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Monday, June 18, 2007

School Board Candidates

A blog reader sent me some additional contact information for the upcoming School Board races which I have listed below. I've put the districts which are at play in the primary first: District 2 and District 6. That is where I'm going to focus my research and attention first as I learn more about the candidates.

I can't imagine that candidates without a website will be competitive. But, then again, a candidate like David Blomstrom would actually do better without one.

If you have additional contact information, like websites which are not currently listed, let me know. I've posted a link to this post at the right so that people can return to this page to contact School Board candidates between now and the election.

**********************************************
Primary Election: Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Election Day: Tuesday, November 06, 2007

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SPS District 2 North Seattle --- Primary Election

Sherry Carr
(206) 914-6790
sherry@carr4kids.com
http://carr4kids.com/

Darlene Flynn
(206) 422-5867
flynn4kids@hotmail.com
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/flynn.xml

Courtney Hill
(206) 288-9818
courtneyhill@gaggle.net

Patrick Kelley
(206) 300-0200
pakman60@hotmail.com

Lisa Stuebing
(206) 524-6788
lisa@stuebingforschools.org
http://www.stuebingforschools.org/


SPS District 6 West Seattle ---- Primary Election

Zeinab M. Ahmed
(206) 265-3949
ztwinz@yahoo.com

Danaher Dempsey, Jr
(360) 920-0823
dempsey_dan@yahoo.com
http://www.dempsey4schools.org/

Edwin B. Fruit
(206) 323-1755
seattleswp@speakeasy.net

Maria G. Ramirez
(206) 218-9650
mariagramirez@mac.com

Steve Sundquist
(206) 938-3129
steve4schools@yahoo.com
http://www.sundquist4schools.com/


SPS District 1 Northwest Seattle - General Election

Peter Maier
(206) 623-2800
plmaier@aol.com
http://www.petermaierforschoolboard.com/

Sally Soriano
(206) 782-8292
sally@sallysoriano.org
http://www.sallysoriano.org/


SPS District 3 Northeast Seattle - General Election

David Blomstrom
(206) 290-4307
webmaster@rep5.org
http://2007.seattle-mafia.org/

Harium Martin-Morris
(206) 795-9844
harium@harium2007.com
http://www.harium2007.com/

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

When deciding between Sally Soriano and Peter Maier, I have to go with Peter. I can't overlook the fact that Sally voted against the BEX II bond, and even though she did not join the lawsuit against the district, she wrote an affidavite supporting it. Peter by contrast was the president of schools first, and lead the succesful campaign to get the levy/bond passed. He takes leave from his law practice and volunteers full time for a couple of months during the campaign. He is ready to scale down his work with his practice now, so that he can dedicate more time to serving as board director. He is ver dedicated.

Peter is a Harvard grad and has considerable political and public policy experience. He worked for 4+ years in D.C., where he lobbied, testified personally before Congressional committees, served as aide to the head of a Federal agency, and wrote several investigative reports that received national press attention and led to changes in Federal policy.
Alex F

Charlie Mas said...

In the District 2 primary I favor Sherry Carr. She knows what should be done and what can be done. She knows the obstacles and limitations for the School Board and has a good sense of how to work around and within them. She has her focus on the right things to move the District towards a healthier culture, stronger community engagement, and higher academic achievement.

Lisa Stuebing is clearly very bright and has a number of needed skills. I would like to learn more about how she would work within the District to move it forward.

I cannot support Director Flynn's re-election. I don't think she has moved the District towards stronger community engagement or greater transparency. I don't think she has done well fulfilling her campaign promises of four years ago. As much as anything, I don't like her interpersonal skills (as if I were one to talk!).

I don't know much about the other two candidates, Courtney Hill and Patrick Kelley, but I would be happy to learn more.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Kelley seems like an unknown, but is interesting and is someone to watch. He was a guest blogger on educating mom, and I liked what he had to say. I'm going to keep an eye on him. Anyone know him personally or have any insight into his background, experience, people skills etc.?

Anonymous said...

Here is Patrick Kelleys post on Linda Thompson's blog, Educating mom.

I know how important it is to succeed in educating our students. Every day in my job at United Way of King County, I see the outcomes of our failure to provide our young people with the building blocks necessary to be successful in life. Public education that partners with parents and the community is the foundation for a healthy community. Public education really can be the magic bullet in preventing so many future conditions that communities end up facing later. But we have to pay for it now. If we decide we have the will to:

1. Stop using an enrollment system that makes a sub-performing school an excuse to withdraw rather than a reason to get involved in finding solutions together;

2. Utilize our tremendous creativity to determine what can and does work in closing the achievement gap, regardless of where the idea comes from;

3. Build successful programs to scale district-wide, invest in them, and make THAT the "public education" system.

Then we will have the world-class workforce we need for our local economy in the future. We will greatly reduce the possibility of perpetuating cycles of dependence on social services. We can be confident in sending children to our neighborhood schools again because that school will meet their needs, and parents can stop having to shop for a school outside of the area where they can afford to live.

We need a set of directors in this district who know how to lead rather than manage, and I have the professional and personal experience to understand that distinction. I envision school board leadership that supports and respects one another, engages consistently with all stakeholders, and is looked at as credible and respected by those stakeholders. I envision a group of leaders that can maintain a position of oversight and avoid slipping into micro-management.

As a member of the board, I would make every effort to engage administrators, legislators, students, teachers, community members, and parents in creating a system accessible to all."

I am anxious to see him in a couple of the upcoming candidate forums. He appears very open to communication (on all levels) and he seems to see the big picture. It appears that through his work with United Way he sees first hand the end result of our schools not doing their jobs. This will surely give him some advantage and insight in closing the achievement gap.
Though he does not break down in detail how he plans to achieve his goals, I like what his goals are. I'm certainly not ready to endorse him yet, but am intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Courtney Hill is a 2007 graduate of John Marshall.

Roy Smith said...

I just checked Peter Maier's website, and I still don't see anything that addresses what he thinks about any particular issue facing SPS. It appears that he is running on his resume combined with attacks on Sally Soriano's record. While his resume is pretty good, I don't want to hear about his resume, I want to have an idea on how he would vote on issues and what direction he would steer SPS policy in.

Sally Soriano's record, while not perfect, is pretty good in my eyes. She held the district's feet to the fire on the drinking water issue, she has consistently opposed efforts to bring privatized charter schools to Seattle (what does Peter Maier think on that issue? Does anybody know?), and she is accessible and responsive to community concerns.

Peter Maier could have a chance of getting my vote, but before that happens, I would need to know what he actually thinks about the issues, not how many levy vote drives he has led.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could have a look at Peter Maier's guest blog on Linda THompsons blog, educating mom. He went over many of his views, and articulated them fairly well. Look at all the comments too, as he responded to several of them. I wouldn't discount his resume either, it'a pretty good one. It's not everyday that a Harvard Law School grad steps up to a full time VOLUNTEER role. I just can't get over Sally voting against the BEX III levy. I might have endorsed her but for that. She is good hearted, and has a lot of integrity. But, at this point I'm not convinced that is enough. Peter has my vote!

Anonymous said...

Leslie here

My understanding is that Peter Maier led the charge and provided pro bono legal work against Charter Schools, which ought to address that question -

Have known Peter professionally over 20 years and have yet to see him not tackle anything but full force, head on and with a great deal of class. Knowing him, I suspect that you will find a great deal more detail as time allows.

Peter, what say you?

Roy Smith said...

I just read Peter Maier's guest post on Linda Thompson's blog, and I still don't feel I know anything about him, aside from his resume. He speaks in generalizations, and when asked specific, direct questions that should have straightforward answers, he answers the question he wants to answer rather than the question he is actually asked.

I can support every single thing that Mr. Maier has stated in a public forum. The problem is that he hasn't said anything that really anybody could find offensive, which is to say, he hasn't really said anything at all.

peter has my vote wrote: I wouldn't discount his resume either, it'a pretty good one. It's not everyday that a Harvard Law School grad steps up . . .

The fact that he is a Harvard Law School grad does absolutely nothing for me if I don't know his position on the issues. Alberto Gonzales, William Bennett, and Antonin Scalia are also Harvard Law School grads, but that doesn't mean that they hold beliefs that I agree with.

I want to know what Mr. Maier's position is on controversial subjects that he may be called on to deal with as a school board member, and so far, that has not been forthcoming, even when asked directly.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sundquist just posted these comments on the educating mom blog. I love him!!! Charlie, I know you are going to say that he has not shown specifically how he wants to accomplish his goals, but I say at least he has clear goals, and that's where it starts. By knowing where you want to go and why.

"First, on the topic of student assignment, I believe that in general we should be returning wherever possible to neighborhood schools, with the predictability and accountability to parents that will bring. This approach will be good for most kids in terms of academic achievement, and it will also be good for our communities. With that as the overall policy direction, we will have to make adjustments for at least two issues. The first is failing schools. If you live in an area that is not served by strong schools, then a neighborhood-based assignment plan will not serve you well. This is a matter of basic educational equity, and we will need to tackle it by adjusting parent choices to ensure that they include good schools, and also by working to "turn around" the failing schools. Second, the point raised by the contributor at 7:35, there are special programs like music at Garfield that are not offered in every school, and we will need to ensure that parents retain the ability to choose these special programs even if they reside outside the school neighborhood. At this point I am open to a variety of techniques for how that could be accomplished.

On the question of public confidence, I think this one cuts in many ways. The Seattle P-I published a poll on May 9 that gave some clues. First, there is a widespread confidence problem with the school board. Many people also lack confidence in the administration/management downtown. And finally, some folks lack it in their local school as well. Interestingly, the poll suggested that "school parents" generally rated the various questions more favorably than "all voters".

Finally, the question on the budget impact of closing the achievement gap. It is clearly a challenge, and goes to the heart of the public education funding problem. Like most people of goodwill, I would like to see ALL of our schools be great, and ALL of our children reach their achievement potentials. I can't really answer the detailed budget trade-offs yet without having an opportunity to really sink my teeth into the district's numbers. Having said that, I do believe that attracting and thoughtfully allocating philanthropic money can help, and while controversial, this is something that I plan to explore"

Anonymous said...

Geez Roy, how do you not see Mr. Maier's positions? He has posted them on his website and on the educating mom blog.

Here they are:
1-Long term fiscal health for the district, starting with implementing a twice annual budget review by the board.
2-Turn around plan for failing schools, with district intervention
3-9th grade transition plan to help prevent students at risk for dropping out.
4-Stron focus the math curriculum, and proper teacher training to implement it.


Some of his past accomplishments include:
1-President of schools first, succesfully leading the campaign (twice) to pass the bond/levy.
2-He fought against charter schools, and offered his legal services to the district pro bono.
3-He worked for 4+ years in D.C., where he lobbied, testified personally before Congressional committees, served as aide to the head of a Federal agency, and wrote several investigative reports that received national press attention and led to changes in Federal policy.

In addition Peter has children who are in or have been in Seattle public schools, and is prepared to scale back his law firm duties, to dedicated as much time as necessary to his board committments.

I know that he hasn't in painful detail laid out exactly how he will accomplish his priorities. Neither has ANY other board candidate. He has a vision, and that is how it starts. Let's support him in achieving his goals, instead of tearing him apart

Charlie Mas said...

Asking questions does not equate with tearing people apart.

"I want to know what Mr. Maier's position is on controversial subjects that he may be called on to deal with as a school board member, and so far, that has not been forthcoming, even when asked directly." doesn't feel like tearing anyone apart either.

I've seen tearing people apart, I've done it. This ain't it.

I understand - believe me, I do - that we should not presume ill will and dishonesty. But we should be able to ask candidates hard, square questions and to closely review their statements and choices.

You can counter that Director Soriano has no more details on her campaign web site, and that's true, but Director Soriano also has a record as a Board member. We know what kind of job she does and how she works and where she stands on the issues. She has been demonstrating it for the past three and a half years.

Finally, the fact that none of the candidates are forthcoming with that sort of information (not so, some candidates do offer more detail), does not excuse any of them. They should ALL be providing that kind of detail.

Roy Smith said...

The quote from Steve Sundquist that north end mom cites is a position that actually has some substance. He states: "I believe that in general we should be returning wherever possible to neighborhood schools, with the predictability and accountability to parents that will bring." This is actually taking a position on an issue that a) the board will have to take action on and b) which could bring forth opposition from those who feel that choice is a higher principle than predictability. Some (many?) people will argue that his is the wrong position. A reasonable argument can be made that choice as it is should preserved (or even expanded). Please note that I actually agree with his position; the point is, some will honestly disagree.

By contrast, Mr. Maier's positions are ones that are feel-good positions that everybody will support. Lets see what oppposition to his positions would look like:

Maier supports: Long term fiscal health for the district. Opposition position: No thank you, I prefer bankruptcy.

Maier supports: Turn around plan for failing schools, with district intervention. Opposition position: The district should absolutely not intervene, even if the school is failing.

Maier supports: 9th grade transition plan to help prevent students at risk for dropping out. Opposition position: Let the students at risk figure out if school is important or not by themselves.

Maier supports: Strong focus the math curriculum, and proper teacher training to implement it. Opposition position: Our math curriculum and WASL pass rates are good enough as they are, and even if we do implement a new math curriculum, teachers don't need training to make it work.

The point here is that opposition to Mr. Maier's stated positions is patently ridiculous. This stems from the fact that he hasn't taken any positions that have substance.

Anonymous said...

Your point about opposition to Mr. Maier's plan is well taken. However if everybody happily agrees on all of his positions why has no board member or the district done them yet. He IS doing it. He IS putting these positions forth. He WILL get it done. Then won't it be great when we all "feel good". We are certainly not "feeling good" right now.

Roy Smith said...

It is not at all clear that he will do it, because he provides no details about how. Details might cause controversy.

As an example, his fourth point is Strong focus on the math curriculum, and proper teacher training to implement it. Does this mean that he would support instituting one standardized math curriculum? Which one would it be? What would be the criteria, if any, that would allow a school to be exempted from using the district standard curriculum? Etc.

I can accept that he honestly intends to focus on the math curriculum, and that he honestly intends to work towards all his other goals. However, that isn't sufficient to earn my vote unless I have some idea of how he intends to implement all of these grand improvements. He needs to say something beyond feel good statements about "holding people accountable".

It is very easy to envision a "strong focus on the math curriculum" that would use an approach that I or others would find completely wrong-headed or unacceptable. At the same time, other people might find what I view as a terrible approach to be just what we need to cure our ills, or vice versa. If he were to provide some details of how he would make changes or make decisions, then it would be easier to decide if he were a candidate that was worthy of our votes.

In case nobody has noticed, for the most part it is not the general goals (such as those Mr. Maier has articulated) that create controversy within and around SPS. It is the details of how things are actually going to get done, and that is what matters to people. For instance, in school assignments: most everybody seems to agree that "choice" and "predictability" are both worthwhile objectives, but when it comes to implenting either an immense amount of controversy is generated.

Mr. Maier could be a better candidate than Sally Soriano. I'm sure there are people who dislike Ms. Soriano's votes or positions on policies enough to think that anything is an improvement. If that is the case, feel free to vote for the candidate who has taken no risks by not putting forth any positions of substance. My point is merely that I find Ms. Soriano to be a competent school board director, and Mr. Maier will actually have to stick his neck out far enough for me to figure out what he actually thinks before I will be inclined to consider voting for him.

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous 3:07 asks an EXCELLENT question:

"if everybody happily agrees on all of his positions why has no board member or the district done them yet"

The answer, of course, is that the Board doesn't really do these things.

The long term fiscal health for the district is determined largely by the legislature. The Superintendent writes the budget. The Board doesn't really have a role here. They don't decide how much money comes in or how it is spent. So how can the Board secure the District's long term fiscal health? One way they could help out would be to reduce expenses by changing the student assignment and transportation policies to reduce the District's transportation expenses. Another way would be to reduce expenses by closing schools (if that really does cut costs). The current Board is already doing these things.

There is already a District Policy, C45.00, that requires the District to intervene with turn around plans for failing schools. The Superintendent has not followed that policy and the Board lacks any means to compel him to do so. Every effort by the current Board to encourage the Superintendent to comply with District Policy has been portrayed in the media as either micro-managing or undermining the Superintendent.

Mr. Maier acknowledges that the Board would have no direct role in creating a 9th grade transition plan to help prevent students at risk for dropping out. That would be entirely up to the Superintendent to develop.

Likewise, the Board has no role in determining how much money is spent on professional development for the new math curriculum. The Board does not make those decisions and would not think to meddle or micro-manage by kibbitzing on that decision.

Like everyone else, I totally support all of these positions. Mr. Maier is saying that he can make them happen, and I certainly hope he can. I just don't see how.

I'm not trying to be mean here. I'm not trying to tear anyone down. I just want to be clear about what is the Board's job and what isn't. We should all have a clear idea about the kind and amount of influence the Board can exert.

It's like the mayor opposing genocide in Darfur. It's a lovely sentiment, but he doesn't really have any authority to take any action on it.

The question in my mind is this:

A) Does Mr. Maier know of a way - a way that no one else has discovered yet - that the Board can do some of these things?

B) If not, then is Mr. Maier confused over the Board's role and he honestly believes, if elected, he could do these things?

C) If neither of those, then - just to cover the bases and consider every possible contingency - is this a disingenuous political play in which Mr. Maier relies on the public's confusion over the Board's role to win votes by making promises he cannot keep?

I think it is more A) and B) than C). It appears that Mr. Maier believes that a better, stronger relationship between the Board and the Superintendent will win the Board better compliance from the Superintendent. It appears that he believes that the Board can use their bully pulpit to hammer on a few select priorities, and therefore unite the staff and the community behind those priorities, directing financial support and staff cooperation to those priorities - money and work that the Board lacks the authority to command.

I must say that I have never seen either of those strategies prove effective. They have been tried - a number of times. I find this perspective optimistic. Given the poor track record, I don't think it should be the foundation of any plan.

I could be wrong about all of this. The only way to know is to ask Mr. Maier and allow him to answer for himself. So far I have been - ummm, let's say clumsy - in my efforts to ask these questions. I will try to ask them more gracefully next time.

Mr. Maier's supporters - and there are a number of them - are also free to try to answer these questions.

I hope I have presented this perspective without vitriol towards Mr. Maier or Mr. Sundquist or any of the other honorable candidates. I assure you that no disrespect is intended.

Anonymous said...

Dear Roy, you say

"As an example, his fourth point is Strong focus on the math curriculum, and proper teacher training to implement it. Does this mean that he would support instituting one standardized math curriculum?"

You and Charlie are always preaching transparancy and community engagement. If Mr. Maier would be so bold as to say the curriculum that he is behind and tell all the ways he plans to support implementing it, you would blast him endlessly. Rather, he is saying that he sees a problem, and wants to address it. Hopefully, he will engage the community before putting forth HIS plan.

Anonymous said...

CHARLIE, MR MAIER IS SAYING WHAT HE SUPPORTS. HE IS TAKING A POSITION. GIVE HIM A BREAK. SALLY SHOWS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON HER WEBSITE, AND QUITE FRANKLY ASIDE FROM BEING ACCESIBLE, AND HER COMMENDABLE STAND ON THE WATER POLICY, SHE HAS DONE VERY LITTLE. SHE EVEN VOTED AGAINST BEX III !!!

THOUGH THE BOARD HAS NO DIRECT POWER THEY DO HAVE ALOT OF INFLUENCE. REPEAT, ALOT OF INFLUENCE. THEY VOTE, AND THEY CAN DISCIPLINE OR FIRE THE SUPT, IF THEY SEE FIT.

DON'T MAKE IT AS IF BOARD MEMBERS ARE SITTING DUCK FIGURE HEADS WITHOUR ANY POWER. AND, IF THEY WERE , WHY WOULD IT EVEN MATTER IF WE HAVE AN ELECTED BOARD?

Roy Smith said...

is transparency just a sham? said: Hopefully, he will engage the community before putting forth HIS plan.

Interestingly, nowhere in either his website or his guest post on Linda Thomas' blog does he say anything about being responsive to constituents or engaging the community while making policy.

Should I keep hoping for community engagement? The silence on this issue is telling ... or is it that he just forgot that this might be a priority?

Anonymous said...

Roy, he's doomed if he does and doomed if he doesn't according to your mentality. If he says "I support Singapore math, and I will do everything in my power to support it's adoption" You would never get over the fact that he did not engage the community. You'd be incenced. Yet, when he puts on his website that he wants to address the issues with the math curriculum without a specific answer to it all, you are still disatisfied. Since he is intelligent, well educated and in touch with the issues regarding our failing math curriculum, I would ASSUME that since he did not just strong arm his own agenda with this regard, that he intends to engage the community, and work together to find the answers. On the contrary Sally does not do this. She engages only one community. The alternative school community and CEASE. That's great for you, but it is limited, short sightd on her part, and definately not equitable. But I can see why you like her, she is in your back pocket.

Roy Smith said...

Sally has regular community meetings in her district and based on my observation at the one I attended, she thoughtfully listened and responded to everybody who was present, which was not just "the alternative community and CEASE" as you put it.

How do you know that I don't support Singapore math? (Just as a for instance?) If Mr. Maier stated what he supported or opposed (with specifics) prior to the election, that would be the most effective community engagement I could think of, because the community could actually vote on his positions.

You are assuming that I will attack Mr. Maier's specific ideas regardless of what those ideas are. That is a badly flawed assumption. If Mr. Meier were to unequivocally state (for instance) that he thought that children should generally attend their reference area school, and should have a specific tangible reason for seeking transportation elsewhere, I think that would be great because:

a) its an idea that I basically support

and

b) it would serve as a public referendum on specific proposals, which would be very effective in terms of community feedback, much more so that current community engagement efforts which are too easily dominated by the loud voices with spare time to commit to school politicking.

Sally Soriano does not have my vote locked up, contrary to what readers here might think. She does has my vote if no other viable candidate presents him or herself. Mr. Maier, by declining to present specific positions on specific issues of concern to the SPS community, and by declining to answer specific questions directed to him, has failed to show that he is truly a viable candidate. I don't generally vote for somebody if I have no idea what I am getting with that vote, and I doubly won't vote for somebody who not only hasn't presented any tangible positions but has also neglected to even say he favors regular community engagement (which in itself is a weak statement, but better than complete silence on the issue).

Charlie Mas said...

alex f has already said that he will be voting for anyone who is not Sally Soriano. Okay, we get that. He says that Mr. Maier is a smart, hardworking, good, decent man. Okay, we get that too.

Alex, would you now take a moment to read what I am writing - not what you presume I am writing or what you presume I would write.

The Board actually has very little influence. The Board is not an effective policymaking body. The Board does not control the budget, does not control curriculum, does not control contracts (they can vote to approve them but do not negotiate them), does not control much of anything. The Superintendent has all of the authority.

The Board can write policies, but those policies can only set processes - usually they only set criteria for processes - not outcomes. After they write these policies they have absolutely no means for enforcing them. If the Superintendent disagrees with the Policy, the Superintendent will simply ignore it. Superintendent Manhas does it all the time. All the time.

The Board might as well write a policy requiring the sun to rise in the west for all the good it will do them.

The only control the Board has over the Superintendent is the annual performance evaluation and the latent power to fire. They are EXTREMELY reluctant to use that power or to do anything that shows that they are in direct conflict with the Superintendent.

The majority of the Board - the majority! - for the past four years has been very unhappy with Mr. Manhas and his performance. Read the CACIEE report - Mr. Manhas has not done his job. Moreover, despite all of the lip service paid to reform (openness, honesty, transparency, engagement, and accountability), Mr. Manhas has stalwartly opposed enacting any of it.

But they did not fire him because they did not want to go through the Superintendent search process or put the District through that kind of turmoil. They also continued in the hope that they could work with Mr. Manhas and that he would eventually get on board with them. He never did.

As for why it matters if we even have an elected Board, believe me, I would MUCH rather we had an appointed Board and an elected Superintendent. All of the authority is with the Superintendent, yet all of the public accountability - the only public accountability in the whole system - is with the Board.

Please don't assume that I would "blast him endlessly" if Mr. Maier stated a position. Take a look and find me someone I have blasted endlessly for taking a position. I don't think you'll find such a case. I respect opposing views. The only thing I have "blasted endlessly" are people who act deceptively or who withhold information. An honest review of my track record is more likely to lead to the conjecture that I will lay off Mr. Maier - and probably commend him - as soon as he STATES a position.

It's just this simple: Mr. Maier has said that, if elected, he will do a number of wonderful things. We all would love it if he were able to do these things. There is, however, a question in our minds about HOW he will do these things because the fulfillment of these campaign promises appears to be outside the Board's authority to accomplish. We're just curious about how Mr. Maier will get them done.

I am trying to state this curiosity as flatly as I can without bias or vitriol. None is intended. I am becoming frustrated that the curiosity and the question is being interpreted as a personal attack. It is not. I am not inventing issues - I am responding to Mr. Maier's own statements. He said he would do something if elected, it appears beyond his authority if elected, so Roy and I are asking how he would do it.

Anonymous said...

If board members are just figure heads, with no authority, or influence, how can you explain Sally posing this on her guest blog today

" Promoting measures which boost achievement and equity, i.e. smaller class sizes, tutoring, summer school, accelerated coursework, using what works in one school as a model district-wide;

Defending public schools from privatization, including charter schools;

Demanding budget accountability by ensuring critical oversight of district spending;

Solving district problems with a community based approach, i.e. new collaborative principal selection process;

Holding monthly community meetings;

Protecting student health by requiring lead and mold removal;

Working with legislators to reduce the negative impact of the WASL;

Starting dialogue with other elected bodies to explore alternative state funding."

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. Charlie you are always toting disclosure (or lack there of), I'm curious as to your opinion of Sally's current website and blog day on Educating mom. She conveniently leaves out all of her controversial moves. Like voting against BEX III and the affidavite for the lawsuit against the district, etc. You jumed all over Steve Sundquist because he didn't say what kids his kids went to in the past, which has absolutely nothing to do with the school board. Then when Sally doesn't disclose these huge issues that directly affected children in Seattle, it goes unmentioned. Chalie, if you want credibility you have to be fair. You can't attack one candidate, and excuse the other for the same issue. Not if you want people to read your posts seriously anyway

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"Director Soriano was instrumental in getting action on lead in the water. The District staff were absolutely stonewalling the entire issue until she demanded action."

If director Soriano was instrumental getting action on the lead issue, why in the world would Peter not be able to get action on some of platform issues? How is Sally able to get so much done, when board members have no direct roles? And so little authority.

Charlie Mas said...

Justin,

I didn't raise the issue of where Mr. Sundquist's children go to school - he did. He said where they are going to school this year and where they have gone to school in the past. He raised the topic, not me. If it has nothing to do with the School Board then tell him not to talk about it.

Again I am subjected to the accusation that asking the question constitutes an attack. It is not an attack to ask a question. There was no spin on it, no hint of malevalent intent. It was flatly asked and flatly answered.

And the fact that his children were not enrolled in a Seattle Public school did not apparently work against him since a number of people (or one person a number of times) commended him on that decision.

I would hardly say that I "jumped all over him". That characterization isn't justified.

Sally Soriano's votes are a matter of public record. There is no need for her to "disclose" them - they are already disclosed.

I don't know that I have excused Director Soriano on this issue. I don't even know if she HAS children, let alone where they went to school. She hasn't made an issue of it.

Charlie Mas said...

If you just want to make attacks against me personally or to attack what you want to imagine I would write that's fine. Go ahead and excite yourself with that. But I'm not going to be goaded into a response to such foolish barking.

If, however, you want to discuss the issues and various perspectives on those issues, I will be happy to participate in an exchange of ideas and views.

So far, none of the people who have claimed that my questions about HOW Mr. Maier will fulfill his campaign promises have shed any light on the question.

Their focus has been entirely on labeling the questions as unfair attacks. I don't know if these ad hominen responses have proven satisfying or have swayed anyone, but they are not convincing.

I must have greater confidence in Mr. Maier than you do. I don't think he is as brittle as you fear. I think he has an answer to these questions and I believe it is a pretty good one. They are fair and appropriate questions to ask in a political context. I am ready to accept his answers, whatever they may be.

Roy Smith said...

I think my perspective and Charlie's perspective on what sorts of statements school board candidates should be making differ somewhat (perhaps mostly in details in emphasis), so I thought I would share my philosophy. Rather than critiquing any one candidate's statements or lack of statements, I will explain what I expect that we will hear about and what I think that we will hear about.

In my thinking, campaign statements fall in one of three general categories:

1) Support of Good Things. Statements supporting fiscal health, academic achievement for all students, and accountability fall into this category. They are statements that will not be disagreed with by reasonable voters, and they lack specificity. They are basically fluff or useless statements (because they don't tell us anything of substance about the candidate), yet all the candidates will put forth these sorts of "positions" or "campaign promises". Since everybody does it, I don't see that anybody can be faulted for doing it unless that is all that they do.

2) Statements of intent regarding things that the candidate intends to do that the candidate can reasonably accomplish. These are things that may or may not be controversial. For instance, holding daily constituent meetings is something a board director clearly could accomplish (provided they don't have other employment perhaps), but it is generally non-controversial. Then again, a candidate may say that he or she intends to introduce and attempt to enact an SPS policy that directs the teaching of creationism in biology classrooms. That is also clearly within a board director's power, but it would most certainly be controversial.

This second category might also include detailed plans about how a candidate actually intends to accomplish the Good Things in Category 1 goals.

3) Statements on educational policy that the board director may not have direct or indirect input or control over, but which shed light on how they would view policy issues over which they do exercise authority.

For instance, candidates could make statements regarding their views on the WASL or NCLB, which they clearly do not have control over.
- a candidate could say that he or she finds these laws to be the be-all and end-all of education reform, and he or she feels that those standards should be the sole basis of the evaluation of school success.
- a candidate could say that these laws are the worst thing to ever happen to public education and that they should be consigned to the dustbin of history, the sooner, the better.
- a candidate could say that he or she supports the principle behinds these laws, but that the tests have flaws which should be corrected or that the criteria used to evaluate school performance should be refined and/or broadened.

Although an SPS board director has no authority to do anything to change NCLB or the WASL, each of these positions would provide a great deal of valuable insight into how the director might shape policy on issues that they do have control over, such as evaluation of schools, graduation requirements, exemption of some programs from standardized testing such as ITBS, etc.

We are going to see lots of statements that fall in Category #1 simply because this is a political election and that is the nature of the beast. I do not fault candidates for making statements that fall in this category.

I would like to see more statements that fall in Categories 2 and 3, because they are tangible things that we can vote for or against. I am critical of candidates whose statements fall exclusively in category 1 and who makes no statements that fall into category 2 or 3. I am critical of these candidates because they are not taking any positions of substance.

Resume statements can be divided into those which say "I'm a great person" and those which say "this is an example of how I would shape policy". Examples of the first category are nice, but not particularly helpful. Examples in the second category are a very helpful in deciding who to vote for.

Any sitting school board member has a whole pile of resume statements in the second category, because they have been shaping policy, for better or for worse. Some incumbents run based on this record, and some run away from this record, but in either case, it is there.

Peter Maier's resume statements mostly fall into the first category, including his work on the bond measures. The reason I say this is that although he did what can be considered great work for SPS (and therefore proves that he is committed to SPS, which is something I don't doubt), it cannot be considered to be shaping policy. Interestingly, the one example on his resume (fighting charter schools on a pro bono basis) of an activity that does give insight into how he would shape policy is something that he himself does not mention on his website or guest posts.

So far, the one item of substance that I know about Peter Maier (that he apparently opposes charter schools) is something that he himself hasn't thought to be worth bringing up. Is his intention for this election not to have a contest between him and Sally Soriano, but rather to hold a referendum on Director Soriano's record? I wonder if that will work?

North East Mama said...

Charlie, I was laughing out loud at all those posts yelling at you for "attacking" and "slandering" Mr. Maier. I was thinking, Wow, they must think ol' Charlie is pretty powerful if he can ruin a campaign by asking questions. I heard you, I get it. Keep on keeping on, I really gain a lot of insight from how thoroughly you explain things.

Dan Dempsey said...

This is very informative. I am in total agreement with Charlie's take on Mr. Manhas.

I believe that one significant force a school director has is the speaking forum of being a director. This as both a formal public forum and an informal one may enable the director to present facts in an organized way leading to policy formation and more importantly policies being applied correctly and enforced by the Superintendent.

The promotion / non-promotion policies that require effective interventions so that students can acquire necessary skills were avoided by everyone. Thus Mr. Manhas and his senior staff openly disregarded them. This is poor leadership on the part of the school board. It directly results in poor academic performance. Direct consequences of this are children and families leaving our school system for supposed greener pastures.

Look at Deming's strategies for system improvement. Think about "Transforming" the organization.

Effective educational leaders have power not from their position but from their ability to think and persuade. This requires a lot of interpersonal work, research and background knowledge of educational issues both current and past. A background in statistics is beneficial.

In short to be most effective in the current setting, it appears knowledgeable full time school board members are needed. Not to micro-manage but to manage in the current framework.

Remember W. Edwards Deming said: in almost any organization a maximum 15% of your difficulties are related to personnel inadequacy, while 85% or more of the difficulties are due to structural inadequacy ripe for system improvement.

The school board has three members Soriano, Butler-Wall, and Flynn on the SLC.
What are their functions supposed to be? At times these three appear to do little more than rubber stamp the administration’s proposals. Are they supposed to do more? If not then why are they on the SLC?

I mean no disrespect. I am trying to understand this system.
If it is as dysfunctional as most believe, the odds would indicate huge structural problems and trying to effect change with only personnel replacement is short sighted.

Remember 95% of large urban school districts make no significant academic progress. This sure sounds like structural difficulties.
To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
We witnessed no “intelligent application of relevant data” in the Elementary Math adoption recently.
I hope that Maria Goodloe-Johnson had little to do with this. She certainly has a great opportunity to bring about a major positive transformation. Looking at our recent Superintendents the odds of a major positive transformation occurring seem small, but I certainly hope she can do so. Education leaders are generally more about successful marketing than producing results. (example: Dr. Terry Bergeson and the WASL etc) Hopefully Maria G-J can do both.

With an extremely diverse clientele, large schools districts have lots of competing concerns. The problem is exacerbated when the district fails to develop well thought-out carefully devised plans. As we saw with school closures and will likely see in the elementary math adoption, long term sustainability is unlikely to occur as knee-jerk response to diverse concerns overpowers poorly laid plans.

Dan

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