"The Seattle School Board needs to be reminded of its responsibility to perform due diligence on every policy initiative requiring its approval.
This was not done when the board acquiesced to Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's request to spend $756,000 on a consultant to help revamp high school curricula."
But how do you really feel?
"The board's 4-3 vote for the contract came at its June 16 meeting. Every board member had a question about the contract. Some had several. Answers were wrapped in educational jargon so thick it may have been tempting to approve the contract simply to halt district staffers from offering more pedagogical statements.
Board member Steve Sundquist acknowledges he and his colleagues were not up to speed on the contract. Yet, he voted for it. Compelling his vote was a sense of trust that the superintendent's vision on this — while murky to him and his colleagues — was worth following. Board member Harium Martin-Morris had a different take; without clear and convincing evidence the contract was necessary, he voted no.
Absent clear understanding across the board, the vote should have been postponed."
Good to hear that educational jargon is getting on other people's nerves; from the Times' lips to Goodloe-Johnson's ears.
This section is key:
"Board member Steve Sundquist acknowledges he and his colleagues were not up to speed on the contract. Yet, he voted for it. Compelling his vote was a sense of trust that the superintendent's vision on this — while murky to him and his colleagues — was worth following. Board member Harium Martin-Morris had a different take; without clear and convincing evidence the contract was necessary, he voted no."
Why is it key? Because these two Directors represent the different sides of what the public - and Board members - believe the job of School Board Director is. Either you make sure a process was followed, ask questions and thus satisfied, figure the person you are paying big bucks to knows what she is doing. Or, on the other hand, there is a Director who pays attention to the process, asks questions and when he or she isn't satisfied with the answers, votes no.
I do not fault Director Sundquist; I think he ran on this proposition and won. Harium ran as someone who would be an overseer and not a rubberstamp. We can all have our opinions on which we would vote for but I think it gets to the heart of the matter of "What is the role of the Board". And to those who ranted against "activist" Board members, well, you can have an equally divided Board with those who are more hands off and those who are more hands on. This coming election will probably sharpen that choice and I hope every pays attention to forums and interviews. E-mail candidates yourself with that question.
"Voting blind may work this time. The superintendent appears to know what she is doing. But the board cannot relax its vigilance. Its credibility and public trust are at stake."
Voting blind? That's it in a nutshell. We cannot have the Board not doing their jobs. Their job in not to know everything but to ask the right questions and if they don't get clear and understandable answers - just say no. We know what happened the last time we had a superintendent who appeared to know what he was doing.
Bravo to the Times.