Below is an e-mail that I sent to a group of parents and teachers earlier today explaining a bit of the history behind Bill 6696 and how it could impact our schools in Seattle.
It went as follows:
Regarding Bill 6696.
The Race to the Top agenda is to:
1) Force states, by way of a financial carrot, to convert a certain percentage of their schools into charter schools. This is to be done by closing schools and then opening them again as charter schools (this process also eliminates the lowest performing students and send them elsewhere) or establishing charter schools within an existing school building which the public school has to share. Because these schools are a charter franchise, the business is about making money, a new school is not built or a building leased. They simply take over an existing school building.
2) Destroy the teacher’s union by getting the public involved in a campaign that gets behind the idea that most teachers are ineffective and that teachers hide behind the protection of the union to be lazy and “ineffective”. The reason to bust the teachers’ unions is because charter schools, to keep their cost down, hire young, inexperienced teachers, right out of school, who are willing to work longer hours, including Saturdays, for less pay with no union protection. Charter schools do not hire union teachers.
3) Emphasize a need for student testing, assessments. This is how charter schools can continue to exist. They have to show to the state that the school is performing to a certain standard. The pressure is then placed onto the teacher to ensure that the students perform. This can and sometimes does become an exercise in simply teaching to the test. This student testing rating system is also used to determine by the state which schools are the “lowest performers” and therefore can be “turned around” which means changed into a charter school.
4) Institute merit pay based on a student’s performance. The student’s performance is based on assessment testing, eg: the MAP test for Seattle. Merit pay again, causes the teacher to focus on the test and little else. This is the carrot that dangles in front of the teachers in charter schools. The higher the test scores, the “higher” the salary (which isn’t much to begin with).
It is a market based system where teachers are referred to as “human capitol” and our children become commodities.
This system evolved in Chicago where Arne Duncan went from a professional basketball player in Australia to the CEO of the Chicago school system appointed by Mayor Daley. Mr. Duncan has no background in teaching or any other aspect of education. There was a close relationship that developed between Arne Duncan and Eli Broad, yes Eli Broad as in the Broad Foundation. Mr. Duncan started to close schools and set up charter schools and military schools. In the process, he fired about 2,000 teachers, most of them African American, and displaced children out of 75 public schools. The Broad Foundation boasted in their annual report last year that Chicago and Oakland received the greatest amount of financial support. Fortunately, Oakland ousted their Broad trained superintendent and the Broad has since pulled their support.
During Arne Duncan’s tenure as CEO of the CPS system, he became basketball buddies with the now President Obama. Mr. Duncan, who is now Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, has full reign of the public school systems throughout the United States and he is using the carrot of cash, which is to only go into the programs that I listed above, to ensure that the Duncan/Broad model of education happens throughout our country. Because we do not have charter schools in our state, we will not receive funding. That’s the bottom line So when you hear people say that we need to make changes to our educational system in Seattle and the rest of the state to receive RTTT funds, that is somewhat true but not really. It’s a possibility that we would receive funding but the chances are basically slim to none. That is what the state legislature is weighing right now. They know that we will probably not receive RTTT funding and in that case, the cost of these changes would have to go into the state budget and we all know about that issue.
So, how is that affecting us here in Seattle?
The Alliance, with their NCTQ report in hand (the one that refers to teachers as “human capitol”), The League of Education Voters and the PTSA have pushed for the Race to the Top demands listed above with the exception of charter schools. They have been lobbying relentlessly for at least the last year to get a bill through that addresses the RTTT demands. That has developed into Bill 6696.
They have also been using the Community Values Statement as proof that all of us want what they are demanding.
I have been following this bill as it has gone through the state house and senate and at this point it is less than these organizations would want but there is language in the bill that suggest the notion that a teacher’s performance in some way be based on student assessments. For us that would be MAP testing. How this is interpreted by the state superintendent, our Broad trained superintendent and the school board will play a large part in how this will be carried out.
It is my recommendation that before you sound the alarm to your representatives, that you take a look at the bill or an abbreviation of it, and understand what this is all about within the context of this “Education Reform” movement.
Below is a portion of the bill, which was added to the original bill, that describes student performance in relationship to a teacher’s evaluation. There are also links to the bill and a summary of the bill.
23 (c) The four-level rating system used to evaluate the certificated
24 classroom teacher must describe performance along a continuum that
25 indicates the extent to which the criteria have been met or exceeded.
26 When student growth data, if available and relevant to the teacher and
27 subject matter, is referenced in the evaluation process it must be
28 based on multiple measures that can include classroom-based, school-
29 based, district-based, and state-based tools. As used in this
30 subsection, “student growth” means the change in student achievement
31 between two points in time.
Links to the bill: