I didn't watch all of the Board meeting on tv last night but I did get to see the Board leave - en masse - when one speaker who didn't know the rules, challenged them on allowing her a second slot to speak again. (The rules are one speaking time per person per meeting, no matter if someone is willing to cede their spot to you to give you more time.) When she wouldn't back down, the Board just got up and took a break. It was surprising to see given they generally give security the nod and the person is escorted from the room.
The Board also voted to halt suspension for elementary school students for nonviolent offenses for one year. Taken out of the mix for suspension are disruptive conduct, rule-breaking and disobedience. (Seattle has a lower suspension rate than the state average but it still has the issue of suspensions that occur more for minority students, ELL and Sped students.) This vote still doesn't solve the issue of what else happens if not suspension? (That's probably where all the dollars that staff wanted in the Action report will go - figuring out what else to do. I see a consultant in the district's future on this one.) Given the space crunch at many schools, one comment at the Times does make a good point - if kids are kept in the building, where will they go?
Director Martin-Morris who put forth the resolution said he hoped it would be across K-12 grades eventually (but he won't be on the Board to see that at this rate). I would like to applaud him for this but for someone to be on the Board for eight years and this is one of the few times he ever put forth a resolution seems a bit sad.
In his Board remarks, Director Martin-Morris told the audience that, as usual, he had several conferences to attend. One, the Council of Great City Schools, he will be attending with the Superintendent. At least he will leave the Board being consistent with going to more out-of-state conferences than any other director in Board history.
Director Peaslee said something interesting - she said the money was not there for the contract agreed to by the teachers union. And then she stopped. I'm not sure I understand her point or if she is correct.
If anyone else did attend the meeting or watched on tv, let us know what you saw.
The Times has started coming out with its General Election endorsements for School Board. They did a very mixed split of endorsements. In District 1, they endorsed Michael Christophersen. Mr. Christophersen must have calmed his rhetoric down enough for the Times editorial board. It appears the Times picked him over his opponent, Scott Pinkham, because Christophersen was more specific in what he would do to help the district.
But the Times also picked Rick Burke for District 2 over Laura Gramer. Again it seemed to be an endorsement for someone who knew the district better than the other candidate but while they got it right on Burke, they got it wrong on Christophersen.
As an update, Gramer has been endorsed by the 34th and 37th (both a dual endorsement with Burke). The 37th gave sole endorsements to Geary, Pinkham and Harris (Geary by a very wide margin and Harris by unanimous acclamation).
The Times also has an amusing op-ed by former School Board director (and right-wing thinker), Don Nielsen. Mr. Nielsen, harkening back to the days when he was on the Board with finance guy superintendent, Joseph Olchefske, talks about parents as "customers in public education."
First, Mr. Nielsen complains about the overturning of the charter school law. He even said that the AG's office had "helped to write" the initiative. He further complains about "politics" in the decision when, in fact, the decision appears to be based on the constitution. (I mentioned in my comments on the op-ed that it would be illegal for the AG's office to have helped to write any initiative and lo and behold there was this:
Thank you for letting us know about the error regarding the Attorney General's office. We have removed the incorrect information. Karen Cater, copy-editor chief.
I'll just say that op-eds are about 600-700 words. I'm pretty sure that someone read that op-ed and could see - very clearly - what Mr. Nielsen said. And yet it got printed. Almost makes you wonder if someone wanted it to go out into the ether for a bit before it got yanked, either via a comment like mine or the AG's office itself.
Nielsen goes on to berate the teachers, seemingly for the underfunding of schools. Something like that. He also said that the teachers were working on just "adult-focused" issues and not those which had to do with children and their education. I guess he missed the part about recess and advocacy for student-teacher ratios for Special Ed students.
Then it's the Board who he says let five superintendents slip thru their fingers. (I'll note that Mr. Olchefske ran the district into the ground about $32M on Nielsen's watch.) He says the Board did not start "serious negotiations" with the union during the summer. This struck me because Director Peaslee - in her Board remarks last night - very deliberately answered many questions about the negotiations that the Board had received including when the negotiations had started. She said they HAD been talking the whole summer.
Not wanting to miss anyone, he then goes after parents saying they "ganged up" with the City Council to get the strike settled as soon as possible (isn't that what everyone should have been doing?). He again apparently hadn't heard about Soup for Teachers and their work in supporting teachers, not ganging up on them.
He also charged that nearly all the money gained thru the strike would go to teachers. I would point out to him that even Bill Gates says the most important thing to public education in the classroom is...the teacher. Shouldn't that be where most of the money goes?
Nielsen shows that he completely doesn't know this district anymore and if he thinks demeaning directors who hold positions that he himself used to sit in will help matters, he's wrong.