An Open Letter to Dr. Nyland and the Seattle School Board in Support of Our Striking School Bus Drivers

bus strike

By choosing to use drivers who have crossed the picket lines to staff the prioritized Title One school and special education routes, the district is siding with First Student and is weakening the power of the workers as they fight for their rights.

Dear Dr. Nyland and Directors,

During this historical Black Lives Matter at Schools Week as I sing your praises for committing to our students, staff and families of color, I must also publicly condemn your disrespect for the striking bus drivers of Teamsters 174 who work for First Student. My children have been attending Seattle Public Schools for 9 years and the majority of their drivers have been people of color-all of the aides we’ve had on our buses over the years have been people of color. The school bus drivers are being systemically oppressed by their employer, First Student, who is a multinational corporation with over $6 billion in profits last year and yet refuses to even return to the table to negotiate fair health care benefits.

By choosing to use drivers who have crossed the picket lines to staff the prioritized Title One school and special education routes, the district is siding with First Student and is weakening the power of the workers as they fight for their rights. When I was in second grade, in September of 1976, our teachers were on strike for 10 days and the District brought in substitutes. My mother worked for the phone company and was a union member of Communications Workers of America. I loved school and wanted to go, but my mother explained to me why we must support our teachers and never cross a picket line. When my children’s teachers were out on strike in 2015, my children and I joined them on the picket line out in front of our school. I remember how my kindergartener cried telling her new teacher how much she wanted to be inside the school. Her teacher replied, “We all do; that’s why we are out here fighting for a fair contract, so we can get back inside doing what we love to do. Teaching kids!” My daughters know that if their route is restored during the strike they will not be able to ride. As a licensed child care worker and a member of SEIU 925, my students will not break the line.

I am so grateful that our educators as part of their union, Seattle Education Association, will be joining our bus drivers on the picket lines Wednesday after school. Our teachers know what an integral part these drivers play in the lives of the 12,000 students they safely transport to and from school each day. These teachers respect the drivers and believe that the drivers deserve access to the same health care benefits as district staff receive.

When the District tries to remain neutral as First Student pays drivers to cross the picket lines, the District is actually publicly siding with First Student. First Student offered drivers a full day’s pay, free lunch and a per diem that started at $25 in the beginning of the strike and is now being raised to $50! If First Student can afford such costly incentives, why not invest in their drivers by paying them a fair wage and offering competitive health care benefits?

The District has refused to take responsibility for the driver’s situation citing the excuse that First Student was the only bidder for transportation services. Even if there is only one bidder for contracted services the District must take steps to insure that the contractor will be a fair employer who is in step with the culture of the district. In our school district we believe in offering a competitive wage so that workers can live in the city where they work. Our community also believes that workers have the right to health care coverage.

At schools across the city many special education students have not been able to attend since the strike began. At my daughters’ school with over 500 students being dropped off and picked up in individual vehicles, traffic and safety issues have occurred. This strike is creating unsustainable conditions and hardship for many families. I urge you to reverse your current position of encouraging drivers to cross the picket lines, and publicly condemn First Student for their unethical treatment of their employees. Please bring both sides back to the table, put pressure on First Student to offer fair health care coverage and end this strike quickly.

Thank you,
Shawna Murphy
Mother of 2 SPS students
solidarity bus strike


The scoop on Chelsea Byers, Seattle public school board candidate


Chelsea Byers is running against School Board Director Betty Patu, a champion of public education advocating for equity in education for all.

Ms. Byers, on the other hand, is a former Teach for America (TFA) recruit who taught in a school without any formal training for two years in Oakland, California in what I imagine was a charter school. Most charter schools are staffed by poorly paid and under qualified Teach for America recruits and are rarely hired by a pubic school district when it is between a TFA recruit and a certified teacher with a background in education.


As I wrote in the article titled The scoop on Seattle School Board Candidates Chelsea Byers and Omar Vasquez: Buyer Beware :

Chelsea Byers supports charter schools.  She checked the “NO” box on the King County Democrats’ questionnaire, but later explained that she does not support for-profit charters. Thing is, all charter schools are for-profit and making them “non-profit” makes it easier for people to accept. The CEO’s are well paid while siphoning off tax dollars earmarked for public schools.

Chelsea Byers is also all about the “data”, meaning her focus with her work is teaching tech to adults interested in a job in technology. There is a push in Seattle to have more online learning and less teaching by qualified human beings who, unlike computer software, understand children and how students learn and interact with the world at different ages.

There are links at the end of this article to information about the push for computer based learning and evaluations in our schools sometimes referred to as “Personalized Learning”.

Ms. Byers largest contributors are a Teach for America PAC out of DC calling themselves Leaders in Education, The Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) which is all about privatizing public schools and Vulcan which never misses an opportunity to fund the corporate takeover of public schools in Seattle.

On the other hand, School Board Director Betty Patu is deeply connected and committed to the various diverse communities of her district. She has an institutional knowledge of the district, as well as longstanding relationships with district, city and state level officials and staff. She has the support of all of her current colleagues on the Board. On her watch, the district adopted a Race and Equity Policy, Rainier Beach High School graduation rates rose from 53 to 81 percent, she voted to bring International Baccalaureate to Rainier Beach and STEM to Cleveland High School. Ms. Patu supported both Board resolutions opposing charter schools, and voted in support of policies governing testing that established student and parent rights and granting more Board oversight to program placement decisions.

We endorse Betty Patu to continue the work she has been faithfully doing for our schools and suggest Ms. Byers first get some experience and understanding of public schools in general and specifically the Seattle public school district with its community of teachers, parents and students.

Dora Taylor


Recommended reading:

Colonizing the Black Natives: Charter Schools and Teach for America

A professor’s encounter with Teach for AmericaI Quit Teach for America

I Quit Teach for America

The deets on DFER, Democrats for Education Reform

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

Robots Replacing Teachers? Laugh at Your Own Risk.

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

The NAACP calls for a moratorium on charter schools


The stealth campaign for charter schools found in emails of Seattle Public School employees and the candidacy of Omar Vasquez



We have published several articles on Summit charter schools and “personalized learning” which is a sugar coated description of placing students in front of a computer for all their lessons and tests. There is nothing personalized about the programs, simply that the student can do the lessons at their own speed and has nothing to do with their interests, strengths or academic weaknesses. The program is prepackaged and a robot could provide the same learning experience.

Speaking of robots, Summit charter school and other commercial enterprises are now developing “academies” where anyone who has a pulse can take a course, become a “trainer”/“facilitator” and be hired by Summit or another online school to respond to student’s questions and track their progress. This is not my idea of receiving a good education but is a cash cow for business enterprises.

Another aspect of the idea of “personalized learning’ is that it is unvetted. No one knows who developed the programs, their credentials, and unlike a text book, you can’t open it and get an idea of the subject matter, its accuracy or whether the information is objective and unbiased.

We have written about how the small Mary Walker School District in Eastern Washington chose to include online charter schools under their umbrella under the guise of ALEs – Alternative Learning Experiences — even though the State Supreme Court had determined that charter schools were unconstitutional in the state. A hefty investment in Mary Walker by the Gates Foundation helped the small, cash-strapped district carry out this charter-laundering deal.

Seattle Education also noted later that in January of 2016, the Mary Walker School District (MWSD) rescinded their request for approval of charter schools in the City of Seattle after requests were made twice, first by The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and then by MWSD, for the school district to recognize the charter schools and thereby provide legitimacy to the schools.

During the legal limbo all Washington charter schools found themselves in after the state’s charter law was (rightly) found unconstitutional in the fall of 2015 and they were declared illegal, Summit Sierra Charter School in Seattle decided to recast itself as a ‘homeschooling center’ and avoid the Mary Walker scheme. But now it is back as a charter school, with no ties to the Seattle School District.

With all of this in mind, why are officials who represent the Seattle Public School district and various principals falling all over themselves to develop relationships with Summit charter schools, wasting valuable time and resources supporting a charter school when Seattle is still struggling with a limited budget and all the complexities of managing 104 actual public schools?

The Seattle Public School board passed a resolution on March 2, 2016 making clear its commitment to public education and its opposition to charter schools. Why are people within the administration ignoring that resolution?

Our next question is, why keep all this activity in the dark for three years, not providing the information to the Seattle Public Schools’ Board of Directors or the School Board’s Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee? Is Seattle’s School Superintendent Larry Nyland aware of this activity? Michael Tolley, Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, who Michael Starosky reports to, the person who began the chain of events that we will describe, is to report directly to the superintendent. Is that happening? It seems as if there is a shadow district within the Stanford Center that neither the school board, parents nor teachers know anything about.

Per emails that we received through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), there have been numerous conversations between Seattle Public Schools’ key administrators and Summit representatives, meetings at Seattle Public Schools’ administrative offices, the Stanford Center, sharing of district information with Summit Sierra charter school and tours provided by both parties.

There has also been communication between Seattle Public School principals and Summit Sierra charter schools.

We will provide a timeline of the two batches of emails, Part One and Part Two, bringing to light what has been in the shadows for the last three years in a series of posts beginning today.

The focus of this first set of emails is a conversation between Eric Anderson, Director of Research, Evaluation & Assessment within Seattle Public Schools who shows on his LinkedIn page interests in the Broad Foundation (Center), Teach for America, The KIPP Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Malia Burns, Founding Executive Director of Summit Sierra charter schools who refers to herself as “Principal” as the occasion dictates, who is also on the Washington State Teach for America State Board.

Eric Anderson appears to have taken over from Broad Foundation “Resident” Brad Bernatek whom some of you might remember from his false17% stat about graduation rates.

To follow is the first timeline:

The specific emails referenced below can be viewed here. 


Michael Starosky, Chief of Schools with Seattle Public Schools, does a “virtual introduction” between Malia Burns, former “Principal” of Summit charter schools, and Eric Anderson, Director, Research & Evaluation at Seattle Public Schools.

Starosky suggests Anderson would be a great resource to Burns in “learning in all things SPS”, particularly around data systems and measuring student growth.


Anderson writes to Burns expressing his excitement in partnering with Summit Sierra charter schools.


The Seattle Times reports the Seattle School Board has no interest in becoming a charter school authorizer. Unbeknownst to the board and public, Eric Anderson continues to collaborate with Summit Sierra charter school and continues to do so after the board’s position on charters is made public.


Malia Burns with Summit charter schools contacts Eric Anderson to make arrangements to meet or talk on the phone about student assessments.


Eric Anderson immediately responds to set up an appointment the next day.


Malia Burns and Eric Anderson decide to meet at the Stanford Center where the Seattle Public School administration offices are located.


Malia Burns to Anderson, “It’s great to meet kindred spirits working in education to support the work we all are doing within schools.”

Ms. Burns shares with Eric Anderson the login to Summit’s Personalized Learning Plan and cognitive skills rubric.


Eric Anderson to Malia Burns, ”With all the Charter School news in recent months I thought I’d check in” and sharing his hope that everything “remains positive” for Summit Sierra charter school.

Anderson expresses interest in bringing a small team from Seattle Public Schools to visit Summit Sierra charter school.


Malia Burns responds to Eric Anderson that they would “love to have a group visit” from people representing Seattle Public Schools.


Jen Wickens, Chief Regional Officer for Summit charter schools who is also on the Strategic Advisory Council for Teach for America. Inc. and CEO of Impact Public Schools “providing leadership in the ed reform sector”, replies to Eric Anderson to arrange a visit to Summit suggesting sometime during the week March 14, 2016.


The same day Eric Anderson responds to Jen Wickens confirming a visit the week of March 14, 2016 and stating an interest in Personalized Learning.  Anderson states he would like to bring in a group of 4-5 people with “our new Senior Research Scientist from my team” and “a couple of others from Teaching & Learning”.


Jen Wickens and Eric Anderson arrange another onsite visit for Anderson to see a student demonstration of Summit’s Personalized Learning Plan

The next set of emails will focus on correspondence between Summit Sierra charter schools and principals within the Seattle Public School district.

Note: “Chief of Schools” is a new position created for Starosky. Starosky reports to Michael Tolley, Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning which is a relatively new position. Starosky oversees the activities of five Executive Directors which is another layer of Seattle Public Schools bureaucracy created by Broad trained Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson six years ago.

Michael Tolley is the last vestige of the Goodloe-Johnson era. The former superintendent brought Tolley with her from Charleston, SC.


How Omar Vasquez fits into the push for charter schools in Seattle

Omar Vasquez, who is running for a position on the Seattle School Board, is on the Washington Board of Directors for Summit charter schools but he won’t likely tell you that. Omar started in education as a Teach for America, Inc. recruit, is now on the Washington State Teach for America Board and has been active with charter schools ever since since first working for Teach for America, Inc. Recently all information about his involvement with charter schools has been scrubbed from his website and LinkedIn Page. As an attorney in Seattle, he has represented charter schools.

When Mr. Vasquez was asked about charter schools during his candidate interview with the King County Young Democrats, he lied and said he never had any involvement with charter schools. The Young Democrats decided to endorse him based on that interview.

As Michael Maddox wrote on his blog #hashtag:

Omar Vasquez – I mean, this guy told one group that he supported Charter Schools, and another that he didn’t. The guy lies, and when he’s called out or criticized, shows a temperament that does not lend itself as evidence that he could be a good school board member. Blatant lying, shitty temperament, and support for Charter Schools? HARD PASS.

The Washington State Democratic Party platform states in no uncertain terms that the party opposes charters yet the State Democratic Party gave Vasquez $2,000 worth of in-kind donations to his primary campaign, most likely to obtain access to the vital GOTV tool VoteBuilder, which helped him eke out a second place finish in the primary after Zachary DeWolf and just ahead of Andre Helmstetter. The thousands of dollars from corporate ed reformers like Lindsy Hill, founder of the Washington TFA, and the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) helped as well. His dishonesty about his charter ties helped smooth the deal. Do the State Democrats know they have been underwriting someone whose positions and work history directly conflict with their platform?

The teacher’s union at least, was not fooled by Vasquez. His Teach for America history would likely have been a deal breaker for them. The short-term  flash-trained TFA recruits have been used as a union-breaking tool and cheap labor for charter schools. As we have pointed out on this blog numerous times, the founder of Teach for America, Inc., Wendy Kopp is married to the founder of one of the biggest charter school franchises, KIPP’s Richard Barth. It’s bitterly ironic that charter schools which claim to aim to serve underprivileged students of color, offer these students the least qualified, high turnover teachers available – in direct contradiction of all research that shows that experienced, stable teaching staff serve these students best.

Vasquez’s Twitter history also reveals his support of charter school’s legal victory in Washington State.

The Seattle Public School (SPS) board passed a resolution on March 2, 2016 reaffirming its commitment to public education and its opposition to charter schools.

The final paragraph of the resolution states:

RESOLVED, that the Seattle School Board of Directors (1) requests that the Legislature focus on its paramount duty to amply fund K-12 educational needs first as mandated by the McCleary decision; (2) opposes charter schools and charter school legislation; and (3) disapproves of the establishment of Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) status for former charter schools when operated by non-resident school districts.

No wonder Vasquez is trying to hide his charter connections.


Dora Taylor


Related articles:

Seattle Public School Board candidates

The scoop on Seattle School Board Candidates Chelsea Byers and Omar Vasquez: Buyer Beware

Summit Sierra charter schools

The inherent racism of Summit “public” (charter) school

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle

Serious student privacy concerns with new Summit/Facebook platform

Summit (Sierra) charter school: The skinny on the Gates-backed school set for Seattle, Brad Bernatek (remember him?) and a host of others

Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy

Teach for America

Colonizing the Black Natives: Charter Schools and Teach for America

Teach for America

A professor’s encounter with Teach for America

The grifters of corporate ed reform: KIPP charter schools with the aid of the DOE

The Broad Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

The Broad Foundation: A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s training programs and education policies

The Battle for Seattle, Part 2: Hijacked!

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

Bill Gates funds the media, including the Seattle Times’ Education Lab, then secretly meets with them

We stand with Andre Helmstetter for Seattle School Board Director


I met Andre when former Broad trained Seattle Public School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson began her short-lived tenure in Seattle. One of her first edicts was to close schools, disrupt successful programs and rif teachers.

Along with many other parents, teachers and students, Andre advocated to keep schools open and then continued his advocacy, remaining active in public education in Seattle.

Because of his ongoing involvement with public school education and knowing the kind of person he is, we fully support Andre Helmstetter’s candidacy for School Board Director.

-Dora Taylor

To follow is his op-ed written for Seattle Education.

 Andre Helmstetter-2-medium.jpg

A voice for all in a changing city: Why I’m running for School Board

Why would someone run for school board?

It’s a question I hear fairly often, especially now that I am running.   The short answer is:  I’m committed to public service, have 10 years of experience with Seattle Public Schools, a personal story of success supported by great educators, and a professional background and skill set that will bring value to the School Board, families and the broader community.

Here’s the longer answer:

I grew up in a very diverse set of circumstances. I was born right after the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, in Watts to a white mother and a black father. I dropped out of high school in my sophomore year to work to help support my family. Luckily, teachers were looking out for me. Teachers helped me graduate with my class by staying in touch with me and making sure I had the extra courses I needed when I returned. I owe a great deal to them.  I personally understand the challenges that our less advantaged students face. I understand the power of education to help a person rise through those challenges. I was fortunate enough to stay on track, get a good education, graduate from college and develop a professional career. I would like to ensure that all students in Seattle’s public schools also have such positive opportunities.

I’m a firm believer in public service. I joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school.  I served as a mentor at the King County Youth Detention Center, where I spent time with really great kids — and learned some very sad stories. I believe mentors are especially important for youth of color who may feel they have fewer positive options.  I volunteered on my local community council (Squire Park) and as a precinct committee officer (PCO) for my legislative district (37th). I have coached chess for kindergartners at Leschi Elementary in South Seattle. I would like to extend my service to the families of Seattle Public Schools.  As a biracial parent of three multiracial children, I understand the importance of racial equity and of providing an engaging education for all students. I also know firsthand the manner in which School District policy impacts schools and families, for better — or for worse.

In 2009 the Seattle School Board voted to close my daughter’s neighborhood school, T.T. Minor Elementary. In the fall of 2008, I had helped organize a citywide effort to stop the misguided school closures that targeted not only my daughter’s school, but those of hundreds of other students districtwide. We rallied, we marched, we petitioned, we tried to reason with them.

Though our group was not successful, our predictions were proven correct when the District realized enrollment was in fact going up. It had to reopen the schools the following years, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. There were other costs too: the closures caused huge disruptions to students and families who were moved to other buildings and saw their communities broken apart.’

I have witnessed poor decision making by the district, most negatively impacting our least advantaged students and students of color. I want to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

My family has also benefited from the strengths of the district, such as the Montessori program and great teachers. This fall, my wife and I are excited to enroll our youngest in Bailey Gatzert Elementary, where he will join one of the most diverse communities of learners in the district.  Though it has challenges, it is a school with great supports and a great learning environment. According to OSPI, 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch and about 96 percent are students of color.

The district report said Gatzert was a failing school, according to its test scores. But that is in contrast with the great educational environment I found when I visited. A lot of children who enroll at Bailey Gatzert are already 18-24 months behind academically. To try to evaluate these children based on test scores is really a misuse of data. Instead, we need to see where they are starting off, what their environments look like outside of school, and then tailor learning experiences to them – just as Bailey Gatzert looks to be doing.

I believe the best way we can help kids is to create great learning environments in school where they feel included, responsible for their learning, and engaged. I’ve seen over-discipline, especially applied to low-income and minority students, that makes children feel like they are not part of the school community.  Anything we can do to engage them and make them feel like they’re a part of, instead of a problem, in the community, will make a difference.

To that end, as a School Board Director, I will address disproportionate discipline of students of color and those with special needs. The moratorium on K-5 suspensions passed by the board in 2015 was a good start – but we need to do more. When I was in kindergarten I needed extra help with reading, but by fourth grade I was placed in the gifted program. Students of color are too often overrepresented in special education services and underrepresented in advanced learning.

I am interested in meaningful strategies for closing opportunity gaps. The district needs to attract and retain a more diverse teaching corps to reflect and understand our diverse students (127 nationalities are represented, 143 languages spoken, 34 percent of students face food and housing insecurity). We need robust cultural competency training so we can eliminate disproportionate representation of students of color and low income students in discipline, special education and advanced learning.

Capacity also continues to be a challenge. Just as we saw in 2008, the district is growing and needs more building capacity. The Seattle School District is expected to have 54,000 students enrolled in 2017-18. I have witnessed poor decision-making by the district, most negatively impacting our least advantaged students and students of color. I want to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

I would also like to ensure adequate lunch and recess times, adding more arts, music and civics to the school day, and reducing the time spent on testing. I’m particularly committed to ensuring all families have a voice in Seattle Public Schools.

As a lean consultant by profession, I understand the challenges large, public organizations face. I have worked with government officials and administrators to streamline organizations for greater efficiency using current resources.  This approach is crucial for Seattle Public schools at this time when state funding for public education is still insufficient (despite recent efforts by the state legislature to address McCleary) and when ours is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. We need to do more with less. We need to be smart about our resources. We owe it to our families, our teachers and taxpayers. And that is what I am trained to help organizations do.

I would apply my professional management and operations skills to help direct the $1 billion budget to greater efficiencies and accountability.  In 2018, the current Strategic Plan expires and the Board will have the opportunity to select a new superintendent. I would like to help shape the vision and direction of the district that will attract inspired new candidates.

We live in a beautiful city full of smart people and with a strong economy. I believe our school district can do a better for our students and their families by working to be a national example for the true promise and value of public education.

But our city is also changing have seen my own neighborhood transform dramatically in the 18 years I have lived here. As a former owner of a coffee shop and restaurant in the heart of the CD, I watched my neighborhood change both demographically and economically.   Disparities are becoming more pronounced. It is becoming more difficult for all families to thrive in an increasingly gentrified and costly city.  It’s more important than ever that all the voices of all our communities are represented and heard. Now more than ever, public education matters.

I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe that the School Board has an important role to play in shaping our school district to provide a better, more inclusive, learning environment to prepare our current students to be the future leaders, innovators and civically engaged citizens of our great city.  I would be honored to serve the communities of Seattle Public Schools and help other students like myself who struggled at times and faced challenges. I understand their story, and I have the skills and the will to support policy and practices that will better serve them. I am committed to making our district a place where every child is valued and supported on their own path to success.  Just as I was.

-Andre Helmstetter

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


Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune

(Click the image for a better view. Click the title for a pdf.)


“Quality Preschool for All”. It sounds so right, just what we want for all of our children. But first, it depends upon what you define as “Quality”.

If you mean preschool that is student oriented and allows for individual growth, this is not the definition of “Quality” by the proponents of 1B.

If “Quality” to you means standardized and scripted lesson plans and assessments (nice word for tests), then you and Bill Gates are in agreement THAT is quality, at least for other people’s kids. See The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K.

Rumors have been circulating that the same people who pushed through charter schools in our state to the tune of $10M are doing the same with Proposition 1B. Well, they’re right, with the exception of the Walton’s who have not gotten on the Universal pre-K bandwagon as their cohorts have.

The first time I heard about the preschool program, which is an offshoot of Universal pre-K,  was in June of this year when I was asked to attend a presentation given by some “experts” flown in from Boston to tell us what we already knew about children and the importance of preschool. I haven’t figured out who footed the bill but it will pop up somewhere. As soon as I saw the “suits”, I became suspicious, particularly because most of the people in the audience were also suits. See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER and the suits for more details on that meeting.

The next time I was in a council meeting regarding Proposition 1B, people were able to provide testimony. Many of the people who gave testimony were teachers. It wasn’t until later that I found out all of the teachers who spoke were members of the union busting, charter loving Teachers United. Teachers United (TU) has received a total of $942,113 from Bill Gates over the last few years and is run by Chris Eide. See and for the details.

For more on TU and Chris Eide see Anti Teachers’ Union Activity in the State of WA: Chris Eide and Northwest Professional Educators.

Note: 10/31/14, Teachers United is calling for volunteers to canvas for Prop 1B this weekend. Gates will get his money’s worth out of them at some point.

That’s when I decided to follow the money.

A solid line on the diagram means cash was contributed. A dashed line means public support and personal time has been contributed to Proposition 1B campaign.

To follow are the major players in terms of cash outlay and those who are paid in one form or another to sing their tune.


“I actually worked with Jackie Bezos at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas to pass a resolution for universal preschool,” noted (Seattle Mayor) Murray, referring to the mother of CEO Jeff Bezos. She is the president of the Bezos Family Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit. –Seattle Times, October 22, 2014


Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

Just in case 1B fails, Gates has hedged his bets by offering a grant of $750,000 to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to set up a preK-5 program at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in Seattle. Gates doesn’t do anything without attaching lots of strings such as assessments and data gathering. The most worrisome part is that he is now trying to extend his influence into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades through the proposed preschool program.

The Gates Foundation put on quite a show apparently for a selected few on Universal pre-K. Gates, along with Bezos, also provided scholarships for those invited to go on a field trip to Boston to see Universal perK programs this year.

You might have noticed there are two empty circles coming off of Bill Gates’ bubble on the diagram. That’s because I’m fairly certain that I, or someone else, will find another largess that has been given to someone to further his agenda. It’s just a matter of time to discover who else is part of his shell game.

Bill Gates is also a big supporter of charter schools. See Funding “Education Reform”: The Big Three Foundations.

Seattle Times and the Education Lab blog

Gates provided $700,000 to the Seattle Times to create the blog “Education Lab”. See Seattle Times’ Gates-funded Education Lab Blog Experiment.

The Times has come out in support of 1B. No surprise there because they have also supported over the last few years merit pay (teachers evaluated using student test scores), Teach for America and charter schools, all part of the Bill Gates plan for public education.


Also received a largess from Gates to the tune of $800,000 in 2010 for “Special Projects”. They have come out for 1B. See Gates Foundation quadruples Crosscut grant for additional information.

Seattle Foundation/Norm Rice

Bill Gates has given the Seattle Foundation at least $4M over the last several years, see the Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the specifics. Norm Rice was the President and CEO of the Seattle Foundation until July of this year and is the spokesperson in the Proposition 1B television ad. The Seattle Foundation supports whatever Bill Gates desires including charter school and Teach for America.

An organization called Save the Children Action Network paid for the 1B television ad. What money went to this organization to run the TV ad is still a question mark as shown on the diagram.

Bezos Family and Foundation

Talk about a shell game! It took some research to find information on the Bezos family and their donations. Thanks to PAC’s, folks with money can hide their political support in the weeds. It’s called “Dark Money”.

Each member of the Bezos family contributed as much as they could legally as individuals, then their foundation kicked in some cash. The Bezos also contributed money to the League of Education Voters PAC, Education Voters Political Action Fund, which supported the charter school initiative.

The Bezos along with Gates provided “scholarships” to those who were invited on the field trip to Boston to see preschool programs but required financial assistance.

The Bezos, along with Gates, were huge financial supporters of the charter school initiative. See Bezos Family Funds Four PACs in Charter Schools Shell Game

From Diane Ravitch’s blog:

Jeff Bezos: Another Billionaire for Privatization of Public Education

Last fall, Bill Gates collected $10 million from his friends to push through approval of a referendum to permit privately managed charter schools in Washington State, which voters had turned down three times previously. Among the friends of Bill Gates who helped make charters possible was the Bezos family, the parents of Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos is the founder of He is a billionaire many times over, one of the richest men on the planet.

Yesterday he bought the Washington Post.

An article in the Washington Post today describes his interest in education.

It reads:

“Like Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham, Bezos has shown support for efforts to change education policy, including the creation and expansion of public charter schools.

The Bezos Family Foundation — whose board includes Bezos, his parents and other family members — gave more than $11 million in 2011 to an array of national organizations such as Teach for America, Stand for Children and the KIPP Foundation, according to tax filings. The foundation also gave grants to scores of individual schools around the country as well as several charter school chains, including Uncommon Schools, which operates schools in New York and Massachusetts.

Bezos’s parents, Mike and Jackie, were active in a fierce battle last year to allow the creation of public charter schools in Washington state. Washington had been one of a handful of states that did not permit charters, which are publicly funded schools that are privately run and largely without unions. Teachers unions opposed the ballot measure, which narrowly passed with financial backing from Mike and Jackie Bezos as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.”

In short, Bezos is no friend of public education.

Live Wire

…is funded by the Bezos and is part of the Seattle Times.

Live Wire and Microsoft recently sponsored an event titled See what happened at The Case for Early Learning with guests Mayor Ed Murray, Representative Ruth Kagi (see below), and others extolling the virtues of the Mayor/Burgess preschool plan.

Do you see where this is going?

Matt Griffin

$100,000 in total contributions to Proposition 1B and a big supporter of charter schools. He also contributed money to the Seattle Foundation to bring Teach for America to Seattle.

He also contributed $30,000 to the Great Seattle Schools PAC to support School Board Director Stephan Blanford (see below) and Sue Peters’ opponent Suzanne Estey who was defeated.

Christopher Larson

Microsoft millionaire Chris Larson contributed $100,000 to the Proposition 1B campaign and was a financial supporter of the charter initiative even though he doesn’t have any children in the Seattle Public School system.

He is also on the Board of Directors for the League of Education Voters.

Nick Hanauer

$30,000 contribution to Proposition 1B. Hanauer is also on the Board of Directors of the League of Education Voters and big supporter of charter schools.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy

Contributed to the Proposition 1B campaign and to the coffers of Councilmember Tim Burgess and the Alliance for Education. They also paid for a nasty attack ad about McGinn during the mayoral campaign. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.

The Alliance for Education

The Gates Foundation has over the last several years basically been the Alliance for Education‘s bank. Whatever the Alliance needs, it seems that the Gates’ Foundation just cuts another check by providing a grant for a specific purpose. See The Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the details.

The Alliance for Education, along with the Great Seattle Schools PAC, supported Stephan Blanford in his bid for Seattle School Board Director. Six months before Burgess formally presented his preschool initiative to the Seattle School Board, Blanford told the Levy Oversight Committee that SPS was in full support of the initiative.

Sara Morris, CEO for the Alliance for Education, recently sent out a letter on Alliance for Education letterhead endorsing Proposition 1B . Was that Kosher? I think not, unless the Alliance has another status other than a 501c3, they are not to participate in any political campaigns or actively support a candidate.

Washington State Director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Lisa Macfarlane:

Ms. Macfarlane gave a personal donation to the 1B campaign.

An excerpt from the post Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization:

According to the PR Newswire, Lisa Macfarlane, formerly with the League of Education Voters (LEV) and now Director of Washington State Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), 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 what does Ms. Macfarlane plan to do with the cash? Ensure that charter schools open in the state of Washington of course.

Per 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.

For more on DFER, go to

School Board Director Stephan Blanford

Stephan Blanford spoke to the Levy Committee six months before the 1B Initiative was formerly introduced to the board and stated that Seattle Public Schools ( SPS) would have no problem with supporting Burgess’ plan*. School Board Director Stephan Blanford also went on the field trip to Boston sponsored by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to look at preK programs in Boston. His trip was paid for by the League of Education Voters (LEV). The expenses for all other SPS staff who went on the trip, and it was a selected few, were paid for out of Seattle Public School funds.

Blanford has been bought and paid for by the following contributors:

Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, the champion of 1B

Don Neilson– The Godfather of Education Reform in Seattle

The Ballmer’s

The League of Education Voters

Matt Griffin

The Hanauer’s

Christopher Larson

The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC)

Peter Maier (twice). Remember him?

School Board Director Sherry Carr

Director Carr has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin and has shown support for 1B.

Ms. Carr showed up at a 46th District meeting where Burgess presented Prop 1B without providing members an opportunity to speak up against it before it was endorsed. Ms. Carr did not speak but was standing in the back with Burgess, Harium Martin-Morris and the 1B campaign manager.

She is also one of the School Board Directors who voted for all things ed reform when Broad Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was in power including bringing Teach for America to Seattle. Hmmm, I wonder why? Well, let’s look at her sponsors:

Civic Alliance for a Sound Education

Matt Griffin

Christopher Larson

The Ballmers

K & L Gates PAC (Bill Gates Sr. law firm is K&L Gates)

Mary Jean Ryan of the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) Gates backed organization

School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris

Director Harium Martin-Morris has spoken publicly in support of 1B. He also showed up at a 46th District meeting, even though it’s not his district, to give moral support (?) to Burgess who made the push for 1B even though no one was allowed to speak against 1B.

By the way, over the years, Harium has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson, the Ballmer’s, Bill Gates and Lisa Macfarlane.

Legislative Representative Ruth Kagi of the 32nd District

Representative Kagi is a fierce supporter of 1B but does not represent a Seattle district. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Bezos’ have contributed to her campaigns?

Those who didn’t get on the Wheel of Fortune chart but are of interest are:

Mimi Gates- $5,000

William Gates, Sr.- $5,000

Microsoft- $10,000

Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, Families and Education Levy Committee member $500


And who contributed to Ed Murray’s campaign?

Leslie Hanauer  $700

Nick & Leslie Hanauer Foundation $700

Nick Hanauer  $700

Christopher Larson  $700

Strategies 360  $700, see Seattle School District hires staffer from Strategies 360 – the political marketing firm that misused private student contact info to push ed reform agendaand Loose Ends – Strategies 360, Susan Enfield, Crazy Talk & Quakes.

Tim Burgess  $700

Matt Griffin $700

The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy Contributed $10,000 to People for a New Seattle Mayor.

The People for a New Seattle Mayor ran the domestic violence hit pieces against McGinn. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.

And who stands to gain from Proposition 1B passing?

So far:

Acelero: A business enterprise that privatizes Head Start programs. See Seattle PreSchool for All Proposition 1B: Acelero, the fox watching over the hen house.

KIPP, the charter school chain: See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits.

Teach for America, Inc.:  “Pre-School for All” in Seattle, student information sharing, Jump Start, Teach for America and more. They’ve already got their hooks into Detroit.

In the 1B lanaguage it states:

The City will work with local colleges and universities to develop an alternate route program for teachers with Bachelor’s Degrees in fields other than Early Childhood Education. The City will also develop an alternative process through which experienced, high-quality lead teachers — as defined in the Implementation Plan — may be granted waivers.

When it is stated that way, it means Teach for America, Inc. recruits. UW established a program where TFA recruits can do their five weeks of course work to “prepare” them to teach our children. Trust me, that is the plan here.

Also, Gates gave $1M to Teach for America, Inc. a few years ago to open an office in Seattle.

Pearson: The educational publishing company being bandied about to develop lesson plans and tests for the preschool program.

Mayor Ed Murray: Murray tried to pass legislation while a State Senator for mayoral control. This is a subject for another post that will be to you shortly but suffice it to say for now that to have a Department of Education as Murray has just declared will happen in Seattle, you have to have programs to oversee to show how well a politician can run a school district.

For more detail on mayoral control, see Mayoral Control: The short of it.

New Note: A New York hedge fund PAC and a few other notables donated to the 1B campaign during the last week before the election. For the details, see New York hedge fund managers jumping onto the Seattle Preschool Proposition 1B gravy train.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

What’s happening in Seattle is happening around the country. Watch Bill Moyers’ segment:

Who’s buying our midterm elections?


Post Script:

A big thank you and shout out to all who sent me information and prodded me to keep following this money trail. This could not have been done without the diligence and hard work of others who have helped me with research or sent me information they found to be of interest and noteworthy.

Keep those cards and letters coming!



There is a pdf of the Wheel of Fortune here that can be downloaded and printed.

*I asked for the Families and Education Levy meeting minutes because they are not all posted on the website. After two weeks, they have yet to appear. These minutes have provided great insight on how the levy committee has been working behind the scenes on this issue and this information needs to be available for the public to view.





Seattle School Board Update: Sue Peters is ahead

horse race2

In spite of the record-breaking amount of money that was poured into Suzanne Estey’s campaign by a moneyed few and DFER who want to see the corporatization of our public schools through charter schools, online learning enterprises and schools staffed by the cheap labor of Teach for America, Sue Peters has pulled ahead in the race.

As it stands at the time of this posting, the official count is:

Sue Peters
51.78% – 46949 votes

Suzanne Dale Estey
47.90% – 43430 votes

To follow the election results, there is an official posting at 4:30 each day at King County Election Data.

Submitted by Dora Taylor



The Truth About Suzanne Estey

Melissa Westbrook, one of the editors of Seattle Schools Community Forum, posted the following information that she uncovered about Suzanne Estey who is running against Sue Peters for Seattle School Board.


Suzanne Dale Estey – Embellishment is her Specialty but What about Credibility?

I have consistently stated that Suzanne Dale Estey appears to have a great resume. She seems to have broad policy experience at different levels of government.

But, based on attendance at and viewing of some videotapes of various campaign events, I realized that she has this tendency to embellish what her resume says she did. So I decided to check some of what is on her resume AND what she has been saying at campaign stops.

Here’s what I found:

Working for Governor Locke

Here’s what her campaign website says:

Federal Legislative Analyst for Washington State Governor Gary Locke

Her LinkedIn resume goes further:

Federal Legislative Analyst
Washington, DC Office of the Governor of Washington State
1998 – 1998 (less than a year)Washington, DC
Monitored Congressional legislation and federal agency activities on behalf of the Governor and the State of Washington. Worked with Congressional staff, White House and federal agency officials, national associations and other governors’ offices to promote Governor’s agenda, including helping lay the foundation for his leadership role on electronic commerce issues. Represented Washington State at meetings of the National and Democratic Governors’ Associations.

But out on the campaign at the Eastlake Forum, she talks about her background and talks of working for Governor Locke “where I ran his D.C. office.” (Here’s the link – she makes this claim at about 54 seconds.)

Wait. She wasn’t just an analyst who did that laundry list above but ALSO ran the office?

Impressive, no? But if it’s so impressive, why not add it to her resume at her campaign website?

Well, maybe because she was hired, as a temporary intern, and worked in Governor Locke’s office for just 3 months from June to August 1998.

Her status, according to state HR records, was “temporary paid intern”, not “legislative analyst.” It’s a rather huge leap to go from a short-term intern to almost a year as a “federal legislative analyst.”

Serving on “taskforces and committees” on education

Dale Estey’s website does not make this claim but again, out on the election trail she has recently been talking about serving on “many taskforces and committees” on education.

I looked into this and found that she did work quite a bit with the Renton School District (as her website reflects) but they said she hadn’t been on any committees/taskforces per se. Via public disclosure, I asked the nearby school districts of Tukwila and Highline.

Tukwila – The District was unable to locate any records showing that Ms Dale Estey served on committees or taskforces for the District.

Highline – Suzanne Dale Estey has not served on any committee or taskforce for Highline Public Schools.

Dale Estey may indeed have worked with staff from those districts elsewhere but not on any of their own district taskforces or committees.

Being the Inter-High Chairperson on the Seattle School Board

From her campaign website:
“…she served as chair of the Inter-High Council, which represented students in an advisory role on the Seattle School Board.”

I always found this claim on her campaign resume a source of amusement because really, unless something you did in high school was in the national news, who cares? That she went through SPS schools is a definite community link BUT does it mean she knows the district today? Not by a mile.

But oddly, she mentioned it at nearly every single campaign stop. In fact, at the Maple Leaf event, there was a bit of confusion in the opening seconds when she said, “I served on the Seattle School Board” and took a bit to get to “in high school.”

But, as I have previously reported, I did check in the district archives. (And let me say that whoever was taking minutes, took VERY detailed minutes that would put any present-day minutes to shame. That they are so thorough, it helps clarify this claim.)

First, she was co-chair. Maybe a small thing but when I was co-president of the Roosevelt PTA, I never said I was president and forgot my co-president. (The minutes reflect a co-chair.)

Second, her first appearance at a School Board meeting is in Jan. 1988 (but she started her senior year at RHS in the fall). She is introduced by her co-chair to the Board at that meeting.

She missed the Feb. meeting and then appeared at 4 more meetings. She spoke once at each meeting she appeared at except her introductory meeting in January. You be the judge of that “experience.”

Worth noting – she didn’t even serve a whole school year (unlike her campaign manager, Dexter Tang, who was the Student Senate rep for the Board from last year).


Credibility and integrity matter. Not all candidates (and their campaigns) try to puff up and embellish their resumes to win.

What about integrity? The Stranger reported back in 2004 that when she worked as a lobbyist for WaMu, she was directed to send an e-mail to thousands of WaMu employees telling them how to vote on the Monorail (against) while at the same time serving as a member of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a PRO-Monorail organization. So was she for or against the Monorail?

Dale Estey says she isn’t for charter schools or Teach for America. Yet her campaign has accepted thousands of dollars (plus the thousands spent on her by the PAC established to help her) from the very people who fronted the charter school campaign and their supporters. She has several prominent exTFAers not just contributing money but as endorsers. (I’ll make a prediction right now – if she’s elected, I believe that in two years or less, she and/or Blanford will be pushing for SPS to become a charter authorizer. )

Why all this exaggeration when she has a damn fine resume to start with? I don’t know but I do know it is troubling that she feels the need to do it. Or her campaign handlers told her to do.

What else about her background and her abilities has she embellished? And who will whisper in her ear if she is elected?
Reposted here by Dora Taylor

Sharon Peaslee supports Sue Peters for School Board

A personal note from Sharon Peaslee:

Dear Seattle Parents & Concerned Citizens,

Seattle School Board Director Sharon Peaslee
Seattle School Board Director Sharon Peaslee

If you haven’t voted yet you may be wondering why you should. This school board race is urgently important. Seattle Public Schools is emerging from scandal, crisis and head-spinning turnover. Voting is your way of helping to support the ongoing progress of our schools and district.

We need School Board Directors with unquestionable integrity so that we will continue moving forward. We need School Board Directors who are committed to honest, transparent dealings so that we as a Board can work collaboratively with each other and with the Superintendent and staff.

You can count on Sue Peters in all respects.

Sue has the integrity, intelligence and compassion to be a really great School Board Director. She has proven her commitment to Seattle Public Schools across ten years as a volunteer and parent– recently serving on the Strategic Plan Task Force and Superintendent Selection Committee. As a Stanford-educated journalist she relentlessly pursues the truth of any issue. I’ve worked with Sue as a writer and have witnessed how she tracks down information to the last detail before drawing conclusions. And she isn’t afraid to change her mind if more information is found. Sue’s ability to think clearly and critically is really important for the continuous improvement of our schools.

Seattle School Board candidate Sue Peters.
Seattle School Board candidate Sue Peters.

Sue is not controlled by any special interests. This is highly significant. She has no multimillionaires forming a PAC so they can funnel over $130,000 into her campaign. Sue’s campaign has not been bought and she won’t be controlled by an entitled elite who want a School Board that will do their bidding.

In stark contrast, Suzanne Dale-Estey is supported by the most entitled elite of our region. They include Microsoft CEO Steve (and Connie) Ballmer, CEO of the Gates Foundation – Jeff Raikes, businessmen Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson, Nick Hanauer. None of these people have children in Seattle Public Schools. But they and other Estey supporters do have special interests– including charter schools, Teach for America, and “accountability” measures that tie standardized test scores to teacher evaluation. Inevitably they will expect their chosen candidates to further their agenda, whether or not it’s what the parents of Seattle want for our children

Some of Dale-Estey’s supporters have formed a PAC

money3Great Seattle Schools, with a war chest of over $130,000. The PAC recently sent out an attack mailer accusing Sue Peters of being a conspiracy theorist because she connected the dots between Gates Foundation & Eli Broad money to organizations involved in public education. These same connections have been reported in The New York Times, and other national newspapers. The funders of Dale-Estey’s PAC are apparently the only few who regard this as a conspiracy theory. Most know it’s just the facts.

Possibly even more disturbing is Dale-Estey’s own campaign of misinformation. She has repeatedly stated that the School Board rated itself as “utterly dysfunctional” on its recent self-evaluation. The fact is, not a single Board member did this.

Most of us raised concerns over issues of trust, and in my opinion this is the only dysfunction of the current School Board. It has arisen because some Board members have repeatedly used media contacts and influential people to disparage fellow Board Directors. This public and private backstabbing has most certainly undermined our ability to trust each other and work in a collegial manner. Truly we do not need a new Board member who is doing this before they’re even elected.

Dale-Estey has frequently ranted that Seattle Public Schools has a dropout rate of 30%, “and this is completely unacceptable.” It’s also completely untrue.

Dale-Estey could find accurate numbers by simply doing a Google search. The class of 2012 had an on-time graduation rate of 73.6%. The dropout rate was 15.6%. This information is available in the SPS report from December 2012:

Dale-Estey has been less than truthful about herself, too. On her website she claims she was a Federal Legislative Analyst for Washington State Governor Gary Locke. In forums (see video) she claims she ran Locke’s DC office. The truth is, she was a summer intern in his DC office for three months. You can read more about Dale- Estey’s Embellishments on Seattle Schools Community Forum

We do not need a School Board Director who intentionally distorts the facts to serve her own purposes. We do not need a School Board Director who is beholden to an entitled elite who are clearly foisting her into office to further their interests over the interests of our students.

We need a School Board Director who will seek and speak the truth so that we can make the courageous and continuous improvements needed to support all our students. We need Sue Peters, and I urge you to vote for her. Please pass this on to anyone you know who may still be on the fence, or who has not yet voted.


Sharon Peaslee



 Seattle Education Association

Seattle Councilmember Nick Licata

Diane Ravitch

The Stranger and The Seattle Medium

King County Democrats

Senator Maralyn Chase

Senator Bob Hasegawa,

Representatives Gerry Pollet & Cindy Ryu

Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos

King County Councilmember Larry Gossett

National Women’s Political Caucus

M. L. King County Labor Council, Local 609, Teamsters 28 and American Postal Workers- Seattle local

Metropolitan Democrats

11th, 32nd, 34th, 36th, 37th and 43rd Legislative District Democrats

Seattle School Board Directors Marty McLaren, Betty Patu, Sharon Peaslee, Kay Smith-Blum

Former School Board Director Mary Bass

Estela Ortega, Kay Bullitt, Frank Irigon, Cliff Mass and Sarah Sense-Wilson

The Green Party


Highest rating in the race from SEAMEC (Exceeds Expectations)

Municipal League: Very Good


Sue Peters:

Melissa Westbrook:

Suzanne Dale Estey – Embellishment is her Specialty but What about Credibility?

Cliff Mass:

Will the Ultra Wealthy and Disinformation Triumph in Seattle’s School Board Race?

The Stranger:

Vote Sue Peters and Stephan Blanford for School Board!

How low can you go In a school board race?

One Funny Thing about that old Suzanne Dale- Estey Story

KUOW-FM 94.9:

Could a Wealthy Few Decide Seattle’s School Board Races?

Seattle Education:

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

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

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

Posted by Dora Taylor

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


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.


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

New endorsements for Sue Peters, Seattle school board candidate


The Seattle Medium newspaper
American Postal Workers Union Seattle Local
The Green Party
Sarah Sense-Wilson, Native American leader

Larry Gossett & Sue Peters at MAP Bridging the Gap breakfast
Larry Gossett & Sue Peters at MAP Bridging the Gap breakfast

“Sue will come up with creative ideas to close the
learning gap. Please join me and vote for Sue Peters!”
-Larry Gossett, King County Councilmember

A letter from Sue Peters:

Dear Supporters of Seattle Public Schools,   

Less than a week to go before Election Day! Please remember to VOTE!  And pass it on!
Ballots must be mailed no later than Tuesday, Nov 5.  Please forward this e-mail on to all your friends, family and colleagues!

According to Seattle Weekly (Oct 15), School Board District 4 is The Hottest Race in Town!

Here are links to more local and national news:

The Stranger announces its General Election Endorsements & and Cheat Sheet!  – Oct. 16

Seattle School Board Candidates Clash on Testing, State Standards– KUOW 94.9 FM – Oct. 17

Could a Wealthy Few Decide Seattle’s School Board Races?– Oct. KUOW 94.9 FM – Oct.18

Who Raised Over a Quarter Million Dollars for Local School Board Races?– Diane Ravitch’s Blog – Oct 18

Please help support Sue’s campaign.


If you donate $500 or more to Sue Peter’s campaign, an autographed copy of Reign of Error, by Diane Ravitch is your special gift! Be sure to read the New York Times review.

Meteorologist Cliff Mass is offering a custom weather forecast to anyone who donates $500 or more. Cliff says, “That means I will do a forecast just for them for an outing, wedding, hike, you name it.”

For a donation of $250 or more Cliff will give you an autographed copy of his fantastic book, The Weather of the Pacific Northwest. To find out why he’s such an avid supporter read his blog, Wealthy Folks Try to Take Over the Seattle School Board, Again.

You may donate up to $900, and any amount is welcome. Help Sue reach the goal of $35,000.

Marty McLaren, Garfield High School students & Sue Peters at MAP  Bridging the Gap breakfast.
Marty McLaren, Garfield High School students & Sue Peters at MAP Bridging the Gap breakfast.

Seattle Education Association,
Seattle Councilmember Nick Licata,
Diane Ravitch,
The Stranger

The Seattle Medium
King County Democrats
Senators Maralyn Chase &
Bob Hasegawa,
Reps. Gerry Pollet & Cindy Ryu,
Sharon Tomiko Santos
King County Councilmember
Larry Gossett
National Women’s Political Caucus
M. L. King County Labor Council, Local 609

Teamsters 28

American Postal Workers- Seattle local
Metropolitan Democrats
11th, 32nd, 34th, 36th, 37th and
43rd Legislative District Democrats
Seattle School Board Directors Marty McLaren,
Betty Patu, Sharon Peaslee, Kay Smith-Blum;
former School Board Director Mary Bass,
Estela Ortega, Kay Bullitt, Frank Irigon, Cliff Mass, Sarah Sense-Wilson,
The Green Party

Highest rating in the race from
SEAMEC (Exceeds Expectations)

Municipal League: Very good.

I’m proud of the fiscally responsible, smart, community-based campaign we’ve been running.  Our investment is in outreach, not overhead. My volunteers are priceless.


Sue Peters for Seattle School Board Election Night Celebration:

November 5th at the MarQueen Hotel in the Tin Lizzie Lounge

600 N. Queen Anne Ave – (between Roy & Mercer) from 6:30-9:30pm, Nov 5.

Join us to celebrate our historic grass roots campaign!

What Sue Peters supports:

* Sound fiscal and academic decisions that direct resources to the classroom and our students;

* Rich, engaging curricula that help all students fulfill their potential and enjoy learning;

* Giving teachers the professional respect and support they need to do their jobs well.

* Less testing, more teaching.
To endorse Sue, send an email to and note how you want to be identified.

Let’s Keep Public Education Public!

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


Suzanne Estey’s claim to fame, as she has stated during her campaign, is her involvement as a board member of Community Center for Education Results (CCER), an “organization” that was created out of thin air by Bill Gates to the tune of over $4M to go after Race to the Top funding. This was a three-year push for funds that allow any interested third party to access not only the basic information of name, address and social security number of our students, but now lots more, more than any parent would want to see made public. And all for a pittance. For more on the subject, see CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy.

The accumulation of student information is a nationwide effort by Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and former New York Mayor Bloomberg to have a national database called inBloom.

Sue Peters 4 School BoardSue Peters, always tracking the school district’s actions, was the first to catch a leak of our students’ information three years ago during the same time that Estey was pushing to gain more information on our children, see Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

Sue has been an active parent in the Seattle Public School district for ten years, an education journalist, a member of the district’s Superintendent Search Community Focus Group and the Strategic Plan Stakeholder Task Force as well as a founding member of Parents Across America and the Seattle Math Coalition.

As with any campaign these days, though, we need to follow the money.

Estey has received $176,000 worth of campaign contributions from a relatively small group of people and yet doesn’t seem to know who her funders are or why anyone would be concerned. This is according to what Estey said in a candidate’s forum last month. Is this naiveté or a just little white lie? From what I’ve seen, she doesn’t seem to be the type to easily bold face lie to others…or is she? Check out the video of the 37th District Democrat’s Forum, go into the video to 10:36 and judge for yourself.

Is Estey clueless? Does she truly have no idea of the issues swirling around her and the players involved? If so, we can’t afford a school board director who has no idea what they are getting into and then take two years to get up to speed while Rome burns.

Does Estey not understand the devastating effects that the big money takeover has on the democratic process in our public schools as seen with the proliferation of charter schools, the Common Core Standards, high stakes testing and Teach for America, Inc.?

This makes her putty in the hands of her big donors. You can see the effect it had on previous board members who received much less in campaign donations from this same group of donors a few years back.

In a Stranger article One Funny Thing About That Old Suzanne Dale Estey Story, Anna Minard writes:

…one of the main themes in this race is that Estey is supported and funded by charter schools advocates, other corporate ed reformers, and some of the crappiest board members in recent history, but she promises that just because they endorse her or give her lots of money, they don’t really speak for her. In our SECB meeting, when we asked her about her endorsements from the scandal-tinged Peter Maier and ineffective incumbent Michael DeBell, she told us: “Just because someone is supporting me doesn’t mean I embrace all of their weaknesses.”

Let’s take a look at Estey’s major contributors.

Matt Griffin:

Matt Griffin, a developer in Seattle, set up the PAC “Great Seattle Schools” to support Estey’s campaign.

When developers begin to invest money in campaigns that are related to public schools, odd things begin to happen that are not so good for students but great for investors. For example, check out what developers had in mind in Chicago when Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was CEO of the public schools, a district with a public school system that now looks more like what’s left of Iraq than Main Street, USA. It was called Renaissance 2010.

According to a previous post on Seattle Education, The Seattle School Board Incumbents, Stand for Children and Other Corporate Reform Backers:

Matt Griffin, a wealthy developer in Seattle, donated $1,000 to Defeat 1098 (an income tax on the wealthy)in 2010. He also donated to all of the incumbents’ campaigns in 2010. Mr. Griffin gave Peter Maier and Steve Sundquist $1,000 each and Sherry Carr and Harium Martin-Morris, $2,000 each.

These same incumbents also received funding from Stand for Children and rubber stamped everything that our Broad superintendent at the time sent down the pike including allowing Teach for America, Inc. into Seattle, the costly and unnecessary school closings debacle and RIF’s which caused unnecessary consternation and chaos with the majority of teachers returning the following fall.

Mr. Griffin also contributed to the  Seattle Foundation to cover the Seattle Public School district’s cost of hiring Teach for America, Inc. temps.

The contributors to his PAC include:

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER): $10,000

DFER-electionDemocrats for Education Reform (DFER) 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 allowing Teach for America, Inc. to staff public schools.

For more on DFER in Washington State, check out Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) candidates in Washington State , Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization, EduShyster’s two great posts Biz School Boyz 4 Reform and Stuff White People Like: Education Reform and Diane Ravitch’s post Follow the Money.

Nick Hanauer: $20,000

A self-proclaimed “venture capitalist” living in Seattle who put up $450k for the charter school initiative and is a founder of the League of Education Voters.

For information on his most recent activity, see The League of Education Voters is at it again. This time they’re going after the teachers.

Chris Larson: $30,000

A retired Microsoft executive and self-described “Investor”.

Sloan Stuart: $2,500


Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) : $2,750

Basically the Chamber of Commerce for Seattle.

Other contributors to Estey’s campaign include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Jeff Raikes, head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the grand total to $176,000, a record for school board races in the Seattle school district. And yet, Estey doesn’t have a clue why anyone would be concerned who her donors are. Hmmm.

Funding for Sue Peters:

The rest of us who she will stand with and fight for: $28,000

We need someone in office who knows what they’re doing and can do a great job of it.

Vote Sue Peters for School Board and share this post far and wide.

For more on Sue Peters and her campaign, check out Sue Peters for School Board.

You can download a postcard sized flyer to share with your friends and neighbors.


Sue’s endorsements include the following:

The Stranger

Seattle Education Association (SEA)

Social Equity Educators (SEE)

National Women’s Political Caucus

of Washington

M. L. King County Labor Council

International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 609

Teamsters Joint Council No. 28

Greater Seattle Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union

11th District Democrats

32nd District Democrats

34th District Democrats

36th District Democrats

37th District Democrats

43rd District Democrats

King County Democrats

Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle

Washington State Progressive Caucus

Green Party of Seattle

Eat the State

FUSE – Progressive Voters’ Guide

Municipal League of King County – Very Good – “Makes significant contributions, is a skilled builder of consensus, inspires confidence in the way he/she would serve, is thorough and attentive to issues.”

SEAMEC (Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee) – 4 – Exceeds Expectations = Highest rating in the race!

The Network for Public Education

Elected Officials:

State Senator Maralyn Chase

State Representative Gerry Pollet

State Senator Bob Hasegawa

State Representative & Chair of House Education Committee, Sharon Tomiko Santos

State Representative Cindy Ryu

State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon

King County Councilmember Larry Gossett

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata

Seattle School Board Director Marty McLaren

Seattle School Board Vice President Betty Patu

Seattle School Board Director Sharon Peaslee

Seattle School Board President Kay Smith-Blum

Former Seattle School Board Director Mary Bass

Former Seattle School Board Director Amy Hagopian

Former Seattle School Board Director Sally Soriano

Former Seattle School Board Director Irene Stewart

Mercer Island School Board Director Dave Meyerson

This post submitted by Dora Taylor


CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy

race to the top2

This post was originally published on December 19, 2012 and titled A Race to the Top Winner, Really?

The Community Center for Education Results (CCER) was responsible for creating the proposal to collect an extensive amount of student data on our children. This pertains to Bill Gates’ desire to collect student information for each child in this country that can be accessed by those producing and profiting from products to be sold to school districts. For more on this, see Will the Data Warehouse Become Every Student and Teacher’s “Permanent Record”? Here’s an excerpt:

        inBloom, the non-profit started with a hundred million dollar investment from the Gates Foundation, is planning to create a digital record which, barring catastrophe, truly could be a permanent record of every K12 student, from their first interaction with the schools to the last. The amount of information they are planning to collect is staggering. Here are the several hundred categories, which include academic records, attendance records, test results of all sorts, disciplinary incidents, special ed accommodations, and more.

        This level of data collection was made possible by the Department of Education’s 2011 revision of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Suzanne Estey is on the board for the Community Center for Education Results (CCER), actively participated in the Road Map Project to the point of making it a part of her stump speech now that she is running for the Seattle Public School Board.

CCER, the Road Map Project and student data collection


There are more questions than answers as it pertains to how the Race to the Top money will be spent by the districts in our state that “won” Race to the Top funding.

The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSED), which is made up 35 school districts,  received $40M after  the Community Center for Education Results spent three years, by their own admonition on the Save Seattle Schools blog, to pull together the data that apparently the Department of Education and Bill Gates wanted anyway. My first question is, how did CCER know about this grant three years ago?

The following is a list of school districts that make up the PSESD:

According to newspaper reports only 7 out of the above 35 districts will be receiving the grant money. Seattle Public Schools was one of the “winners”.

As always with Race to the Top, there are winners and there are losers.

The Community Center for Education Results (CCER) received $50,000 this year from the Gates Foundation specifically to apply for the Race to the Top grant and $2,692,179 “Community Grant” in 2011.

In 2010, CCER received $1.6 M “Community Grant”.

This effort was titled the Road Map Project and CCER took the lead on assembling the massive amount of information that was required to “win” the grant.

According to the Road Map website (remarks in parenthesis are mine):

1. Minimum federal requirements – these must be met to be eligible for the grant:

Strong focus on personalizing education (computer based “learning”)

Stronger teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations by 2014 (based on test scores)

Complete implementation of Common Core State Standards by the 2014-15 school year (even though the CCS in math are lower than what we have now in Washington state).

Transparent reporting of data and school-level expenditures. (This includes teacher’s salaries by the way.)

This road map is data intensive and will take a significant amount of grant money just to track the following items as indicated on the Road Map’s website.

Road Map On-Track Indicators

The following is a list of the Road Map Project on-track indicators. These are reported annually against specific targets.

% of children ready to succeed in school by kindergarten

% of students who are proficient in:

3rd grade reading

4th grade math

5th grade science

6th grade reading

7th grade math

8th grade science

% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 1*

% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 2*

% of students who graduate high school on time

% of graduating high school students meeting minimum requirements to apply to a Washington state 4-year college

% of students at community and technical colleges enrolling in pre-college coursework

% of students who enroll in postsecondary education by age 24

% of students continuing past the first year of postsecondary

% students who earn a post-secondary credential by age 24

* Early warning indicators are for 6th and 9th grade students. EW1: Six or more absences and one or more course failure(s). EW2: One or more suspension(s) or expulsion(s)

Other Indicators to be Reported

The following is a list of the Road Map Project contributing indicators. These are reported annually or whenever possible, but do not have specific targets. These contributing indicators combined with the on-track indicators make up the full list of Road map Project indicators.

% of children born weighing less than 5.5 pounds

% of eligible children enrolled in select formal early learning programs

% of licensed childcare centers meeting quality criteria

% of families reading to their children daily

% of children meeting age-level expectations at the end of preschool

% of children enrolled in full-day kindergarten

% of students taking algebra by the 8th grade

% of students passing the exams required for high school graduation

% of English language learning students making progress in learning English

% of students taking one or more Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses

% of students absent 20 or more days per year

% of students who make a non-promotional school change

% of students motivated and engaged to succeed in school

% of students attending schools with low state achievement index ratings

% of females age 15-17 giving birth

% of 8th graders reporting select risk factors on the Healthy Youth Survey

% of students exhibiting 21st century skills

% of students who graduate high school by age 21

% of high school graduates completing a formal career and technical education program

% of eligible students who complete the College Bound application by the end of 8th grade

% of graduating College Bound students who have completed the FAFSA

% of students who directly enroll in postsecondary education

% of students who did not complete high school on time who achieve a postsecondary credential

% of students employed within 1 and 5 years of completing or leaving postsecondary education, including wage

So when does educating our students begin to happen?

Will this help us in Seattle at all with our $17M shortfall?

Will this get us much needed counselors, smaller class sizes or safer school buildings?

According to the comment section of the Department of Education website, the district has agreed to include student test scores in the evaluation of teachers. Which test? The MAP test that was not designed to be used in that fashion? If not, yet another standardized test?

How will special education students be accommodated in terms of this standardized testing? Will those test scores be used when judging the performance of a teacher?

With the assumption that it cost CCER/Gates about $3M to gather data over a three year period and compile it for this grant application, can we anticipate that it will cost at least that much each year that this information is to be provided to the Department of Education? How long is this data reporting to continue? Forever?

Is any of the information that the DOE requiring covered under the privacy act of FERPA? Not any more. FERPA was conveniently modified by the Department of Education in 2011  to make all of this possible.

According to the Seattle Times the money includes an “online math program for elementary and middle students in low-income neighborhoods.” Wouldn’t real life tutors be a far better approach?

To follow are some of the reviewer comments that can be viewed on the Department of Education website:

Puget Sound was able to document sufficient autonomy and state support for the changes proposed. The state allows Alternative Education plans that individualize or personalize educational experiences that may include parent partnerships, online courses and other approaches.

Another comment:

All students would have the chance to enroll in distance or blended learning programs.

“Blended learning” is the phrase used for online learning.

Another comment:

The plan commits all the districts to personalization although it was not in the original design adopted two years ago. The current proposal features personalization and identifies one district that has worked the most on that frontier. The other LEAS will take their best ideas and implement them over the next four years.

The measurements proposed are at the elementary school level designed mainly for measuring students in grades and groups, not individual persons. The major focus is on reading, Algebra, STEM and high school completion. The emphasis is clearly on reducing gaps in achievement and attainment. There is a requirement that students, parents and educators agree on an individual plan for “High School and Beyond” beginning in the middle school and refined and further developed through the senior high school years. The appendices add considerable detail on how each district will meet personalization objectives and assign responsibilities.

One district has experimented with personalized instruction and agreed to share their ideas on what works. The other districts will offer AP courses, IB, internships and blended learning that will provide and meet personalized objectives. The districts have a high quality plan for personalized learning, but most visibly at the senior high school level with fewer choices available or students in the earlier grades.

I certainly hope that “personalized instruction” means one-on-one with a real live teacher or tutor and not putting a student in front of a computer screen.

Last question for the day:

Isn’t it ironic that Don Neilson is all set up and waiting to cash in on his investment in our state with his online learning company?

I hope that we don’t see this RTTT money become a nightmare as it has in other states where once the reality sunk in, schools, districts, principals and superintendents realized that there was too high a cost figuratively and literally for receiving such money.


I received the following comment on this post that deserves attention.

I was just looking at the application the ESD submitted the other evening.

You probably have this information but if you don’t you might appreciate it.

The Road Map Project website page,,  has a link on it to download the application. The direct download link is here

While I haven’t thoroughly read the application I have scanned it and have some quick comments.

The application commits the districts to doubling the number of students taking algebra in eighth grade—targeting those in high need middle schools first. I really doubt this will help advance the academic math achievement of the students involved, especially students in high needs schools. You can put all the eight grade students you want in algebra but it will do little good unless those students are adequately prepared for algebra prior to beginning an algebra course. For more info on this in the article called The Algebra Problem.

There are some more recent reports that have not been incorporated into this article.

This grant further commits these districts to implement the Common Core State Standards and the corresponding assessments. In addition to this commitment, these district have committed themselves to using the Next Generation Science Standards (the CCSS science standards) and corresponding assessments. Sounds great… they have committed to adopt and implement science standards that are still in draft form (the second public draft will be released to the public in January 2013 with the final released later in 2013) and without the standards being finalized I would not expect the assessment to be developed yet. Precedence has already been established in WA for adopting things that don’t quite exist yet—-the legislature authorized the state superintendent to adopt the CCSS before the first public draft was released.

If you haven’t seen this article, you may appreciate it, Common Core and the Vehicle of Our Future,

Many of the things these districts are committing to have questionable, if any, evidence to support their effectiveness. Yet money will be spent. You raise a good question—how much of that money will be spent collecting data? How much of that data will be KidFax data?

$40,000,000… the application says the enrollment of these districts is 147,000. That calculates out to $68 dollars per student per year for each of four years… before considering administrative costs, the ESD’s cut, the cost of data collection. Since I have started to talk money… let’s consider that we spend in the neighborhood of $10,000 per student per year.

Multiply that time the enrollment of 147,000 for one year to get an expense of $1,470,000,000. Multiply that times four years (the terms of the grant) and the approximate expense over four years is $5,880,000,000, nearly six billion. The $40,000,000 in grant funds hardly makes a dent in the expenses over the four year period of time— 00.68%, not even 1%. $40,000,000 may sound like a lot of money but it is only a pittance when considered relative to the overall costs. These districts and the ESD have not sold their souls, they have sold the souls and future of their students for a pittance.

By the way, I have taught in one of those classrooms where all eighth graders were in algebra… and then I have taught in high school algebra 1 classes where there were many students repeating algebra because they didn’t pass in eighth grade or in ninth grade (and most don’t pass it the second time around either)… because they were placed in a class they weren’t prepared for. You would think with all the testing we do these days we could use the data to make decisions about who is prepared for algebra and who isn’t… no, no, no…. let’s have algebra for all ready or not never mind what the data says.

Dora Taylor