Monday, July 27, 2015

Education Questionnaire for City Council Members

Reader Robert Crunkshank put forth this idea that I think is a good one:

I do think it would be a good idea to submit an education-related questionnaire to all the City Council candidates who make it through the primary. We should get all those candidates on record on the big issues, including Tim Burgess and Ed Murray's efforts to have the City take over the school district and impose unwanted "education reform" policies.

So, dear readers, what questions would you like to see put forth to City Council candidates?  I would like to keep it to 4-5 questions because I don't want anyone trying to reject answering these questions on the basis of length of questionnaire.

I think there should be a dead-on "Would you support the takeover of either the district and/or School Board by the Legislature to pass onto the Mayor to run?" 


TechyMom said...

What will you do to give SPS new land on which to build new schools, and new money with which to build them? Do you support developer impact fees to provide capital funds for new schools?

Robert Cruickshank said...

Agree that 4-5 questions is the right length for this. Some thoughts:

Do you support restricting the Families and Education Levy to its original purpose of supporting wraparound services instead of using that money on high stakes tests or on interfering in the management of the school district?

Will you pledge to oppose giving City funds to charter schools, including those from the Families and Education Levy and the Preschool Levy?

How can the City help Seattle Public Schools build more classroom space to deal with growing enrollments?

Do you oppose taking scarce classroom space away from K-12 schools and giving it to the City's pre-k program? What is your preferred path for finding space for the City's pre-k program?

Do you support broadening the eligibility for pre-k funding to programs like Waldorf and Montessori without strings attached (such as mandating the use of tests or assessments)?

(PS: I don't know who Robert Crunkshank is but he sounds like a smart guy!)

Anonymous said...

Before you follow Robert Cruickshank down his primrose path, also know that Democracy for America (DFA) now requires that candidates explicitly acknowledge our society as one of white supremacy and articulate a plan to end all racism before they will endorse them. And given Robert's other views, would you also agree to submit a questionnaire to school board candidates requiring them to support the HALA recommendations prior to an endorsement? Robert is very active in supporting the upzoning of single-family zones across all of our neighborhoods. In fact, he refers to many of the readers of this blog --- whether he knows them or not --- as NIMBYs who oppose affordable housing and income equality (or the "radical redistribution of wealth," as he puts it).

Reader 420

Anonymous said...

Yes to TechyMom's questions. Some form of these is essential.

How about also something re: the HALA report? The City wants to upzone single family residential neighborhoods, which will potentially necessitate dramatic changes to the school district's neighborhood school assignment plan. To what extent should the city be working with SPS on this, and in what capacity?


mirmac1 said...

I'd take Robert's advice before I took a reader 420.

Anonymous said...

something about Title IV, sexual assault, and what you would do when the School or School District doesn't do anything to protect our students.

Jan said...

Melissa -- I can't come up with exact words, but I think you might think about tightening your question on mayoral control -- so that it covers "partial" as well as complete takeover -- that way it will pick up the "well, it is only 2 seats" nonsense that Eric Pettigrew was spouting.
How about this?

Would you oppose legislative action in Olympia that attempts to dilute or remove the current local system of democratic control of Seattle's schools, either by having the mayor appoint some or all board members, by having the mayor appoint (or approve) the Superintendent, or by any other means of changing school district governance to take the control of Seattle's public schools from its publicly elected board of directors?

It is a little longer, but doesn't allow the partial appointment nonsense to fly under radar -- and it also is less likely to let a candidate get away with claiming that he/she "supports" the current structure -- while they then stand aside (silently supporting) as the corporate ed reform crowd uses people like Pettigrew and Santos to destroy the district from the safe distance of Olympia.

Melissa Westbrook said...

As far as HALA, I would only question them in terms of what the report says.

Thanks for the help, Jan. I should have included "partial."

Eric B said...

Whatever you ask, I would phrase it in neutral language so that it's not a push poll.

Do you support City efforts to obtain land for new schools?

Do you support developer impact fees to help fund infrastructure, including new/upgraded schools?

Do you support legislation that would give the mayor the ability to appoint one or more School Board members?

Do you support legislation that would give the mayor the role of the School Board, including appointing and firing the superintendent?

Do you support having F&L levy funding linked to a particular principal continuing at the school, regardless of whether the new principal supports the grant objectives?

Do you support using classrooms currently devoted to K-12 education for the new pre-K program?

Do you support giving F&L and/or pre-K funds to charter schools?

Do you support giving students in the pre-K program standardized tests?

These questions ask the same ideas as what was already in the previous questions, but it's not obvious what the answers should be from the tone of the questions. You're more likely to get honest answers that way. Actually, more likely to get answers at all from some candidates.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, you would be one of several key people I would trust to help me vet the final questions (if you have time). I absolutely want neutral language and I will strive for that.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I definitely think there should be a question about the F&E Levy and its connection to standardized testing. Also, keep in mind that the current thinking about how the City can take over the schools revolves around leveraging funds like the F&E Levy or the pre-k levy. It is still good to ask about the more overt forms of takeover as well.

I'm all for neutral questioning, though make sure it's worded in a way that respondents have a more difficult time giving vague or evasive answers.

Watching said...

Do you support delinking Family and Education Levy funding- for elementary school counselors, family support counselors and other wrap around services- from test scores?

Do you support the concept that Family and Education funding is only available to schools that allow the city to influence- via family and ed dollars- principal hirings?

Do you support mayoral appointments to the school board?

Should the mayor have the capacity to hire school superintendents?

Would you vote to repeal I 1240?

Would you allow city funding to be used as a mechanism to expand charter schools?

Amy Hagopian said...

The current families and education levy administration relies heavily on standardized test scores to monitor its programming. Obviously, there are many important educational successes that can't be measured with test scores. The new pre-school program accountability is similarly calibrated to testing outcomes. Would you de-emphasize the role of standardized testing in levy programming?

mirmac1 said...

I would follow most of these questions with: if so (or not ) what steps would you take; or what can the board do to effectuate the desired change.

Anonymous said...

I think I would ask "Do you support/oppose/have no opinion on ..." type of questions, because in fact having no opinion on something like obtaining new land for schools or mayoral appointment of 2 seats, etc, tells me quite a bit about the candidate's lack of foundational knowledge of education issues (and therefore probable tendency to be influenced by "opinion maker" types.)

Lately Lurking

seattle citizen said...

After watching Key and Peele's sketch where teachers are valued as much as sports stars, I would ask:
Do you support paying educators as much as professional sports players?
And, in a related question, don't you think all teachers should be given BMW 6 Series luxury cars?