Tuesday, November 08, 2011

First Returns - Incumbents Winning Except for Marty McLaren Beating Steve Sundquist

It was a hard one to call and you could have placed bets on any and all of the incumbents or challengers and still not gotten it right.

It looks like incumbents Peter Maier (up 2,992 votes), Sherry Carr (up 6,910 votes) and Harium Martin-Morris (up15,158 votes) will be returned to office.  

Only challenger Marty McLaren appears to have won her race against Steve Sundquist (up by 1,831 votes).

To note:
  • I am amazed at the number of people who said they hadn't gotten their votes in until yesterday or today.  What it could mean for any candidate, I don't know.
  • If late ballots can still flip an election, would that mean Marty McLaren could still lose to Steve Sundquist BUT it flips Sharon Peaslee to beating Peter Maier?  That could be one outcome if there are still enough votes out there (although the McLaren/Sundquist race is much closer).  
  • I did have a feeling about the McLaren/Sundquist race only because that district seemed to have the most personal anger at the incumbent as compared to the other districts.  
  • The reporter from The Stranger took a look at the vote totals, noted the Buetow/Martin-Morris race and said, "It's our fault."  I don't know that it's anyone's "fault" but that skewed vote total, compared to the other races, was telling. 
  • The party at Rosita's was still fun and spirits were high and the challengers were all proud of their efforts and those of their supporters.
Forgot to say:  Hooray, the Families and Education Levy passed!  Thank you Seattle!

    61 comments:

    The Real Arnold said...

    I cannot believe that HMM, the moron almighty, is winning with such a large margin. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    Anonymous said...

    so disappointing so far!

    On the positive side, if any of them have got to go it's Steve Sundquist so there is still hope for that. Of all challengers I am most impressed by Marty McClaren. If that goes how it seems it will be a double celebration.

    sw

    Demo mom said...

    I hope we see some shift towards the challengers tomorrow. Our ballots went in the mail today (I know, I know) for all of them.

    Linh-Co said...

    It's definitely not over. The 2007 election had about 120,000 votes. So far only 70,000 votes have been counted.

    I know statistics don't change much with a large sampling, but you never know.

    Anonymous said...

    24% of registered voters tallied thus far in this election. In '07, 47.45% of registered voters ultimately voted. So, today's numbers could be about 50% of the vote. I saw lots of ballots going in the mail today, so thousands more are yet to be counted.

    2007 percentages:
    Maier 63.78%
    Carr 58.66%
    Martin-Morris 77.03%
    Sundquist 61.22%

    2011 percentages (so far):
    Maier 51.92%
    Carr 54.73%
    Martin-Morris 60.66%
    Sundquist 48.43%

    Apparent trend is a significant loss of support for current members except Sherry Carr (which doesn't surprise me). Contrasting '11 challengers with '07 incumbents explains part of the drop in support, as the prior board did not project cohesion and was vulnerable to wholesale replacement.

    I suspect the other factor is a drop in confidence with the current board, but not significant enough to outright fire them. Perhaps, to many, this board did enough right, or not enough wrong, to warrant replacement.

    If there's a shocker, I'd say it's Beutow vs. M-M. Harium was so popular in '07, he remains quite popular even after a 17 point drop in '11.

    Too early to interpret much more at this point, but I expect turnout will rival the '07 election of about 50%.

    Will Sundquist continue to dismiss his detractors as the super vocal minority, while maintaining the silent majority supports him?

    Will Maier acknowledge his critics if he survives and prevails in a squeaker?

    Will Carr grow bolder and assert any independence if she also prevails?

    Will Martin-Morris put his feet up, after garnering 60% of the vote, even after a 17 point drop from '07? (Why wouldn't he? People apparently love him!)

    Stay tuned....WSDWG

    Cross Fingered, Fingers Crossed said...

    I had to leave Rosita's before the election results were called, but I enjoyed toasting the challengers, and meeting other volunteers and supporters face-to-face.

    I'm still pulling for later returns to flip District One.

    And I'm happy and impressed that Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee left the "No Minors" zone to briefly greet one of their junior volunteers.

    CT said...

    I suspect that more of the late voters will go for the challengers. I tend to hold on to my ballots 'till the last minute because sometimes that last frenzied run to the election day causes some candidates to show their true colors. I remain optimistic that at least one more challenger might make it in, but even one new person can disrupt the status quo.

    CT

    mirmac1 said...

    No matter the outcome, I have tremendous respect for all the challengers. They stepped up when the rest of us (me especially) quavered.

    Dan, I hope you are drafting your recall petition against HMM. I'll sign on.

    Anonymous said...

    I think what this really says is that the majority of people in Seattle pay very little attention to the goings on of the Seattle School Board and SPS in general. I'm talking about people without children, or empty-nesters whose children are long gone, and, sadly, some people with children in private schools. I've spoken to a few who don't pay much attention to SPS now that their children are no longer there.

    When mainstream media and even not so mainstream media (The Stranger) support the incumbents, the average person without any skin in the game follows their lead. And, of course, we've seen more than a few on this blog who supported the incumbents as well. I'm not surprised, with the results, but had hoped that SPS would turn around from it's present course and become the District it could be.

    SolvayGirl

    Anonymous said...

    We have to remember that some schools & communities have benefited from moves of this board. Pathfinder & Van Asselt got new buildings. Lotsa love there. The NECC folks got Jane Adams as a new school by closing Summit. More love. Arbor Heights lobbied Sundquist and got off the closure merry-go-round, while supposedly getting a Spectrum program too. Big, big love. Anti-self- containment forces must be happy with elimination of Spectrum only classes in their schools, etc., etc. More love again. So, plenty of (we'll see if it's enough) people love what this board has done.

    If the question is, are you better off today than 4 years ago, a lot of people unharmed or benefited by the NSAP, for example, are going to answer "yes" to that question. It may take another couple years for the downsides to some changes to rear their ugly heads, even though plenty of people, like those in WSN, are living that daily reality right now. No matter what, on we go. WSDWG

    Anonymous said...

    Solvay, I think you hit the nail on the head, but others will challenge your insights, and we can't really say without exit polling, which nobody does in a school board race.

    From the outsider, or unaffected, "macro" view, many of the changes can't look that bad. "Neighborhood schools?" Of course! Who on the outside can argue with that? Cost-cutting, accountability, most "professional" board ever (so says the Times), etc.

    If I didn't have kids in the system, where I see both the positives, AND THE NEGATIVES, of all these changes and moves, I'd have a hard time not giving current board members credit for doing a mostly thankless job out of the apparent goodness of their hearts, when they all have good jobs or more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

    Compared to prior boards, this one can certainly claim lots of "action," whereas prior boards have been notoriously lacking in consensus, at least in the eyes of the wider public, especially those without skin in the game.

    Heck, even I will credit the incumbents for the time they put in, and I do believe their intentions are mostly, or primarily, noble. Judgment? That's another topic for another day. WSDWG

    Stu said...

    Our ballots (two of 'em . . all for all four challengers) went in today as well.

    Sherry Carr doesn't surprise me. Even though I disagree with virtually all her votes, and she shares equal responsibilities for everything I feel has gone wrong with the district, she SEEMS the most reasonable one of the four . . . you get the sense that, even after all this time, she COULD change. It's also not entirely surprising because Kate Martin, though I voted for her, had the strongest "against" push.

    That said, I'm stunned that HMM is doing so well. Not just because I think Buetow is an excellent candidate but also because HMM has so clearly checked out of the process. He never challenges the staff any more, and goes as far as to chastise those who might question things, has shut down his blog and, in general, doesn't seem to be part of anything.

    I still hope that Maier goes down 'cause I happen to think he's the worst of them all.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see some shifting!

    stu

    ArchStanton said...

    HMM won because he is the only black candidate. Well, that and because of the factors that Solvay Girl describes. All of the good Seattle liberals who don't pay any more attention to the school board, than to glance at the voters' guide and check a newspaper endorsement voted for HMM to keep a visible token of diversity on the school board - never mind that he is pretty much an establishment candidate.

    It's what I would have done before I had kids in school and started paying attention.

    Unfortunately, it makes him hard to unseat, unless another African-American runs for the board.

    ArchStanton said...

    It's also why Mary Bass was unseated. If she had been the only AA candidate the last time around, she'd still be on the board.

    Sahila said...

    Harium himself pulled the race --- oops "diversity" -- card in the Stranger's Town Hall school board event.... giving his colour as one reason why he should be elected...

    Anonymous said...

    Sundquist is the most sincere liar I have ever met. If it was only West Seattle people voting for this position, I think it would be 90% MM, 10% SS.

    Sign me: Too close to home.

    Anonymous said...

    Arch, thanks for the "cold bucket of reality" viewpoint.

    I'm wondering how many of that same lot might think "Marty" McLaren is a dude?

    Just sayin' - WSDWG

    ArchStanton said...

    Arch, thanks for the "cold bucket of reality" viewpoint.

    Any time. I recommend washing it down with a stiff drink. ;)

    Anonymous said...

    Result Recap

    Peaslee got the stroke of luck that Peter was the fall guy for Pottergate. (Though Sundquist and HMM also had been notified of problems, they let Peter take the publicity hit.) She might yet win, but doubtful. If she wins, expect her to become the board "radical" in the best possible sense. If she loses, expect her to keep rattling Peter's cage, esp. on math. Math people, aggrieved with the district, love her.

    Martin grew the most on the campaign trail. Only a few Carr-supporters stuck her with the Crazy Kate moniker at the end. Expect her to become an authoritative presence on the Achievement Gap in Seattle via her activism and her own writing. Her views have nothing to do with establishment Stand on Children and LEV, but she speaks truth to their privileged white perspectives. Might she run again in 4 years? Depends on movement on the Achivement Gap, I think. She might also have enough of the political bug to stand for elected office in a different capacity. A more winning Diane Ferguson II anyone?

    Buetow got hit hard b/c of the Diversity thing (though the Clarence Thomas comparison for HMM has been bandied about a lot from the South End which is both unfortunate and interesting) and The Stranger who mocked her a tad too long before they beat a chastened retreat from HMM. She ran a classy, cogent campaign. Expect to see her elsewhere on the political or advocate scene in the coming months/years. She seems to bridge the advocate-incumbent gap more naturally than the others. She also has communication skills the district has shown once again with current headlines that it desperately needs. Send this district a liferaft and clean out the communications department (again).

    McLaren benefited from being a teacher(yes!) and from Sundquist allowing SPS to completely screw up of West Seattle enrollment patterns, as well as close Cooper. People are pissed. Expect Marty to hold her lead. What will National Ed Reform do without Sundquist? Expect it to glom onto HMM, the board's unapologetic TFA cheerleader and apparent BFF with LEV-founder Lisa McFarlane. As a board member, expect McLaren to ally with Patu on social justice issues, stymieing Maier's fiscal chop chop sensibilities and HMM's Ed Reform push.

    Political Junkie

    Anonymous said...

    And thank YOU for your work in support of the Levy, Melissa!

    Grateful Seattle Mom

    Anonymous said...

    Ps, must guiltily admit that I dropped off our family's ballots at the Ballard Drop Box tonight at 7:45 with many, many other neighbors doing the same... I wouldn't call these races over just yet.

    Grateful Seattle Mom

    Anonymous said...

    One or more of these races could, in the end, be close. I urge everyone to check to see that their ballots have been counted. You can track your ballot here:

    https://info.kingcounty.gov/
    elections/mailballottracking.aspx

    I dropped my ballot in the drop box this weekend, and it hasn't been counted yet.

    DWE

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

    And ditto what Mirmac said.

    Thanks to all of the candidates - challengers and incumbents!

    Murky Water

    ArchStanton said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    anonymous said...

    "I think what this really says is that the majority of people in Seattle pay very little attention to the goings on of the Seattle School Board"

    I was waiting for someone to say this. It's typical here. If you don't agree with me you are naive, and couldn't possibly know any better.

    I believe that voters do know what they want- they simply don't agree with the anti incumbent views of this blog, and their votes reflect that. I've said it before, and it has has been proven by the election results. Most people think the current board has done an adequate enough job.

    The views of (most) of the posters on this blog are not representative of the views of the greater Seattle community. It is time to acknowledge that.

    Murky Water

    ArchStanton said...

    The majority of people in Seattle pay very little attention to the goings on of the Seattle School Board and SPS in general.

    The views of (most) of the posters on this blog are not representative of the views of the greater Seattle community.


    Those statements are not mutually exclusive. Neither are they necessarily inaccurate.

    Unfortunately, a majority of citizens don't care enough to research the issues and vote at all.

    /moved because it was out of place after Murky reposted

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

    "Compared to prior boards, this one can certainly claim lots of "action," whereas prior boards have been notoriously lacking in consensus"

    Bingo WSDWG!! You said it better than I could. Their ability to get the job done is what drew me to this board and allowed me to view all of them (except one) as "adequate". It's not that I agreed with everything this board did or how they voted (I didn't at times) but I was giddy happy to finally see progress and action.

    The board before this board had good intentions, and were fine people, but very very little ever got done. It was very frustrating.

    If we elected to many activists to the board this time around I feared that the trade off would be that we would once again paralyze the district and halt progress. I'd rather see progress even with some wrong turns and mistakes along the way, than no progress at all. And that is what it boils down to for me.

    Murky Water

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    And the Smartest Person in the Room award goes to...

    "If you don't agree with me you are naive, and couldn't possibly know any better."

    Can't get much more emphatic than that.

    "I believe that voters do know what they want- they simply don't agree with the anti incumbent views of this blog, and their votes reflect that."

    I'm going to go with the "most people don't pay enough attention" view rather than this one. The loss of votes from City Council to Board races might bear that out.

    "The views of (most) of the posters on this blog are not representative of the views of the greater Seattle community. It is time to acknowledge that."

    Who said they were? Could you show me a post where anyone said "we are the views of the greater Seattle community? Even the great Seattle school community?

    Didn't think so.

    It's posts like that that make me wonder why some people are even here.

    wrong turns and mistakes

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Whoops, forgot my bit at the end

    If the last 3+ years can be characterized as "wrong turns and mistakes", then you have a very high tolerance level for bad judgment.

    Anonymous said...

    "Compared to prior boards, this one can certainly claim lots of "action," whereas prior boards have been notoriously lacking in consensus"

    I wonder whether staff owns some of the credit to getting things done. After all, they are part of the equation.

    A Friend of Seattle

    Anonymous said...

    Welcome to politico PR 101. You say things "people said", but may never actually said them, and what happens? PRESTO, the conversation changes from talking about issues and turns into what someone said or did not. It can get personal, especially if you add in "bullying". Usually conversation gets pretty shrill at this point and issues and points head out the window.

    What is more revealing is when you go back to some of the posts and look at some of the word and phrase usage, it's even more telling how often this method is used (and not just on this blog) and how effective it is. You don't need to be right to win an argument or a race. You just need to know how to win it.

    voter

    someone said...

    Well, being one of those people who didn't get their ballots in till yesterday - (and voted mostly challenger) - I will take a wait and see attitude. Yes, I do think a lot of people don't pay attention to school board races usually but this was such a wild year with all the MLK, MGJ, Pottergate etc that I do think there was more...lets say opportunity to know about the district than usual.

    Fingers crossed and never naive ;o)

    Jack Whelan said...

    "The views of (most) of the posters on this blog are not representative of the views of the greater Seattle community. It is time to acknowledge that."

    Murky Waters thinks the commenters here are in an echo chamber, a kind of self-reinforcing bubble that filters out reality and that commenters here better face up to it. What's the proof? Well, most voters don't agree with the majority view here regarding the bad judgment of the incumbents.

    Therefore, what? Their bad judgment and failures of oversight weren't bad because the voters didn't think so? Either their judgment and oversight was bad or it wasn't. It's pretty hard to make the case that it wasn't. So in what reality do people who consistently make bad decisions and fail in their oversight get re-elected? Either one in which people are unaware of these failures, or if they are aware, they don't care.

    So is this blog an echo chamber? I don't know. Were the people who opposed the invasion of Iraq in an echo chamber? Were the people who voted against George Bush in an echo chamber? Their views didn't reflect the majority, and as with them, so here--time will tell who is right, not a single election.

    Anonymous said...

    Murky, by equating "action" with "progress" and "getting the job done," you reinforce Arch's and Solvay's points.

    The votes are still being counted. Let's be empirical, not superficial. WSDWG

    Anonymous said...

    Jack W, that's exactly where I started to go, but decided to keep it brief. My thoughts, almost to the letter.

    Perhaps to many "unknown unknowns" prohibit meaningful analysis and interpretation at this time.

    How would I know? WSDWG

    Anonymous said...

    A Friend: Yes and no. I feel credit is due for extraordinary work, but not for simply & competently performing a well-paid job. Meeting expectations, like turning in work on time, is usually not "extraordinary" to me. It really depends. WSDWG

    RosieReader said...

    I was amazed with the level of attention this year's Board races generated. In a variety of ways, in many forums, there was pretty thorough and careful discussion of the races, the positions and personalities of the candidates, as well as bigger picture questions about what a Board should be. More so than I've ever seen in a Seattle school board election. Everybody got their position out there and heard. Perhaps because I'm a regular reader here, I felt that the challengers actually got their message out more clearly and more regularly than the incumbents.

    In light of that, however these races break over the next few days, I feel pretty good that the people heard and responded (by voting) as they felt best.

    dan dempsey said...

    I feel pretty good that the people heard and responded (by voting) as they felt best.

    YUP ... how they felt ... based on what?

    So we will see about 120,000 votes.......


    As long as too many voters choose to:
    cast their votes founded in opinions formed by myths and half-truths, rather than the facts, ......
    we will continue to have legislative bodies filled with purveyors of half-truths.

    Wallflower said...

    I for one battled severe introversion and shyness to go out walking with big signs for a challenger, place flyers on vehicles, wave signs at games, talk to strangers about Board decisions in the last few years which cost lots of money the district couldn't afford, and the poor math curricula choices.

    I wasn't in an echo chamber, but nobody ran up to me stating they were pro-incumbent and debating with me either. Teachers active and retired, and parents whose children are enrolled in public schools were most interested.

    I did much more than I expected to at the beginning of the campaign, and I credit the encouragement and involvement of savvy and bright campaign assistants for that.

    If anything I learned that I'm definitely not alone nor way off base in my beliefs and opinions about what makes for better schools, I'm better educated about how endorsements and advocacy groups work here, and the election experience has emboldened me to lob ideas at my son's school's PTSA.

    The election isn't settled yet for all races, and whichever way it goes what matters to me is that I supported with my available time and money a principled, smart, capable candidate with vision and ideas for an improved School Board and district.

    Jack Whelan said...

    After writing my last comment I got this announcement about this year's University Faculty Lecuture:

    The Democratization of Truth:
    Communication and the Crisis of Contemporary Politics
    By W. Lance Bennett

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011
    7 p.m.
    Kane Hall, Room 130

    Jack Whelan said...

    @Wallflower--well said. The way you avoid the echo chamber is to get out there and listen. It's important to be committed to your values but also to be open to changing your mind when facts or good arguments challenge your assumptions. Because most people think something is not, in and of itself, a good argument.

    Anyway, it's been an education for all of us, and I hope all of us take the lessons learned and build from them and keep pushing no matter who finally winds up on the board this go round.

    Anonymous said...

    Again, I believe that people with skin in the game and those concerned with education as a political issue did inform themselves and did vote as they felt was best, but I personally know a number of people (must I name, names to make "voter" happy?) that really don't pay a lot of attention to the running of SPS.

    My neighbors on both sides are retired with grown children. None of their grandchildren attend school in Seattle. Across the street, a young couple has an 18-month-old; their toes are barely in the water. They've heard the public elementary up the street is pretty good (it is; they're lucky). Directly across, a single, Orthodox Jewish 40-yr-old guy. He's very political when it comes to City Council etc., but can't even tell me who's on the school board.

    They don't go to forums or read blogs. They get their opinions from the local media. They do not have a lot of knowledge about TFA or ed-reform. They see that SPS is doing things: NSAP, closing under-enrolled schools, restructuring transportation, aligning curriculum, creating STEM, raising test scores. The Times endorsed the incumbents. The Stranger endorsed the incumbents. They must be good! They vote for the incumbents or skip them at best.

    I NEVER said they are naive, they are just not very involved in the local school district (I know I had no real clue about it until my child started attending public school). There are so many political issues to concern yourself with these days, that we all tend to pick the ones that affect us personally the most.

    I know that not everyone shares my view. I've been on the losing side of most elections since I first voted for George McGovern vs. Nixon in 1972 (yup, I'm old, and was one of the very first 18-yr-olds to vote). But just as I marveled then that very few of my college classmates took advantage of the two days off the school gave us to go home and vote, I still am surprised at how few people vote today.

    So "Murky," please do not put words between my lines. I was just stating my opinion that many people are not as obsessed with the inner-workings of SPS as those of us who read this blog. And, I did acknowledge that even some who do felt that at least some of the incumbents deserved another term. Many of the moves made recently have definitely benefitted some families, and I am sure that if I had been in that camp, I'd be happier about the direction SPS was going too.

    SG

    Anonymous said...

    Jack: You might enjoy reading Manufacturing Concent by Noam Chomsky in a similar vein.

    SG

    Chris S. said...

    "I think what this really says is that the majority of people in Seattle pay very little attention to the goings on of the Seattle School Board."

    Murky disagrees. Murky, do you have any evidence to support your implication that the general public IS paying attention to the school board and district? Beyond reading the Times?

    One could also interpret the results at success is related to money spent - I believe McLaren had the best-funded campaign among the challengers.

    Jack Whelan said...

    One last thought, and then back to duties-and-responsibilities reality. One postmortem theme I'd like to explore when the dust settles is whether the challengers would have made a stronger argument if they had a more articulate, positive, alternative visions for Seattle Schools. The main thrust for the challengers was to focus on what the incumbents did badly, and that did create a receptive space for people to hear about an alternative vision. The challengers had some very good individual ideas, but taken together they were a kind of hodgepodge.

    People want to vote for something that gives them hope, not just against something that they have come to think of as business as usual. Was an alternative vision adequately articulated? If so what was it? If not, would it have made a difference if one had been? Do you think a consensus alternative vision could be developed? I don't know. Just something I'm thinking about.

    Demo mom said...

    A direct quote from a friend who is thoughtful, a former teacher, still engaged in education issues in this area through her work, and a parent with kids in SPS:

    Me: "I'm voting for all of the challengers. I'm not happy with many of the decisions the current board members have made."

    Friend: "Really? But the Seattle Times endorsed all the incumbents."

    And that, my friends, was where she was getting her info on the school board race. And we know how unobjective the Times was in its coverage of the school board candidates.

    Anonymous said...

    Demo Mom
    I echo that - I sent a well considered, fact-based email to as many friends as I could think of to urge them to vote for the challengers.

    So many came back - but the Seattle Times endorsed the incumbents.

    Many friends said they appreciated my perspective and would vote challengers but many had already sent in their ballots.

    boo. Sad today about the board but happy about the levy!

    PAL

    KG said...

    The Seattle education Association did a very poor job of phone banking for the school board candidates. The result will be many counselors being cut for next school year. They do not care unless it is the teacher position.

    The SEA must agree with the huge sums spent on Central Admin. and the likes of Duggan Harman whom says he know the hardship of furloughs but gets a 20K raise.

    LAME SEATTLE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION.

    Willfull ignorance at its best

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    The SEA certainly is puzzling. Not much of a public fight (at least not here) against TFA. They seemed awfully quiet in this election as well. You have to wonder.

    KG said...

    Most of the teachers at the bulding I work at after the furlough day were happy o have it off and judging by the nothingness in the election that they demonstrated shows they are happy with the current board and complicit with the Central admin. beast.

    Sad news.

    Charlie Mas said...

    I would actually disagree with the proposition that this board was any more active than previous boards.

    What did they get done, exactly?

    When you think of what they got done, please do not include things that the staff got done, but things that the Board got done.

    Anonymous said...

    Well Charlie, that takes us down the rabbit hole of "what is a board member's job, anyways?" Doesn't it?

    Perhaps the most significant problem with this board has been the adoption of a "hands off the staff" policy.

    What one calls oversight and policy enforcement, another calls interference or meddling.

    Anonymous said...

    WSDWG

    Charlie Mas said...

    This Board spent three years denying their duty to oversee management, then, suddenly, couldn't stop talking about it. They have stepped up their game from denial to lip service.

    Lip service is the level of their commitment to governance as well. They go on and on about their governance role, but never really do much governance work. Yes, they have commissioned this huge policy overhaul, but look how carelessly they have done it.

    The lip service they pay to management oversight and to governance don't hold a candle to the lip service they pay to community engagement. This is where we see the biggest gap between their rhetoric and their actual performance. Look through the motions and you will find very few of them reach the Board with any community engagement at all. They sure don't get any after introduction.

    As lazy as this Board has been at legislative meetings they have been even lazier in committee meetings. They allow themselves to be carried along on the staff's current and never dip an oar into the water themselves.

    Anonymous said...

    Charlie, I think I agree with you 100%, and you certainly have the facts on your side.

    But this board has been bought and sold on the Don McAdams/Broad Foundation theory that a good School Board simply hires a strong CEO-like SI, then sits back and let he or she run the show, only looking toward the eventual bottom line of improved test scores.

    OF COURSE this is a recipe for scandals and disasters as nobody looks, or bothers to pay attention to HOW those scores are actually generated, and whether they have any validity at all, but no matter. We want results!

    We've practically forgotten about the 17%-Gate story, which is exponentially worse than what Mr. Potter did, as those giant lies led directly to changes in State Legislation, to address a crisis that, in fact, did not exist. That it didn't outrage this board when MGJ and her toady Bernatek dragged SPS's reputation through the gutter by claiming SPS had about the lowest college prep rate in the region spoke volumes to me. If ever there was a firing offense, that case of high treason justified it.

    I will say again that Sundquist is a decent person, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how he can continue to advocate for his "governance" philosophy and tout his experience, when it has been so terribly ineffective in practice.

    The only explanation appears to be this board's preoccupation with sticking to its 5 year strategic plan, even when DeBell is sounding alarm bells that it isn't working. Beware ambitious, large-scale plans going forward.

    Such "action" winds up being in vain, while really important work is left undone. Its a crying shame that a failing ideology has such an iron grip on this board.

    Anonymous said...

    Ack! WSDWG

    Charlie Mas said...

    I have read Don McAdams book and I have spoken with Mr. McAdams. I assure you that he is very much in favor a STRONG board.

    Of course, he thinks that a strong board should focus on three things:

    1. Management oversight. By this, Mr. McAdams means that the Board should judge the quality of the management decisions by the outcomes. They should compare those measurable outcomes to pre-determined benchmarks. This is the brand of accountability that we were taught by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson: work with known metrics, assessments and benchmarks. A strong Board would be different from the Sundquist Board in that they would actually do the work of setting the benchmarks and holding the staff accountable for the outcomes. This Board never did.

    2. Governance. In the McAdams vision of a strong Board they would enforce policy and absolutely require the district staff to keep their commitments. The Sundquist board, however, refuses to enforce policy (they usually don't even know what the policy is), and they refuse to require staff to keep their commitments. Seriously, a real McAdams led board would have fired Dr. Goodloe-Johnson by June of 2009.

    3. Community engagement. In the McAdams model, the popularly elected Board act as the liason between the staff and the community. The Board would both represent the community to the District and represent the District to the community. The Sundquist board only ever represented the District to the community and they didn't do much of that.

    Don McAdams would advocate for a strong Board, not a crowd of rubber-stamping bobbleheads like we have. I will say that Mr. McAdams would say that the board needs to stay on their side of the net, but he would expect them to completely cover that half of the court. The problem with our board is that they won't play on either side of the net. They haven't tried to manage the district, although they have explored further than they should have. But neither have they tried to govern the district. They haven't really tried to do anything. Consequently, they have done nothing.

    dan dempsey said...

    Consequently, they have done nothing.

    Well not quiet nothing ... three out of four incumbents seeking reelection were reelected.

    Jan said...

    Sad but true, Charlie. I think the "Don" whose philosophy is best represented by this Board is Don Nielsen, not Don McAdams. See Melissa's blog post from September 13 (I think), 2008.