Disqus

Friday, November 24, 2006

Finally, from Norm Rice Himself...

After weeks of hearing from everyone except Norm Rice, Melissa Westbrook (and others) got their wish --- an interview with Norm Rice in the PI in which he tells us more about his opinions about Seattle schools and why he wants to be interim superintendent.

Ex-mayor wants to run schools

The time period Norm Rice mentions for being an interim superintendent (about a year and a half) matches exactly with what I think would be beneficial --- long enough for the levy to pass, some trust to be restored in the schools, and an excellent superintendent to be hired.

I found this exchange interesting and surprising:

"[PI]What do you think about the seven school building closures that have already been approved for this fall? Is it a good idea to go forward with those?

[Rice] I can't answer that. I haven't gotten involved in that on purpose. My instinct says you ought to just shelve it. You ought to really maybe have a cooling-off period, look at some other objectives and come back to it. ... Right now, I don't even know if school closure brings the benefit that you want."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the line that struck me. Perhaps he would be an asset if he took over as superintendent. But premature judgements like that? To the media? Is he politicking? How well would he work with the board? If I were a board member would this persuade me to drop my objections to Norm taking over?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have been waiting and did ask, on KUOW, for some journalist to corner Rice and get answers from him (and not Mayor Nickels). And these are his answers?

Well, I guess I can't speak dispassionately in school closures because I am vested in the issue. I would point out that to shelve all of them and then revisit them at some distant point would be folly and probably the MOST detremential thing to the district. It would say that the people elected to power in this district can be shaken down even as they sit in office.

Another issue is Mayor Rice continuing to dissrespect the district. So the reason he wouldn't tell people to come here is because of the enrollment system and the lack of uniformly good schools? One, if he knew anything about our district, he'd know the enrollment issue is being addressed right now. The Board is faced with trying to find the clarity he says parents need with the choices they want. This is not an easy challenge. It is hard to gauge the "uniformly good" remark. I think we have good schools throughout the district. Are they all good in the same ways? Probably not but I think the foundation is definitely there and he should go visit a lot of schools before he makes that statement.

Something has to give. If I understand correctly Cheryl Chow is probably going to be the new president of the Board. She has shown steadfast determination to stare down the Mayor. Will he keep this up until after the new year and then put on a "we are the world" face in order to get the levy/bond passed? I suspect there are people who secretly would say que sera, sera if the levy/bond loses because it would help their cause to say what a failure our district is.

It is interesting to step back sometimes and watch the players. Mayor Nickels has the bully pulpit and is acting as a bully. (It is wrong to undermine and freeze out the very people - the Board - who need to accept your premise. No one likes to be backed into a corner.) No matter how badly he wants his way, it will only hurt the district if the levy/bond loses. Of course, the people whispering in his ear, the Don Nielsons of the world who have a definite, larger agenda, could care less if the levy/bond fails. It hurts the Board, a lot, to lose the bond/levy but have they necessarily done their best to mend fences and make the list the most logical and best possible one to present to the public? I submit they haven't.

My vote, no Mayor Rice. I'm not seeing the benefit.

There's a joint City Council/School Board meetingon Friday, Dec. 1 from 1-3 in Council chambers at City Hall. They have a public testimony portion prior to the meeting. Sign-ups are directly before the meeting. (This is what happened at the last one I attended; I'm assuming the same thing this time.)

Charlie Mas said...

I think a nice start for Mr. Rice would be to endorse the levy. He hasn't yet. His name does not appear on the SchoolsFirst! web site as one of the personal endorsers.