Frankly, all the incessant whining and bash-the-billionaires, knee jerk "advocacy", reform hand-wringing etc. really motivated me to vote for the levy. All the complaints about the "oh so horrid" audit which turned up a few thousand here and there. Why does everybody think they should get a say? I'll take MGJ and her levy over the commenters here any day. If you want to run for office, do so.There's a lot here to consider, and I think that we should consider it.
At the end of the day, no organization is perfect. They all have waste, and accountability issues. That doesn't mean you shouldn't fund them.
Let's start with whining. I can't stand whining. I think that if my generation had a motto it would be "No Whining". Whining is identifying a problem and expecting someone else to solve it. It simply isn't legitimate. A legitimate complaint, on the other hand, includes a proposed solution. If we are identifying problems and not offering solutions, then we are, indeed, whining. If we are proposing solutions, however, then we are not just whining. From my perspective, the discussions on this blog that point out problems generally also offer workable solutions.
As for "bash-the-billionaires" I can only speak for myself. I don't speak ill of folks who want to contribute to public education. I'm all for that. Moreover, I don't speak ill of those who try to influence education officials - heck, I do that myself. I am troubled when some folks have a whole different class of access to decision-makers because that's undemocratic. When I hear district officials complain that they keep hearing from the same voices in the community, they mean me, Mel, Chris Jackins, and a handful of other activists. They don't mean Broad and Gates and the Alliance - even though they hear from those folks more than anyone else. Again, there are "bash-the-billionaires" voices on this blog, but I don't think they speak for anyone but themselves.
I don't know what "knee jerk advocacy" means. Someone help me out with that. It could be a reference to a rush to judgement about every single issue, but there are a lot of issues I don't speak about and I don't think I rush to judgement on any of them. Of course, I can only speak for myself. This blog is an open discussion and there are sure to be those who do this sort of thing from time to time. I don't think it's a fair characterization of the blog as a whole. The blog is here for discussion and deliberation, so, if anything, it is an anti-knee-jerk tool.
I like the image of "reform hand-wringing". I see a lot of that, too. There is, however, a false dichotomy if the choice is presented as Education Reform (as envisioned by Gates and Broad and that ilk) and the status quo. I'm certainly not an advocate for the status quo, but that doesn't mean that I support the whole raft of Education Reform ideas. It would be no more reasonable to support all of the Education Reform stuff than it would be to oppose it all. Some of it is good and worthwhile, some is not. More than that, it completely misses the point when it comes to making the changes at the student level that are needed to help individual students.
Seattle Parent made reference to "All the complaints about the 'oh so horrid' audit which turned up a few thousand here and there." This troubles me. The bad stuff that was turned up in the audit wasn't the few thousand here and there (by the way, it was hundreds of thousands - don't forget the mistakenly overpaid salaries), it was the basically lawless culture of the District. It was the Board's total abdication of their responsibility to oversee. It was the superintendent's arrogant presumption that she was above the rules. It was the utter lack of concern about the law or policies or any regulatory limits on staff actions. Those things were deeply troubling and they were all turned up by this audit. The auditors were horrified - and so should be anyone who reads the audit with a discerning eye.
"Why does everybody think they should get a say?" asks Seattle Parent. I guess that's because the school district is a government entity in a democracy. Because the School Board Directors are elected. Because the district is supported by our tax dollars. All of the usual reasons. In addition, because these are our children. I would wonder even more strongly why Seattle Parent thinks people shouldn't get a say?
"If you want to run for office, do so." I hear this one a lot. Of course, I did run for office. If the standard for earning the right to complain about the government is that you have to run for office, then there are a lot of people who should shut up. That, however, is not the standard. I could say that if Seattle Parent doesn't like this blog then he or she is free to start his or her own or simply to not participate in this one. I wouldn't, however, suggest that Seattle Parent has to start a blog in order to earn the privilege to complain about this one. By the way, if the dialogue goes like this: "If you don't like it, then run for the Board." "I did." "Yes, and you lost so shut up." Then the only people who are allowed to speak would be the Board members.
"At the end of the day, no organization is perfect. They all have waste, and accountability issues. That doesn't mean you shouldn't fund them." This is true. Perfection is not a reasonable goal. And while the District can't be perfect, they can be a whole heck of a lot better than they are now. And I want the District to be better and I am working to make the District better. Recently, part of that work was to oppose the levy. Sometimes that work involves appealing a Board decision. Most of the time it just requires discussing the issues, writing and speaking to district officials, and spreading information.