District One Candidates were interviewed on KUOW yesterday on Weekday. They were interviewed separately and each had different questions. (I get this for incumbents versus challengers but overall, I'd like to see the answer from all to at least one question that is the same.)
Sharon Peaslee was first up. She came across to me as strong and confident with ready answers. She was asked about her assertion that there was too much "top-down" governance and what she would change. She said she would bring back site councils or strengthen BLTs, put the needs of students and schools first and allow math teachers to use whatever materials they needed to teach math. She also mentioned replacing MAP testing with another called ALEX(?) which I couldn't find info on so if someone has a link, please let us know.
Peter Maier was next and like all incumbents spoke well (although I felt he mumbled a bit and I was having a hard time understanding what he was saying).
He said that challengers' assertions over the current Board's lack of rigorous oversight was "inaccurate." He said voting off the Superintendent and COO was the "ultimate no vote." (Naturally, I still say and what choice did you really have? I'm not seeing this action as real political courage. If they had voted her out AND challenged her to try to get the rest of her contract salary, that would have been courageous.)
He made the argument that it wasn't that he totally supported the Superintendent with all his yes votes. Rather, he said he works behind the scenes to help craft a vote more to his liking before voting yes. His example was the early proposal to close Arbor Heights and Center School. (He also took a dig at Sally Soriano, the previous Board member in his position and said she was "ineffective." I didn't think this particularly appropriate.)
He also cited the absence policy that recently passed, saying he worked behind the scenes to give sufficient leeway on the issue. Frankly, all they did was punt it to the principals. You'll get your child's absence excused depending on what your principal decides. That's a fair and balanced approach to governance?
The host also asked him about knowing about Silas Potter issues two years before the scandal and didn't act. Peter said he was "off-handedly" given the report by Fred Stephens and that it was about the Small Business Works and not the Regional Small Business Development program. He said he read it and asked Fred about it and believed him. He said he didn't know it was expanded and he would have done more and been more vigilant if he had.
C'mon Peter, you read a pretty damning report and didn't look into any of it on your own OR alert other Board members?
He said there were controls to prevent this from happening again with the Internal Auditor and the ethics hotline. The host said well, where is this Auditor? Peter said "it will happen shortly and by the time school starts." He also said the Board is doing quarterly reviews of departments. (Well, only what the department tells you - I don't recall the Board asking a lot of questions of their own during these reviews.)
He also, like Sherry and Steve, continue to praise the cuts at Central Adm and even said, when asked about maybe there are still too many people there, said well, we could cut more maintenance and custodians but it could go too deep. Of all the people he could have thought, he pointed out people at the bottom and not at the top. Pretty telling.
The host also asked about the NSAP making it more difficult for parents to access alt schools. Peter said no and the alts are thriving. He was also asked about the NSAP "resegregrating" SPS. He said that may be happening and they will monitor it. (And do what? Bring back the racial tiebreaker?)
Last, was former teacher, John Cummings. He came off a bit scattered but very sincere and frank. He said he felt he was qualified because he has been in the classroom and knows how the district works. He said maybe trade-offs had to happen to keep staff in schools like postponing textbook buys and asking teachers to give up raises to keep fellow teachers.
He was asked about more cuts to Central Administration and he laughed and said, "Oh God, yeah." Pretty upfront on that viewpoint. He said a good example of the problems at central was the Martin Floe issue and how did the district not know how widely thought of Martin was before they attempted to fire him?
He said said that teaching gave him many skills that are applicable to Board work like listening to input from multiple sources, patience, and being adaptable.
You'll note how long Peter's interview was versus the challengers.