Not a complete bust but not a great interview with these candidates on The Conversation this afternoon.
First, KUOW should make up its mind on the format. For District 2, the candidates were interviewed individually and for a longer period of time. (There were three of them.) For District 6, they had them all in the studio and interviewed each for a much shorter period of time but did allow them to interact. I think it would be better to have the interaction among candidates AFTER the primary and allow people more time to get to know these candidates now.
Steve was first. He was asked about Pottergate and the sale of the MLK,Jr. building. His answer will now set the tone for his campaign. He says they acted promptly when they had the State Auditor's investigation report. What!? If he is saying he had no idea anything was wrong until that point, he was simply not paying attention. He stated that the RSBP "was a small program and extraordinarily difficult to see." But Steve, Silas Potter came to the Board - twice - and gave a report in previous years and admitted he was lobbying without permission. You knew there were problems with a vendor in 2008. You could have read the Sutor Report and you could have seen the June 2010 Audit that called out this program. All these red flags and you waited for the State Auditor to tell you there's a problem?
But that's his story and he's sticking to it.
He also said the sale of the MLK, Jr. building was part of a state grant program for the public good. Again, the district could use that grant program to keep it in public use but were under no obligation to do so.
Nick Esparza came next. He seemed a bit nervous but got his footing. He said he had worked for SPS in Nutrition Services. He said he would listen to community and that Steve's responses were "a denial of what is happening" and that $1.8M is not a small amount of money. He said the headquarters can't be a "growth industry", mentioned the 25 non-promotion raises given out and said it seemed they were hiring more employees at higher salaries.
Joy Anderson came after Nick. She agreed with Nick about the denial of what the state of the district is. She was asked about her background and said she had worked in tv and radio. She was asked about her interest in public education and she explained how she had been a Cooper parent. The host asked her if she were a one-issue candidate and she said (and this was valid), "You asked me how I got started" and went on to say she had been concerned about the NSAP boundaries and that parents were not all happy with neighborhood schools. She was asked why she would be the better candidate but chose to talk about listening to community.
Marty McLaren was also asked about her background and she explained that she had come late to teaching and had been discouraged, despite the hard work she and her students put in, with their test results under EDM. The host asked her, as well, if she were a one-issue candidate and Marty also explained that the math issue was what got her started but there were other issues as well.
The host then asked Steve about some of the issues raised by the other candidates. Steve said they had not manufactured a reason to close Cooper but that Arbor Heights had turned out to be the wrong choice and Cooper was better for an option school (and also a fairly new building while Arbor Heights is another terrible building).
Steve also commented on Marty's concerns saying that "research supports balance." He said Marty had just one answer and they needed a broader strategy. I like that but why did you wait until election time, Steve, to say this outloud? Where is your advocacy for this hybrid approach for ALL schools?
They were all asked about teacher seniority and there were some interesting answers. Joy said she would ask parents and not use MAP testing. Steve said that the evaluations should be part of the picture and "so should seniority." Marty said the process pitted teachers against each other and Nick said he was not a fan of senority.
And that was it. It was a very short interview for four people and I was disappointed.