Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mayor Murray Ups Ante Using Ferguson Decision

Wow, just wow.  This from Publicola in its coverage of the Seattle marches related to the Ferguson decision (bold mine). 

At the press conference prior to the arrests Murray said: "Bike officers do a great job. Officers will be out there [tonight] on bicycles." He added, "We're not Ferguson," citing the lack of African Americans on the Ferguson police force ["only three," he claimed] saying Seattle had "a number of African American officers."

However, saying there was "an enormous gulf of mistrust" between African American communities and the police, he added that, "race remains our greatest challenge. We have to confront the challenge painfully again and again." He said there was "tremendous hurt in the African American community" about the grand jury's decision in "the murder of Mr. Brown."

Murray boiled the issue down to the Seattle school system. "We are failing our young African American men, sending them to prison instead of college." 

I asked Murray afterwards if he had any specific plans to address the problems in Seattle schools—he had cited drop out numbers among African American students. He said only that he wanted to convene the City, businesses, and Seattle Public Schools to identify a joint effort.

Addressing persistent rumors that he's interested in having the city take over the school district, he said that would require authorization in Olympia and told me the city was not lobbying state legislators for that authority.

My answer to that:

Murray is going to blame the Seattle public education for all the ills of society? Not poverty or police injustice? I call that BS.

He's going to wrap himself in this civil rights mantle and say Seattle Schools is the problem? 

As for this "conversation" he wants to say, it's just groundcover for trying to drum up support for a City takeover of the School Board. Sure the Mayor isn't lobbying - all his confederates are. Go look at the usual suspects and you'll know who they are.

Mr. Mayor, it'll be quite the gamble and I predict that you will lose. 

  There are several fairly simple reasons why but the main one being that no one likes being told that they are stupid. Taking the Board means you think we are smart enough to vote for say, mayor, but not school board?  Good luck with that.


Greenwoody said...

The school to prison pipeline is real. And there are real concerns among many African Americans in Seattle about the education that Black kids are receiving in public schools. But Murray is wrong and frankly is insulting to use those concerns as the basis for taking over the district and imposing more tests and charter schools on these students.

As we've seen in places like Chicago or Washington DC, mayoral control and teaching to the test and mass school closures is only making life worse, not better, for young African American men.

If Ed Murray wants to help improve the lives of African Americans, he needs to work with the community on solutions, rather than exploit real concerns for his own power grab.

MaybeIShould said...

If the school board is perceived as being competent then no takeover will happen. I don't think that's the case today, whether the perception is valid or not.

And a bad school board doesn't necessarily mean voters are making bad choices. It could also mean that, for whatever systemic reasons, highly skilled people just don't run for school board (in which case, the system should be changed so that skilled people do want to do the job).

I don't mean that as a knock on the current members (I don't know them. I do know that I was deeply unimpressed with the quality of a school board member I met in Portland - it did not strike me as a political position with a very high entry bar), but just to point out that this post may be oversimplifying just a tad.

Andrea Ptak said...

If Mayor Murray wants to help school-aged children of color, he'd be better off putting the city's resources to curbing the gang culture that is growing throughout the city. When poverty prevails, crime seems to be an attractive alternative. Let's give families the resources they need to get themselves out of poverty.

That means full-time, living wage jobs with benefits for children's parents so they have the time and resources to invest in their children.

Anonymous said...

Who and why would someone want the schools to look bad ? Is this by accident? Melissa used the word
"Deception" and I think she is right. In other competing Departments of Education "news" you well find job postings.



Anonymous said...

When there's little motivation left to opening fight the system (a broken one)the board becomes irrelevant. When your only report oversteps their authority, it's a slap in the face. When 7 grown adults don't know what their only report is up to that's incompetence!

CPC officer

Gross said...

Interesting and concerning quote from the mayor.

I agree with Greenwoody.

Anonymous said...

Thx PSP. From the posting

"Are you ready to do amazing things? Here’s what you’ll need:

You will need to feel passionate about:

Providing quality education to prekindergarten learners
Gaining community involvement
Building strong relationships to achieve goals
Using creativity to make positive change

You will need to have experience in:

Developing preschool programs
Implementing validated instruments for measuring program outcomes
Successfully managing employees at both administrative and professional levels
Analyzing data for quality improvement
Working with a team to meet budget guidelines

You will need to be comfortable:

Utilizing your expertise in Early Childhood Education to provide high-level counsel on policy issues
Being responsible for creating a new approach for serving children and families
Representing the City to early learning and afterschool providers and parents
Working on high-profile projects with many diverse stakeholders"

I'm trying to see where Cashel Toner met these requirements for SPS.... If there was a requirement for: ability to talk fast, not answer questions, and prevaricate - well then she would be a perfect fit.

Low Bar

Anonymous said...


He saves the world while pardoning tofurkeys.

Kill meNow

Melissa Westbrook said...

MaybeIShould, here's the thing - I'm not going to put all the ills of society on public education.

And I'm not allowing others to put all the wrongs in Seattle Schools on the Board.

That would be simplification.

dan dempsey said...

Murray is reported to have said:
"the murder of Mr. Brown."

Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of another person.

Perhaps Mayor Murray needs to use the word "shooting" rather than murder. Has he read the entire grand jury report? How did he reach the opinion that Michael Brown was murdered?

... and this guy is the Mayor.

So now in addition to the Mayor's murder expertise he is a school expert as well.... God save us all. (when is the next election?)

Anonymous said...

Jobs for teens. Stop the violence without perpetuating more violence would be a start. Start at the sidewalks and streets. Deal with property crime and crimes which blight neighborhoods and scare people into their homes and make them afraid to walk around their block or to school. Get police walking the beat and becoming familiar faces in neighborhoods instead of being familiar faces working traffic duties at downtown construction sites (why do we need a gun wearing LEO for this?). Other sites have construction crew to direct traffic around work zone. When people stop calling the police because they are afraid of getting hassled or it's going to be a waste of time, there's a problem.

Jobs that pay. $15/hr hardly covers rent in this city, but city employees can't get that as a minimum.

These are things the Mayor can do something about. But he doesn't.


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of 15/hour. But my question is if the baseline move to 15/hour the cost of everything will rise. So isn't this just a net neutral idea?

Interested in watching

Anonymous said...

Well you can do a little reading and find this:


Even the stodgy, fiscally conservative The Economist admits to a change of heart on its position against higher minimum.


Unlike high minded politicians, those making floor wage can't live lives based on economic theory.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Lost, now there are some solutions.

Anonymous said...

@Dan Dempsey: Murray's pandering.

Get folks thinking you're on their side by adopting their language, and it's easier to distract and disarm them while you sell them a host of other bad ideas. Politics 101. Remember Hillary's fake Southern drawl in the Deep South and her "I'm tired" speech?

They all do it. Murray and others will decry the plight of the AA kids in town, while at the same time doing everything possible to further the economic divide that keeps them struggling. The truth is that those in power don't see the plight of disenfranchised youth as a human crisis of un-achieved potential; they see it as a problem and a blight on their otherwise fair city. And one that fits nicely with profitable, market-based solutions! Win-win!!

The real priority of city government is which billionaire's butt cheek to be kissing on any given day. And our Supreme Court has declared that as the law of the land by treating dollars as speech.

Do not be fooled, ladies and gentlemen. As always, follow the money. It never sleeps and it always, always gets what it wants.


Dora said...

Maybe Should,

The issue is not the School Board.

There is a severe lack of funding and we do not have a superintendent who is an independent thinker, more on that later, who can get the bureaucracy of the Standford Center down to a manageable and more efficient organization.

Don't start with the school board because I know where you're going with this. Murray is about to propose that he be able to appoint 2-3 members to the board. He might not get mayoral control, which he really wants, but he would be able to control the board.

Dora said...

Also, if Murray cared that much, the city budget that was just approved by the council would have reflected more support for families of children of color who need safe housing, adequate food and safer neighborhoods.

Murray doesn't say anything without a big agenda behind it.

Anonymous said...

The irony for Ed is claiming he's against the war on young men of color after toadying to the Police Guild. This was his first order of business after he was elected. The Gates Foundation invests in for-profit prisons because it makes money for them. They see no conflict between owning public ed and paving the prison pipeline.


Anonymous said...

Does the board have their own legal counsel? Can they obtain their own counsel?


Anonymous said...

Ain't Money said ......

THERE IS NOT A LACK OF FUNDING at SPS. You must be kidding they get close to 1 billion per year. SPS is top heavy running close to the highest administrative cost in the country.

Here the 2011 numbers:

1. Seattle Schools and Students

Number of students: 43,752
Number of schools: 97

2. Public School Staffing

Number of employees: 4,914
Number of full-time classroom teachers: 2,056
Number of students per employee: 8.8
Number of students per classroom teacher: 20.9
Share of employees who are classroom teachers: 42%
Number of paid days off: 10 days of sick leave, 2 days of personal leave, and additional days for meetings and training.
Collective bargaining rule for layoffs: younger teachers with low seniority are laid off first.
Collective bargaining rule for teacher evaluations: numerous administrative obstacles to removing poor-performing teachers from the classroom.

3. Education Spending

Total education spending in 2010-11, budgeted: $833.5 million
Total per student spending: $19,051
Operations budget in 2010-11, budgeted: $566.9 million
Per student spending, operations only: $12,746
Average teacher pay for a ten-month work year: $70,850
Average teacher pay with benefits: $92,105
Average administrator pay with benefits: $132,549
Superintendent’s pay: $264,000
Number of employees receiving over $100,000 a year: 163
Education funds paid as dues to teachers union from May 2007- May 2008: $3.29 million

4. Student Learning (Students in Washington state are entitled to 180 days of class time.)

Number of full class days provided by Seattle: 170 (167 days for K-5 students).
High school on-time graduation rate: 70.1%

5. 2009-10 Measures of Student Progress and High School Proficiency Exam results

31% of fourth graders failed in Reading
38% of fourth graders failed in Math
27% of eighth graders failed in Reading
40% of eighth graders failed in Math
40% of eighth graders failed in Science
25% of tenth graders failed in Reading
55% of tenth graders failed in Math
55% of tenth graders failed in Science

Melissa Westbrook said...

Westside, no, they don't have their own legal counsel which is a huge problem. They could pay themselves but why should they? They should have their own researcher and at least a part-time legal counsel.

Leo said...

Aint Money, Do you think it matters that Washington is funded around 47th in the nation...we're on par with with Mississippi?

WSDWG is absolutely correct about messaging.

Murray: 'I'm not interested in devolving into governance issues, I'm interested in outcomes."

Expect Murray to support appointing 2-3 members of the school board. Very easy to get the majority..at that point.

Dora's point about an independent thinker is also right on target. Seems superintendents are only interested in following directions and following controversial fads. I'm not expecting a Superintendent that will try and get in front of the Smarter Balanced Assessment nightmare. Instead, we'll see a steady stream of followers.

Anonymous said...

to the anonymous ain't money at 3:33

WOW! what facility & grace with number abuse!

Do you know why the median class size isn't reported? Probably not, because you probably don't know what a median is.

There are computers which could spit those numbers out, to the web, everyday for every school and for the entire district ... but ... who wants useful numbers floating around when people want to lie about us lazy teachers teaching 20 students each !! I have had a class of 12 one time in over a decade - it was a class of 11 class wreckers.


Anonymous said...

The SPS legal office Is the board's legal counsel, and is supposed to be serving the interests of the board, not the superintendent or staff. That is because under the ethics rules for lawyers, the "client" is the district, not the superintendent or administrative leadership. That is one of the things that bothers me when it is said the board only has one employee. The legal office ethically has to follow the direction of the board if the board and the superintendent have different interests. The last GC in SPS who seemed to get this was Mark Green. Everyone since has viewed the job as facilitating the relationship between the superintendent and the board, to push the superintendent's view on the board.