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I attended the public reception for new Superintendent Banda last week which was sponsored by the Alliance for Education and El Centro de la Raza. Everyone was invited and about 400-500 people were in attendance when I arrived around 6:00 PM.
As I entered the large hall where the reception was taking place, someone came up to a guest behind me and said that there were others in attendance from TFA. Apparently both of these guests were TFA recruits or alums. Wow, I thought, I had not even gotten into the room and was already hearing about that organization.
Later, when I was in line to meet our new superintendent, the woman in front of me introduced herself as a TFA, Inc. alum to Superintendent Banda. Geez, you’d think the evening was all about TFA.
The Dean of Education at the University of Washington, and TFA, Inc alum, Tom Stritikus gave the first welcoming speech to Banda, all in Spanish. Many of us wondered why Stritikus gave the opening welcome. Was it his perfect Spanish or the fact that he had championed the cause to have TFA, Inc recruits sponsored by his College of Education even against the protests of students and faculty?
Next in line to speak was our school board president Michael DeBell who has a history with the ed reform pioneer in Seattle Don Neilson and has been championing all things corporate reform since the time of our former Broad-trained superintendent Marie Goodloe-Johnson. He referred to our new superintendent as the “CEO of Seattle Public Schools”. A reference that he made several times in his speech. It was odd language to use particularly since that’s the term used for non-educator positions in New York and Chicago who have control over the public school districts and is also the term used for the leadership positions in charter schools. In charter schools, rather than the term “principal” being used, the head of the school is called the “CEO”.
Lisa MacFarland, formerly with the League of Education Voters (LEV) and now head of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) in the state of Washington, and her dog, were in attendance along with a few other privatizing die-hard’s.
It would behoove the rest of us to make ourselves known to Superintendent Banda in the coming months so that he doesn’t think that everyone in Seattle is for the privatization of our public schools.