Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome to the AFE Community Blog

Welcome to the Alliance for Education blog. We’re excited to have this new tool to help foster a community wide dialogue around important issues that impact the kids in our community. Over the next few months, we’ll develop several threads for our conversation. We’ll include topics such as teacher quality, the achievement gap, student assignment, community schools, education reform, equitable access to college to name a few. And, you’ll be able to help us identify other areas of interest.

We hope that this will become a forum for asking tough questions, surfacing the best ideas and a true gathering place for community insight.

As we launch this new effort, we want to make several commitments to you:

· This is your voice. Be assured that we will listen.
· We will not script or edit content.
· We’ll work hard to understand and analyze your insight.
· We’re committed to sharing that insight directly and frankly.

Seattle is a bright and diverse community with limitless possibility. Imagine for a moment that we can harness all of the collective insight and passion that is so evident in our community and focus it strategically on support for all of our students.

We hope you will find this blog useful. If you do, we’ll be happy to hear that and if you don’t we’re sure we’ll see that on the blog!

Let the blogging begin.

Patrick D'Amelio

AFE President & CEO


  1. This is an intriguing idea, but I am quite skeptical for a few reasons.

    1. Successful blogs tend to be driven by immediate need for information. These topic ideas seem to be less time sensitive, and given the crucial items currently facing Seattle Public Schools, these topics are largely irrelevant.

    2. You tout this as a community blog, and yet your 3 authors are Alliance employees.

    3. You say that you are not going to edit content. That already tells me that you know little to nothing about moderation of an online discussion group. There must be discussion parameters for both topic types and behavior. Online conversations can get nasty quickly.

    4. Your list touchy feely topics over there >>> are not practical. They do not give me any information for how you are actually going to create conversation.

    5. You are unlikely to engage a community of online readers who aren't already engaged in the highly successful Save Seattle Schools blog. That blog definitely has its issues, but you're unlikely to have a blog that is as nimble and responsive as that one.

    You'd probably be best to use this as a place for announcements as opposed to trying to create conversation.

    Not exactly sure why this blog exists. The Alliance doesn't do community engagement well, if at all.

  2. Mr. D'Amelio writes:

    "Be assured that we will listen."

    Is it important that the Alliance for Education is listening? Does the Alliance for Education have some decision-making authority in the school district? I certainly hope not. And if the Alliance doesn't have any authority to effect change, then who cares if the Alliance is listening?

    "We will not script or edit content."

    You're going to have to script SOME content Mr. D'Amelio or there won't be any posts in this blog. For example, the post that you created when you were writing about your commitment to not script content. That was content and you scripted it.

    "We’ll work hard to understand and analyze your insight."

    Again, how important is it that the Alliance for Education understand our insight? I don't see how that will help. We need the District leadership to understand it - they are the ones with authority to act on it. Here's the bad news: the District leadership DOES understand our insight. They just don't care.

    "We’re committed to sharing that insight directly and frankly."

    Sharing it? Sharing it with whom? With other readers of the blog? That's no great service. With the District leadership? That's just creepy. It is creepy for members of the community to think that the Alliance for Education has that much more access and influence with the District leadership than we do ourselves or even than we do collectively. Thanks for confirming our worst fears about the undue influence of the Alliance and fanning the embers of phobias of a corporatist takeover of our public schools. Nicely done.

    Honestly, there are already some very good public school blogs out there. We don't need another. You are free to participate on the existing blogs, but you don't. Why haven't you participated on the existing blogs? Why isn't participation on the existing blogs sufficient for you? That doesn't speak well of your commitment to this process or this peer-to-peer communication technology. Instead, it appears that you are committed to owning and controlling it.

    Good luck with your blog. I'm not sure where you are going to find dissent within the Alliance or even people who are willing to ask tough questions. The Alliance has largely been a cheerleader for the school district leadership, a funder of their excesses, and a sycophantic supporter of their arrogance. Remind me of the time that the Alliance told the District that they need to defer an action until they authentically engage the stakeholders. I can't think of one. Remind me of a time when the Alliance took the District to task for overriding stakeholder concerns. I can't think of one. Remind me of a time when the Alliance ever opposed anything the District ever decided to do. I can't think of one. You are utterly lacking in any street cred whatsoever.

    I'll tell you this, the Alliance paid for a lot of very slick full color brochures and booklets for the District. Those were some expensive print jobs that cost thousands of dollars. Money that could have been spent in classrooms, but was instead spent to try to spin bad ideas and decisions into looking like good ideas and trying to spin missed deadlines and failures into looking like progress. We see that the Alliance spends thousands on ostentatious print jobs to assuage the egos of the District leadership. We're not expecting the Alliance to ask any tough questions or offer any dissent.

    If you want to co-opt the dissent you'll have to be a bit more subtle than this.

  3. Charlie raises some great points I failed to consider in my initial rant. The Alliance has already paved it's relationship with the District as one of cheerleader. There is no way that is going to change now.

    This is lip service. In my meeting with Solynn earlier in the year, he said directly that the Alliance will not be an organization that confronts the District because they wanted a good working relationship (paraphrasing).

    So what's the point again?

  4. Save Seattle Schools Blog IS a community forum. THIS is not.

    Call me sceptical, but you write that you "will not script or edit content" yet you tell us the first threads you will "script":
    "...teacher quality, the achievement gap, student assignment, community schools, education reform, equitable access to college to name a few."
    This immediately tells me that you have an agenda: "reform."
    Reform is a buzzword for "tear the thing apart and institute OUR new paradigm." CHANGE happens all the time, particularly in public schools. REFORM is what others want to do to the schools - tear 'em apart.
    Your threads echo this: "Teacher quality," for instance, is a Board matter, with little to do with some outside group telling the Board what it is. "Community schools" already exist in Seattle in our fine alternative schools, but not in the mode you might be thinking of (charters, ala NYC). "The achievment gap" is, in my opinion, a statistical bludgeon used to "evaluate" supposedly "failing" schools when everyone knows SCHOOLS can't fail, only children and individual educators fail. ALL schools have good educators. The more I hear the term "achievement gap," the more I'm convinced it's a tool that exists to feed the feeding frenzy on public schools: "Reform" "Teacher Quality" in "Community Schools" [charter, not alternative]that are privatized, non-union, business-oriented and certainly not publicly accountable public schools, directed through common policy.

    Your agenda is transparent, and your claim that you won't "script" threads is already proven false in your list of possible threads.

    If you would truly like to help parents/community/stakeholders have a voice, join the existing voices, add yours. As it stands, you are, as Mr. Mas suggests, a cheerleader trying to galvanize and direct public opinion, not a moderator or particpant in it.

    SPS does not need reform. It needs to continue to evolve, as public schools have for a hundred years, without interference by business interests and those wishing to dismantle a system it has taken that hundred years to create.

    We need builders, not destroyers. We need citizens, not stockholders.

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  6. Thanks to the Alliance for attempting to engage the public. I think any opportunity to reach out to the community is a positive no matter how you slice it.

    I hope The Alliance takes the feedback they receive on this blog seriously and uses it productively.

    As to the skeptics....I hear you. But whatever stance the Alliance takes, or whatever agenda it may have, will now be exposed, and be discussed in an open, unedited, community forum. They will hear our opinions and concerns, whatever they may be, and that is a good thing.

    Questions: What will the Alliance do with the feedback they receive? How, if at all, will it be used influence district policy and decisions? What kind of influence does the Alliance have, with whom, and in what capacity?

    Again, thanks, for giving this a try! And good luck.

  7. Ditto everything that Charlie and JustaMom said.

    I find it offensive that you say you will analyze my insight. My insight comes from me already doing a lot of analysis thank you very much. I don't need to be analyzed any more.

    Here's a challenge for you. You want to be taken seriously? Publicly acknowledge Meg Diaz's report and confront the district with their budget and central staffing figures. You could earn a lot of street cred right there, by helping to solve the budget woes and reduce the bloated central office. Already considered an outlier in terms of size and budget, Meg's report shows that it is not only getting worse, but the extent that it is getting worse has been hidden. You should be sharing our outrage.

  8. You'll get my support, for what its worth, in this endeavour, if you come clean about your real agenda and your ties to the Broad, Gates, Stuart Foundations et al... most of these organisations are heavily invested in the corporatisation and privatisation of public education, via the mechanism of charter schools...

    You'll get my support when you come clean on your financial involvement in District law suits...

    You'll get my support when you come clean on who funds you and from where you get support, collaboration and what your own alliances are across the country.

    You'll get my support when you raise funds for the District that have absolutely no strings attached - that the District gets to use for the children of the District, without any reformist agenda underpinning those funds..

    You'll get my support when you start using plain English to communicate with the Seattle community, rather than PR/marketing platitudes and double-speak, and code terms for anti-teacher union-busting, merit/performance pay, standardised curricula, standardised testing, bringing into the classrooms unqualified and cheap people as teachers, when you stop promulgating the lie that class size does not affect educational outcomes etc, etc...

    I think you have a lot of work to do to gain the trust of many in the SPS community... and I dont think you will do any of what I ask above, because many in SPS will not like the picture that would uncover...

  9. I would like to see threads on the following topics:

    Meg Diaz's report and the SPS budget and central staffing figures."

    Charter schools. What is your position?

    The Broad Foundation's influence in SPS. What do you think?

    And, what does the Alliance think about cost overruns such as Garfield High School coming in at $109 million.

    Finally, why should I, the voter, support the upcoming levy to reopen recently closed schools?

    Thank you for your insight and engagement.

  10. This is hilarious! (Full disclosure: I am a anti-corporatist school reform/pro-authentic education activist).

    I predict AFE will close down this blog any day now.

  11. I might as well chime in myself. I have several questions about the Alliance.

    From what I have been able to gather on your website, your two largest donors are Gates and the Broad Foundation. Boeing comes in third.

    Are their other donor funds that you are managing?

    Can you provide us with information in terms of how these donations are being handled?

    I also understand that the Alliance funded the last school board retreat. Were funds from the Gates grant or the Broad Foundation used to pay for this retreat? One of the many benefits of developing a relationship with the Broad Foundation is that they provide funding for school board retreats.

    Has the Broad Foundation, through your organization, provided school board members with literature that reflects the Broad's philosophy in terms of education?

    Per the information that I have gained from your website and SPS, much of the money has gone into testing and test assessments. Is the WASL not enough? Wouldn't a teacher be able to know how their students are performing without making them take yet another test, wasting valuable classroom time?

    Are these testing methods being worked on in conjunction with SPS? If so, would that be within the auspices of Brad Bernatek's department of REA, Research, Evaluation and Assessment? Mr. Bernatek, by the way, was a Broad resident and has ties with the Broad Foundation who in turn has the goal to turn schools in all urban centers around the country into charter schools. One of the tools used by Gates and the Broad around the country has been to use tests to define "low performing schools" and argue for merit pay. This then leaves the door open to the suggestion of charter schools.

    Why wasn't this money used to keep schools from closing? It seems that would have been of greater benefit to our students than coming up with another test.

    I see that the only educator on your board is our superintendent. Why are there not more educators on your board? The other person of note on your board is Michael DeBell but he is not an educator.

    These are a few questions that I would like answered.

  12. Ms Taylor, you write that
    "One of the tools used by Gates and the Broad around the country has been to use tests to define "low performing schools" and argue for merit pay. This then leaves the door open to the suggestion of charter schools."
    This is a big concern of mine. WASL is used to determine, under NCLB, "failing" schools (a school can be "failing" in just one of any number of supposed categories, yet the whole school is then labeled "failing" under NCLB. Strangely, schools that do not receive Title One funding are not impacted by this - only teh schools that teach our poor and disenfranchised students.
    My concern is yours, that tests are used to determine "failure" of entire schools, and then the resultant "failure" is broadcast far and wide, thereby convincing the populace that the school in question is "not good," when individual students within a school could be excelling.

    I second your questions regarding funding of the Alliance and its goals: Does is facilitate the transfer of "knowledge" from Gates and Broad to the district, how does it do this, how much money is given to it by these organizations, and what are the caveats for the money's use (in other words, what do Gates and Broad want done with their money, and what do they expect to have happen when they give this money.)

    I also agree that there needs to be more representation of educators on the Board of the Alliance: there is only one, the Super, and it would seem much wiser to get a variety of perspectives, such as those of classroom educators, parent/guardians, students and the union that represents educators in contract negotiations. For instance, is the union invited to tomorrow's meeting...about teachers? Will they be given a seat and a chance to argue their perspective?

    Lastly, I am interested in knowing why the Alliance was given $150,000 of the "race case" settlement of $800,000, and what did it do with it? This is tazpayer money, and I would like to know why the District paid the Alliance 150 large and to what end.


  13. Dear Alliance,

    Ditto to all of the above questions of my fellow SPS parents. And here are a few more:

    Why did you bring NCTQ to Seattle? What business is it of theirs what the agreement is between our teachers and our school district?

    There are rumors that NCTQ emerged out of the failed and draconian No Child Left Behind policies of the failed George W. Bush presidency, and it is in fact a union-busting anti-teacher pro-testing operation with political ties, and an “education reform” agenda that leads to the privatization of public education. Can you prove otherwise?

    Who paid for NCTQ’s “report” that is to be unveiled tomorrow and how much did it cost?

    NCTQ likes to refer to teachers as “human capital.” Last I checked, teachers are human beings. (That’s just an fyi.)

    Is the NCTQ “report” that the Alliance is helping to present tomorrow anything like the report that NCTQ recently did on Colorado’s public schools and all the drastic and questionable things it must do to qualify for Race to the Top funding? (Colorado's quest for federal Race to the Top funds, August 2009:

    If so, can we expect language like this in NCTQ's Seattle report?
    There’s no such thing as too bold. Bold, tough reforms—the ones that may seem too challenging to pull off—should be the goal.

    Or advice like this (that the district should work with -- or around -- the teacher's union):
    Teachers’ unions too need to be brought in from the beginning. The message that change is coming is a constant refrain in the remarks given by the new AFT President, Randi Weingarten, but with the important caveat “with us, not to us.” Giving teachers and the organizations that represent them an opportunity to hear and be heard about human capital strategies is important.
    In truth, some of the changes that the Department is seeking may be difficult for local or state unions to accept. Fundamental changes to tenure, evaluation and compensation, for example, may be rejected on their face. States which are intent upon proceeding with some of these reforms may have to do so ultimately without the support of their unions. Having made good faith efforts to work cooperatively, a state that needs to move forward unilaterally must be prepared and willing to do so.
    It is critical for states to keep in mind that there are other stakeholders involved apart from school districts and unions, the two groups with the most at stake, and who are also the most likely to resist (or embrace) change. These other stakeholders often represent the interests of children and the community, such as civil rights groups, advocacy groups, business leaders, religious organizations, and parents. Their contribution is essential.


  14. (continued)

    And is the real reason behind all the "education reform" zealotry of the Gates/Microsoft and Dells of the world, all the emphasis on data, testing and computers that NCTQ and others like to promote? Or as NCTQ lays out:
    For example, most of the strategies we present here concerning human capital require eeffective data systems to implement. Any well designed human capital strategy will make struggling schools a priority. And certainly an effective workforce cannot deliver results without a common set of rigorous learning standards and, we would argue, a great curriculum.

    Is this why the district is imposing standardized computerized testing on students as early (and inappropriately) as kindergarten (i.e with the new MAP testing)?

    Back to the Alliance itself: Speaking of reports, have you read Meg Diaz’s report on the waste going on in the oversized SPS central administration office (John Stanford Center)? Please see “Central Administration Efficiency in Seattle Public Schools”

    What is the Alliance’s official response to this report? Doesn’t it disturb you to see your hard-earned fundraising go toward such wasteful spending?

    While you’re at it, and it case you missed it, please read Meg Diaz’s initial report on the Capacity Management Plan – “Analysis of Final capacity Management Proposal” ( Diaz demonstrated that it was wrong for the district to close schools when demographic trends showed these schools would be needed. Only nine months after closing schools, SPS has declared that it needs to open 5 more schools because demographic trends showed these schools would be needed. Even SPS spokesperson David Tucker acknowledged this on King 5 News last night: "With all the economic turmoil within the city, with all the changes that have occurred within our demographics we've seen a significant change in our demographics occurring so we are responding to that."

    Does it concern the Alliance that it is fundraising for such a mismanaged and fiscally irresponsible operation as SPS?

    You (the Alliance) seem to have a very active role in the management of SPS –- especially for a mere “nonprofit” whose purpose is to raise funds for the city's public schools. It strikes some of us that you appear to have an inappropriate amount of power and influence on district decisions. Ironically the whole tone of your web site reveals this. -- "We’ll work hard to understand and analyze your insight.
    • We’re committed to sharing that insight directly and frankly."

    What exactly does the Alliance do, and why? Please be specific and exhaustive in your response.

    Thank you.

  15. There is one thing that I would like to close the loop on. Our superintendent is a Broad graduate from the Broad Superintendents' Academy and has been on the Board of Directors for the Broad Foundation for the last two years. Because of her connection to the Broad and the Broad's agenda of charter schools many of us are sensitive to the issue of what is being done with the funds provided by Gates and the Broad Foundation.

  16. I just read the NCTQ report for Seattle and it is all about pointing the way to busting the teachers' union and merit pay.

    It will be interesting to see how this is received in Seattle.


  17. I would like to counter that the Save Seattle Schools blog is a community blog. It is not. There are currently two main contributors with a handful of commenters. That is not a community blog, by any stretch.

  18. Just-a-mom how would you vision and define a community blog?

    Beth, the owner of Save Seattle Schools blog has frequently asked the community for more contributing writers. If you, or someone you know is interested in being a contributing writer for SSS I would encourage you to get in touch with Beth. She has extended the olive branch many times. Currently SSS has 14 contributing writers which include CPPS members, alternative school parents, two people who ran for the school board, a past Seattle PI education blogger, a teacher, and various other folks active in the school community. All of the writers are volunteers, most have jobs, and most are parents. As we all know time is precious and often we don't have enough of it. Beth can't control how much or how often the writers contribute.

    Further, posts are not screened or selected like they are at many other blogs (including Michael DeBell's which I don't frequent anymore), posts are not edited, and they can be made anonymously using a "screen name" - all things that encourage participation and make the blog user friendly.

    I think they've done a heck of a job!

  19. I simply find it hilarious that those who have already posted their disdain for the Alliance and it's newly created blog are the first eager beavers to be posting on it. Like a toast that runs too long, Mr. Mas' prolonged discourse reveals more about his love for hearing himself talk than offering us something substantial to chew on. Mas, Just-A-Mom and the rest of the skeptics make any point mute by their sanctimonious tone. Since they clearly state that this blog is needless, I would assume to see no further posts from the aforementioned, but I'm sure that's doubtful with their egoistical need to express themselves. Silly topics such as the suspected cost of printed media, an absolute necessity for any viable organization (or business) functioning in this day and age, is pointless. Also, a perusal of the Urban Dictionary illuminates how idiotic such a catch phrase as "street cred" is, in reference to the Alliance's mission and purpose. As a parent, I am thankful for a organization that seeks to promote ANY dialogue pertaining to the improvement of our children's education. Instead of clogging the blog with accusations and indulgent ramblings, let us put to use our intelligence in the discussion of any of the significant topics pertaining to our community's children and the ever changing world in which they live.

  20. Thank you, W, for your post. I agree that we need more constructive dialogue about education, and just because Save Seattle Schools already exists doesn't mean that our community won't be the better for another blog. Furthermore, instead of all the accusations and skepticism for AFE, it would be much more meaningful to improving public education in Seattle to read new ideas and praise for what has, does and will work--not what isn't working.

  21. W... your points would be valid IF the Alliance was actually interested in dialogue - which word assumes a degree of openness and equality of stance... It doesnt do that... which is exemplified in the opening paragraphs with words such as
    * This is your voice. Be assured that we will listen.
    * We will not script or edit content.
    * We’ll work hard to understand and analyze your insight.
    * We’re committed to sharing that insight directly and frankly.

    Be assured we will listen? Like a school principal telling student the staff will listen to complaints... and notice there's no promise of it being a two-way communication street... we'll listen but will we engage/respond?
    We'll analyse your insight? Like my insight needs analysis to be valid and accepted?
    We'll share that insight directly and frankly? Share with whom? Who are you being the middle-man/conduit for, and how come we cant get to talk to those people directly....

    You dont represent us and we havent given you a mandate to speak for us... we can do that for ourselves... its just a pity the District and Gates and Broad et al are not interested in listening to what we have to say... to disregard us, people on the ground with kids in the schools, whom these reform polices affect directly is the absolute height of arrogance and metaphorical droit de seigneur...

    Frankly, this is not about partnership... its patronising BS... as many of us have pointed out, its quite disconcerting to see the Alliance have so much influence with the District when it is supposedly only a fundraising organisation, while thousands of concerned parents and community members (all of us fundraising madly within our communities, to put money in the CLASSROOMS, rather than in propaganda dressed up as research and glossy, self-congratulatory flim-flammery annual reports) have no such clout...

    And, in the replies coming back from the Alliance so far, there has been no response to the specific questions/issues raised...

    Its really quite straight forward...
    Do you have links to the Broad or Gates Foundations?
    If yes, please describe the extent of your connection...
    Possible answers: none, some informal, we're tightly connected and here's how that pans out...

    How come the Alliance received $150K from SPS in a financial transaction related to a recent lawsuit which SPS lost...

    Who funds the Foundation?

    How come you only have one educator on your Board - the Broad Board Director and SPS Superintendent Marie Goodloe Johnson - and one school Board director, Michael DeBell also pro-'reform'...

    Where are the parents and Joe-Blog citizens?

    And then there's the misrepresentation about the NCTQ report... that the study was undertaken on behalf of the 40,000 children in SPS???? Did the kids ask you to do that? Did the parents of those kids ask you to do that? Come of it.... and pretending that its not about teachers and merit pay... Heck - why dont you pay Meg Diaz $14K for the report she's just done on top-heavy Broad-infested SPS management, or for her work on the Capacity Management Plan that showed that closing schools was a bad idea, based on flawed data and assumptions... and now look, we saved $3million in that, but now have to spend around $40M in re-opening schools to accommodate the kids SPS couldnt figure out how to count... And in the King 5 news item last night - David Tucker's feeble excuse for this stuff-up - "oh, its because of the economic downturn and the demographic changes, and no, we dont have a Plan B if the levy fails"... what twaddle... Meg used the same data the District had available to it to come up with her analysis and report... sheer incompetence, or blind adherence to an agenda that has not been disclosed to the public...

  22. Thank you W!

    If naysayers don't like the Alliance for Education, then don't post here. Folks who want to read this blog don't need to feel insulted by you--yes, you are insulting readers at the same time you're lambasting the Alliance.

    Just stay on the SaveSeattleSchools blog. If people want to read what you have to say, they they'll go there.

    You're really getting in the way of folks who want to contribute and/or read in a different space. Just let them.

  23. so now you're acting as gate guard for The Alliance, Trish?

    We, who are asking for transparency, are to take our rabble-rousing elsewhere, so that pro-reformists can have a clear field to spread their mis-informaiton and spin to push their agenda forward? And after they have invited dialogue, dissent even?

  24. Trish, how is anyone insulting readers? This is a blog.

    And I think that when an organization says it wants to have a discussion, it is perfectly reasonable to ask who that organization is, what they are doing, what their goals are...

    Don't you?

    You sound like a little kid: "You stay over there! Stay on your side!"

    People are adults, they can read what they want, they can form their own opinions of it...My opinion is that the organization that started this blog has an agenda, is funded by huge groups with deep pockets that also have agendas, and I see nothing wrong with pointing that out, especially here on the first thread that introduces the organization.

    You'll note that there have been no more threads started...Maybe if one would start on a particular issue we could debate that, instead.

    "Just stay on," you write. Sounds a bit...juvenile: "You stay on YOUR side!" You write on that blog and this, why can't I?

  25. same old, same old.... the gasp of denial/horror when the little kid shouts out: "Look, the emperor's not wearing any clothes" and forces the adults who want to live in la-la land to confront the truth...

    Thanks AFE for brightening up a pretty crummy week - I havent had such a good laugh in ages and ages! I salute your courage (or is that stupidity?) for opening yourself up to public scrutiny - not sure you were expecting the chilly response, but that might be because you were thinking we were stupid?... wish you had the courage to answer our questions...

  26. And now you're stuck... you cant pull this blog because you'll look stupid and you cant answer our questions because you'll look stupid... oh dear... what a mess... maybe I should have applied for that job and given you a bit of PR/coms advice...

    You know, truth usually works quite well as a strategy for nurturing engagement and dialogue and eventually, co-operation/collaboration/buy-in... that was a freebie... you dont even have to say thanks!

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  28. Dang Sahila, give it a rest. Five rambling, bashing posts in one thread is enough. I was tired of reading your degrading and derogatory posts on the SSS blog, and now you are here to poison this blog too. I hope the moderator or one of the authors can block your screen name from posting here.

    I mean really, if you don't like the Alliance, or format their blog why post here. Why keep lurking? Do you just like starting trouble, and rebel rousing?

  29. Seattle Citizen and Sahila, I'm not here to argue with you. You ask for respect for your opinions, then you need to give it. The moment this blog was posted, you two along with Charlie Mas and others jumped all over the Alliance. You didn't even give this blog a chance before you started attacking. Then you get pissed because nobody is answering your questions? Why should they when you are obviously very hostile and already have your mind made up regardless of how they answer you.

    And Sahila, I'm not acting like a "gate guard". You talk about open dialog, but as soon as someone calls you on something (which by the way I didn't single you out), you start calling names or making innuendoes. Nice.

    And Seattle Citizen, don't you ever address me as a "little kid" again. I am a grown woman, a strong woman, an intelligent woman, and a woman who does not want to see the same old negative crap make its way from the Seattle Schools blog to here.

    In the words of W who posted about Instead of clogging the blog with accusations and indulgent ramblings, let us put to use our intelligence in the discussion of any of the significant topics pertaining to our community's children and the ever changing world in which they live.

  30. This is to Trish Millines Dziko, W., Seniorita, Mary, and anyone else out there who dislike the hard questions and condemnation directed at the people who work for, direct, and donate to the Alliance.

    Please say something that is pertinent, rather than merely complain about the tone of comments.

    Please suggest to us what are "significant topics pertaining to our community's children."

    What to you are topics worth discussing with the likes of us, if not the topics that have already been suggested here?

    I sincerely hope that you can, with well-reasoned and well-informed arguments and facts, persuade us that the District and all the Superintendent's "private partners" have a plan that really will prove to be better than the status quo.

    By the way, what was so terribly wrong with the status quo that we needed regressive, corporatist reform as a remedy?

    If reform is the best alternative to the status quo, why was reform brought to the district with so much secrecy? Do Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the like know better than the people can ever understand and appreciate what is best for the people and their children?

  31. Trish, I said at the outset that I am cynical: I don't trust big pots of money trying to buy their way into running public education.

    I've been nicely responded to on the other thread on this new "blog," but none of our questions about the intentions or agenda of this organization have been answered. Over at SSS blog, no one is paying millions of dollars to influence public education, the people who run the blog are, in fact, citizens like me who DON'T take millions from corporate "philanthropies," so are not beholden to them...

    Two different animals: A truly citizen-run discussion board there, a special-interest-run...discussion? (ain't seen none yet) group here.

    BUT: THEY have all the money, and are evidently able to capture the news and media at the snap of their fingers (I was told that the report was not to be available until 12:00 today, too late to go over its 75 pages before tonight, when it was obviously available to the Times days ago, probably the Times and the Alliance had a good sit-down over it) Since they are able to so easily try manipulate pupblic opinion via warmed-over "reports" generically generated to meet certain agendas, I'll come on over here and try to give another perspective. I have no newspaper to do my bidding, and I can't afford to rent a room at SU to have a confab over "talking points" (again, who could have read the report before tonights meeting? absolutely stage-managed...) I have to say waht I can where I can.

    I'm still cynical. The very polite response on here to just one of my points ignored all the questions. Why? Why are big corporations giving so much money? Why did SPS give this group (Alliance) 150,000? Why was 14,000 of it spent on a report to trash teachers, when the Alliance presents itself as a "partner" to the district? Are they a partner only to the administration? or to teachers, too?

    As to calling you a little kid, I said you SOUNDED like a little kid, and you did, telling all of us rabble-rousers to stay on our side...I thought this was a public forum? You write comments on both blogs?

    So whenever I think you're sounding like a little kid, I'm sure to say it. It's not personal, but you are flaming us, so, hey...I mean, you say that WE'RE insulting (those of us asking questions) but you constantly belittle our concerns and basically tell us to play nice. THAT'S an insult, where the future our children is at stake. So, yes, let's stop the insults and get down to brass tacks:
    What does the Alliance want, who are its partners, what is its agenda, and why is it releasing a report trashing teachers? Where's the balance? Can we expect a report looking at administrative actions and costs?

  32. So: Here's my "significant topic pertaining to our community's children and the ever changing world in which they live":
    We the people elect a Public School Board and give it half a billion a year to teach kids in public schools. This is their job, and they have Board Policies they follow, add to and change to do this, and a superintendent in charge of administrating their will.
    They are our democratically elected representatives, they speak for us, they are responsible to us.
    SO: To what degree is it okay to abrogate this democratic process by allowing outside entities, especially profit-driven corporate entities, access to any part of this system?

    If we allow others to dictate policy, are we not giving up this democratic process of our piublic schools? Why should NCTQ be advertised as some sort of "official" paper? Is it supposed to influence our Board? Who funded it? What are their goals?

    Part B:
    If big business is funding many "studies" and changes to democratically formulated public schools, wouldn't it be correct to assume that the business of business if business? Would be correct to expect to see education turned from a broad thing, a liberal art, to a mere token for the ride to riches? Wouldn't we expect to see all the other things we value about education, such as history lessons, art, music, wooden boat building, literature...all these peripheral subjects, wouldn't we expect them to disappear?

    Would we expect to see civics in schools influenced by business? Beside the bare-bone civics necessary to maintain the public order so factories continue to produce?

    Do you think we would expect to see Paulo Friere taught in public schools run or influenced by business?

    Part C:
    If we want to maintain democratically run public schools, wouldn't we be expected to question the motives of deep-pocket corporate financiers? Wouldn't we be expected to tell them, yes, give us the money please, but keep your mitts off our children until they are eighteen?


  33. I would be more inclined to participate in a discussion of the topics Seattle Citizen or Sahila put forth if they weren't fowled with the stench of mockery and the regurgitation of their own closed-minded opinions. Do I have an issue with the tone of many of the postings here? Yes. It is aggressive and many, such as myself, do not respond well to it. It is not inclusive and does not foster a place of dialogue. And if people such as myself or Trish express our distaste for your tactics, make no mistake, we are just as informed and involved as you seem to think you are. You speak of the blog being scripted, while your own rantings are carefully rehearsed, complete with headings and bullet points. This blog was created, as Mr. D'Amelio writes, to discuss issues "such as teacher quality, the achievement gap, student assignment, community schools, education reform, equitable access to college to name a few". If you think your Big Business Conspiracy Theories are more important than these topics, you must not truly have our children's best interest at heart.

  34. Uh, W?
    I'm mocking when I ask to discuss corporate participation in public education?

    Can't discuss corporate participation in public ed, W? Why don't you just say so?

    Twice now you've chastised people for their comments here, saying that the comments aren't productive or don't lead to discusion or whatever, yet strangely you seem unable to engage in discussion yourself. All you've done on here, so far, is complain about other commentors.

    Do you have something to discuss? Go for it! I suggested a topic (which I'm still interested in discussing) now it's YOUR turn.

    btw, where Big Business influences education, it IS important. If big business is dictating how we determine "teacher quality, the achievement gap, student assignment, community schools, education reform, equitable access to college," don't you think this is important?

    If not, why not? Feel free to discuss instead of slamming me. Teach us. Tell us what you think about it.

  35. If you can't stand the heat, W..........

  36. To directors, employees, funders, and supporters of Alliance for Education, and to pro-reformists generally:

    Can you explain to me why Alliance For Education and your allies (Broad Foundation, etc.) and the reformists on the School Board and in the district have not wanted to be forthright in letting the public know that SPS has been put on a reform track? I am pretty sure I know the reason, but I would like to hear what you have to say.

    I am looking forward to hearing your response.

    Please do not say that there has been no attempt at keeping a low-profile for the reform. That would be a uninteresting, undefensible answer.

  37. To directors, employees, funders, and supporters of Alliance for Education, and to pro-reformists generally:

    I would be VERY HAPPY if you could persuade me that school reform is the best thing that has ever happend to SPS, and especially to the low-income/minority students that the District serves.

    But a warning, you won't be able to persuade me without a logically valid, well-informed, non-ideological, balanced, unbiased, data-based argument.

    I also suggest that any effort will be futile. If you do your research properly, you will find that there is but LITTLE data that supports reform as best-practice in education, but there is a TREMENDOUS amount of data that refutes that claim.

    If I were to ask you to persuade me that "Public-Private partnerships with school districts and charter schools offer a rich opportunity for growth in the education industry," I am CERTAIN that you would be easily able to support this. In other words, I do NOT need to be persuaded that this assertion is true.

    Your blog has inspired me to start a new blog. Have a look!

    I welcome your responses to the entries I have posted there. Still, as always, I hope that in any comments you can offer a well-reasoned, etc., defense of the reform movement and its generally DISASTROUS achievements in school districts around the nation.

  38. Hey now the post said this:

    "We hope that this will become a forum for asking tough questions, surfacing the best ideas and a true gathering place for community insight."

    So I asked for some threads relating to some really tough issues in SPS right now:

    Lets talk about:

    Meg Diaz's report and the SPS budget and central staffing figures. SPS is top heavy, all the cuts are coming on the backs of our children.

    Charter schools. What is the Alliances position?

    The Broad Foundation's influence in SPS. What do you think?

    Cost overrun such as Garfield High School coming in at $109 million. Seriously, we need to talk about this!

    And lets talk about the Levy - the SAP hinges on voter approval.

    As somebody with very little knowledge about the Alliance I asked a question:

    Do you send money directly into the classroom or is the bulk of your funding directed to this kind of consulting work, annual reports etc?

    Finally I made two comments

    "I also saw the Hartford report and was suprised by how closely it resembled the Seattle report."

    "The superindendent should have been at Ballard last night for the community "engagement" meeting. Very telling what her priorities are at the moment."

    That is my opinion, pure and simple. Take it for what it's worth!

  39. Just a mom, Dora Taylor, Seattle Citizen, et al, perhaps you should start your own blog? Then you can rant and rave about corporations and privatization to people who want to hear it, which wouldn't be me. Under the cloak of anonymity you have hijacked this brand new blog. You are actually HURTING the very kids you say you are protecting by hindering community wide dialogue and public engagement. What parent would want to sift through all of your vile posts to actually give their feedback on any topic? Not me.

    It's quick, free and easy to start a blog - you have more than enough hissing and snarling comrades to form a tight knit community. Go for it. Keep yourselves busy. Shoo

  40. Seniorita,
    "Vile" posts? Some of us have concerns about who wants what. We have concerns about undue influence of corporations in the education of our children. This is "vile"?!
    Your derogatory language ("rant...rave...hijack...HURTING the very kids...hissing and snarling comrades" (that last one is right out of the McCarthy era! Nice use of communist phrasing to try to silence alternative opinions and comments!) tells us how much you care about other's opinions.

    I fail to see what the problem is with asking for some background. I personally am very, very concerned about corporate influence in public schools, the schools I pay for, the schools the public has provided for all children...Is this bad? Should I take my "hissing" elsewhere?

    Wow. Such venom. First W, and now you, Seniorita. "Hissing and snarling"? Get real. There are legitimate questions about Gates, Broad and other corporate contributions to the Alliance. Is this a problem for you? Don't read this blog then.

    If someone thinks they can't handle my "hissing and snarling" (hee hee! That is SO funny!) then, uh, they don't have to read my comments, now do they?

    As I've said a few times, I'm perfectly willing to engage in discussion about issues impacting our children. Including my concerns regarding corporate influence in public endeavors. Maybe you don't care about this, maybe you're fine with large corporations setting policy and directing curriculum and pedagogy. I'm not.

    Wowzers. A bit touchy, aren't we Seniorita? What's up with THAT?

  41. Hey Seniorita - I aint hiding under the cloak of anonymity... I use my REAL NAME... as does Dora... I dont think you do... You can find out all about me if you Google me...

    and "W"... our big business conspiracy theories inch ever closer to reality, when we have as a Superintendent a woman who is also on the Board of the Broad Foundation, which has as one of its core philosophies and activities the creation and funding of charter schools across this country, and has as another core agenda the placement of business and military people at the highest management levels of school districts all around the country... go see if you want to find out more...

    As Joan NE says so eloquently, most of us are sleeping in Seattle with regards to what's happening in education now.... wake up and be afraid, be very, very afraid... and if you've got the balls, join us in working to stop this reformist plague that's spreading around the country...

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. W: You wrote.
    "This blog was created, as Mr. D'Amelio writes, to discuss issues "such as teacher quality, the achievement gap, student assignment, community schools, education reform, equitable access to college to name a few".

    Please discuss. We are eager to engage in a discussion of any one of these topics.

  44. Joan, as W seems reticent, I'll jump in:
    I'd like to take "the achievement gap" for fifty, Alex.

    What is the Achievement Gap? Let's look to...Wikipedia:
    "There is no clear cause of the achievement gap within schools, but there are many cultural, genetic and structural factors that have had an impact on this discrepancy. Annette Lareau suggested that students who lack middle-class cultural capital and have limited parental involvement are likely to have lower academic achievement than their better resourced peers.[1] Other researchers suggest that academic achievement is more closely tied to race and socioeconomic status.[2] Regardless of which factors have the greatest impact on the gap, it is clear that minority students are more likely to find themselves at a distinct disadvantage in school in comparison to white students."

    So, according to THAT explanation, there are great forces OUTSIDE the schoolhouse that impact student learning.

    So now here we are, all eyes on the schools, federal policy (and dollars) pointed into the halls of academia rather than out to the mean streets of poverty and hopelessness to find a "cure" for this problem. Strange, wot?

    Some of us refer to the "acheivement gap" by what we think is its rightful name, the Opportunity Gap. Note the correlations between racism and lack of opportunity. Note the correlation between poverty and lack of opportunity.

    Many children do not have access to what we'd call "enrichment" opportunities: Parents are uneducated because they are poor and can't pay for SAT prep classes to get into college; grnadparents were shut out of college because of racist institutions; the family has no capital to invest because of redlining, so has no profit from that investment to spend on enlightening trips to the Louvre...

    As near as I can tell, the Opportunity Gap is entirely the creation of economic ostracism and racist policies OUTSIDE the schools. Umm, are those fixed yet?

  45. So, that said, what CAN educators do about the fact that some students have suffered from racism, sexism, economic pressures, generational abuse within families, drug-addicted parent(s) or guardian(s) etc ad infinitum?

    Educators can use specific, individualized data to determine where a student is at, level-wise in various areas, and use strategies to move that student up.

    Does the WASL help? Not really. Schools are "rated" on numerous cells: for each of four educational outcomes (Read, Write, Math, wonders what happened to, say, civics and art...)there are numerous categories, depending on the way the student population is identified: Some students might have checked "Black" in the little box, so they're "Black." This doesn't tell us if the kid just stepped off the plane from, say, Somali, or is the child of a Scottish mum and a Nigerian pop...or was born of the great-grandson of a slave and the great-grand-daughter of Astor...So the categories are of little help in identifying the needs of individual students.

    Do WASL scores help identify individual students who are behind in certain areas? Perhaps, with some serious caveats: cultural understanding (Q: "You're at the country club, and your riblet brakes. You a,b,c or d?") test-anxiety, hunger, abuse at home, etc etc...In other words, what was going on with kid when they sat for the test? Who knows? So there's some wiggle room in the score. But given that, the results CAN be used a general guide to say, well, this kid needs further assessment in comprehension, for instance, to see if they really are "behind" (assuming you want all children to develop at the same rate, that is, in lock-step)

    So the WASL, the PSAT, the DWA...lots of assessments CAN be used to identify potential "problem areas." Should educators assume that this "Black" child in front of them is failing? No, of course not, even thjough educators are told they're failing Black children...

    Can educators adopt lessons and strategies to teach to a variety of "sorts" of people (race, religion, economic standing, etc)? Yes, but this would require some serious differentiation (tailoring a day's lessons to be done in a variety of ways) or some serious homogenizing of lessons so they incorporate a variety of cultural elements...but this means each student in the room would still have to have base set of knowledge to understand that multi-cultural lesson...And lets not leave out different learning styles: Howard Gardner posits seven types.

    Oh, and teaching educators how to do this requires, uh, professional development in not just content area but in cultural awareness ("courageous conversations," for instance) and in dealing with abused, hungry, hopeless children of parents who either gave up or were put down.

    But if professional development "doesn't help" teachers, I guess that won't be an option anymore, now will it?

    Yes, educators can do some things to teach a variety of children. They CAN'T do anything about the situation outside, and I'd posit that until THAT'S fixed, there will always be some "groups" thsat are lagging behind the privledged, those that "have" (the "right" color, the "right" religion, the "right" understanding of the dominant culture, the "right" enrichment, the "right" parent/guardians who read them stories at night...)

  46. Seniorita said...

    Just a mom, Dora Taylor, Seattle Citizen, et al, perhaps you should start your own blog? Then you can rant and rave about corporations and privatization to people who want to hear it (...)
    It's quick, free and easy to start a blog - you have more than enough hissing and snarling comrades to form a tight knit community. Go for it. Keep yourselves busy. Shoo
    October 15, 2009 3:57 PM

    Great idea! Some of us already have:

    While Seattle Sleeps

    Seattle Education 2010

    Dolce & Nutella

    Want more? Check out these interesting reads from around the nation:

    The Perimeter Primate

    The Broad Report


    Our Global Education

    Gotham Schools

    Schools Matter

    Save Seattle Schools

    Oh, and a little historical reminder:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  47. Senorita,

    I for one am not annonymous and I do have a blog. It was recently mentioned in the Seattle Weekly as follows:

    "A thoughtful, well-crafted new schools' blog, Seattle Education 2010, raises questions about just what exactly city school leaders have in mind in the reassignment of students, schools and tax revenue." Rick Anderson

    The Alliance has had its' way with the Seattle school district since the 90's and we are saying that enough is enough.

  48. Here's a good article on "Human Capital".

    The Future of Teaching in America: Teachers as Human Capital

  49. I agree with Seattle Citizen about the "acheivemment gap" It really is an Opportunity Gap. Lot's of research coming out about how the "gap" is created during summer months when those with capital spend it on camps, travel, and just plain "free" time, which helps students retain what they have learned as well as give them educational experiences. So these students show up ahead of the pack each September. Those w/o capital are forced to send children to over crowded day camps lacking in enriching experiences.

    A great example is in a wonderful book called "I'm Down."

    You all should read it. Nothing has changed in the 20 years since the author attended SPS and the "summer camp" is eye opening.

  50. Worse than that, SPSMom, the children of those w/o capital sometimes don't even get the luxury of daycamps. We're talkin' the streets as playground, ten-year-olds taking care of five year olds as single parents are off at work...ten-year-olds hanging with the gang-bangers as the world continues its happy talk of "success" and "college-ready."
    Not only is there no progress made those months, but kids in the streets learn how to deprogress through drugs, cynicism, crime and the violent culture of "power" on the streets.

    Plenty of opportunity on some streets...for going wrong.