Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Do You Want the Mayor to Take Control of Seattle Schools?

As some of you may have heard, there was polling done on the upcoming elections by Strategies 360.  

They state:  None of the firm's clients paid for the survey, and Strategies 360 is supporting neither client.   (Yes, but someone thought up those questions and I can guarantee it wasn't all Strategies 360.)

 The poll was 400 likely voters, 78% white, skewed to the north and highly educated.  Nineteen percent have children in public schools while 11% have children in other schools.

Sad to say but in this poll, the School Board ranks only above "Republicans in Congress" and below Obama, Inslee, Democrats in Congress, Ed Murray, the City Council, and Mayor Mike McGinn.  The totals were favorable-37%, unfavorable, 32%, ouch.

They asked a number of interesting questions about Seattle Schools, the School Board and the role of the Mayor.  

They asked about which of the following items "will be most important to you in deciding who to vote for?" for Mayor of Seattle.  (They could pick more than one.)  Public education tied at number one with economy and jobs. 

6. How closely would you say you are following the upcoming elections for mayor of Seattle, school board,and city council?
(READ LIST)
Extremely closely.................................................14%
Fairly closely..........................................................47
Not too closely.......................................................39
Or are you not following these elections at all?......TERMINATE


35. For this next question, try not to guess. If you don’t know the answer, just say so and we’ll move on.To the best of your knowledge, which of the following appoints the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools?
Is it (ROTATE), , , or none of these?
The school board...................................................38%
The mayor.............................................................  4
The city council..................................................... 4
None of these........................................................  9

DK/NA/REFUSED...............................................19

36. Currently, all seven members of the Seattle school board are elected, and the school board appoints the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. In some cities, however, public schools are governed differently.
Do you approve or disapprove of the current system of choosing the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools? (PROBE) Is that strongly or not so strongly?
APPROVE.............................................................60%
DISAPPROVE.......................................................21%
Strongly approve....................................................23%
Somewhat approve................................................ 37
Somewhat disapprove........................................... 13
Strongly disapprove...............................................  8

DK/NA/REFUSED................................................19

Now I’m going to read you a few options for changing the way the superintendent and the
members of the Seattle school board ares elected. After I read each one, tell me whether
you would support or oppose that option.
Here is the first one...(IF CHOICE GIVEN:)
Is that strongly or only somewhat?

                                                                                             Support        Oppose
37. Have a mixed school board, with most members           44%            51%
      elected by voters and some appointed by the 
      mayor?

38. Have the mayor appoint the superintendent?                  18%            76%

39. Have the mayor appoint both the superintendent
      and the members of the school board?                            10%            88%

40.  Have the mayor appoint the members of the 
       School Board?                                                                  9%            88%

Someone is trying to test the waters for more mayoral control of the district, that's obvious.  Clearly, not a lot of interest except in maybe appointment of some of the Board.

What they could have asked that might have been more to the point is do you want the mayor to do more for Seattle Schools?  And then asked:

- safety and security
- facilities
-demographics
- operations
- governance

But no, someone wants to see if the newest mayor might be able to take over the district.   But, if this is the question then clearly the district and the Board should be worried.  It's on them to prove that they don't need the oversight or the governance.  The jury is out on that one.

17 comments:

Sigh said...

Both Murray and McGinn think charter schools should be given a chance and evaluated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What does "evaluated" mean? Also, McGinn is less on-board than Murray.

Anonymous said...

If Charters are any indication, it will take a few more years of the Times selectively planting anti School Board stories, editorials, guest editorials, etc. until those percentages change. Trouble is, by then, there'll be another 5,000 or more students in the district, with about 4,500 of them happy with their schools. So, the Times and Varner better get on their horses and get to work before the opportunity gets away from them. If Peters pulls out a victory, get ready for Holy Hell from the Times! This could be the last chance for Corporate Ed Reform in Seattle, and it's Ministry of Propaganda aka Seattle Times to hand our schools over to private control.

If Big Ed Reform can't buy the elections, they'll eliminate them altogether. How American. And most of them call themselves "democrats."

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Based on the survey results, it does not seem that there is much support in Seattle for mayoral control of SPS. As one of those who participated in this survey, it was very clear that the questions were designed to gauge voter sentiment for mayoral take over of SPS. Has mayoral control improved outcomes in NYC and Chicago? I don't know but it sure doesn't seem like it.

MC

Anonymous said...

MC: If you read the financial news in Chicago and NY, they'll say it's been positive. If you talk to the communities, they'll say just the opposite. Go figure.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I can see Murray behaving much like Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago. Mayoral control is an ideological fad, once again with no research to back it up. The research reports out of Chicago Public Schools dating back to the previous decade are not positive in the least.

CT

Anonymous said...

In regards to Chicago....

http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2012/03/mayoral-control-15-years-of-failure-in.html

http://www.uic.edu/educ/ceje/

CT

Anonymous said...

"Evaluated" means they don't want to make anybody mad by saying what they really think.

Gen Ed Mom

Soon-to-be SPS Mom said...

It's interesting that they didn't provide3 an option for directly-electing the superintendent. That would seem to complete the set of options and provide balance. Is that done anywhere--direct election of the superintendent?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie has long-advocated for the Superintendent to be directly elected (and therefore very accountable) and the board either partially or fully appointed.

But that's a good question, if there are any superintendents who are elected?

Anonymous said...

Ministry of Propaganda - LOL. Actually I heard "Murray leading McGinn yesterday according to poll by Strategies 360" and I thought: I know all about them and I don't believe a word of it!

Chris S.

Peanut said...

Bad survey design. Garbage in, garbage out.

I get that property owners pay taxes that fund schools, so households without kids do have a monetary interest (and hopefully a societal interest as well).

SPS demographics look nothing like this population, and only 19% of the responders are SPS families.

Paul Queary said...

Just to be clear, the survey population was likely Seattle voters in the upcoming election, not Seattle Public Schools parents. We crafted the questions internally.

Paul Queary
Vice President of Communications
Strategies 360

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Queary, many of the parents here know of your work and if you want us to believe Strategies 360 made this up all on their own, then you must think we also believe in the tooth fairy.

Anonymous said...

According to Census 2010, there were a total of 283,510 households in Seattle. Of these, 42.9% were family households and 57.1% were non family households. A total of 19.5% of households had children under 18 years .

Looks right to me.

Numbers

Peanut said...

The sampling frame (list of likely Seattle voters to select to call) is not representative of Seattle nor of SPS families.

Again, I get that it is not SPS families, but likely voter list for upcoming election. By my read, you are relying on landlines predominantly and your sample is skewed to older, whiter, wealthier segments.

Seattle skews towards young adults (18-34), and you have half as many as you should. I also don't know what proportion is male or female.

Here's why I say it is not representative:
1) Landline 76%
2) 18-34 year olds 17%
3) White or Caucasian 78%
4) Never bike or use public transportation 23%
5) Own a car 89%

Anonymous said...

HI Paul,
Can you tell us the name of the client who hire your firm to conduct this survey?

As the father of a young child in the Seattle Public Schools, I'm very interested in knowing about any efforts to impose a new form of governance on our schools given the abysmal outcomes everywhere else it's been tried.

I also am concerned about the prospect of consolidating too much power and control in the Seattle Mayor's office.

Whether it's our current mayor or some future mayor, everyone knows the very real potential for power to corrupt even the best people with the best intentions---and for too much power to corrupt them absolutely.

I have nothing against our current mayor and I thought he was a fine state senator who shows great promise as our new mayor.

However, allowing one person to consolidate that much power and money in one office---regardless of who that person may be, now or in the future---would be a grave mistake.

Taking away our rights as citizens and taxpayers to directly vote for every member of our school board would be a reprehensible, anti-democratic move.

In the few places where it has been tried, in whole or part, like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, it hasn't just been a disaster; it's been an unmitigated disaster. (And if anyone doubts my contention, I invite them to go to YouTube and look at some videos of what school board meetings are like in those places where they imposed total or partial mayoral control of the schools.

100 years ago, in most large cities and towns, it was the norm for the mayor to also control the public schools. But eventually, through the efforts of citizen reformers that were appalled at the corruption that accompanied mayoral control of the schools, that system was phased out virtually everywhere by the 1950's. And for good reason.

It's hard to believe that our mayor would want to return our city to the corruption and cronyism of the early 20th Century, simply for a perceived short term political benefit during his time in City Hall.