In the hours since Marshall Tuck’s daunting but failed effort to unseat incumbent State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, education and political observers have reached different conclusions about the election and its significance.

One said Tuck’s defeat would have no impact. Another said it would further deepen the rift between the two main factions that squared off in the record-spending $30 million-plus race: teachers unions on behalf of Torlakson and well-heeled benefactors who agreed with Tuck’s vision of education reform.

A third observer said the closeness of the results should be a wake-up call to both sides to de-escalate. And Tuck himself said Wednesday he was disappointed by the result but inspired by the campaign and the coalition he built – and that he will continue working on behalf of California’s kids in ways he has yet to decide.

Torlakson defeated Tuck 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent. The gap was less than 2 percent in Tuck’s home turf, Los Angeles, where he ran the Green Dot charter school network before managing the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the nonprofit charged with turning around low-performing schools in Los Angeles Unified. The campaign was a bruising battle fought through independent expenditure committees, in which the California Teachers Association anted up $11 million and one Tuck backer, William Bloomfield, alone donated $3.5 million. The race became the latest front in an ongoing war between teachers unions and those advocating a brand of reform that calls for weakening union power and injecting competition through charter schools and parental choice. Tuck made challenging the California Teachers Association’s influence in Sacramento a campaign theme and said Torlakson represented the status quo.

But in the end, the race won’t make much difference, said David Plank, the executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent research center based at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California.

Had he won, Dan Schnur said, “Tuck would have been a very visible and influential voice in Sacramento. That’s not going to happen.”

“The election was a defeat for ‘reformers’ and a successful defense for the teachers unions but it won’t put them in a stronger position; they successfully defended their turf,” Plank said. A win by Tuck would have given the coalition of reformers in his camp a “public triumph,” but Tuck made empty promises, he said, because the state superintendent has little authority to determine education policy. That power rests with Gov. Jerry Brown and Michael Kirst, an emeritus professor at Stanford who Brown appointed as president of the State Board of Education.

Tuck’s vow to withdraw the appeal of the decision in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit was an example of his limited authority, Plank said. In that case a state Superior Court judge overturned five workplace protection laws for teachers, including tenure after two years, dismissal procedures and layoffs by seniority. Torlakson, a defendant in the suit, has appealed the decision. Tuck agreed with the judge’s ruling and said he would drop the appeal if elected.

“Marshall Tuck could have stood naked on the grounds of the Capitol and torn up the Vergara appeal, and it wouldn’t have mattered,” Plank said, because Brown has filed an appeal.

Plank said Tuck’s defeat showed how difficult it would be for those who back Tuck’s vision of reform to win that office.

“They had a very strong, articulate, well-funded candidate. Incredible assets: a good bio, an issue (the Vergara case) distinguishing him from the incumbent, the endorsement of all of the state’s major papers,” he said. “Yet he could not overcome the institutional advantages of the unions: motivated teachers and an ability to spend on their behalf.”

Tuck also had what proved to be another disadvantage – unfamiliarity. For most voters, he was a blank canvas that Torlakson and his allies painted darkly. In ads, they attacked him as a Wall Street banker – a reference to a banking job he had right out of college – working with billionaires to privatize and dismantle public schools.

“My guess is that voters decided less on policy – teacher tenure or testing – than on biography,” said Dan Schnur, executive director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. The unions characterized Tuck as “someone without schools’ best interest at heart,” he said.

Had he won, Schnur said, “Tuck would have been a very visible and influential voice in Sacramento. That’s not going to happen.” But his loss has importance, he said, though not in the way Tuck’s allies would like.

“The message the teachers unions will take away is that they can dig deep and beat the other guy, so in the short run, they will be less likely to compromise,” he said. “They can go to a legislator considering tenure reform and say, ‘The same thing will happen to you that we did to Marshall Tuck, and you won’t be as well funded as Tuck.’”

A choice to rearm or de-escalate

That take-away would be unfortunate, because “neither side is going away,” said Steve Barr, the founder of Green Dot charters, who hired Tuck for his first job in education and calls him “a rising star” who “rose out of nowhere and did everything right in the campaign” even if he didn’t win.

Barr is the new chairman of the California affiliate of Democrats for Education Reform, which has clashed with unions and other Democrats on charters and standardized testing. The message of the election to both sides should be to de-escalate, not rearm, Barr said.

“Is this a day to conclude, ‘We have to spend more money and work harder next time’ or is it an opportunity to reach out and work on common issues?” he said, like how to attract and retain great teachers. There might even be room for compromise on Vergara, such as requiring tenure after three years, instead of two, though Barr acknowledged he wouldn’t put it at the top of his agenda.

“Dialogue is a good thing,” said Eric Heins, vice president of the California Teachers Association. “We have built coalitions for a long time. But we’re just not ready to support bad reform, and many of the other so-called reforms have nothing to do with improving student learning. There appears to be another agenda.”

“Maybe there are some intersections where (reform groups and teachers unions) can work together, to avoid the zero-sum game,” retiring Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said.

Barr said one only has to look at Gov. Brown for someone who “has figured out a way of cohabitating with both sides.” Brown works closely with unions, yet started two charter schools in Oakland with non-unionized teachers and has become “a master of reform,” pushing through a tax increase, a new funding formula and a shift of power from Sacramento to local schools.

“What can we learn from that?” he asked.

Looking for common ground

A lot, says retiring Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. Steinberg worked closely with Torlakson, who he said he admires “for focusing on tangible things,” like expanding preschool and the $250 million career partnerships program that Steinberg championed. Yet a few years ago, Steinberg also authored a bill that would have eliminated laying off teachers in low-performing schools based on seniority – one of the issues raised in the Vergara lawsuit. The bill, faced with opposition from the California Teachers Association, went nowhere.

Like Barr, Steinberg also has concluded the election presents a chance to “expand the definition” of reform. “Teacher tenure, the challenges in firing teachers who aren’t doing a good job and seniority-based layoffs are important issues, but they suck all of the oxygen out of the room,” he said, crowding out critical issues like expanding preschool, examining the quality of schools of education and creating incentives to go into teaching.

“Maybe there are some intersections where (reform groups and teachers unions) can work together, to avoid the zero-sum game,” he said.

There are, Tuck agreed in an interview Wednesday, and many of the issues he raised during the campaign were drowned out by negative ads against him.

But he also expressed no second thoughts on the theme of his campaign: There must be new leaders in Sacramento, a shift in power and a new coalition of parents and teachers in order “to make meaningful changes so that we can educate all kids in California.”

Before the election, many people didn’t know there was a state superintendent. Now, through his campaign, there is “a base of hundreds of thousands of passionate people to help move forward,” Tuck said. He said he will take time to decide what his role will be, whether he will be an advocate or a manager of schools, but he will remain involved. “I was inspired by how many people got behind this campaign,” he said.

 

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  1. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    TheMorrigan, if you need my permission to comment, you probably ought to be doing something else. You could go golfing. Just remember not to tee off until the people in front of you have left the green.

    Replies

    • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

      Good point, Don. Next time I will just explicitly point out your arrogance and hypocrisy.

  2. Jeff Camp 2 years ago2 years ago

    Not yet mentioned in these comments, and worthy fodder for reflection: does this election prove that the traditional media's influence has become irrelevant? Every major newspaper in the state backed Tuck over Torlakson. Either voters didn't notice (in which case the media has a visibility problem) or they didn't find the alignment important (in which case the media has a credibility problem). Maybe it's just me, but I think editorial boards SHOULD be taken … Read More

    Not yet mentioned in these comments, and worthy fodder for reflection: does this election prove that the traditional media’s influence has become irrelevant? Every major newspaper in the state backed Tuck over Torlakson. Either voters didn’t notice (in which case the media has a visibility problem) or they didn’t find the alignment important (in which case the media has a credibility problem).

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think editorial boards SHOULD be taken seriously in elections. Not always followed, of course, but they should matter. Why don’t they? Even in this discussion, the topic didn’t come up until the 28th comment.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      TV commercials matter more and they made Tuck look bad but they'd do the same to anyone who doesn't believe almost all teachers deserve a guaranteed job for life, 11 extra days off a year whether sick or not where kids are hurt by subs who aren't as good and don't know them as well, and no stress of having to impress parents, a boss, etc. And pay by seniority only. People read the … Read More

      TV commercials matter more and they made Tuck look bad but they’d do the same to anyone who doesn’t believe almost all teachers deserve a guaranteed job for life, 11 extra days off a year whether sick or not where kids are hurt by subs who aren’t as good and don’t know them as well, and no stress of having to impress parents, a boss, etc. And pay by seniority only.

      People read the paper less, but 48% is huge against an incumbent for any position save the top 2. It’s rare. Tuck will win in 2018 if the spies following Tuck around constantly don’t dig up a scandal. 92% of California kids are in public school and 82% of people have at least one kid. Every time a kid gets a bad teacher, they realize Tuck is right and Torlakson is wrong. If 5% of teachers are bad and kids get 40 from K to 12th grade, on average they’ll get 2. Poor kids get more which is why a higher percentage of black and Latino voters oppose seniority/tenure than white and Asian parents, which are still over 50%. It just gets individualized.

      Without those endorsements Tuck would have been at 41%. I’ve never seen the Chronicle go against the Union. They’re unionized and traditional far left. Tuck did a great job to convince them.

      Nothing doesn’t matter, it’s just how much it matters. Some people just pick one or remember a commercial. The union votes in lockstep. It was about a tie outside of teacher’s union members and immediate family. Tuck will win in 2018, if he can avoid a scandal caused by the spies.

      • Susan 2 years ago2 years ago

        K-12 teachers do not have a guaranteed job for life. Having tenure at the K-12 level means that a teacher cannot be fired without due process. 'Reformers' want to fire experienced teachers and replace them with low paid novices. The money that would be used to pay for experienced teachers would then be transferred to the corporate owners of charter companies who see your children as a business opportunity. The children get a … Read More

        K-12 teachers do not have a guaranteed job for life. Having tenure at the K-12 level means that a teacher cannot be fired without due process.

        ‘Reformers’ want to fire experienced teachers and replace them with low paid novices. The money that would be used to pay for experienced teachers would then be transferred to the corporate owners of charter companies who see your children as a business opportunity. The children get a low paid, unskilled teacher, and an iPad. Many charter schools also use something called Whole Brain Teaching. Look it up on You Tube. It looks like something out of North Korea. That is what ‘reformers’ have in mind for education in the 21st century–for your children, not theirs.

        ‘Reformers’ don;t send their children to charter schools. No way! They send their children to elite private schools where the teachers have doctorates, where the children have books, not iPads, where the children learn about science, art, music, writing, theater,journalism, etc.

        Do some research om these self appointed reformers (scam artists).

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          What you call due process is not that, DMV workers get due process, but many are fired. Mailmen, many other government jobs. It takes 6 steps to fire a teacher, years, and over 100k. Even a child molester who got 26 years in prison had to be paid 40k because the Union took him on as a liberal noble cause and fought hard for him. I've seen terrible teachers and the union … Read More

          What you call due process is not that, DMV workers get due process, but many are fired. Mailmen, many other government jobs. It takes 6 steps to fire a teacher, years, and over 100k. Even a child molester who got 26 years in prison had to be paid 40k because the Union took him on as a liberal noble cause and fought hard for him. I’ve seen terrible teachers and the union doesn’t get mad at the teacher, they get mad at the person calling the teacher out on being terrible. Or people, 22 of 22 sets of parents in one case.

          As for profits, no one is making a cent, charters don’t have owners. Show me someone who made a profit on a charter in California? It’s not legal to profit or own them. These people care about kids and see what damage happens to them by teachers not being fired, partially because bad ones stay on but partially because the majority decide it’s OK to call in sick when not sick and not push their hardest because they can’t be fired. Principals cannot push reforms through.

          You sound delusional when you speak of profits.

          As for cost, if you earn more, you should provide more value. If a teacher has 30 years and is producing no better than someone with 3-4 years, and costing nearly twice as much, they shouldn’t keep their job. Pay should be commensurate with productivity, which includes attendance. When you falsify 11 sick days a year, the kids in your class learn less and go to the next grade less prepared, which means the quality of your work was less.

          When layoffs come, sick days would be a far better way to decide who to lay off, for the kids, so they have subs less and teachers feel nervous taking a day off unless there’s no other option. Productivity is the key factor.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            "No one is making a cent?" Floyd,you need to read more. Ever heard of Rocketship? For-profit charters are exactly that. 13% of charters nationwide are for-profit but there are other avenues to suck profits out of the non-profit charter school industry. But most of the big money is made through the New Market's Tax Credit enacted during the Clinton Administration. Here's an explanation of how that works: "What happens is the investors who put up the money to … Read More

            “No one is making a cent?”

            Floyd,you need to read more. Ever heard of Rocketship? For-profit charters are exactly that. 13% of charters nationwide are for-profit but there are other avenues to suck profits out of the non-profit charter school industry.

            But most of the big money is made through the New Market’s Tax Credit enacted during the Clinton Administration.

            Here’s an explanation of how that works:

            “What happens is the investors who put up the money to build charter schools get to basically or virtually double their money in seven years through a thirty-nine percent tax credit from the federal government. In addition, this is a tax credit on money that they’re lending, so they’re also collecting interest on the loans as well as getting the thirty-nine percent tax credit. They piggy-back the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits like historic preservation or job creation or brownfields credits.

            The result is, you can put in ten million dollars and in seven years double your money. The problem is, that the charter schools end up paying in rents, the debt service on these loans and so now, a lot of the charter schools in Albany are straining paying their debt service–their rent has gone up from $170,000 to $500,000 in a year or–huge increases in their rents as they strain to pay off these loans, these construction loans. The rents are eating-up huge portions of their total cost. And, of course, the money is coming from the state.”

            Source jonathanturley /2013/03/16/charter-schools-and-the-profit-motive/

            The greatest threat to the charter schools are profiteers who take advantage of poorly written state charter laws and the NMTC

  3. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    Jerry Brown’s da Man! That’s pretty much what this election proved. It’s a rare feat that a serving politician can actually convince voters that things are running well. And why change something that is working so well. Politicians of all stripes out to conider closely what they can learn from the master politician.

    Replies

    • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

      …ought to consider…

  4. Bill Younglove 2 years ago2 years ago

    Barr and Steinberg are both right (Thanks, guys!). Let's concentrate upon tangible things, starting with the "Black Box" that is teaching. As Larry Cuban has noted, unless/until proposed educational reforms define curriculum as that which students walk away with when they leave the classroom, every one of them is doomed to failure (as Seymour Sarason aptly pointed out so long ago). It all HAS to start with students, teachers, and the classroom. Top down … Read More

    Barr and Steinberg are both right (Thanks, guys!). Let’s concentrate upon tangible things, starting with the “Black Box” that is teaching. As Larry Cuban has noted, unless/until proposed educational reforms define curriculum as that which students walk away with when they leave the classroom, every one of them is doomed to failure (as Seymour Sarason aptly pointed out so long ago). It all HAS to start with students, teachers, and the classroom. Top down reforms will/can never change U.S. education.

  5. Frank 2 years ago2 years ago

    It’s a little late to say let’s work together after you tried to mug someone and instead got whupped. This is not the first time (see DC mayoral) nor will it be the last that the citizenry wouldn’t buy the snake oil! God Bless America!

  6. Martin Hittelman 2 years ago2 years ago

    "Reformer" usually means someone who wants things to get better, not worse. In that light, the efforts of Tuck and his rich friends is not to make schools better but rather to reduce the power of teacher unions in the public debates over social and equity issues, make more likely the huge potential for for-profit institutions to make large profits for their investors, and generally weaken public schools in order to allow for more private-schools. … Read More

    “Reformer” usually means someone who wants things to get better, not worse. In that light, the efforts of Tuck and his rich friends is not to make schools better but rather to reduce the power of teacher unions in the public debates over social and equity issues, make more likely the huge potential for for-profit institutions to make large profits for their investors, and generally weaken public schools in order to allow for more private-schools. I wish pundits and the media would refrain from calling these people “reformers” – a more apt label would be “disformers.”

  7. Jim Mordecai 2 years ago2 years ago

    Without the CTA money and CTA ground game organizing teachers fearing loss of due process knocking on doors, Torlakson would have been stripped of the ability to have his speech heard over the media din. He would have been overwhelmingly defeated by Tuck's billionaires funding his media blitzkrieg. Without union power to counter the power of the wealthy and corporations America is completely government of the rich and for the rich. Tuck is … Read More

    Without the CTA money and CTA ground game organizing teachers fearing loss of due process knocking on doors, Torlakson would have been stripped of the ability to have his speech heard over the media din. He would have been overwhelmingly defeated by Tuck’s billionaires funding his media blitzkrieg. Without union power to counter the power of the wealthy and corporations America is completely government of the rich and for the rich.

    Tuck is now the California leader of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Those in the Democrat Party supporting DFER support privatization of public education advocating for so called education reform policies such as Race to the Top, expansion of charter schools and Common Core State Standards (CC$$). The Obama Department of Education has been dominated by DFER.

    Both major education unions have taken Gates funding to implement CC$$. While administrator of charter schools running for State Superintendent in union state such as California should have activated all union members against Tuck charter schools are seen by many as simply public school. The fact that they are publicly funded and managed privately is often ignored.

    CTA understands that a Tuck victor would have encouraged the forces that want to strip teachers of their right to due process and grow charter schools that are not unionized.

    CTA’s work help narrowly win the battle. But its victor had little impact on the war to privatize public education.

    And, the unions will not be able to win the war against publicly funded private charter school education unless, in my opinion, they lobby legislatures to reform charter schools to be governed by the public. The unions should demand that all charter schools be managed by elected governing board from electorate from the school district they are located.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Tuck has some big backers. This was a fairly equal fight. Usually the union overwhelms any opposition and controls everything. People are tired of that because they use that power to put their interests over those of children. In this case, Tuck had a lot of money. Tuck is a name now. The rich folks who supported him know how much it will take and know they were close … Read More

      Tuck has some big backers. This was a fairly equal fight. Usually the union overwhelms any opposition and controls everything. People are tired of that because they use that power to put their interests over those of children. In this case, Tuck had a lot of money. Tuck is a name now. The rich folks who supported him know how much it will take and know they were close and this is important to them. As long as Tuck doesn’t have an affair or beat his kids or self-destruct in some scandalous way, he’ll win in 2018. It’s just a long time to wait for kids, my 11th grader will be in her 2d year of college, my 2d grader will be in 6th grade. A lot of kids are going to suffer as teachers feel no pressure to stop the excessive phony sick days and bad ones are retained. 4 years is a long time. We have to keep the faith and keep fighting for what is morally right.

      There are millions of dollars now being spent to try to find a scandal on Tuck. There are investigators following him, women spies following him around hoping to seduce him into an affair, men hoping he might swing that way and hoping to catch him, people talking to people he knew in college and high school, people combing through obscure tax papers, talking to his neighbors. Even his kids and wife are being investigated. Even if he goes for a vacation in Europe, someone will be assigned to follow him and try to catch him doing something wrong, trying drugs, saying something silly while drunk, cameras will be on in every cafe he goes to. Spies will be omnipresent and ubiquitous in his life. He is a threat to the cherished status quo. If one is found, it will be 12 years, as another person will get in with incumbency and it will take a long time to find another. Believe me, they individualized Tuck but they’ll do the same thing about another. It wasn’t about Tuck, anyone who opposes them they’ll say is anti-teacher, too rich, has a plot to privatize all schools, and whatever dirt they can find or make up.

      I wish Tuck had gotten just a few more votes. But, we have to be patient and keep working.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        The media can be unscrupulous in how it goes after public figures, but I guess scandal sells. And if they didn’t do it, their rich owners would have less money to fund political candidates. Sounds like maybe he needs a union to protect his right to privacy.. 😉

      • Greg C 2 years ago2 years ago

        FloydThursby1941, I would like to find out more about your assertion that teachers take more sick days than they should. Can you refer me to documentation of this?

  8. flyR 2 years ago2 years ago

    No impact ..................... time for a drug test A few of the impacts big money democrats have again turned back efforts to bring competition into the schools Taxpayers have had it with the corrupt pyramid of sacramento democrats , big unions and an LAUSD management thet regularly converts funds intended for students into political favors, politically correct disasters . Miramonte replicas and willing to sacrifice young lives to have a … Read More

    No impact ………………… time for a drug test

    A few of the impacts

    big money democrats have again turned back efforts to bring competition into the schools

    Taxpayers have had it with the corrupt pyramid of sacramento democrats , big unions and an LAUSD management thet regularly converts funds intended for students into political favors, politically correct disasters . Miramonte replicas and willing to sacrifice young lives to have a politically correct discipline policy rather than a race neutral discipline policy.

    You have lost out trust with the theft of the construction bond funds

    You have exposed your incompetence with the new data system

    There’s a trail of politicially motivated real estate deals stretching from beaudry to the sea and the high desert.

    The highschool grads I see comming in the door can not do math in their heads, fall flat on their faces when faced by problems requiring logic and yet believe they are masters of the universe. They have not learned discipline or the need to work hard .

    The pace of companies leaving california or simply not growing in California is staggering.
    not only will too many children be unable to find jobs but the jobs will no pay enough to live in the liveable areas

  9. Steve-O 2 years ago2 years ago

    It takes a lot of nerve for people like Tuck to call themselves reformers. They have been crying poor mouth for years and demonizing teacher unions all the while. Tuck's ads were fear-mongering, hate-mongering lies that tear down everything constructive that public school teachers have fought for years. The Vergara decision was based on a sham, a chimera, an illusion created by a new class of elitists, who pretend to have the answers to solve … Read More

    It takes a lot of nerve for people like Tuck to call themselves reformers. They have been crying poor mouth for years and demonizing teacher unions all the while. Tuck’s ads were fear-mongering, hate-mongering lies that tear down everything constructive that public school teachers have fought for years. The Vergara decision was based on a sham, a chimera, an illusion created by a new class of elitists, who pretend to have the answers to solve the riddle of educating our youth in poverty-blighted America. It is extremely nervy of the reformers, who are getting the thrashing they deserve, at the polls, to proffer an olive-branch to the people that they have been flagellating and insulting for years. When Broad and Gates change their tune, maybe we’ll begin to hum along. Until then, bring it on! We can fight too.

  10. Doctor J 2 years ago2 years ago

    Is the election over ? It's now just coming to light that many counties such as Contra Costa only counted about half their votes on election night. CoCoCo "thinks" they have 95,000 uncounted Vote By Mail and provisional ballots uncounted -- and only expect to release 70,000 of those by today Friday evening. For example, the MDUSD school board vote, the Election Night “final” showed 76,926 votes. Yet there remains some 68,400 … Read More

    Is the election over ? It’s now just coming to light that many counties such as Contra Costa only counted about half their votes on election night. CoCoCo “thinks” they have 95,000 uncounted Vote By Mail and provisional ballots uncounted — and only expect to release 70,000 of those by today Friday evening. For example, the MDUSD school board vote, the Election Night “final” showed 76,926 votes. Yet there remains some 68,400 +/- 10,000 votes to be counted just in the MDUSD Board race which encompasses about 24% of the CoCoCo voting precincts. Its hard to fathom why election officials are caught so unprepared on the VBM ballots — after all they sent them out and knew how many were out there. Why didn’t they have extra staff ready to count them on Election Night ? More humerous may be that former Union teacher president Mike Langley only trailing by 477 votes over incumbent Linda Mayo — both endorsed by the teachers union — may be able to replicate the 1948 “Dewey beats Truman” newspaper headline by holding a copy of the CC Times headline for a photo op if he overcomes the 477 vote deficit and becomes one of the three leaders. Until all the votes are counted, the 2014 election is going to linger like a bad cough.

  11. Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of the voters knew anything at all about the issues. The "reform" sector has been really effective at pushing the inaccurate message, as stated on a Newsweek cover a few years ago: "The key to fixing education: We must fire bad teachers*" -- and presumably a lot of people have gotten wind of that notion and got the message that Tuck was the guy who would "fire … Read More

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of the voters knew anything at all about the issues. The “reform” sector has been really effective at pushing the inaccurate message, as stated on a Newsweek cover a few years ago: “The key to fixing education: We must fire bad teachers*” — and presumably a lot of people have gotten wind of that notion and got the message that Tuck was the guy who would “fire bad teachers.”

    Is there any view that the teachers’ unions would have spent anything remotely close to what they did if the billionaires hadn’t contributed so much to Tuck? The pro-public-education side was obviously on the heavy defensive because of the funding pouring in for Tuck, and it doesn’t seem like going out on a limb to say that’s the entire reason for the high union spending. In discussing the staggering amount of spending, should that be clarified, rather than the two sides’ spending be treated as parallel, as though both were on the offensive?

    *Opinion: I totally, fervently agree, as does every responsible educator and advocate, that “bad teachers” should be fired. But that is not the key to fixing education, because “bad teachers” who haven’t been fired are not the cause of the challenges of public education. My family cancelled our Newsweek subscription after 30 years because of that cover.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

      You ask an interesting question, Caroline. Folks on both Torlakson's and Tuck's side told me that phone calls to voters and focus groups indicated that most voters didn't know there was an office of the state superintendent of instruction or what the person did. So there was a blank slate. Most voters, I have to admit, are not readers of EdSource and don't follow our informed, articulate commenters. Then again, many weary voters never … Read More

      You ask an interesting question, Caroline. Folks on both Torlakson’s and Tuck’s side told me that phone calls to voters and focus groups indicated that most voters didn’t know there was an office of the state superintendent of instruction or what the person did. So there was a blank slate. Most voters, I have to admit, are not readers of EdSource and don’t follow our informed, articulate commenters.

      Then again, many weary voters never made it through the complex ballot, past the Board of Equalization and judges to vote for the superintendent, which was quite a distance down the ballot from the other statewide offices. As I noted earlier, 900,000 fewer people voted for state superintendent than voted for governor and 700,000 fewer than voted for secretary of state.

      • Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

        These days I can't make any partisan comments about what and who is on the ballot, but the one thing I tell people is: If you don't know -- really know -- about the candidates or the issue, LEAVE IT BLANK. It's irresponsible to cast a vote based on uninformed whim and hearsay. So hurray for the voters who did that. It was becoming an involved public-school parent and attending school board meetings for the … Read More

        These days I can’t make any partisan comments about what and who is on the ballot, but the one thing I tell people is: If you don’t know — really know — about the candidates or the issue, LEAVE IT BLANK. It’s irresponsible to cast a vote based on uninformed whim and hearsay. So hurray for the voters who did that.

        It was becoming an involved public-school parent and attending school board meetings for the first time that taught me that lesson. I was horrified when I actually saw in action some of the people I’d voted for because they “sounded good.” That was back in the late ’90s. Even now, one of the very people for whom I voted back then because he “sounded good” is under indictment on charges of murder for hire — so that demonstrates what an excellent idea it can be to cast an uninformed vote (not).

      • ann 2 years ago2 years ago

        John, on my ballot State Superintendent was the only office on the BACK of the ballot. I read somewhere that tens of thousands didn’t vote for this office at all. I’d sure like to know more about this.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            There’s at least two ways to look at this:

            1) The higher a turnout for an election is, the more likely the vote will tilt progressive which means Torlakson would have received even more votes.

            2) If people can’t figure out they need to turn their ballots over, this is not as complex an issue as the infamous “butterfly” ballots in Florida, do we really need these folks voting?

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Caroline, you believe in censorship if you canceled over a cover. Time ran the same article this week. Bad teachers aren't the Loch Ness Monster. They're real and protecting them hurts innocent children. Most teachers are good, but when 12% call in the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, that's not doing your best. There are teachers who have not gone to back to school night at Lowell 3 nights in a … Read More

      Caroline, you believe in censorship if you canceled over a cover. Time ran the same article this week. Bad teachers aren’t the Loch Ness Monster. They’re real and protecting them hurts innocent children. Most teachers are good, but when 12% call in the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, that’s not doing your best. There are teachers who have not gone to back to school night at Lowell 3 nights in a row, and over 20% missed, there was a teacher who planned calls to me to conference and I saw goofing off at that time, then heard she was too busy, there was one who absolutely ruined my son and 21 other kids’ education in 1st Grade by showing up 50 of 180 days, being seen in cafes on days she called in sick, etc. The union has actively protected all these people. I’m considered the bad guy for pointing this out, and teachers automatically defend them, but I know some teachers who privately tell me these are awful teachers, and reviews show this. If a bad teacher earns 70k on average including benefits, and it causes 250k as a loss in earnings over a lifetime of it’s students, as an economic system we have to choose 250k over 70k, and the 70k would probably actually save us money because if they are on that and bad, a younger teacher would cost less and produce more.

      I agree spending was equal and it was a fair fight, I was just sad at the income. The union protected their power and put their members over children, but they won for 4 more years.

      Sure, teachers aren’t all that’s wrong with education. Our kids read and study about half as much as European and Asian kids, our culture is anti-intellectual, parenting is terrible as a whole and funding is an issue. We have too much of a caste system. We don’t motivate people to believe they can do it. But saying bad teachers are not a problem is blindness. Every bad teacher who stays in the profession a long time costs society more money for less productivity, and the culture that no one can be fired reduces the ability of Principals to pressure teachers to work harder and creates an environment where it is considered OK by many to take days off which are not needed.

      If lay offs were done by value, you’d have a much higher work ethic than if they are done by seniority. The first thing they should do in lay offs is automatically exempt any teacher with 3 or fewer sick days in the past year (11 is average) with above average performance ratings. If we have to choose between a young teacher who never calls in sick and is well respected and an older one with bad reviews, a bad rep and 11 sick days a year who costs more, we should choose the former every day of the week and twice on Sunday, but the union prevents this.

      This is over time alienating more and more parents. When you go to back to school night and a teacher isn’t there a 3d year in a row and is protected from lay offs, you say, I’m not going to be a sucker anymore and let people tell me this isn’t a problem.

      • Roy 2 years ago2 years ago

        Of course tenure shouldn't be granted after a measly two years in the class, because it's too little experience to tell if one is a good teacher. I'd suggest five. Given that, how much time should one have to spend as an effective classroom teacher to be qualified to identify good teachers as opposed to bad ones? Logically even more. In California a teacher can enter Admin after attaining teacher tenure, … Read More

        Of course tenure shouldn’t be granted after a measly two years in the class, because it’s too little experience to tell if one is a good teacher. I’d suggest five. Given that, how much time should one have to spend as an effective classroom teacher to be qualified to identify good teachers as opposed to bad ones? Logically even more. In California a teacher can enter Admin after attaining teacher tenure, the same two-year threshold. Then there are exceptions: Marshall Tuck became a local charter Superintendent with no credential, 0 (zero) years teaching experience and yet many considered him qualified for the state job. Now consider just how “bad teachers” will fare given how an outfit like L.A. Unified is run. Somehow the reformers expect them to expertly identify and dismiss ineffective teachers while keeping the good ones. My guess is LAUSD would perform that task about as well as it does everything else, like purchasing iPads and software.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        Censorship? What happened to one’s right as a consumer in a free market to use demand to weed out those products of dubious quality?

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          I agree with that, I've never subscribed to Newsweek but get the Chronicle and Times. I'm very liberal but go to FoxNews.com now because MSNBC, which was until a couple years ago my go to site for news and excellent, makes you watch online videos with commercials, and I just want to read news. However, she didn't say she had any problem with the quality of Newsweek. She canceled her subscription due to the … Read More

          I agree with that, I’ve never subscribed to Newsweek but get the Chronicle and Times. I’m very liberal but go to FoxNews.com now because MSNBC, which was until a couple years ago my go to site for news and excellent, makes you watch online videos with commercials, and I just want to read news.

          However, she didn’t say she had any problem with the quality of Newsweek. She canceled her subscription due to the content of one article, which to me was a courageous article. She’s trying to pressure Newsweek to be a slave to the union, not speak out about an issue, bad teachers, which hurts children. She wants them to be quiet in the face of oppression. Out of sight, out of mind. She is punishing Newsweek for the content/opinion one of their writers has. She doesn’t want them to feel they have the right to speak out on this issue. Many newspapers and many magazines feel this way, and many candidates feel afraid to present a balanced approach and speak out about the potential problem of unfair firing but also about the damage to children done by bad teachers in the current system. They feel they must stay silent. That is what she is encouraging. She wants them to feel punished and obey the union next time. Based on the 30 years comment, she probably wrote them a letter to let them know why she was punishing them.

          As for the scandals, I agree it goes both ways. To me the important thing in an election is what that politician will do if elected. It makes the will of the voters often not followed if we decide any candidate who is not perfect sexually cannot hold elective office. It often hurts Democrats but can hurt Republicans. I’d rather go back to the ’60s and before, and the way it is now in Europe, Japan, Australia, South Korea, etc. Private is private. Public is public. But Tuck is now subject to this. He’ll have a car parked outside his house and a spy on him everywhere he goes for 4 years, because that is the only hope the Union has of defeating this threat to the status quo.

  12. navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

    Although I dont agree with his policies, I am surprised he got so close. I agree with the statement that the vote was more on biography than anything. I expect had Tuck actually worked in a traditional public school at some point, or otherwise had more ‘real-world’ education experience, he probably would have won.

    Replies

    • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

      I might have been surprised five or ten years ago, but I recognized that the public likes to hear about those fake quick fixes--it is the American quick-fix solution to everything. It is ingrained in our culture. People do not want to hear that true education reform takes a long time and can't be solved through due process/seniority reform. Take a look at what happened with Rhee in DC. She came in with tons of … Read More

      I might have been surprised five or ten years ago, but I recognized that the public likes to hear about those fake quick fixes–it is the American quick-fix solution to everything. It is ingrained in our culture. People do not want to hear that true education reform takes a long time and can’t be solved through due process/seniority reform.

      Take a look at what happened with Rhee in DC. She came in with tons of promise and a tidal wave of forced reform with backing from billionaires and political bigheads, but none of her changes have given DC any positive, long-lasting educational reform. None. The best that she did was restructure district personnel to deal with special education better. All of those other quick fixes turned out not to be fixes at all.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        You say " true education reform" takes a long time and in the same breath you berate Rhee for not fixing the schools in 3 years during her tenure as chancellor (no pun intended). Well it is certainly going to take a long time here in California given the glacial speed of the Common Core roll out. That's what happens when you have so-called "local control" reform and then more underfunded mandates from Sacramento. … Read More

        You say ” true education reform” takes a long time and in the same breath you berate Rhee for not fixing the schools in 3 years during her tenure as chancellor (no pun intended).

        Well it is certainly going to take a long time here in California given the glacial speed of the Common Core roll out. That’s what happens when you have so-called “local control” reform and then more underfunded mandates from Sacramento. This is reform Brown/Torlakson style. Undoubtedly,Vergara will reform will also take several years for the appellate review to seep through the system. The slower the better for Torlakson. Yes, there’s plenty of inertia to go around this universe.

        You and others repeatedly promulgate this narrative of Vergara as a promised cure all for education. It was never any such thing. Education policy is not an animal of the courts as you well know. That doesn’t stop you though from claiming it to be.

        • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

          "You say 'true education reform' takes a long time and in the same breath you berate Rhee for not fixing the schools in 3 years during her tenure as chancellor (no pun intended)." Rhee claimed that she could transform DC schools in that short amount of Time. Rhee claimed that she did transform DC schools in that amount of time after she left DC. Evidence shows that it simply didn't happen. Would it have happened … Read More

          “You say ‘true education reform’ takes a long time and in the same breath you berate Rhee for not fixing the schools in 3 years during her tenure as chancellor (no pun intended).”

          Rhee claimed that she could transform DC schools in that short amount of Time. Rhee claimed that she did transform DC schools in that amount of time after she left DC. Evidence shows that it simply didn’t happen. Would it have happened if she continued her style of reform if she had ten years? No. Henderson continued Rhee’s reforms for several years after Rhee left. Nothing positive happened. I suppose it might seem like a contradiction if you were grasping for anything, though, eh?

          Education policy is sometimes an animal of the courts as Treu clearly points out in his ruling.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Wash Post Oct 21, 2013 "... the conclusion of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Virginia who examined how the system evaluates teachers. Their study, published as a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the IMPACT system put in place in 2009, with its controversial combination of big rewards and serious accountability, has resulted in low-performing teachers leaving the system. Equally significant was the finding that those who stayed … Read More

            Wash Post Oct 21, 2013

            “… the conclusion of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Virginia who examined how the system evaluates teachers. Their study, published as a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the IMPACT system put in place in 2009, with its controversial combination of big rewards and serious accountability, has resulted in low-performing teachers leaving the system. Equally significant was the finding that those who stayed — teachers with both strong and weak scores initially — improved their skills. “We’re actually radically improving the caliber of our teaching force,” Ms. Henderson told The Post’s Emma Brown. The findings validate the reform agenda…”

            Huff Post 12-30- 13

            “The education momentum has shifted so dramatically in the past few years that most Washingtonians have no idea why D.C. students are being singled out for making remarkable progress, as seen in federal testing results released Wednesday. D.C. Public Schools showed significant increases in math and reading scores in both fourth and eighth grades — the only city school system to do so. Earlier federal test data that included charter school students paralleled these gains, which means all students are advancing.”

            “I’m not suggesting everything will always go smoothly. Inside DCPS there are those who yearn for the days when work rules favored teachers over students. Outside the District, many Rhee haters appear to be quietly rooting for D.C. kids to start failing again so they can paint Rhee as a failure. But while the naysayers can make noise, they have little influence over the outcomes. Good education news out of D.C. approaches a man-bites-dog story. My advice: Embrace it.”

            The Morrigan, he’s talking about you.

            I don’t think it was wise for Rhee to make promises she couldn’t keep if for no other reason than it takes time for school turnaround. But there are signs of turnaround going on in DC now, though it is clouded somewhat by demographic changes. In the meantime, no one is talking about all the billions that went to SIG that appear to have accomplished little at all. Rhee didn’t pour tax dollars down a sinkhole.

            The Morrigan, are you just a status quo guy or do think that we could make some significant changes in our schools and if so what are they? It is clear to me that the unions will do nothing though they never fail to point out their position as primary stakeholders.

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            I am many things, Don, but at least, I am not Don-the label guy.

          • Interesting 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don, I think you are reading into those studies differently than what they really are saying. For the first study, it claims Rhee's reforms removed the lowest performing teachers. First off, they used Value Added formula to determine who was bad. That in itself is only 70-80% accurate. Read the Statisticians organization view of it. Her reforms removed those teachers they deemed bad yet nobody knows for certain if those teachers … Read More

            Don,

            I think you are reading into those studies differently than what they really are saying. For the first study, it claims Rhee’s reforms removed the lowest performing teachers. First off, they used Value Added formula to determine who was bad. That in itself is only 70-80% accurate. Read the Statisticians organization view of it. Her reforms removed those teachers they deemed bad yet nobody knows for certain if those teachers really were bad, due to the reliability and validity of VAM.

            As for the increase in scores. Its better to compare increases in performance by looking at changes in ethnicity and other demographic/financial background that is occurring in the city. If I recall, there has been an influx of higher income families in Washington. Another thing to look at is the test. Most tests naturally go up every year. Better designed tests are more stable, such as SAT, etc. Although if you have the money, you can attend SAT prep courses which is supposed to help.

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            First, the IMPACT study did not look at student achievement. Did student achievement increase because of IMPACT? No one knows. The average NAEP score in reading and math increased, but so did the average reading and math score in CA and other states, too. And CA had a bigger increase, so really, how much did IMPACT impact student achievement? The authors of the study never even went there. How is this even evidence of effective … Read More

            First, the IMPACT study did not look at student achievement. Did student achievement increase because of IMPACT? No one knows. The average NAEP score in reading and math increased, but so did the average reading and math score in CA and other states, too. And CA had a bigger increase, so really, how much did IMPACT impact student achievement? The authors of the study never even went there. How is this even evidence of effective reform? Only Don knows, apparently.

            Second, VAM was only used for 17% of the teachers (4th and 8th grade). This means that the other 83% were based on only some aspects of IMPACT. This point is for the poster Interesting.

            Third, incentives were not offered to their entire group that they studied. And if they planned to create a control group, it didn’t happen. So they, in essence, lump them all together to determine the efficacy of IMPACT. Hmm.

            Four, cheating scandals seem to be acknowledged but swept under a rug by the study’s authors.

            Did the study ever pass peer review? Nope. Failed it. But it got a lot of hype.

            There were bigger increases in NAEP before Rhee than there were with Rhee or after Rhee. What does that say about the impact of IMPACT?

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Not only that, but when broken down by subgroup the story is quite different. At best, the trend for ethnic minorities has changed for the worse since 2007, and in some years scores have actual decreased. Even worse is the picture for TUDA scores broken down by income (using NSLP as a proxy). While the gap between NSLP and non-NSLP students was holding steady or even declining up to 2007, it took a sharp turn … Read More

            Not only that, but when broken down by subgroup the story is quite different. At best, the trend for ethnic minorities has changed for the worse since 2007, and in some years scores have actual decreased.
            Even worse is the picture for TUDA scores broken down by income (using NSLP as a proxy). While the gap between NSLP and non-NSLP students was holding steady or even declining up to 2007, it took a sharp turn for the worse since then; increasing every year, to the point that the gap today is now 2 to 3 times what it was in 2007.
            So you are more right than you know when you say demographics ‘clouds’ the issue.
            We also shouldn’t forget that DC is and has been pretty much last of all ‘states’ on most all NAEP measures for a while now, including achievement gaps, even after the most recent results. I understand we shouldn’t be looking for cure-alls, but how about cure-anythings? Increasing the achievement gap does not sound like a recipe for success. Especially for movements whose aim is supposedly to eliminate that very thing. Or was that actually the plan?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            A basic google search revealed several sources reporting across the board subgroup increases over the last couple of years in DC. What clouded the issue was districtwide scores due to demographic shifts resulting from gentrification.But the fact that more white are attending the DCPS indicates a vote of confidence.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            You don't need google. The NAEP data is all online. Anyway, I never said there was no increase, rather that an increase doesn't mean much for the new admin if it is at a lower rate than was previously achieved, and if it increases gaps at the same time. Or is the idea the same as we do it in economics: a rising tide raises all ships--our poor are better off than other countries' poor … Read More

            You don’t need google. The NAEP data is all online.
            Anyway, I never said there was no increase, rather that an increase doesn’t mean much for the new admin if it is at a lower rate than was previously achieved, and if it increases gaps at the same time. Or is the idea the same as we do it in economics: a rising tide raises all ships–our poor are better off than other countries’ poor so that should be good enough.. ?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            I don't know what's going on with you, Navigio, because in the previous comment you definitely said," At best, the trend for ethnic minorities has changed for the worse since 2007, and in some years scores have actual decreased." whereas now you are saying, " ...I never said there was no increase,..." Just like a few days ago when you claimed you never mentioned race while you referred to charter schools as increasing segregation. I'm getting … Read More

            I don’t know what’s going on with you, Navigio, because in the previous comment you definitely said,” At best, the trend for ethnic minorities has changed for the worse since 2007, and in some years scores have actual decreased.” whereas now you are saying, ” …I never said there was no increase,…”

            Just like a few days ago when you claimed you never mentioned race while you referred to charter schools as increasing segregation. I’m getting concerned.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Glad you're concerned, but its not me don. Think of 'trend' like 'slope' in a line graph. A slope can continue to increase even while its rate of increase decreases. That is exactly what happened in some of the subgroup scoring in DC after 2007 (especially reading). For a couple of the data points the scores even dropped (slope turned negative) for a year or two. Check out the nslp gaps. Those show the trend … Read More

            Glad you’re concerned, but its not me don.
            Think of ‘trend’ like ‘slope’ in a line graph. A slope can continue to increase even while its rate of increase decreases. That is exactly what happened in some of the subgroup scoring in DC after 2007 (especially reading). For a couple of the data points the scores even dropped (slope turned negative) for a year or two. Check out the nslp gaps. Those show the trend in the extreme.
            Segregation can happen based on things other than ethnicity or ‘race’. For example, language, income, special needs, class, culture, participation, etc. Its true that race is something people focus on primarily, but most studies address one or more of these others as well.
            There are a ton of very detailed studies out there on charter segregation, including analyses of minneapolis, chicago, new york, new orleans. choice without equity is a good place to start, though its data set is a bit older.

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            What you are apparently missing, Don, is that the achievement gap has significantly widened in DC since 2005. In 2005, NAEP data has the difference approximately at 20 points between high income and lower-income for both 4/8 reading and math. In 2013, however, the gap grew to 40+ points in 4/8 reading and math. I will make it clear for you, the gap doubled, Don. And it almost tripled in some categories. And if you look … Read More

            What you are apparently missing, Don, is that the achievement gap has significantly widened in DC since 2005.

            In 2005, NAEP data has the difference approximately at 20 points between high income and lower-income for both 4/8 reading and math. In 2013, however, the gap grew to 40+ points in 4/8 reading and math. I will make it clear for you, the gap doubled, Don. And it almost tripled in some categories. And if you look at the changing demographics, you see another explanation: There are more wealthier white kids (4.7 to 11.2). Additionally, 43% are not even under DCPS control. These students are either in private schools or charters. The charters, sadly, are included in the NAEP data set. To find how DCPS are doing, you need to look at the TUDA data. And the TUDA NAEP data shows that DCPS–specifically not charters– faired even worse with only 4th grade black kids doing about the same and all other minorities doing worse. Ouch, Don! That’s gotta hurt your ego!

            Additionally, the study you alluded to with those passages has even more problems: 1) Henderson changed performance indicators in 2013 (VAM went from Rhee’s 50% to 35%); she added a “developing” category; and the incentives for the highly effective category have all run out. 2) It was shown that other schools systems, even without IMPACT, had similar teachers leaving in the minimally effective band to that of IMPACT’s impact; so that means big flipping deal for the study, Don.

            Don, in addition to your personal attacks, your responses read like a Student First hack piece.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Next time someone yells “fire” in a crowded theater I’ll reminder that they’re just having a smoke.

        • Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

          But note the Newsweek cover I mentioned in my other post ("The key to fixing education: We must fire bad teachers). The pervasive "reform" message absolutely is that firing "bad teachers" is a cure-all -- THE cure-all. Read More

          But note the Newsweek cover I mentioned in my other post (“The key to fixing education: We must fire bad teachers). The pervasive “reform” message absolutely is that firing “bad teachers” is a cure-all — THE cure-all.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            It wouldn't cure all but would make schools better. For one, people worried about being fired work harder. They worry about calling in sick if they are not, which is why some companies pay better but lay off those who get sick the most first, companies like Apple. Apple had lay offs but seniority was the last thing on their mind when they did so. So did many other tech. companies. … Read More

            It wouldn’t cure all but would make schools better. For one, people worried about being fired work harder. They worry about calling in sick if they are not, which is why some companies pay better but lay off those who get sick the most first, companies like Apple. Apple had lay offs but seniority was the last thing on their mind when they did so. So did many other tech. companies. If it were by seniority, more people would have called in sick or not worked as hard. Also, some teachers are so bad they really do damage to every child who has them. They are taking government money intended to help children, and then will not do their best or even try hard to educate kids. Any teacher taking government money and not showing up to back to school night 3 years in a row ought to be ashamed of themselves, but the union would defend them like they were the most noble cause in the world.

            Firing a few bad teachers would make the rest work harder. It would make the rest worry every time they called in sick if they didn’t have a doctor’s note. It would make it almost unheard of for an employee to call in sick and go to the movies, as it is almost unheard of at Google or Apple. It would make it so if a principal called in every teacher to a meeting and said we need to work on being more responsive to parents, spending more after school time with kids, making our lessons clearer, or any other project, teachers would adjust their behavior and worry about impressing the boss. It wouldn’t be perfect, as companies are not, but the general culture would be vastly superior to where it is now.

            So it would cure a lot. It would erase some awful teachers from children’s lives who are doing them harm and it would make the vast bulk of teachers a little more conscientious and hard-working, and improve attendance.

            Did you ever wonder why sick rates of jobs with seniority average over 5% whereas sick rates at jobs without seniority average under 2%? This is the reason. If we could get absentee rates to under 2% for teachers in California, the average child’s education would improve substantially.

            Cure all is a false choice. If something has to cure all or not be done, you’d do nothing. Nothing cures all. Some kids have bad genetics, some bad parents, some learning disabilities, some bad character, some are lazy, some have bad teachers, and some curriculum is bad. But firing bad teachers and creating a culture more like private business where people work harder and only call in sick if they have no choice due to bad health would be a step in the right direction, and we should take every step in the right direction we can. That’s one.

            We should also improve parenting, parenting knowledge, instruction, fund schools more, get kids working harder, etc., etc., etc. But the fact that we should do these things shouldn’t make us not do something which will benefit children.

  13. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Despite some references in this article to union clout, it wasn’t that the unions spent more than those who supported Tuck (because they didn’t), it was that they ran a dirty campaign that maligned Tuck’s past whereas he had a more positive message for reform. The unions are good at getting down and dirty.

    Replies

    • Jack Covey 2 years ago2 years ago

      Don, What's your definition of "dirty"? On countless occasions, I sat in rooms of teachers phone banking for Torlakson and none of the things that I said, or that the teachers around me said could in any way be considered "dirty." "Torlakson was a veteran teachers for over fifteen years prior being superintendent, and since then and while superintendent, he has been teaching part time at college so, unlike his opponent, Torlakson has … Read More

      Don,

      What’s your definition of “dirty”? On countless occasions, I sat in rooms of teachers phone banking for Torlakson and none of the things that I said, or that the teachers around me said could in any way be considered “dirty.” “Torlakson was a veteran teachers for over fifteen years prior being superintendent, and since then and while superintendent, he has been teaching part time at college so, unlike his opponent, Torlakson has a more accurate, more tested understanding of what students need, what teachers need, and what schools need.”

      Oooohhh, lock us up and throw away the key! My fellow teachers and I told the truth that Tuck had never taught a day in his life. Shame on us… we’re worse than Karl Rove!

      On the other hand, Tuck claimed Torlakson was a “career politician.” A lie. Tuck put on commercials with a highly-paid Charter Industry staffer Mary Najera posing as a poor minority parent… “Marshall Tuck saved my son’s life… “. These ads, which played non-stop, implied that the Tuck mentored her son, tutored her son, etc. A total lie. Ms. Najera’s son attended a Green Dot school, yes, but throughout his attending Green Dot, her son had never even met Tuck, who made only rare and cursory visits to the schools. The misleading fiction contained in these ads was vomited up by the multi-million dollar political consultants that Tuck hired. This woman does not have a thick Spanish accent… as evidenced by Youtube videos, but she affected one for these ridiculous ads.

      Here’s a loaded question (that I never used during phonebanking, by the way)

      Would you want the president to appoint a U.S. Surgeon General who had never practiced medicine, or had never even gone to medical school? On top of that, would you want that hypothetical non-doctor prospective Surgeon General to have the following track record—90% of the staff at the hospitals for which he was administrator gave a vote of “non-confidence” to his leadership? (90% of the PLAS schools gave Tuck’s leadership thumbs down.) I’ve spoken to countless PLAS teachers, and the stuff they related about the ill effects of Tuck’s leadership—the imposition of a corporate, business-model management style of the PLAS schools—made my palms sweat. I won’t bore you with the details, but you get my point that Tuck’s lack of teaching experience had a direct bearing on his failures in school management, and this would have continued
      if he had been elected State Superindendent.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        It's pretty much the same as that of the editorial boards which uniformly rejected the patently false and politically cliched characterization of Tuck as a "Wall Street banker" when in reality his banking resume included all oftwo years straight out of college as an analyst for Salomon brothers, followed by teaching and community service in Zimbabwe, Thailand and Romania, work at a software company and then many years in education administration. I recognize that political … Read More

        It’s pretty much the same as that of the editorial boards which uniformly rejected the patently false and politically cliched characterization of Tuck as a “Wall Street banker” when in reality his banking resume included all oftwo years straight out of college as an analyst for Salomon brothers, followed by teaching and community service in Zimbabwe, Thailand and Romania, work at a software company and then many years in education administration.

        I recognize that political campaigns are nasty businesses. So I don’t focus on campaign rhetoric unless it stands out in some way as Torlakson’s did – for the worse. I only voted for Tuck because Torlakson was out of the question. I couldn’t vote for himwith his allegiances to the unions before all else, that is, before students. I’d have preferred a less hard line “reformist” and someone more moderate with a broader resume including greater teaching and administrative experience in both TPSs and charters. That is, I entirely agree with the criticism of Tuck as lacking teaching experience. But even if he had more he was still too much the corporate reform candidate IME. You don’t have to be a reformist-type to be pro-charter. But you do have to be if you want the big corporate donors, just as Torlakson had to be unionist and anti-Vergara to get the CTA’s backing.

        Anyone who wants to reform education be it the SSPI or otherwise should have extensive experience in education, not just on the charter side and not just as an administrator.

        One more comment on dirty campaigns – I’ve had particularly bad personal experiences with United Educators of SF . As the main author of the Prop H Neighborhood Schools Measure of 2010, I was genuinely disgusted that the leadership of teachers would stoop to such a level of depravity by inciting fear in parents in claiming that, if passed, the measure would result in students ejected from schools against their wishes.. This was an outright and craven campaign lie that lost us the election, one of the closest in SF history. Unions are expert in political campaigning and they play as dirty as anyone.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          I agree with this. I was really disappointed, the union always talks about morals and values and children, but they really showed a tremendous lack of character with that claim. At the time, I was so disgusted they made that claim, I challenged anyone who signed it to a $1000 bet they couldn't pass a lie detector test not that the statement was true, but that they personally believed it was true when … Read More

          I agree with this. I was really disappointed, the union always talks about morals and values and children, but they really showed a tremendous lack of character with that claim. At the time, I was so disgusted they made that claim, I challenged anyone who signed it to a $1000 bet they couldn’t pass a lie detector test not that the statement was true, but that they personally believed it was true when they signed the statement. No one took me upon it. They all just went silent. I was amazed that a union representing the people responsible for the education of children felt it was morally acceptable to sway an election by spreading a lie. Most voters trust the integrity of the union, but they didn’t feel bad at all about spreading absolute lies in voter pamphlets and mailers. The extreme level of these lies caused me to lose a lot of respect for the union. I was naive before, I thought in their meetings they had some integrity, people would ask if something was true before putting it on a ballot argument, but they don’t. They just ask, will this win or gain our side votes? They don’t care about the morality or integrity of their statements.

          I can’t imagine any candidate running to change tenure / seniority the union would not make such claims about, whether true or not. If Tuck doesn’t have the right to make the argument because he worked on Wall Street for 2 years, there will be some excuse against anyone who does. Every time the union will claim, it’s not the argument, but this person has this problem, maybe we’ll listen to the next person to argue this, but every time someone else comes out, they’ll do the same to them. It’s kind of like Grey Davis, he found something nasty to say about everyone who ever ran against him, something mean and dishonest. The union will find something like this to say about everyone who opposes their dictatorship over education policy in California, every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

        • Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

          Don, your claim here is pretty amusing because of some history that you may not be aware of, as my history of involvement in SFUSD goes back considerably further than yours*: You say that the teachers' union was "claiming that, if passed, the measure would result in students ejected from schools against their wishes." Apologies to those outside SFUSD for this inside baseball, though you will all recognize one name if you read the rest … Read More

          Don, your claim here is pretty amusing because of some history that you may not be aware of, as my history of involvement in SFUSD goes back considerably further than yours*:

          You say that the teachers’ union was “claiming that, if passed, the measure would result in students ejected from schools against their wishes.”

          Apologies to those outside SFUSD for this inside baseball, though you will all recognize one name if you read the rest of my post. The specific “neighborhood schools” situation is unique to our district and really doesn’t compute anywhere else.

          Back in 2002-03 there was a kerfuffle over SFUSD’s enrollment system. It came largely from parents on San Francisco’s westside who wanted their kids to get into SFUSD’s Lincoln High in the Sunset District, a school that was newly popular after a lot of rough years, so it had a surge of applicants. The enrollment process didn’t guarantee access to neighbors.

          A San Francisco city supervisor (equivalent to city council) wrote an article for the Sunset neighborhood newspaper, the Sunset Beacon, in spring 2002, advocating for guaranteed neighborhood admission to Lincoln. His article angrily accused SFUSD of yanking students out of the schools they were currently attending and sending them to schools “across town.” This was entirely false. It was also highly ironic because that same supervisor, a former school board member, had previously been nailed, and exposed in the press, for using a false address to get his own kids into popular Hoover Middle School in the Inner Sunset (because in fact there is a degree of neighborhood access) — demonstrating that he DIDN’T want guaranteed/mandatory neighborhood attendance for his own kids.

          That politician has since gone on to become a state senator and has run into a few legal troubles. His name is Leland Yee.

          So anyway, if UESF did make that claim (which I didn’t hear), sounds like they learned it from some big-name “neighborhood schools” folks, who were doing it back in 2002.

          In reality, the organic opposition to guaranteed/mandatory neighborhood assignment in San Francisco tends to come from people who live near high-poverty schools, which tend to be lower-functioning because of the challenges that impoverished kids bring to school with them, and want to be able to apply to schools in other neighborhoods — not by people flimflammed by a false campaign claim by UESF or anyone else.

          Don, I’m interested to note that you claim to be the main author of the Prop H Neighborhood Schools Measure of 2010, because I know the names of the listed authors, and yours isn’t among them.

          *Note that due to my career I can no longer participate, and am no longer participating, in advocacy or campaigns.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don wrote Prop H but it was mismanaged and they delayed it, which caused it to lose as it created the false argument which defeated it. He wasn't one of the 3 legal owners, but none of them would have been capable of writing Prop H as I know all 3 well. The opponents backed by the union, which sent mailers to every mailbox in the City, claimed if it passed, kids would be switched … Read More

            Don wrote Prop H but it was mismanaged and they delayed it, which caused it to lose as it created the false argument which defeated it. He wasn’t one of the 3 legal owners, but none of them would have been capable of writing Prop H as I know all 3 well.

            The opponents backed by the union, which sent mailers to every mailbox in the City, claimed if it passed, kids would be switched mid year and from one grade to another, which was patently false. They were challenged to a $1000 lie detector test bet not that it was true, but that they personally believed it was true. None took it. They outright lied to win and won by 153 votes out of 180,000, and many people openly said they voted against it because they feared kids would switch mid year, proving most believe for new assignments, neighborhood should prevail.

            The problem with using a lottery to integrate schools is the law of unintended consequences. The leadership of PPS openly encourages East Side parents of means to use a quirk in the lottery of algorithm switch to get the school of their choice. Parents are encouraged to apply to schools they don’t desire to switch, but it’s inside baseball. The effect is the exact parents on the East Side who would integrate said schools by sending their kids there, in the Excelsior, Bernal Heights, Mission, Glen Park, and other areas with substantial poor and rich populations, ideal for a truly mixed school, are the ones who get a West Side spot due to this trick. Add in the parents who move or choose private school and are in such areas, and you get less integration than under the old system.

            I have kids at Alamo and you get about 1 kid a year from the Fillmore, and most drop out within a year, who is black. It is only 3 miles away and there is a direct bus route to within 2 blocks of the school. However, every year I meet many white and Asian parents of means from such far off neighborhoods who knew the algorithm trick. There is space to allow truly disadvantaged kids who desire West Side schools in and make a rule that those with high income from the East Side have to go to school in their own neighborhood particularly if doing so would add to class and racial integration of schools.

            Many of the people who really pushed for the lottery are actually those who bought equally expensive homes on the East Side but then want a trick to go to school on the West Side.

            Leland Yee was sketchy, agreed. He met us personally and told us he fully supported us, but one call from the Union and he backed off and stayed neutral. At the time his endorsement would have meant several thousand votes. Now obviously, it would probably cause a loss of votes and his name is MUD.

            The lottery was a bad idea. Everyone should at least have an option of a school within 1-1.5 miles. Family time, tutor time, reduced traffic, and free time which improves test scores, should be prioritized.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            The problem is you not only have to win the lottery but value education enough and have the means (time, automobile, money for gas) to drive across town twice a day. There are well off people in every area of the City. New houses are expensive even in the Bayview, which nationally would be an extremely expensive neighborhood. These people are the ones who actually take West Side spots, and they are the exact ones … Read More

            The problem is you not only have to win the lottery but value education enough and have the means (time, automobile, money for gas) to drive across town twice a day. There are well off people in every area of the City. New houses are expensive even in the Bayview, which nationally would be an extremely expensive neighborhood. These people are the ones who actually take West Side spots, and they are the exact ones needed to integrate the schools in their area. Schools in Bernal Heights and the Mission, 50+% white areas, are under 10 and even sometimes under 5% white. These whites living on the East Side, they are not as liberal as they claim. They use the diversity argument to oppose neighborhood schools, all the while causing less diversity with their own decisions. Despite Don’s criticisms, I have added diversity to schools. I lack the means to move 60k plus to change houses plus an increase in property tax) but when I did make the decision to buy, Alamo was 6% African American and 10% Latino. Now it is 0.5 and 6, mostly because the authors of the lottery cut funding for busing. If you had a satellite zone including public housing and funded a bus, you could have those percentages again and simultaneously guarantee every resident near Alamo of a spot. No system is perfect, but the old system would lead to more integrated schools, and you could do it without race, you could just create a satellite zone purely composed of those in public housing.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Why in the world was it written to apply to the 11-12 school year when that school year was already a couple months underway by Election Day?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            So my claim amuses you because Leland Yee was a neighborhood schools supporter? As you said just a few hours ago, you once voted for a certain murderer by hire. What does this have to do with anything? Is this supposed to shed light on the neighborhood schools vs. lottery debate? Are you still working in journalism? Sometime sarcasm gets in the way of conveying a clear message. As we speak the SF … Read More

            So my claim amuses you because Leland Yee was a neighborhood schools supporter? As you said just a few hours ago, you once voted for a certain murderer by hire. What does this have to do with anything? Is this supposed to shed light on the neighborhood schools vs. lottery debate? Are you still working in journalism? Sometime sarcasm gets in the way of conveying a clear message.

            As we speak the SF Board of Education is considering a material revision to the student assignment preferences to place neighborhood before CTIP1 and after siblings. This is IDENTICAL to what Prop H called for years ago.

            Regarding what was said about pulling kids out of schools, you can read online the arguments in the voters pamphlet. I just did. This was a nonbinding measure. Only the SF Board makes policy.

            The measure was delayed which caused some of the dates to be thrown off. The City Attorney apparently didn’t find objection (I suspect because it was nonbinding).

            Charters are criticized for creating segregation (not the wonky segregation that Navigio is talking about) but the one having to do with race. But here in SF it’s the lack of neighborhood schools that creates segregation because of the extraordinarily diverse makeup of most neighborhoods. SFUSD schools are now more segregated than ever under the policy that Caroline supports.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            btw, Caroline, you are confusing the measure's proponents with the authorship. The proponents are the one's who file with the Dept. of Elections to put a measure on the ballot. It can be authored by anyone. This is all water under the bridge and old news.Resisting the temptation towards sarcasm, it only has some current cache because of the recent moves by the Board in the direction of Prop H. Here's an excerpt from Chronicle reporter Jill … Read More

            btw, Caroline, you are confusing the measure’s proponents with the authorship. The proponents are the one’s who file with the Dept. of Elections to put a measure on the ballot. It can be authored by anyone.

            This is all water under the bridge and old news.Resisting the temptation towards sarcasm, it only has some current cache because of the recent moves by the Board in the direction of Prop H.

            Here’s an excerpt from Chronicle reporter Jill Tucker’s article of June 8:

            “If what you really want is predictability – the strongest chance of attending a school where you reside – then I’ll give you that,” said school board member Rachel Norton, who with Sandra Fewer is co-authoring a resolution to alter the assignment system. (to neighborhood before CTIP!)

            Thank you, my queen!

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            corrections “ones”

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            It looks like they realize it's not working and will change it for elementary school. However, for high school, under the new proposal, you can still live a block from Lincoln or Washington and not get in. San Francisco had so much academic focus, Lincoln and Washington were making Newsweek's Top 400 list, even 350, despite Lowell taking many good students, before the board changed assignment. Now we only have one school … Read More

            It looks like they realize it’s not working and will change it for elementary school. However, for high school, under the new proposal, you can still live a block from Lincoln or Washington and not get in. San Francisco had so much academic focus, Lincoln and Washington were making Newsweek’s Top 400 list, even 350, despite Lowell taking many good students, before the board changed assignment. Now we only have one school which makes the top 50-100 every year, but we could have had 3 in the top 400.

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            I'm really replying to Don, but the site won't let me. No, the claim amuses me because the thing you're accusing UESF of doing was what one of the longtime leaders of the same movement was doing many years before. I wasn't aware of UESF doing it too, but they learned it from the other side if they did. I didn't take a position on the latest SFUSD neighborhood schools issue. I'm only pointing out where … Read More

            I’m really replying to Don, but the site won’t let me.

            No, the claim amuses me because the thing you’re accusing UESF of doing was what one of the longtime leaders of the same movement was doing many years before. I wasn’t aware of UESF doing it too, but they learned it from the other side if they did.

            I didn’t take a position on the latest SFUSD neighborhood schools issue. I’m only pointing out where that claim that “your kid will be yanked out of school and sent across town” originally came from — from Leland Yee, speaking for neighborhood schools advocates.

            This discussion is way off topic and also makes no sense whatsoever to anyone outside the district — our context is unique. Just one more point: In the 2010 election, a UESF spokesman was saying what he sincerely believed — that Michelle Rhee was behind the neighborhood schools proposition. That’s because the local organization was named Students First, same as her national operation. But in the context of national education policy politics, it would make no sense whatsoever for Rhee to push neighborhood schools in San Francisco. The UESF spokesman stopped saying that after he was set straight.

            (The “reform” superstars like Rhee seem to largely avoid San Francisco, which is just inhospitable foreign territory to them dating back to the Edison Schools debacle of 2001. Oddly, our town is home to some reformy operations like KIPP (nominally) and the New Schools Venture Fund, but anyone who proposed the kind of chain charter that takes other places by storm would be treated in San Francisco as though he were speaking Martian. For example, the Gulen school people — who run the nation’s largest chain of charters — were in town once trying to start one of their charters, and their existence was barely acknowledged, so they gave up and slunk away.)

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Personally, I find this a fascinating issue, in spite of the rhetorical and personal 'asides', because it highlights the tradeoffs inherent in trying to address racial segregation in a geographic region with extreme diversity and within a system that relies so much on the 'participation' of its constituents for success. Like most (all?) historical efforts to impose restrictions on behavior in order to effect a more 'moral' outcome, the effort ran up against the realities of … Read More

            Personally, I find this a fascinating issue, in spite of the rhetorical and personal ‘asides’, because it highlights the tradeoffs inherent in trying to address racial segregation in a geographic region with extreme diversity and within a system that relies so much on the ‘participation’ of its constituents for success.
            Like most (all?) historical efforts to impose restrictions on behavior in order to effect a more ‘moral’ outcome, the effort ran up against the realities of human nature and economics. Desegregation attempts to push the envelope, but if it goes past a certain ‘comfort zone’, the response is separation.
            It is clear that many attempts at desegregation have, in that sense, backfired. How we modify policy in response to that is an extremely important question, and I don’t think for which there is a simple or even single answer. Most districts appear to pendulum with public opinion, offsetting, to varying degrees, the goal of serving all students against the concession of trying to avoid letting those with means get away. It may be the case, while overall resources are considered insufficient, that public education is going to have to come to terms with the fact that its primary role is as a backstop and that it must place the priorities of students and families without means above those with even just a little more. In some sense, I think LCFF is even an attempt to codify that. But of course that begets the cries of the better off, and the resulting concessions to try to ‘buy’ them back in.

            cont’d..

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Related to the prop h stuff, I find it confusing that it was backed by conservatives (if there is such a thing in SF): the chamber of commerce, SF Republican Party, GOP moneybags, etc. I find it difficult to imagine that the interests of those groups was to increase integration in public schools (admittedly unfair on my part but that's not generally the agenda, and this is not a statement about the author's intentions, rather … Read More

            Related to the prop h stuff, I find it confusing that it was backed by conservatives (if there is such a thing in SF): the chamber of commerce, SF Republican Party, GOP moneybags, etc. I find it difficult to imagine that the interests of those groups was to increase integration in public schools (admittedly unfair on my part but that’s not generally the agenda, and this is not a statement about the author’s intentions, rather the backers). Instead it smacks more toward the traditional lines of strictly ‘neighborhood schools’ proponents arguing either as a way to maintain residence isolation (admittedly SF may be different than most other places in this regard) or for better educational opportunities for those who spent the money on the properties and who support the system with the resulting higher property taxes (whether they use the system or not–in some cases, maintaining property value is even achieved via bad (ie no) public schools) and that fact being part of the ‘value’ of some neighborhoods (the fact that people make life decisions based on school attendance information was mentioned in some of the run up to that election). Perhaps this is why even Rachel Norton (SF board member and backer of prop h) has tried to make the point that this is not about ‘returning to neighborhood schools’ per se. Rather the goal is to figure out how to provide equitable access to opportunity while reversing the trends of racial isolation and the negative impacts of high concentrations of underserved students in schools. Doing that might consist of a non neighborhood schools approach but with a different kind of priority determinant. Ie, those goals are not necessarily part and parcel of a strictly neighborhood school system. It’s worth noting that the intent of the current system was not to maintain segregation, even if it turned out that way. It clearly may also be the case that any changes to it will also fail to achieve the desired goals (obviously).

            I also think it’s important to note that nothing about returning to neighborhood schools implies ‘quality’, as the proposition and it’s arguments seems to imply. It seems obvious that it is possible to have ‘bad’, yet strictly neighborhood schools (there is a whole other tangent here related to whether any schools are actually ‘bad’, but independent of that, there does seem to be agreement than different demographics provide different barriers to success, and that means some schools are less able to succeed than others with what they are provided).

            cont’d..

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            It is also interesting that so much of the discussion on this issue revolves around the question of impact on student performance to the exclusion of virtually every other factor (except maybe commute time). The reality is that diversity has an effect on the very nature of a child's, and later that adult's, worldview. A person who grows up in an environment that is racially (or otherwise) segregated will later be less able to resist … Read More

            It is also interesting that so much of the discussion on this issue revolves around the question of impact on student performance to the exclusion of virtually every other factor (except maybe commute time). The reality is that diversity has an effect on the very nature of a child’s, and later that adult’s, worldview. A person who grows up in an environment that is racially (or otherwise) segregated will later be less able to resist the inherent discriminations that are built into almost every facet of our culture, and thus will tend to more quickly reject environments with which they are not familiar (read comfort zone mentioned above). In other words, segregation sows the seeds of future segregation. That alone makes integration valuable to society. Whether we are willing to see far enough ahead to make that a real priority is a different question.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Norton didn't support Prop H. SF Chronicle reporter Tucker told me that even though she now supports neighborhood preference before CTIP1 (Prop H in effect) she still wouldn't support Prop H in retrospect. There is political gamesmanship at work. She or more likely her politically-aligned colleague on the Board, Sandra Fewer, is planning to run for supervisor in the Richmond and it is clear to me that triangulating views to appeal to … Read More

            Norton didn’t support Prop H. SF Chronicle reporter Tucker told me that even though she now supports neighborhood preference before CTIP1 (Prop H in effect) she still wouldn’t support Prop H in retrospect. There is political gamesmanship at work. She or more likely her politically-aligned colleague on the Board, Sandra Fewer, is planning to run for supervisor in the Richmond and it is clear to me that triangulating views to appeal to Richmond voters, is the operational principle, other principles of ethics aside. Of course this is just sickeningly hypocritical.

            There’s so much to discuss here I am only going to sum up at this juncture, especially since it is so far off topic.SF has uniquely compact and diverse neighborhoods that would generally provide well for integrated schools if participation allowed. As long as SFUSD has assignment systems which discourage local participation and give people a way to opt out of the neighborhood public school, those schools will suffer as people of means will do so. SFUSD expects upper middle class people to leave the system if they don’t get a school of choice. So they give them choice. Choice is what so many rail against because it equates with segregation. Despite talk of diversity, this is a choice system. I don’t want to get into Navigio’s points because, though he raised some good ones, it is too off topic. Last word

          • Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

            Does the "reply" button go away because whatever platform this site uses has decreed the thread too long? Well sorrEEE, platform. In response to Navigio… I don't understand what the tiny smattering of Republicans in S.F. thought they'd get out of backing Prop. H either. Maybe I'm being dense, but I should have enough background to get it, and I just don't see what was in it for them. S.F. has unusual characteristics with regard to … Read More

            Does the “reply” button go away because whatever platform this site uses has decreed the thread too long? Well sorrEEE, platform. In response to Navigio…

            I don’t understand what the tiny smattering of Republicans in S.F. thought they’d get out of backing Prop. H either. Maybe I’m being dense, but I should have enough background to get it, and I just don’t see what was in it for them.

            S.F. has unusual characteristics with regard to racial residential patterns and academic achievement. It’s geographically small, so even highly segregated neighborhoods are small in terms of square miles/blocks. Also, the plurality demographic in SFUSD schools (Chinese) is a nonwhite group that’s the highest-achieving of all demographics in our city. The existence of a high-performing nonwhite demographic has flummoxed national desegregation experts trying to include S.F. in the discussion — they kind of can’t even process it.

            Both my kids went to college in Ohio and were also struck by how unusual their hometown is. As my son said, “Jeez, Mom — in the rest of the country it’s: White. And black.” That was completely foreign to San Francisco public school alumni.

            Don, Sandra Fewer has not been politically aligned with Rachel Norton over the years. Norton has a reputation as a moderate/pragmatist within the S.F. spectrum. Fewer has positioned herself in the left/green/progressive camp. Fewer is believed to be intending to run for supervisor in her district, the relatively conservative Richmond, where “neighborhood schools” are a thing because of the highly regarded schools in that part of the city. Sorry, everybody, for more inside baseball.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Sorry, not the last word because I have to respond to some of Navigio's points Prop H might have received some philosophical backing by various interest groups, but the campaign never collected more than a few thousand dollars in donations in total. And I mean "a few'. Students First ( we used the name before anyone ever heard of Rhee's group) was a group of mostly moderate liberals - myself being more moderate and definitely not … Read More

            Sorry, not the last word because I have to respond to some of Navigio’s points

            Prop H might have received some philosophical backing by various interest groups, but the campaign never collected more than a few thousand dollars in donations in total. And I mean “a few’. Students First ( we used the name before anyone ever heard of Rhee’s group) was a group of mostly moderate liberals – myself being more moderate and definitely not liberal, but the exception to the rule.

            The quality assertions in the measure were based upon the following: SFUSD spends so much human, financial, and monetary capital on student assignment that a return to a simple neighborhood schools system would free up resources and allow the district to focus more on quality and student achievement. It’s almost as if this district central office exists for the purpose of student assignment. It’s all they talk about and it devours education in the city.

            A district should focus on school improvement not on student assignment. The consent decrees expired long ago. Other districts have moved past this era while SFUSD still uses its limited resources to support an assignment system that has proven to be a failure as a tool of integration. Bottom line

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Fewer and Norton vote alike on the Board regardless of their perceived differences. That's all that matters. As an example they both just voted to give 2 charter school organizations, KIPP and Gateway, middle school preferences, though they won't give their own traditional schools the same. Norton in particular seems very interested in maintaining a unanimous Board. She politically positioned herself as a moderate to win election in a privately funded … Read More

            Fewer and Norton vote alike on the Board regardless of their perceived differences. That’s all that matters. As an example they both just voted to give 2 charter school organizations, KIPP and Gateway, middle school preferences, though they won’t give their own traditional schools the same. Norton in particular seems very interested in maintaining a unanimous Board. She politically positioned herself as a moderate to win election in a privately funded campaign (mostly her own as I understand it), but voted as a progressive with the exception of JROTC – her defining issue first time around. Fewer positioned herself as a progressive to get union backing to win election and is now voting a little more moderate looking towards Richmond supervisor.

            As usual you claim to be some veteran SF parent activist that knows all. What is this? Like the seniority system for political analysis? I’ve been in the system since 1992 when I was working for SFUSD and then as a parent since 2004. Please stop playing this “I’ve been around the block” game longer than you have. Who gives a crap!

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            “Please stop playing this “I’ve been around the block” game longer than you have. Who gives a crap!”

            I think you should perhaps listen to your own advice, Don. Shall I refresh your memory?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Furthermore, Caroline, rather than asking yourself the politically insignificant question as to why SF Republicans supported Prop H ( certainly not with any money), why don't you ask yourself why half the electorate supported it since it virtually received a tiny fraction shy of 50% despite the egregious lies from opposition and the vastly larger campaign funding? If I were to use your usual answer it would be that a vast section of … Read More

            Furthermore, Caroline, rather than asking yourself the politically insignificant question as to why SF Republicans supported Prop H ( certainly not with any money), why don’t you ask yourself why half the electorate supported it since it virtually received a tiny fraction shy of 50% despite the egregious lies from opposition and the vastly larger campaign funding? If I were to use your usual answer it would be that a vast section of politically less than astute liberal SF voters got duped since an astute voter would be on the side of SFUSD’s Alice in Wonderland version of choice – progressive-style – an SAS that for all practical purposes has failed to achieve what it set it to do. Now the board is considering changing it because, after all the thousands of hours, community meetings, expert testimony, etc., segregation has increased at target schools. Some much for your SAS.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            my bad listing norton as supporting prop h. it was another prop in the same voter guide that i mixed up. the point about political support wasnt about the amount of money raised or the impact of that money, rather it was just curious how it came down along those lines in the paid arguments for and against (also makes it less surprising the union resisted it).

            http://www.sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/NOV2011_VIP_EN.pdf

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Republicans are about 15% of SF. As in much politics, in an even left right divide, the Republicans will be 30% of a group on the right which will still mostly be moderate Democrats, just like a left/progressive group, whose initiatives I often support, will include 15% total, or 30% of the group, Greens, Socialists, Peace and Freedom, etc. It makes no sense to make a big deal of this and characterize it … Read More

            Republicans are about 15% of SF. As in much politics, in an even left right divide, the Republicans will be 30% of a group on the right which will still mostly be moderate Democrats, just like a left/progressive group, whose initiatives I often support, will include 15% total, or 30% of the group, Greens, Socialists, Peace and Freedom, etc. It makes no sense to make a big deal of this and characterize it as Republican or Green. Anything with over 40% Support gets more support from Democrats than Republicans by a 5-3 ratio or more. It’s just gamesmanship.

            I agree with Navigio, which is why private schools are so damaging. People who say they are liberal are sewing the seeds of future segregation. The sooner we truly adopt Brown v. Topeka not just as law but as calling, the sooner we will end this racism. If more kids are in mixed schools, more will marry other races, eventually we’ll already be the same race. White flight is another issue. So is Nimbyism, we should have projects equally distributed in every suburb and City, rather than all white suburbs in some places. People who say OK, but somewhere else add to the problem because it increases school segregation.

            But here’s another thing that increases segregation: the lottery. Why? Those with money use tricks to get into West Side schools even though they would cause integration. Carol Lei is an example of this. She’s upper middle class, Asian, Eurasian kids and sending them to the school near her would cause integration. She not only used the lottery to win a West Side spot, but she advises all her nearly all upper middle class white and Asian friends how to game the lottery, anyone who shows up at these meetings which is the upper middle class, and at the same time she opposed Prop H saying it would cause integration.

            Specifically banning anyone with above average income not on food stamps or public housing or free lunch from displacing anyone on the West Side would be a start. Satellite zones could work too.

            ONe factor though is we need to increase effort if we are going to end class segregation and increase class mobility. An upper middle class kid with connections can study a few hours and use connections to get an edge. Poor kids have to study hard to get out of poverty. We have to acknowledge Asians are the only group which in large numbers goes from poor to rich in a generation, or at least poor to well above average.

            We need more integration as Navigio says, but when we integrate, we need to pay attention to each other and to what works. It does no good to be in a school with poor Asians getting better grades than upper middle class whites if you just ignore what is causing them to succeed. It defeats the whole purpose.

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            I’m just old, Don. What can I say?