Friday, July 09, 2010

Recall? Who wants one?

The School Board isn't doing its job of enforcing policy.

The School Board isn't doing its job of overseeing the superintendent.

The School Board isn't doing its job of representing the community.

The School Board isn't doing its job, therefore the School Board should be recalled. Not every member of the School Board, but three of them for sure: Maier, Sundquist, and Carr, and probably two more of them, Martin-Morris and DeBell.

What do you think about this idea?

Not enforcing Policy
The State Auditor found that The School Board and District management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns identified in prior audits.

From the audit:
The Board also is responsible for ensuring District staff carry out programs in compliance with Board policy and state and federal laws and regulations and for making sound financial decisions that are in the best interest of the public.


When I have asked the Board who is responsible for enforcing policy, they have denied that they have a role. They have claimed that the job of enforcing policy falls on the superintendent. This is absurd. The superintendent cannot police herself. Oddly, when the State Auditor tells them that they are responsible for enforcing policy they respond "The District concurs with the State Auditors finding"

Not overseeing the superintendent
The State Auditor found that The School Board and District management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns identified in prior audits.

Again, the State Auditor reported it and the District responded "The District concurs with the State Auditors finding" That's just shameful.

Does anyone really need me to provide a report on how the Board does not represent the community?

So, since they are refusing to do their jobs, shall we get rid of them?

113 comments:

Greg said...

I certainly support that effort and would contribute financially to it. But I don't understand how feasible a recall might be. What is required for a recall exactly?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan posted the RCW elsewhere and it said they had to be fulfilling their oath of office (which I'd like to take a took at). They do seem to not be doing their legally elected duty of overseeing the Superintendent.

I'm certainly willing to talk about it but frankly, I'd rather put the energy towards getting them all out next fall (2011). We need to find candidates, help them with great campaigns and get them elected. This audit is a BIG help because (1) the Auditor so rarely singles out a board - this was confirmed to me by their office and (2) there are multiple instances of them being told by the Auditor of problems and yet no oversight happening.

Usually school board elections are pretty genteel affairs and rarely do incumbents get attacked. I think this election will undo that. Between the incumbents having to answer for themselves on point after point plus the powers that be in this town wanting to keep them in office, well, it could be a bumpy, but interesting, ride.

dan dempsey said...

Well Folks,

I am all for it. Here are the Laws about Recall.
RCW 29A governing the request for recall

RCWs the rest of the recall laws.

The short part of this is it will take about 32,000 valid signatures to get a director up for a recall vote by the public. (25% of total votes cast for that office in the last general election for that office is required)

The election will take place from 45 to 60 days of the validation of the required number of signatures.

180 days maximum to gather the signatures.

Here are my latest drafts (3rd) of documents to initiate a recall for each of 5 directors. Note it only takes one registered voter to get this started.

President DeBell

Steve Sundquist West Seattle

Harium Martin-Morris

Sherry Carr

Peter Maier

==============
Yes I support the idea of recalling as many of these folks for which we can gather the required number of signatures. I think if we can get the signatures the recall elections will be no sweat.

dan dempsey said...

The reason I think a recall is a good idea .... is because we have a largely slumbering uninformed public.

Really what can you learn from the Times?

This makes the average voter very easily influenced by the big money campaign propaganda. A recall drive gives us a great opportunity to educate the public before it is too late.

Also the Auditor did his job. It is time for us to step up and do ours.

Note: the cool thing about this is it likely will not cost much but will take lots of planning and effort. Finally a grassroots effort that the BIG MONEY can not derail.

Step up or don't.

Recall five.

dan dempsey said...

All that is needed is one incidence of misfeasance to initiate a recall. The auditor gave us multiple violations of state law, which are misfeasances.

What a sweet deal. Check one of the recall drafts.

So far it looks like Greg, Charlie and I.

Eric M said...

Yes. Ignoring this audit leaves them equally culpable.

Eric M said...

The drafts look nauseatingly accurate. Let's go.

Jan said...

Here are my thoughts:
1. I think we need to "parse" malfeasance pretty thoughtfully. I am confident these directors are "there" (in malfeasance land) but it can't just be based on having a breach of law on their watch or an isolated instance of failure to supervise. No administration could survive that standard. It has to be the systemic, persistent failure of the board to set and require compliance with board policies, to evaluate those policies for effectiveness, and to supervise the Superintendant (the last is the most egregious to me -- but may be the hardest to "prove" as they have her show up, the dog and pony do their shows, she and her staff grab things like "the success of the southeast initiative" and "progress on the strategic plan" out of thin air, regardless of their truth. . .). but I don't want to discourage potential board members from thinking that intelligent, honest, good faith efforts (in the absence of any staff, etc.) to be a good steward of the public's trust would earn me a recall petition. It's like the NCAA's "failure of institutional control" -- it's the persistent pattern of failure after failure to step up to the plate and act that is so damning.
2. I am sort of with Melissa in thinking that the BEST thing to do might be to just start now coming up with really good candidates for the next election. On the other hand, Melissa, a good election strategy might work better if combined with a recall effort that draws really stark contrasts between good board governance (and a good vision for what we want to see for schools) and what we are getting from Sundquist, Carr, Martin-Morris, and Maier. And perhaps the threat of a recall campaign would push these four to actually govern for their last year, in a way that an election campaign would not.
3. I have no clue how long it will take to get 32K signatures, but based on how many signatures Sahila collected for her petition -- it could take a fair amount of time/effort. Do we have enough citizen support to do both -- a recall campaign AND a 4 school board campaigns against Broad/Gates funded opposition? If not, we have to do the campaign for new directors in any case -- or corporate money will just finance the election of four more like-minded people.
4. Finally, if we really recalled 5, does that leave just Betty and Kay as the sole directors for a year? I am not sure that is workable. Or does the process envision a new election for the balance of the term?

Chris said...

I'm in. As Dan said, there is a big upside - voter education - whether we succeed or not, that will help find better directors in the next election. In fact, the only reason NOT to would be if we wanted to try to take the Gates crowd by surprise, and I think it's too late to do that anyway.

Sahila has done a great demonstration of how you can get real air time without a load of money, just time and heart. Let's save the big bucks for the campaign, but no harm in talking, networking and collecting signatures now.

Dan, maybe I'll go on TV if you can get Melissa to do my makeup

dan dempsey said...

According to state law recalled directors leave vacancies.

In practice here is what you might see. If filed next Friday 17th, by end of month petitions might be available for signature gathering say Aug 1. Six months later would be Feb 1. Then 45 to 60 days later is around April 1. So any vacancy would be looking more like from April 1 to mid November. (Except DeBell that goes to 2013)

Of course if we magnificently gathered all needed signatures in 90 days that would speed the whole process up.

Note how the recall signature gathering is really a separate time period than actively campaigning and pushing a school board candidate.

I see these as very complementary activities.

The recall effort will help our candidate not detract.

Few people will pay much attention to candidate talk between now and Feb 1 ... but a Recall and turning the school directors out ... that is a topic of interest when mixed with the auditor's report.

This is a completely different kettle of fish than anything I've seen in years.

If we could get 20 folks that wanted to request RECALL, we could make it a media event with 20 folks walking into the county elections office. Linda Brill of King 5 NEWS said she would like a heads up if we do it that way.

dan dempsey said...

Correction:
a violation of state law is a malfeasance.

Anonymous said...

Let me know how I can help.
ken berry
ONAOKO1@COMCAST.NET
ph: 206 762 5823

Sahila said...

I would love to see the recall get started too - not so much because I'm sure we'll be successful (32,000 signatures per Director is a lot to gather), but because it will keep the pressure on and be part of the cumulative wave we've been building... its important this foolishness be kept under the spotlight and otherwise people will begin to think its all OK in the garden of eden after all...

And its very hard for the money behind the incumbents to mount a PR campaign saying they're the good guys if they're dealing with an ongoing recall action...

And believe me - there is big money and its interested in keeping these Directors (or their sponsored replacements) in the seat driving the District until the 5 year plan is fully implemented (cos its necessary to allow in charters - there will be draft legislation allowing charters making its way through Olympia next year)...

Call me paranoid (and if I am I have many, many friends!), but these Directors are acting according to behind the scenes instructions... they are on track in helping spearhead the implementation of the 'reform' agenda in Seattle/Washington... you should see the Broad influence map - its very clear... I posted it a few weeks ago... might find it again and post it tomorrow when I have more time...

Cant we do both? Recall and find/support candidates that would be an improvement?

Stu said...

I gotta admit I'd really love to see some of these people go . . . I have always particularly disliked the way Peter Maier has dealt with the public and consistently ignored issues and comments. I have at least seen the others take an interest every once in a while, perhaps not often, perhaps to no better end, but Maier is a piece of work.

What about the idea of aggressively going after one or two and, perhaps, put the fear into the others a bit? Maybe just showing them that we expect them to listen and to take responsibility for things . . .

Anyway, I'm in.

stu

none1111 said...

Jan makes a great point, that malfeasance "can't just be based on having a breach of law on their watch or an isolated instance of failure to supervise. No administration could survive that standard."

Any recall effort needs to take this into careful consideration!

And she continues with more wise words: "It has to be the systemic, persistent failure of the board to set and require compliance with board policies, to evaluate those policies for effectiveness, and to supervise the Superintendant"

Dan has a good start, and maybe it's enough to get the paperwork rolling, but putting together a compelling, detailed case that will convince the general voting populace (who have not been keeping up on every little detail like most of us here) is a big job. Charlie has been very good at pulling together long lists of staff and board screw ups. This might be a time when that kind of information, pulled together tightly and succinctly, could be very helpful.

But there's something else to consider. Any recall effort needs either:
1) the media to take notice.
2) paid signature gatherers.
Unless we can get a LOT of volunteer hours from readers of this blog to stand out in public to gather signatures, I doubt it will be enough without one of these 2 things happening.

With that in mind, is there a particular topic or "sound bite" that the media can latch onto? The math text book decision would be a fairly simple one that many people around the city already understand. There was unbelievable solidarity from parents throughout the district against the adoption, but the Board refused to act on behalf of their constituents. The Spector decision and the appeal are icing on that particular cake. The downside of focusing on this is that it's really just piling onto this one cause, and might appear too "single-issue". And if the appeal were to succeed, that would look bad for a recall if the efforts were tightly linked.

Are there other ideas to make the story simple enough to explain to regular folks in 30 seconds or less? Sadly, that's what it takes. Backed up with a very simple, but compelling list of specific malfeasance acts over an extended period of time that someone who takes a tiny interest and wants to spend another minute or two can digest.

As Melissa says, the audit could be a big help with both a potential recall effort and with the elections next year. While it might be too complex for the casual voter to wrap their head around for a signature-gathering recall campaign, it will definitely be an excellent tool to use during the next elections.

none1111 said...

Another point I'd like to bring up is that one vote does not make or break a director.

I would not support a recall on Director DeBell. At least not at this time. Yes, his vote to extend the superintendent's contract was a disappointment, but he made it clear to all that it was not an easy decision for him. I think he's (somewhat weakly) putting the superintendent on notice. He certainly isn't a full kool-aid drinker like some of the others, and he's the only decent director with any institutional memory.

I think Charlie's recent assessment of the current Board was good. Are most people in general agreement? Here's how I would characterize the transgressors, in order:

Maier and Sundquist: Worst
Little to nothing of merit. Fake community engagement. They could both use a swift kick in the rear on the way out the door.

Carr: Not that bad
Occasional glimmers of hope, but has no will to stand up for anything important. Needs to go.

Martin-Morris: Not great
He puts up a decent talk, engages fairly well with the community, and sometimes has good ideas, but rarely ever follows through. He rarely stands up to the staff, and in that regard he's gotten worse rather than better. Because he's moving in the wrong direction, I think he needs to go as well.

DeBell: Acceptable, and improving
The thing I would like to point out about DeBell is that (with the exception of this recent vote) he's generally improved over time. He's the only director with any significant institutional memory, and you can see how he has slowly but surely come to understand that the administration is not to be taken at their word. I'm sure this has come as a direct result of firsthand experience, and I don't want the board to lose that.

Smith-Blum: Very good
Engages very well with her constituents. Drinks no staff kook-aid. Fresh outlook, not afraid to question the status quo. Her only real downside is the lack of experience, but there's no shortcut around that.

Patu: Wild card
Sadly, she really isn't very competent as a director, but she does have the will to stand up to the administration, and that's a big plus -- at this time, and with our current board composition..

Thoughts? Stu has an interesting idea about focusing on just a couple directors, but personally I'd support recalls on 4 of them right now.

dan dempsey said...

I must say. I've definitely noticed improvement in Michael DeBell over time. I was all for keeping him until his vote to extend the contract. However he needs to have a recall request. I think it might be much harder to get signatures to recall Michael.

Jan, the standard of passing an audit is not difficult. We just saw one of the worse audit performances in state history for a school board.
That is precisely why Michael DeBell gets a recall request. He voted to extend the Superintendent's contract. He is president of the school board. He buys the fairy-tale.

Recall Michael Now. Then he can run for something else in 2012.

The auditor did his job. It is time for us to do ours.

Unpaid signature gatherers on a mission is all that is needed.

See below.

dan dempsey said...

Perhaps the reason they are called "School Board Policies" is because the school board should be involved in making them happen. (Duh!!)

I've been advocating for enforcement of the Promotion / Non-Promotion Policies for four years and not a single board member has paid any real attention. {Well a couple of directors explained why they are not enforced}.

Let us take a closer look at D44.00.

Grade-level curricula and associated student learning objectives of the District represent the expectations for student performance. Classroom instruction is planned to accommodate a reasonable range of performance. However, some students' skill deficiencies may be so severe that allowing more than one year for completion of a particular grade level is a reasonable alternative to promotion.

Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the Necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade.
.........

Process - Identification occurs early in the school year and will enable a timely intervention program to be implemented in order to optimize the student's chance of earning promotion.
.........

Timeline
September - Communication to parents and guardians of the promotion/non-promotion policy.

End of First Quarter - Identification of "at risk" students (grades 1 -6).

End of Second Quarter - identification of "at risk" students(kindergarten).
.........

Responsibility - The regular classroom teacher is responsible for each student's basic education. It is also the responsibility of the classroom teacher to design and implement specific strategies within the classroom when a student has been identified as "at risk”.
In addition to classroom strategies, support is provided in most schools for basic skills remediation. With the help of Chapter 1 federal Funds, State Remediation Assistance Program (RAP), Discriminatory Remediation Assistance Program (DRAP), and District funds, the classroom teacher maybe assisted in the remediation of Reading, Language Arts, and Math for “at risk" students.

(3) Types of programs
(a) Classroom - For students who are "at risk" and need special attention to remediation in the regular classroom, a plan should be developed by the teacher. This plan should be specific about learning goals or areas of emphasis, prescribed learning activities, time-lines, checkpoints, and communication with home and support services.


This policy D44.00 focuses on effective interventions and remediating deficiencies.

(4) Monitoring of Intervention - The student's progress will be monitored continuously and adjusted accordingly. Conferences will be scheduled with parents and guardians every ten weeks to review the intervention plan and report on progress. Intervention teachers will also provide quarterly progress reports to parents or guardians.

(5) Home Involvement - Because parent or guardian involvement significantly increases student achievement, each building intervention program will develop a home/involvement component that will reinforce and support the learning activities that take place in that building. Homework should be related to what has been taught by the classroom teacher and/or the intervention teacher.

dan dempsey said...

(6) Timeline
(a) End of 1st Quarter - Implementation of Intervention Plan (1-6).

(b) End of 2nd Quarter - Implementation of Intervention Plan (K).

(c) Every 10 Weeks - Progress Evaluation.

(7) Information - Intervention Plan information is placed on the Phase II -Intervention Section of each student's promotion/non promotion profile and on the Intervention Plan And Progress Review Form.

B. Specialized Education - The intervention plan for Special Education is as defined on the student's IEP (Individualized Education Program).

C. Bilingual Education
(1) Purpose - The purpose of the Intervention Plan is to provide and implement a specific process designed to help the individual student remediate deficiencies.


This PROMOTION / NON-PROMOTION for ELEMENTARY STUDENTS policy has been on the Books since July 1985.

The focus of this policy is to assist students in learning and to make classrooms places of learning where there is a focus on effective interventions, interventions that are monitored and expected to produce results.
The result expected is increased student learning. This needs to be the learning of at least the state standards or grade level expectations. Harium has often said the curricula are the state standards and instructional materials may vary. Let’s make it happen.

I testified against the NWEA/MAP testing because it does not focus on specific state standards and the reporting of progress on specific state standards and providing specific effective interventions. $500,000 annually for MAP, which is not focused on meeting D44.00 but instead being chosen because it can be used as a tool to evaluate teachers is unacceptable. This MAP decision will be appealed.

dan dempsey said...

There has yet to be an objective well controlled study that shows "differentiated instruction" as advocated by the superintendent is effective or efficient. It is time to focus on students and creating effective interventions that work for students.

The key to making the system work is effective instruction. Team MGJ has not focused on the research. I mean the research that is well controlled and shows significant improvement in students.
If she had we would not be looking at the bizarre ineffective vertically aligned k-12 math programs that she pushes.

It is time to put our schools on a planned path to create successful students. E.D. Hirsch’s Core-Knowledge movement would make for an interesting basis for an alternative school.

Social promotion is a cop out for a system that refuses to:
(1) use sound proven instructional materials and practices and
(2) do the job of providing proven effective interventions for students.

dan dempsey said...

The superintendent has pumped far too much money and too many resources into bogus ill-researched plans. As Eric B. testified it is not working. She is increasing spending on Central Administration and has no effective plan to remediate students who are not learning from her ill-chosen instructional materials and practices. Her plan is too beat up on teachers and others who cannot make her fairy-tale plans work. Then the public will cry out for charter school for relief from insanity.

Five Board members need to be recalled as they voted for three more years of total nonsense much of it illegal nonsense in the auditor's view.

D.44.00 needs some updating but it is a sound plan. A lot more sound that anything coming out of MGJ and her cronies.

It is time to focus on student learning and stop bashing teachers. If we require effective and efficient practices based on proven plans with proven materials and teachers are not performing in that situation then certainly teacher interventions and results from those intervention must be required.

Instead we see the sorry excuse for a union, the SEA, agreeing to at Cleveland the use of the highly ineffective Project Based Learning as the primary instructional practice for every class. The plan is incredibly expensive and deprives other schools of resources. The data is very clear from other NTN schools. The NTN schools are under performers.

In the current administrative view, teachers should be labeled as under performers and will be transferred out of Cleveland if unable to make administration’s expensive ill-chosen plan work.

This schooling stuff needs to be about kids and not the feeding of Administrative and Directorial adult egos.

Recall the five.

You will see a pro se appeal in superior court of both the MAP testing and the Superintendent's contract extension filed on or before August 6. If you expect to see anything done correctly by this crew it takes legal action to make it happen. The five extended MGJ's contract. MGJ is a fragrant breaker of laws, who ignores policies. No we should not get three more years of this. Clearly the five like her plans and style. They need to be removed and we need to end this bizarre nightmare by demanding sound research-based proven practices that have a demonstrated record of success.

I have a lot of faith in what I have seen coming out of Gates Data Fellow, SPS's own Dr. Eric M. Anderson. He has written some really good stuff. If the Board had applied his Jan 29, memo on NTN schools, they would have rejected the NTN contract unanimously. In March he wrote a fine paper:
Correlates of High Achieving Schools:
Learning from Top Performing Inner City Public Schools


This guy knows research and how to write a well-researched paper. Unfortunately at this time we are stuck with spineless politicians not courageous educators for leaders.

Recall five.

Note: the very popular Montessori pre-school program that was developed over several years is being axed by the NSAP. NSAP is under appeal.

Recall five.

dan dempsey said...

What insane planning. At Ballard High School the physical facilities and program have been developed over years for the pre-school Montessori, a pre-school program in which high school students may participate for a period each day as part of their schedule.

Then the district that can't even plan lunch at Cleveland ...

The district that rips up new outside facilities as part of Denny/Sealth crappy planning...

Comes up with NSAP, which overloads Ballard and Montessori gets exterminated.

Recall five.

dan dempsey said...

The State Auditor would likely recall five (except Sonntag lives in Tacoma) and so would Diane Ravitch if she lived in Seattle.

dan dempsey said...

About our I-728 Gripes

We have on several occasions discussed the use of I-728 funds for something other than class size reduction .... It seems MGJ like's $11 million for coaches for teachers rather than more teachers for students to reduce class size.

Then comes this from the audit:

Initiative 728 Funds

Initiative 728 funds are used for education reform and improving student learning.

We also reviewed the District’s report on the use of I-728 funds for 2008-2009. We noted the report did not include required information on children who need pre-kindergarten support.

State law (RCW 28A.505.210) requires district boards on or before May 1 to have a public hearing on proposed uses of these funds. The District did not retain minutes of this hearing.

In our 2005 and 2008 audit, we determined the District did not comply with the requirements for this funding. These issues have not been resolved.


Recall five.

It became apparent early on that MGJ liked lots of audits so she could cherry pick what she liked from each and ignore what she did not like.

MGJ spent $100,000+ on the Phi Delta Kappa Curriculum Audit (Oct 2007) and ignored everything in it.

Let us not let her ignore the State Audit released on July 6, 2010. {Good luck to her on trying to cherry-pick this audit}

We need to read the audit and hold her accountable as clearly five members of the school board have no intention of doing so.

Charlie Mas said...

There are rules in the District Policies for how to address vacancies on the Board.

The question, to my mind, is whether it is worthwhile to try to recall the Directors so close to the end of their term or whether our efforts should be focused instead on electing replacements.

It has been suggested that the recall effort, even if it were unsuccessful, would be beneficial to the election of replacements.

Anonymous said...

note to Dan- Please, is there any way you can self-regulate the number and volume of your postings? You had 8 straight!!! (and 13 of the 24 total!).
I'll bet that most people just automatically hit the skip button.
If not, can the blog adopt a reasonable guideline for posting- i.e. no more than 2 or 3 in a row before giving others a turn?
Thanks!

dan dempsey said...

History lesson for those that see the Recall as near impossible.

May 6, 2009 HS Math Adoption (done deal)

May 20, 2009 McLaren & Dempsey we are going to court (who cares)

June 5, 2009 Porter, McLaren, & Mass file legal appeal (the pundits say waste of time, pointless they can't win)

Feb 4, 2010 Spector rules in favor of the Appellants. (surprise surprise)

So lots of folks think that the Chris Jackins inspired actions involving legal action over School Closures, and the discriminatory New Student Assignment Plan was a waste of time and has gone nowhere.

Look more closely at the audit on page 6:

"We determined the Board did not record minutes at retreats and workshops in the 2008-2009 school year. These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning.

These Directors are simply a mass of "Arbitrary and Capricious" decisions one right after another.

They do not use evidence to make decisions.

They do not follow their own policies.

They do not follow state laws.

There will be appeals filed on the MGJ contract extension and the NWEA/MAP approval by August 6.

Here is the letter I wrote to President Michael DeBell and Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson yesterday.

It is our district.

Recall five.

Monday morning I am headed to the State Auditor's office to get "Certified Sealed Copies" of Audit report #1003871 to be used in legal action. I'll be buying five of them.

Finding #5:
"The School Board completely failed in their duty to enforce laws and policy and completely failed in their duty to oversee the superintendent."

Accountability if we want to talk about then we better do our job.
.."It is our district. !!"
... Recall five.

Michael said...

@Dan: "Monday morning I am headed to the State Auditor's office to get "Certified Sealed Copies" of Audit report #1003871 to be used in legal action. I'll be buying five of them."

I certainly hope you called them in Olympia ahead of time. They are a government agency, you know. They may not have extra copies hanging around since it is freely available on their website.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Dan,

I for one am glad that you are exercising your right to free speech, and encourage you to post as often and as frequently as you like. Please don't stop in the name of "fairness." You have the passion and initiative to immerse yourself in these topics and your insight is useful (even if I don't agree with what you write sometimes). Just as if you were in business, you would not have to stop producing to let your competitors put you at a disadvantage. You would be trying to make as much profit as you can, (profit is NOT an evil thing). Of course, we are not competitors on this blog; rather, we are contributors, and the more you contribute, the better. Even if it is all in a row.

So type away!!

Sahila said...

I think the recall effort would be worth it mainly because big money PR machine would be hard put to spin the message about their candidates (assuming all of them run for re-election) when there is an ongoing focus on their poor performance - which is what the recall activity will guarantee...

Its also a mechanism for education...

Seriously... there is absolutely nothing that can be said to contradict the comments from the Auditor... but if we dont keep the heat turned up consistently, by the time election time comes around, many people will have forgotten...

and they might also say:
"Well, if its that bad, why didnt you do something about it when the audit first came out?"

And they would be right....

Sahila said...

I love it that Dan has the passion and dedication to keep at this.... and his passion and dedication run to the extent that a lot of what's happening in the legal arena is coming out of his pocket (and his wife's!) as well as his energy reservoir....

He's expending himself so generously because he's doing the work more of us should be doing.... finding ways to hold this District, the board and the Super "accountable"....

IN MY OPINION, too many of us are keyboard jockeys, sitting in our comfort zones complaining, but not actually DOING... and that's how it goes from bad to worse...

So Anonymous - when was the last time you testified at a Board meeting? Went to a rally? Wrote a letter to the editor of your newspaper/online news blog? Filed a lawsuit? Went down to Olympia to talk with legislators and OSPI or searched through records archives to find out why things are the way they are and what can be done to change them? Took the time to put what you have found out online, so that other people can be informed without having to reinvent the wheel by going digging themselves... Dan (and a few dozen other people) have all shown this amount of dedication to our common wellbeing in these issues within SPS...

(am not discounting volunteers, PTAs, teachers here... just staying relevant to these issues)...

This blogging system allows all to speak... there's no queue-ing, your post wont be lost because someone else posts a series, there are no limits to the length of the thread (they gone up to 250-300+ postings sometimes), so you wont miss out just because some of us post a lot... If you dont want to read what some of us have to say, you can scroll right past our names and save yourself your inner pain.... but it would be good if you gave yourself a name, so that we can choose to scroll past you also, if we dont want to read your contribution...

Go for it, Dan... and thank you...

none1111 said...

As Charlie mentioned: "There are rules in the District Policies for how to address vacancies on the Board."

The policy reads: In case of a vacancy on the Board, the remaining Board members shall fill such vacancy by appointment.

As I'm interpreting it, if you recall only one or two, the rest get to re-fill those seats without public involvement. We don't get to elect new directors.

Based on this, the notion of focusing on one or two seats to get the message across probably isn't a good idea.

Sahila said...

* When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, (SPS community?) then evil men prevail.
o Pearl S. Buck

* The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
o Albert Einstein

To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics (Board members?)as well as morals.
* William Penn

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil (Board members?).
* Hannah Arendt

It is always good men (venture philanthropists?) who do the most harm in the world.
* Henry Brooks Adam

none1111 said...

I also have no problem with people writing lots of posts. But when the quantity and the length, and redundancy of message are overwhelming it becomes counter-productive to getting your messages across.

I greatly respect Dan's dedication to the cause, and his stepping up to actually take action, which, as Sahila says, is far more than most of us do. But as diligent as I am about reading everyone's posts and opinions, even my eyes glaze over when I see Dan post mini-books again and again, interjected with so much redundancy. I start skipping stuff. It's not that I disagree with the arguments, it's just that I've already read the same thing 25 times. It's not helpful anymore.

But rather than saying "cut it down, it bothers me!", which is a self-centered view, let me suggest that writing shorter posts with less redundancy will help your messages reach more of us in an effective manner. It takes more time and care to write shorter, more concise posts, but it's worth it. Save the longer posts for other venues - we're (mostly) your allies here, we aren't the ones that need to be beaten over the head all the time.

none1111 said...

Dan said: "MGJ is a fragrant breaker of laws, who ignores policies. "

Eeew, I didn't know you guys were that intimate! ;-)

none1111 said...

As a case in point, the conversation went askew, and I fear my points and questions got lost, buried under an avalanche.

Any recall effort needs a reasonably cooperative media and talking points. The message needs to be concise, digestible by "regular people" very quickly, and needs to resonate with them. If they want to dig a little more, the supporting facts also need to be concise and quickly digestible.

A couple dozen of us blog contributors standing in front of the grocery stores gathering 100 sigs ain't gonna cut it.

Dan Dempsey said...

The reason I have my picture posted and have not changed it is ..... so my comments can be easily skipped by those that desire to do so.

flagrant - not fragrant
(got me - as Charlie says: I've not met the woman)

none1111 said...

Lastly, for now. I will briefly say once again, for reasons stated above that, unlike Dan, I do not support a recall effort for DeBell. I don't think we're ready for a completely new board out of the blue with no institutional memory whatsoever.

Note that Board Policy states: "If there exist fewer than a majority of the legally established number of Board members, the Educational Service District Board members shall appoint a sufficient number to constitute a legal majority of the Board."

So recalling 5 directors means we get 2 state appointees. Then those 4 appoint the remaining 3.

DeBell has been lied to by the staff many times now, and while he has a very calm demeanor, he's not stupid, he understands the situation. I'm not willing to risk losing that for a random unknown, who could very well be far worse. As for the other 4 directors, I'm not sure how much worse it could get, which is why I would support their recalls.

Dan, I'm happy to hear new information supporting an opposing view, but unless there's something new to add, not related to his last vote, it's probably not very helpful to the cause. I am very interested in hearing what OTHERS are thinking about DeBell, since it sounds like there may be a push to actually make some kind of recall attempt. One voice echoing in an otherwise empty room is not enough, but let's see what others have to say.

Also very interested in hearing more discussion about strategic thinking regarding recall vs. an early push to get new 2011 candidates, funding and campaigns in order. These are not completely mutually exclusive, but you do run the risk of burning people out and using up your favors. It's important to think strategically with the big picture in mind. I do not want these clowns elected next time!

Dan Dempsey said...

none1111 said:

"A couple dozen of us blog contributors standing in front of the grocery stores gathering 100 sigs ain't gonna cut it."

That means people need to develop plans.

A central coordinator would certainly be a big help.

A huge thing is are we doing the right thing at the right time?

"The State Auditor found that the School Board completely failed in their duty to enforce laws and policy and completely failed in their duty to oversee the superintendent."

Sign here _______________________

Next please.

===============
In 1933 two people Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin published 2,500 copies of the first edition of Catholic Worker newspaper. Within 4 months they were publishing and distributing 100,000 copies.

They had absolutely no way to think that was possible when they started.

We have no way of knowing much about the recall's potential for success.

As none1111 points out ... Preparation and planning will surely be needed.

So how do we go about that?

Dan Dempsey said...

none1111 points out that:

Note that Board Policy states: "If there exist fewer than a majority of the legally established number of Board members, the Educational Service District Board members shall appoint a sufficient number to constitute a legal majority of the Board."

Since that is believed to be the case. I would still be in favor of getting 5 recall petitions authorized but only concentrate on collecting signatures for the 4 directors, who are the class of 2007.

Michael DeBell is certainly better than pot-luck. The four others are not.

Sahila said...

I heard on the grapevine that DeBell is not running again - wants/needs to spend more time with his family and his sick(?) wife...

Interestingly, a Sara DeBell signed the Community No Confidence Declaration and commented: "It's time to listen to the community."... post code was 98144....

Dan Dempsey said...

Following up on what none1111 said.

I just wrote to State Assistant Attorney General for education, Colleen G. Warren, to get the exact word on what happens if we were successful with various numbers of directors recalled.

I'll let you know what she has to say.

reader said...

So let's see, those who can't win by election now wish to win by recall and/or appointment. Nice.

Sahila said...

no reader.... those who had no real chance of having a voice in elections (cos big money backed the four) cant stand the crap that the four have been doing in our name... the auditor has called them to account repeatedly in very clear terms and now there is nothing left to do (other than to suck it up ad infinitum) except consider recall and maybe more lawsuits...

You want this for another 2/3 years?

Sahila said...

You use what you have when you need to... and since public engagement is such a total farce and the law is being broken consistently, then that leaves us with very view options....

dan dempsey said...

Blogger reader said...

So let's see, those who can't win by election now wish to win by recall and/or appointment. Nice.

Yup, for me you've got it almost exactly right. I am not attempting to win. I am choosing to work for a change of governance, hopefully governance by those capable of governing.

So really, would you rather leave a School Board intact that completely failed in their duty to enforce laws and policy and completely failed in their duty to oversee the superintendent?

Please clarify your stance.

Did you read the audit report?

WenD said...

@Anonymous:

Dude, nobody has an intern here.

Anonymous said...

Sahlia, Sara DeBell is not Michael DeBell's wife. His wife's name is Marie. She is a school nurse.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael DeBell just got reelected. His next election is a long way off.

"So let's see, those who can't win by election now wish to win by recall and/or appointment. Nice."

You can't win a seat by someone else being recalled. You could certainly apply for the seat if the recall when through and they had to appoint someone to finish the term(if you live in that district; Charlie doesn't live in any district that would be recalled).

You can see a recall as a bad thing but on the face of it, recall is a valid, democratic and legal option. We're discussing options.

Sahila said...

OK - thanks... I was just curious...

Patrick said...

That's a lot of signatures to gather if there's no budget for paid signature gatherers. Even if successful at gathering enough signatures there would still be the election to win, and the same problem that most voters in Seattle don't have school-age kids and don't follow School District affairs. Then, the regular elections for those board seats would follow about 4-5 months later. Assuming that there are some people with deep pockets who like what Dr. G-J has been doing, figure that they would nominate their own candidates and fund their campaigns.

So a recall campaign would be looking at three campaigns, each of which would be fought hard, within a year. If the other side can outspend us, maybe we should focus on a single, intense campaign at the regular election time. Begin raising money and finding a campaign staff now, and select candidates. As we saw with Charlie's campaign, the best candidate in the world won't get anywhere without a good campaign staff.

Some of the board members might not run for reelection. Then the people who like Supt. G-J would run others, possibly stealth candidates with no record to run on.

By the way, what's the Educational Service District board? Who is on it, who appoints them?

Michael said...

@Patrick: See http://www.psesd.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=171

There are nine board members, with one vacant position at this time. See http://www.psesd.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=288&Itemid=477

"Governance and Staff
Puget Sound ESD is governed by a nine-member educational service district board, elected by local school directors. Each board member represents several school districts within the ESD region."

none1111 said...

Patrick makes some good points. Among them: "Some of the board members might not run for reelection. Then the people who like Supt. G-J would run others, possibly stealth candidates with no record to run on."

This has long been a fear of mine as well. Many people seem to be under the impression that it will be obvious who the bad guys are when the next election comes, but there are no guarantees of that.

Yes, there are rules about public disclosure of campaign contributions, but what if a MGJ clan-backed candidate just happens to have a great team and $100k of their own to dedicate to their campaign? Or what if the funding relationships are close enough to "sidestep" the disclosure laws, maybe after the election is done? These are not presidential-class elections with massive scrutiny.

Paranoid? Maybe. But unless a candidate is at least somewhat well known prior to the election, like Charlie, it's anyone's guess as to how they will ultimately vote.

Think about this past election. How many of us actually knew in advance that Kay wasn't on board with all the crap coming out of MGJ's office? We got lucky.

none1111 said...

I'm also bothered by the fact that so few people are responding to this post.

Is everyone on vacation, or is there really not that much support for a recall effort? It will take a LOT of work, with no guarantee of success. I hate to say it, but if there isn't a great deal of support, it might be better to wait and concentrate on the coming election. I'm pretty confident people will be ready to mobilize by then.

?

dan dempsey said...

I received the following from a friend back east:

"I wrote that after reading Ravitch's book. A reporter was kind enough to give me an education blog in a local paper after I ran for BOE and lost. In retrospect I am glad I lost for so many reasons. It is amazing how similar our small town experience has been to the big cities such as NYC and San Diego. Our superintendent "resigned" in December and a new super just started. Our BOE is unified and unites against parents. I am hoping there can be change on a local level. Only time will tell."

The recall effort is necessary to clearly demonstrate that we are finished with school boards that unite against parents.

This is our district if we choose to do something about it.

It is abundantly clear that the school board unites against parents because they can. If there is NO Recall effort, the unification against parents will continue.

With or without much support I and some others will be moving forward with the school board directors' recall effort. Also that insane one year contract extension will be appealed.

We are now one year away from the primary campaign for four directors seats. Do we have any viable candidates?

We have a maybe from Melissa. Anything else?

Sahila said...

I'm in with Dan... in my opinion, whether or not its successful, we have to do this...

MathTeacher42 said...

none1111

IF you aren't interested, THEN don't participate.

IF you aren't going to help, THEN don't.

IF you think it is a waste of time, THEN don't spend your time on it.

IF you're secretly James Carville or Karl Rove, THEN thanks for your brilliant insight!

I would suggest that "...government for the people, by the people, of the people..." is NOT as defined as a specific branch of Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism, ... but is a melting pot of many approaches, many faiths, many beliefs, many goals, many tactics and many strategies.

As a teacher in the district, I've thought about this issue quite a bit in the last 5 days. Given the demands of my life, given my experiences over the decades with community events, in particular experiences with the abundance of people who'll clap & cheer & not show up for much of anything ...

I'm proud of the people on this blog who aren't quitting, aren't backing down, and aren't part of the statewide LAC (Lethargic, Apathetic and Complacent) Caucus.

BM

Jan said...

None1111: I suspect that summer (with vacations, etc.) IS at least part of why there seem to be fewer posters than you would like (plus, this came at the end of a week, and many are not on over the weekend).
Here is where I am: I tend to want to put the majority of my eggs into the "reelection" basket -- because we desperately need good directors. I don't need someone who agrees with me all the time, but we are woefully underserved by 5 of the current directors (though I agree with those who would leave DeBell - in part because I think as long as we keep our heads (and curb our tongues a little) in a recall campaign, DeBell might be one who would "get it," whether he ever admits it publicly or not, and his work as a director might improve. I have NO qualms about voting to recall the other four.
That said -- I think Sahila has a good point about people who ask why we did nothing earlier - AND I agree that there is an "education opportunity" in a recall campaign that we won't have in an election campaign. I also think a concurrent recall might give us an opportunity to "flush out" the managerial styles, educational philosophies, etc. of potential candidates -- but not if it "costs" too much in draining time and energy from the next elections - and not if it means we come across as a bunch of naysaying,scornful hotheads - allowing them to portray themselves as the "hard headed committed folks who have to just make the tough decisions that will actually improve the district, despite a bunch of disaffected parents.
I think that we need to drill down on a "core" of indefensible actions (or inactions) and a pervasive pattern of failure to supervise, to implement and review policies, etc. And -- because reasonable minds can and do differ about policies like holding kids back (I am very against it), the alt policy (I am VERY for it), the value of venture philanthropy (I am way more skeptical than I used to be, but am not where Sahila and Gavroche seem to be), charter schools (I dislike for profit, or "national" ones, but would be willing to look at nonprofit, locally sponsored ones, if we had a law that allowed them), etc., we need to try to keep the "recall tent" large enough that people who might not all elect the same directors can still agree that we have 4 who legitimately should be gone BEFORE next November.
Here is my core:
1. The audit findings aimed at the Board - particulary failure to supervise the Superintendant -- that is what we have been saying all along.
2. The audit findings critical of the Superintendant and her staff for problems that have been raised before, and yet remain "unfixed," in some cases, for several years.
3. The math decision. (On this one, we have what I think is a well reasoned Superior court decision vacating a board decision on "arbitrary and capricious" grounds and asking to board to "redo" its decision process. We also have a specific Board response (they refused to comply with Judge Spector's order, and instead elected to appeal the decision). Legally, they have that "right" -- to appeal instead of complying, but again -- legally, we have the right to decide whether or not that appeal is justified and a reasonable use of District funds, and to ask them to step down.
4. I am not sure I would get heavily into failure to set, evaluate (for effectiveness) and enforce specific Board policies as much, because I think there would be a fair amount of disagreement on some of the policies (I love the alt policy, really do NOT like the social promotion policy, etc. etc.
Cont'd

Jan said...

And, unless we think the response of recalled members will be to just say, "Gee, I guess you are right. We're awful. We'll leave" we need to give some thought to what their responses will be (and how legitimate those responses are -- because face it, if they had good, legitimate "fixes" to these things, and were going to implement them, why recall at all? -- I don't think they do. I think glaring problems in their performance have been pointed out to them time and again, and they have persistently, knowingly, and deliberately declined to act -- but it is generally worth it to test the validity of the charges against the anticipated defense.

I anticipate they will try to make themselves look like needed reformers, being martyred to a mob of parents who don't want to see the "tough but necessary work of education reform" go forward. While nothing could be further from the truth, we need to anticipate the tactic and keep the campaign on message -- this is about repeated, pervasive, failure to supervise the Superintendent, to carry out the responsibilities of their office, and to be effective stewards of the public's trust.

none1111 said...

MathTeacher42:

Dude, whatever you're smoking this weekend, you need to flush it out of your system before posting here.

"IF you aren't interested, THEN don't participate.

IF you aren't going to help, THEN don't.

IF you think it is a waste of time, THEN don't spend your time on it.

IF you're secretly James Carville or Karl Rove, THEN thanks for your brilliant insight!"


I have very clearly stated I support the removal of 4 of our Board Directors, whether by recall or by working hard to defeat them in the next election. But I'm also thoughtful about the best ways to go about it. If you feel the need to hurl ridiculously inappropriate insults, try typing them in an email first, and send it to yourself for subsequent approval when you're more clear headed.

And where on earth did all the religious stuff come from? Never mind, I don't want to know!

none1111 said...

Jan, what a great post, from start to finish. And yes, that's exactly how the board (and staff, working to support their puppets) will respond. And if we're not very careful, it's easy to see things snapping back and hurting the efforts toward unseating these folks in the coming election.

If the recall effort is not successful, the jokers at the Seattle Times will have a field day talking about how it "proves" that the city loves the current Board and the direction MGJ is taking us. I don't want to give them free ammo to use in the next election.

I'm not suggesting to drop the notion of a recall, but I do think it's important to understand what the level of support is before pursuing it widely, since it could backfire. Dan could certainly start the paperwork process now, but there's no reason to be in a blazing rush to push this out to the public this week.

I disagree with Sahila's comment: "whether or not its successful, we have to do this…"

No, the only thing we must do is whatever provides the highest chance of removal of at least 4 current directors, whether by recall or in the next election. What's not likely to be successful is an attempt to rush down every possible path blindly.

Heres's a suggestion: can everyone here reading this thread ask a handful of semi-random (i.e. not just like-minded friends) for their opinion. Both parents and non-parents. Restrict yourself to 1-2 minutes to explain the situation and then see if they would be willing to sign a recall petition. Don't just ask your close friends and people who look to you as a super-knowledgeable person in this space, because they are likely to just listen and nod in agreement. Thoughts?

Chris said...

none1111, yes, people are on vacation and furthermore out enjoying the weather. Also, I know Dan doesn't seem like a circumspect kind of guy but he has been quietly testing the waters for a recall petition for some time now and a core of us has discussed it extensively off-line.

Your point that the Seattle Times will make an unsuccessful recall into proof of the super's incredible popularity is well taken. However, they are already doing that. They are also rapidly losing their credibility and relevance by doing so. They seem also to be behaving similarly on the viaduct issue (on the subject of which I was as ignorant as the average Seattle voter is about education) and I was so edified by seing the other side in The Stranger. The Seattle Times itself, being such an inadequate source of information, to me, is a big motivator to DO this.

MathTeacher42 said...

none1111

My name is Robert Murphy.

WHO are you?

You've all kinds of suggestions, and, WHAT are you going to do? WHEN? WHERE?

You're going to do your grand stratergery, so that we're all singing from the great songbook of none1111, which is going to recall but not recall but maybe we better worry about the Seattle Times and maybe we better worry about something else ...

I went out and got 63 signatures for Prop 1098 - are you going to do more than be the grand stratergerizer, and chastise people who don't want to follow YOUR great ideas?

WHO are you?

You've all kinds of suggestions, and, WHAT are you going to do? WHEN? WHERE?

Sahila said...

none111 and to a lesser extent Jan... surprise, surprise, I agree with Bob...

Where have you been the last few months? I put out calls on this blog for help on various activities - did you put your hand up and get involved?...

I put out notices on rallies and declaration signings - were you there on June 16th and July 7th?... Did you spread the word around your school communities, put it on your facebook, twitter, linkedin and other social netwrok pages? Did you respond to those stupid 'rah, rah, rah for MGJ' editiorial the Times put out? Maybe if we'd had your involvement then we would have had enough steam to at least force the board not to extend MGJ's contract... maybe they'd even have had the balls to say who they really work for... maybe they'd even have gone so far as to fire her...

Its a bit late to come and tell us loudmouths, hotheads, ranters, paranoids that we need to tone it down and play this cleverly... dont assume that we havent been strategising... where do you think all the outreach came from? Where do you think all the media attention came from? Who do you think did all the hours and hours of leg work to make that happen?

You think we dont know what's needed in a recall effort and an election campaign?????

You obviously think we rabblerousers are too immature to do this properly and will hurt the effort...

There's a place for everyone who wants to be involved in this - just let go of the need to control it.... let it evolve ....

Sahila said...

New moniker for the shenanigans within SPS... Seattlegate

dan dempsey said...

Reality check. 32,000 valid signatures so go for 50,000 in 100 days .... = 500 per day = 3500 per week.

none1111 said...

Chris said: "[Dan] has been quietly testing the waters for a recall petition for some time now and a core of us has discussed it extensively off-line."

That's good, or at least a bit more hopeful than I would have previously believed. But I would still be cautious to think that it applies beyond a very tiny subset of the general population without testing the waters with a bunch of "regular folk". I'll keep my fingers crossed though.

Yes, the Seattle Times may be losing relevance (I've stopped reading it as much as possible, and encouraged others to do the same), but it's still huge, and influences more people in this town than any other rag. But I think you already know that.

Sahila said: "You obviously think we rabblerousers are too immature to do this properly and will hurt the effort..."

Yes, I do worry about that. If you want to consider the things I've brought up here, great. If not, hey I'm not your mum, do what you want. But don't get all hot under the collar just because I'm not jumping all over your bandwagon like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It may or may not work. I'd be quite happy if it does, but does that matter to you? Are you only happy if people think like you and chant the same mantras that you do? Cause that sounds a lot like our not-so-illustrious superintendent. Think about that for a minute before responding. We're here trying to converse with each other and help each other out, and you're getting bent out of shape because of some friendly, thoughtful advice. You may be proud of your uncompromising attitude, but it's a very easy way to lose your allies. Unnecessarily.

Are you going to jump all over Melissa as well? she said: "I'm certainly willing to talk about it but frankly, I'd rather put the energy towards getting them all out next fall (2011)", which in the absence of strong reason to believe a recall will work, is a perfectly reasonable strategy.

Dan, if you guys do follow through with this, consider getting paid signature gatherers. It sucks, but it would suck worse to attempt this and lose.

As for Mr. Robert Murphy, you've shown yourself to be a complete ass again. I'm not going to even bother conversing with you.

gavroche said...

Folks, let's not snipe at each other. What does it matter in the long-run when people join an effort, so long as they do join and work together.

There are a lot of good, thoughtful points being presented in this thread. They deserve consideration. If you can't respectfully interact with those who are already engaged enough to read and comment on this blog, how can you expect to successfully interact with and persuade 32,000 others whose signatures are needed?

So I urge everyone to please chill.

As for DeBell, he's been inconsistent and contradictory. He has expressed serious concerns about the Superintendent to parents and others this year, and yet he voted for yet another year of her questionable leadership.

I believe he also voted for her "merit pay" bonus last year for meeting a paltry 4 out of 20 goals.

He ignored parents and voted for the "Capacity Management Plan" that destructively and expensively closed and split schools at a time when enrollment was increasing.

He also voted to give the Supt a 10% pay raise and extension in 2008 when she had been in the District only one year and hadn't really accomplished anything yet.

I think DeBell has impressed some as being thoughtful and rightfully concerned about various issues, but then he goes and casts some inexcusable votes, so what gives? Seems he for one should know better. So that makes his destructive votes all the more damning in my book.

Maier, Sundquist, Carr and Martin-Morris are beyond hope and I've come to expect nothing from them.

Harium's the biggest disappointment of that lot because he initially seemed a thoughtful guy who listened to his constituents (he and Mary Bass were the only two to vote against school closures & splits and against the unsound "Discovering" math). Something has changed with him and for the past year he has been voting in lockstep with the other Board sock puppets. (Didn't he even support the Superintendent's appeal of the Spector decision about the math texts -- even though he himself voted against the math texts?! Nutty.)

Apparently, Harium went to D.C. this year and met Arne Duncan, so maybe he's now starstruck with the federal reform agenda.

At any rate, all five are basically fingered in the State Audit, so that could be reason enough to recall the sorry 5 of them.

Charlie Mas said...

I like Stu's idea. Go after just two. "Kill one to terrorize a thousand". If we go after just the two most egregious cases, Maier and Sundquist, we stand a better chance of getting them with less argument. Then the remaining five will have a DeBell-Smith-Blum-Patu majority with two seriously warned majority followers in Carr and Martin-Morris to appoint replacements.

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...
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Charlie Mas said...

If a recall of Maier or Sundquist were successful, then Carr and Martin-Morris might feel chastised and begin to fulfill their promise.

Going after four or five makes the effort appear indiscriminate. Going after two highlights the problem with those two.

While a fair defense might be offerred for Carr or Martin-Morris, Maier and Sundquist are indefensible. Maier certainly.

Director Maier has yet to vote against a single staff recommendation and has yet to offer any valid rationale for any vote he has ever cast. He provides absolutely no oversight whatsoever and no policy enforcement whatsoever, and no community engagement whatsoever. He's a total zero as a Board Director and no one can make a case in his defense.

There's a lot of dissatisfaction with Sundquist in his district, West Seattle, from the Cooper closure (and the resulting overcrowding at Alki, Schmitz Park, Gatewood, and Lafayette), the division between Madison/
West Seattle High and Denny/Sealth in the new student assignment plan, and the co-location of Denny and Sealth. In every case he paid more heed to the district staff than the community. He acts like he considers things, but in the end he is guided by the staff exclusively and unquestioningly.

These two are the worst. Let's go after them, make our strongest case, and rely on the action to warn the others into better behavior.

none1111 said...

gavroche said: "Harium's the biggest disappointment of that lot because he initially seemed a thoughtful guy who listened to his constituents (he and Mary Bass were the only two to vote against school closures & splits and against the unsound "Discovering" math). Something has changed with him and for the past year he has been voting in lockstep with the other Board sock puppets. (Didn't he even support the Superintendent's appeal of the Spector decision about the math texts -- even though he himself voted against the math texts?! Nutty.)"

I totally agree about Harium. He showed such promise, but that's what I was talking earlier when I said he's going in the wrong direction.

However, I need to correct you on the Discovering vote. It was Mary, Harium and Michael DeBell who voted against the adoption of the Discovering series. And he also voted against the appeal. A quote from him on that matter:

"DeBell: "We need our judicial system to balance out the actions of elected leaders. It is part and parcel of our state system, and of our national system of government. So I don't feel that the judicial branch is necessarily overstepping or intruding or threatening local control.""

Yes, he's made some other less-than-desirable votes, including the most recent one, but this shows me that he at least has the guts to stand up to the superintendent once in a while, which is way, way better than the other 4 rear end kissers.

none1111 said...

Charlie said: "Going after four or five makes the effort appear indiscriminate. Going after two highlights the problem with those two."

I wholeheartedly agree with the overall notion, which is to keep this from appearing indiscriminate. That's part of why I'd rather not see 5 seats out of 7 attacked. 4 is only a small step down, but it feels much less indiscriminate to me. But after reading the process by which these seats would be refilled, I'm not sure only going after 2 seats would be a great idea.

Do you fully trust that a Board consisting of:
DeBell
Smith-Blum
Patu
Carr
Martin-Morris

will have the will do "the right thing" when filling the vacated seats? And/or will they have the diligence? The balance hangs on DeBell. Or the small possibly a Carr or Martin-Moriss that understand they have been put on notice. But those 2 could also dig in harder, feeling like they're on the way out the door anyway.

By taking away 4 seats you'd be left with
DeBell
Smith-Blum
Patu
and 1 state appointee (potluck, in Dan's words)

It seems like this mix is far less likely to fill the 3 remaining empty seats with more vacuous head-nodders.

Haven't had any coffee yet, does this logic make sense to you?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have been reading and thinking about what to do. I will offer these thoughts:

- I don't think it worth the effort to recall even two. Even with the evidence, I'm not sure there is the widespread will to do it. I think it will be a lot of effort by a relatively few number of people (and, given that school is out, it is far harder to organize).
-again, I think it better to work on finding, organizing and supporting candidates for fall 2011.
-Here's another place I think the effort should go to - keeping the drumbeat up of the evidence against the Superintendent and the Board. I have, thanks to the State Auditor, some rather interesting information about the Superintendent. I need to try to flesh it out but it's the kind of thing the general public doesn't like (and we're building a case here). I've talked with a couple of tv reporters and their bosses basically just throw anyone out there to cover education. They are dying for stories. We need to help the media see the story.

That Nina Shapiro wrote a story about the parent surveys and petitions and the school votes of no confidence and then basically asked, "But what's the problem with the Superintendent?" means that the media aren't getting it. Now that the audit has come out, well, that's put a different spin.

I would like to take the audit, section by section, and explain why each thing is so serious. For example, that 3 or 4 personal service contracts started BEFORE staff/Board approved it is VERY troubling. I went to the BEX Oversight Committee meeting and heard some troubling information about the section of the audit about the capital program (and they only discussed it because I sent some committee members an e-mail - I don't think staff had any intention of letting the committee know about this).

If we keep up the drumbeat, based on real and concrete evidence, I think it will make more of a difference than trying to back Board members into a corner. It will keep them on the defensive trying to explain all these issues.

That's just me and I'll probably do this on my own anyway. I just can't support a recall just because I don't think people will listen and it would take a lot more people to organize.

gavroche said...

@none111--Yes you're right, DeBell was the third vote against the Discovering math. That's one area where he does appear to 'get it' and genuinely care about -- the weak math this District is forcing upon SPS kids.

What I meant to say was:
(Harium and Mary Bass were the only two to vote against school closures & splits, and Harium also voted against the unsound "Discovering" math).

As for recalling only 2 Directors when 1-3 others are equal offenders (why do you all let Sherry Carr off the hook, btw? How are her votes any different from Sundquist's or Maier's?), mightn't that seem somewhat "arbitrary and capricious" to the general public? (!)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, I probably will change my stance on writing to the Board members. I still think it will make no difference to them but I want them to know that I know what an ineffective job Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is doing and how their lack of oversight effort is hurting this district.

In short, I'm going to get a lot more aggressive with them.

Sahila said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Disobedience_%28Thoreau%29

Melissa Westbrook said...

Forgot another thing for us to keep in mind. We should find out how they fill the position if someone is recalled. I know if someone steps down mid-term, the Board interviews applicants and votes someone in. I don't know if that is the case for a recall.

gavroche said...

I think Melissa makes some very good points. And if there is a significant amount of damning evidence about the Superintendent's ways and means of doing business that comes to light as a result of the Audit and other things, then the Board Members who have been blindly supporting her, may get tossed out by disgusted Seattle voters next year anyway.

Sahila said...

Dan Dempsey posted her on Saturday that he's sent a letter to the State A-G for Education asking how Board vacancies are filled in a non-election period and he'll let us know what he learns...

Chris said...

Thanks none111, you did the post I was going to do about remaining-director-math. (conclusion: we depend on DeBell to keep the "gang-of-formerly-four" in the minority.)

That, with the difficulty in distinguishing Sherry Carr from Sundquist and Maier, make me think we should go after three. Although the super casts the deciding vote in a tie, doesn't she? Ugh.

Melissa, if you could give me some concrete things us political naives could do in terms of "organizing and supporting candidates" that would be helpful. Especially for those of us who have more time than money.

SC Parent said...

I feel that recalling 5 directors (while perhaps justified) could be made to appear indiscriminate or, worse, that some crazy activists are trying to impose THEIR agenda on the board/district and consequently turn people off or bias the media reporting. The thought of a board with just 2 members might be enough to keep some people from signing the petition.
On the other hand, recalling less than 4 leaves us with a 2-2 board or a status-quo board. How about trying to collect signatures on 5, but only submitting the top 4 signature-getters?
I think the best justifications are the audit and votes/appeal of Math curriculum decision.
Do recall signatures have to come from the board member's individual district?

SC Parent said...

Not to mention that a 2-person board would leave KSB and Patu in a very vulnerable position and with a tremendous amount of responsibility. How many people would they want to remain on the board?

Would the districts whose directors got recalled feel like someone took away their representation (or is that how the Times would report it)?

none1111 said...

gavroche: "What I meant to say was:
(Harium and Mary Bass were the only two to vote against school closures & splits, and Harium also voted against the unsound "Discovering" math)."


True. But Harium appears to have changed his mind (or been coerced?) and supported the district's appeal of Spector. DeBell stuck to his guns on both counts. And you should know that while Harium was against some of the closures, he was fully in favor of the splits.

"As for recalling only 2 Directors when 1-3 others are equal offenders (why do you all let Sherry Carr off the hook, btw? How are her votes any different from Sundquist's or Maier's?), mightn't that seem somewhat "arbitrary and capricious" to the general public? (!)"

No no, I don't want to let Sherry off the hook! I was arguing that she and Harium should be included. Her attitude and engagement are somewhat better than Maier and Sundquist, but at the the end of the day her votes are her votes. She has made it clear that she works for the superintendent, not the other way around.

dan dempsey said...

Well THE AUDIT REPORT IS IN for evidence in court.


We have a state law RCW 43.09.180 that states: "The state auditor shall keep a seal of office for the identification of all papers, writings, and documents required by law to be certified by him or her, and copies authenticated and certified of all papers and documents lawfully deposited in his or her office shall be received in evidence with the same effect as the originals."

I went to the Auditor's Office and got this document signed by the Director of Legal Affairs in the State Auditor's office.

Note: the spiffy line
"The Auditor's Office certifies the information contained in this report is correct."

Sahila said...

and aspects of the Auditor's findings have now been submitted as part of the appellants' evidence in the various ongoing lawsuits....

if the district and the courts wont uphold the law just because we parents ask them to, maybe they'll respond in the affirmative when they've got the auditor's report highlighting all the illegalities and irregularities...

And thanks to Dan and Scott Stafne, for seeing this to the nitty gritty end with hardly a dime back in his pockets to show for it.... he's so disgusted with the district/court he's pursuing it as a matter of principle...

and the point at issue? without records that are certified as correct, we (anyone) as plaintiffs cant argue any case we might think we have in law suits we file against the district, and judges cant carry out a valid judicial review... so we have no redress against the district, which is a constitutional violation....

dan dempsey said...

I am mystified how seeking the recall of 5 directors is indiscriminate. The 5 directors are named on page 4 of the audit. Indiscriminate would likely be seeking less than the recall of all 5. "The Four" absolutely must go. Remember that Accountability word as you read through the audit.

Next item.
I have great difficulty in folks who do not grasp separation of powers. Certain branches of government have particular responsibilities. When one has an office whether elected or appointed certain duties go with it.

The district has policies. The jobs of superintendent and school directors involve following policies. If one does not like a policy then legally change it. The board can not legally be ignoring policies but as Charlie has pointed out they have been doing so for years. To hold directors responsible to the requirement to follow policy there is only:
(1) lawsuit or
(2) removal.

Given the auditor's report removal by recall seems in order for all 5.
The 2008-2009 board members described in the audit were terrible.

This is a great time to begin recall proceedings.

Signature gathering:
August 1 + 120 days = around Dec 1

Turn signatures in Dec 15 and then recall election will likely be in late February. The replacements for the "Four" get appointed and then we have primary races with voting third week in August and then the general election in November 2011.

Sahila said...

I am in favour of recall of all 5...

My biggest worry though is that the Broad's favourite MO will be completed, with us giving the mayor an excuse to step in, take control of the schools and then appoint a board/super....

http://www.aei.org/outlook/28511

The it would be even harder to stop this reform train...

This is what happened in other cities - there is plenty of precedent...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123682041297603203.html

I'm not saying no recall... I'm saying we have to be careful how its done....

Jan said...

Sahila: my understanding (from posts above) is that if we leave 4, we don't have to worry about losing a majority/getting one appointed by state commission. That would allow us to file recall petitions on three (Maier, Sundquist, and Carr -- all of whom voted for discovery math and for the appeal of Spector's decision -- and none of whom have taken any votes (that I can think of) that demonstrate any willingness to either supervise MGJ or to set, defend and require compliance with Board policy). If it is true that 4 can act without outside appointment (and assuming that Harium, on some board excursion, took an unannounced detour through Stepford and can be counted on now to quietly and obediently vote for MGJ's agenda regardless), it seems plausible that DeBell would have some qualms about voting with Harium -- only to create a tie that MGJ would then break in her own favor. Do you think this would decrease the likelihood of mayoral takeover -- and the total loss of citizen/parent input into the board (except through election of the mayor -- which involves a lot of issues other than education)?

Here is another idea: what if 2 (or 3) recall petitions were filed, on Maier/Sundquist, or those two plus Carr, and then people waited to see how the signature gathering goes. If it looks like enough signatures can be gathered to actually have the recall election, the recall effort stops there, and we hope that the remaining two implciated directors (Martin-Morris and DeBell (or at least DeBell) are sufficiently galvanized to begin to exercise their authority more independently and appropriately. If it appears that signature gathering is sufficiently slow that a recall election may not be possible, THEN you file at least the one other petition against Martin-Morris. Incumbents usually try to run on a combination of their "record" and their "experience." It will make it very difficult for any of the incumbents up for election to tout their experience, and the great job they have done for the last 4 years, with a recall petition circulating, and people discussing the factual bases for it.
And, at that time -- if DeBell hasn't done more to actually VOTE to get control over MGJ and her staff, and to prove that he knows the difference between unsubstantiated promises to act and real action, then -- add him as well. At that point, "governance" (and therefore mayoral takeover, hopefully) is not at issue -- re-electability is.

Sahila said...

I love the reference to Stepford, Jan.... WV says "crike"y! One of the most unsettling films I saw in my early feminist days, which was probably exactly the point!!!!

I havent absorbed enough information about the recall details vis a vis appointed replacements to get a feel for what's best right now....

I worry that keeping 4 means that DeBell and Harium will stay with their historical pattern, they'll vote for Staff/Super initiatives whereas Smith Blum and Patu(?) might/will vote against, with MGJ always casting the tie-breaker in her own favour...

On the other hand, if Harium hasnt been completely brainwashed and he has further political ambitions(???), he might indeed be scared enough by the recall of the other three that he begins to vote more in line with his constituents' desires...

DeBell (who wont be concerned about re-election if the grapevine is right) might grow a spine if he also sees the wind changing - might feel 'safer' in cutting the apron strings keeping him tied to MGJ...


But we also need to think about the fact that maybe the four dont care about recall/re-election - maybe they're stalling for time to get as much 'reform' into place as possible - hence (the only logical explanation for) their 'arbitrary and capricious' votes on everything during the past three years and MGJ's extension last week.... and once those reforms are cemented in place, it will be hard work to backtrack on them... they are rewriting policy right now, according to Harium on his blog....

It will be good to see what the A-G (Education) says in reply to Dan's question...

Chris said...

Dan said "I am mystified how seeking the recall of 5 directors is indiscriminate. The 5 directors are named on page 4 of the audit."

Very good point. What is it to file the petitions? $250? We could file for all 5 and really see what kind of bad vibes have gotten thru to the populace when we talk to people about signing. We can make clear in our talking points that some are guiltier than others by virtue of their voting records. That makes us look reasonable. then, at some point we can decide who has a chance to get to 32K and focus on those. I don't really want to recall all 5; as Sahila points out that might trigger the mayor's involvement - not that it would be legally or morally warrented, after all, a recall is a sign of healthy democracy.

dan dempsey said...

There is very little cost involved in a recall. As to gathering signatures most folks are unacquainted with the intricacies of school board decision making outside of us "junkies".

The effort to recall one is not that much less than recall 5.

Keep it simple .....

"They completely failed in their duty to enforce laws and policy and completely failed in their duty to oversee the superintendent."

sign here ______________

and have all five petitions easily available for signatures.

Michael said...

Regardless of what happened in other cities in other states, what would be the legal basis (RCW or WAC) for the mayor to "take over" the school district? Is there such a legal basiss in this state?

Charlie Mas said...

Hey! The League of Education Voters wants to support an Education Revolution. Supporting the recall could be their first revolutionary act.

Chris said...

Michael, once again I'm passing on what I've heard others say, but I have heard that mayoral control would face some state-law or state-constitutional hurdles.

I don't know how it has happened in other states, or if the laws are different. I also don't know how far McGinn has thought it through.

If anyone can be more specific, that would be great.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, the Legislature would have to pass a law for the Mayor to take over SPS. The law does not have to include all Washington districts and can be specific to one district. Given that some legislators have mentioned this in the past, it probably wouldn't be that difficult to find a sponsor.

I think it a very bad idea to just file for a recall without a dedicated campaign. I don't believe it's a good way to test the waters and will look weak and would likely be easily dismissed.

Sahila said...

I'm still favouring recalling the 5... they were all responsible...

I am concerned by all the other factors (including that this might not be successful or well run/executed and then we look stupid), but there's no way to control for any of that so I'm back to the base line ... the five were on board (pardon the pun) during the period the Auditor has looked at (all three reports), they did nothing to force the District/Super into a state of compliance so they are all due for some consequences... and the work/cost for recalling five is hardly more than for 1, 2, 3 or 4...

I am also concerned about timing - too much time dithering here will result in a loss of steam/momentum, and delay/passage of time will make it harder to remind people why we are doing this as they focus on other aspects of life/education...

And its summer anyway, which has its own slowing down effect - I dont think we can afford to wait until the fall to get started......

Sahila said...

Oh - and I didnt watch the media coverage of July 7th so I dont know if this point made it into the public arena... but two TV reporters and the KUOW guy all asked me what we would do if the Board did extend MGJ's contract.

One of them asked me what difference the Audit result made...did it strengthen our case for firing MGJ/not renewing her contract...

One of them specifically pointed out that the Board is responsible for managing the super, so where do we stand with the Board, and I said we recognised that and some of us were talking about recall, and that the audit report was a further reason to fire MGJ... she didnt just come here to 'reform' the District - one of her main, everyday duties is to manage the district properly and efficiently, according to rules and regulations and she's failed at that ...

So, if we are going to do it, the landscape has already been cultivated for this next move...

Sahila said...

From Dan Dempsey:

"There is no cost to recall. I called the elections office. Not even a filing charge."

Sahila said...

so, we're up for 'out of pocket' expenses... photocopying, maybe a website with an ability to sign electronically, maybe some small advertising/events notices type of promotion (if that's allowed), maybe we could get contributions to pay people to gather signatures for a couple of days/weeks...

Jan said...

Well, as Sahila and Dan can tell, I am not very good as an activist -- but I do a bang up job of wringing my hands and worrying about the implications of things while Dan (and others) are busy getting Judge Spector to 'splain to the Board the difference between reasoned decision-making and . . . whatever they were doing on the Discovery Math decision.

That said, if a recall is going forward, it seems to me that the people who have, to date, lost the most should be approached. (Frankly, we are all losing tons -- but much of it is silent loss, like osteoporosis, and won't be noticed for years after the damage is done). Parents who haven't traditionally been involved in board oversight, and whose kids are in schools they like, and are doing well, may legitimately not know, and may be hard to convince, that board members need to be recalled. Those who have been most directly affected in the past 3 or 4 years by Maier's and Sundquist's (using them as examples) failures to properly defend board policies and supervise MGJ would seem to include:
the Native Americans whose program has been harmed;

the old Cooper school population,
parents of Spectrum kids whose children qualify but can't attend the program because of capacity mismanagement;

parents of Special Ed kids whose kids are being tossed into regular classrooms for "inclusion" with woefully inadequate support and resources;

parents of Alt school kids whose schools have been closed (or moved to inferior sites), are being "micromanaged" in ways that are antithetical to their alt purposes and goals

Parents at schools that should, by virtue of successful programs, have "earned autonomy" to control their own selection of books, courses, and teaching style -- but don't because that promise was or is being broken;
parents at any schools that have requested curriculum waivers, but been denied;

Parents of kids who have been failed by the "Southeast Initiative"

APP parents whose children are going to TM, which is NOT the same size as the Lowell program, and did not (as far as I know) get the written and tested common curriculum that was promised;

parents of the OTHER TM kids who lost Title I funding when half the APP program was moved there;

parents who live in the districts represented by Maier and Sundquist, who could have elected life-size blow up dolls with one hand perpetually raised in the air, for all of the reasoned decisionmaking they have gotten from the directors whose job it was to advocate for their districts;

There must be more -- and there are surely many other parents who care deeply about good district governance regardless of whether they have been personally impacted (yet) by BAD governance. But if you want to find the populations who already know that Maier and Sundquist routinely rubber stamp the decisions of a Superindentent who (evidently with the Board's approval) has failed to address most of the problems that existed when she came, and yet finds the time and resources to repeatedly implement policies that are detrimental to their children's educations -- there is a start. Charlie, who keeps the best list of broken promises, could probably think of many more.

dan dempsey said...

In 2007 which was not a big turn out year as it is not an even year, there were less than 130,000 votes cast in the elections for any school director position.

The requirement for 32,000 valid signatures on a recall petition is not overwhelming.

A planned approach to gathering signatures at festivals, football games, and supermarkets could do it.

With help from all those that Jan mentioned, coordination of efforts will be essential.

Sahila said...

SPS Community Meeting,
1pm, Sunday 18 July,
my house north Greenwood, Seattle

Purpose: discussion/decision to begin recall/election planning/action...


Several of us are committed to this path already.

All who are interested in participating in this effort are welcome...

email me at metamind_universal@yahoo.com or call 206 679 1738, for the address.

Please spread the word amongst your various interest groups, as per Jan's listing above...

Namaste

Sahila ChangeBringer

Sahila said...

I have been thinking for a long time what real 'education reform' would look like...

And it seems to me that if we are going to the trouble of recalling, electing and maybe filing more lawsuits to undo the damage that's been done in the District, then assuming the best of all possible outcomes, we have an amazing opportunity as a community to create a school 'system' that works for all our children and accommodates/enables all our preferences...

We've been lead to believe that life (and education) is an 'either/or' proposition. Its not necessarily so. It can be a very successful case of "and/also".

So what I am proposing is that we use this opportunity not just to 'tweak' our SPS education system, but to change it so that it does become truly the beginning of a vibrant, human-centered life journey.

And I suggest we start the dialogue, research, planning for that at this meeting on 18th July at my house...

There is plenty of research on what works - research and models from here and overseas... it doesnt have to cost more money...

All we need is the imagination and will to make it happen...

Who's in?

none1111 said...

Sahila said (regarding a discussion of real 'education reform'): "And I suggest we start the dialogue, research, planning for that at this meeting on 18th July at my house..."

Focus, focus, focus!!

If you're going to have a meeting to discuss a potential recall effort, then don't dilute it with other topics, no matter how worthwhile they might be!

If a signature-gathering effort does actually begin, I want to be damn sure it has the highest possible chance of success. I don't feel super-confident about such success, and I also share Melissa's worries (her quote: "I think it a very bad idea to just file for a recall without a dedicated campaign. I don't believe it's a good way to test the waters and will look weak and would likely be easily dismissed.")

If you guys really decide to pull the trigger on this, there needs to be a total focus on making it successful. Otherwise it could just as easily have a negative effect in the upcoming elections as a positive effect.

Your earlier comment was refreshing: "I'm not saying no recall... I'm saying we have to be careful how its done...."

Absolutely. And the parent community must be very strategic in our efforts. This is politics, a lot like poker. We're the player with a small stack of chips, and the district, along with some very wealthy backers, has a very very large stack of chips. They can outspend and outlast us at every turn. It's dangerous to bet on a mediocre hand when the player across from you has 50x your resources. Because if you're in a position of power, as they are, you can afford to call a few bluffs and weather some losses. If you're in the weak seat and you lose one big hand, you're out of the game.

How does that fit in here? By losing credibility, which is one of the biggest assets we have right now. And by potentially burning up the (limited) efforts of the community to spend their time working on a collective cause. Those are both limited resources. If you're going to make a significant bet, make sure it's on the right hand (serious due diligence with regular voters. We who read this blog are EXTREMELY atypical!), and make sure you're willing to go all-in on that hand, i.e. focus, focus, focus. Don't let other things distract from the task at hand!

Sahila said...

My point in running a concurrent discussion about what we want education to look like in Seattle is that people are going to ask us...

Well, how is it going to be different?

What do you have to offer?

Why should we take this risk if you dont have a real alternative on the table?

And I sure dont want more of the same dressed in a different suit of clothes...

If that's what we are going to end up with, what is the point in spending all this time, focus and energy?

So, if we're going to recall, and have an election and maybe support or put forward candidates we think better represent our community desires, what is it that we desire?

none1111 said...

Okay, I see where you're coming from, thanks for the reply.

I agree that is another worthwhile subject to deal with, but while most businesses need to deal with several issues on different fronts as well, when they start to mix things together (especially at the same meetings!) you know there's a functional problem. None of the topics gets anyone's full attention.

The ability to understand, organize and successfully pull off a recall effort requires a substantially different skill set than creating an educational vision for a large urban city. A recall effort needs to be very focused on the 'marketing message', legal compliance, organization of supporters, coordination of paid signature gatherers (if any), etc. It's a specific nuts and bolts effort.

But to create an educational vision is an entirely different beast. And because it's so big and wide and diverse, and because the conceptual entry level is so low (everyone thinks they know how to 'fix' the problems, but even the best and brightest only understand a fraction of the entire picture, myself included, uh, not saying the 'best and brightest' part, but the fraction of the entire picture!), the dynamics are totally different. Few people would think they can step in and design a rocket engine, but everyone and their cousin thinks they can fix the school system. Truth is, the former is a lot easier. It's a well-understood problem, with (for the most part) correct solutions for given trade offs, like weight, thrust and cost. Education in a diverse urban environment is vastly more complex, with competing needs that change over time and aren't necessarily even what people want and ask for. Unlike a recall strategizing meeting, the education discussion is long-term, and in fact should be a constant, ongoing discussion, and needs to include people that are unlikely to be your allies, and are unlikely to read an education blog or even anything related to education. To spearhead a recall, you need a closely-allied group.

Sorry, got long-winded. The point is that focus is important and the type of meeting and the type of people you need at the table for these very different topics are not the same.

none1111 said...

After writing the previous post, an obvious question occurred to me.

As far as the education vision goes, are you proposing a new group to advocate for this vision? Or are you thinking of this as a one-off brainstorming session, where you bring the ideas to another group?There are several groups around the city that are in theory doing similar things, like CPPS, etc. You might not agree with all (or any!) of the philosophies of any particular group, and vice-versa, but that kind of reinforces some of what I wrote above.

Or are you thinking something completely different?

none1111 said...

Speaking of the other groups in the city, one more thought to tag onto this last post.

Has anyone done outreach to any of the other existing education-focused organizations in the city regarding the recall? That could even include SCPTSA (although they would unlikely be a public supporter), CPPS and that ilk, maybe Where'sTheMath or some way to hit the thousands of families pissed off about reform math, etc.

There's your litmus test! If you can get strong support from groups that already have a formal organizational structure, then it's a different ball game. Formal structure (as opposed to a blog or similar) is important because it has membership that can be leveraged. Get this figured out before actually launching any recall campaign that can be used against us if it fails. If the support isn't there, then the effort will be much better spent working toward the next election (as others, including Melissa, have suggested).

Sahila said...

none111...

thanks for your postings - the issues you're raising have been the subject of dialogue amongst many of us...

I accept your point about the recall action...

And we have been in dialogue with some of the other groups in the city and not with others...

we are connected with people in Where's the Math...

we've talked about connecting with CPPS and have begun to make overtures for discussion, I think (not sure where that's at),

we've connected with some teachers within SEA (they have their own stuff going in within the union and many of their concerns/goals are similar to ours),

we've thought about the PTSA, some of us are PTSA members and we've connected via email with some individual PTSA members (not sure where that will go),

we've begun outreach to the Latino community through El Centro Del Raza (though its tight with A4E/OSC), and to the African American, Native American and ESL communities

We're steering clear of A4E/OSC and S4C ... personally, I cant think how we would work with them at all, really given who their funders are and what is their agenda...

Some of the ideas we are thinking about is forming a Network of Activist groups under one umbrella... like the Compassionate Action Network.... see here for info:

http://my.compassionateactionnetwork.com/page/about-the-compassionate-action

My preference would be to work on education change on this model, using these (or a variation of) principles:

http://www.fwii.net/forum/topics/the-fourth-way-guiding

Some of us are working on hosting a public forum on education change with some well known national speakers (in August or September), and one of the ideas being put forward for that event is that we have a true community dialogue at that forum where we begin to nut out what people want for their kids from our education system - what does a good education look like for each of our children and how to go about making that happen...

I worked on an event in Australia in 1999 called the Great Australian Chin Wag) which was a community forum held to discuss a sustainable future... 250 people attended the Brisbane event, where futurist/social economist Robert Theobald was the guest speaker. Others attended regional versions in their own towns/cities/neighbourhoods and most people went on work in smaller groups...

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/austback/stories/s57238.htm (under my old name)

dan dempsey said...

none1111 said: "The ability to understand, organize and successfully pull off a recall effort requires a substantially different skill set than creating an educational vision for a large urban city. A recall effort needs to be very focused on the 'marketing message', legal compliance, organization of supporters, coordination of paid signature gatherers (if any), etc. It's a specific nuts and bolts effort."

AMEN

So the question is can this type of effort be made to happen in Seattle?

If you or anyone is interested please contact me.

dempsey_dan@yahoo.com