Saturday, July 20, 2013

Seattle School Board Race District IV

Update:  I noted in this thread that Suzanne Estey's campaign manager is former Seattle Student Senate rep, Dexter Tang (who is a great kid).  Which is kinda sweet but also to note, her consultant in the campaign is none other than Christian Cinderman who has been a very high-powered consultant to numerous campaigns. 

Also to note, Stephan Blanford's and Suzanne Estey's newest contributors?  None other than the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, who both maxed out at $900 each for each candidate.  I believe Mr. and Mrs. Ballmer reside on the eastside.

End of update.

The District IV race seems to be shaping up along two lines (and no surprise what those lines are).  (District V seems to be all Blanford and there sure are confusing signs from him.  That's another thread.)

I refer to Suzanne Estey and Sue Peters.  (Dean McColgan doesn't seem to be a strong candidate and is seems to be on the ed reform side although I think it is more a case that he doesn't clearly understand the district or education issues in general).

Back to Estey and Peters.

Statements by Estey to the press and/or organizations (I note that Estey and McColgan did answer the questionnaire from the Seattle Human Services Coalition where some of these quotes come from - Peters did not):

Crosscut
In addition to the achievement gap, she says the board’s biggest challenges are addressing overcrowding and successfully implementing the Common Core standards. She worries this is an unfunded mandate for the state. Is there adequate professional development for teachers?

Well, which is it for Common Core because it sounds a lot like her stand on charter schools (she says she doesn't support them because the money isn't there - if schools were well-funded, would she be for charters?).

Does that mean she will speak out against implementing Common Core if teachers aren't prepared? 

When it comes time to make decisions, “its hard to not just respond to loud voices,” she says. “But when we set goals, we have to keep our eye on the ball.”

Which loud voices would those be?  Well, then the "notable" quote for her in the Crosscut article is this:

“I am a policy maker; not an activist or an agitator at school board meetings.”

Two things.

One, is that a stab at those who DO show up at School Board meetings, month after month, year after year (unlike Ms. Estey). Are we wrong to come and advocate for children - not just our own? Are we wrong to come to Work Session after Work Session or Board committee meeting after Board committee meeting (again, unlike Ms. Estey), in an effort to understand the workings of the district we pay taxes into?

Apparently so. Duly noted.

Two, the Board does not just sit in a room and make policy.  If that were their main role, it would be a much easier job.  They also have to commit to listening to the public (and yes, that includes "activists and agitators.")  And, per the many times Charlie has said this, they must commit to enforcing those policies.  Will she make that commitment and what would it look like?

Interesting side note: her campaign manager is the former Student Senate School Board rep, Dexter Tang (who just graduated from Roosevelt).

From the Seattle Human Services Coalition questionnaire:

- She is opposed to the suspension of the "Courageous Conversations" component in the Center School's race and social justice curriculum.  

- She would be the only School Board director with young children and "recent experiences with preschool and pre-K."  Point taken but that also means she may not know Seattle Schools all that well (at least as a parent).

- Estey also talks a lot about pre-school and pre-K which I think are vital to children being ready for school. BUT that is the role of the state and the city, not the district.  While I think the district should partner and do what it can (make room for pre-Ks in some buildings), the district's purview, under state law, is K-12.  That would seem like enough work for any director.

My main issue with Estey is her vagueness.   She's has many broad-ideas but she never gives any real ideas of what she would do in specific. 

For example:

As a director, I will help develop policies and support programs that address the basic needs of students."  What policies and programs does she think are missing?  What would this support look like?

Sue Peters

Crosscut:
She’s a member of the Seattle Math Coalition and advocates review of the current secondary math curricula. She supports “meaningful tests that are aligned with curriculum” and is concerned about over-testing. She is concerned about inadequate funding for the Common Core curriculum. How, she asks, will we pay for new assessments, textbooks and training?

Those are some pretty specific things to address.  She also asks that question that Estey doesn't ask about Common Core? How is this going to be paid for if the district does indeed support Common Core?

Her "notable" quote - “Too often the district makes decisions that pit one group against another. I want to find solutions in which everyone wins.”

That's pretty inclusive talk.   I like it.

29 comments:

disgusted said...

"When it comes time to make decisions, “its hard to not just respond to loud voices,” she says. “But when we set goals, we have to keep our eye on the ball.”

What does this mean?

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

To me it seems she is saying when she has made a decision she will stick with it. It does not matter what evidence is provided after that to indicate the decision in wrong, she will steadfastly stick with it. Let's not let those loud voices articulating annoying things called facts get in the way. I'm sure Sherry Carr is shedding a proud tear right now.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous who wrote a comment on Sunday morning at 6:36.

It was deleted because it was unsigned.

In answer to your thought, however,
I don't know any reasonable person who has a problem with getting "the answer to them must be we have heard you but we are going in this direction based off of this research/evidence." The problem, which I'm sure you'll appreciate, is that there is rarely any answer at all. There is no transparency. Nothing is ever explained.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I respect your opinion to support Peters (I'm on the fence) but you're applying gross double standards. "Solutions in which everybody wins"? Well, duh. Seems like standard political speak to me. The devil's in the details, no? If it were easy to have solutions where everybody wins, we'd have done it. Problem is, particularly in these budget sensitive times, not everybody can win. She's either being naive or purposefully obtuse (vague - like her opponent). Not everyone is going to be happy. Board members have to make tough choices. Ask Pinehurst, APP, SPED, Native American program, Eckstein or any other group that has gotten short shrift. I want a candidate with a plan and specifics - not empty words that everyone will win. It's disingenuous.
- rare commenter

Anonymous said...

Inclusive talk means including or allowing one to participate. Many in Seattle have come to believe that inclusive means agreeing, which it does not. One may have a voice, very important. But having a voice does not mean getting one's way. This angers many of us in Seattle.

-Annie

Melissa Westbrook said...

Annie, I agree. What is hard to figure out in Estey's statement is "loud voices."

There have been many loud voices just this past year. It's my observation that loud voices actually don't win the day much of the time. It's actually the powerful behind-the-scenes voices. That eliminates many valid voices.

Rare, I think that is a good take on Peters' comment. I like to hope she meant solutions that don't leave people feeling like winners and losers but, as Charlie asks, come with a valid explanation.

We are in agreement on getting those specifics from ALL candidates.

Anonymous said...

Mel,

All decesions/strategy should have a foundation of science or evidence to support it. Loud voices cannot alter science or demonstrated support. Loud voices should not get their way unless their way is supported by evidence.

-Annie

Disgusted said...

Which evidence will you look at Annie?

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the funny thing. I don't know any citizen activists who are asking for agreement. Right now we're just asking for participation, which Annie seems to presume we have.

We don't. No matter how loud our voices, they don't seem to be heard. We are not allowed to participate. We aren't even given the courtesy of an explanation.

People shout because they are trying to be heard.

It's the whisperers who have all of the ears and influence. Oh, and the money.

Melissa Westbrook said...

As well, the problem is that parents and teachers, on the ground and in their schools, tend to get ignored. (Ever notice if you ignore a child, they get louder? Acknowledging someone goes a long way.)

Do they have "evidence?" Well, if you call real-life "evidence."

The problem is also that the district has used "evidence" for many decisions which turned out to be dead wrong or it was faulty evidence.

I would clarify to say they need to examine an issue from all angles, take in testimony, evidence, data and weigh it all together.

Anonymous said...

I can’t help but chuckle that Suzanne Estey is promoting a fresh out of high school student as a her campaign manager. I actually heard she had Christian Sinderman on her payroll; Sinderman is a professional campaign consultant who typically deals with more progressive candidates and races. I have to wonder why he’s bothering with Estey and her less than progressive backers. In any event, despite the professional hand-holding, I still don’t get what Estey stands for and agree with Melissa that Estey’s statements are often vague. I’ll take better math over lofty platitudes any day, and cast my vote for Sue Peters who is clearly more focused on improving what actually happens in the classroom. And with regards to Ms. Peters’ aspiration for Win-Win outcomes, that is not a na├»ve goal at all. It’s achievable and comes from open and honest dialogue and compromise, something that is in short supply at SPS. Better math alone is a big win for EVERY STUDENT.

-- SPS Parent & Voter

Hmmm said...

Estey's facebook page indicates that she served as student representative "several years ago". Cough* a bit of a stretch* cough.

mirmac1 said...

It's obvious that Estey's been learning at the knee of the master, DeBell. You may recall his groupies the "Moderate Voice Parents" who came out in droves (not really, more like a few at one board meeting) to moderately demand the board to pass his bogus "Board procedure".

mirmac1 said...

Oh, and I'd take win-win any day in place of the lose-lose we've had, with our students the biggest losers.

And really, does anyone think Frank Greer, Chris Hansen and Chris Korsmo have "quiet voices"? I have yet to see them produce any evidence, just wads of cash. Elect Estey and it will be pay to play.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hmm, that is one of the amusing/charming things about Estey's campaign - for some reason she keeps citing her "work" as a student from elementary through high school.

Hmmmm said...

Estey's exact words from July 16th. Does Estey really have to rely on misleading the public??



Suzanne for Seattle Schools

July 16 via mobile.

At the WA Bus Candidate Survivor forum at the Showbox -- unbelievably cool energy of youngish people exercising their critical voice! So have I mentioned that I was chair of Inter-High which rep'ed students on the School Board (several years ago!) and that the last student rep., Dexter Tang, is my campaign manager? Young energy is in the house in this important campaign!

Anonymous said...

Activist implies support for a cause and I'm not sure we need that right now. Agitator is certainly a charged word and I don't think the district would be served by an agitator on the board.
Was it a dig at the bloggers? Maybe. There is a lot of mean spirited blather on this forum as well as some interesting discussions and news. I wish it was better moderated and less personal. It's not my blog however.
I think Sue is going to find out a lot about the real world of politics if she wins. I think Suzanne already knows the ropes. She has been in government and knows how to compromise and sure, she is backed by reformists, but that doesn't mean they own her. I want a politician AND a parent. BTW, she did survive 13 years in Seattle Public Schools so she has real credibility there. Where did Sue go to school? For that matter, who on this blog did 13 years in SPS?

Another voice

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another voice, okay what would a "better moderated" forum look like? Should Charlie and I vet comments before they are posted?

As for "activist", it may imply to you a cause but to people like me (and apparently President Obama),it means advocating for positive change and bettering for a community.

You made some interesting points about the race.

Sue is going to find out about politics? That may be true but really, the Board director shouldn't be politically involved (even if that may be naive to say). I would counter and say that I think Estey is in for a shock when she finds out how incredibly complicated the district is and how little she really knows about it.

You say that Sue doesn't know politics but Suzanne does and yet you don't believe Estey would not be indebted to those who elected her? That's politics and Estey, according to you, should know that.

I don't care where you or I or anyone else went to elementary or middle or high school because that was likely decades ago.

Between two sons, I've done about 16 years in SPS.

mirmac1 said...

13 years and "survived". I dont' believe we need a "politician" on the school board.

Anonymous said...

I always love it when someone decries the "meanness" of this blog, then proceeds with a "killing me softly" message:

"real world of politics" CODE FOR
invited to the right parties for the well-connected and elite (as though doing political work on a local, meaningful level were not the real "real world")

"Where did Sue go to school?" CODE FOR Not in the native, in-crowd group

"I wish it were better moderated...
but it's not my blog" CODE FOR This blog is beneath me, but I'm keeping my self-respect by issuing a disclaimer

Jane Austen demonstrated superbly that meanness can be most pointed when decorated in politesse.

--enough already (too many years in SPS to count)





Maureen said...

I actually think having kids in the system now is more valuable than having gone through SPS yourself years ago. The District is very different now than it was thirty years ago and children can have a very warped view of adult- run systems. I believe Sue Peters has had kids in the system for eight or nine years, as far as I can tell Suzanne Dale Estey has been in the system for one year.

Politician Perhaps? said...

"I think Sue is going to find out a lot about the real world of politics if she wins"

Give me a break.

Politician Perhaps? said...

"Activist implies support for a cause and I'm not sure we need that right now"

What does this mean?

Anonymous said...

Holy sandbox, Batman!
I still like the endorsements of Sally Cark, Ron Sims and Javier Valdez. I also like the fact that she worked inD.C. under Clinton. Does her school experience of 13 years in Seattle Public School District count for a hill of bins, maybe not, but IMO, it counts for something. How being a Seattle school kid makes her a toady to bid reform groups in the city escapes my logic. Why big reform groups donate to her and endorse her, I can understand. That is how big city politics works and, to think school board in our city is above politics is naive, to be polite.
I want a good bureaucrat on the board as well as someone with an ideology that is similar to mine. Both candidates seem to have the same general ideology but Peters has zero experience running stuff, except, of course, her blog. I can write pithy comments all day long, butt I can barely manage my own affairs and would be a horrible bureaucrat. So, nothing against Peters, I just want as competent a person as possible.

Another Voice

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another voice, what does "holy sandbox" mean? I honestly do not understand your meaning.

I appreciate you are now being specific as to why you like Suzanne (although if you count going to to K-12 someplace else, you'd have to exit everyone on the current Board).

No one is saying she's a "toady" but it's not because she went to SPS schools. It's her endorsers and who she is taking money from and who she is clearly listening to for advice.

No, in public education you don't have to take money from "big reform groups" - go ask the people out in LA who beat that big money.

I absolutely think it is fine to like/support someone that you have a comfort level with but don't make it sound like the rest of us are being petty over where anyone when to school. It's complete red herring.

Really, you could write all day long and people would listen? It's just that easy? Interesting.

Just Saying said...


Maier worked for the White House. How did that work out?

Sundquist was a big Poh Ba, too. How did that work out?

Voting Peters.

mirmac1 said...

And of course, with muskets wheezing blazes the Seattle Times with propaganda machine blazing.

I think this political ad/Shaw news article should be reported as an in-kind contribution to the Estey campaign.