With the primaries of August 21 three weeks behind us and the general election of November 6 still several weeks away, talk about the upcoming school board elections has gone pretty quiet. And in this quiet, candidates have been working on their web sites.
In District I, the candidates are Peter Maier and Sally Soriano.
Mr. Maier has updated his web site. His picture is friendlier and he has added a page called "Read More" where he lists a few ideas which could serve as priorities for the District. Mr. Maier writes:
"The job of the School Board, through a process of listening, outreach and collaboration, is to establish with the Superintendent a long-term vision, measurable goals, and achievable strategies for the District so that every child in every school has the opportunity for a quality education and a chance to succeed."
Whether you agree with that statement or not, five of the six priorities that Mr. Maier lists (establishing effective financial practices, turning around low performing schools, improving the principal corps, strengthening math instruction, and increasing the rigor of middle school courses) are jobs for the Superintendent and the staff - jobs they should do without direct Board involvement.
Mr. Maier's slogan is "the leadership we need", but Mr. Maier wants the Superintendent to provide the leadership on these initiatives. He wants the Board to offer support. Perhaps his slogan should be "the support we need". And what support should the Board provide for these efforts? Surely no direct involvement. For all of the concern he expresses about a micro-managing Board, Mr. Maier couldn't be proposing Board involvement in these efforts, could he?
Ms Soriano has updated her web site as well. She has added a page called "Ask Sally". She answers a number of questions (with some typos) and allows visitors to submit additional questions. She writes "The role of the school board is to set policy and represent constituents. The only employee that the school board can hold accountable is the superintendent and it is the superintendent who is responsible for implementing the policies of the board and for the management of all personnel within the district."
Disclosure/Disclaimer: There is a quote from me on Ms Soriano's web site. This quote was taken from a blog entry; it was not written for her campaign.
In District II, the candidates are Sherry Carr and Darlene Flynn.
I am not aware of a campaign web site for Director Flynn. Her public communication skills are as strong as ever.
Ms Carr's web site is pretty full. It includes two pages of interest, This I Believe and Platform. She writes that the core responsibilities of a school board are to provide leadership "through Creating a compelling vision, respecting the proposals and ideas of the professional educators, ensuring that the professional educators are set up for success by removing roadblocks and getting them the help and support they need, and holding the professional educators accountable for academic results"
In District III, the candidates are David Blomstrom and Harium Martin-Morris.
Mr. Blomstrom's web site is infamous. I don't think it helps him, nor do I think it helps anyone who reads it. I don't think it's about being helpful.
Mr. Martin-Morris, who will undoubtedly be elected in November, has a small web site with very little original content, but it does have one of the most helpful and valuable pages on any candidate site: an event calendar page.
In District VI, the candidates are Maria Ramirez and Steve Sundquist.
Ms Ramirez now has a web site, which includes a page describing her Vision.
Mr. Sundquist's web site is pretty much the same as it was just before the primary. Mr. Sundquist also uses the word "leadership" in his slogan. The web site has a good page called Questions and Answers describing Mr. Sundquist's plans if elected. I'm not sure what Policies would correlate with these plans; they may be more of a need for policy enforcement. He does mention accountability in three places. Some of his plans, such as the elements of his Focus on the Classroom ideas, are clearly outside the Board's role.
Of all the web sites, I think Mr. Sundquist's does the best job of feeding his base while providing those outside his camp reason to support him. While he appears to be an establishment guy, his tone is conversational and he makes a lot of reference to things like transparency, appropriate processes, a results orientation, responsiveness, data-driven decision-making, consensus building, and accountability. That will increase his appeal among those suspicious of the establishment.
I'm sure these web sites will all be updated again and again before the general election.