Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dear Mr. Hastings

I read in the paper that you donated $1,000,000.00 to a charter school that does not yet exist in my school district. A million bucks! To poor kids! Surely, this act will be praised as the further generosity of a true philanthropist, an unselfish donation from a remarkable patron of education, a selfless gift from someone who truly cares about bettering the life outcomes for the low-income children of California.

But we know better, don't we Mr. Hastings?

We know this pledge, and the political-media machine that made it public, was timed to coincide with the school's and charter promotion industry's appeal to the County Board of Education. We know this was not about generosity, not about helping kids, but rather another in a long line of attempts to weaken the institution of public education, to privatize all things public, to bring your disastrous free-market principles into domination over this, the most important aspect of public life. We know this pledge was about bringing pressure to bear on the decision-makers at the county office. We know it was a disingenuous attempt to exert your warped political views, neatly dressed up in their Sunday best as school choice and parent empowerment. Others will praise you, but we know better, don't we?

I'd like to provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to education, rather than your commitment to shackle it to corporate interests. You pledged $1 million to a school that does not exist; it may exist as soon as 2007-2008, if only it can convince someone, somewhere (besides you of course) that it is a beneficial institution. I work at a school that does exist. We have actual classes, desks, students, and teachers. You pledged $1 million to a school with a plan that has been denied once already. I work at a school from the East Side that has made its mission to provide an education of surpassing quality to Asian and Latino immigrant students, an education that is not merely good for "those kids," but for anyone, from any background, anywhere. You pledged $1 million to a school whose leaders will go door-to-door recruiting the highest performing kids from the highest involved families. I work at a school that opens its doors to everyone and says, we'll teach you how to be successful here.

We've done it with stellar teaching and instructional reform that represent the future of public schools: increased instructional minutes, built in collaboration for teachers, Saturday intervention academies, an unending dialogue of best practices, a host of after-school, extra-curricular activities. Make no mistake, the stellar teaching isn't going anywhere, but the existing instructional reforms cost money, and in the perverse punished-for-success model of school funding, our sources are drying up. While we would never allow money to negatively affect the quality of instruction we provide every student, every day, it does have the power to slow us down.

Here's where you come in, Mr. Hastings: Fund our instructional reform model. Make a pledge to help our school continue to be the most improved school in the county, as we were for the previous two years. Help us continue to bring the kind of success many deem impossible among the student populations that compose our very identity as a school community. Pledge half to a living, vibrant school what you offered to a piece of paper.

If not us, then schools like us. Prove it isn't politics, but a true commitment to education that motivates you.

Very Sincerely,

TMAO
Public School Teacher

37 Comments:

Blogger pseudostoops said...

This reminds me: you still have not applied for the pseudostoops microlending program, but I wish you would- the amount of money we're getting paid for working at law firms this summer is just silly, and I'd love to buy you a digital camera, or 132 binders, or whatever you need to make the next installment of flatbooks- you tell me. It's not $1 million, but neither is it earmarked for a particular school, program, or piece of technology that you may or may not need.

-k

5:12 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

This sounds like an amazing program... Where do I sign up?

8:30 AM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

It's a very simple application process, really: you write a proposal in the form of an email: "dear pseudostoops microlenders: I'd like one digital camera to document the ridiculousness of Room d2." Then we give you the thing (if it's sendable) or the money (if it's 132 binders, which may have prohibitively high shipping costs.)

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMAO,

Why do you think you are entitled to any of Reed's money? This is the type of attitude that makes benefactors want to set up their own charter schools.

Reed's goal is to "weaken the institution of public education"?

GET REAL

2:53 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Of course "I" am not entitled to "Reed's" (as you call him) money. No one is entitled to the property of another. Yet, as he seemed to be in a giving mood, I was offering a far more worthwhile target than a school that does not exist.

I do not believe benefactors wish to set up charter schools beholden to corporations and policy institutes as a result of my attitude.

I also believe that the goal of the benefactors of the charter school movement, not the actual teachers necessarily, but the underwriters and political button-pushers, is to undermine public education. Otherwise, they would bring their talents, influence, and money into the public sphere and work for change. Change that would soon follow if the same resources were brought to bear on the problems at hand.

I'm sorry if that does not seem real to you.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public education is not "weakened" by philantropists.

The real culprits are school bureaucrats and teachers unions. They put their own interests ahead of parents and students and are afraid of competition. Where is accountability?

Charter schools exist because many parents do not want to put their child's education in the hands of a school board and a teachers union. Your attitude that a public school is always "a far more worthwhile target" is scary as hell to many.

Those who use the bogeyman of "weakening the institution of public education" are really after their own power. Look at your own button-pushers.

7:38 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

"Charter schools exist because many parents do not want to put their child's education in the hands of a school board and a teachers union."

That is one of many reasons charter schools exist. Other reasons include the drive to privatize the entire public sphere, the embracement of superficial fixes to difficult problems, the acquisition of power, profit, an American pattern of utilizing capital (social or economic) to create isolating space between things we find unpleasant, the modern trend to destroy all unions, egos, and of course legitimately good intentions and a desire to improve education for a tiny percentage of students.

It also bears noting that a child's education rests in the hands of a teacher, not a union or a democratically elected school board.

"Your attitude that a public school is always "a far more worthwhile target" is scary as hell to many."

I do not believe public schools are always more worthwhile, and I've never wrote anything of the kind. But high-performing, reform-minded public schools that provide high-quality education to the most high-risk populations are. Finally, I think schools that exist are always more worthwile than schools that do not exist, and are currently having difficulties convincing anyone that they should exist.

As for your attacks on unions, there wasn't much to back up the assertions so let me say this: When unions benefit the work environments and professional prospects for teachers, kids win. When work environments lack quality(a salary I could raise a family on, affordable health care, etc.) the best teachers leave and students are hurt proportionately. Are teacher-unions dragging a little behind the times? Sure. Do they occasionally take technically accurate positions that are disastrous in terms of P.R.? Sure. Are the educational prospects of all kids better off because they exist? Of course.

Perhaps that is why charter school employees in L.A. are fighting/ have fought for the right to collectively bargain.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck raising private donations with this attitude.

No benefactor wants to fund bureaucrats and unions. Donors want accountability for the money they put up. This means real results and this is anathema to public sector.

America was not built by bureaucrats and unions, but is being destroyed by them. Look at GM.

Good intentions like yours lead to hell.

9:12 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Um, okay.

9:22 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

Little did you know, tmao, that you were headed to hell for all your hard work and your political opinions.

How frightening to think that "real results is anathema to the public sector." Is there a limiting principle to this theory? This is a serious question. Should we privatize literally everything? Would there be ANY problems you would see with this, anon?

TMAO, feel free to tell me to shut up and let this topic die, but I'm sort of curious.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

The issue that gets me going the most in this case is the cheery acceptance of forcing a charter school into a school district against its will. That's now the standard process if a district rejects a charter proposal and the charter backers are willing to keep fighting.

At a forum on charter schools, I asked Caprice Young, California's top charter spokesperson, if a school district could ever really work well with a charter school that was forced upon it against its will. For a person who's paid to be the voice of the charter movement, she was surprisingly unprepared for this obvious question. She stammered a bit and then said something like "they'd just have to learn to get along."

Charter backers have already pooh-poohed me on this in other forums, but I maintain that it's undemocratic and downright scary to eliminate a school board's power to choose what schools it oversees, along with imposing schools that have absolutely no accountability and can do anything -- absolutely anything -- they want, answering to no one.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding !!!

"Forcing a charter school into a school district against its will."

Who are the district bureaucrats to tell parents they cannot have their own school? Do not tell me they can do as they please because they are elected. If you follow this logic you must be very happy with George W. Bush.

Caprice Young is right. School districts better learn to get along with their constituents.

Sorry, I forgot. They do not care about parents. They have to return favor to unions who put them in office.

10:57 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

What if it's against the parents' will? This has happened. There are parents who are reluctant to see their school's community fragmented by a new school. Would you conclude that they are just uneducated and thus the school should come in anyway? Or, if the parents took a vote, district-wide, and said "no" to a new charter school, would you then be satisfied that it is not the right school for that community?

4:58 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I'm a parent myself, not a teacher or an "educrat." With about 3 seconds' thought, it's not too hard to recognize that parents' wishes are not ALWAYS the paramount gauge of what's best for kids. I may want my kids' schools to get vastly more funding than all other schools in the district, which is in conflict with what's best for all the students in the district.

Also, as a close follower of the saga of Edison Schools, I saw just how Edison makes the "happy parents" happy, and I see indications of the same stuff at other charters. First, they dump all the troublesome and challenging kids onto other district schools by "counseling them out." Obviously, this is unfair to the rest of the schools in the district. Second, they grade-inflate up the wazoo. Wow, my kid who was making D's and F's before is now a B student!

None of this benefits the school district overall. So it's a good example of how "happy parents" aren't the be-all and end-all gauge of what's best for the students.

I saw a gushing news report on a supposedly successful L.A. K-8 charter that mentioned that its students struggled when they moved into regular high school. The clueless and gullible news reporter took the charter advocates' word that this indicated that the charter was better than the regular high school. But anyone with an ounce of critical judgment can see that it raises a red flag that the charter is NOT preparing graduates adequately for high school. This happens with Edison grads in San Francisco too (some of whom land in my own kids' middle school).

8:10 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Pseudostoops,

No, don't shut up. Say your piece. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I was off with the other members of my coven, uh, union. We had a great meeting, lots of fires and chanting, and the Horned One appeared! Even better, I left with a mandate to lower expectations for all my students!


Anonymous,

It is a false premise that every charter school is started based on overwhelming parent desire for "choice." It's a talking point and a rhetorical device used to tap into American's love of consumerism.

At the board meeting I attended where the charter school in question had their proposal voted down, I saw not one parent from our school district clammering to be heard by the democratically elected school board held in sway by the evil union. I saw lawyers, educrats, CEOs of the school in question, members of the political organization that used to advocate for universal child health care but now just wants to open schools, and a whole flock of parents from other schools, in other districts, affiliated with the organization in question, decked out in matching shirts like they were heading to a playoff baseball game. The parent component of so many of these organizations is superficial. It exists, but your notion of the grassroots groundswell being grossly silenced in no way matches
the viewpoint of those most directly involved.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Tmao, I keep feeling compelled to re-post your comments on the sfschools listserve and blog ( www.sfschools.org )-- I've already done this with your original "Dear Mr. Hastings" post. Now I'm itching to re-post your subsequent comment (just above this one) too. I'm not really sure if this is proper Netiquette. Is it OK?

BTW, my primary motive here is to convince the badly duped San Francisco "progressives" who are supporting charters, not understanding what they're all about. They're misled by the "Look, Ma, no rules!" image.

10:06 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Caroline,

I think I've demonstrated in the past that I know nothing at all about Netequette. Nevertheless, that seems totally fine with me.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Memo to Unionistas: Stop being intellectually dishonest

If charter schools are really so bad and the parents really do not want them you have nothing to worry about!

If what you say is true the public schools are so great then parents will be falling all over themselves to send kids to you.

But wait, you do not really believe what you say and are afraid of real accountability. How nice is it to be a union member knowing that no matter how much you screw up you cannot get fired or miss out on a raise!

NOW, I have news for you.

Unions are their own worst enemies. You are burning down your house by debasing standards, raising costs and destroying service.

City of San Diego was being pushed into bankruptcy by an egregious union contract. Now every citizen knows who to blame and union pensions are in jeopardy.

General Motors unions won veto power over management decisions. Now GM is hamstrung and keeps losing marketshare. Union jobs and hallowed pensions are on the chopping block.

California prison guards pushed through a whopping 40% raise during the worst economic crisis. Result? Prisons are being taken over by the federal court and union rules are out of the window.

There is no free lunch my union friends. Stop deluding yourself and learn to live in the real world like everyone else.

The farther you overreach today the sooner will be your day of reckoning.

5:10 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

Anon,

I almose think it's not worth it at this point to try to get you to clarify your position, because you seem so unwilling to do anything but bash unions, but you sidestepped my question. I didn’t ask whether I should be “worried.” I am not a teacher, and I am not unionized; neither my job nor my personal philosophy are at stake here. What I asked was, if parents in a district, through a democratic vote, say “let’s not open a charter school; instead, let’s take that money and use it in our existing public schools to try to reinstate programs that have been cut, buy materials that are lacking, and make it so that every kid is getting a better education,” would you respect their wishes, or do you think that your version of accountability is so far superior to theirs that the charter should proceed anyway? You might think they’re being naïve- that’s not what I asked, either. Would you respect what they said? Would you let them give it a shot?

You seem particularly concerned about accountability, but it’s not clear to me what you mean by that. Does it mean happy parents? Because yeah, if I were a parent and had to choose between the mediocre public school that has had to cut sports and music and the mediocre charter school that’s been allowed to keep those things because they’re free from certain budget constraints, I would choose the school with soccer and flute lessons. But that’s not accountability. Being able to force out those kids who aren’t making the grade to increase test scores isn’t accountability either. So until you put a finer point on “accountability,” I’m not sure what’s so magical about charters that makes them the exclusive keepers of accountability. Unions seems to really get under your skin- so what do you make of unionized charter school teachers?

There are certainly problems with the public schools, and I don’t think anyone here has claimed that they’re so great that parents are fighting to get their kids into them. My concern is that our new love for charter schools reflects a belief that public schools are so far gone as to be unsavable. There will always be kids in gen. ed schools, and unless you’re willing to say that for some reason they deserve a worse education, then the “more charters” model is never going to be good enough, because there will always be kids that don’t get in, don’t want in, or don’t fit in and get counseled out. Maybe that’s okay for you, but it’s just not okay for me.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, pseudostoops. Now we are starting to have an intelligent discussion.

My rants about the unions were caused by TMAO's inflammatory rhetoric about "button pushers" and his dragging of a notable philantropist through the mud. Ideological politics exists (and poisons) both sides of the issue, but TMAO's hypocrisy had to be exposed.

Now about what is best for schools.

Accountability is "ability to account for results". This means creating incentives for doing a good job and disincentives for doing a poor job. No private sector enterprise can survive free market competition without demanding accountability from everyone, which means compelling every employee to give their best. Private sector managers are empowered to create these incentives and disincentives. But in unionized workplace, you cannot ask workers to do anything not currently in the contract and if they are not giving their best, you cannot compel them to. There are many good passionate teachers. But there are those not pulling their weight. Dragging everyone down.

Does it mean all things / people public sector are bad? No. But the system condones slips away from excellence rather than encourages improvement. The forces of gravity take over and drag everyone to the lowest (but equal!) denominator. It is particularly galling how teachers' lobby refuses to even acknowledge the accountability issues, starting with merit pay and tenure.

Next I want to address your premise that forcing everyone in the district to get the same type of education is a good thing. Consider these points:

1) Kids and parents are not all the same. They have different goals, needs and wants.
2) Choice is not a "concoction of right-wing think tanks" (pro-choice, huh :>>). This is what the majority of Americans want every day. Consumerism is here to stay. No one likes monopolies.
3) School district boundaries are rather arbitrary anyway. This means the standards are already different between districts and resources do move when people move.
4) The notion that an elected district board can speak for every resident on every matter does not hold water. Issues that important should go on to the ballot.
5) Quality of schools is often a deciding factor in choice of neighborhood. Banning a charter means the tax base will go somewhere else, taking their school money.

So yes, the choice of services (charters vs. public) and ideas / politicians (democracy) are equally important to all of us. Sure you could try and ban a charter through a "democratic process". But this means the people can move somewhere else and you will still have the same resource allocation issues. Different people will always want to do things differently.

You note that there is "belief that public schools are so far gone as to be unsavable". While I personally do not think so, this is a growing opinion. The more the unions and educrats resist real reform the faster this opinion will spread and force a drastic overhaul over their heads. See my prior comment on how the other bureaucratic / union-driven enterprises tend to fare.

I hope our school system can be fixed to provide a harmonious public-private co-existence, but the ideological zealots (on both sides of the issue) keep aiming for world domination. Unions and educrats are causing more harm than people like Reed Hastings.

7:05 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

"but TMAO's hypocrisy had to be exposed."

How do you think you're doing with that? As for mud, you slung more in that one sentence than I did with my entire post. And with greater intentionality.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMAO:

You started the mudslinging. I brought balance to the argument.

I guess you do not have a good rebuttal for the fact of being a hypocrit: you accuse Reed Hastings as being a pawn of "political button-pushers" while not willing to admit being one yourself.

10:04 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anonymous,

Go ahead and provide the quote. Quote me writing that or even implying it.

I did not refute your assertion that I was pawn, because it was one of countless baseless accusations and plain silly remarks. I can tell you though, those union meetings where they force us to take LSD and implant suggestions into our neocortexes, those have really changed the way I veiw the world.

You have mostly refused to reason, choosing instead to throw out talking points and bulleted sound bites. When people have engaged you, you've failed to respond, failed to demonstrate an understanding of their assertion, or responding in a superficial manner yet again.

So I'm a "hypocrit."
I also "don't believe what I say."
And am "afraid of accountability."

I guess we'll just have to take your word for it.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not need LSD or implants to be a hypocrite. You are the way you are without that help.

Quote: "the goal of the benefactors of the charter school movement, not the actual teachers necessarily, but the underwriters and political button-pushers, is to undermine public education"

This is an accusation that Reed Hastings is a tool for some "sinister political agenda". While you are pushing the opposing agenda with as much fervor.

You are ducking direct questions and factual statements by bringing up stupid jokes and invoking "soundbite" and "talking point" rhetoric. Maybe a better career fit for you would be a full-time political operative rather than teacher.

Can you actually answer to my bullet points (#1-5) on merit?

How are your methods different from those you accuse?

Can you reason without falling back on ideology?

11:44 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anonymous,

The quote you provided (from the comments section) in no way supports your claim that I was making accusations of tool-ness, pawn-ity, or dupe-dum. I don't believe the man in question is a tool of these forces, I think he is one of the leaders, and my writing procedes in the vein. I also do not believe that I am, in some way, controlled by shadowy forces, and you have offered nothing to demonstrate otherwise.

I think it is interesting, that after posting a series of nonsensical garbage, you suddenly want your arguments #1-5 to be taken on merit. But okay.

"1) Kids and parents are not all the same. They have different goals, needs and wants."

Yup. Correspondingly, not every district, school, classroom, lesson, or instructional grouping is the same.

"2) Choice is not a "concoction of right-wing think tanks" (pro-choice, huh :>>). This is what the majority of Americans want every day. Consumerism is here to stay. No one likes monopolies."

Who are you quoting?
Yes, Americans like to consume. So much so that they run up debt at greater rates then they save, according to the Fed. So much so that in Oakland, you have parents treating the school system like a buffet, sampling a little bit of this, and a little of that, their 4th graders having attended 7 schools since kindergarten.

"3) School district boundaries are rather arbitrary anyway. This means the standards are already different between districts and resources do move when people move."

Yes, different districts have different tax bases.

"4) The notion that an elected district board can speak for every resident on every matter does not hold water. Issues that important should go on to the ballot."

And frequently do. Nevertheless, representative democracy is the political system this country is founded on. Why should schools be held to a different standard?

"5) Quality of schools is often a deciding factor in choice of neighborhood. Banning a charter means the tax base will go somewhere else, taking their school money."

So parents can exercise the importance of #1 and their love of #2 through #5? Apparently, #2 is already built into the system. In any event, I don't think this is happening on anything approaching a significant scale, but if you can demonstrate it is, I'd love to see the data.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we are starting to reason.

I do not think a distinction between "leader" and "pawn" is that clear-cut in most cases and on both sides of the issue. But you clearly have accused Reed Hastings of siding with the forces of darkness. If I am wrong, could you praise him then for giving $1M of his own money to education?

Your comments on #1-5 are more balanced now, but here are a few missing points:

#2> This is not your quote, but it is consistent with what you are implying. Consumerism is not the same as reckless spending, it is desire for choice. The point is you are going against the grain with voters (even if not in your area) by restricting this choice.

#3> If you acknowledge that resources are uneven across districts then why would you insist on homogenious allocation via public monopoly within each district? Sorry for bringing up unions again, but charters are threatening your membership. So I want to ask you for an argument not related to their interests.

#4> If you are such a fan of representative democracy you should not be outraged that charter backers are appealing to county board of education. This is due process. Why should decisions of district board be final and infallible? Who is to say what level a particular issue is to be decided at?

#5> I do not have surveys, but hear "quality of schools" as a key factor in choosing a place to settle down from many parents. Many of these moves happen over long period of time and result in communities of very different demographics. Hillsborough is nothing like East Palo Alto, but this change came about over maybe the whole post-WWII era.

I do not have enough info to gauge the real public sentiment in your particular district. But I would take an exception with blanket statements that parent choice is bad and charters are evil. As I would object to notion that democracy means recognizing district board vote, but not appeal to county board and advocacy of charters in media.

Lastly, you have not answered how your methods are different from those who you accuse. Looks to me like hardball politics with plenty of distortion, name calling and playing to emotion.

But sadly that is our political culture.

3:09 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

Anon,

Drawing the analogy between charter schools and the business sector is understandably appealing, but I think also deeply flawed. On the one hand, you have school districts like Palo Alto, (or Winnetka in Illinois or Cherry Creek in Colorado,) where there aren’t any charter schools, (and very few private schools,) because the public schools are so good that parents don’t give a rat’s ass about “choice.” In these places, people don’t seem all that riled up about their lack of choice and the public school “monopoly.” So saying that people demand choice is sort of an overstatement. (Side note: you’re right that people choose houses based on school district- these are precisely the kinds of neighborhoods where people move for the schools. But “choice” in the form of “which district to move into” is not the same as “choice” within a district. Maybe, as you suggest, parents will choose to move into the district with “choice” within it, but my suspicion is that they move where school is best, period, and are less concerned about the charter/no charter distinction.)

The other objection I have to the analogy is the fact that it lines up so imperfectly with what happens in schools. For starters, in a business, with at-will employment and no tenure, you also tend to have a much easier-to-measure output. How many widgets did that person make? How many new clients did she bring in? How much revenue did she generate? These things are much harder to measure in a school. An obvious answer is to base this on test scores, but such a system would get the incentives precisely backwards: it would encourage teachers to take the highest-achieving, English-speaking kids and would discourage people from taking the lowest-performing, hardest-to-reach, ni una palabra de ingles kids who need the best teachers the most. In a business, the people who work harder tend to make more money for the company- in education, it’s not nearly that linear.

Finally, middle school is not college, and I get that, but tenure exists at the university level in part to protect people who agitate and say things that aren’t popular, and to allow them to take risks with their teaching and their research. Those issues extend, though slightly differently, down into elementary and secondary school. TMAO, for example, (sorry buddy,) can be a total pain in the ass- he doesn’t let the principal get away with anything, he demands excellence of other teachers, he doesn’t wear Halloween themed sweaters because he doesn’t do “cute.” He doesn’t always play nicely with others. Were he not working with a tremendous principal, I might be worried about his job security, (yes! even with the union!) because he does some pretty off the wall things. But he gets it done in the classroom. Period. And I’m not convinced that we’re ever going to have an “accountability” system that is so precise that he wouldn’t be at risk for dismissal under a lesser principal because he makes too many waves. I agree that it should be easier to fire teachers who do a miserable job. But I don't think a total abandonment of unions and a head-first dive into school choice and privatization will get you all the improvement that you want, and it comes at substantial cost to the public schools left behind.

7:43 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

The most recent comment was deleted at the request of its (the post's) author.

1:16 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anonymous,

As this debate continues, you are consistently distorting and misrepresenting my arguments and positions. You've done so again in this last post.

"But you clearly have accused Reed Hastings of siding with the forces of darkness. If I am wrong, could you praise him then for giving $1M of his own money to education?"

I have asserted that he is a leader in the California charter school movement, (again, not a pawn) and that said movement has numerous negative implications for public education and the American school system's mandate to provide all children (again, all) with a quality education. I believe the timing of the donation was such that it was intended to influence the deliberation of the board and achieve a political end. Given that the school he gave the money to does not exist, will only educated around 200 kids in the first years it exists, and that there are many quality schools for which the funding mechanism in education will put a strain upon, any one whose first priority is to benefit education, would be likely to choose a different target for giving. You have never challenged these assertions in any substantial way. You have misrepresented them, but not addressed them.

In so far as that one money may one day possibly reach some students, maybe, hey: Good job, fella.

"This is not your quote, but it is consistent with what you are implying."

1) Then do not quote.
2) No it isn't. Read again.

"If you are such a fan of representative democracy you should not be outraged that charter backers are appealing to county board of education."

Please quote me in my outrage over the appeals process. I expressed frustration and disgust that a gift of money would be used to influence this appeal. Furthermore, it is BECAUSE I am a fan of representative democracy that I believe that the representatives most closely connected to the issue at hand should have the ultimate say. No the state, which has begun authorizing charter, not a county board, not a political group with little or no ties to the community. Now before you claim the representatives silenced the parents in this case, let us go back to the board meeting you did not attend, where not one parent from our school district spoke in favor of the since denied charter. Not one.

"If you acknowledge that resources are uneven across districts then why would you insist on homogenious allocation via public monopoly within each district?"

I did not insist upon that, and it, moreover, does not exist anyway.

"Lastly, you have not answered how your methods are different from those who you accuse. Looks to me like hardball politics with plenty of distortion, name calling and playing to emotion."

For starters, I do not have millions of dollars with which to attempt to influence a political process. I advocate for the things I believe on a blog read by about 100 people a day. As for distortion and name-calling, they do exist on both sides, but I do not believe they were to be found in the original post.

I'll debate these issues with you, but if you cannot distinguish between what I actually wrote and what you wish I had written, then it becomes a huge waste of time.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree this is a waste of time.

If you already made up your mind that private & charter education is evil with no exceptions and want to be selective with facts, so be it.

Unions (especially teacher's unions) spend much more political money on aggregate than charter backers, look at campaign finance disclosures. We know what they have done to Governor's props to bring modest accountability on public education.

Do not pretend to be David battling Goliath, no one would believe that. You are supporting a well-oiled political machine, whether or not you take orders or "advocate for the things I believe on". These things sound like typical CTA talking points, even though you are probably not in control of their political budget.

If you think state/county should have nothing to do with school control / appeal process, maybe you should give up funding from taxes they levy. Your fight with charter schools is about allocation of that money. Only fair to let appeal go to the level where the money is coming from.

Or do you think democracy is good only when it produces the result you want?

7:51 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anonymous,

That last post is completely indicative of the type of assumption-making and distortion I referenced earlier. You cannot find evidence of the kind of thought you ascribe to me, and yet feel free to attack what you think I'm thinking.

If you notice, I've paid you the courtesy of only debating the points you have actually raised. It's unfortunate you have not seen fit to do the same.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I do not want to argue over evidence. This is not a criminal trial.

Can you clearly confirm or deny the positions I believe your statements might allude to?

Do you believe charters & private education have no redeeming qualities?

Do you really believe unions do not outspend charter backers in political campaigns?

Do you think democracy is good only when it produces the result you want (charter ban)?

Do you think state / county should not have say over how their tax money is spent by school districts?

If you think these are trivial matters and do not want to answer... Well do not.

1:01 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

"Do you believe charters & private education have no redeeming qualities?"

Of course not. Both entities are staffed by dedicated individuals with good intentions. What I object to is the charter school movement as a cure or a fix or a reform for the challenges that face public schools. What I object to is the artificial creation of demand, and the elevation of choice as a first principle, of choice being more important than the goal of universal quality. What I object to is the notion that the magic 20% will somehow create an avalanche of reform, when all logic points to the exact opposite.

Going a little deeper, I think charter schools can play an important role as incubators of innovation, places where instructional and structural reform can be attempted, studied, and modeled, in preparation for a crossover to public schools. The locus of our action here should not be to streamline the process by which a gross minority of families can attempt to improve their educational opportunities, but rather work toward the day when a quality education is available to all children. I oppose charter schools because they are an embodiment of the Life Raft Theory of Education, this notion that the ship is unavoidably sinking, and our only hope left is to bring in the life rafts to save the few. My experience has taught me that nothing is beyond repair, systematic reform is far easier than the nay-sayers and sky-fallers would have us believe, and that a policy of reverse Robin Hood, even in the event of total collapse, is not ever a path I would feel comfortable taking.

"Do you really believe unions do not outspend charter backers in political campaigns?"

In formal campaigns, like the gubenatorial race or the recent proposition battle? Probably not. In the local grind? Absolutely. Mr. Hastings alone has spent/pledged $2 million to 1 real school and 1 hypothetical school in my district alone. I know my union has not begun to match that level of spending.

"Do you think democracy is good only when it produces the result you want (charter ban)?"

No. Please read what I wrote on the functioning of democracy in this issue.

"Do you think state / county should not have say over how their tax money is spent by school districts?"

No.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMAO,

Your answers sound reasonable. It mystifies me then why wouldn't you look for ways to work with charter backers.

Sure, there is a school of thought that you have to drag an opponent through mud to win something. But the more reasonable you sound the more people you can win over.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hey, tmao, I'm going to challenge you on this one. Can anyone cite a single example?

<<< I think charter schools can play an important role as incubators of innovation, places where instructional and structural reform can be attempted, studied, and modeled, in preparation for a crossover to public schools. >>>

I asked charter goddess (OK, I use a meaner word in private) Caprice Young that question at a Commonwealth Club event on charters last year: Can you name some innovations being piloted in charters? Her response was beyond lame -- she mentioned things like language programs.

So, can anybody?

9:26 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Caroline,

I do not believe it is happening, or at least not in any substantial way. The closest thing may be OUSD's attempt to draw "autonomous small schools" closer to District control once they demonstrate something that looks like success.

But it should work this way. I do not believe charter/ small schools have been successful in reforming education, because weakening an existing system and addressing the needs of the few is not true reform, but they have been successful in piloting various instructional and structural models, and demonstrating their viability, (or not). Here I'm thinking of the success of longer school days, the value of Saturday instruction, the importance of increased principal control (overing hiring, over the budget), teacher collaboration models, etc. These ideas need to move back into the public school system and inform improvements.

They aren't. And I think the blame lies on both sides, although not equally and not in the same ways.

Charter schools cannot offer reform, because they are Kirkegaard's lateral movement, contigent on that which they seek to provide alternatives for, but they can offer empirical evidence to base future reform efforts upon.

3:43 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Update, 15 months later:

The school still doesn't exist.

8:49 AM  

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