Monday, March 19, 2007

Seattle School Board Candidates

The Saturday Seattle Times article, 3 already running for seats on School Board, identifies two people who have already announced they are contesting Seattle School Board seats (Peter Maier and Lisa Stuebing). Sally Soriano has confirmed she will be running for re-election.

What interests me in this article is the closing piece:

Former board member Barbara Schaad-Lamphere, who lost to Flynn in 2003, said she has spoken to others interested in running, though she would not provide names.

The would-be candidates share common traits, she said. "People have a distinctly different approach from the School Board members now in terms of making the difficult decisions that lie ahead. They are determined to work more effectively as a board," Schaad-Lamphere said.

She is kicking off a nonprofit group that will hold a series of meetings to generate interest in the election. "We are at a fork in the road," she said. "We have tough decisions in the future. I think all School Board elections are important, but we have a fever pitch of interest in public schools right now."

Does anyone know the name of this new non-profit group or where we could find more information?

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in new or returning School Board members?

And what should we do about the problems Charlie Mas has pointed out with the way the district is governed so that whoever is elected can make a positive difference for the district?


Charlie Mas said...

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in new or returning School Board members?

The Board members should do their job: set policy.

Part of setting policy is enforcing policy. They have no tools besides their powers of persuasion and their bully pulpit, but they must use them.

The Board is charged with providing accountability. They have to follow up on staff work to confirm that it is of sufficient quality, to cofirm that it is compliant with Policy, and to confirm that it is consistent with the Board's Vision and Values.

If they are not doing the work of setting policy, then they are nothing but ceremonial figureheads.

Anonymous said...

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in new School Board members?

Ones who put the interests of the District ahead of personal desires to capitulate to loud but minority view-point voices.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous but differently. I want candidates to come in with ideas or, maybe more important, clear ideas on how to implement what we have already started on. Coupled with that should be the realization that being on the Board is a TEAM effort and private agendas have to be set aside.

That has not happened with this group and it has led us to this uncertainty and lack of confidence in the Board. Most of them of no one to blame but themselves and any incumbent better be ready to defend her record.

I am with Charlie as well so my questions to any candidates would be:
-what is the job of a School Board member? (should be answered per Charlie's remarks)
-what is the most important quality for a candidate? (I believe the answer should be the ability to work with the entire Board to find compromise and consensus to be able to present a clear and firm vision to parents and the public.)

David said...

I'm so pleased to have found this site.

I'm looking for School Board members who can solve problems and build on successes. That's a little vague, but there are policy changes that School Board members could institute that would improve the system.

For example, the district's Bess blocking software is, as one district employee put it, a "lock-down" policy. This employee alludes to the "politics" of the policy. I feel very impatient with vendor software that keeps me, as a teacher, from enhancing curriculum--or at least enhancing curriculum without having to work with NetOps to find elaborate and time-consuming workarounds.

I also don't understand how teachers are supposed to close the achievement gap if too many of their students aren't showing up for classes. I would like to know how School Board candidates would change the district's attendance policy to ensure that chronically absent students are progressively getting more atttention from a school's administration.

I know all of these issues are complex, but I'm interested in seeing how candidates respond. I've spoken at length with Lisa Stubing and Sally Soriano, and I'm particularly impressed with Ms. Soriano's ability to understand the problems. Peter Maier, on the other hand, is someone I don't even know how to contact. If he expects to be a Seattle School Board member, he'll have to learn to be a little more accessible.