Seattle Education

For the news and views you might have missed

I was kicked off the Washington State PTA listserv

Was I using inappropriate language? No.

Was I being rude and derisive in my remarks? No

Was I stating the truth? Yes

Let’s begin this post with one fact, that the WSPTA received in March of 2011 $191,424 ” to assist with technology communications infrastructure to push for key policies in Washington” from the Gates Foundation.

And what are Bill Gates’ “key policies”? Charter schools and teacher evaluations based on test scores.

And what has the WSPTA been doing? Well, first there was the charter school plank that was quietly slipped in by the League of Education Voters (LEV) “Key Activists” and Stand for Children (SFC) members Alison Meriwether and Chad Magendanz last fall. You can read The Washington PTA Stacks the Deck Towards Charter Schools for additional information on the WSPTA charter school maneuver.

Chad Magendanz, by the way, is now running for state legislator in the upcoming election and backed by LEV/SFC. First the PTA, then SFC backed his successful bid as school board director in Issaquah and now he is running for state legislator. Some say that he is being brought in by Nick Hanauer/LEV et al, to support the passage of the charter school bill that will undoubtedly return next year in Olympia. We will be following that campaign.

Getting back to the charter school plank that was voted into the WSPTA platform, we have yet to find out whether there was a quorum for this vote that occurred during the WSPTA legislative assembly and what schools and districts were represented. We can’t even get the minutes from the WSPTA although several PTA members have requested the information. One PTA member is concerned that no minutes were taken during that legislative assembly session and that is why there are no minutes forthcoming.

Now back to being kicked off of the WSPTA listserv, it actually began when I first got onto the listserv a couple of months ago. It was a very clubby group with Kelly Munn, State Field Director for the League of Education Voters, and several other LEV activists basically providing their take on all issues related to education. Truth be told, that’s why I joined. I had heard that several SFC and LEV activists had basically taken over the listserv, a message group that is made up of legislative representatives from schools around the state.  I wanted to see for myself if this was the case. It was. Ramona Hattendorf, WSPTA Government Relations Coordinator and LEV “Key Activist”, would basically provide what the WSPTA was doing and everyone would read it as if taking their marching orders. Kelly Munn would add her two cents with her LEV cadre of ed reform soldiers applauding her every word. Others would try and question the directives but they were usually slammed down.

So after I got on and began to share my viewpoints and opinions, there was a challenge as to whether I was a member of the PTA  because the chatter on the list serv was starting to take on a different tone, a tone of questioning and dissent. Hmmm. So at that point I had to verify that I was actually a PTA member. Then I was able to join the listserv again. After another week or two, the same challenge came up for several other members of the listserv. So a directive went out to all members of the listserv. Whoever wanted to remain on had to prove that they were a member of the PTA and sign onto a set of rules.

At this point, just about everything that the LEV activists were saying was being challenged, from charter schools to teacher evaluations, how “bad” the teachers’ union was and how great online learning was so this group was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.

I signed on to follow the rules as did everyone else who wanted to participate. But that wasn’t enough. Kelly Munn chirped in one day that the charter school bill was about to be dropped that Thursday and someone asked who wrote the bill. At that point I provided the information that in fact  LEV was involved in creating the bill and posted excerpts from the Seattle Ed blog regarding that. You can read my response at the end of this post.

At that point all hell broke loose. Now before this I had my hand slapped for even mentioning Alison Meriweather or Chad Magendanz as writing up the charter school plank and their involvement with SFC and LEV and almost got kicked off once because I forgot to “erase” my signature as editor of Seattle Education. One of the new rules was that we were not to mention other organizations although LEV and SFC seemed to be OK to bring up on occasion.

Then when I posted who was involved in the charter school bill, Kelly Munn contacted me directly and stated that if I didn’t have anything nice to say about LEV and SFC then I shouldn’t say anything at all. Humph. It started to feel like the same bullying tactics that Hanauer uses with the state legislators or WEA.

In her own words Kelly wrote:

I ask you to refrain from posting about LEV or Stand unless you have something positive to say.

Well, that would have been a stretch.

I answered that I was just stating the truth and it didn’t have anything to do with being nice or not, I was stating the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

In the last of our exchange of e-mails I wrote:

I will continue to provide information that I believe to be accurate. How others receive the information is up to them.

Kelly’s one line response was:

Understand that you are choosing to not respect my wishes.

Because I chose not to “respect” her wishes,  I was voted off the island.

Bill Williams, Executive Director of the Washington State PTA, and Ramona were copied on this e-mail exchange and at the end Bill Williams said that I was off the listserv.

Does this have anything to do with “communication infrastructure to push for key policies in Washington”? Was the attempt to tightly control the message also include what PTA members say and share on the WSPTA listserv?

I am on several listserv’s and generally communication is free and open as long as what we say remains in the realm of “civil discourse”. Why was this listserv different? Is this just supposed to be a method to issue directives from on-high from Ramona and Kelly and simply be accepted and not challenged?

Fortunately, as I was rejected from the listserv, others took my place. They might not be hearing it from me anymore but now they are hearing it from many others.

If you are a PTA member in the state of Washington, I would recommend that you contact Melissa Anderson, manderson@wastatepta.org, and request to be a part of the listserv. Let your voices be heard.

To follow is the listserv post that I wrote that got me kicked off the WSPTA listserv. I was answering the question as to who wrote the charter school bill:

(name omitted),

It is public information.

Before I get into who the authors are, you need to understand some background of Stand for Children. For that see: The Truth Behind Stand for Children, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/the-truth-behind-stand-for-children-a-video/ and Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/stand-for-children-stands-for-the-rich-and-the-powerful/.

Their agenda is charter schools, charter schools and charter schools. They are back by the Waltons as in Wal-Mart and Gates, both big proponents of guess what…charter schools!

Edelman, the President of SFC stated in a video that after their big win over the teacher’s union in Illinois that they were headed to our state to basically bust our teacher’s union. It is shown in the video that is part of the post Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful shown above.

Now, an excerpt from https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/tag/chad-magendanz/:

Prior to this assembly, a proposal had been sent out to the PTA legislative chairs and/or presidents of all schools that have PTA organizations. This proposal was basically out of the blue not only for me but also to all of the PTA members that I communicated with. See Whoa! Where did that come from Washington State PTA? Charter schools? Part 1. After further research, it was discovered that the primary writers of this one-sided proposal were also Stand for Children members. Stand for Children (SFC) is all about union busting and thereby creating a cheaper workforce to staff charter schools. One of the writers of the proposal, Chad Magendanz, is referred to as a “Stand Leader” by the SFC organization. Mr. Magendanz was supported through funding and hands-on support as described by SFC during his successful bid for School Board Director in Issaquah, WA.

And in another post, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/stand-for-children-school-board-races-and-the-washington-state-pta/

So, who is Chad Magendanz and what does he have to do with Stand for Children and charter schools? Apparently a lot. It might have happened innocently enough for Mr. Magendanz who received campaign funding from SFC and endorsements from Kelly Munn and Lisa MacFarland both with the Gates backed League of Education Voters during his campaign in 2008 when he ran for the Issaquah School board and again in 2009 when he ran for re-election. Even before that he was a member of SFC but this boost to school board member seemed to help him rise up through the ranks of SFC and become a spokesperson for the organization during the last legislative session.

According to SFC 2009 report, as one of their achievements they state that they:

Helped elect four strong school board members in two districts: Marnie Maraldo and Chad Magendanz in Issaquah and Catherine Ushka-Hall and Kurt Miller in Tacoma.

And at a statewide SFC conference it is noted in their handout that one of their accomplishments was the:

Election of strong school board candidates:

– We endorsed and campaigned for four successful school board

candidates; Marnie Maraldo (Issaquah), Chad Magendanz (Issaquah),

Catherine Ushka-Hall (Tacoma) and Kurt Miller (Tacoma).

And now Chad is referred to as a “Stand leader” in the SFC Olympian Connection news update on legislative action in a committee meeting with our representatives in Olympia.

At Wednesday’s committee meeting Stand leaders from Issaquah, School Board members Chad Magendanz and Marnie Maraldo, shared a Board resolution that opposes removing the 2018 dates and did a great job fielding questions from committee members.

So, where did that name just surface again? As one of the PTA members involved in developing the proposal for charter schools that will be introduced in the Washington State Legislative session this week. The same session where one of the Gates backed organizations, LEV, an organization that is pushing charter schools in our state will be speaking. See So much for fair and balanced with our Washington State PTA. The speaker is George Scarola and he is a lobbyist for LEV.

I believe that the WSPTA has been heavily influenced by LEV and SFC and that we need to begin to have a frank conversation about what the PTA does and should stand for and how careful should we be with our alliances with outside affiliations. Even Ramona is an “LEV Key Activist”. Could that be at times a conflict of interest? I believe it can.

And speaking of teacher evaluations see: Stand for Children, School Board Elections, Washington State PTA and Charter Schools, https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/stand-for-children-school-board-races-and-the-washington-state-pta/.

As I previously posted in Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful, Stand for Children (SFC) has proudly declared by way of its’ co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jonah Edelman, that he was successful in busting the teachers’ union in Chicago and he plans to do that again in the state of Washington. He has led the fight in other states by his own admonition in a video taped session during a seminar at the Aspen Institute, for “pension reform”, meaning cutting back on pensions or eliminating them altogether, and a teacher’s evaluation based on a student’s test scores.

The entire transcript will provide insight into how the 1% thinks and how they operate politically from backing state representatives to school board members

As Edelman says:

I’m being quite blunt here, the individual candidates were essentially a vehicle to execute a political objective…

And after the successful election of the SFC backed candidates, Edelman says that now he could go back to the governor, with his newly found political clout.

After the election, Advance Illinois (another Gates’ backed organization) and Stand had drafted a very bold proposal we called Performance Counts. It tied tenure and layoffs to performance…It streamlined dismissal of ineffective tenured teachers substantially, from 2+ years and $200, 000 in legal fees, on average, to three to four months, with very little likelihood of legal recourse, and, most importantly, we called for the reform of collective bargaining throughout the state.

In Edelman’s words:

“We’re already getting going. We’re doing this level of work in every state. In Washington state, same goal. We could readily outspend the WEA. Massachusetts, very similar. It might be a ballot measure in Washington. It might be we have a ballot measure on the ballot in Massachusetts, and we use it as a lever.”

After reading the transcript or watching the tape you wonder just how SFC’s involvement with union negotiations particularly because they were negotiating basically against teachers and not in support of them helps our children in any way.

And where did Edelman get the money to successfully wage this campaign against teachers? From the wealthy few including hedge fund millionaires. See Emanuel’s billionaire donors also bankrolling “Stand for Children”, pushing union-busting organizations in Illinois.

Last year Bill Gates, a big promoter of charter schools, gave Stand for Children $3,476,300 in funding.

And then there’s PIE, another moneyed group, who is also funding SFC and is a big proponent of charter schools.

Dora

It’s time to take our PTA back in the state of Washington. And…don’t forget the charter school debate tonight sponsored by the Seattle PTA.

Dora Taylor

Co-editor: Seattle Education

Founding Member: Parents Across America

PTA Member in good standing (so far)

Post Script:

You can view the correspondence between me and Kelly Munn and my letter from Bill Williams at this Google website. Please note the 18 minutes between Ms. Munn’s last e-mail to me and when I received my “off the island” e-mail from Mr. Williams. Coincidence? I think not.

17 comments on “I was kicked off the Washington State PTA listserv

  1. Karrie Sanderson
    March 2, 2012

    Thanks for sharing your experience… How do I get on the WAPTSA listserve? I’d like to join or have our Leg Chair join so we can have a voice in these discussions!
    thanks!
    Karrie Sanderson
    QAE PTSA President

  2. CD Mary
    March 1, 2012

    In addition to the national journalists,, send this to The Seattle Times education reporter. He seems better than the last one. No doubt he’d enjoy digging into this story. PTA gone rogue. It’s salacious, not because of you – because of the tactics of LEV and Stand.

    But like the public stockades of old, public exposure of tawdry acts may help stop this foolishness. People like Munn don’t want their Golden Apples tarnished. They need to be. This is bullying behavior with a strong Big Brother scariness.

    • seattleducation2011
      March 1, 2012

      Thanks Mary. I will contact Brian regarding this occurrence.

      And yes, I do believe that acts like this deserve the light of day.

      Dora

  3. seattleducation2011
    March 1, 2012

    Johnmichael,

    The issue was not what I said about the PTSA, that we should seriously look at what our agenda should be statewide and where there might be a conflict of interests when PTSA leadership is involved with other organizations, that there should possibly be some ground rules, but because Kelly Munn didn’t like what I was saying about the description of LEV and SFC’s involvement with the charter school bill.

    If you note above, I never made mention of the money that WSPTA received from Gates in my e-mail on the lsitserv and in fact I never mentioned that in any of my correspondence on that listserv.

    I am at this moment trying to complete a task that I am working on. When that is done, I will post the “conversation” that I had with Munn. That might help clarify exactly the motivation behind me being kicked off the listserv.

    Dora

  4. Johnmichael Monteith
    March 1, 2012

    Personally, I do not believe anything individually that you posted warranted getting kicked off the listserv – no. You cannot engage in this discussion without ruffling some feathers.

    What is tricky here is that it is the WSPTA listserv, not a public neutral ground, and if you are arguing that the WSPTA screwed up / making bad decisions then I could understand THAT being the reason you would not be on there. In that mindset, what you say is “truth” could easily be interpreted as a non-constructive assault on the organization. It is one thing to say “we should really bring the Charter business up for a vote again – let’s organize to do that”, or “the process that passed this was wrong, so let’s chat that so it does not happen again”. It is another to just say they are wrong and that they are a pawn of Bill Gates and big dollars.

  5. seattleducation2011
    March 1, 2012

    Johnmichael,

    I wouldn’t call my last post on the WSPTA list serv, which is included at the end of this post, as “putting down” any organization would you? I was simply stating facts, not opinions.

    Later today I will post on a Google doc’s website my entire exchange that was done offline between me and Kelly as well as the Bill Williams e-mail to me and then you can be the judge.

    The link to the sites will be noted in a Post Script at the end of this post.

    Dora

  6. Johnmichael Monteith
    March 1, 2012

    Did you actually get an email from them explaining why you were kicked off, Dora? I am on the listserv and I do not recall the rules saying you are not allowed to “speak the truth” as you put it, but who knows. I know you are not allowed to have partisan discussions and then there are the general “niceness” guidelines (below). But I would be curious “officially” why you got nixed. jp

    This listserv’s rules of conduct.
    * No profanity
    * No name calling
    * No threats
    * No offensive speech
    * No putting down individuals or other organizations/associations
    This last one includes our elected officials, fellow members, unions, rich people, poor people, etc. Also a reminder: We are non-partisan; we advocate for the well-being and education of all children; we are welcoming to all; and we actively partner with other groups when our work aligns.

  7. seattleducation2011
    February 29, 2012

    Caroline,

    Yes, one way to handle being able to attend the assembly is if there is additional money set aside so that “scholarships” can be awarded.

    Because of what has been happening in our state, teachers are beginning to mobilize and join their PTA’s because we don’t want to allow what has occurred in the last two years to ever happen again.

    And, because of this post, more people are joining the WSPTA list serv.

    Being active is key.

    One point though, because of the lack of transparency with the charter school plank, I don’t know of one PTA parent who even heard anything about it unless someone in PAA told them about it and when these parents found out, they were shocked and upset. Chad, Alison, Ramona and Kelly handled this entire charter school maneuver in a stealth like fashion that was exceedingly undemocratic.

    Fortunately though, I don’t think that anyone will ever be able to pull that off again.

    Dora

  8. nb
    February 29, 2012

    The WSPTA just outrageous to kick off someone for a divergent opinion! But then remember the slogan “one voice” – meaning we can have only one voice or we’re out. I am going to get on their listserv – it sounds like a good time…
    “Did you know” category: my friend was sharing with me about what basically boils down to WSPTA member PTSA’s having to pay to vote on the plank each year. Last year the Legislative Assembly cost $140 per person – so if your PTSA/PTA sent your allocated 2 or 3 reps that added up to $280 or $420 (last year). That’s a lot of money for PTSA’s to come up with not to mention hard-raised bucks taken away from helping students in their schools. Charging to attend the Assembly effectively keeps the “have-nots” from participating.
    I encourage all District 6 PTA/PTSAs to send at least ONE legislative rep next fall so that our district is fully and fairly represented. I’d suggest if there’s a PTSA that can’t come up with this fee to vote to make a request to a neighboring PTSA for assistance (or some kind of good neighbor system).

    • seattleducation2011
      February 29, 2012

      Your point about attending the two day legislative assembly is exactly what I have been arguing about. As I stated in a previous post, “…many schools that have PTA’s will not be able to attend this two-day legislative session to vote on the PTA platform due to financial reasons. A day off from work if the parent is working, the cost of childcare, a hotel room, the registration fee, transportation and food can be cost prohibitive to many struggling parents and these days just about 99% of us are struggling.”

      In Seattle the last two legislative assemblies have occurred on a Friday that Seattle Public Schools are closed which poses a hardship for families who cannot afford child care. There has got to be a better way to ensure that all voices are heard.

      These legislative assemblies do not represent a cross section of our students in the state of Washington and that is an outrage. They keep saying “Every child, one voice” but that is really not the case and then they go to Olympia and state that the PTA supports charter schools, teacher evaluations based on test scores and merit pay but who are they truly representing?

      Dora

      • carolinesf
        February 29, 2012

        I will argue for the PTA here — in the big picture, putting aside the misdeeds and malpractice currently being committed by the Washington state PTA. It’s absolutely true that PTA events are crushingly difficult to get to for struggling, overwhelmed families (and students), but the only way to get into subjects deeply is to hold those multi-day events. At least here in California, PTA is quite forthcoming with scholarships that cover the expenses.

        I attended one full California state PTA convention, with a scholarship from the state PTA. My kids were in 7th and 4th grades at the time; I worked part-time from home and my husband worked full-time (though luckily with some flexibility in his hours); and our house is devoid of domestic staff. Even with the expenses covered, it was incredibly difficult just to make all the necessary arrangements. One notch down the economic ladder, or one additional kid, or a less flexible work schedule, or any special needs of any kind would have made it impossible.

        And yet, these events are a productive and necessary part of keeping the state PTA thriving and effective. I don’t see any easy way to reconcile that — it falls to those with at least some resources to attend these events. And the most dedicated volunteers serving on the state PTA level are always older than the membership at large, as they absolutely must be empty-nesters (except those few with a household staff, I guess).

        Again, I don’t see an easy way to reconcile that. But it’s a separate issue from the wrongdoing in which the Washington state PTA is engaging.

  9. CD Mary
    February 29, 2012

    This is truly shocking. Send this post to Diane Ravitch and WA Post columnist Valarie Strauss and the national PTSA headquarters.

    If the WA PTSA can’t do the right thing on its own, perhaps national shame will help it to see the error of its ways. The head of the WA PTSA and Kelly Munn should both be publicly censured over this restriction of PTSA members’ opinions.

  10. carolinesf
    February 29, 2012

    As a longtime PTA member in California, I need to emphasize that the Washington state PTA has gone rogue. Supporting charters and privatization and attacking teachers is NOT consistent with PTA policies and principles. (In Florida, the state PTA is fighting hard against destructive corporate-education-reform fads like the Parent Trigger, for example.)

    Please, parents of Washington state, rise up and take your PTA back so it supports schools, children and families rather than billionaires and union-busters! I know it’s hard work, but it needs to be done and you can do it.

    • An SEA Member
      February 29, 2012

      carolinesf – not to make excuses, but, as an explanation —
      seattle thinks of itself like … Boston? San Fran? and it is NOT. It is a great place to live, but, there is not the dynamic job market of the northeast or california, and so people who get decent jobs NEVER leave them. The place is ossified, and people are terrified of losing their decent job.
      Oh, by the way – and then there are the scraps thrown from the tables of local big boyz – weyerhauser, boeing, Gate$, Amazon … the number of people who’ve grabbed some of the bigger scraps is significant, and rocking the boat isn’t on their agenda … and the people lined up to get a chance at grabbing some scraps is a long line, and rocking the boat isn’t on their agenda.
      And then there are a lot of people who have spines and brains!

  11. Danaher M Dempsey Jr
    February 29, 2012

    A list-serve should exist to facilitate open discussion among members of any issue.

    Some are confidential – like Wheres the Math and the American Math Forum to which I belong and others are not.

    A list-serve should not exist as a propaganda tool. Most Members of a list-serve are interested in formation of an educated basis for action. Propaganda defeats this quest for an informed basis for action.

    The following statement is clearly a desire for a list serve to be a propaganda tool:

    In her own words Kelly wrote:

    I ask you to refrain from posting about LEV or Stand unless you have something positive to say.
    ——

    The Oligarchs and Plutocrats are continuing and advancing their assault on democratic institutions by buying off and disrupting democratic institutions. Apparently these elite folks do not consider allowing persons to form an educated basis for action to be in their best interests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: