Just an FYI, courtesy of the Stranger Slog.
Next year, along with becoming council president, Harrell will chair the
Education, Equity, and Governance Committee, a new spin on what's now
called the Education and Governance Committee.
Bruce Harrell is the new president of the City Council AND will head the committee overseeing education. The Vice-Chair is Lorena Gonzalez, Debora Juarez, Member and Tim Burgess, Alternate. That is not the line-up I would want to see if public education in Seattle is to continue operating independently, but in partnership with, the City.
Harrell cares about public ed but between his new presidency and the fact he's not the most active City Councilman, I worry about who will really be directing that committee. Given that the Vice-Chair is closely connected to the Mayor, I have to wonder.
I also wanted to mention the conversation I had with the Mayor recently. It was at a holiday event so it was not lengthy.
I mentioned that I felt very good about the new Board and how varied their backgrounds are. I also mentioned the return of Noel Treat as head of Legal, telling the Mayor that Treat had previously been in the district but had left to be manager of Mercer Island. He asked me Treat's name, twice.
I told him that I hoped he was not going to consider going down the ill-advised road of the City trying to become "more active" (I thought that phrase better than "takeover") in the district. He got a bit agitated and said it was a moral duty to do something and that, in the years he was in the legislature, the graduation rate in SPS had never changed. (I'll double-check but I think he's wrong.)
He left me before I could make two points.
One, the legislature never did fully fund education until recently when the Supreme Court stepped in (and it's still not a done deal.) I'll have to also double-check what he was doing for public education all those years he served in the legislature.
Two, I wanted to ask him to consider what has happened to many big-city mayors who thought taking over public education would be an easy task. I wanted to point to the example of Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who has manage to make enemies in all directions in his city but especially among teachers and parents. His ratings have tanked and there is mass agitation for him to resign.
I welcome the City's help with our public schools but there is a line that should be respected. School Board members are every bit as much elected officials as any mayor or city councilmember.
But one example of help from the City is that I would want to ask them to redouble their efforts in permitting for district projects as I noted in one recent district report on capital projects that there was an issue of permitting delays. At least that's what the district says. I'd be interested to know the exact issue as the City says they have cut red tape for the district and yet the district still complains.