.  I’ve been a public education advocate for more than 20 years.

I’m writing to you today to let you know that I oppose the City of Seattle’s renewal of the Families and Education levy, slated for the November 2018 ballot. 

I came to this decision with sadness because I have voted for and publicly supported this levy since its inception.  But this current levy is a fairly radical change from previous ones – not to mention it is not just a renewal but a larger cost renewal to voters.

I would be happy to talk to you about this issue as you start your coverage of the November elections.

Basically, my issues with the levy are these:

– The Mayor and City Council have chosen to roll the City’s Pre-K levy into the F&E levy.  The majority of the levy, about 52%, will go to the expansion of Pre-K. 

I don’t argue that pre-k isn’t a good thing.  But Seattle’s Pre-K program is costly and now it’s a larger portion of the levy than K-12 which has traditionally been where the bulk of the levy dollars have gone.

– The City has been unclear about whether they will continue to support in-school Family Support Workers as part of the K-12 portion of the F&E levy.  As someone who volunteers in a Title One school, I can tell you first-hand how greatly needed in-school Family Support workers are for low-income or immigrant families who need that support.

– With the larger property tax enacted by the Legislature to fulfill the McCleary decision, I question a dollar increase AND an expansion of the F&E levy to both pre-K and community college.  And, Seattle Schools has its own two levy renewals in Feb. 2019 and I believe that with those four large property taxes, there might be voter fatigue. 

It would be sad if the F&E levy lost but it would be catastrophic if the district were to lose one or both of their levies.

– There is no language in the new F&E levy that says that the K-12 dollars can only go to Seattle Public Schools.  Meaning, any charter school in Seattle could access those dollars. 

I had a lawyer check that language and there is nothing there in the levy language that protects the K-12 dollars for Seattle Public Schools.

The city of Seattle itself voted – in a firm majority – against charter schools.  I don’t think that has changed much and I think voters need to know this is what will happen.

Given that earlier this year, Green Dot Charter Schools was able to get an illegal zoning departure for one of their new schools, I suspect there are those on the City Council who may support charter schools.  (That zoning departure was quite deliberate and done outside of city code and I think there was help/support from a couple of CMs.)

I’m glad to discuss these issues with you and your media outlet.

Sincerely,

Melissa Westbrook

And from the Seattle Times:

Here’s what you need to know about the city’s largest-ever education levy, and whether the expiring tax has made a difference in schools, before you send in your ballot.

By Neal Morton, Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle voters will soon decide whether doubling the city government’s investment in public education is worth a property-tax hike. 

The city’s existing levies to pay for certain K-12 programs and a subsidized preschool pilot both expire at the end of this year. And after campaigning on a promise to make community college free for high-school graduates, Mayor Jenny Durkan has pitched the city’s largest-ever education levy to combine the K-12 and preschool programs with her proposed scholarships. On your ballot, this initiative will be called Seattle Proposition No. 1.

Here’s what you need to know before you make this Election Day decision. If there are any more questions you want answered, ask us at edlab@seattletimes.com.

How much would it cost? What tax hike can homeowners expect?

If approved, the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy would raise about $619.6 million over seven years and expire after 2025.

If approved, the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy would raise about $619.6 million over seven years and expire after 2025.

The ballot language states that the city’s property-tax rate would be limited to 36.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning the owner of a home with the median value of $665,000 would pay $242 next year to support the levy. The average yearly tax bill over the seven-year life of the new levy would be $248, up from $136 this year.

Disabled veterans and low-income Seattleites could qualify for exemptions under state law.

What’s different this time?

The city’s education levy has funded K-12 programs, family support workers in schools and school-based health clinics. The new proposal for the first time would include the city’s preschool program, which subsidizes tuition on a sliding scale, and college scholarships.

The new levy also would provide $4.2 million to address the rising number of homeless students in Seattle.

What programs would go away if it fails?

A spokesperson for the city’s education department, the Department of Education and Early Learning, would not specify. But in an email, the spokesperson said the city would be ready to present “contingency plans.”

“If the levy does not pass, our programs such as the … (preschool program) would be at severe risk of losing funding,” the email said.

What do levy supporters point to as past successes of these programs?

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. We’ll know more Monday, when the education department releases a third-year evaluation of the city’s preschool pilot.

As for the Families and Education Levy, the department said it’s helped reduce the opportunity gaps at four high schools on measures like attendance and core-course performance. The department’s most recent annual report, however, for the 2016-17 school year, shows those high schools met just 2 of 8 targets for underserved students passing their core courses with C’s or better.

The department also cited an analysis of the same groups of middle-school students over time. “Students were three times more likely to attain math proficiency by the end of the (8th grade) if they attended” a levy-funded middle school. But the department’s annual report shows fewer than half of those schools — 7 of 16 — met their academic targets in math. Only 4 in 7 met their targets in reading.

Who supports — and opposes — this tax hike?

Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed the levy and the City Council voted unanimously to send it to the ballot, with minor alterations. The politicians say it would help close the opportunity gap between kids from more- and less-privileged backgrounds.

The city’s largest business and labor groups, including the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, have endorsed the measure, as have five Democratic Party legislative-district organizations with territory in Seattle.

Top contributors to the political campaign supporting the levy include Amazon, Mariners board member Chris Larson, hotel owner Howard S. Wright and the Service Employees International Union.

No one has registered a political campaign opposing the levy.

But the League of Women Voters has come out against the measure. And Melissa Westbrook, a local education activist and blogger, has argued against it

Does this have anything to do with charter schools in Seattle?

As of last week, it’s unclear.

The city spokesman on Wednesday said its attorney’s office still hasn’t answered two lingering questions about whether charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, could benefit from the levy: Can graduates from those schools also access the college scholarship program, and can charter schools compete with the traditional Seattle school district for K-12 grants from the levy?

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, however, hasn’t ruled out that its members in Seattle will seek the levy money.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

Who would oversee how the city spends the levy revenues?

Ultimate authority would rest with the mayor and City Council. But a standing oversight committee would include the mayor, a council member, the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, a director on the Seattle School Board, the chancellor of Seattle Colleges and a dozen appointed members.

The oversight committee would review a report of the levy’s impacts each school year and recommend changes.

How does this proposal fit in with all the other tax hikes in Seattle?

In 2018, the statewide property-tax rate rose to $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for a new K-12 budget. Lawmakers earlier this year agreed to offer homeowners some relief, and approved a one-year cut to the statewide rate by 30 cents in 2019.

The new state budget also capped the local property taxes that individual school districts can collect to pay for so-called enrichment activities, such as extracurricular programs or smaller class sizes.

The Seattle school district currently taps its separate local levy to hire more school nurses and provide special services for students with disabilities.

In February, the district will ask voters to renew that levy but plans to propose a higher tax rate than the state’s cap allows, just in case lawmakers offer some flexibility.

Also in February, the district may ask voters to approve more than $1 billion in its capital levy for new school construction and renovations. Voters last approved that levy, with a price tag of nearly $700 million, in 2013.

How does the fate of this levy affect the finances of Seattle Public Schools, if at all?

The Seattle School Board’s budget for the 2017-18 school year topped $850 million, so the $20 million that Seattle Public Schools received from the city this year made up a little more than 2 percent.

The district’s own operations levy, which voters consider every three years, typically represents about 15-20 percent of the overall budget. That reality has left district officials worried about voters’ willingness to support yet another tax for education on the ballot next year — after they’ve already voted on the city’s education levy.

“The (city’s) levy is important to us and our families,” said JoLynn Berge, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance. But, “we can’t make it without the maintenance and operations levy.”

Seattle Times staff reporters Dahlia Bazzaz and Daniel Beekman contributed to this report.

*This post was submitted by Dora Taylor

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Manufacturing Consent: How to Engineer an Education Activist

Statue of Liberty in Disgust

If social media platforms can predict your behavior, advocacy groups can buy access to it. They also have the power to manipulate your actions – and good intentions –  to serve their own agenda.

Customer tracking, discriminatory pricing (think airlines), and behavioral design are mature disciplines in retail marketing and the gambling industry.

Social media pulls all of these practices together by collecting users’ personal information, repackaging this data to appeal to marketers, and then selling access to the highest bidder.

It’s a complete loop of commercialized personalization.

In order to keep the cycle going: Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms use likes, retweets, and comments to keep their users engaged and eager to volunteer even more information. These hooks are similar to the tricks used to keep gamblers at the slots and in their seats.

Alison McDowel had this to say about adaptive learning systems:

My concern as a parent is within these adaptive learning systems, I don’t want an online system that has to learn my child to work. I don’t want a system that has to know everything my child did for the last six months, to operate properly. Because I think that becomes problematic. How do you ever have a do over? Like, is it just always building and reinforcing certain patterns of behavior and how you react…it’s, they, I think they present it as flexible and personalized, but in many ways I think it’s limiting.

What’s really different about the commercial personalization we experience on social media and the adaptive learning systems many fear are coming to public education under the guise of personalized learning?

Surveillance Capitalism and the Dawn of Nudge Activism

A popular dismissal of the encroaching surveillance state is ‘who cares if the government, commercial interests, or any other third party, has access to my personal information. I have nothing to hide.’

It’s a comforting argument, but misses the point. It’s not the data that’s the problem, but what can be done with it.

One piece of data could be harmless, but if it’s pooled with a millions of other bits and run through an algorithm, suddenly this information has the power to predicted your behavior.

If corporations can predict what you’re going to do next, they can also put a price on it, trade it, and build a whole market around it.

Von Shoshana Zuboff calls this evolution in big data mediated economics surveillance capitalism:

It’s now clear that this shift in the use of behavioral data was an historic turning point. Behavioral data that were once discarded or ignored were rediscovered as what I call behavioral surplus. Google’s dramatic success in “matching” ads to pages revealed the transformational value of this behavioral surplus as a means of generating revenue and ultimately turning investment into capital. Behavioral surplus was the game-changing zero-cost asset that could be diverted from service improvement toward a genuine market exchange. Key to this formula, however, is the fact that this new market exchange was not an exchange with users but rather with other companies who understood how to make money from bets on users’ future behavior. In this new context, users were no longer an end-in-themselves.  Instead they became a means to profits in  a new kind of marketplace in which users are neither buyers nor sellers nor products.  Users are the source of free raw material that feeds a new kind of manufacturing process.

Government is equally excited to get in on the predictive capabilities of behavioral surplus. Pay for Success – also known as social impact bonds – is all about creating new opportunities for Wall Street to bet on future behaviors as they pertain to education, policing, incarceration, and healthcare.

Engineering an Education Activist

If social media platforms can predict your behavior, advocacy groups can buy access to it. They also have the power to manipulate your actions – and good intentions –  to serve their own agenda.

Advocacy in this context loses its traditional meaning. Instead, it becomes a data driven exercise aimed at targeting individuals sympathetic to an organization’s issue and then encouraging these targets to repeat the campaign’s message over and over again throughout their social network(s).

Independent thought is discouraged. What’s important is your willingness to repeat the designated message.

In 2014, The Excellent Schools Now coalition, funded by Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters, launched a media advocacy campaign to convince the public to support a college and career ready diploma for Washington State.  (Excellent Schools Now – Final Report)

Who Would Make a Good Education Activist?

Feedback from social media provided the Excellent Schools Now coalition with in depth knowledge of who would be the best individuals to target as education advocates.

Desirable over-arching characteristics were: engagement in traditionally lefty-leaning issues, strong personal identification with the Democratic Party, and actively engaged with the issues they care about.

At a more granular level these individuals cared about civil liberties, transportation, gender and racial equality, alternative energy, gun control and consistently vote for Democrats.

 

Top Issues

 

Political Affiliation

 

Engagement Activities

Where’s the Nudge?

All of these individuals were over indexed in actively working on issues they care about – sharing their thoughts publicly, online, and in political articles.

The nudge would come from making the Excellent Schools Now message so attractive to potential targets that they would be unable to resist sharing it. This could be done by emphasizing the message’s connection to an admired member of the Democratic Party who also happens to shares the target’s individual sense of justice or equality.

 How to Shut Down Activism if it Gets Out of Hand

What happens when activists start thinking for themselves and no longer need an advocacy group to lead the way?

Don’t worry, the public relations firm West Third Group clearly lays out the time tested plan used to keep activists in their place and repeating the right messages.

Four types of activists — radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists — define most us-vs.-them public battles. Whether the issue is political, cultural or personal, dealing with movements antagonistic to your efforts involves dividing the different types, using different tactics for each group.

  • Isolate the radicals.
  • Get the opportunists on the payroll if needed, or ignore them.
  • Cultivate/educate the idealists and convert them to realists.
  • Co-opt the realists into agreeing to industry.

 

Repeating Messages on Social Media, Is That All There Is?

Jodi Dean has an interesting take on communicative capitalism.

In the United States today, however, they don’t, or, less bluntly put, there is a significant disconnect between politics circulating as content and official politics.  Today, the circulation of content in the dense, intensive networks of global communications relieves top-level actors (corporate, institutional, and governmental) from the obligation to respond. Rather than responding to messages sent by activists and critics, they counter with their own contributions to the circulating flow of communications, hoping that sufficient volume (whether in terms of number of contributions or the spectacular nature of a contribution) will give their contributions dominance or stickiness.  Instead of engaged debates, instead of contestations employing common terms, points of reference, or demarcated frontiers, we confront a multiplication of resistances and assertions so extensive that it hinders the formation of strong counter-hegemonies. The proliferation, distribution, acceleration, and intensification of communicative access and opportunity, far from enhancing democratic governance or resistance, results in precisely the opposite, the post-political formation of communicative capitalism.

Maybe technology isn’t designed to save us.

While we’re burning up our time tweeting, liking, and commenting, the hard work of organizing in the real world is left for another day.

Maybe that’s whole point.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

-Carolyn Leith

 

Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme

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UPDATE: Two mistakes have been corrected from the original post.

Voters for Washington Children spent $15,000 in digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso in the District 1 Senate race. In addition, Voters for Washington Children spent $10,000 AGAINST Branden Durst in the Legislative District 29, Representative race.

Our sincerest apologies to Luis Moscoso and Branden Durst.

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Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle.

Money matters – a lot.

The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to persuade. Voters understand politics is a dirty game, but they still believe in the idea that democracy should work for everyone.

Big donors have come up with a practical two step solution to this problem:

  1. Keep the money moving through various PACs.
  2. When it’s time to spend the money, use independent expenditures to further mask the source.

Openly supporting charter schools is a still a risky position for many politicians in Washington State. Let’s take a look at how pro-charter PACs supported their preferred candidates through the use of a PAC with a different name and independent expenditures.

The Name Game

Between July and August of 2016, three PACs contributed $265,500 dollars to Voters for Washington Children. They were:

Stand for Children Washington PAC

7/14    $76,000

7/25    $10,000     

Total: $86,000

Washington Charters PAC

7/15   $70,000

7/25   $27,500

7/25   $10,000

8/03   $15,000    

Total:$122,500

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Washington PAC

7/14   $40,000

7/18   $  7,500

7/25   $10,000    

Total:$57,500

The Independent Expenditure Shell Game

Voters for Washington Children contracted with a group called RALLY in San Francisco to produce digital ads and mailers for the candidates Stand for Children, DFER, and Washington Charters PAC supported.

Never heard of RALLY?

Their clients include: Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), TFA-Bay Area, the Green Dot charter chain, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Students Matter (of the lawsuit Vergara v. California), and Act Now for Washington Students.

Remember the charter school ads that ran during Seahawks games last year? RALLY was behind them. They also bused kids to Olympia to testify for the charter bill and coordinated all of those heartfelt cards and letters sent to the state Legislature.

From RALLY’s website:

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, along with coalition members Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and leaders from the business community, partnered with RALLY to find and drive a solution that saved the existing schools and reinstated the will of the voters. RALLY developed and managed a high-impact legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially elected Democrats, to confront the prospect of being held responsible for closing public schools that serve a racially and economically diverse student population – or taking action to support their constituents.

To deliver our message, RALLY created a campaign that truly put parents and students front and center. We built, encouraged, and supported a strong grassroots advocacy team that made more than 1,000 calls per week to elected officials, flooded legislative offices with homemade postcards and letters, and brought hundreds of people to Olympia for multiple rallies to keep schools open. A statewide petition activated 20,000 new public charter supporters and created a backbone for a strategic digital effort that augmented the on-the-ground tactics.

Grassroots efforts were coupled with an aggressive paid media campaign designed to make it impossible for state leaders to ignore the plight of public charters. RALLY produced four television ads, which aired during Seattle Seahawks games and nightly newscasts. Additionally, voters in key swing districts around the state received a series of direct mail, robo-calls, and targeted earned media. Statewide, every major newspaper endorsed saving the schools and called on Democrats to stay true to their social justice roots. These tactics were combined with a PAC fundraising effort, a relentless online digital presence, and a robust social media strategy.

RALLY’s Independent Expenditure Ads and Mailings

How did the candidates supported by the pro-charter PACs do in the primary? Let’s take a look at the races where RALLY’s services were put to use:

Legislative District 29-State Representative Pos. 1

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.38.27 PM

David Sawyer, Democrat, Representative, 29th District

7/26   $10,000 for digital ads AGAINST Branden Durst, Democrat

7/27    $10,000 for digital ads

Total: $20,000

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.12.30 AM

Legislative District 1-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.41.00 PM

Guy Palumbo, Democrat, State Senate, District 1

7/21   $10,925 for digital ads

7/23   $11,714.55 for mailing

7/26   $15,000 for digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso, Democrat

Total: 37,639.55

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.29.17 AM

Legislative District 5-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.45.42 PM

Mark Mullet, Democrat, State Senate, District 5

7/21    $10,658.19  direct mail

7/23    $16,189.83  two mailings

7/26    $11,525.07  direct mail  

Total: $38,373.09

Legislative District 41-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.48.20 PM

Stephen Litzow, Republican, District 41, Senate

7/22    $4,000  digital ads

7/25    $19,930.28  direct mail

7/26    $16,782.63  direct mail

Total: $40,712.91

Not to be forgotten, 0n 7/27 RALLY was contracted to produced $30,000 worth of digital ads for Steven Hobbs, Democrat, who ran for the Lieutenant Governor position during the primary. Hobbs ended up coming in fourth after Cyrus Habib, Marty McClendon, and Karen Fraser.

Conclusion

Besides the Lieutenant Governor’s race, every campaign where RALLY’s services were engaged resulted in one of Voters for Washington Children’s candidates advancing to the general election.

Seems like Stand for Children Washington PAC, Washington Charters PAC, and Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC got a solid return on their investment.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

Representative Ruth Kagi is no friend of public education

big money

 

Let’s take big money out of politics starting with Ruth Kagi.

There is a race in the 32nd Legislative District in Seattle where an educator, Wesley Irwin, is running against an establishment Democrat who has been in office for too long.

This post will be about the incumbent, Representative Ruth Kagi, who I have mentioned briefly in two previous posts, The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game and Money for charters but nothing for public schools? It’s time for a recall in Washington State.

First, let’s look at Kagi’s record on public school education.

On charter schools:

In the Washington State Democrat’s platform is the statement “We oppose charter schools”. This plank in the platform was hard fought throughout the state as one Democratic legislative district after another passed resolutions stating that charter schools are unconstitutional and undemocratic and yet Ruth Kagi voted for Bill 6194 allowing state funding to keep open a handful of charter schools that were deemed unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court. Her constituents voted unanimously against Bill 6194 and against charter schools in any form. See Resolution passed unanimously by the 32nd District Democrats regarding any and all legislative bills that would authorize charter schools in Washington State.

But the chronic under-funding of our public schools did not come to a resolution in that same session.

So much for representing the people.

On class size:

Initiative 1351 reducing class sizes was opposed by Kagi  

On a cost of living wage increase for teachers:

Rep. Kagi also voted to suspend the much needed “Teacher Cost of Living Adjustment” (COLA) in 2013, yet she voted for a tax cut that gave the Boeing Company billions of dollars (Bill 2294) and then received the maximum contribution allowable from Boeing the following year.

On the Common Core Standards:

Kagi voted for the Common Core Standards and the related SBAC tests.

So how could Ruth Kagi consistently vote against the will of the people for several years now?

Well, let’s take a look at some of her contributors:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife: Donated $500,000 to push the charter school initiative and contributed to keep the charter schools open after the Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington State.

Amazon CEO Jeff  Bezos and his wife, big financial supporters of charter schools.

Boeing

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) , push for the privatization of public schools.

The Community Center for Education Results (CCER): Mary Jean Ryan

For a cumulative view of Kagi’s contributors, see FollowTheMoney.org.

Ruth Kagi is endorsed by the League of Education Voters (LEV) (not to be confused with the League of Women Voters). She even gave LEV money in 2014.

And, LEV gave her a big thank you for voting to fund charter schools on their website.

If you’re pro public schools, you do not want to be associated with the League of Education Voters. For more on LEV, see A look back at the League of Education Voters.

Even though Ruth Kagi touts that she is all about the children, her actions say something entirely different.

For additional information on the subjects mentioned in this post, see:

THE CHARTER-PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT (and counting) TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?

The Charter School Bill 1240 and the 1%: An Analysis

A case study of how the ultra-wealthy spend millions to get what they want in school reform

The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game

Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits

Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization.

The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates and your student’s privacy

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

Video: Clinical Child Psychologist: The Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate

Study shows the Common Core PARCC test does not determine college readiness

Dora Taylor

 

Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

Male Hand Holding Stack of Cash Over Clouds and Sky

Per a previous post titled, “Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”, Bill Gates has been busy for several years funding established organizations or creating new ones to funnel cash into a push to establish charter schools in Washington State and around the country.

To follow is a list of organizations and schools that have received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizations and schools with figures shown in bold relate directly to charter school promotional activity in Seattle and surrounding areas. For the amounts given to all other recipients, go to Google docs.

Stand for Children: $9,000,000 +/- (I got tired of counting and recounting)

Aspire Charter Schools: $21M +/-

National Council of La Raza : $32M +/-

Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS): $159,440 (per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website , “Purpose: to develop a strategic plan for building a dynamic parent network that can embrace and catalyze change within Seattle Public Schools”, meaning integrating charter schools into Seattle, particularly in the minority communities.)

Charter School Growth Fund: $5M

University of Minnesota

New York Charter School Resource Center Inc

Chicago Charter School Foundation

Success Academy Charter School: $400,000

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

St. HOPE Academy

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $7M

New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +/-

Progressive Policy Institute

University of Washington Foundation: $1,089,761 (Lot of papers and “studies” came out of the UW supporting charter schools. Also a Teach for America, Inc. training ground was set up in the School of Education.)

GreatSchools, Inc.: $9M +/

Perspectives Charter School

Noble Network of Charter Schools: $2M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6M +/-

NCB Capital Impact

Progress Analytics Institute

High Tech High Foundation

Keys to Improving Dayton Schools, Inc.

Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School: $1.6M +/-

Pacific Charter School Development Inc.

Charter Schools Policy Institute: $200,000

Charter School Leadership Council: $800,000

Illinois Network Of Charter Schools: $1.4M +/-

Stanford University: $12M +/- (Charter school “studies” were produced here. Unfortunately for Gates, the most well known study Stanford produced, the CREDO Report, stated charter schools were either the same or lower performing than public schools.)

RAND Corporation: $7.5M +/-

National Alliance For Public Charter Schools: $12.5M +/-

Green Dot Public Schools: $9,675,588 (One  was approved for Seattle.)

KIPP, Inc charter schools.: $10,000,000 (KIPP charter schools were touted by state legislators as the best thing since sliced bread. Sad day for them, they’re not and none were approved for Washington State.)

Institute for Research and Reform in Education Inc.: $11M +/-

Marquette University

Aspira Inc of Illinois

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: $670,000 +/-

Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund: $57.5M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6.5M +/-

New Schools for New Orleans Inc: $8.6M +/-

Houston Area Urban League Inc

District of Columbia College Access Program

Newark Charter School Fund, Inc.: $3,595,070

National Association Of Charter School Authorizers: $15M +/-

Trustees of Dartmouth College

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Texas Charter School Association: $1.6M

FSG, Inc.

New York City Charter School Center: $4.7M +/-

Friendship Public Charter School

New Visions for Public Schools, Inc: $73.5M +/-

School District of Philadelphia

Denver School of Science and Technology Inc

The Arizona Charter Schools Association: $200,000

New York Charter Schools Association Inc: $204,988

Partners for Developing Futures Inc.

Mastery Charter High School

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools: $650,000

League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation: $2,586,378

Colorado Education Initiative

Black Alliance for Educational Options Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Colorado League of Charter Schools: $818,471

The Boston Educational Development Foundation, Inc.

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

The King Center Charter School

Rocketship Education: $200,000

Georgia Charter Schools Association Inc.: $250,000

Jumoke Academy Inc

Denver Public Schools: $4,001,999 (The Seattle Public School board members took a trip to Denver a few years ago to visit charter schools. They came back with rave reviews about KIPP charter schools.)

Hartford Public Schools

Spring Branch Independent School District

Achievement First Inc.

Philadelphia Schools Project

Boston Private Industry Council Inc

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation: $10M The AFT had Bill Gates as their main speaker when their convention was in Seattle.

Harvard University: $33.6M +/- (Lots of papers and “studies” favorable to charter schools were produced at Harvard for Eli Broad and Bill Gates.This number is based on grants tagged for K12 education and doesn’t include community grants)

Washington State Charter Schools Association: $10.5M +/-

Mississippi First Inc.

CHIME Institute

Seneca Family of Agencies

Summit Public Schools: $8,000,000

Spokane School District #81: $525,000 

Children’s First Fund, The Chicago Public School Foundation

LEAP Innovations

East Lake Foundation, Inc.

New Schools for Chicago

Low Income Investment Fund

Fund for Public Schools Inc

Friends of Breakthrough Schools

Puget Sound Educational Service District: $27.5M +/- (See CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy)

Franklin-McKinley School District

Craft3

The list above does not include Teach for America which Bill Gates granted $2.5M to open an office in Seattle and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that came to town with their dog and pony show bashing teachers and trying to make way for Teach for America. Bill Gates has granted that group $12M+/- between 2009 and 2013.

Also see The Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality: Manipulating Teacher Layoffs (& Union-Busting?).

It is also interesting to note that the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently received $1,743,064.

For the list with all of the numbers see Google docs. The list was put together by a Parents Across America Portland member using information provided at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awarded Grants website.

So, if Gates paid his fair share of taxes in our state rather than be the man behind the curtain, would it help us fund public schools adequately?

My guess is “YES!”.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Check out Mercedes Schneider’s post to find additional expenditures made by Bill Gates pertaining to charter schools:

Who Does Gates Fund for “General Operating Support”?

 

Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why

bill-gates

People around the state are receiving robo-calls from a (Gates backed Teachers United) teacher who was declared “Teacher of the Year” by The Office of the State Superintendent (OSPI) which is headed by the State Superintendent Randy Dorn. Mr. Dorn is also on the board of CCSSO which is an organization receiving $84M from Bill Gates to promote the Common Core Standards. Do you see where I’m going with this? Lyon Terry representing “Ready Washington” declares in his unsolicited call the virtues of the Common Core Standards and the importance of the SBAC test. So who or what is “Ready Washington”?

We did a quick search and oh, what a surprise, a coalition of the bought. Here’s the list:

Ready Washington Coalition:

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Partnership for Learning, the education arm of the Washington Roundtable. From the Gates Foundation website. received $499,492 “to support the Ready Washington Coalition and stakeholder groups to improve communications and outreach around the Common Core State Standards”.

Stand for Children Washington (Gates)

Washington STEM (Gates)

Excellent Schools Now, from their website, The steering committee of Excellent Schools Now consists of: League of Education Voters, Partnership for Learning, Schools Out Washington, Stand for Children Washington and Tabor 100. Received money through the League of Education Voters to the tune of $1,499,543 for the “Purpose: to continue public engagement and action project to advance the policies and priorities of A+ Washington through the Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition.

Washington State PTA (Gates money)

Council of Presidents State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Department of Early Learning: $6M+ from Mr. Gates

League of Education Voters (Gates)

ReadyNation (Gates)

Democrats for Education Reform (Gates and corporate money)

Puget Sound Educational Service District (Who brought us Race to the Top and data mining of our students’ information)

Washington State Board of Education (populated with a few of the usual suspects. Dorn, Deborah Wilds-Gates and Peter Maier)

The Parents Union (Gates)

College Spark Washington

Schools Out Washington (Gates-$2M+)

Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (Gates- $1M+)

Washington Association of School Administrators

Washington Student Achievement Council (Gates)

Washington Roundtable (Big business money)

Renton Technical College (?)

Consider the source.

Most of these faux roots organizations and even some who are not, including the Washington State PTA, receive money from Bill Gates.

Check out How to create a faux grassroots ed reform organization!

images Dora Taylor

DFER’s Lisa Macfarlane : “Concerned Citizen”

Lisa Macfarlane, Concerned Citizen of the Year
Lisa Macfarlane, “Concerned Citizen” of the Year

There was another person who testified at the House hearings this week regarding mayoral control House Bill 1497 but this time in favor of the bill, Lisa Macfarlane.

Ms. Macfarlane is so concerned about House Bill 1497 that she took time off from her job as Executive Director of  Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) to share with our state legislators as a “Concerned Citizen”, ON HER OWN TIME, about the importance of the Seattle School Board having five elected Directors instead of seven.

Amazing.

This tactic was used during the time that the charter school initiative was being debated and Shannon Campion with Stand for Children, posing as a concerned citizen, argued for the charter school initiative during a televised segment on the issue and later when she did an online debate in support of charter schools with Wayne Au during that time.

Amazing, isn’t it, how devoted these people are to mayoral control , charter schools and an apartheid Seattle and all for the sake of the children?

Hmmm.

The WalMart Waltons think Macfarlane is amazing too. According to the Walton Foundation, she is the “Education Reformer to Watch”.

Here’s an excerpt:

About Lisa:

Lisa Macfarlane is the first Washington state director for Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Lisa co-founded the League of Education Voters and LEV Foundation…

Wow, and in our own backyard.

And what has she received, besides a hefty paycheck, for being so concerned about the children?

Lisa Macfarlane received a $10,000 grant from the Walton’s as an “Education Reformer to Watch” for her work on pushing charter school initiative 1240 in the state of Washington and former Director of External Affairs with the League of Education Voters (LEV)…

For more on our very special “Concerned Citizen” see:

Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization 

A look back at the League of Education Voters.

For more on mayoral control, see:

Mayoral Control

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

The reason why the Seattle school district has seven school board Directors rather than five like all of the other school districts in the state, is because it was determined, due to the size of Seattle, two additional board members would be needed to adequately represent the entire district.

House Rep. Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1497, mayoral control and the money

pettigrew
Washington State House Representative Eric Pettigrew

 

The cities where our foundation has put the most money in is where there’s a single person responsible. In New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, the mayor has responsibility for the school system. So instead of having a committee of people, you have that one person. And that’s where we’ve seen the willingness to take on some of the older practices and try new things, and we’ve seen very good results in all three of those cities.

Bill Gates

Actually Philadelphia parents are fighting to regain control of their school board through state legislation after the closing of schools on a massive scale and the conversion of schools into charter schools. New York’s school system is a mess after former Mayor Bloomberg took over the New York City public schools and Chicago is reeling from school closures and bad decisions made by Mayor Daley and then his predecessor Rahm Emanuel.

See:

Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests (New York)

Mayor Bloomberg’s Crib Sheet

Mayoral Control Means Zero Accountability

 A Parent Explains the Chaos of NYC School Reform

Mayoral Control Gets an F from New Yorkers

Chicago Coalition Wants to End Mayoral Control

Chicago Schools CEO Choice Shows Problem With Mayoral Control

Problems with Mayoral Control in Chicago

House Representative Eric Pettigrew sponsored House Bill 1497 that puts the control of two school board votes within the hands of the mayor.

Here is the critical excerpt:

…any first class school district having within its boundaries a city with a population of four hundred thousand people or more ((which)) shall have a board of directors of seven members, five of whom are elected and two of whom are appointed by the mayor of that city. A vacancy by an appointed member under this subsection shall be appointed by the mayor for the unexpired term.

I have written about this bill in a post titled Bill 1497: Looks like Mayor Murray wants to run the school district now

Now I want to look at Eric Pettigrew, Representative of the 37th District in Seattle, and find out whose water he’s carrying. It will explain why he sponsored the mayoral control bill and his other legislative actions.

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) description of Pettigrew previously on their website:

… in a state with a dearth of education reform leadership, he’s a real pioneer.

… Eric has been working with other education reformers to lift Washington’s ban on public charter schools. After his Democratic colleagues killed his charter school bill in the last legislative session, he urged education reformers to put charter schools before the voters. And he bravely stepped up to be a spokesperson for Initiative 1240.

As always, I like to start with the money, particularly when a public figure is making decisions that harm rather than help the people they are representing, their constituents.

State House Representative Eric Pettigrew has never been part of the vanguard fighting for public school education except on two other occasions when he wanted us to think he was working in the best interest of the children, first, when he sponsored a charter school bill and the second time when he bashed Rainier Beach High School, a school in his district, on the behalf of the League of Education Voters. That didn’t go over very well either. See Rainier Beach High School Responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on Its School and Community.

So now he’s back with a bill that would remove two publicly elected school board directors and replace them with political appointees, people who the mayor, a politician, would select.

Let’s look at his donors. Here’s the relevant list:

10/27/2014 K12 Management, Inc., $400 (Online charter school)
10/22/2014 Christopher Larson, $950 (League of Education Voters, LEV)
10/20/2014 Stand for Children, $950
10/6/2014 Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Pac $950
8/05/2014 Democrats for Education Reform, $950
9/27/2014 Dennis Bassford, CEO of Money Tree, $950 (Pay day loans and high fees on check cashing. Bassford successfully fought legislation to regulate payday loans.)
9/27/2014 Robin Bassford, Attorney for Money Tree, $950
9/27/2014 Dennis Bassford CEO of Money Tree, $950
9/27/2014 Robin Bassford Attorney for Money Tree, $950
9/15/2014 Microsoft, $500
9/1/2014 Suzanne Dale Estey, Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, $100 (Estey ran against Sue Peters for a school board position and lost even though she out spent Peters about 5 to 1. Most of Estey’s donors were the usual corporate reformers.)
8/5/2014 Cash America $425 (Cash America was fined for robo-signing documents and charging 36 percent interest on payday loans in violation of the Military Lending Act.)
8/4/2014 Education Voters (LEV) PAC $950
6/3/2014 Matt Griffin $250 (Matt Griffin is a big supporter of charter schools. He also contributed money to the Seattle Foundation to bring Teach for America to Seattle.)

These pay day loan companies listed above prey on the same community that Pettigrew represents. LEV, Stand for Children and DFER receive money from Bill Gates and in turn support and carry out his agenda which is mayoral control, charter schools, high stakes testing (grading teachers, principals and schools based on test scores with severe consequences for those deemed failing), closing schools (when a school is deemed to be failing and usually converting them into charter schools), online learning (also called blended learning) which means putting students in front of a computer the majority of a school day, Common Core Standards, Teach for America, Inc. (an organization that recruits college students and gives them five weeks of training upon graduation and places them in classrooms, usually charter schools). The corporate reform agenda targets people of color and has proven to be at best an ineffective revision to our public school system and at worst, creating broken school communities and bonds, a decrease in teachers of color due to mass firings of teachers in schools deemed to be “failing” and the growth in the ranks of unqualified Teach for America staff.

And, needless to say, putting a child in front of a computer for at least 50% of the school day is not an education.

So, if you wonder why Pettigrew sponsors the bills that he does, you now know why. It all comes down to the money.

My question to him and others is why is he not doing his Paramount Duty, which is to come up with a budget that adequately funds our public schools? Our State Legislators have been held in Contempt of Court by the State Supreme Court for not funding our schools adequately.

Of course, Gates et al don’t want people in our state to focus on that because it would mean higher taxes on their businesses, a potential income tax put into place and losing tax breaks. We have Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks in our state receiving billions in income but we see very little of that even though they use our infrastructure and resources. That’s why, when we bring up the need for adequate funding, their minions say that’s it not all about the money. Well it is if your school can’t afford a nurse or librarian or has to depend on the PTA to pay for a teacher who otherwise would have to be laid off. It matters when a school doesn’t have appropriate facilities for special ed students or art classes or drama classes or a sports team. It matters when there are not enough computers for students to take all of the standardized tests required so the library has to close for a month or two so that library computers can be used. It matters when teachers have to ask parents for donations for books in a Language Arts class. It matters when our school buildings are deteriorating. It matters when trailers are used to house students because we have run out of class space. Yes, the money does matter.

What Pettigrew and his colleagues need to focus on now is not carrying water for the wealthy and privileged few but on ensuring our children receive the education they deserve.

For additional information on the groups that have filled Pettigrew’s coffers, individuals mentioned in this post and related issues, see:

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle
A Look Back at the League of Education Voters
Bill 1497: Looks like Mayor Murray wants to run the school district now
Bill Gates in Washington State: Mayoral Control and Charter Schools
“College and Career Ready”, also known as Common Core Standards: Impossible assumptions and real sacrifices
Common Core Standards
Democrats for Education Reform also known as DFER
Greendot Charter Schools
High Stakes Testing and Opting Out
Mayoral Control
Online (Blended) Learning
Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful
Stand for Children: For or Against Children?
Teach for America
Teach for America cashing in on ed reform?
The Lines of Influence in Education Reform
The Trouble with Common Core Standards
What is a charter school?

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Here are the PDC listings:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZHJlZmVyZW5jZXN8Z3g6MWYwNWM2ZDU5ZmM1NTAyOA

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZHJlZmVyZW5jZXN8Z3g6NzExMzk4OWRiMDkxZDBhMw

An update on contributions to the League of Education Voters by Bill Gates:

Date: July 2014
Purpose: to contribute to a fund to support charter schools in Washington state
Amount: $2,100,000
Term: 12
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

From http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2014/07/OPP1108842

Date: October 2013
Purpose: to build capacity for a state-wide public charter school support organization in Washington State
Amount: $4,200,000
Term: 24
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/10/OPP1095105

Date: June 2013
Purpose: to support general operating functions
Amount: $250,000
Term: 12
Topic: Community Grants
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/06/OPP1089746

Date: April 2013
Purpose: to support the formation of an independent Washington State charter school organization
Amount: $797,170
Term: 8
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/04/OPP1086099

Alliance for Education/League of Education Voters:

Date: October 2011
Purpose: to provide the Alliance for Education and its sub grantees, the League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Technology, funds over three years for Our Schools Coalition
Amount: $760,100
Term: 26
Topic: Community Grants
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.alliance4ed.org

Date: May 2012
Purpose: to support a research internship for the League of Education Voters
Amount: $3,000
Term: 1
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

Date: August 2014
Purpose: for general operating support
Amount: $3,500,000
Term: 25
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Website: http://www.all4ed.org

Stand for Children has received about $9M over the last five years from Bill Gates. For more on Stand for Children, see Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful and Stand for Children: For or Against Children?

 

The Weekly Update: The corporate empire of public education and where that leaves the rest of us, ALEC, Gates and charter schools

So much news, so little time.

From Real News:

U.S. Student Homelessness Up 10% Since Last Year

 Highest increases of homeless children seen in states like North Carolina where austerity policies predominate.

All those people we come in contact with daily, the sales clerk, that friendly person at the bank, the barista…they’ll all hurting, quietly, and I never knew they were in such pain, not until the strikes began to happen. Then I realized that these workers get paid so little that we are subsidizing the overhead of the 1% by providing workers with food assistance and healthcare, ensuring that the wealthy few can maintain their standard of living while the rest of us stoically suffer:

From the Real News, 1 out of 3 Bank Tellers in NY on Public Assistance

New report finds bank executives receive big bonuses, while 39% of frontline bank employees must rely on welfare because of insufficient wages

Remember that many of these employees have families, children in school, and they are barely able to make ends meet.

On the other hand, from Mother Jones:

defense

Can’t touch this

  • The Army uses more than twice as much building space as all the offices in New York City.

  • The Pentagon holds more than 80 percent of the federal government’s inventories, including $6.8 billion of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable stuff.

  • The Pentagon operates more than more than 170 golf courses worldwide.

  • 70 percent of the value of the federal government’s $1.8 trillion in property, land, and equipment belongs to the Pentagon.

…the Pentagon has once more gotten a reprieve from the budget ax: Under Murray and Ryan’s congressional budget deal, the Pentagon will get an additional $32 billion, or 4.4 percent, in 2014, leaving its base budget at a higher level than in 2005 and 2006. (The Department of Defense expects its total 2014 budget, including supplemental war funding, to be more than $600 billion.)

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost $1.5 trillion, about twice the cost of the Vietnam War when adjusted for inflation. Those funds came entirely from borrowing, contributing nearly 20 percent to the national debt accrued between 2001 and 2012. And that’s just the “supplemental” military spending passed by Congress for the wars—the regular Pentagon budget also grew nearly 45 percent between 2001 and 2010.

One out of every five tax dollars is spent on defense.

Too big to audit

Where does the Pentagon’s money go? The exact answer is a mystery. That’s because the Pentagon’s books are a complete mess. They’re so bad that they can’t even be officially inspected, despite a 1997 requirement that federal agencies submit to annual audits—just like every other business or organization.

The Defense Department is one of just two agencies (Homeland Security is the other) that are keeping the bean counters waiting: As the Government Accountability Office dryly notes, the Pentagon has “serious financial management problems” that make its financial statements “inauditable.” Pentagon financial operations occupy one-fifth of the GAO’s list of federal programs with a high risk of waste, fraud, or inefficiency.

Critics also contend that the Pentagon cooks its books by using unorthodox accounting methods that make its budgetary needs seem more urgent. The agency insists it will “achieve audit readiness” by 2017.

 Defense_4Web.indd

To read this article in full, go to Mother Jones.

Teachers2

So what does the 1% do with their money? Well, they would like to rule the world, at least control what they haven’t gotten already.

One of the vehicles used to do that is through ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Let’s see what they’re up to now.

From Education Alchemy:

“Big Brother” Has an Ugly Corporate “Big Stepsister”!

alec5

There’s a lot wrong with ALEC legislation, now, in the past, and undoubtedly into the future. I could fill volumes of pages of such concerns. But for the sake of focus, today’s blog drills down into their most recent “model” legislation aimed at selling our schools to the edu-tech industry. It’s so blatant it’s painful. I would have expected more subterfuge from ALEC. They’re getting lazy. Or their getting bold. Their agenda is too clear. Kind of disappointing really. They took all the fun out of having to dig for it.

I am pasting snap shots of their latest rounds of policies. The rest speaks for itself.

From the “Early Intervention Act”

“…to provide interactive computer software for literacy or numeracy instruction, or both, and assessments for students in kindergarten through grade 3.”

Really? Because nothing screams “developmentally inappropriate” like putting a five year old in front of a computer in lieu of a real live caring and experienced teacher during the most vulnerable and formative stages of cognitive development. But of course, this is a boon for the software industry!

In order to receive the early intervention funds for the “enhanced kindergarten program” described in this model bill, a school district must agree to contract with software companies to provide online learning programs.

“In addition to an enhanced kindergarten program described in Subsection (B), the early intervention program includes a component to address early intervention through the use of an interactive computer software program.”

To read this post in full, go to Education Alchemy

And speaking about the 1% buying what they want, for Bill Gates it’s the privatization of our schools by way of charter schools and the standardization/homogenization of our children through Common Core Standards and all those tests.

Recently Gates provided the League of Education Voters with $4,200,000to build capacity for a state-wide public charter school support organization in Washington State”.

burning bucks

Continuing on  the theme of privatization, there is this from The Nation:

Ted Mitchell, Education Dept. Nominee, Has Strong Ties to Pearson, Privatization Movement

Ted Mitchell, the chief executive of the New Schools Venture Fund, was nominated in October by President Obama to become the Under Secretary of the Department of Education.

As the administration continues to reshuffle its team, and confront new regulatory challenges, some view Mitchell’s nomination as a move towards greater privatization. In the coming months, the Department of Education will release “gainful employment” rules to rein in for-profit colleges, an experiment in proprietary education that many see as an unmitigated disaster.

As head of the NewSchools Venture Fund, Mitchell oversees investments in education technology start-ups. In July, Zynga, the creators of FarmVille, provided $1 million to Mitchell’s group to boost education gaming companies. Mitchell’s NewSchool Venture Fund also reportedly partners with Pearson, the education mega-corporation that owns a number of testing and textbook companies, along with one prominent for-profit virtual charter school, Connections Academy.

Jeff Bryant, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, says it seems likely that Mitichell will “advocate for more federal promotion of online learning, ‘blended’ models of instruction, ‘adaptive learning’ systems, and public-private partnerships involving education technology.”

Mitchell did not respond to TheNation.com’s  request for comment*.

His ethics disclosure form shows that he was paid $735,300 for his role at NewSchools, which is organized as a non-profit. In recent years, he has served or is currently serving as a director to New Leaders, Khan Academy, California Education Partners, Teach Channel, ConnectED, Hameetman Foundation, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Silicon Schools, Children Now, Bellwether Partners, Pivot Learning Partners, EnCorps Teacher Training Program, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the Green DOT Public (charter) Schools.

In addition, Mitchell serves as an adviser to Salmon River Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in education companies. Mitchell sits on the board of Parchment, an academic transcript start-up that is among Salmon River Capital’s portfolio.

Salmon River Capital helped create one of the biggest names in for-profit secondary education, Capella University. “As a foundational investor and director, [Salmon River Capital’s] Josh Lewis made invaluable contributions to Capella’s success. From leading our landmark financing in 2000, when Capella was a $10 million business operating in a difficult environment, through a successful 2006 IPO and beyond, he proved a great partner who kept every commitment he made,” reads a statement from Steve Shank, founder of Capella.

The Minnesota-based Capella heavily recruits veterans and has received $53.1 million from the GI Bill in the past four years. The Minnesota attorney general is currently investigating several unnamed for-profit colleges in her state.

To read this article in full, go to The Nation.

nsvf

By the way, Bill Gates provided the New Schools Venture Fund with $30M recently to support  NSVF in their “Efforts to Provide 200 High-Quality Charter Schools for 100,000 Low-Income Students”.

And while on the subject of the Gates/Gates Foundation investments, check out this article from grist:

The Gates Foundation’s hypocritical investments

With an endowment larger than all but four of the world’s largest hedge funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is easily one of the most powerful charities in the world. According to its website, the organization “works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” So how do the investments of the foundation’s $36 billion investing arm, the Gates Foundation Trust, match up to its mission? We dug into the group’s recently released 2012 tax returns to find out.

gates-01

 The Gates Foundation did not respond to requests for comment; however, its investment policy says the trust’s managers “consider other issues beyond corporate profits, including the values that drive the foundation’s work.”

gates-02

gates-03

In its most recent annual report to investors, private prison company GEO Group listed some risks to its bottom line, including “reductions in crime rates” that “could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences,” along with immigration reform and the decriminalization of drugs. Military contractor DynCorp, meanwhile, has faced allegations of fraudmismanagement, and even slavery from the Middle East to Eastern Europe.

gates-04

Moving on to charter schools, what Bill Gates and the Waltons want for the rest of us, from alter net:

Major Charter School Chain’s Classrooms Look Like Cubicles for Telemarketers

As Bill Gates once said, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”

The Rocketship chain of charter schools is hoping to expand across the country. It’s backed by some of the biggest names in the tech world and claims high test scores.

Rocketship leaders brag that they think outside the box. Teachers, for instance—who needs them? The company says it saves half a million dollars a year by using fewer teachers, replacing them with non-certified instructors at $15 per hour.

These instructors monitor up to 130 kids at a time in cubicles in the schools’ computer labs. Rocketeers, as students are called, sit looking at computer screens up to two hours per day, supposedly learning by solving puzzles.

Business leaders such as Bill Gates often stress the need to train kids for the jobs of the future—digital animators, nanotech engineers? But it looks more like the Rocketeers are being prepared for online “microtasks” at Crowdflower, which contracts out data categorization and de-duplication.

According to a recent wage and hour lawsuit, these microtaskers are often paid as little as $2 an hour.

Overall, the growth these days is not in skilled, middle-class jobs like public school teaching—which is shrinking, thanks to charter chains like Rocketship—but in low-wage jobs.

It’s no coincidence that Rocketship employs the same kind of de-professionalized, non-union workforce it seems to be training. Half its teachers have less than two years’ experience; 75 percent come from Teach for America.

Screen Time

Critics of the Rocketship model cite the American Association of Pediatrics, which recommends less than two hours of screen time per day—total.

When you figure in that kids will be on computers and phones when they aren’t in school, too—they spend on average seven hours a day on various devices as it is—it raises a red flag.

Skeptics say the Rocketship test scores just demonstrate the schools are focusing on test preparation at the expense of arts, languages, and real learning.

Rocketship’s board and advisors represent the Gates, Walton, and Broad Foundations—familiar faces in corporate “education reform.” Benefactors include Facebook, Netflix, and Skype.

Rocketship’s schools are in California, Wisconsin, and Tennessee with plans to expand into Indianapolis, D.C., and New Orleans: 25,000 students by 2017.

Guinea Pigs

Rocketship targets low-income students, making them the guinea pigs for the cubicle model of education.

Who doesn’t like their kids being experimented on? As Bill Gates once said, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”

In fact, the chain is already scrapping the 100-cubicle learning labs for its older students, fourth and fifth graders. Students weren’t always engaged, and sometimes were just staring at the screen and guessing.

To hear their enthusiasm, you might imagine the tech elites would be dropping their kids off every day for these cutting-edge education experiments. But instead, many Silicon Valley leaders send their kids to private schools like Waldorf Peninsula—whose philosophy is to avoid computers, arguing that they hurt children’s development and attention spans.

Those who can afford private schools choose those that offer creative, hands-on learning, small classes, arts, and teacher-student interaction. But apparently the cubicle is good enough for everyone else.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that these business leaders’ model spends public education dollars on their own products. Education is a half-trillion-dollar industry. See here for another example: L.A. schools give every student and teacher an apple—an iPad, that is.

money7

And this from Scathing Purple Musings (listen up Seattle):

Shaky Grant From For-Profit Charter School Ensnares Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores

Auditors say both the grant and a problematic lease they scrutinized are evidence of a larger issue created when the independent governing boards tasked with overseeing charters share close ties with the companies paid to run the public schools, often for a profit. In the Doral case, several board members of the school and college serve in various other capacities for charter school giant Academica, which manages both schools

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) never met a piece of legislation that benefited the for-profit charter school industry she didn’t like. Just pay no attention to the little matter that she works for one. This week’s revelations that the one she works for  received a tax-payer funded grant marks the beginning of another episode in the shady relationships between Florida legislators and the for-profit charter school industry. Miami Herald reporter David Smiley reports:

Fledgling Doral College got a $400,000 windfall two years ago that helped the small start-up open its doors. The “grant” came from Doral Academy Charter High, a publicly funded school run by the same company.

The deal helped Doral College stay in the black and furthered a joint effort with the charter school to establish an in-house dual-enrollment program. But the transaction also caught the eye of Miami-Dade school district auditors, who have spent the last year questioning why and how a school funded by the state could hand hundreds of thousands of public dollars to an unaccredited, private college.

“The authority and legality of said expense is also not clear to us,” investigators wrote in an audit presented Tuesday.

Auditors say both the grant and a problematic lease they scrutinized are evidence of a larger issue created when the independent governing boards tasked with overseeing charters share close ties with the companies paid to run the public schools, often for a profit. In the Doral case, several board members of the school and college serve in various other capacities for charter school giant Academica, which manages both schools.

Academica president Fernando Zulueta declined to comment Tuesday when approached by a reporter.

But in a biting response to the audit, an attorney representing the school said the grant was a legitimate transaction between partners in education, which existed under the same company when the charter school first set aside the $400,000 for the college. The district’s critical audit, attorney Eleni Pantaridis argued, omitted crucial facts and was the flawed work of a biased investigator who “does not support the charter school system.”

“They’re picking and choosing the facts that benefit them and ignoring the facts that don’t,” she said Tuesday during a hearing

To read this post in full, go to Scathing Purple Musings.

Today, I will leave you with Bill Moyers and Henry Giroux Zombie Politics.

Giroux touches on the subject of education quite a bit in this discussion.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Lisa Macfarlane of WA DFER, and now Suzanne Estey, with their conspiracy theories

funding2

Update, October 31, 2013: Suzanne Estey has sent out a new flyer stating that Sue Peters’ and I have created some sort of theory out of the blue on the connection between big money and public school policy.

I don’t know where Estey’s been besides on the CCER Board, an organization solely funded by Bill Gates, but maybe she can’t see the forest for all those trees, or is it for all those bucks?

Estey is referring to our Lines of Influence post that went up three years ago and has been read and resonated with parents, teachers, students and concerned citizens around the country and put our blog on the map.

Read the post for yourself and make your own determination.

Dora Taylor

Lisa Macfarlane, Director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) for Washington State, who received a $10,000 grant from the Walton’s as an “Education Reformer to Watch” for her work on pushing charter school initiative 1240 in the state of Washington and former Director of External Affairs with the League of Education Voters (LEV), just sent out an e-mail regarding the Seattle school board race.

In this e-mail, Ms. Macfarlane said that Sue Peters’ was a conspiracy theorist because of the connections that Sue and I made a few years back between Bill Gates and Eli Broad and their agenda regarding public education that was described in our post The Lines of Influence in Education Reform.

Funny thing is, Ms. Macfarlane is probably the only person in the US and beyond who thinks that the relationship between Gates, the Walton’s, members of ALEC and Eli Broad, et al, and the privatization push is some kind of theory and nothing more. It’s ironic that the same person who is living off of corporate money is the only individual so far that’s saying it’s all just some big story that the rest of us have made up.

Wow.

First, let’s consider the source of this accusation.

From my post, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) candidates in Washington State

According to DFER Watch:

Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs.

Diane Ravitch describes DFER in her post Follow the Money.

If you want to know why so many politicians think so highly of charters, there is a basic rule of  politics that explains it all: Follow the money.

The most visible organization promoting corporate reform is called Democrats for Education Reform, known as DFER (commonly pronounced “D-fer”). DFER is the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ group. It always has a few non-hedge funders on the board, especially one or two prominent African-Americans, to burnish its pretentious claim of leading the civil rights movement of our day. Kevin Chavous, a former council member from Washington, D.C., fills that role for now, along with the DFER stalwart, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark. DFER has its own member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado. It has also raised money generously for Congressman George Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee.

This group bankrolls politicians, woos them, raises campaign cash for them, and persuades them of the advantages of turning the children of their district over to privately managed schools. Watch their website to see which politician they favor this month and scan those they have recognized in the past.

In New York City, Hakeem Jeffries, DFERs’s candidate for U.S. Congress, announced his support for tax credits for religious schools on the day after he won the election. His support for charter schools was already well known.

And from The Daily Kos:

DFER and Education Policies

So, what happened and who were those “small but vocal younger, reform minded advocates that supported Obama” but hated Darling-Hammond? In August 2008 a pre-convention Democrats for Education Reform seminar, billed as “Ed Challenge for Change” previewed a coming attack from within the Democratic Party on teachers and especially their unions. David Goldstein of the American Prospect reported:

“It was sponsored by a coalition of foundations, nonprofits, and businesses supporting the charter-school movement, including Ed in ’08, the advocacy group founded by Bill Gates and real-estate mogul Eli Broad. The evening provided a truly unusual spectacle at a convention: A megawatt group of Democrats, including Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., and former Gov. Ray Romer of Colorado, bashed teachers’ unions for an hour. Amid the approving audience were Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, an icon of the civil-rights movement; Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, (in)famous as a high-profile African American Hillary Clinton endorser; and Mayor David Cicilline of Providence, the reformer of that once-Mob-ridden New England city. Cicilline took avid notes.” It was from this crowd that Darling-Hammond was receiving her harshest criticism and where the non-traditional (meaning no education background) leader of the Chicago school system, Arne Duncan, was championed as the next Secretary of Education. The loudest voices were those of a new organization calling themselves Democrats for Education reform (DFER), led by young extremely wealthy hedge fund operators from New York City.

In the May 31, 2007 issue of New York Sun there was a report about one of the first victories of DFER: “A money manager recently sent an e-mail to some partners, congratulating them on an investment of $1 million that yielded an estimated $400 million. The reasoning was that $1 million spent on trying to lift a cap on the number of charter schools in New York State yielded a change in the law that will bring $400 million a year in funding to new charter schools. The money managers who were among the main investors in this law — three Harvard MBAs and a Wharton graduate named Whitney Tilson, Ravenel Boykin Curry IV, Charles Ledley, and John Petry — are moving education-oriented volunteerism beyond championing a single school.

Before joining DFER in our great state, Ms. Macfarlane represented the League of Education Voters (LEV) in Seattle, another favorite organization of mine that doesn’t have members, just one big sponsor, guess who.

Regarding LEV during Macfarlane’s tenure as Director of External Affairs, from A Look Back at the League of Education Voters:

In 2007, LEV started to receive serious money from Gates, $835K “to support capacity building for education advocacy programs”. In October of 2009 LEV received $1.5M “to support the research, public engagement, policy development and coalition work in early learning, college ready and postsecondary”.

In June of 2010, the Gates Foundation gave $40,000 to the League of Education Voters “to support a series of education-related speakers in Seattle” and the same year received another $105K “to support raising awareness of educational attainment issues in King County”. In 2011 LEV received a total of $215K from the Gates Foundation. All of this information can be found at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website. (Note: The Gates Foundation has taken down this information on their website after this article was posted.)

In the fall of  2010 the League of Education Voters offered up a who’s who of charter school franchise CEO’s  to speak as part of LEV’s imaginary “revolution”, “Voices from the Education Revolution Speakers Series“ featuring:

Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation which does not hire union teachers, Steve Barr, Founder & Emeritus Chair of Green Dot charter Schools another charter franchise that does not hire union teachers and moderated by Don Shalvey, former CEO and founder of Aspire Charter Schools and Board member of the Greendot charter franchise neither of which hires union teachers.

Also arriving in town that year complements of LEV was Kevin Johnson, Sacramento mayor and backer of a charter school in his state.

For more on LEV, see A Look Back at the League of Education Voters.

I'm not cynical

In Ms. Macfarlane’s e-mail, she also mentions school board candidate Stephan Blanford, another big business favorite. Blanford’s and Estey’s campaigns are being funded by the Great Seattle Schools PAC which has received money from the usual cast of characters including DFER, who has contributed $10,000 to the PAC. See A vote for Sue Peters is a vote for the rest of us for the details on who is funding DFER’s favorite candidates.

For more on Estey, see The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates, a national data bank, Wireless Gen…and FERPA?

The gloves are coming off with these corporate reformers and they’re showing their true colors.

Let’s not allow them to take over our schools in Seattle.

A vote for Sue Peters is a vote for the rest of us.

Diane Ravitch calls Sue “A champion for public education”.

For more on Sue Peters and her campaign, go to Sue Peters for Seattle School Board.

For further reading on Bill Gates, big money and how it’s influencing education policy, see Bill Gates tells us why *his* high school was a great learning environment, a compilation of all things ALEC in education, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a compilation of articles regarding Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation, the awesome website ALEC Exposed, from The Nation: Why Do Some of America’s Wealthiest Individuals Have Fingers in Louisiana’s Education System? and Diane Ravith’s latest book Reign of Error which describes Gates’ influence in detail.

For additional information on the Walton’s and their influence on education policy see:

Why are the Walton’s spending so much money on charter school Initiative 1240?
More information on the Walmart Walton’s and charter school initiative 1240
Walmart Walton’s: The movie

Submitted by Dora Taylor

corporate capitolism

Decline to Sign: The charter school initiative

A charter school initiative was submitted by the League of Education Voters, Stand for ChildrenDFER (Democrats for Education Reform)  and Republican State Senator Steve Litzow yesterday and will require 250,000 signatures by July 8, 2012 to be on the ballot in November.

This piece was written by Parents Across America, Tacoma member Jennifer Boutell.

Charter Schools Initiative Introduced Today, First Analysis

A charter school initiative introduced today will be on the November ballot, if supporters are able to gather 250,000 signatures by July 6th.  I did a quick read through today, to see how it compared to the very problematic bill introduced in the last legislative session.

Some initial thoughts:

While this past session’s bill limited the establishment of charter schools outside of “at risk” communities, this initiative explicitly doesn’t:

“Authorizers shall give preference to applications for charter schools that are designed to enroll and serve at-risk student populations; provided, however, that nothing in this act shall be construed as intended to limit the establishment of charter schools to those that serve a substantial portion of at-risk students or to in any manner restrict, limit, or discourage the establishment of charter schools that enroll and serve other pupil populations under a nonexclusive, nondiscriminatory admissions policy.”

In other words, while the initiative is worded as though charters are intended to serve at risk kids, there’s nothing stopping wealthier communities from establishing them.

Like the last bill, this initiative creates a right of first refusal for charters, for any surplus school building.  This creates a problem for districts to balance enrollment in under-enrolled neighborhoods (making it more likely neighborhood schools will close.)

Issues also carried over from the last bill:

  • The initiative allows “conversion charters” with a parent or teacher trigger but establishes no particular framework for how the petition process will take place.
  • Charters can be authorized by an appointed charter schools commission (in addition to school districts) in which case school districts will have no authority over their budgets or enrollment.
  • Collective bargaining units are limited to a single charter school even if the charter is authorized by a district.
  • Charters can only be closed for poor performance following a lengthy process including a right to counsel, and to call witnesses (a right that public schools facing closure do not have).

Changes from the last bill:

  • No transformation zone section, no involuntary charters (thankfully);
  • explicit prohibition against contracting for educational services with other than non-profit entities;
  • charters can only be authorized by a district or the charter schools commission, no universities/colleges;
  • limited to 40 charters in the first five years.

This was a quick first impression, I’m sure other issues will come to light as others read the initiative.

Jennifer Boutell

For a brief description of charter schools, check out Charter School Myths.

For additional information regarding the Parent Trigger, see:

Parents Across America hails defeat of Florida’s Parent Trigger bill

Ben Austin and His Parent Trigger, Now in Seattle

Ben Austin’s Antics, Continued

For additional information on DFER, check out:

LACDP Statement on the Democrats for Education Reform’s Response to LACDP’s Cease & Desist Letter

DFER Watch

John Walton: DFER Catalyst?

Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform

Dora

I was kicked off the Washington State PTA listserv

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, manderson@wastatepta.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:

(name omitted),

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.

And in another post, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/stand-for-children-school-board-races-and-the-washington-state-pta/

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.

Dora

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.

Dora Taylor

Co-editor: Seattle Education

Founding Member: Parents Across America

PTA Member in good standing (so far)

Post Script:

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.