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About this website

Page history last edited by joan@mathascent.org 11 years, 11 months ago

This workspace:  http://racetothetop.pbworks.com

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I created this site because

 

  • In the course my work on a school committee formed to address the prospect of the District's commissing an outside audit of alternative schools, I accidentally learned that our superintendent is a "Broad Superintendent."  This was just a few months ago (Sept. 21, 2009). This fact piqued my interest, and lead me on a path of investigation. I soon discovered that what appeared to me to be an intent by the current district leadership to squash alternative schools, was just one piece of a much larger agenda. I eventually came to understand that what is happening in our district is intimately related to dynamics that are playing out in many medium and large districts accross the country, and at state and national levels.  In October or November of last year I created a blog that was a kind of diary of my efforts to assimilate and make sense of all the disparate information I was finding (whileseattlesleeps.blogspot.com).
  • To understand what is happenning in SPS, I found that I needed to educate myself about many related topics: 
    • Education Reform Movement, school choice movement, charter schools;
    • Histories of reform in many school districts around the country: e.g. chicago, LA, Oakland, SF, NY, WA DC, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsurgh;
    • School restructuring, district interventions, Federal models of school restructuring; school turnaround, school transformation, reconstitution, CSIPS;
    • High Stakes Testing; Instructional Leadership; curriculum alignment, teaching-to-the-test; social promotion, 
    • Teacher Quality, teacher effectiveness, merit pay, value-added models, RIF, teacher seniority; teacher evaluation
    • NCLB, ESEA, school improvement ladder, SB6696, Race-to-the-Top, Core24, Common Core State Standards,
    • Title 1 of the ESEA, Targetted Assistance, school-wide, and blended programs, LAP;
    • Reform math, standards-based math, Inquiry math, balanced math curriculum 
    • Dianne Ravitch; John Dewey, E.D. Hirsch, constructivist models of learning, core knowledge;
    • ww.FairTest.org; authentic assessment; 
    • models of governance of non-profits, models of effective school boards, mayoral control;
    • Seattle Public Schools strategic plan, audit reports, budgets, School Board policies, levies
    • State and local Astroturf organizations:  League of Education Voters, CCSP, Stand For Children, Alliance for Education
    • Writ of Mandamus; administrative records, "arbitrary and capricious" arguments in legal appeals of school board decisions.

 

  • I have looked to see what has happened on other districts that have Broad Superintendents and that are much further along the "reform" path than is SPS. What I see is very alarming to me.   I soon met a small number of other parents in the city who also had similar curiosity as did I. We starting using the saveseattleschools.blogspot.com as a venue for educating the public about our findings and concerns.  Our numbers are now growing rapidly.  Some of us have created our own blogs and websites for disseminating information (see, e.g. seattle-ed.blogspot.com)
  • I discovered last fall that the Race-to-the-Top program is part of a very ambitious Education Reform Agenda. I have played close attention to this, and to pro-RttT lobbying and legislating in this state. 
  • I have made an effort to become knowledgeable about RttT, and the "education reform" bills that worked their way through the legislatrure in the most recent session.  The key ed-reform bill was SB6696. I wrote a number of letter to legislators, and supplied them with many arguments against this bill.
  • From my extensive readings I have concluded that the Education Reform agenda, if it comes to full fruitiion in SPS will cause tremendous harm to our children, and especially to our minority and low income children, our children with special needs, and even harm to higghly gifted, students whose parents can't afford high quality private schools and or private tutoring.  
  • There is not doubt that our current Superintendent is committed to reforming SPS, and she has the full support of most of the current School Board members. 
  • I found people were reluctant to sign an anti-RttT petition without first researching the topic themselves.  It is difficult to find anything by pro-RttT propogranda and superficial treatment on the web. This site is an attempt to fill that void. For now, it is quite informal, and not well organized; I hope to improve this in the days to come. 

While the birth of activism in public education was ignited by concern about the fate of my child's school, I now see that my children will suffer relatively little from reform of SPS;  that is because my husband and I have personal and financial resources that we can bring to bear on our child's education. I am motivated now by the grave worries I have for less advantaged children. These children will suffer the most from Education Reform prescriptions for change. 

In the course of this adventure, I have meant many wonderful men and women who share my concerns. There is a rich exchange of information and ideas and much cooperation that has already occured within this growing network of activists.

 

I have the luxury of not having to work for income, so for me, right now, this work is my job. I am trying to do the research, the synthesis, the theorizing (about constructive change alternatives to Education Reform might look like), and grass roots organizing that I am sure many people would be doing if they could.  I hope those among us who care about the schools and all children in Seattle but who can't put the time into this that I and my collaborators are able, can find the work we do helpful. Those of us doing this work understand that most people don't have the time we do.  We just ask that you show up once in a while for rallies, sign the petitions we send out, talk to your child's teachers about certain topics that we suggest, and, once we have a way to manage a budget responsibly, will donate small amounts to our yet-to-be named genuine grassroots organization.

I am optimistic that we can overcome the outside forces that are shaping our school district to the detriment of our children and our community.  It will take creativity, strategic planning, an effective communications plan, coordination of efforts, and a modest budget.  I stress the strategic planning as central to success. If we all  prioritize our personal activism interests in relation to an overarching strategic plan, then we will can be successful. If we don't do this, any success will develop over a much longer time scale. For our current generation of students, this is not fast enough.

Please visit seattle-ed.blogspot.com. This may be a good way to connect with the growing network of activists. Another way is to attend the twice monthly school board meetings and introduce yourself to communiity members that give testimony at those meetings.

 

Joan Sias May 6 2010

 

Note 1. In the course my work on a school committee formed to address the prospect of the District's commission an outside audit of alternative schools, I accidentally learned that our superintendent is a "Broad Superintendent."  This was just a few months ago (Sept. 21, 2009). My interest was peaked by the fact that the Broad Foundataion website indicated a social justice agenda - which to me is a positive -, yet there seemed to little interest on the District's part for teh public to find out about this.  This perplexed me, and left me suspicious.  I started doing extensive research to understand  what the Broad Foundation was REALLY about, and to understand the implications of and extent of the Broad Foundation;s involvement in our distict. ,This research lead me to learning many disturbing things about the priorities of the Broad Foundataion and the Education Reform Movement. I have looked to see what has happened on other districts that have Broad Superintendents and that are much further along the "reform" path than is SPS. What I see is very alarming to me.   I soon met a small number of other parents in the city who were also had similar curiosity as did I. We starting using the saveseattleschools.blogspot.com as a venue for educating the public about our findings and concerns.  Our numbers are now growing rapidly.

 

Note 2.  If I were a fan of Ed Reform, I would be saying that our Superintendent is extraordinarily effective.  She is implementing reforms at an extraordinarily rapid place. Anyone who has read Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine" will recognize her strategies as being inspired by Milton Friedman, the godfather of privatization, structural readjustment of national economies (including the U.S.'s domestic economy, begining with Reagan's reforms), school vouchers, and privatization of public education.

 



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