The Weekly Update for the news you might have missed.

First, some business.

Seattle school board to vote on Initiative 1240 resolution

Seattle School Board Director Kay Smith-Blum introduced a resolution against the charter school Initiative 1240 at the Seattle School Board Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday. The Executive Committee agreed to move the resolution forward to a full Board vote on Wednesday, October 17th with a recommendation to approve the resolution.

As many people as possible should be at this board meeting. It is a critical vote and you know that the well paid opposition  in the guise of Stand for Children will be there in force.

To speak at the school board meeting about your stance on charter schools and this initiative, call on Monday morning at 8:00 AM, the phone lines will be busy so start dialing at 7:59 AM (that’s what I do). The number to call is 206-252-0040. You can also e-mail

You will have two minutes to speak during the board meeting. Write down what you’re going to say and give it a few tries. The worst experience is to be cut off as you are making your final points during your 2 minutes.

Seattle Public Schools offers a guideline for speaking at a school board meeting.

If you prefer not to speak in front of the board, please be there in support of the speakers. The meeting begins at 4:15 PM and the public speaking segment begins at 5:00 PM. Yes, I know the time is totally whacked but the board changed the time during the last school year. If you agree that the time does not allow for many parents and students to participate, let them know. If enough people speak up, they will change the time.

The Board meetings are held in the auditorium of the John Stanford Center, 2445 – 3rd Ave S, Seattle.

There is plenty of parking.

Next up, money.

The funding of the 1240 campaign has increased thanks to Bill Gates and the Walton’s. Bill Gates and the Wal-Mart Walton’s have added $1.1M to the kitty making a total of $3.7M between them. If only they would invest that money directly into our schools.

A relatively small number of individuals are paying for this campaign and most of them are billionaires, millionaires or “investors”.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission Bill Gates has contributed a total  of $2M towards the privatization of our schools, and the Wal-Mart Walton’s, $1.7M. Even ex- school board member Steve Sundquist made it on the list at $250.

What concerns me a great deal are the self-proclaimed “investors” on the list who see our schools as ripe for the taking.

The list of demands made by students at Walter L. Cohen High School

Speaking of charter schools, a charter school franchise has taken over a school in New Orleans mid way into the semester and is changing the entire administration and teaching staff.  This was reported in the post, School takeover by Steve Barr and the Future Is Now charter school causes student walkout in New Orleans. Would this type of hostile takeover happen in a middle or upper class white neighborhood? I don’t think so.

To follow is a partial list of their demands:

Official Demands Written by Walter L. Cohen Students on October 7, 2012 (edited to reflect changes made on October 10):

1. Resources and Building repair for Walter L. Cohen High School.

– Photos of building providing evidence of different conditions between NOCPREP and Cohen

2. Graduate Exit Exam (GEE) and End of Course (EOC) waivers given caused by disruption learning.

Students must not be penalized for missing seat time until our demands are met.

3. Students cannot be bought and sold. This situation is very frustrating and opinions should have been considered, and not done behind closed doors. Walter L. Cohen students and parents demand real “CHOICE” to determine the governance of the school. Any previous decisions made determining the governance of Cohen should be reversed and required to go through parent/student/teacher/administrator committee. If the decision is to return the school to Walter L. Cohen under Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), New Orleans College Prep students will be welcome. All current students graduate from Walter L. Cohen.

4. This type of hostile take-over did not just begin with Cohen; it has been going on since the weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

We, the students of Walter L. Cohen Senior High School, need the RSD, FINS, and NOCP to listen to us. This is a crisis, and everyone should listen. This is real, and it is happening to us right now.

New Orleans cannot be a city with all charter schools. Charter schools do not admit or keep all students.

No unnecessary suspensions and expulsions for students in New Orleans. We need official handbook with policies concerning retention of students developed by parents, students and teachers citywide.

For more on this, go to The Louisiana Justice Institute.

Students at Walter L. Cohen High School expressing their anger and concern

And from another news source:

Cohen firings draw ire

Angry at the second administrative shake-up at their school in two years, Walter L. Cohen Senior High School students stormed out of class on Friday and told Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard they won’t return until their principal and teachers do as well.

Juniors and seniors at the school were protesting Dobard’s decision to fire Principal Gavin Lewis, much of his staff and four of the 12 teachers assigned to those grade levels. Cohen’s 11th- and 12th-grade classes are operated by the RSD, but students in sixth through 10th grades attend a separate school within the same building called Cohen College Prep. That school is run by New Orleans College Prep, a charter school group.

Dobard plans to turn over management of Cohen’s juniors and seniors to Future Is Now Schools, a national charter school organization partially backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The changeover is supposed to happen Oct. 15.

“We appeal to their sense of trusting us as educators,” Dobard said.

But students at the school Friday expressed little trust in Dobard or his policies. Several of them questioned how he could hire an entirely new staff for this school year and then fire them six weeks later. Students said they had built relationships with teachers and staff members, and now that process has to start all over again.

“The point we’re trying to make is that this is going to set us back,” senior Terrell Major said.

Major said it was already obvious that the older students weren’t a priority, but this recent decision just drives that point home. The students learned of the firings during a school assembly and were initially given the impression that they would be moved to different schools as part of the change, Major said.

Although Dobard has said that won’t happen, students said they believe the shake-up is proof that only charter school students matter. Major said it seems like they’ve already been cast aside by the system.

To read this article in full, go to The Advocate.

To follow is a letter that was written by Tracie Washington, a prominent New Orleans Civil Rights attorney to Gideon Stein, a real estate developer living in New York and one of the founders of the charter chain The Future is Now.   This woman’s anger reflects the feeling of students and parents in New Orleans and I would say in many parts of the country where folks who think they know best are taking over minority schools.

From: “Tracie Washington”

Date: Oct 9, 2012 6:02 PM

Subject: RE: Walter L. Cohen High School

To: “Gideon Stein”


The problem is the presumptions made that started this web of deception and mess. That web continues, even today with Recovery School District (RSD) and FINS-Nola backdating a contract (it’s a public record folks; that’s a big ‘no,no’).

Apologizing to me means little. You and your Board and the RSD did something that really is unforgiveable. You entered a community and said “I know what’s better for you and your children. I will not consult with you, but instead take over your community.” I’m saddened not because you did this. You are not a member of my community. But Black folk in this community did it to other Black folk. And yesterday, when these students were exercising civil disobedience the likes of which I had not seen from our young folk, RSD threatened them with the declaration of truancy, which is criminalization in our community.

On Sunday, the students told our community they felt like slaves. SLAVES. It’s 2012. FINS-Nola and RSD made a group of Black children feel like slaves. We have Congo Square. I guess we should have simply sent the kids there on Friday.

I don’t know how you resolve the lies told to take away the rights of these parents and students. You all have been paid. So it’s all better because now you say you’re sorry? Really.

You get to fly out of here. So it’s up to Black women to clean up this mess? My grandmother worked for $3/day and carfare so that I would not have to clean up behind white folk. Not today. This is your mess Gideon. Stick around!

I’m just sick!

Tracie L. Washington, Esq.

President & CEO

Louisiana Justice Institute

Is this what we want in our state? Vote “No” on Initiative 1240.

Speaking of New Orleans, check out this dash for the cash.

100 “non-profits” so far have applied to establish more charter schools in the state of Louisiana this year. I have not read about any of these enterprises before and assume most of these orgs are just out of the box. How’s that for quality in education? Thanks Arne.

See the Louisiana Department of Education website for the list.

Another one bites the dust

For the list of Broad Academy graduates who have resigned, been forced to resign or just plain fired, and it is a list that gets longer every few months, go to  A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s training programs and education policies, and scroll down to “How the Broad Foundation affects public school families”. One to add, along with Brizard, is General Tata who is no longer presiding over a school district in North Carolina. See Good riddance, Gen. Tata.

Jean Claude Brizard received a vote of no confidence by the teachers in Rochester during his tenure there. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago thought, probably with the help of his friend Eli Broad, that it would be a really good idea to put Brizard in charge of schools in Chicago.

Then the teacher strike in Chicago occurred and quite frankly, Brizard was hard to find.

Now, Mayor Emanuel has fired the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Jean Claude Brizard. Do not fear though. Broad will find another high paying job for him.

See Brizard out as CPS chief: ‘We agreed it is best’.

Speaking of the Walton’s and Wal-Mart, the workers’ strike continues.

In this 20 minute segment of the Democracy Now program, Amy Goodman speaks to striking workers about their demands.

Wal-Mart Workers in 12 States Stage Historic Strikes, Protests Against Workplace Retaliation

We don’t want this Wal-Mart mentality in our public schools.

And just when I thought I was done having fun with the movie Won’t Back Down, I received an e-mail that the movie producers are offering two tickets for the price of one just to keep it in the theaters one last painful week. If you really want to see this stinker of a movie, this would be the time. I don’t think it will be on Netflix anytime soon. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie made on average $40 on Wednesday, October 10th in the theaters.


Last night I listened to the Vice Presidential debate for as long as I could. It seemed that the emphasis was on world dominance but not so much about what to do about the 22% of our children living in poverty or the realities of healthcare, basically a lack of it for a large percentage of our population, or other issues that affect families in our country.

We do seem to remain under the delusion that we are the all powerful nation and the moral leaders of the world when in actuality, we are suffering at home. We cannot be a strong country until we take care of our own health and well-being, our children and our environment.

I was reading the following article and came across these paragraphs:

  “The Measure of a Nation” Challenges Illusions of American Superiority

In 1970, the average American teacher made about 175 percent of the national GDP per capita, making the teaching profession a relatively well-compensated profession. By 2008, teachers earned roughly the same as the national GDP per capita, less than one-half that of lawyers and about one-third that of doctors. Just look how this compares to the market star, Korea: It pays its experienced primary school teachers about twice the national GDP per capita. It’s much the same at the secondary school level: Experienced secondary school teachers in Korea make about twice their national GDP per capita, while in America they earn about the national average. With these comparatively low levels of compensation, it is not surprising that nearly 50 percent of new teachers in America leave the profession in the first five years.

America spends much more of its educational budget on administration than its competitor nations (each of the 50 states has its own administrative apparatus). Local funding virtually guarantees that the poorest schools will stay poor.

Despite the rapidly rising costs of college educations, American students have less access to financial aid. Thirty years ago, Pell Grants covered about 75 percent of the cost of an undergraduate degree; today they cover only a third. The average student loan debt of a graduate in 2007 and 2008 was $23,186, double the average owed by 1995 graduates.

To read more about this book, go to truthout.