In defense of Laurie Rogers' efforts to advocate for better math

By Laurie Rogers

I care about the children: I've been a child advocate since 2000, and I began advocating in January 2007 for a better math program in Spokane.

I volunteered in classrooms from 2003 through 2013, tutoring in reading and math, running a chess club, and/or teaching knitting and argumentation. I like the students. They're all interesting, smart and funny, and their plight in the public system tugs at my heart. I never forget the students I meet.

I'm not an education advocate for money: There is no school budget in America that could pay me back for the time I've spent trying to work for a better academic program in Spokane. I've had to pry most of the necessary information from the school district. Ironically, my efforts to obtain information and check my facts have been heavily criticized by local print "media."

I don't take advertising on my blog, I don't charge to do presentations, and at any presentation I do, I sell my book at my cost. In 2013, I finally began charging a nominal amount to tutor in math.

I've been criticized for filing a lawsuit over public records, however, most of the penalties went to the lawyers, which I knew would happen when I signed the contract. According to the Public Records Act, penalties are deemed to be necessary to enforce the law. I filed the suit to obtain records, not money.

I'm not an advocate to feed my ego: This effort on behalf of children has taken seven years of my life. My husband and child support my effort, but it's had a negative impact on all of us. I've been betrayed, slandered, lied to, lied about, mocked, undermined and threatened. The people who have done those things faced no consequences that I know of.

Education advocacy isn't a job I would wish on anyone; it's been akin to dealing with a mob. I persevere out of deep concerns for the students, the law and this country. I investigate because local print media won't.

I'm generally correct: The reality of the academic situation in Spokane is evident in the children. To deny the reality, one must ignore the children. (And many in leadership do appear to ignore those children who are not theirs.)

I can't ignore them -- their truth, their plight, their future. To help them, I must be sure about what I'm saying. I take enormous care to get it right.

I'm a decent investigator and researcher and a careful writer. Thus, I'm generally correct about what I say -- about math, open government laws, district leadership, academic outcomes, the school board, and the budget.

The first board meeting I ever went to was on Jan. 10, 2007, where I asked about math scores. Then superintendent Brian Benzel told me scores had been improving but that the district was not yet at its goal of 90% of students meeting standard. At the time, 10th-grade math scores were at 51.6%, and I thought that was bad. By 2010, 10th-grade math scores had fallen to 38.9%.

At a public forum I held in February 2011, school administrators dismissed that score as "irrelevant."
If you were to listen only to district and city leadership, you would not get this picture of me. See below for some of what they say.

Bob Douthitt: board director
Nancy Stowell: formerly superintendent
Karin Short: formerly assistant superintendent
Tammy Campbell: formerly district administrator

Feb. 13, 2011: In early 2011, I held several public forums to tell citizens the truth about the math situation in Spokane.

Unbeknownst to me, the district purposefully collected employees to attend my forums and counteract the message I was delivering. Administrators Tammy Campbell and Karin Short, along with other employees, spoke over top of citizens, refused to stop talking when asked to do so, mocked what we said, and suggested that my colleagues and I were lying.

In this record, Bob Douthitt is shown praising Tammy Campbell for her behavior

Feb. 13, 2011: Tammy Campbell responds to Douthitt by praising him as "an amazing leader for our district."

Feb. 14, 2011: Karin Short -- who helped to create a disrespectful environment at the forum and who did not tell the truth about math outcomes in Spokane -- responds to Douthitt by saying, "...we want to [welcome engagement] in a respectful environment where there is some truth to what is being presented." (These people crack me up.)

Feb. 14, 2011The superintendent responds to Douthitt's message by wishing him a Happy Valentine's Day.

Please stay tuned. More to follow.

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