So I won't go blow by blow but here are some impressions from the Board meeting last night to vote on the final recommendations.
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Even though she came out of this with her final recs in place, doesn't really seem like she won. The amount of anger at her and the repeated remarks about her salary are going to be tough to overcome. (Raj had a built-in niceness that even if you disagreed with him, you never felt angry at him.) I find this argument that there is a lot of racism involved in these decisions somewhat mystifying. The top tier of leadership in the district is all black. About 40% of the Board is minority. What I hear more is this is more socioeconomically based anger than being about race. They perceive Dr. G-J as being out of their socioeconomic class and therefore unable to relate to them. She got a lot of hissing and booing. She said letters to parents at whose children will be moving will be sent home next week. Director Maier asked if there would be a design team update at the March 2nd Board meeting (some document indicated this date) and she said yes.
James Bible, the NAACP president who got removed from the meeting early on (and wrongly I believe), was telling the crowd in the lobby that Dr. G-J needs to go back to where she came from. He also said that she did not understand the unique race and income issues in Seattle. He was quite the speaker when he got a head of steam. But I took him aside right afterwards and he was very calm and poised. It was an interesting shift to witness. It was unfortunate that he got picked on because it only makes the district look bad (as the NAACP threatened a lawsuit and/or Dept of Ed investigation). Mr. Bible perceives that's why he was kicked out.
Michael De Bell can hold his head up because he carried on with the meeting with a lot of grace under fire. I don't think he really wanted to close the meeting but I felt he would have if people had not settled down. He also reminded people of the history of closures and that the north end had 21 schools closed in the '80s. He said there was too much capacity in the north at that time and now there is too much capacity in the south.
Mary Bass. First, I love Mary, I really do. She's a kind-hearted woman. But she was no help here and she did a classic Mary thing which is to pull out some kind of vague plan and beg for more time. There were many weeks here to suss this out and put forth a counterplan. It didn't happen. No big surprise because Mary has done this a lot in the past. She also cried (and just like there's no crying in baseball, there's no crying on the School Board). She did what I thought was some pandering about how she had been a leader in wanting to work on the assignment plan in 2000, knew something was wrong with the budget in 2001 and got shussed, only for people to find out she was right, etc. But somehow, somehow in all the time she's been a Board director, she hasn't got much done. It's just not enough to speak up; you need to do. But Mary is a courageous person who has endured a lot (I remarked to Denise Gonzalez-Walker that I remember when Mary first came in that some Board members would not even give her the courtesy of seconding her motions so there would even be discussion. It was very disrespectful behavior on their parts.)
One thing to remember, though, is that Mary and Harium both supported school closures but did not like this plan. Mary was adamant that no assignment amendments should be supported without a new assignment plan and that she felt the plan should have come before the closures.
Steve Sundquist . Of all the new directors, the one who is likely to have engendered the most anger. I think the perception that he was helping Pathfinder (because his daughters attended there) AND that he helped Arbor Heights off the list might haunt him. I also think the fact that it was Harium and not Steve who put forth the motion to save Cooper will be remembered (not that he had to). He also said alternative ed needs an audit. One thing that does not help him is a tendency to look over his glasses at the crowd and almost lecture (one woman kept telling him to not patronize the crowd). He does get a little professorial at times and it hurts the points he makes.
Sherry Carr. She flew pretty low under the radar. She said it wasn't a case of closing or not closing schools but closing schools or losing staff at schools. And she said we could close the gap by taking 5% from every school and did we want that? Well, was it an option? No one asked. I don't know, maybe sharing the pain would have been better for some but the district was never going to give us that option. She did manage to get some boos for commending Dr. G-J.
Harium Martin-Morris. Clearly, one of the most principled of our directors. He spoke quietly (you noticed this? He speaks in a low voice and it makes you really listen) about how Cooper works with a difficult population (and without a lot of district help) and had made gains in performance scores and enrollment. He also spoke of the desire to find a home for Summit. "I failed to do that." His amendment, for whatever its worth, was his desire to save Summit (as was the CAC's idea to move Summit to Wilson-Pacific; it was purely to save it, not stick in a crummy location). I waited for him, when he put forth his amendment to not close Cooper and move Pathfinder, to have an alternative, something the other directors might have something to consider. Nope. It was a bad move.
Peter Maier. Again, something of a professor stance here and he used a lot of cliches (which did not go over well with the crowd and got a lot of sarcastic "really" remarks). He claims that the closures fit in with the student assignment plan but I'm not sure I got his meaning.
Cheryl Chow. Well, Cheryl is a hard one to read. She was the only director to not speak during the Board remarks which led some in the crowd to yell, "What about Cheryl?" She kept her head down and my notes reflect nothing from her on any of the amendments. But out of nowhere, after one of the votes, she decides to speak and launches into a history of AAA. Yes, it was quite odd. To me it seemed, like Mary, a bit of pre-election pandering to try to say that AAA had been given much support and the program still wasn't succeeding. But she went on to say, as Sherry Carr had said, that the AAA culture could be infused into Van Asselt and the name would stay with the building unless the new community changed it. What a bunch of nonsense. What about Van Asselt's name which has been around for 100 years?
Summit. Well, it finally came out that the reason they are closing Summit (besides wanting the building for another program) was...transportation costs. Okay, they are very high. But, if they had relocated the program to a central area and had a more across-the-city population, I think the costs would have gone down. But at least they gave I reason. I had asked the Board, in an e-mail) to please not let district history record that Summit closed because it was a failing school that wasn't viable (because it is not true). Harium, Michael and Maier (in his own way) recognized Summit's long history. Michael, like Harium, had felt it important to find Summit a home and could not (but, of course, no one explains why Lincoln or Marshall couldn't have been an option). Michael said, quite tenderly, that "acts today fall most heavily on Summit K-12".
SBOC. Michael did say something kind of lame. Namely, that the "SBOC relocation is not the complete fulfillment of (Board) actions several years back but it's the best we can do now." And no one felt it necessary to try harder when those actions were passed? He did say that both SBOC and Nova are used to a high degree of autonomy and needed it at Meany. He said that Meany had 2 gyms and he felt, in time, the programs would grow to respect and appreciate each other.
The Board. After the meeting, I had asked a couple of cops if they were hanging around to walk the Board to their cars. They said yes. It was that bad and I'm sure it felt scary from their vantage point. There was a lot of shouting at this meeting at the beginning and end. I think if Mary, Cheryl and Michael want to run again they likely all would win only because of the odd nature of running for School Board. They all have solid bases of support but if voters outside of that base joined forces (and had a good opposition candidate), they could lose. But incumbency is on their side. I see no signs that none of them will step down but if I had to bet it would be Michael (he may be tired by now, I hope not) or Mary (if she found someone good to endorse).