The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Parents Care More about Schools than Politicians

on October 22, 2015

Today’s post appeared first in Valerie Strauss’ blog,”The Answer Sheet.  I read her blog and Diane Ravitch’s blog everyday to learn what is happening in education, but also to see if I can find some positive news.  Only once in a while does that happen.  But it’s not the bloggers’ fault.  It’s hard for anyone to find  good news about public education today, including bloggers like me.  So, I appeal once again for your help.  If there is something positive going on in a school near you, write about it or give me the facts and I will write the essay.  I will also give you credit in BIG BOLD LETTERS!

A Seattle parent  is donating $70,000 to save the job of a teacher he doesn’t know — all to make a point and “shame” Washington state lawmakers who have failed to adequately fund public education.

The state Supreme Court ruled this past summer that the legislature has for years shortchanged public schools, and it imposed fines of $100,000-a-day. In Seattle, where fewer students enrolled this fall than projected, the district is trying to manage a $4.2 million loss in revenue and recently announced it would have to cut teaching positions at dozens of schools.

One parent became so disturbed by the news that he decided, on a whim, to do something about it. Brian Jones, who owns a reality film production company, decided to donate $70,000 to help one school, Alki Elementary, keep a first-grade teacher — even though his own 6-year-old child is enrolled elsewhere.

Parents with children at Alki said that authorities told them they needed $90,000 to keep a first-grade teacher — to cover salary and benefits — and some began to raise money. Jones saw a story about the school and told WIRO that he decided to take a stand even though he is not a wealthy man — “I’m not Bill Gates”  —  and that a $70,000 donation means no vacations for a while.“My broader goal was to shame the administration and the legislature and the mayor, for the fact that a private citizen and parents are putting up money to support children, because they’re doing nothing.”

Some parents opposed the idea of privately funding a teaching position because it is the job of the legislature to do it and the systemic problem remains unaddressed.

So here we have it: Despite billions of dollars poured into corporate education reform  — to pay for the opening and expansion of public charter schools, the creation and promotion of the Common Core State Standards and new standardized tests, teacher evaluation systems linked to test scores, the rise of alternative teacher training programs, etc. — traditional school districts still find themselves without adequate resources to do the basic job of educating kids.

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