Parents Across America national survey shows parents disagree with lawmakers’ approach to education




“Too much of the current education policy making happens without any meaningful parent input, and often in complete opposition to parents’ priorities and concerns.”

Parents Across America (PAA), a national network of public school parents from all backgrounds across the United States, recently carried out its first national parent survey, “Real Parent Voice – Real Parent Choice.” Our goal was to hear directly from parents about what really matters to them in public education, and to share their voices with our political and policy making leaders.

584 people from 33 states responded to the survey. Nearly all of them were current (68%) or former (27.5%) public school parents.

The survey reinforced PAA’s contention that too much of the current education policy making happens without any meaningful parent input, and often in complete opposition to parents’ priorities and concerns. The survey found little resemblance between what many parents think and want and what Congress or education entrepreneurs and philanthropists claim that we think and want.

Respondents’ top priorities and concerns are in clear conflict with many of the actions of Congress and state legislatures. For example, our survey identified adequate school funding as respondents’ top concern, with the need for programs beyond the so-called “core curriculum” coming in a close second. Yet many states and districts have cut school budgets, some drastically, over the past few years. The current federal administration has proposed a 13% overall cut in federal school funding. A large percentage of respondents also expressed concern that too much money was being directed towards privatization including charter schools and educational technology. The survey also reflected parents’ growing alarm and anger about the EdTech takeover.

Comments on charter schools mirrored the national controversy along with the special dilemma many parents face – do they trust a local public school that’s been undermined by inappropriate top-down mandates and Scrooge-like funding, or take a chance on a charter school that may have outside resources or a push-out policy to get rid of discipline problems?


The key take-away from this survey is that parents have strong opinions about public education which are formed in the context of their deep love for their children. For that reason alone, parents’ opinions matter, and are worthy of being taken into serious consideration when decisions are being made that affect their children.

PAA’s role is to help promote an informed parent voice. We will take into account the results of this survey – the parent voices that it has gathered – as we continue to create informational materials, fact sheets and position papers that can be used in our outreach to Congress and other policy makers, to reflect the concerns and hopes of parents whose input is too often neglected. Well-informed and well-supported parents are the best equipped to challenge threats to our children’s educational opportunity, well-being and happiness. And when parents join together, we are definitely a force to be reckoned with.


PAA is a grassroots organization that connects parents of all backgrounds across the United States to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools. PAA is committed to bringing the voice of public school parents – and common sense – to local, state, and national education debates. PAA currently has 47 chapters and affiliates in 26 states.


The press is invited to join a teleconference with PAA members to discuss the survey results.

When: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 1 pm ET
Call-in number: 515-604-9727 access code 728537#




House Representative Santos and “Personal Finance”: House Bill 1121



Washington State Representative Santos was a primary sponsor for yet another nonsensical bill, House Bill 1121. 

From the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) Watch List,  is the following description of the bill:

Directs  the partnership to work with OSPI to  integrate financial ed into common core and career and college standards.

Directs districts to offer a course students can take at school or home (meaning online).

Districts are encouraged to grant credit. Allows the partnership to seek federal and private funds (guess who from).

Do any of the legislators who put their name to the bill know:

1. …that the Common Core Standards are just for math and English? Therefore, adding Personal Finance to math and English makes those the three most important subjects that will be the focus in all schools in our state. What about science, civics, history and geography? Am I missing something here?

We’ve lost nurses, counselors, librarians, field trips, art, band, music and other enrichment classes but they want to legislate “Personal Finance” into the Common Core Standards?

2. …that the Common Core Standards are copyrighted along with the SBAC test and therefore cannot be altered?

Probably not. I doubt any of them knew anything about the Common Core Standards before voting to approve their implementation in our state. In fact, the Common Core Standards had not been completed when the fine politicians in the great state of Washington approved their use.

When a bill doesn’t make sense, what do I do? You know the answer. I follow the money.

Going through the list of Santos’ contributors, as well as Representative Magendanz donors, one contributor pops up, K12 Management/K12 Inc. See This Goes Under “Cashing In On Ed Reform” : K12 Inc.  for more information on this enterprise.

K12 Inc. is a for-profit company that sells online courses to school districts and they are making millions of dollars doing just that although their track record is far from admirable.

And one guess what one of their courses is, the elective “Personal Finance”.

So Santos, et al, want a course that is an elective as part of the Common Core Standards which now consist of math and English.

Not only is this a blatant play for one of Santos and Magendanz contributors but nonsensical…as was Santos other bill that proposes to split Seattle in half along racial and socioeconomic lines.

The worst of it is that Santos and Magendanz did it for so little. If you’re going to sell our kids out, at least make a decent amount of cash from your efforts.

This furthers my belief that politicians need to stay out of the business of legislating education policy.

Dora Taylor

By the way, I haven’t seen any movement on adequately funding education in our state as the Washington State Supreme Court has demanded our legislators to do.

The 32nd, 34th, 36th and the 37th Democratic Legislative Districts passed resolutions opposing mayoral control


So far the 37th Democratic Legislative District unanimously passed a resolution opposing the bill that would allow the mayor to appoint two members to the school board. The 36th District also passed a similar resolution unanimously along with the 34th Democratic Legislative District. The NAACP of Seattle wrote a letter to Representatives Pettigrew and Santos, who is the House Education Committee Chair, expressing their opposition to the bill and the Seattle League of Women Voters provided testimony opposing the bill.

The bill, House Bill 1497, is sponsored by Representative Eric Pettigrew of the Seattle’s 37th District. There’s more about him in my post House Rep. Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1497, mayoral control and the money.

To follow are the resolutions:

Resolution Opposing Appointed Public School Board Members

WHEREAS Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D) proposed House Bill 1497 which would allow some Public School Board members to be appointed by the mayor; and

WHEREAS a citizen’s right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy should not be dismantled or diminished at federal, state or local levels; and

WHEREAS if mayors were to appoint some Public School Board members there is no guarantee that such a political appointment would be based on an expertise in education or commitment to public education; and WHEREAS appointed Public School Board members are not accountable to the voting public and are under no obligation to respond to parent concerns, policies and practices; and

WHEREAS House Bill 1497 does not provide a mechanism to recall appointed Public School Board members or provide any other measure of accountability to the public; now Therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the 32nd Legislative Democratic District Organization of Washington State oppose HB 1497, proposed by Representative Eric Pettigrew (D), that would allow mayors to appoint some Public School Board members;and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all Washington State legislators to reject HB 1497; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 32nd LDDO send this resolution, upon its adoption, to all Washington State legislators.


And from the 34th District: Resolution to Oppose Appointed School Boards

WHEREAS Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D) proposed House Bill 1497 which would allow for two out of seven school board directors—or approximately 30%—of Seattle’s Public School Board to be appointed by the mayor;

WHEREAS a citizen’s right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and should not be dismantled at federal, state or local levels; and

WHEREAS “Most researchers agree on one negative consequence — when mayors take charge of public schools, the role of parents and the community, especially among minority groups, can be marginalized and can further compromise democratic control of schools” 1 ;and

WHEREAS there is no guarantee a political appointment will be based on an expertise in education or commitment to public education. Appointees may support a political agenda, are not accountable to the voting public and are under no obligation to respond to parent concerns, policies and practices; and

WHEREAS the City of Seattle does not have the capacity, jurisdiction or expertise to manage public education, given that it is grappling with the unresolved challenges of police reform, recrudescence of crime and gun violence, transportation (including the escalating costs and uncertain future of the Deep Bore Tunnel), homelessness, unaffordable housing and infrastructure to meet the needs of a rapidly growing city; and

WHEREAS the research indicates that partnerships between cities and school districts work better than mayoral appointments to the board (per Professor Tom Alsbury, Seattle Pacific University and

WHEREAS mayoral control in other cities in the nation have resulted in proliferation of charter schools and other highly controversial initiatives, which Seattle voters have rejected; and

WHEREAS mayoral control of education in other cities such as Chicago has become highly controversial, resulting in hundreds of citizens rallying to demand restoration of elected school boards. In Chicago, the opportunity gap has expanded since the school board was appointed. The number of appointed and mayoral controlled boards in urban cities have been in decline because they have not served citizens; and

WHEREAS House Bill 1497 does not provide a mechanism to recall appointed school board directors or provide any other measure of accountability to the public; and

WHEREAS mayoral control of education is a distraction from fully funding education via McCleary; and

WHEREAS former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch states: “Anyone who looks to mayoral control of urban schools as a panacea will be disappointed.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative 49 Democrats oppose and reject HB 1497 and any other proposals to appoint school board members; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats send copies of this resolution to Mayor Murray, members of the Seattle City Council, our state legislative delegation, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and members of the Seattle School Board.

Submitted to the 34th Legislative District Democrats meeting of February 11, 2015 by

Cecilia McCormick (parent and public school activist and Martha Koester, Democratic

PCO, Sylvan Precinct

I would say the people have spoken.

Dora Taylor


House Bill 2048: Re-segregation through legislation


Mother and Daughter at U.S. Supreme Court

Apartheid (… an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, literally “apart-hood”) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation…

I feel very strongly about this bill because my dad had no other choice but to live in the Central District when he was growing up in Seattle because of a city covenant that did not allow African-Americans to live outside of a boundary determined by the city. That meant little opportunity for my dad to grow beyond that border. He was fortunate enough to have a high school coach, at Franklin High School, who saw his talent and with his coach’s help, my dad, Brice Taylor, was one of the first three African-American students to attend the University of Southern California even against the wishes of the college president, but that’s another story.

My dad went on to become the First All American at USC in football and that opened doors for him. Not everyone had that kind of opportunity. That’s why, what I term the Apartheid Bill, hits home for me. Some people find fault in my use of the term “Apartheid” but that is how I perceive it, through my lens.

The Seattle Public School system reverted back to neighborhood schools from an all-city draw, when students could select the school or program they wanted to attend, not long ago which re-segregated our schools. Then with transportation cuts, it became even more difficult for students to attend special programs outside of their neighborhoods.

Now, Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew want to split the city in half along racial lines again, through legislation, into two separate school districts, separate but not equal. This is why politicians should not determine education policy. Either they don’t know enough to make an informed decision or they are following through on a donor’s agenda.

Case in point, House Bill 2048.

The bill, which is very vague, proposes to cut the district in half. I believe the bill is intentionally vague so that no one neighborhood can respond that they do not want to be part of what we are thinking will be a north and south divide although Pettigrew did mention something about dividing the district per grade levels. The bill states that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is to draw “new district boundaries” so I think we can consider Pettigrew’s remarks a red herring.

In Seattle, the north is made up of more affluent neighborhoods, roughly speaking, and the south end, which is mostly the 37th District that Pettigrew and Santos represent, is a less affluent area made up of minority communities with the exception of Seward Park, parts of Madrona, Mount Baker and Capitol Hill.

Do you think those neighborhoods want to be set aside and be a part of Santos’ plan to split from the north end?

Santos said that her district is not getting a fair deal so the assumption is being made that she wants to split the school district, and therefore the city, in half with a northside and a southside. My dad would be rolling over in his grave.

The 37th District neighborhoods are:

      • Rainer Valley
      • Central District
      • Columbia City
      • Madrona
      • Mount Baker
      • Leschi
      • Rainier Beach
      • Beacon Hill
      • Seward Park
      • Capitol Hill
      • SODO
      • Skyway
      • Renton

See the map for the exact boundaries here,

If you continue the line westward, West Seattle would be included in the southern half of a second Seattle school district. How would West Seattle residents feel about that?

Has Santos or Pettigrew asked their constituents what they think of this idea? Apparently not.

So far the League of Women Voters opposes the bill, the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition wrote a statement to Pettigrew and Santos opposing the bill, the Seattle PTA recently came out with a statement about the bill (see below for the full statement) and The Medium, representing the Central District, came out with a scathing piece about the proposal.

The price tag for whatever it is Santos wants to do is, according to her estimate, will cost $700,000 although the OSPI is to figure it all out later. Because of the estimate, this bill will not go through the Ways and Means Committee to cost out the bill but directly to the House Rules Committee where Frank Chopp will determine whether it should be taken to the floor for a vote in the House. (Note: I’ve been told that the bill may go to the Ways and Means Committee since this posting.)

So, $700,000 to establish an entirely new district with separate school boards and central staff with a few new buildings, separate transportation systems and technical infrastructure? I don’t think so, but we’re still not entirely sure what Santos is thinking because she has not clearly laid it out.

How about the levy and property taxes? How will that work? Apparently our State Superintendent is to figure that out also. All we know now is that Santos wants to split the school district in some fashion, probably along the lines of the district she represents, and it will cost $700,00. Not much to go on.

Is this what we want, a divided Seattle along racial and economic lines?

Our neighbors, schools, PTA’s and friends need to be informed of this bill, because most are not.

Please contact your representatives and members of the House Rules Committee and tell them what you think of this bill.

You can find your district here:

Here is a list of the representatives in the House and Senate.

This just reinforces the fact to me that politicians should not be making education policy because for the most part, they have no idea what they’re doing or have big money donors calling the shots for them.

And, by the way, what about the Paramount Duty that our legislators are to uphold during this session? They are in contempt of court for not ensuring adequate funding for education in our state and yet, they are coming up with nonsensical bills that will cost more money than we have.

Dora Taylor

Post Script

From Seattle Council PTSA:

STATEMENT Regarding HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048
February 16, 2015
The SCPTSA Board has found little evidence or analysis that indicates that splitting up the Seattle School District, reducing the number of school board members, or appointing school board members would improve our school communities or create better outcomes for students and families. On the contrary, we are very concerned about the potential for exacerbating inequity, creating additional uncertainty, and further diminishing the voice of parents and families.

Even as we understand that legislators are attempting to address very real challenges in our schools with these proposed bills, Seattle Council PTSA board opposes bills HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048.

Our 82 PTAs pour tens of thousands of volunteer hours and currently supplement the Seattle School District’s operating budget by $3.6 million a year . We are providing basic education needs that the State is not funding, like librarians, tutors, counselors and instructional aids. Additionally our PTAs coordinate safety net programs like weekend meals, after school activities, and many other efforts.

While the State sits in contempt of court for failing to comply with the constitutional mandate to amply fund basic education, these bills focus on disrupting the governance and administration of Seattle Public Schools – with little to no consultation with Seattle’s families and communities.

Seattle families and communities need a school system which adequately provide for the basic education needs of all student and helps to unify our communities. The SCPTSA Board urges legislators to focus energy and effort on policies which strengthen families and communities such as are illustrated in our legislative priorities:
1. Ample funding of K-12 basic education per the McCleary decision; with increases in revenue orchestrated in a progressive, equitable, and sustainable manner.
2. School capacity planning, building maintenance, and capital funding solutions to reduce over-crowding and reliance upon portables, and provide stability, with sufficient and appropriate permanent education environments for K-12 students, both in the present and long term.
3. Safe environments for all children, staff, and teachers, both at school and during school sponsored activities off school grounds, including appropriate supervision, safe walk zones, safe transportation, and reasonable school start times that support healthy sleep.
4. Improved family engagement initiatives and processes that increase the authentic collaboration of parents, teachers, and students with education policy makers, Seattle Public Schools staff, and elected officials.
5. Initiatives and policies that provide all children with equitable access to all facets of a quality education, while giving special attention to our most vulnerable and underserved children.

Seattle Council PTSA Board:
Cassandra Johnston, Acting President
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative Chair
Cecelia McCormick, Special Ed Director
Annabell Quintero, Southwest Region Director
Iris Nielsen, Northwest Region Director




If you are an educator, sign this open letter to Congress and the Obama administration about test-focused reforms by February 20, 2015


…and if you are a parent, teacher, student or concerned citizen in the great state of Washington, contact Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s ranking member Senator Patty Murray from Washington State (contact information below) and let her know what you think about high stakes testing and the on-going regime of standardized testing imposed by the state and Federal government.

Over 1,500 educators from around the country have signed onto the following letter:

Dear Members of Congress and the Obama Administration:

We are researchers and professors in colleges, universities, and other research institutions throughout the United States with scholarly and practical expertise in public education, including education policy, school reform, teaching and learning, assessment, and educational equity. As Congress revises and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we strongly urge departing from test-focused reforms that not only have been discredited for high-stakes decisions, but also have shown to widen, not close, gaps and inequities. The current reauthorization provides an historic opportunity to leverage federal resources to address the deeper and more systemic problems with strategies that research has compellingly demonstrated to be far more effective in improving the educational opportunities and success of all students, particularly those in highest need. Specifically, we write to endorse the concerns, analyses, and recommendations in the recently released policy memo from the National Education Policy Center, “Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Time to Move Beyond Test-focused Policies,” which is available online at

The following researchers endorse the NEPC memo, as of February 17, 2015. Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. The signature list on this page will be updated daily. Your name will not appear immediately upon signing on. Total number of signers to date: 1,522

Contact person for the letter: Kevin Kumashiro, Dean, University of San Francisco School of Education,

Additional contact information for Patty Murray:

Washington D.C. Office
154 Russell SOB
Washington, D.C.  20510
(202) 224-2621 (phone)
(202) 224-0238 (fax)

Spokane Office
10 North Post Street
Suite 600
Spokane, WA  99201
(509) 624-9515 (phone)
(509) 624-9561 (fax)

Seattle Office
915 Second Avenue
Suite 2988
Seattle, WA  98174
(206) 553-5545 (phone)
(206) 553-0891 (fax)
(866) 481-9186 (toll free)

Mike Spahn
Chief of Staff

This is the time to let the Federal government to know the testing madness must stop.

Dora Taylor

Apartheid House Bill 1860: No one wants to split Seattle in two except for Reps. Santos, Pettigrew and oh yeah… Magendanz. Remember him?


There is another whacked bill that was dropped last week by Representative Eric Pettigrew along with House Education Committee Chairperson Sharon Tomiko Santos. We’re still scratching our heads about Santos but…it’s usually about political stability (that of the politician) or money. Time will tell on that one because the reasons she gives don’t hold water.

House Bill 1860, which I call the Apartheid Bill, basically states that no school district “may comprise more than 35 thousand students or have more than five board members”. Yes, the recurring theme of five board members comes up again but more on that later.

Santos has made it clear that she envisions the Seattle school district to be divided into a north end and a south end. We assume West Seattle would be incorporated into the South end but I have a feeling that would not be happening.

In Seattle, roughly speaking, the north end of Seattle is mostly white and middle to upper middle class. The south end, which at one time was the only area where African-Americans could live according to local law (and where my dad grew up), is a diverse population of recent immigrants and vibrant Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Philippine and African-American communities.

The bill, if Santos and Pettigrew would have anything to do with it, would be drawn along racial lines splitting Seattle into a north end and a south end.

We have already resegregated our schools with a successful push for “neighborhood schools”. Before that there was an all-district draw when students could select the school they went to and transportation was provided.

Now they want to ensure that there is a very clear racial divide.

Nutty? One would think, but many of us have our suspicions of what’s really going on behind the curtain. I’ll save that for a later post.

Shall I go into the reasons why this is a bad idea? There are so many besides dividing Seattle along racial, social and economic lines. Who will receive what levy money? Will a new district be set up with new buildings and staff? What about property taxes, how will that be divvied up to support both districts? And the mayor’s preschool program, how would that work? Where would West Seattle go or should they also have their own district?

The cost would be enormous and we still haven’t heard how they plan to adequately fund education as the Supreme Court has demanded them to do.

Pettigrew and Santos never met with PTA’s in their district, Seattle School Board members or even their own constituents.

The Southeast Seattle Education Coalition presented the following statement to their legislators and to the community at large:

HB 1860– Statement from SESEC’s Steering Committee

The Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) is concerned about legislation introduced in Olympia that would create a task force to look into the viability of splitting any school district with over 35,000 students enrolled. Currently, this task force would only be looking at splitting Seattle Public Schools into two smaller districts.

SESEC believes it is our collective responsibility to stay focused on providing a quality education for every child regardless of where a child lives, racial background, or life circumstances. We want to see the legislature and our elected leaders focused on fulfilling their duty to provide a quality education and to fully-fund education, per the McCleary court ruling. Families and children in SE Seattle need quality education now—adequate funding for schools is an important component of ensuring our children receive the education they need to learn and thrive.

There has been no known research, either nationwide or within Washington State, to indicate that smaller school districts effectively and equitably close the opportunity gap. There is little to no data to indicate that two smaller school districts will receive equitable funding, a fair levy system or more resources to combat the trauma of poverty.

SESEC and its members are also concerned that, currently, there would be no way other than geography to split Seattle Public Schools. This would create two systems of segregated and unequal school districts and has the potential to be a drain on limited resources due to duplicating services and personnel.

While we appreciate our Representatives focusing and thinking deeply about education, we are concerned that community voice was not included in this bill. SE Seattle families would be impacted by a split in the school district. We are concerned their voices haven’t been heard, nor concerns addressed. Conducting business without community voice or accountability sets a damaging precedent. We look forward to working with our Representatives and our legislative partners to design solutions that include a racial equity lens and community input. This is our preferred way to work and conduct business.

We stand with our school district partners on this matter. We value our relationships with school district leaders, school board members, educators, and partners. We will continue to stay focused on our work with Seattle Public Schools, our coalition members and partners, and community to push for quality education for all children, especially those living in SE Seattle.

Signed by SESEC’s Steering Committee,

Erin Okuno, Executive Director

Vu Le, Chair

Sheila Burrus

Steve Bury

Kerry Cooley-Stroum

Faisal Jama

Sharonne Navas

Gar Nishioka


And this from The Medium, Are 37th State Reps. Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Santos Segregationists?

Oh yeah, and about House Republican Chad (Mr. Charter School) Magendanz, who represents the folks in Issaquah, a well-to-do mostly white suburb of Seattle, who is so concerned about the children living in the south end of Seattle, see:

Can’t get a straight answer from the Washington State PTA

The Washington State PTA, the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children : The Unholy Trinity

Thoughts on the Washington State PTA Convention

Charter School Myths

The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There

Are you starting to see some connections here?

The vultures are circling.

Dora Taylor

League of Women Voters’ testimony on mayoral control House Bill 1497




The following was testimony given by Catherine Ahl, Education Chair for the League of Women Voters of Washington at the hearing for HB 1497 in front of the House Education Committee on Tuesday, February 3, 2015:

Founded by activists who secured voting rights for women, the League of Women Voters has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative government.  The League believes in an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive – one that assures opportunities for citizen participation in government decision-making.

Because of these deeply held convictions, the League of Women Voters of WA opposes HB 1497.  Under this bill voters would lose their right to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes.  Elected Boards are accountable to the voters.  Appointed Boards are not and cannot be unelected or recalled.

Years ago the Washington Supreme Court defined Common Schools as being “under the control of the qualified voters of the school district.”  More recently the Washington Supreme Court made it clear it expects the Legislature to uphold its Constitutional duty to make ample provision for the education of all children.  That duty is what the Legislature needs to focus on, not bills like this.

A 2013 study found that while test scores increased and achievement gaps shrank in most large urban districts over the past decade, scores stagnated for low-income and minority students and/or achievement gaps widened in cities where school board members are appointed. ( files/2013/bba-rhetoric-trumps-reality.pdf)   A 2014 study found that when mayors take charge of public schools, the role of parents and the community, especially among minority groups, can be marginalized and can further compromise democratic control of schools.( involvement-in-urban-schools)

Allowing a mayor to take away the right of citizens by appointing members of a School Board is simply wrong.  The League of Women Voters of WA stands shoulder to shoulder with the citizens of the Seattle School District and the right to elect all of their School Board members.  We ask that you also stand for representative government and do not pass HB 1497 out of this committee.

Thank you.

Catherine Ahl

Education Chair

League of Women Voters of WA

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

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.


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:

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
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:


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
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:

Date: June 2013
Purpose: to support general operating functions
Amount: $250,000
Term: 12
Topic: Community Grants
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:

Date: April 2013
Purpose: to support the formation of an independent Washington State charter school organization
Amount: $797,170
Term: 8
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:

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
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:

Date: May 2012
Purpose: to support a research internship for the League of Education Voters
Amount: $3,000
Term: 1
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:

Date: August 2014
Purpose: for general operating support
Amount: $3,500,000
Term: 25
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Website:

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?


Parents Across America News: For “Choice Week,” choose to tell Congress what parents really want

It’s that time of year again, the week corporate reformers have designated as “School Choice Week.”

Polls and surveys show that the first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school with adequate resources.

Parents know by now that students in charter schools and voucher programs have not shown better academic progress than students in traditional schools. Parents do not want to have to shop around for a good school; consumerism is not the kind of “empowerment” that parents want.

But Senator Lamar Alexander, the new chair of the Senate education committee and a former Bush education secretary, is pushing vouchers as well as charter schools, and much of Congress may follow.

It’s important to contact your congressional representatives now to let them know that your choice is more for support for your public school, not for charter schools or voucher programs.

Here’s the PAA position paper we faxed to all members of the House and Senate education committees.

Same old song and dance

Did you know that there’s an official school choice song and dance? No, we don’t mean that old “saving kids trapped in underperforming schools” rap or the “competition is the answer” baloney.

No, they have a real song and dance that their supporters are supposed to learn and perform at their local “choice week” event. Check it out:

Here’s our review!

Feb. 2 deadline for public comment on teacher and principal leadership

This week, the Senate HELP committee held a hearing on Supporting Teachers and School Leaders, to gather input on ESEA reauthorization in that area. They are still accepting public comment through February 2.

You can find all the information, and submit comments, here.

PAA has endorsed and submitted the excellent statement by Michigan Parents for Schools, whose executive director, Steven Norton, is a PAA Board member. The focus of this piece is the inclusion of test-based measures of student “growth” and “achievement” of a program’s graduates in an evaluation of the program’s quality.

We will continue keep you posted on Congressional ESEA hearings and topics. The next hearing is on “Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.”

Mark your calendars!

February 9: Ed Week webinar
on Local School Councils
PAA has endorsed the Local School Council (LSC) model of parent empowerment. You can find out a lot more about LSCs by joining a webinar hosted by Education Week and featuring PAA’s interim executive director Julie Woestehoff, a veteran Chicago LSC member and long-time LSC trainer and advocate.
Sign up here for thewebinar, which will take place on Monday, February 9, at 2 pm Eastern time.Please note that, while the Walton Family Foundation is listed as the underwriter for the webinar’s content, we have been assured that they have no editorial control over the content.

March 2, 8 pm ET: PAA webinar

Nate Harris at PAA conference, July 2014

…on Race, Poverty and Education

We are also excited about our upcoming webinar building the great session we had at our July 2014 conference on the topic of Race,Poverty and Education. PAA Board member Nate Harris Skyped in Dr. Paul Thomas of Furman University for this session. Dr. Thomas blogs at “Radical Scholarship” and has published many important books on the corporate takeover of education, parental choice, teaching and learning, etc.

Registration has not yet been set up for this event but we will keep you posted, and meanwhile, save the date!

April 24-26: Network for Public Education Conference

You have two more days to register early at reduced prices for the NPE conference! This is the best annual get-together for public school advocates, and it’s in Chicago this year. Sign up now!

Looking way ahead….
PAA annual conference in DC

We have set tentative dates for our annual conference in DC – July 21-24, 2015. Pencil us in!

PAA and PAAers in the News

Charter gag order?

Our wonderful PAA affiliate leader, Julie Sass Rubin, of SOS-New Jersey, has taken some flak from charter proponents after she and a colleague published a report showing that charter schools in New Jersey educate significantly smaller percentages of poor students, special education students and students from non-English speaking families than the public school districts in which they are located.

Here’s how Diane Ravitch explained it:

The New Jersey Charter School Association filed an ethics complaint against Rutgers professor Julia Sass Rubin, because she identified herself as a Rutgers professor when speaking and writing critically about charter schools. She and doctoral student Mark Weber published a research paper about the demographics and test scores of charters. She has been an active member of Save Our Schools New Jersey. The charter association claims that she should not acknowledge her professional identity when writing or speaking. This would be laughable were it not an effort to intimidate her.

The flap was widely covered including articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the

New Jersey Star-Ledger, as well as NJ Spotlight and Non-Profit Quarterly.

It’s likely that the charter school group’s move has only served to bring more daylight to the facts about charter school enrollment policies.

At any rate, they have definitely opened themselves up to ridicule. For example,
teacherbiz mentions that the charter school organization’s public relations person has been called the “Darth Vader” of PR. He is apparently better know for fronting for toxic waste businesses, an irony not lost on curmudgucation.

But the best may be our friend Marie Corfield’s take:

When the facts aren’t on your side…
When you’re up against the wall…
When you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar…
You take the cheap shot.

Why not take a minute to like Julia on Facebook?

Je suis Julia!

 Washington State Dems reject Common Core
Dora Taylor and David Spring of Parents Across America Seattle played an important role in getting the following resolution opposing Common Core passed by the Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday January 24 2015. This makes the Washington State Democratic Party the first state Democratic Party in the nation to oppose Common Core.They have written an article about how they accomplished this and how interested groups in other states can get their state party organizations to pass a resolution opposing Common Core. Of course, Washington State is the home state of the promoter of Common Core – Bill Gates. So if they can do it there, it can be done in any state.

Thank you PAA Seattle and thank you Washington State Democratic Party delegates – who voted overwhelmingly to get rid of Common Core here in Washington State!

We have posted their press release and a copy of the resolution here on the PAA site.

Join us!

If you share our overall goals of progressive, positive education reform and more parent input in education policy making, we invite you to affiliate with us if you are an existing group, or to form a new PAA chapter. The more of us there are, the stronger our voice will be at every level. Here’s how!

PAA Chapter and Affiliate News
Standardized in Philly

PAA Suburban Philadelphia leader Danielle Arnold Schwartz reports that they will be supporting a local screening and Q&A of the documentary, Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights on 2/25/15.

Here’s a great new post from Danielle. She writes: “It reflects on the memories of the first strip mall colleges and the blitz of cyber school ads that sprinkle our states. Remember how odd they seemed at first? Now we are used to them, whether we like them or not. It is a call to suburban public school supporters to realize that if, perhaps, the cities were the appetizers of ed. reform, the suburbs could be the main course.”

A change in high-stakes graduation requirements
for Texas?

Jennifer Collins, leader of PAA-Northeast Texas, sends an update on Texas SB149 which would create individual graduation committees for high school students who are unable to pass the 5 required EOC exams under the current STAAR system. Currently, 1 in 10 high school seniors who are ineligible to receive a diploma in June based on one or more EOC exam. This affects 28,000 students in Texas, many of whom will likely drop out without receiving their diploma.
On Tuesday,SB149 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.PAA-Northeast Texas is asking parents, teachers, and community members to contact Chairman Larry Taylor and ask that he schedule a quick hearing on this bill. Sen. Taylor’s email address is

Here’s more information about the bill. You can also contact Jennifer at

PAA Blog Highlights
Keep up with our blog for more news and commentary on public education from the parents’ point of view.

For more….

If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at or visit
Looking for regular updates on key education stories? Join the PAA News List by e-mailing

A letter from a concerned citizen about Proposition 1B and a City of Seattle Department of Education


“For the fourth year in a row, the state auditor’s office has slammed the Seattle’s Human Services Department over its management of grant funds.”

I receive information, opinions and concerns from people around the country. Some people want to remain anonymous and I respect the request.

This letter came to me from a concerned citizen who lives in Seattle:

A letter from a concerned citizen

As you know, I’ve been concerned about the city’s pre-K Initiative 1B.

The City of Seattle will form a Department of Education. If the city’s pre-K Initiative 1B passes, pre-K programs will be overseen by the City of Seattle Department of Education. The city plans on staffing the Department of Education. by utilizing employees from Seattle’s Human Services Department. From the City of Seattle website:

“For the last several months, the Murray Administration has been working to shape the new department responsible for supporting early learning, K-12 and higher education in Seattle. Most of the positions in the new department would be filled by existing city employees moving from Seattle’s Human Services Department, Office for Education and other organizations.”

The new department would house 38 employees and manage a budget of $48.5 million, including $30 million each year from the voter-approved Families and Education Levy.

It is further troubling that the city has continual audit findings with the Department of Health and Human Services. See: State audit slams Seattle Human Services Department

“For the fourth year in a row, the state auditor’s office has slammed the Seattle’s Human Services Department over its management of grant funds.”

Also, according to Burgess, the system won’t be ready for a year or two so what happens between now and 2016 with preschoolers if Proposition 1B passes? When will this program really begin?

-Concerned Citizen

I would like to add my own questions:

Did the good people of Seattle understand the plans that were already congealing to roll out a city Department of Education when they voted for the levy? Did they know they would be paying for another overlay of bureaucracy filled in by existing city employees with no experience in education?

I don’t think so. I had not heard of this when I was voting, did you? In fact, shouldn’t this have been decided by the people and not just the Mayor, a politician, and Councilmember Burgess who came out of Law Enforcement and not Education?

Dora Taylor




Parents Across America’s 2014 Priority Issues: Positive, progressive reforms that work

In preparation for the Parents Across America Annual Meeting which will be held in DC next month, a list of priorities have been determined by the board and will be presented to our elected representatives when we meet with them in August.

I want to share our list with Seattle Education readers because it is succinct and to the point. Please use these talking points when meeting with your elected officials whether they are school board members, city, district or state representatives.

Your voice matters.



Parent Across America’s 2014 PRIORITY ISSUES

Positive, progressive reforms that work

Reduce High-Stakes Testing: Along with other education groups, we call on Congress to hold hearings that examine the overuse and misuse of the high-stakes standardized tests mandated by No Child Left Behind. Numerous studies have indicated that NCLB’s focus on high-stakes testing has had profoundly negative effects on American schools, teachers and students – problems that can only be remedied by Congressional action. Congress should begin that project with comprehensive hearings that examine the experiences of students, parents and teachers, as well as the findings of education scholars.

Congress should scale back the number and frequency of standardized tests it requires and provide resources to expand high-quality alternative assessments.  


Strengthen Student Privacy Protections: PAA also joins others in calling for hearings on student privacy. We are alarmed that recent federal policies increase the risk that our children’s highly sensitive personal data will be disclosed to third-parties for purposes that go well beyond reasonable educational uses, and deny parents the right of notification or consent. More and more information about our children and families is being collected and stored. Business interests are pushing states and school districts to expand online learning which increases opportunity for student data collection by private companies. State tracking of all students using the same Common Core standards and tests raises the specter of a national database of private information about children and families.

Congress should reverse changes in FERPA laws that undermine student privacy and parental control, and increase privacy safeguards.


Replace Charter “Choice” with Real Parental Empowerment:By large margins, U.S. parents prefer sending their children to a high-quality school in their community – and having a real voice in improving those schools – to school takeover by charter or other private management. It’s time for Congress to listen to parents and promote increased resources to all of our schools, a stronger parent voice in education policy, smaller class sizes, pre-K and full-day Kindergarten, experienced, supported teachers, a well-rounded curriculum, and evaluation systems that go beyond test scores.

Congress should reconsider its overemphasis on charter expansion and focus on proven strategies that strengthen public schools for all children.      



Parents Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization that connects parents and advocates from across the U.S. to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools, using strategies that work for students, teachers, schools and communities.

Parents OPPOSE HR 10, the “Success and Opportunity Through Charter Schools” bill


charter schools10


There is a bill titled Success and Opportunity Through Charter Schools”, referred to as HR 10, to rewrite federal charter law that has strong backing by the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Republican majority and is expected to easily pass out of the committee. The bill will be voted on in the House after the mid-April recess.

The bill is basically a privatizers dream come true. It’s “Success and Opportunity” for all who want to get what they can from public school funds.

Here are some of the highlights:

According to the bill, our tax dollars would be used to “provide financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools”, expand the number of charter schools, “encourage States to provide support to charter schools for facilities financing in an amount more nearly commensurate to the amount the States have typically provided for traditional public schools”, support “the startup of charter schools, and the replication and expansion” of charter schools and assist “charter schools in accessing credit to acquire and renovate facilities for school use”.

The politicians are willing to hand over what hasn’t been grabbed yet and serve it to these corporate mercenaries on a sterling silver platter. Never mind that charter schools have been determined to be no better than public schools and many times worse, never mind that charter schools have created a wider racial gap, or that we hear about one charter school scandal after another and that tax payer dollars are going directly into the pockets of the charter school CEO’s rather than to the teachers, the students and the facilities the schools are housed in. It’s all about the money and my bet is on the fact that there are several people providing generous donations to politicians to move their agenda forward. That is why public school policy needs to be taken out of the hands of Federal and State legislators. They have all gone too far.

We have State Superintendents who should lead the policy debate bringing in educators, parents and students throughout the state, the true stakeholders, to the table and develop state policy for their districts. There is a place for state legislation but with the inclusion of all parties and not manipulated by a moneyed few.

Today, Parents Across America issued a position paper on HR 10:


PAA opposes efforts to privatize public education through the expansion of charters, vouchers or other privately-run programs at the expense of regular public schools.

Over the years, PAA has shared our concerns that:

  • Charter schools have turned out to be no better academically overall, and many cases worse than traditional schools.
  • Charter school “choice” too often lies with the charter school and not the families, as reports of skimming and push-out practices grow.
  • Some franchises like Chicago’s Noble Network use regressive discipline measures, charge fees for minor infractions, and expel students at many times the district rate.
  • Charter schools historically enroll fewer students with disabilities or English language learners.
  • The increased proliferation of charter schools could be harmful to students and communities, and may waste scarce education dollars.


PAA is opposed to HR10, which promotes expansion of charter schools without addressing most of the above problems, with the possible exception of the weighted lottery for special populations.

At a time when so many public schools are drastically cutting their basic budgets, why would Congress provide millions more to private school management companies that have not proven they are better alternatives?

PAA’s recommendations:

  • We believe in improving the schools we have, rather than shutting schools down in order to expand charter schools.
  • All charter schools should have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school. Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.
  • Charter schools should not require fees, charge financial penalties, or otherwise create a financial barrier for students to be in school.
  • Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable to the public.

For more details on PAA’s position on charter schools, go to the Parents Across America website.

Because there will be a House vote on this bill shortly,  contact your representatives and let them know what you think as a parent, student, teacher or concerned citizen about tax dollars supporting charter schools.

For additional information on charter schools, go to:

Chicago’s Democratically-Led Elementary Schools Far Out-Perform

CREDO’s Study of Charter Schools in NJ Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

Democracy Left Behind: How recent education reforms undermine local school governance and democratic education

Instructional Conditions in Charter Schools and Students’ Mathematics

New Charter Study by Mathematica With More Bad News for Corporate Ed Reform


The Privatization Infatuation

Submitted by Dora Taylor