Dear Governor Gregoire and State Senators,
I am a Seattle Public Schools parent and voter.
I am also an advocate for public education that is free of political and corporate agendas. I support a collaborative, cooperative learning environment for all our children. I don't believe in scapegoating teachers or principals for the greater socioeconomic issues of our nation that affect how well children do in school.
I believe there is an opportunity this session to do damage to our kids and schools, spurred on by the budget crisis. So I urge you to vote NO on SB 6696.
I believe that the Obama administration's mandates for "education reform" are heavy- handed, at times downright draconian, and show a complete disregard for local autonomy and disrespect for the profession of teaching. The recent spate of mass firings of teachers and sacrificing of principals in Marysville and Rhode Island and now Tacoma is unconscionable and alarming. Surely you agree.
Do you really want to be a party to that? Unfortunately, that is where this current form of "education reform" is leading. I urge you to stand up and say "No! Washington does not need this kind of destructive 'reform.'"
This brand of "education reform" also puts a heavy emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing, which I believe is of limited use. Here in Seattle, for example, the district is making children as young as 5 take a computerized test (MAP) three times a year -- kids who may not yet know how to read, hold a mouse, and should not be subject to such stress so soon.
Studies by esteemed universities, Stanford and Vanderbilt, show that two key components of Education Secretary Duncan's "Race to the Top" frenzy are seriously flawed and do not amount to positive change. The CREDO report out of Stanford showed that charters perform no better -- in fact, most perform worse -- than regular public schools.
A recent report by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt Unviersity, showed that "merit pay" does not work. It does NOT improve student achievement. Even the Gates Foundation's latest survey of 40,000 teachers supports this fact.
Please also see: "The Pillars of Education Reform Are Toppling."
Also, do you realize how little money a RTT grant amounts to per child? As little as $85 a child. Why should our state be strong-armed into changing its laws and adopting questionable "reforms" just for a one-time cash infusion that really amounts to a mere pittance?
For these reasons, I oppose legislation that is geared toward helping our state achieve dubious and damaging "Race to the Top" goals.
Therefore, I urge you to OPPOSE this effort to win a "Race to the Top" grant: Senate Bill 6696.
This bill will NOT improve our schools and NOT lead to better outcomes for kids.
We already have innovative schools and programs in Washington state -- high scoring Nova Alternative High School and numerous other alternative schools, the popular Aviation High, as well as the top performing Accelerated Progress Program in Seattle.
Let us retain our local autonomy and replicate what we know works for us, and not capitulate to demands from the federal government that we embrace two extremely flawed "solutions" -- privately run charters and "merit pay" tied to high-stakes standardized testing.
Washington can do better.
For more information, please visit: Seattle Education 2010: http://www.seattle-ed.
Thank you for your consideration of my thoughts.