Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mitt v. Newt

The humorous thing about Mitt saying that Newt "Can't take the heat" is that Mitt has sputtered pretty hard in the debates when he's actually been challenged head-on. Perry got under his skin a few weeks back, and Newt got him in the last one with the line about Ted Kennedy.

If Mitt Romney can't handle softball attacks from his fellow Republicans, how can anyone really think that he'll be able to handle Obama?

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bad Trend is Bad

On Monday OSPI released their list of the 57 lowest performing schools in Washington State. Here's some of them, with a little demographic information from the state report card website thrown in:

Inchelium Elementary School: 77% Native American
Inchelium Middle School: 65.9% Native American
Wellpinit Elementary School: 93.8% Native American
Wellpinit Middle Schools: 93.1% Native American
Harrah Elementary School (Mount Adams SD): 57.8% Native American
Mount Adams Middle School: 58.5% Native American
White Swan High School (Mount Adams SD): 48.9% Native American
Nespelem Elementary: 98.7% Native American (as of 09-10; no demographic data for 10-11)
Oakville High School: 49.6% Native American
Tulalip Elementary (Marysville): 59% Native American
Taholah Elementary/Middle School: 69.1% Native American

That's 11 out of the 57 schools where either the majority of the students are Native American, or Native Americans are the largest demographic group in the school. If I wandered through the list again looking at schools that were majority Hispanic, I could probably pull that many schools or better.

I'd submit to you that shortening the school year and firing the teachers probably isn't going to eliminate generational poverty.

Read more here, if any.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Today's Fake News From Olympia, Holiday Edition

"I've never seen a tax cut put out a fire." -- Barney Frank, This Week With Christiane Amanpour, December 18th 2011

Anthropomophized Reduction in Business and Occupation Tax Challenges Kids, Solves Poverty, Erases Achievement Gap

Giddy officials in the Spokane Public Schools announced today that HR509 Section 2148 Regarding Certain Deductions to Capital Investments, recently hired to teach math at Rogers High School as part of the School Improvement Grant process, had completely changed the lives of all the kids lucky enough to be in his/her class.

"We were a little reluctant, frankly, to hire a tax cut to teach, but by God it worked!" said Spokane Schools Superintendent Nancy Stowell. "I look forward to many more tax cuts coming in and making all our schools better, forever."

Future moves suggested by Stowell include having a funding cut restore the art program, and starving the beast to make the school lunch program run in the black.


With their traditional 3 week Christmas vacation being threatened by Governor Gregoire's special session, a long series of Senate Democrats with absolutely no sense of irony or labor history took to the floor to complain.

"We have a God given right to our vacation time!" thundered Senator Rodney Tom (D-Medina). "The very idea of having to work on a holiday is inhumane, and I am clearly the first person to ever think that!"

"The Gentleman from Medina is correct!" shouted an approving Steve Hobbs. "Not only is this unpaid overtime during what historically would be a break, but I submit to you all--has any worker in history ever been asked to put in so much time during the Holiday season for so little recompense?"

Happily, the electrical supply for all of Snohomish County will now be provided by attaching generators to the bodies of those killed in the Everett Massacre as they roll over in their graves.

Sets a New Personal Best By Going Three Days Without Being Offensive, Condescending Prick

Confused Senator Only One to Show Up For Cancelled Committee Hearing

"I...I guess I kind of figured that Joe (Zarelli) or Mike (Hewitt) would tell her," said Senator Dan Swecker of Rochester. "I mean, things can kind of get by Pam sometimes, but we were all packing our boxes and talking about driving was sort of understood, right?"

Members of the Olympia Press Corp later found Senator Roach sitting alone in a hearing room in the Cherburg Building holding a passionate debate with herself about the rights of adoptive and foster parents.

"It will be clear. Oh yes, it will be clear," say Enthused Educators

A committee of Washington State teachers today rolled out a new 4 tier evaluation system for Governor Gregoire, a logical accompaniment to the Governor's proposal for teachers.

"We embrace what the Governor is proposing for us, and we hope that she'll feel the same way about what we propose for her," said Joseph Hill, a 3rd grade teacher in the Kent School District. "The purpose of the evaluation system is to improve governing. That's the focus of the evaluation system."

The four proposed ratings for the Governor run the gamut from a high of "Hasn't actively screwed up the state today" down to the lowest rating, "Couldn't find her ass with both hands and a map."

"Currently we've got the Governor at our second lowest rating, "Mike Lowry with TBI". Hopefully, these rigorous new measures will help her improve on up to "Comparisons to Bill Plummer coaching the Mariners are mostly unfair."

Labels: , , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trent England Said Something Silly Again

Emphasis his:
I remember, as a kid, looking with my dad at a new school being built in our town. My dad knows construction; that's what he does. And he would point out the different components of the new building--the windows, the roofing, the glass blocks--that were the absolute most expensive materials available.
There are large school construction projects going on all around me, and this notion that we're going to the taxpayers and gouging them for Taj Maschools is silly on the face of it. There are committees made of people in the community, an elected school board to oversee the project, and construction bonds still have to pass with a 60% supermajority to become a reality. If you're looking for ways to save money, you're looking in the wrong place.

Labels: , ,

Read more here, if any.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Today's Fake News From Olympia

Hilarious Redistricting Mishap Moves Senator Rodney Tom to Eastern Washington

"I do not like this, and will be writing a strongly worded letter to the commission," said Senator Tom. "It is very cold over there, and I do not like trees. Plus, an old gypsy woman cursed that I will spontaneously combust if I ever set fit in a school district that receives levy equalization."

Funding for Arena Bail Out Secured by Redirecting Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel Through Wenatchee

Department of Transportation officials estimate the average commute up the waterfront will take 7 hours, and the new re-designed project will require the state to issue $3.8 trillion dollars of construction bonds.

New John L. O'Brien Building Wolf Pack Being Met With Mixed Reviews By Legislators

The pack, which like the Lookout, Smackout, and Diamond packs was named after the geographical area where it has taken up residence, has caused some level of consternation among legislators and staff members who work in the JLOB building.

"We haven't seen (Representative) Luis Moscoso's legislative assistant, Peter, in nearly a week, and we had to cancel the last JLARC meeting because of all the howling coming from Hearing Room 2," explained Rep. Dave Upthegrove, chair of the Environment Committee. "I fully support the right of these majestic creatures to exist, but I'll confess to being slightly miffed."

Jay Inslee Calls for Extended Special Session to Run Through Election Day 2012

"This has absolutely nothing to do with the fundraising freeze that Attorney General McKenna has to live under while the legislature is in session, and everything to do with....something else," said Representative Inslee from a fundraiser in Seattle. "Given all the issues facing Washington today, it's better for them to stay in session. Yeah, that's the ticket."

Randy Dorn Announces Candidacy for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Promises to Bring Competence, Integrity Back to the Office

Former teacher, school administrator, and legislator Randy Dorn announced today that he would be seeking the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, making him the titular head of schools in Washington State at a critical juncture in the education reform movement.

"For too long now the Superintendent of Public Instruction has been an empty suit, completely useless, ignored by legislators and teachers alike. The Governor even proposed eliminating the position, which shows you how feckless the leadership over there in the Old Capital Building has been. Today I promise you that I, Randy Dorn, will bring competence back to the OSPI!"

Dorn, who has been out of the public eye in recent years, criticized the current Superintendent of Public Instruction (name unknown) for being "a bystander instead of a leader" as the debate over school reform has become the most heated, and further characterized the incumbent as "a money-grubbing jackass who seems more interested in boosting his retirement payout than actually improving schools."

Calls to OSPI had not been returned as of press time.


Read more here, if any.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

In The Cold Light of Day...

Yesterday I had a visceral reaction to Rob McKenna bowing out of a meeting with the WEA at the last minute, but here's a more rational view:

What Rob has done is effectively give control of the education narrative to the WEA. If he had filled out the questionnaire in his own words, he would have made the product; instead, he's left a giant cypher where his own opinions could have been. If he had done the interview he could have responded to criticism directly; instead, he'll make time for Excellent Schools Now, whose one-page list of priorities is some of the most generic pablum in the ed reform community today.

He's worked hard to differentiate himself from governors like Kasich and Walker, but something like this just feeds into the narrative that is being set up. When even Frank Luntz is acknowledging that Occupy Wall Street is making inroads in the public consciousness, and then the AG deliberately tweaks the nose of a union like this.....the attack ad will write itself.

This was an unforced error that you'll be hearing about for the next 11 months.

Labels: , , ,

Read more here, if any.

Friday, December 02, 2011

An Open Letter to Rob McKenna

Hi Rob,

You're right. You're absolutely right. You probably weren't going to get the WEA endorsement. You did sue the organization pretty gleefully, after all, and you've got some obvious antagonism towards unions in general. I was going to give you credit for even showing up to face down what would have been a group programmed to not like you. That would have been, well, courageous.

But you're not going to show up, Rob. You couldn't make it on November 11th, so the WEA rescheduled the interviews just for you. 60 members from around the state are getting together in Federal Way tomorrow to do the gubernatorial interviews, and now it's only going to be Jay Inslee because you cancelled.

Rob, that's chickenshit. From a conservative standpoint, how are you going to face down the WEA as Governor if you don't even have the courage to do it as the candidate? From a moderate standpoint, if this is how you're going to treat the teachers before you're elected, why would anyone expect better after you're elected? You're supposed to be a mainstreamer, but this doesn't feel like bipartisanship.

I get to criticize. I'm one of the people in the WEA who has tried to build relationships with Republicans, and I've taken some shit for it. In 2010 I pushed to have us endorse folks like Joel Kretz, who is one of the best on levy equalization, and Susan Fagan, who has stepped in to the Education Committee every bit as effectively as Rep. Cox used to serve in the position. Joe Schmick, Kevin Parker, Shelly Short. I've been in every one of their offices, I've had dinner with more than a few of them, I've steered PAC money towards them, and even though we don't always agree we at least have a relationship that I value and appreciate.

You had a chance to start relationship building, Rob, and you blew it off, and I don't really understand why. If you believe in your education platform, go to Federal Way and speak truth to power. What you would have gotten out of it is the chance to say, "Yes, I did meet with the teacher's union, and yes, I told them what I believe," but now you've completely given up control of the narrative.

Courage would have been remarkable. This will still be remarked on, but for different reasons.

One more story: I really hated Eric Oemig. The things that he said about the small school districts I work with were beyond the pale, I didn't like where he was on levy equalization, and in general he bugged me. When we were going through our 2010 endorsement process it was clear that Oemig would get the endorsement over Andy Hill, and Hill was making that pretty easy because he didn't fill out his WEA-PAC survey.

So I sent Andy Hill an email, he called me, and we talked. I encouraged him--please, turn in the survey. We were certain to disagree, but don't just give it away. Hell, you might just find we agree on some things. I want to engage with you, please meet me half way and engage with us.

He never did return that survey. Message received.

Good luck going forward.

Read more here, if any.