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Sunday, November 26, 2006

More from the Times

Two editorials in today's Sunday Times about Seattle Schools. One is about the TAF Academy at Rainier Beach.
Don't miss opportunity at Rainier Beach High

The other is another over-the-top editorial about the Board and taking over Seattle Schools (by some unnamed entity):
Why Seattle must control its schools

The Rainier Beach piece is actually measured in its tone. They do miss the point; this isn't about charters or not because they are not legal in this state. It is about what the relationship between private entities that want to come in and create schools and our district. They point out how well the foundation that the Academy is based on has done. Good and well but running a program is not the same as running a school. They point out, rightly, how poorly Rainier Beach is doing but don't delve into why.

They completely miss the point that it is just plain common courtesy with any group or established school to make the effort to include everyone at the table in discussions about change.

The editorial by James Vesely (the editor or the editorial page) is, once again, too much. He complains about:
-losing another superintendent - Well, again, superintendents are just not lifers. It would be nice to have one more than 3 years but Stanford died, Olchefske was incompetent and Raj never should have been put in. Not one of these can be laid at the feet of the current Board.
-the departure of the CFO - and to that I say, so what? Should we do a survey of how many districts have lost a CFO, assistant superintendent, etc.?

He uses a lot of coded language saying that Seattle is a great city full of talent and great cities do not "have the failing systems of blighted East Coast cities." He also claims that there has been a "slow spin towards deliberate mediocrity". I have said a lot of things critical of this district and the current (and past) Board and superintendents but that people are trying to be deliberate in not doing better is just plain wrong.

He gets in his worst points with "the district and most of its board have lost the confidence of the 'pros' who run the city and region." He goes on to name the mayor, Ron Sims, editorialists, former School Board members, 'much of the professional class'. Where's the City Council? Who are these other editorialists because I try to read as many other media sources as I can and so far it's only the Times on this bandwagen of takeover. And the professional class? Is this who gets to dominate the conversation about the state of our public schools?

He refers, repeatedly, to the "establishment". He references a speech (I believe by Don Nielson) given to the Rotary which he called "one of those establishments that start with a captial E". He also says, "In sum, that nearly an unprecedented loss of confidence in an elected board". No matter how many Rotary members, former Board members or "establishment" folk he lines up, the huge number of voters who voted 3 years ago to oust the majority of the School Board is bigger. So no, Mr. Vesely, it isn't unprecedented even if true.

Then he goes on to talk about the power of neighborhoods and community groups to influence their neighborhood schools and calls them "pampered, beloved and boutique". Well, there's a good slam at places like Montlake. At least, he's an equal opportunity offender. He dislikes everyone who isn't "establishment".

He also speaks of the "coming takeover of Seattle schools". Does he know something we don't?