In this particular column, Westneat asks some hard questions in his usual gentle manner. He's writing about the Mayor's upcoming Education Summit and how the Mayor seems to be figuring out what he might think needs to be done for/to Seattle Schools.
It’s dicey politically because the mayor has zero authority over the schools. Still, I give him credit for using his bully pulpit to make the schools such a citywide priority.However:
At the first meeting, a facilitator presented some rules, or “norms,” for the group. Here’s the first one:
“Norm 1: Meetings will be closed to the public and press. Mayor wants a robust conversation where people can speak freely and question one another.”
You can go to to a series of community conversations and then a summit on April 30 and tell them what you hope they’ll do. But when they get down to the nitty-gritty, you can’t even listen in.
Says one of the group’s co-chairs, Ron Sims: “We were told the mayor likes to have them closed, and that his housing committee did it that way.”
Sure, that one went off without a hitch.There was also this:
“The whole issue of governance [of who runs the schools] is off the table,” Sims said.
That's news to me because at the December holiday party for the 43rd Dems, he told me it was a "moral imperative" for him to do something about the opportunity gap including governance. And I'm not the only one to have heard him say this. I'd like to take Sims at his word but I don't know.
I also note this committee has a decided lack of educators (and the district had to ask to even get the Superintendent and Board President Patu on the committee.)
He ends this way and I'm sure there are plenty of parents who would echo his thoughts.
I’ve got two kids in Seattle schools, and I’ve grown a little weary of them being used as guinea pigs for one reform experiment or another. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask that parents at least be allowed to monitor the discussions about our schools.
That’s the thing: They’re our schools. Norm 1 for this group might as well say: “Meetings will be closed to the owners of the schools, and the press.”