First up, a commentary from David Brewster over at Crosscut about the upcoming elections citywide. It gets so much wrong about the School Board that Charlie and I just couldn't stop ourselves. I'll just hit the highlights:
It was different with the Seattle School Board, where all four members of a particularly inept board were swept away (or declined to run) by an informal slate of business-backed, big-organization-experienced newcomers. The result was a transformed board. It changed overnight from a board dominated by petty bickering, meddling, superintendent-undermining, inexperienced bumblers. This time there is a swarm of challengers. I don't know much about them yet, but none seems to have much community stature.
I wouldn't call the previous majority on the Board inept at all but throwing that at all four of them seems wrong (especially if you know those women). I'm not sure what "big organizations" that Steve, Harium and Michael were part of (Sherry was the SCPTSA president and served on a major SPS community board). He calls the previous board "bumblers" but those "bumblers" swept out four "business" types who fails to oversee Joseph Olchefske as he led the district off a financial cliff.
He then claims that most of the problem in the district is the mismanagement by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Oh, I see, she's gone and now we blame her for everything and those incumbents were babes in the woods, hoodwinked, whatever. No, they were her BOSSES and did not oversee her work.
He also says that this Board closed schools. I had to gently remind him that no, it was the Board before this one who, for the first time in decades, had the courage to do the hard work of closing schools. This Board's school closures lasted a whole two years before we turned around and started reopening schools. Is Dr. Goodloe-Johnson entirely responsible for that one? No, she's not.
Then he gets to his main point:
You can see this in the way Democratic Party organizations in the legislative districts are making Teach for America into a litmus test for incumbents and candidates. (Hint: one word of support for the TFA idea and no endorsement for you!) And reform resisters have managed to reframe their issue from seeming to be foot-dragging teachers to stigmatizing the reform agenda as something perpetrated by corporate America and insensitive billionaires. Lots of fireworks, but I suspect the current board will survive, sustaining the momentum it has created.
You have to wonder about people who want to demonize teachers every step of the way and how this mania spread so quickly throughout the country. Just a craze, I guess. And that some people want to keep the public in public schools and want to be part of the public education conversation (along with our wealthier peers) seems fair unless there was something else at work.
Next - the headline in tomorrow's Times?
Seattle District to check up on groups that bought old schools.
Guess what? The district actually realized that they could/should enforce the contracts they signed with entities that bought school buildings.
Seattle Public Schools said it will begin checking on five organizations that have bought schools from the district to see if they're keeping promises to provide community benefits as part of the sales.
School Board member Michael DeBell said the church has until Dec. 31 to show that it can pull together a viable "community center" at the school.
"We did not expect an instant success there," DeBell said. "We knew it would take some time."
DeBell said last week that the board stood by its decision to award the 1.9-acre MLK property to First AME.
"There was no particular motivation to get (the property) to the church," DeBell said, adding that First AME had a "stronger track record" in providing youth and community services. He said the board trusted the district's analysis of the bids.
Nooo, Mr. Bill! When will this Board learn? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Because here's the thing - the State Auditor's office is investigating this sale. We all know they are pretty good at what they do and boy, has the district kept them in business. The Times' article reports the investigation report will be out in a couple of weeks.
We already know this:
Fred Stephens, then the district's facilities director and an influential First AME congregant, was determined as early as 2007 to help the church get the school, according to the district's community liaison at the time, Eleanor Trainor.
At about that time, Stephens was responsible for changing a policy governing the use of surplus schools.
Does anyone think it was just Stephens pushing this thing? Nah. We could take a poll at this point as to who we think will be in the report but better, let's just wait for it. And wait for the Board to put on their Anderson Cooper mask and looked concerned and disappointed that yet again, they got fooled.
Last story from the "is this a good idea ?" category - a husband and wife in Everett are both running for School Board for the same seat and running a joint campaign. Okay, then.