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Rainier Beach High School Responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on Its School and Community

In a race to promote charter schools and teacher performance evaluations based on test scores, it seems that the League of Education Voters (LEV) is hurting rather than helping the community that they purport they are trying to assist. With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

LEV is a 501c organization with no membership but the financial backing of Nick Hanauer, one of its’ co-founders, who at the moment is having a hissy fit because the Democrats who he has backed in Olympia are not doing his bidding, and Bill Gates who is all about charter schools. LEV has been pushing for charter schools for two years now. The organization is a cardboard cutout of “concerned citizens” trying to depict itself as an advocate for education. My question recently has been  ” Who decides within the organization what is worthy of the staff’s time and effort?” Apparently those with the biggest wallets determine its course.

LEV recently came out with a pamphlet that was distributed throughout the Central District area that Representative Eric Pettigrew represents. It is predominately a minority community but recently has become increasingly integrated. It has a proud history and a bright future. This pamphlet has caused a lot of ire within this community and for good reason.

The first sentence on this pamphlet reads: “It will take the state of Washington 105 years to close the achievement gap”. Wow! Now that’s a real show stopper! As I have stated before, it is not an “achievement gap” it’s a poverty gap. And, unless we begin to fund our educational system in the state of Washington, our schools, our students and teachers will continue to struggle. The notion of 105 years of the continuation of any set of circumstances is ridiculous and reflects poorly on LEV. Just who do they think they are speaking to anyway? A bunch of folks who wouldn’t know any better? It is an insult to the community that they are catering to. It’s a scare tactic that has backfired.

Then LEV goes on to say “But there is hope!” in Representative Pettigrew who wants to bring charter schools and teacher evaluations based on test scores to your neighborhoods. He is your leader and he is the same color that you are! Don’t think that this wasn’t lost on LEV when they first approached Pettigrew with their notion of ed reform. The Broad Foundation does it with their Superintendent’s Academy populated with people of color who will march forth into the minority communities promoting salvation by way of charter schools.

This pamphlet has touched off a firestorm in the community particularly around the fact that LEV basically disses Rainier Beach High School, a school whose community is working hard not only to support itself but promote it as the great school that it is. See last week’s post on Rainier Beach High School for those details. LEV states that only half of its’ students passed the reading assessment test in 10th grade.

To follow is the response from The Rainer Beach High School PTSA Vice-President and Alum Rita Green:

Please note that the information in the League of Education Voters  targeting Rainier Beach High School is misleading and inaccurate.

As always we find ourselves defending our school.

Rainier Beach graduates the highest percentage of African American males in the District. Furthermore, our growth rates in reading and math exceeded the district growth rates by 1.5 and 2 times respectively.

Students are entering Rainier Beach from Middle School at 5th and 6th grade Reading and Math levels.

Also, a high percentage of our students are ELL and SPED.

There is not a problem with Rainier Beach there is a problem with Middle Schools not preparing students for high school and ELL students being placed in high school even though they cannot read English.

Rainier Beach just happens to have a very high percentage of underperforming students which is why the district, the media and the outsiders have chosen to negatively target Rainier Beach for at least the past 10 years.

Please note that there is no mention of the superlative gains that Rainier Beach is making in student growth even though the district continues to allow middle schools to promote students who are not ready for high school.

Nice goin’ LEV. You’re just starting to show your true colors.

11 comments on “Rainier Beach High School Responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on Its School and Community

  1. seattleducation2011
    February 15, 2012

    And, I just captured this from a Facebook page commenting on this post:

    “Rainier Beach is under-enrolled, so SPS put a special ed program in there that winds up being a huge percentage of the school enrollment thereby skewing the numbers.”

    LEV really needs to do their homework before trying to “advocate” for “under-served students”.

    Dora

  2. seattleducation2011
    February 15, 2012

    There is something that I must share with everyone to get it on the record. In an e-mail that was sent out today from Stand for Children, Shannon Campion, Executive Director of Stand for Children Washington refers to Eric Pettigrew as a “children’s champion” and yet where was Pettigrew when the district was closing schools in HIS district unnecessarily and re-segregating schools in HIS district with the new Student Assignment Plan and yet SFC and LEV call him THEIR “champion”. I suppose that for them, he is their champion.

    Dora

  3. seattleducation2011
    February 15, 2012

    Rita and many other teachers, staff and parents at RBHS work so hard for their school and they take well-deserved pride in it.

    It’s a shame to see others just try and tear it down.

    Dora

  4. Kate Martin
    February 15, 2012

    I really appreciate that you have provided a way for Rita to get the truth out about the RBHS and I thank Rita Green for being such a great proponent for the school and truth meter for the district.

  5. seattleducation2011
    February 15, 2012

    Angela,

    Thanks for the information. That’s one piece of grammar that I never got. Must have been sleeping that day in school ;-)

    Dora

  6. Angela
    February 15, 2012

    It’s hard to take an article on education seriously when its author doesn’t know the usage of the old grammatical chestnut “it’s / its”. The title of this article was like a thumb in the eye when I read it.
    http://its-not-its.info/

  7. CD Mary
    February 15, 2012

    That Pettigrew let LEV use him as a black poster child is puzzling. Many people had the exact reaction you did Dora, which is WTF?

    Way to go, RBHS, for pushing back. You aren’t anyone’s poster child. You are a community working together to make a difference for your students. LEV looks like a do-gooder constituency who doesn’t have a clue to the actual workings of an urban school. They have fallen far. And hard. And they aren’t wanted in a good portion of the schools in which they are trying to stick their 1% (Nick Hanauer, millionaire venture capitalist charter backer) noses.) I am recently convinced that this group and their ‘friends’ at Stand for Children do more harm than good.

  8. Jesse
    February 15, 2012

    Has anybody even read the NAACP Resolution on Charter Schools?

    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE 4805 MT. HOPE DRIVE, BALTIMORE, MD 21215-3297 (410) 580-5777

    LEON W RUSSELL
    Chairman, Resolutions Committee National Board of Directors

    BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS
    President & Chief Executive Officer

    ROSLYN M. BROCK
    Chairman, Board of Directors

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots based civil rights organization. Formed in 1909 by a multiracial group of progressive thinkers, the NAACP is a nonprofit organization established with the objective of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of people of color. For over 102 years, the NAACP has challenged this nation to uphold its promise of equal opportunity toward the goal of eliminating racial prejudice and removing all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes.

    In a process established by the NAACP Constitution, this resolution was adopted by the delegates to the 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, during the legislative session in July, 2010. It was subsequently ratified by the NAACP National Board of Directors at its meeting on October 15, 2010. This resolution is now the policy of the Association, and is binding on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Officers, and all units.

    WHEREAS, charter schools are public schools which were originally designed to explore new approaches to educate students; and

    WHEREAS, in some cases, charter schools have become a school model that is used to segregate students; and

    WHEREAS, charter schools have too seldom informed the education community regarding innovative instructional strategies that accelerate academic achievement in the general population of students; and

    WHEREAS, the Center for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO) which examined charter school data in fifteen (15) states and the District of Columbia confirmed that only 17% of the charter school students in the study outperformed their peers, while 46% performed no better and 37% performed worse; and Charter Schools

    WHEREAS, charter schools operate more autonomously than
    traditional public schools in the use of funds, adherence to state laws and school policies, selection and removal of students, and the selection and removal of staff, thus creating separate and unequal conditions for success; and

    WHEREAS, charter schools draw funding away from already underfunded
    traditional public schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes that at best, quality charter schools serve only a small percentage of children of color and disadvantaged students for whom the NAACP advocates relative to said population left behind in failing schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes the urgent need to provide quality education for all children, not only those fortunate enough to win lotteries to attend existing quality charter schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP is committed to finding broad based, effective
    solutions for immediate implementation to improve the quality of public education for all children.

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will strongly advocate for
    immediate, overarching improvements to the existing public education
    system; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP rejects the emphasis on charter schools as the vanguard approach for the education of children, instead of focusing attention, funding, and policy advocacy on improving existing, low performing public schools and will work through local, state and federal legislative processes to ensure that all public schools are provided the necessary funding, support and autonomy necessary to educate all students; and

    BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its Units to work to support public schools throughout the nation to educate all children to their highest potential.

    Roslyn M. Brock Chairman National Board of Directors
    Leon Russell Benjamin Todd Jealous Chairman President & CEO Committee on Resolutions

    LEV might want to start reading more than their own pamphlets?

    • seattleducation2011
      February 15, 2012

      Jesse,

      The way that I see it, there are a few people who think that they know what’s best for the rest of us whether we want it or not, whether we think that it’s what’s best for our children or not.

      Dora

  9. Robert Valiant
    February 15, 2012

    The only problem I have with this is that it pushes the blame down onto the middle schools. I guess they could respond by pushing it down to the elementary level. The true fact is that the problem is one of poverty and prejudice, and no one wants to confront those issues.

    • seattleducation2011
      February 15, 2012

      You’re right Robert, it’s easier just to blame it all on the teachers and call for privatizing our school system.

      Dora

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