Excerpt From an Open Letter to Arne Duncan from Herb Kohl

"...I discovered then, in my early teaching career, that learning is best driven by ideas, challenges, experiences, and activities that engage students. My experience over the past 45 years has confirmed this.

We have come far from that time in the '60s. Now the mantra is high expectations and high standards. Yet, with all that zeal to produce measurable learning outcomes we have lost sight of the essential motivations to learn that moved my students. Recently I asked a number of elementary school students what they were learning about and the reactions were consistently, "We are learning how to do good on the tests." They did not say they were learning to read.

It is hard for me to understand how educators can claim that they are creating high standards when the substance and content of learning is reduced to the mechanical task of getting a correct answer on a manufactured test." (Summer 2009)

Nova High School Relocated

Nova High School Relocated

Merit Pay

"I would like to know who in our country would like their pay to be based on the actions of a group of children."

Laurie, in response to R. Weingartner, On Point, 1/26/10

Merit pay is an issue that is closely associated with charter schools and is a reiteration of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Basically, it requires that teachers pay be based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. For our students, it could be the new MAP test. With the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers and staff were pressured to teach much of the class work to the standardized tests. With so much focus on the test, many other parts of knowledge building, creativity and understanding of subjects and their synthesis with other knowledge had to take a back seat. For many students, teaching to a test meant that they were not able to reach their full potential which would have been far beyond the level of the tests.

No one wins in this situation.

Part of the fallout also is that if a teacher's pay is based on how well their students test, many teachers will want to teach in a school where they know that the students will perform well. Those schools are, for the most part, not the schools that are predominately minority in population.

Some students do not perform well on standardized tests for many different reasons and yet a teacher's pay can be tied to that student's performance. High stakes testing also puts pressure and stress on the students who become burdened with the thought that they need to perform well on one test. The test becomes a focus with little opportunity to explore and have fun learning, creating and synthesizing new thoughts and ideas.

Update: The Governor of Texas has decided to opt out of the Race to the Top funding because of the ineffectiveness of the merit pay program that was in effect for three years inthe state.

Update: March 8, 2010 Principal to be removed from school in Wasington State due to low WASL scores.

What Is a Charter School?

The basic difference between a traditional public school and a privately run charter school is that with a charter school there is complete control of the school by a private enterprise within a public school district. Although taxpayer-funded, charters operate without the same degree of public and district oversight of a standard public school. Most charter schools do not hire union teachers which means that they can demand the teacher work longer hours including weekends at the school site and pay less than union wages. Charter schools take the school district's allotment of money provided for each student within the public schools system and use it to develop their programs. In many systems, they receive that allotment without having to pay for other costs such as transportation for students to and from the school. Some states, such as Minnesota, actually allocate more than what is granted to public school students.

A charter school can expel any student that it doesn't believe fits within its standards or meets its level of expectation in terms of test scores. If the student is dropped off the rolls of the charter school, the money that was allotted for that student may or may not be returned to the district at the beginning of the next year. That is dependent upon the contract that is established by each district.

Also, according to a recent (June 15, 2009) study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO)
, charter schools do not necessarily perform any better than public schools. In fact, 37 percent performed worse. Forty-six percent demonstrated "no significant difference" from public schools. Only 17 percent of charter schools performed better than public schools.

"In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Thomas Jefferson

The Broad Foundation

The Broad Foundation claims to be a philanthropic organization, created by billionaire Eli Broad.

The Broad Foundation supports privately run charter schools and actively develops a system of charter schools in urban areas.

Broad claims it engages in "venture philanthropy":
"Our Approach to Investing: Venture Philanthropy. We take an untraditional approach to giving. We don't simply write checks to charities. Instead we practice 'venture philanthropy.' And we expect a return on our investment."

Many of us have discovered the Broad Foundation's presence within SPS and are requesting an explanation for why it is here and what its' objectives are.

Seattle has three "Broad Residents", and two Broad graduates now working within SPS. One of them is our superintendent who is a graduate of the Broad Academy which trains superintendents, and is also on the Broad's Board of Directors.

Another Broad graduate and a onetime Broad resident in SPS, Brad Bernatek, is now Director of REA, Research, Evaluation and Assessment within SPS. That department is responsible for student statistics including enrollment, demographics, evaluation and standardized testing.

The Broad Foundation provided Dr. Payzant, also a Broad graduate, to be a part of our superintendent’s yearly review in 2009.

Broad recently gave SPS a $1M "gift." That money is now in the hands of the Alliance for Education and no one knows how the money is being spent.

All in all the Broad Foundation has been quite generous to the Seattle Public School system and as Eli Broad states himself, he expects a return on his investment.

Broad also supports and actively promotes mayoral control of school districts. Eli Broad's preferred model of mayoral control means that the mayor selects the school board members and superintendent who are therefore unelected and are beholden only to the mayor, not the people of the city. It then becomes a school district that is run by one person, the mayor, with heavy influence by the Broad Foundation through developed relationships with that individual.

Update: A Detroit School District employee found accepting money from the Broad Foundation.
"Let the games begin: Detroit Teachers vote to unanimously join the current Detroit Public School District in their suit against Robert Bobb".

Update: The Broad - Rhode Island connection.
Rhode Island has had the dubious distinction of making national news recently for the draconian firing/scapegoating of an entire school of teachers. Is it a coincidence that the new education commissioner for R.I., who is pushing the state to do whatever it takes to qualify for federal "Race to the Top" dollars, is a "Broad Superintendents Academy" graduate, Deborah Gist?
"This is the point, and why mayoral control and Eli Broad, Gates, The Fisher family and the Walton family (and a host of other such charitable capitalists) along with Green Dot schools and other EMO's who seek to privatize all of education are so giddy. Creating a sub-prime school system that breaks the backs of the teacher's union is the goal of the new managerial elite who seek only to turn over public schools to private operators and entrepreneurs. This way they can reduce teachers to at-will employees, de-skill them with the "best practices," force them to work longer hours for less pay and less benefits and of course eliminate collective bargaining; that will then give the new managerial elite and their corporate masters, control over the entire educational enterprise - from curriculum development to the hiring and firing of teachers."

Dan Weil

Dollars and Sense

December, 2009

What the Gates Foundation Is Doing: The MAP Test

The Gates Foundation supports, and pays for, high stakes testing which is tied to merit pay.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given Seattle Public Schools a total of $9M this year for additional testing. We have not been able to find out the details of this testing yet. We don't know what the test is, what the test is to determine, who is administering the test and how the results of the tests are to be used.

UPDATE: We have heard that the Gates "gift" is funding the new computerized, standardized "MAP" tests the district is administering this year to all students, from as young as kindergarten to grade 9. MAP stands for "Measures of Academic Progress™" (yes, it is a trademarked product) and will be administered to the kids three times during the school year. The test can take as much as two hours each session, according to the district's official announcement letter.

A number of questions come to mind: Is this the best use of the students' school time? Is it appropriate to make children as young as five who can't read take a standardized test on a computer? Is this the best use of such funds? Or would parents, students and teachers prefer to see money channeled more directly to the classroom, to create smaller class sizes, more enrichment opportunities, or to purchase new textbooks?

A SIDE NOTE: Another interesting connection is that our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, is on the Board of Directors for the company that has created and distributes the MAP test. There is $4.3M in the levy to pay for additional use of this MAP test in Seattle.

The Cooper Building: Program DIscontinued, 2009

The Cooper Building: Program DIscontinued, 2009

Regarding Arne Duncan's Renaissance 2010

" The purpose of Renaissance 2010 [in Chicago] was to increase the number of high quality schools that would be subject to new standards of accountability - a code word for legitimating more charter schools and high stakes testing in the guise of hard-nosed empiricism. Chicago's 2010 plan targets 15 percent of the city district's alleged underachieving schools in order to dismantle them and open 100 new experimental schools in areas slated for gentrification.

Most of the new experimental schools have eliminated the teacher union. The Commercial Club hired corporate consulting firm A.T. Kearney to write Ren2010, which called for the closing of 100 public schools and the reopening of privatized charter schools, contract schools (more charters to circumvent state limits) and "performance" schools.

Kearney's web site is unapologetic about its business-oriented notion of leadership, one that John Dewey thought should be avoided at all costs. It states, 'Drawing on our program-management skills and our knowledge of best practices used across industries, we provided a private-sector perspective on how to address many of the complex issues that challenge other large urban education transformations.'

Duncan's advocacy of the Renaissance 2010 plan alone should have immediately disqualified him for the Obama appointment."

Henry Giroux & Kenneth Saltman,

Obama's Betrayal of Public Education?


The African American Academy: Closed 2009

The African American Academy: Closed 2009

Alternative Schools in Seattle

Alternative schools in Seattle have a rich and varied history. Established in the 1960's by parents and educators and based on the principles of Summerhill, the programs that have developed over the last four decades in Seattle offer an opportunity for all students to succeed within the Seattle public school system.

At this time, the alternative and nontraditional schools in Seattle are basically under siege. Many schools have been closed, marginalized or split apart, including the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) for highly gifted kids, the Center School, Nova, Summit, the African American Academy, SBOC and AS-1. There is also a plan for an Alternative School Audit by SPS in October, 2009.

We see these alternative programs as viable options to the traditional school approach to education. For this reason many of us believe that with the support of these programs, there is no need for privatized charter schools.

Governor Gregoire and our state representatives are speaking to Arne Duncan about our alternative schools and that they meet the requirement of charter schools and should be considered in providing Race to the Top funds to our state.

Summit K-12: Closed 2009

Summit K-12: Closed 2009
An alternative school

Please Note

All of the schools and programs that will be shown on this page were closed or split in 2009 for an alleged total savings of $3M for the year. A drop in the bucket considering the $34M budget shortfall claimed by School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. Was it worth it? Let us know what you think. Enrollment for the fall of 2009 is 1,200 students more than the district anticipated. With schools closed based on capacity and financial management issues per our superintendent's statements, where will these students be seated?

Meg Diaz, a parent, did a brilliant presentation to the school board in January regarding the school closures, the demographics of Seattle and why it didn't make sense to close the schools.
See: http://sites.google.com/site/seattleschoolsgroup/meg-diaz-analysis

Unfortunately, the school board paid no attention to Ms. Diaz or their own reports and instead chose to believe the numbers presented by the superintendent's CFO, Don Kennedy who previously worked with our superintendent in Charleston, and Brad Bernatek our Broad graduate and Director of REA, Research, Evaluation and Assessment who also handles the demographic data for SPS.

Two schools were closed that, per their own report, would see an increase in school aged children of anywhere between 31%-100% between 2008 and 2012. See page 11 of the DeJong report titled "Seattle Public Schools: Enrollment Projections Report". Those two schools were TT Minor Elementary School and Meany Middle School.

After the closures, Ms. Diaz decided to investigate the administrative cost within the Stanford Center and came up with surprising results. While the superintendet was rifing teaches and staff and closing schools, staff was growing within the Stanford Center and particularly in our superintendent's office where yet another Broad graduate was hired as one of the superintendent's administrative assistants.

Posted on October 6, 2009: The new assignment plan just came out and the proposal is to re-open five school buildings. Between closing five school buildings, shuffling students to different schools and now proposing the re-opening of five buildings within a year's time speaks volumns about the lack of competency of our superintendent and her chosen staff.

We have now wasted money closing five schools, moving students, equipment and materials around just to re-open five school buildings.

The cost of re-opening five of these buildings is as follows:

Sand Point: $7M
Viewlands: $11M
Old Hay: $7.5M
Mc Donald$: $14.9M
Rainier View: $7.4M
Total so far: $47.8

The superintendent, along with the school board, plan to take the next capitol levy money, BEX III, to be voted on in 2010 that was to go to the maintenance and seismic upgrades of our school buildings, which would make them safer, and instead use the money to re-open these previously closed buildings.

The decision to close schools last year and close or relocate programs came down from our superintendent's office quickly and there was little time for debate or understanding of what the ramifications would be. It is my opinion that again, we need to have time to evaluate what cost can wait and how these cost can be phased so that we can not only make our existing buildings safer but also provide adequate space for all of our students.

There is also stimulus money that other school dristricts have been able to acquire to upgrade their school buildings through FEMA grants. These grants, part of a Disaster Mitigation Fund, are being used to make school buildings safer. I had presented this information to the school board and superintendent but no action was taken at the time.

I will provide updates on the effort to once again get SPS to pay attention to this opportunity.

Please send comments or ideas to us or share your opinions below. We want to hear from you. All positive and constructive input is of value.


"I think it high time Congress enact similar mandates for other professions that utilize a single measure to determine success. Dentists should be evaluated on how many teeth they save, doctors should be evaluated on how many patients they save, lawyers should be evaluated on how many cases they win, accountants should be evaluated on much money they save clients, and engineers on how many buildings they've designed get built. Congress should also enact national, comprehensive standards for each profession without any input from members of said professions since we know they can't be trusted to make informed decisions or contribute to the discussion in any meaningful way. Anyone who won't come on board should be fired and labeled a dissident. Conformity and control are a must, so teachers should be thankful they are first in the firing line."

Priscilla Gutierrez, Huffington Post comment

Lowell Elementary

Lowell Elementary
The Lowell APP program was split with half of the students sent to Thurgood Marshall.

Our Declaration

In the current national discussion about education reform, the loudest voices are not necessarily those of the people who are directly affected by what happens in our schools – the students, parents, teachers and school communities themselves.

We are parents with children in public schools. These are our kids, their teachers, our schools. And we would like to be heard.

What’s more, the message coming from the current league of reformers is largely negative, much talk about what’s wrong with our schools, but little discussion of what public schools and teachers are doing right, and what they could do even better if given full support.

Can our public schools be improved? Absolutely. But that begins with fully funding our schools and believing they can work.

We believe they can, when given the chance.

We also believe that too many of the latest proposed education reforms are too punitive and are not changes for the better.

We believe there are valuable aspects of public education worth preserving and supporting, beginning with the very principle itself – free public education for every child in the country. We believe this has always been a noble goal and one that we’re not willing to give up on.

So we have created a
Declaration of Support for Public Schools.

We invite others across the nation who share our vision for public education to sign on to our statement, to send a message to the president, education secretary and school district officials throughout the country.

The message is simple:

Let’s fix what’s broken, but don’t break what isn’t.

And do not impose detrimental changes on our schools and children in the name of “reform.”


Sue Peters, Dora Taylor

Seattle Public Schools parents
May 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open Letter to Bill Gates about Education (from a Public Schools Parent)

Dear Bill,

I am a public schools' parent in your own general neighborhood (Seattle). I realize you have an interest in public education, and are a major participant and funder in the current “education reform” efforts being attempted nationally.

Unfortunately, I don’t agree with a number of the choices and “investments” you are making in our schools. I believe they have not been that effective, and some of them are even damaging.

Your all-tech $63 million “School of the Future” in Philadelphia, for example, apparently hasn’t worked out so well. Your $2 billion “Small Schools Initiative” was ultimately canceled (though the concept of smaller schools seems sound to me). And now you are promoting charter schools and “merit pay” for teachers as a measure of “teacher effectiveness,” even though recent reputable studies from Stanford and Vanderbilt universities cast serious doubts on both of these concepts, showing that most charters are not better than public schools and merit pay doesn’t work. (Also see The Pillars of Education Reform Are Toppling.”)

In other words, you seem to be spending a lot of money and not getting good results.

Does “merit pay” actually improve “teacher effectiveness”?

As a keynote speaker at the national American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conference that was held here in Seattle last week, you said: “The truly impressive reforms share the same strategic core – they all include fair and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness that are tied to gains in student achievement. Public schools have never had this before. It’s a huge change – the kind of change that could match the scale of the problem.”

By this you mean teachers being measured by and paid according to student test scores.

But lashing teachers to test scores is the kind of “change” that will quash innovation and passion, and turn teachers into test-prep robots and schools into test-prep factories. It leads to teaching to the test. That’s already happening in some schools as a result of No Child Left Behind “Annual Yearly Progress” pressures. Not all students test well, by the way – didn’t Einstein famously get Fs in school? And not all learning shows up on tests. I have said before, how do you measure that “Aha!” moment when a child understands something for the first time? It will never show up on a standardized test, but those moments are the real measure of successful teaching.

Above all, research shows that “merit pay” for teachers doesn’t work – it does not lead to true and lasting improvements in genuine student academic achievement.

Meanwhile, perfectly good teachers and principals are being sacrificed and fired under such draconian rules, as this article in the July 19 New York Times attests, “A Popular Principal, Wounded by Government’s Good Intentions.”

One of the main problems with merit pay is that it’s based on the flawed presumption that teachers are motivated by greed and competition, and not by collaboration and helping students learn. But teaching is a cooperative profession; the best teachers are not motivated by making more money than their colleagues.

You yourself have said you want teachers to share their expertise with each other, so they can all become stronger teachers. They already do that, for starters. But how likely is it that they will continue to help each other if you set up a scheme in which they are pressured to compete with each other to get bonuses?

If you want teachers to improve, help give them the respect and salaries they deserve, the resources they need, and the autonomy to be creative and innovative and cooperative with each other, and small classes so they can give each student the attention s/he needs.

Why charter schools?

At the National Charter Schools Conference on June 29 in Chicago where you also spoke, you promoted charters – privately run schools that use public money but have little to no public oversight. Why do you keep promoting this concept when growing evidence shows that most charters are no better than public schools? In fact, according to Stanford’s CREDO study, as many as 83 percent of charter schools perform no better or do worse than public schools.

Even the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently admitted at the same convention of charter operators that charters have serious problems: “…unfortunately, we have far too many mediocre charters and we have far too many charter schools that are absolutely low performing.” (Duncan’s address to the National Charter Schools Conference, July 1, 2010.)

(Also see: “Study Finds No Clear Edge for Charter Schools,” Education Week, June 29, 2010.)

Education reformers repeatedly claim to be “data-driven.” The data do not support charters.

If you support innovation, take a look around inside public school districts. Secretary Duncan recently toured Aviation High School, an innovative public school here in the Puget Sound area. Check out the Nova Project, an innovative alternative high school in Seattle that has some of the most independent thinking and civically aware kids I’ve ever met and some of the highest SAT scores in the district. In Seattle, we also have successful and award- winning schools for highly gifted kids that challenge these kids with an accelerated and deeper curriculum while keeping them in with their age group peers (Accelerated Progress Program), and a number of alternative schools that all have waitlists because they are so popular – Salmon Bay K-8, Thornton Creek. And yet your education reform colleagues and your own foundation are pushing curriculum alignment and standardization on all our schools, quashing any chance for individuality or innovation. That’s a mixed message you are sending.

While it is certainly good of you to be generous with your wealth, it would seem that you are funneling good money after bad, as the saying goes.

So I have some suggestions for you. As a parent with children in public schools, as someone who is the product of both private and public schools and an international education, I hope you will consider my thoughts on how you can direct your public education involvement in a manner that will get genuine and positive results for children. These would be investments in education that parents like me could get behind.

Here are three ideas. They are not flashy. They are not tech-oriented. But they will get positive results.

Invest in Smaller Class Sizes

If you want to fund education and make a difference, fund smaller class sizes. Help school districts hire more (and genuinely qualified – not short-term, inexperienced Teach for America type) teachers and reduce class sizes. Every child would benefit from more one-on-one interaction with a teacher. I don’t think it takes a multi-million dollar “study” to prove that. Here in Seattle our superintendent has laid off teachers two years in a row and closed schools. So class sizes are large and getting bigger.

One of the main reasons people who can afford it choose private schools is because they tend to offer smaller teacher-student ratios.

I’ve read you’d like to see kids taught en masse by one teacher on camera beaming a lecture via the Internet to thousands of students at once. While technology may have its place in our world and in schools, don’t you agree that the most valuable connection a child can have is not to the Internet, but with a teacher, a parent, a nurturing human who will give this child the individualized, personalized attention s/he needs?

Here’s a study that shows that class sizes matter: “Smaller is Better: First-hand Reports of Early Class Size Reduction in New York City Public Schools,” as does this blog: Class Size Matters.

At the AFT conference, you said something that implied that funding for public schools has gone up in my lifetime and class sizes have gone down: “The United States has been struggling for decades to improve our public schools. We have tried reform after reform. We’ve poured in new investments. Since 1973, we have doubled per-pupil spending. We’ve moved from one adult for every 14 students to one adult for every eight students.”

I am confused by this claim because all my life (which began before 1973) public schools have been scrambling for money, school districts are constantly telling us parents, our kids and their teachers that cuts and layoffs and school closures have to happen. Our own state of Washington, Bill, ranks 46th in the nation for per-pupil funding! Washington State recently passed a law mandating full state funding of K-12 education, yet that is not happening. Meanwhile in California, the public education system has been drained of property tax revenue ever since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

Are you referring to student-teacher ratios? Or do these “adults” you speak of include all adults in the school district, from counselors to custodians to central district office staff? (If the latter, that would be true for Seattle, which has a disproportionately high and growing number of administrators in its overstaffed central office. See “Central Administration Efficiency in Seattle Public Schools,” a very troubling report by parent/analyst Meg Diaz.)

Class sizes have not gotten smaller in my lifetime. Neither I nor any of my children have ever been in a public school class of eight – or 14, for that matter. Here in Washington, teacher to student ratio has not gone down, even though we voted for it on Initiative 728 which passed with 72 percent of the vote in 2000.

What is your source for this data? Is it that McKinsey & Corp study that Vicki Phillips, your foundation’s education director, has referred to in the past? The same discredited consulting firm that was “a key architect of the strategic thinking that made Enron a Wall Street darling,” according to Businessweek? If so, I think you can understand how one might question their research.

Lastly here’s a personal story: One day earlier this year, I sat at my kindergarten son’s lunchroom where some of the kids were goofing around. When I told them as group to settle down, I got a limited response. But then I knelt down and looked one of the boys in the eyes and asked him about one of his hobbies, he calmed down immediately and engaged with me. That personal engagement is priceless and essential to good and inspired teaching. It’s not possible when classes are too big and teachers are overwhelmed.

Consider Grants for Books

I sense you have mixed feeling about the value of books. I understand your “School of the Future” in Philadelphia is bookless, paperless and pencil-less, but offers a laptop and Microsoft portal for every child.

I personally want my children to know the pleasure of reading an actual book, the smell of the paper, perhaps the feel of the embossed letters of the title or the details of the illustrations, the joy of summer reading while lying on the grass or idly spinning from a tire swing with a book in hand, unplugged from the wired world.

If you and Melinda were to simply create an endowment that would provide every school in the district, for example, a grant to stock their libraries, buy complete textbooks for classes, that would be an amazing gift and would go a long way toward endearing you to the community for such an obvious, tangible contribution. Because, as you may or may not know, schools like Rainier Beach High School in Seattle don’t have complete or updated sets of history books. Hard to believe, but true. Teachers across the nation still scramble and scrounge to buy class sets of books. My own brother, a public school teacher in California, is trying to gather enough copies of Shakespeare plays for his class. I’m helping him out by scouring local used bookstores up here and mailing them to him. Is this the way it should be? Don’t you agree that every child in every class should be able to take home and spend time with a book, read it on the school bus, even if they are not fortunate enough to own a laptop, and that the cost should not come out of the teacher’s own pocket?

I can imagine a bookplate with your and Melinda’s name on it. (I believe Paul Allen does something similar.) If my children were to grow up believing that you are the providers of books to Seattle school children, believe me, you would rank high in their pantheon of heroes. They love books. (The thrice-yearly Measures of Academic Progress™ computerized test your foundation may be funding, not so much.)

How about Nutrition & Health here in the U.S.?

There are kids who come to school hungry, as I’m sure you know. School districts serve packaged food of questionable nutritional value. Good nutrition would manifest itself in positive and tangible ways. I know you are concerned about health in other parts of the world — how about in your own backyard?

Imagine a Gates Foundation program that supported the creation of freshly cooked meals made of locally and sustainably grown organic produce for all of Seattle’s public schools. (I don’t mean Monsanto-style GM foods, by the way.) I promise you that a well-fed child will do better in school than one who is hungry or on a nutritionally empty diet. This would also create business opportunities for local farmers.

In sum, these ideas, simple as they might seem, will work. They will help kids do better in school. Charters, merit pay have a very mixed and inconsistent record.

I know you and Eli Broad and others have some notions about how you would like schools to be. But as you have acknowledged yourself, you are not an education expert, and I understand that neither you nor your children have attended public schools. So I am asking you to listen to parents and teachers and kids who are in the public schools, who are on the receiving end of all that is good and not so good about our current system, and on the receiving end of all your “reforms,” and learn what we really need and want for our kids.

I suggest you take a look closer to home at the town of Everett, Washington, where the school district has managed to decrease high school drop-out rates significantly in the last few years. (See: “Simple, steady is way to win,” by Danny Westneat, Seattle Times and “Once shamefully low, Everett’s graduation rate soars,” by Linda Shaw, Seattle Times.) How? With computers and Smart Boards? No, with old-fashioned follow-up, teachers and counselors getting to know kids and keeping them in their sights, engaging and challenging the students with interesting classes. What this requires is the time and care of sufficient staff. Meanwhile, here in Seattle, the school district (SPS) continues to lay off needed teachers and counselors. If you could offer a grant to SPS to rehire these crucial people, you would see results, I guarantee it.

I would value the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these and other thoughts about education. Your new foundation headquarters are not too far from where I live. You can reach me care of Seattle Education 2010, a blog some parents and I started up last year in response to the school closures and “reforms” our children and their schools have been subjected to.


Sue Peters

Seattle public schools parent

July 2010

Sue Peters is a Seattle-based writer and public schools activist. She co-edits the Seattle Education 2010 blog which can be found here
and here.

Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a speaker at the AFT convention held in the Seattle last week. His speech can be found here.

(Originally posted on As It Ought to Be, July 20, 2010 by mattgonzalez)

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