For the first two parts in these series, please see The Battle for Seattle, Part 1 and The Battle for Seattle: Hijacked!, Part 2.

I’ve been asked about the aspect of the Broad training received by school board members regarding comments and opinions from the public and how they should be handled. My source on this information has chosen to remain anonymous but this is the information that I received, “…at the Broad training they were told, as board members, they would get thousands and thousands of ideas from the public but the only ideas they should pursue were those from “professionals” at national conferences and at Broad meetings”.

If you watch the speech that Don Nielson gave on November 15, 2006, you hear him touch upon this also. In a rather condescending manner he describes all of the comments that a board member receives, “Board members are regularly assailed by irate citizens who have special issues or actions or agendas that they want to go their way and they make no bones about telling you about it”. He then launches into his proposal for an appointed school board.

In fact, that is where I wanted to begin Hijacked!:The Battle for Seattle, Part 3

Don Nielson

Mr. Nielson provides much insight into his own philosophy that has affected where we are now within the Seattle public school community due to his influence in his speech to the Rotary Club given on November 15, 2006.

During Don Nielson’s speech, he discusses school boards and shares his opinion that school board members should be appointed. He does not say by whom but one of the goals of the Broad Foundation is to have mayoral control of school boards with the board members being appointed by the mayor providing an end-run around the democratic process. He states that people who run for school board are “unqualified”. He states that qualified people seldom run. He does not state what those qualifications should be.

Nielson then continues, “School board races attract candidates who are social activist or union sympathizers”. Giving the sitting Seattle school board members as examples of being those kinds of individuals with the exception of Michael DeBell who was sitting in the audience. Nielson had backed DeBell in his race for school board but Nielson’s other two candidates had lost their run for school board seats so all of the other school board members were mere “activists” and “union sympathizers” in Nielson’s eyes.

And regarding small class sizes, Nielson says in his speech that some people believe the answer to the problem in education is smaller class sizes. He states, “You show me a small class with a lousy teacher and I’ll show you a small, lousy class”.

His remark is similar to what our current Broad trained superintendent has said in the past, that class size doesn’t matter. Same message, different mouthpiece.

And as the topper, Nielson continues describing his viewpoint on education by saying that the school day and school year should be longer. By achieving this, because of budget constraints, he stated that we should simply get rid of social services, food and transportation for our students, that these things were not provided 30 years ago, so basically, let’s just turn back the clock.

And his final words, “Ladies and gentleman, it’s time to declare war”.

On who. our children, our teachers, our communities? And what is to remain standing, any of the programs that work in Seattle? And what about the people who have the least, do their children just walk to school, hungry like in the good old days?

He did also touch upon alternative certification for people with experience in fields who would like to go back into teaching, an argument that was made to our state legislators before the vote last session on Bill 6696, the ed reform bill in our state that included alternative certification. Unfortunately the intention of the reformists was to use that new law to bring in inexperienced Teach for America recruits into our state, not experienced professionals who would like to have an opportunity to teach in the classroom.

Personally, I would like to see if I can also use this route to become certified just like the TFAers simply to challenge their original argument for alternative certification. For an excellent review of Teach for America in Seattle, see Controversial “Teach for America” Back on the Agenda for Seattle’s Schools by Sue Peters, my co-editor for Seattle Education, 2010.

During this time, Don Nielson was on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education, a foundation that now receives the majority of its’ money from Gates and Broad, The Seattle Foundation, heavily funded by Gates and on the Board of Advisers at the University of Washington’s School of Education. As a side note, earlier this year, just before our superintendent introduced a proposal to bring in Teach for America to the school board, the Dean of the School of Education at UW wrote an Op Ed on how Teach of America was such a great organization and how students can benefit from their presence in the classroom. Coincidence? I think not.

That same year, Raj Manhas issued his district newsletter describing “strong partnerships” with the Gates’ and Broad foundations. This was also the year that Raj Manhas brought in Brad Bernatek, as a Broad resident. This action is described in the Status Report issued in 2006.

In 2007, the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Graduate School in Education hosted the Public Education Leadership conference. The participants included Richard Barth, founder of the KIPP charter franchise who recently as a guest of the Broad/Gates backed League of Education of Voters spoke in a forum on the glories of charter schools in Seattle,  Don Nielson, who at that time was Chairman of TeachFirst, a company that later was to become a part of editure, Thomas Payzant, an educator at Harvard who would later become active with the Broad Foundation and was to lead our superintendent’s evaluation with the school board in 2009 as a representative from the Broad Foundation, and, as always, Randi Weingarten who at the time was president of the UFT in New York. Eli Broad later states that his foundation had given money to the two charter schools that Ms. Weingarten had opened in New York. See Eli Broad Describes Close Ties to Klein, Weingarten, Duncan.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson

This is also the year that our Broad trained superintendent, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, was appointed by the school board and began to “lead” our district.

Her reign as superintendent and the confluence of the Broad/Gates’ agenda in Seattle will be described in Hijacked!:Part 4.