Washington Appleseed Forum

I had to look up the "Leadership Tomorrow" group as I had never heard of them. It looks like they have been around since at least 1984 as a leadership development group. It looks like they pick people in positions of leadership and help them gain more/new skills. Most of them are business community members. From my perspective, I'm fairly wary what this new group, Washington Appleseed, and Leadership Tomorrow are hoping to accomplish. A few people who attended the Washington Appleseed meet-ups said it seemed they were pushing for appointed school boards. It's worth looking into if only have a good understanding of what is out there.

"The Washington Appleseed is having a School Board Forum on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at 7 pm

Location: Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.

The troubled Seattle School District has just hired a new superintendent. Four of seven seats on the school board are up for election this fall. What is the role of the superintendent vs. the role of the school board? What are the skills needed by school board members? What does a high functioningschool board look like? Why should the community care?

Washington Appleseed and Leadership Tomorrow present a moderated panel discussion with Q & A about these issues and what is the best fit for Seattle. Panelists to be announced will be drawn from academia, business leadership, political pollsters, and governance experts.

Downstairs at Town Hall, enter on Seneca Street.

Free, no tickets required. Visit www.washingtonappleseed.org for more information."


Priya said…
The purpose of the Meet Ups co-sponsored by both Appleseed and CPPS is to discuss current issues facing our schools, the new Superintendent and school board elections being two of the most important. That said, within the last few months an appointed school board was covered heavily by the media, and so there is one slide in the host materials on appointed boards that is issue neutral. The Meet Ups are hosted by everyday community members and parents, some of whom may have strong opinions on an appointed board (on both sides!). However, this is not an issue that is being pushed by Appleseed and CPPS, but an item open for discussion (as are many others). If you have any questions regarding the content of the materials, we would be happy to talk to you about it.

First, who are you Priya? Or Kerry? It's hard to write an e-mail when you don't know who you are writing to at CPPS. Are you parents or staff?

Second, here's the blurb from Washington Appleseed:

During this public event, we seek to bring voters together to listen to a lively panel discussion, moderated by C.R. Douglas of the Seattle Channel, about the future of the Seattle School Board, in advance of the upcoming School Board elections in August.

The panel will address a variety of topics, including differentiating the roles of the School Board versus the Superintendent, qualities of a high-functioning School Board, skills needed by School Board members, effective School Board models in other areas of the country, and how voters can best evaluate candidates vying for a seat on the board.

We hope to build upon community conversations and voter education efforts being conducted on behalf of this topic by partnering organizations throughout Seattle.

This effort is part of a long-term campaign to engage the public in learning about and participating in School Board elections.

Our panelists include:

* Cathy Allen, President, The Connections Group
* Andrew Thibault, Principal, Evans/McDonough Company, Inc.
* Porsche Everson, President, Relevant Strategies
* Lynne Varner, Seattle Times Editorial Columnist
* Patricia Wasley, Dean, University of Washington College of Education"

Who are these people?
Here's the blurb for The Connections Group:

"The Connections Group was started 15 years ago by Cathy Allen who started the business with one message in mind: let's level the playing field for the rest of us, and put more people in office that look like us, act like us, and live like us. And that we did.

Breaking new records for winning women candidates, Campaign Connection tallied more than 200 winning efforts in less than its first five years. Allen went on to author two books on winning campaigns - the latter now used as a standard text at many colleges, universities and campaign schools throughout the country.

The Campaign Connection gave rise to a sister organization, Community Connections - using the same techniques in campaigns, only for public policy. Community Connections tallied hundreds of clients from school district and city agencies to neighborhood groups and non-profit associations.
Our strategy - whether in political challenges, private sector goals or agency projects - remains constant: You need the right message going to the right people at the right time, several times, in a variety of ways."

That first paragraph is very interesting because nowhere it is defined who "us" is.

Evans/McDonough Company, Inc. is an opinion research and strategic services company (among other cases, they helped Paul Allen get Seahawks stadium funded).

Relevant Strategies "offers state-of-the-art Board Advisory, Technology Advisory, Project Management, Management Consulting, and Group Facilitation."

Lynne Varner is the editorial writer for education issues at the Times.

Patricia Wasley's title is self-explanatory.

It's interesting that only one person, Dean Wasley, really has an education background. Does that mean the rest of them know about skills needed for a school board member in specific for Seattle? I'm not sure I understand how they know, better than other people I could think of to be on this panel, the role of the superintendent versus the school board and how they know what a high functioning school board looks like.

I recognize some of these businesses as being in business to sway people. That is their job. I'm hoping they are bringing their expertise in how to talk to people in general and not with any specific message. The fact that there are 3 businesses of this type versus one journalist and one educator seems, on the surface, problematic.
Priya said…
My apologies! I get so caught up sometimes that I forget to introduce myself. I am both a parent and staff at CPPS, as is Kerry. She (primarily) and I are the CPPS staff working on Meet Ups from the CPPS end. Our goal is to hear from parents about their concerns in Seattle, share information about school board elections (the August primary, for example) and talk about what parents want from the Superintendent. The Meet Ups that happened last week and spill into this week will be used for the Appleseed forum you mention. However, CPPS will continue to sponsor forums over the next month to engage parents as I have stated. Again sorry for the confusion! If people would like more information on attending a Meet Up or hosting one, let us know!
Charlie Mas said…
I'm looking at this "panel", and I'm not sure how balanced it is. Moreover, I'm not sure how qualified publicity flaks are to authoritatively state the roles of the School Board versus the Superintendent, qualities of a high-functioning School Board, skills needed by School Board members, effective School Board models in other areas of the country, or how voters can best evaluate candidates.
Anonymous said…
is this avatar a cue that alter-ego/not-so-kinder-gentler Charlie Mas is in the house? :)

I don't have a problem with the content of the panel - and not necessarily because I think they're uniquely qualified to opine on school board structure or process, but because:

I've seen Cathy Allen speak and she's smart and a gifted speaker; I'm interested to see Lynn Varner in person and in a 2-way conversation; I think CR Douglas does his homework and leads a good discussion (though he's kind of establishment); it's always interesting to see what's going to come out of Trish on any given day - and I guess I think if the rest are comparable in smarts and/or speaking ability, I'm up for it.

If they're going to talk about how boards in other arenas work, I'm thinking there's value there, too. School boards in WA are subject to WA law and that makes for unique requirements, and they're elected, which private boards may not be, but there are some universal principles and best practices - including working constructively with each other and with stakeholders - that apply even (especially) to them.

I guess I'm also thinking no one is saying this is the only opportunity to have people talk about this - if there are better people to talk about it (or to talk about it in a different way), let's get CPPS or someone else to host it.

At minimum it would be good if the format allowed written and/or oral questions - and if Priya and Kerry could take Charlie's questions and comments to them in advance to seed the discussion.
Charlie Mas said…
I don't believe that the dysfunction of the School Board is an outcome of elected Directors. It is, instead, a result of the lack on any kind of governance model. The Board is supposed to be a policy making body, but they lack any means for enforcing their policies. Therefore, their policies are routinely ignored and consequently irrelevant.

Having an appointed Board wouldn't change that problem one bit.

I think that the myth that there are folks who would be wonderful Directors and who would take the job if appointed but who simply cannot stand the idea of running for the job is nothing but absurd.

I don't think appointed Boards are that great. The totally lack accountability to the public - they are only accountable to the politicians who appointed them. The Sound Transit Board is appointed and it has not performed well at all.

Just the same, I would gladly accept an appointed Board if we could have an elected Superintendent. There has to be some accountability somewhere.

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