The Times starts off the year with their "headlines we'd like to see" contest. Funny thing, their editorial doesn't even give the top reader winners' headlines but only the ones the Times wants to see. (None of were about public education except for "No U.S. school shootings in 2015" which won first place.)
The Times calls their own headlines "wishful thinking" and they certainly are. Hey, look at that - four of them are about public education.
Legislature funds McCleary education ruling and leaves Olympia on-time
(I think we can all agree on this one but, of course, where's the money
- Mayor takes over Seattle Public Schools. Well, they are nothing if not direct.
As I have opined before, the Mayor will take a HUGE political risk doing this (and that goes for if he were to succeed or fail). Let's tally up the reasons.
One, just saying out loud that he wants to do this is risky. He would have to articulate several good reasons. He would have to either diss our current Board or try to make them sound like dim-witted do-gooders who are less-than-effective. He would likely have to promise change in all district leadership - both hired and elected because otherwise, it would look like a power grab by him against an elected school board.
Two, he has been in office less than two years. What makes him and his staff believe they have the bandwidth and expertise to do this? There's some chutzpah to this thinking. The new "Department of Education" has just taken on preschool (albeit in a limited fashion). I have e-mails showing that they know the costs just to do that will rise and the worry they have over finding the money. And now they want to take on running a school district?
Or would this just be about appointing both a Board and a superintendent that the Mayor could control (with a little help from some powerful and wealthy friends)?
Three, where in this country has mayoral control of an urban school district truly led to better outcomes?
Four, the Mayor taking over the district would mean that he thinks voters aren't bright enough to vote in good people for the Board, then how are we bright enough to vote for, say, mayor?
Five, I concede the Mayor his vast knowledge of the Legislature, its members and how it works. The 500-lb gorilla in the room? Local control and how this move would look to conservative legislators who might get in hot water with school boards in their regions who do NOT want this to happen to them. Go down this road with Seattle and then watch mayors around the state start eyeing their districts.
State Legislature suspends I-1351. Two problems here. First, the
Legislature cannot do that for two years. They can, like the Governor
appears to want to do, ignore it for two years and THEN suspend it.
Second, so any close vote on an initiative can be challenged by the
Legislature? Just like I-1240, the charter law. Either it's the will of the people or
not. Also, when voters enact an initiative that doesn't have money, I think
the vote means "enact AND you find the money because that's what we elected you to do."
Achievement gap closing statewide; graduation rates reach 100 percent.
The first half of that headline is fine AND could be done. The second? Honestly, let's be realistic. In one year the Times wishes the graduation rates in Washington State would go to 100%? Yes, and I wanted a pony for Christmas.
There's no state in the U.S. anywhere near 100%. Steady process is happening, the pace does need to pick up but there are many reasons that you will never get to 100% and the Times knows that.
But clearly folks, you are going to see some real action happening this year on these fronts. The Times may be sitting in a room, beating their own off-beat drumbeat but there are those, with power, who want it to be so.
It would be a good idea to let the Mayor (and the City Council) know you will not support this effort. The City Council should be reminded that every single seat is up for election next November where I predict that public education will be a central issue.
I'll have another thread on how the School Board races may play out.