Do not sign the RttT Partnership Agreement sign now

Tonight May 5 the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors is going to be voting on whether the President of the school board should sign the Race To The Top (RttT) "Partnership Agreement" or not.

The financial incentive in the RttT competition (Note 1) has been very effective for drawing attention AWAY from the highly questionable priorities in RttT, and away from the fact that there is little evidence that the priorities will actually be beneficial for public school students. There are many reasons to believe that RttT is going to cause more harm than good to the children of the State of Washington's public schools. [See Note 2.]

While it is true that the Partnership Agreement is largely a symbolic gesture (Note 3), by deciding against signing this, the Seattle School Board will be signaling to the State, and indeed to the nation and the Federal Government, that this community does not agree with the key priorities of the RttT program.

The purpose of this petition is to let the School Board know that members of the community are opposed to the signing of this agreement. Should not the School Board, as the elected representative body for the public, be making decisions that reflect the values, priorities, and concerns of the community?

Here are just two of many reasons that RttT is harmful for children.

1. RttT strongly promotes high stakes testing. This practice is scientifically discredited (Note 4).

2. The evidence shows that most of the harm of the education reform movement, of which RttT is a part, falls on students from low-income families, and students of color (Note 5).

In short, the main argument that proponents of RttT have been giving is the need for the potential monetary winnings. This argument has no significant merit. [See Note 6.] If RttT is good for our kids, then whether or not it comes with money should have nothing to do with whether we embrace it or not.

Yes, the schools need "fixing." But the solutions offered in SB6696, in Race-to-the-Top, and by our Broad Superintendent are not constructive. We want constructive solutions to the problems of our schools. We do NOT want the Education Reform prescriptions for change.

Please vote "NO" on the RttT Partnership Agreement Action item. Please support activist efforst to overturn SB6696, and put in its place legislation that calls for constructive, humane, non-classist, non-racist, reform of our public schools.

Notes/References.

1. The most the District can "win" in the RttT competition is about 2.4 million dollars disbursed over each of the next four years -- nearly 10 million dollars cumulatively. This should be compared to the District's four-year budget of over TWO BILLION DOLLARS. Ten million dollars is only five one-thousandths of the District's four year budget!

2. information about RttT and a critique of this program and the priorities it represents can be found at this website: http://racetothetopcritique.pbworks.com/

3. The vote tonight is largely symbolic, since (a) the state is highly unlikely to win the competition, (b) the magnitude of the potential winnings is trivial when put in context, and (c), due to the recent enactment of SB6696, most of the clauses in the partnership agreement are already matters of state law.

4. "Letter Report to the U.S. Department of Education on the Race to the Top Fund." This October 5 2009 document was authored by the National Academy Of Sciences Board of Testing and Assessment. This article cautions the Secretary against high stakes testing. The letter states unequivocally that scientific research has clearly established that high stakes testing is a misuse of standardized assessments.

5. RttT incentivizes states toward "restructuring" 5\% of their public schools every year. RttT describes four models of school restructuring. In an April 2009 review paper, Prof. W. J. Mathis and his colleagues find there is little evidence to show that these models are genuinely constructive for children's academic success [http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Mathis_Restructuring.pdf.] The authors conclude that these restructuring models are especially harmful to low-income minority children.

6. From my reckonning, there is $36 Million dollars in BTA-III that are marked for establishing the infrastructure for high stakes testing and for implementing Core24. Core24 is part of the regressive Education Reform agenda; it is a high stakes testing construct. If we could organize parents and teachers to pressure the Board to reallocate that $36 M to small class sizes, restoring full time librarian, counselling, and academic specialist positions, wouldn't the District be moving in the right direction?

What is better for our kids:

To have this $36 M plus the $10 M from RttT (if we get it, which is highly doubtful) going to a high stakes testing, anti-teacher agenda,

OR

to forego the opportunity at a small chance to "win" $10 M, and instead redirect $36M in the BTAIII levy away from high stakes testing and toward constructuvie reforms that we are CERTAIN will benefit children of Seattel Public Schools.


We, the Undersigned, urge the Board to refrain from ratifying this partenrship agreement.

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Brandy PetersBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
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Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors

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