Sept 7, 1999
For Asian Focus Newspaper
Back to School
In a state where I200 supposedly has eliminated affirmative action, the Seattle School District amazingly has gotten away with announcing 3 black women as their top finalists without any mention of the I200 issue, not even from conservative KVI or the departed Michelle Malkin. June Rimmer has officially started her job of racially balancing white male superintendent Joseph Olchefske. At 1/20 of the population, the chances of coming up with 3 black women is even less than getting a jackpot on a one-armed bandit, 1 in 8,000 chance. When Olchefske told the Seattle Times that they deliberately sought a "diverse" candidate pool, we know this wasnít a random occurrence either. Ironically, this conservative is the only one asking why no Asian Americans were recruited for the spot, as Asian Week asked why San Francisco isnít considering any either. In fact, Rimmer was competing with Diana Lam for the job in Providence Rhode Island. Lam was an impressive Chinese American who worked her way from Boston to heading the San Antonio schools before she bailed out over losing a shootout with the school board.
Substitute teacher David Blomstrom is the only person to publicly support my position against the racial politics of the Seattle Schools. Heís also the worldís largest detractor site to the late Saint John Stanford. Blomstrom was a major ally in Mr. Makís lawsuit which showed that Seattle Schools only pays lip service to affirmative action for Asians. They passed over well qualified people like Mr Mak for principal while promoting others with substitute teaching credentials. Now heís running for the Seattle School as the long shot rebel candidate who openly questions the testing mania which characterizes "standards based" education promoted by the current Board. He deserves the support of the Asian community for true diversity and fairness. He is not just another "team player" spouting inane slogans like " Building a world class student-focused learning system" that seem to come straight out of a Dilbert comic strip.
Anybody but Pendergrass
The angry citizenís rebellion has started in Lake Washington School District. Last year I got to be one of the lucky parents to get a letter threatening a lawsuit by the teacherís union if I didnít stop complaining about my kindergarten and first grade sons getting absurdly difficult homework and having to run for a timed mile. Now School Board president Jackie Pendergrass is up for re-election. She represents the role of the board as rubber-stamp cheerleader rather than the skeptical critic who stands up for parents and taxpayers. She now finds herself opposed by upstarts Sandy Elliot, wife of Republican representative Ian Eliot, and Microsoft retiree and Libertarian John Hall.
Pendergrass supports tough outcome-based (OBE) graduation requirements which proved to be so unpopular in Littleton Colorado that they voted out the entire school board. Graduation will be linked to the draconian and flawed WASL test which flunks 40% of most students and 90% of minorities. School to Work mandates spending school days at a job site even though most will go directly to college after graduation, not work. Mandatory volunteerism forces students to donate their labor whether they want to or not.
A-F grades will be replaced with "one high standard for all", but no state district has ever come up with a workable definition of what that "one high standard" should be. Ann Murphy, who is running for school board in Federal Way, helped to lead a parentís rebellion which led to the termination of their attempt to impose "standards based" report cards. Parents of Skyline High in Issaquah also succeeded in deflating Humanities from Hell where 70% of students were getting a "C" or worse even after putting in grueling homework hours in the name of "higher standardsí.
Pendergrass also led the approval of a controversial K-7 math program by Dale Seymour which the group "Mathematically Correct" rated as "F: unacceptable". Parents in Plano Texas have filed a lawsuit for force the district to drop it or offer a traditional alternative. But while the 2 feet of teacherís guide includes sheet music to the song "Bingo", it devotes only one hour to encourage children to invent every way to add except the traditional carry-over-the-1 method which enables most of us to balance a checkbook on paper. The National Science Foundation is also working through the Systemic Change Initiative to implement similar invented math and science schemes in Seattle in cooperation with the University of Washington, even though California has rejected such approaches after an epidemic of massive failures. Both Sandy Elliot and John Hall are critical of all these radical initiatives. Also deserving mention is Shirley Basarab, author of "Education Reform: The Silent Weapon" who is running for city council Burien.
Asian Superintendent of Public Instruction 2000?
Last but not least, people should know that Iím preparing to file for next yearís 2000 race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Incumbent Terry Bergeson is Big Educationís Sunny Kobe Cook who sells Education Reform rather than mattresses. Sheís the one responsible for the WASL test which promises that all will succeed, yet flunks everybody, especially minorities. Lately it has made the headlines with massive scoring and problem errors, while I have been its most vocal critic.
So many people have told me that I look like Gary Locke that Iíve told people that I am his (or he is my) evil twin brother. I would put the brakes on this runaway train before we get the train wreck that so characterizes radical reform in other states. Fix or eliminate the WASL assessment, and the Certificate of Mastery. Reverse the power of public relations to snap the public out of the hypnotic spell of Outcome Based Education and its absurd promise of equal outcomes for all. Restore democracy with debate, not facilitating the public into a phony consensus around pre-determined outcomes. Get the state legislature out of the standards business and restore local control. Encourage alternatives to government run schools and choices rather than threatening any student or school who doesnít perform at the same level as the richest few with failure. Donít force the teaching of evolution or creation against the religious objections of any student.
Few notice that the SPI is the 3rd highest paying state office. The SPI sits at the right hand of Governor Gary Locke. Most education legislation has originated in the Office of the SPI. K12 Education is over half of the state budget. The chances of unseating Gary Locke are zero, but the SPI could well be the most important winnable office for conservatives next year. Marta Tuchmann, the challenger for Californiaís office last year lost by only 5 points with almost no money. Real estate man Ron Taber got over a third of the vote in 1996 on the basis of knocking the state takeover of education. I know most of the Christian home schooling parents who have lead the fight against education restructuring, and Iím the only one who has stood up to volunteer for this suicide mission against Big Education.
I donít agree with Locke that we should raise taxes to reduce class sizes when it has no proven effect, and I donít agree that taxpayers should owe 2 free years of college to every student. Moderate Republicans who helped pass Education Reform might take some convincing. But the right-fringe American Heritage Party already has a platform condemning state mandated ed reform. The state Libertarian party is also slowly aligning itself against reform movements such as School To Work instead of just eliminating public education. Asians Against I200 may not like my stand on race preferences, but there should be many other Asians like the ones who supported Locke regardless of political spectrum who wouldnít mind having 2 Chinese Americans, one of them conservative on the Capitol campus.