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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

West Seattle Forum

This is apt to be long so get a cup of coffee or iced tea. Also, I am going to do as straight reporting as I can at the beginning, then let you know when I'm going to give my own opinions so you can stop or continue reading as you please.

First, what great hard-working PTSAs out in West Seattle. They had the ice cream being handed out right when I got there, name tags for the candidates, tables for them and their literature, very organized. At the ice cream social there was Sally Soriano, Peter Maier, Maria Ramirez, Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris, Sherry Carr, Dan Dempsey, Lisa Steubing, and Edwin Fruit. There were about 30 other attendees there. There was one reporter, from the West Seattle Herald, and a photographer from the Seattle PI. I didn't see a reporter from the PI or Times but I might have missed them.

The social was a great time to buttonhole candidates personally. I managed good face time with Steve. S. and Maria Ramirez (their race was the only one I was still studying). I noticed others engaged with candidates as well.

Darlene Flynn came right at the end of the social. They had to call the candidates to sit down a couple of times because many of them were so deep in conversations.

All the candidates were given a 3-minute period for an opening statement. Olita Brackman read Sherry Carr's as Sherry had to leave for a previously committed event. Highlights from the statements:

District 6
Maria: gave SPS background as a parent (her children went to Roxhill, Lafayette, Madison, Denny, Nova and West Seattle). She spoke of her background working for King County in developing affordable housing. Quote, "Parents are the biggest piece of any change."
Edwin: talked about the Socialist Workers Party and how they believe society and schools are class-based. Noted the racial divide in where people live in the city.
Dan: he said he had "hands-on, nuts-and bolts experience" in working as a teacher in the District. He talked about the need for smaller class sizes, not closing schools and said "Dan has plans."
Steve: reviewed his background as a manager, working on two boards in his community, his kids being at Sealth. He said he knows board structure, wants to increase public confidence in the Board and our district and wants to do "consensus-building".

District 1
Sally: spoke of being a 4-year old activist with her mother in Seattle working to pass a levy. She said she was proud, 50 years later, that the simple majority that her mother longed for as a PTA member, might finally get passed this November. She went over what she worked on as a Board member: balance capital budget, lead, mold and water quality issues, worked against charter schools, had monthly meetings and looked for alternatives to the WASL as the only graduation measure.
Peter: graduated from Hale, children were at Hale. His role as a primary fundraiser for school bonds/levies. Worked against charter schools as a pro bono lawyer. He said the district was in better financial shape because of Manhas' cost-cutting. Endorsed by SEA. Quote: "It is critically important to identify key priorities."

District 2:
Darlene: Made good on campaign commitments but promised to be focused. Said WASL scores have risen by 50% in reading, writing and math. Worked on water quality. Said there was no experience quantifiable to being a Board member. Talked about equity for all students.
Lisa: Spoke of wanting to get back to "Board basics", talked about 50% rate of graduation and its unacceptability. Spoke of her organizational development background. Did research and found that there are 3 key relationships to making a district work: family relationships, schools and neighborhoods and treating teachers like professionals. Spoke of co-locating programs during off-school hours. Would not close schools. Said we should have a lot of little schools and lots of bus drivers. Endorsed by former Governor Rossellini.
Sherry: statement read was about her background as a parent, PTA member, PTSA Seattle Council president, CAICEE work, Boeing manager.

District 3
Harium: kids attended AE 2 (was Site Council member and attended School Board meetings for 5 years), Hale PTSA president. Work background as a kindergarten/3rd grade teacher and also working looking for what works in other places. Quote: "I have the expertise to find what has worked in other places in the country, places that have solved some of these problems."

There was only time for 2 questions with so many candidates. Question 1 was about how to reduce the achievement gap for all students.

Harium; spoke of it as socioeconomics and poverty, not race. Work on more than one gauge of achievement (not just the WASL) and that parents should know their rights if their student is having problems with the WASL
Lisa: agreed WASL is not a good measure of the achievement gap "some kids start way behind earlier than taking the WASL" in terms of health care, being reading to, etc. Would co-locate services in schools
Darlene: Some SPS schools have closed gap. We need to constantly question best practices, resources, stability and leadership. Application of focused resources and make adjustments as you go. "Stable, well-heeled communities" don't have achievement gap problem.
Peter: Don't talk but do. Duplicate Maple and Van Asselt a few schools at a time (take the most struggling schools first). Has worked for state resources. Help all students from the struggling to the kids who perform well but may need more to stretch themselves.
Sally: concurred with Dr. G-J for extended help (before-after school, AP classes in every high school). Would go to state legislature with community groups to show solidarity. Worked on a lunchtime tutoring program at WA Middle School and had kids raised to a B- in about 6 weeks. The principal said it also helped with behavior problems.
Steve: we need professional development. A big issue is funding (and thank the Governor for her support), pass the simple majority, look for more philanthropy money.
Dan: Disagreed with others. "We need to get our house in order; we know what to do but aren't doing it." He spoke of a Project Follow-Thru which followed disadvantaged learners K-3. He said the district talks of "necessary skills" without defining them. Also spoke of classroom disruption law that SPS doesn't use. He thinks there should be no changes to assignment plan until schools are in order.
Edwin: private school parents don't have "neighborhood" private schools and are willing to travel. Loss of the racial tiebreaker makes this situation worse. Schools are factories for the capitalist system.
Maria: Was on a committee in 1999 to study the achievement gap and their recommendations went nowhere. She said parents all share the same concerns and want academic rigor. Said 50% of kids not passing the WASL is worrisome.

Question 2 was about improving communication between the Board and the community.

Maria: Not all parents have computers so it isn't fair to expect the website to do the job for all. We need more times to give input and more languages represented at meetings but it is a huge challenge. She said asking the leadership at each school (especially those with large minority populations about the most successful ways they have found to reach their parents.
Edwin: talked about social movement of change
Dan: It is the job of the Board and senior staff to communicate with the community. He noted that the Board changed how testimony is given but never followed up on the feedback/followup part. "You can't have transparency and openness without good communication." He said he had 10 blogs at his website.
Steve: parents are a big force. He said many philanthropic organizations have a paid outreach person and maybe that's what the district needs. He said the Board needs to "take its act on the road".
Sally: gave a contrasting example of working with WA APP parents to look at the district's plan to split their population and send half to Hamilton. Found lack of communication and lack of a clear plan existed and that initiative didn't happen. This worked out in an orderly manner. The same happened for the Cooper/Pathfinder merger attempt and didn't work out because the parents had meetings with staff, were told one thing and then found out another in yet another meeting.
Peter: go out into the community. Make website more user-friendly.
Darlene: 4 years ago there were NO documents on the website. It's a work in progress. She said she was "no novice to community process".
Lisa: it doesn't all start with Board members. She was committed to half-time work on the Board. She pledged to "be there on the phone and come if you ask me to visit your school".
Harium: He agreed it was difficult to go to Board meetings, speak and get no feedback ever. He would start with changing the meetings. He also talked about building relationships with civic leaders like the Mayor (who he has met with) and questioned why the Mayor doesn't meet regularly with the Board. The City Council does on a quarterly basis. He also spoke of building relationships between grassroots organizations and pointed out that not everyone has a computer but maybe some of the computer labs in schools could be accessed after school hours.

End of Report. What follows is my opinion of the candidates and their performance at the forum.

Some of this will just be random impressions so here goes:

Edwin: good hearted guy but doesn't know district and the issues. More of a macro-thinker on education
Maria: personable, compassionate, likely knows minority communities very well compared to other candidates
Steve: very professional, open, friendly, wrote down information he wanted to look up
Dan: data-driven, blunt, funny
Harium: hands down the most engaging, funny in a dry way, honest and had good ideas
Sally: confident and engaging. Had specific stories to relate to questions
Peter: not a great public speaker, spoke with conviction
Lisa: good ideas and passion but not focused in her speaking or thoughts. Somewhat hard to follow.
Darlene; confident speaker, let her attention wander as others spoke and did not seem to be paying attention, somewhat defensive

Like Michael de Bell before him, Harium had been a blank slate to me in terms of issues. After speaking with him privately and hearing him speak publicly, I think he's a great candidate. (What is it with these high school PTSA presidents?) He seems to have his own mind (and good luck with that changing the Board meetings, Harium; Cheryl will be your big challenge) and yet want to work collaboratively.

I have less confidence in Peter Maier. Again, speaking both privately and publicly with him, I feel he is smart and hard-working but not a leader. I'm not sure what he would add to the Board. Was a little contradictory in his remarks about holding the Super accountable and then saying the financial turnaround was all Manhas' doing. The Board had to direct Manhas so it couldn't have just been the Super. He did get the most nods and laughs over his "not user-friendly" remark about the district's website.

Darlene did not seem to reach people and, as I mentioned, her drifting off seemed odd given the situation.

Dan, Steve and Maria certainly make their race tough. They all have strong assets to bring to the table. They all have their appeal and I think people may pick depending on what they either think that person will bring to the Board and comfort level. Steve has a reassuring "I know what I'm doing" persona (he also expressed surprise that The Stranger endorsed him - hey Steve, they like you). Maria has a calm, confident persona and seems to have a wide-range of experiences that might balance the Board. Dan brings a teacher's perspective and a deep background in education data.

Lisa is so unfocused in her speech patterns that it is difficult to assess her.

I wish Patrick Kelley had been there and that Sherry could have stayed.

Did anyone else attend?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wasn't able to attend, but I can tell you that I was a parent at AEII when Harium Martin-Morris was a site council member. I agree with you, Melissa, he is fantastic! He is a mover and shaker, and is a thinker. He is able to think outside of the box, but yet work so very inclusively. He is very intelligent, and is just one of those people who "gets it". I was so pleased to hear he was running for SB director. He will be a HUGE asset!!!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thank you very much for the informative post. Next best thing to being there -

Anonymous said...

Why does Steve keep talking about finding private donors? Yes, I think that's important, but the School Board doesn't handle that. If that's what he's interested in, I think he should focus on that, but he doesn't need a seat on the Board to do it.

Fundamentally, Board members need to look at two things: effectively allocating current revenue and "selling" Seattle in Olympia to get more revenue. It seems like we've gone so many years not getting enough money from the State that we've given up and resorted to talking about philanthropy as the ideal solution. That's won't cover every school. It won't pay for meat-and-potatoes expenditures like teachers. It isn't sustainable: Are people going to make the same contributions year after year for eternity? Probably not.

Steve talks about all his work in corporate finance. Why won't he address the real issues of school funding? Why won't he present some real ideas on things the Board can actually affect?

I'm going to fill out my ballot this Saturday and, unless I hear something from him that changes my mind, I'm voting for Maria. I've waited too long for Steve to talk about the fundamentals of education. His work in other boards seems impressive. My suggestion: Stick to that, and leave the School Board to people who understand schools.

Anonymous said...

Dan Dempsey doesn't talk about anything except the math curriculum and classroom management, neither of which he would be able to affect if he were elected to the Board this November. My kids tell me he's a nice guy, but I want a someone focused on the big picture.

Steve seems likable and intelligent, although sometimes I worry that he's not in command of all of the issues. Maria seems passionate and intelligent. She's not the most polished speaker, but that's okay.

I'm leaning towards voting for Maria, although I still have some questions that I emailed to Steve that I'm waiting for responses on. I'll hold out for a few more days to give him a chance. Nevertheless, it seems like she's the one with the experience in schools.

Anonymous said...

Maria seems focused on the Latino student groups, low income families, and closing the achievement gap. These are all commendable, but I feel like this is her only focus. I haven't heard her talk about high achieving students, the assignent plan, philanthropy, the math curriculum, or any other challenges that the board will face. I am worried that she has one track, and not enough well rounded experience. She is not well spoken, and I find her a bit hard to communicate with. All in all I think Steve Sundquist is more rounded. And, though we do need to lobby Olympia, philanthropy could be well entertained in Seattle, as it is in our neighbor cities.

Anonymous said...

Princess Leia,

I've had the opposite opine of Ms. Ramierez - I have sought her and Mr. Sundquist out at some length - both are stellar candidates IMO.

Maria has spoken at least with me regarding Alternative Ed., APP, and Special Ed. She has sat in the meetings and worked school issues on several levels and for years.

Why I'm going w/ Ms. Rameriez with a great deal of respect to Mr. Sundquist.

Last, I liked her focus on parents - and the engagement piece and that it will take many different media to reach out and get back.

Both most impressive

Anonymous said...

I am still not convinced that a self-described advocate can in turn become the establishment and understand the role of school board director. Once you are on the board, the time for pointing fingers and saying that I would do this differently has passed, and now you actually have to do something. This is what has disapointed me most about Ms. Flynn and Ms. Soriano, and makes me leery of Ms. Rameriez.

That and she put a sign in my yard without my permission....

Anonymous said...

If we're going to have philanthropists involved, why not have them work on an endowment that *would* be sustainable? Is it not legal for public school districts to be endowed?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to post such a comprehensive report of the forum. I share many of the same perceptions/impressions you have of the candidates. I will say that I think we have many good candidates to choose from, I think most all of them would bring great value to the board and the district.

I still find it curious, though, that many of the candidates don't really talk about what they can do within the confines of the actual role of the board - since they don't actually create or implement solutions. Of course they can influence, but that's not usually the tone of their responses about what they will do as a Board Member. I would like to hear them address how they will build influential relationships with district staff (individually and the Board as a whole) in order to address the tough issues in a more productive way.

There were at least 20 more questions submitted by the audience, unfortunately with so many candidates there wasn't time to get to the more specific ones. The Pathfinder organizers compiled those questions and sent them to all attending candidates, hopefully they will address them through their websites or other channels.

For another review of the event, visit the West Seattle Blog (www.westseattleblog.com), scroll down for the entry on the Forum.

Thank you to the folks at Pathfinder who initiated the idea and to the PTSA leaders at Alki, Arbor Heights, Sanislo and WSHS for making it happen. It was a great event, I really appreciated seeing so many candidates "side-by-side" and being able to compare them in real-time.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I guess my previous questions were pretty uninformed. I didn't realize that there are several endowment funds around already. I assumed I would have seen heavy advertising for them, I guess, just as I do for endowments for colleges and universities and museums and so forth. Or does that advertising exist, and I've just been tuning it out?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I don't like that Maria Ramirez has no website. For those of us who do not have time to make it out to the forums and debates, it is nice to have some online information about candidates. This blog has been very helpful and informative, but I think it is up to the candidates themselves to get their info out there and reach out to the voters. I have to wonder if a school board candidate does not take the time, or make an effort to create a website for their campaign, what else will they not have time to do?

Even if she does not have the tech skills to create a website, surely she could have called on someone in her campaign to do it??

It also makes me wonder if she will be less accessible as a board member?

Anonymous said...

Gina--see www.maria4kids.org. It has Maria's full background, endorsements, etc.

Anonymous said...

Re: Dan Dempsey
Apparently Dan has not been following the Seattle School Board issues until the recent Math curriculum came up. He approached several Pathfinder parents at the forum and asked them what they thought about moving Pathfinder to the old Cooper/Boren building and co-locating with other community organizations? Where was he when this same thing was proposed by the board & then pulled off the table, last fall after strong protests?

I'm afraid Dan does not have the experience to understand the issues, other than from his own point of view from inside the math classroom.

Dan Dempsey said...

Westside Parent 6 PM said:
----------------
Dan Dempsey doesn't talk about anything except the math curriculum and classroom management, neither of which he would be able to affect if he were elected to the Board this November. My kids tell me he's a nice guy, but I want a someone focused on the big picture.
---------------
Hello Dan here.
I believe I am focused on the big picture. I urge you to look at SCAN media Channel 77 Comcast in the coming week.

I also believe you should visit my website at www.dempsey4schools.org

When you have a school district that continually disregards their own policies that is something a Director should correct.

I think that if you have only heard Math and the Classroom you should visit the Seattle Video Voters guide and Channel 77.

From my website and the handout that you could have received at Pathfinder:

What are Dan Dempsey’s major concerns?
• Each child is unique and a blanket “one size fits all” standardization of education is inadequate. We must serve the full spectrum of learners.
• Research shows small schools are the most effective. I oppose the closing of small schools and the building of mega-schools.
• School board policies stipulate that children need to learn necessary skills and be provided interventions as needed. Why are these policies neglected? I advocate for effective interventions.
• Public input is not solicited. As a school board member I will use the wisdom of the community and not ignore your concerns. Visit the discussion forum at www.dempsey4schools.org for an example of meaningful communication.
• Classroom disruptions must be reduced. Teachers should use the often-neglected State Classroom Disruption Law (RCW 28A 600.020) if needed.
• Board decision-making needs improvement. Relevant data intelligently applied will improve decision-making bettering our schools.

What other specific big picture items would you like to know about?

Sincerely,

Dan

Dan Dempsey said...

West Seattle Parent at 10:49 PM said:
------------------
.....He approached several Pathfinder parents at the forum and asked them what they thought about moving Pathfinder to the old Cooper/Boren building and co-locating with other community organizations? Where was he when this same thing was proposed by the board & then pulled off the table, last fall after strong protests?........
-----------------
Hello Dan here.
I was well aware of the Pathfinder - Cooper - Boren situation last fall.
I am particularly interested in stopping the one size fits all trend. I have specific plans for keeping all schools open. I am interested in having small schools co-locate with other tenants. I wanted to find out exactly what each person found objectionable in the poorly devised sharing of the Boren school plan.
In no way did I ever think that putting two schools as different as Pathfinder and Cooper was a reasonable suggestion. I am against closing of smaller schools in favor of larger schools model.

Watch Channel 77 with an eye out for which candidate is interested in keeping small schools open with a viable plan.

On the Save Our Schools rating:
Dempsey scored 10
Ramirez scored 8
and Sundquist did not return the survey to save our schools.
You will find out more about views of school closings if you watch channel 77 the week prior to the primary.

In Eastern Washington where many smaller schools and districts are prevalent, sometimes two districts share a Superintendent.

To reduce the administrative overhead, a principal could have been shared between Fairmont and High Point or two retire-rehired part time principals hired.

There are lots of options to investigate if you really believe that small schools are needed.

Sincerely,

Dan

Dan Dempsey said...

Melissa Westbrook wrote:
-------
District 2:
Darlene: Made good on campaign commitments but promised to be focused. Said WASL scores have risen by 50% in reading, writing and math. Worked on water quality. Said there was no experience quantifiable to being a Board member. Talked about equity for all students.
------------
Dan now writes:
To improve a system requires intelligent application of relevant data.

Shouldn’t Directors at least present the correct data.
Let us look at WASL data at grades 4, 7, & 10 over Ms. Flynn’s tenure.
Keep in mind that for 2006 10th grade WASL a number of students who had been in high school for two years were not allowed to or were actively discouraged from taking the WASL. This statistically invalidates the 10th grade 2006 WASL from comparison.

I see no evidence that anything Ms. Flynn presented has any connection to the truth about WASL scores during the period of her tenure.

Here is an example of why this district runs in circles. The directors at times ignore applying data with any intelligence. Occasionally director's don’t even have the correct data much less an adequate knowledge of statistics.

If I were in Ms. Flynn's district, I would ask her to be accurate. She rarely responds to questions.

Sincerely,

Dan

Dan Dempsey said...

I would love to be an investigative journalist. Unfortunately I am unable to master the ABCs. I am in the ball park on accurate and sometimes clear but brief well sorry. So I leave the reporting to you.
At the West Seattle School Board Candidates forum at Pathfinder School, Director Darlene Flynn told those assembled that during her tenure WASL scores in Reading, Math, and Writing had risen 50%. She repeated this claim at the City Club forum on August 16th held at the Plymouth Congregational Church on 6th and University. Her twice made public claim that WASL scores have risen 50% during her tenure is untrue as I will document. Do not the voters deserve the truth? Well here it comes.
Everyone familiar with Seattle’s WASL testing of tenth graders knows that tenth grade scores for Spring 2006 can not be used for comparison. In spring 2006 the district reduced the population of those taking the test by discouraging many second year high school students, which in years past would have been tested, from taking the test.
The district reduced the population tested by for the first time calling second year high school credit deficient students freshmen instead of sophomores. While some might have applauded this as the district finally acting on the Promotion / Non-promotion policy, most should instead be outraged as the district never supplied the effective interventions required under those policies.
The result for 2006 testing at the 10th grade level in math was an increase in passing rate from 40.8% in 2005 to 55.7% in 2006, while 18 fewer students passed the test. This is known as making the fraction bigger by reducing the size of the denominator when you believe there is little chance of increasing the size of the numerator. Note that 18 fewer students passed the test than the year before but scores rose by almost 15%. This is hardly improved learning for all which I hope to bring about.
Now let us investigate Director Flynn’s claim that WASL scores increased 50% during her tenure.
The comparisons below are for Spring 2003 to Spring 2006 as 2007 WASL scores are not yet available.
4th grade: reading +25.5% math +12% writing +9.1%
7th grade: reading +23.8% math +40% writing +20.3%
The tenth grade change will use Spring 2003 to Spring 2005 as 2006 is not valid for statistical comparison.
10th grade: reading +26% math +17% writing +4.6%
Clearly Ms. Flynn’s statement is incorrect. To improve Seattle Schools’ decision making should be made by intelligently applying relevant statistical data; not faking it.
Let us now look at the score change in comparison to the state averages:
The differential from state average is computed by Seattle Pass rate minus the state pass rate.
4th grade 2003: reading -2.7% math -2.1% writing +4.9% 2006: reading -0.9% math +0.6% writing +3.4%
7th grade 2003: reading +0.0% math -2.9% writing -0.5% 2006: reading -2.2% math -1.1% writing +0.8%
The tenth grade change will use Spring 2003 to Spring 2005 as 2006 is not valid for statistical comparison.
10th grade 2003: reading -6.9% math -4.5% writing -8.3% 2005: reading -6.0% math -6.7% writing -10.6%
Ms. Flynn needs to be more aware of the actual relevant data before speaking to the public. To significantly improve Seattle Schools will require the intelligent application of relevant data.
Perhaps the press could inquire as to where Ms. Flynn gets her statistics as I have no idea.
Sincerely,
Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
www.dempsey4schools.org

Dan Dempsey said...

I take serious objection to the comment that I only focus on Math. Westside Parent and West Seattle Parent should go to my website at www.dempsey4schools.org

or

Read my responses to all the questions submitted by those at the Pathfinder West Seattle Forum.

This blog formating did not handle my WASL score formating in a satisfactory way. Sorry I do not have time to reformat it for this blog.
-----------
Dan

Because we did not have enough time to go into everyone’s submitted questions, I wanted to pass them on to you so that you knew what issues were important to those that were there. Thanks go to Amy Daly-Donovan for organizing/gathering the questions and for typing up this compendium. -----Eric
-------------------

Questions Submitted at School Board Candidate Forum
Pathfinder K-8 August 6, 2007
Questions Answered by Candidates:
1. What will you do as a School Board Director to reduce the achievement gap and improve overall student achievement?
-------------

Dan has Plans here are my A,B,Cs
A) It is clearly known what works with disadvantaged learners. Seattle does not use this information. Seattle chooses to adopt textbooks and methods which are inappropriate choices for disadvantaged learners. I have presented and will present research data that shows exactly why Seattle should make curriculum selections that are in line with the recommendations from Project Follow Through. Selections like the Success for All Reading program and non-NSF reform math programs like Singapore Math will improve learning for all ……. --result - Better Curriculum
B) I will urge schools provide the interventions described in D44 and D45, the long neglected Seattle Board promotion / non-promotion policies. These policies require defined necessary skills and effective interventions when students are not acquiring these skills. We must end the unwritten but widely followed social promotion policy. We must provide students with effective interventions that allow the children to acquire necessary skills. …….. --result - Better Service to Children and Families
C) The administration and School Board must allow teachers to use the Classroom Disruption Law (RCW 28A 600.020) rather than harassing the teachers as some administrators did in the past. ………… --result - Better Discipline and increased order, producing better learning for all.
D) Maintaining small schools that provide a better education than Mega-Schools (Carnegie foundation reports this on several occasions) ……………-- result -Schools sized to provide the best learning environment
E) Oppose new student assignment plan if it looks to be involuntarily Re-Segregating Seattle Schools
i) We have an achievement gap that has been virtually constant since we started tracking it.

ii) Who would believe based on past practice that schools will be improved in regard to the GAP over the next 24 months? To do this means providing instruction based on best Curriculum, Methods, and Practices for disadvantaged learners. Unless the district enthusiastically embraces Dan’s A-B-Cs as outlined above little positive change should be expected. The extremely poor math selection that ignored all relevant data presented as to its effect on disadvantaged learners seems to confirm that little will change. The marketing spin may change a bit but the results will not. iii) If schools are improved first then students and parents will chose their neighborhood schools rather than riding the bus longer distances. Currently at every middle school except one the students coming from outside have a much higher free and reduced lunch factor. Thus when the district decides to go to a more neighborhood schools program by reducing transportation movement, it seems children of poverty lose. Since the district for 2007-2008 decided providing academic coaches for teachers is a priority deserving $4.2 million, clearly the priority is not smaller class size or expending more dollars at the classroom level as opposed to the administrative level. A part-time volunteer school board is failing to provide adequate direction to improve learning for all. The current direction and leadership hardly inspires me. Since the achievement gap in math has actually become slightly wider over the last four years and our district administration’s direction is unchanged, I find it hard to believe the South East initiative will show much real success that will be sustainable over time. ……….. The reality appears to be that when looking at the weighted student funding formula and lack of attention paid to making appropriate curriculum selections based on intellectually sound decision making, there is little to lead one to believe significant improvement is just around the corner. In fact the CAO and school board have done the exact opposite. They have ignored the relevant data when it is presented to them. Read my letter to MS. Santorno posted on my website. The Board, Mr. Manhas, and his senior staff all ignored relevant data presented that showed that Everyday Math is a totally inappropriate curriculum selection for disadvantaged learners. None of these eleven people chose to respond in any way to the relevant data. Instead of making an intelligent decision they made an illogical ethnically discriminatory text book selection which is highly unlikely to produce better learning for all. Everyday math is a selection that had no valid reasons for adoption. When data presented by district admin at the two board meetings is thoroughly examined this data can not be seriously regarded. The presentation was of cherry-picked data carefully selected from the best Everyday Math performing districts and presented in such a way to make it appear as the average result. …….. Why do our leaders do this? It appears that the answer can only be ---- They like to Follow the Leader --- Dr. Bergeson wants this, the UW wants this, other large Urban School Districts do this. Remember less than 5% of large Urban School districts make any significant academic progress – why would we follow them? I propose we do A,B,C,D,E instead. Now you know Dan’s A,B,Cs. It should be noted that Boston is making progress and what Boston is doing does not resemble what Seattle is either doing or proposing to do.

2. What would you do to improve communication between the District, the Board, and the community?

LISTEN AND THEN THINK – acquire more information - followed by more thought, research and communication. Then take action and communicate why we are doing what we are doing. Programs should be carefully devised through intelligent decision making. Our programs must be sustainable over time. Board members must be capable of speaking as to why programs are in place and the positive results that will occur if these programs are correctly carried out. This only occurs when programs are properly designed, and implemented.
Many of our programs are quickly developed as a response to concerns with little if any real research. We must begin taking the time to carefully research and design effective programs which are sustainable over time.
Can you name the academic programs that we are particularly proud of which have been carefully designed and fine tuned over time to significantly and positively impact student learning?
We must transform this district from a Top-Down management model in which a few individuals make decisions, into one that uses the extremely successful Deming management model.
When decisions are made by intelligently applying relevant data, the community is honored. The community input must be appreciated, valued and evaluated. Instead under the current management model, community input is unwanted and ignored.
Look at the Herald from July 4, 2007: Headline page 1 “Parents feel excluded in school move.”
“School administrators admitted that they could have done a better job of involving the community.”
I will call each of the 20 people who testify at school board meetings. I know how frustrating it is to testify and continually be ignored.
I have discussion boards currently set up on my website. I plan to introduce topics for discussion long before they become introductory items at board meetings.
I have a voice mail messaging set-up at 206-682-6242 that I check often so I can return your call.
You can contact me at dempsey_dan@yahoo.com
Our problem has not been in contacting current board members – the problem is few respond.
Other Questions Submitted by Audience:

1. How have you worked with communities, that distinguishes you from your opponents? Which communities have you worked with?

I’ve taught school for 32 years – they haven’t. • taught Black & Hispanic students at summer school in South-Central Los Angeles –yes cyclone fencing, razor wire and police helicopters • worked treating street people with respect while making and serving breakfast at the Catholic Worker Hospitality Kitchen in Urban Los Angeles for 8 months worth of Saturday mornings 1200 breakfasts per Saturday • Taught at Royal High School with a 55% Hispanic population • taught at Gonzaga Prep • Regular attendee at NAACP monthly general membership meetings at 14th & Yesler. I’ve never seen another board member or candidate for the school board at one of these meetings except for Lisa Steubing. I’ve been at every general membership meeting since November except one.

2. What is your position on transportation and school choice?

----- See #1 E way above. If we can successfully implement A,B,C,D then most students will choose to attend the quality school in their local neighborhood. Since it appears from all past indicators the Seattle Schools has made little progress in recent years toward making A,B,C,D happen, why would anyone think this will occur on so short a time frame as we are being led to believe?

As James Bible said, the schools are given everything they ask for in terms of financial support by our generous community. Why does this Administration and this School Board make the decisions they do?
I do not know why they do what they do because the explanations provided have little intellectual or practical merit.
In short until we demonstrate that we can make schools better, it looks like we are creating the next messy crisis. Get busy and improve schools and children and parents will greatly reduce the transportation issue by their own choices.

3. I’m not happy with the way our Special Ed department was remodeled several years ago at WS High School and am having difficulties getting anything done about it. If you are elected what could you do about it?

I will work for the implementation of an improved decision-making model. In such a model mistakes are addressed rather than ignored or hidden. This as you present it appears to be another mistake that has been hidden. This supposed boondoggle might be a good candidate for review under an improved decision making process. An improved decision-making process will need to be used as the new board looks over the issues that are inspiring seemingly unending constantly recurring school board testimonies to which the current board continually fails to respond.

4. How do you feel about school closures?
5. What is your position on school closures?
6. What do you think of privatizing/charters vs. an overhaul of the public system that uses “private” methodologies and all successful methods to the same successful results?
7. I have heard that the new superintendent is pro- “big schools”. How would you defend a small, alternative school in such an environment?


Answering 4,5,6,7---
I’ve spent a year in California teaching summer school at a charter school, The Accelerated School, the Time Magazine School of the Year and then in Bellflower at Bellflower MS/HS located on the now renamed “Compton Blvd”. I’ve studied the results and performance of charter schools. At one time I was a proponent of charters – not any more. What we need is Dan’s ABCs. If our district continues to ignore the ABCs eventually public frustration with Seattle’s mismanaged school system will lead to charter schools. This will not produce better learning for all. I am for better learning for all and have an understanding of how to bring it about.
Small schools are essential to community structure and must be preserved. This can be done and is not nearly as expensive as we have been led to believe by those supposedly in the know. Each of my two major opponents fail to realize this FACT: more small schools reduce transportation costs, provide better social infrastructure for families involved in their schools, and need not produce more administrative costs.
Example- in Eastern WA some districts share a common superintendent- two schools can share a common principal. Look at the Fairmont – High Point consolidation: One principal could have been the principal for both of the schools. Given the current retire rehire happening, it is very likely we could have acquired two high quality principals who would want to work half-time. Instead of looking for appropriate solutions good for children and families, the School Board when presented 16 months ago with data forecasts which predicted a budget deficit of $21.9 million for 2007-2008 failed to think for our benefit. We watched live or on television the actual battle at the October school board meeting. Where are we today? The 2007-2008 budget forecast is for a surplus of $5 million. Without more reliable or more honest forecasting it will be difficult to make worthwhile decisions.
Until the NEWS lawsuit is settled which I believe will be successful, there is no reason to close anything or sell anything. My hope is that the NEWS lawsuit will require the state to fully fund the k-12 education mandated in the Washington Constitution which Attorney Thomas Ahearne describes as funding all facets described in the constitution without special levies, bake sales, or car-washes. I would add that our school bus drivers should not be subsidizing our school system by working for non-union contractors with meager benefits. A school board which negotiates a contract with Laidlaw and then is on the verge of dumping Laidlaw and contracting with Durham transportation and only stops because of public outcries can hardly be view as great educational leaders. When in the background is a $40,000 study designed to determine how much the wages of the top 100 administrators should have their salaries raised.

STANDARDIZATION OF EDUCATION CAN NOT POSSIBLY BE SUCCESSFUL.

One size does not fit all. Each student is an individual.
We must decide: 1) What the children need to learn 2) How we will teach it to them 3) What we will do when they don’t learn it.
Recently 1) We don’t know what children need to learn as we have failed to define necessary required skills ……. 2) In many cases we’ve chosen totally inappropriate materials and ways to do this – SEE PROJECT FOLLOW THROUGH 3) Socially promote almost all the students
Rather we should: 1) Define what needs to be learned D44 & D45 2) Use the wisdom gained from a 28 year longitudinal $1 billion dollar study the largest in education history - this PFT based thinking needs to be done instead of ignoring PFT and wondering why what we are doing does not work. 3) Have effective interventions provided for those having difficulty acquiring the required necessary skills.
In other words do Dan’s ABCs outlined at the beginning.
Why do our school leaders ignore the largest educational study?

Project Follow-Through tracked 75,000 children during 28 years. The conclusion about what works in the classroom is indisputable. Direct instruction in the classroom produces success. This is in contrast to the Discovery based math and science curricula recently approved by our school board.
Note: The Cognitive Curriculum is Constructivism/Discovery in fig.1 below.
Sorry my diagram did not survive import into this Blog format
So why does our Seattle School District leadership ignore the facts?
Nobody seems to know, but I intend to do something about it.

The current school board is unresponsive to parents. It’s time for our children to have programs with solid foundations and a framework in which parents can help their children. Education dollars should be directed to smaller class sizes; it is a matter of priorities. Why is the district spending $4.2 million on academic coaches for teachers? Our State already requires continuing professional development of teachers.

78% of recent high school graduates require remedial math at Seattle Central CC.
It is time to stop experimenting on our children with educational fads that do not produce results.
Seattle uses this defective definition: Mathematics is the science and language of patterns and connections. Over-emphasis of exploration and inquiry leaves our children unable to enter technical fields.
Why is our current CAO still unable to answer questions posed in early May?
Why did Mr. Manhas refuse to answer questions? Read the letters at www.dempsey4schools.org
These people feel they need to answer to no one. You the voter need some answers.

8. Our board in its current configuration has been criticized for being unfocused and for getting involved in trivial issues. How would you, as a new member or incumbent, work to bring a focus to this board, build consensus and discipline, and create an agenda that works for our students?

I will by effective educational leadership advocate for and introduce effective decision-making. The board can then decide to go through a transformation to that style of effective decision-making. Can anyone argue that what we’ve been watching lately as a decision-making model should be retained?

9. What’s your position on selling off school properties like the Queen Anne high school gym?

Totally opposed

10. Do you know where revenue from real estate sales has gone over the years and how we might better manage our public assets when/if liquidation occurs?

It is supposed to be used for capital expenditures. I think we may be paying off the JSCEE building (that some refer to as the Raj Mahal)? In my plan to keep all schools open, I would do the required remodeling to get a co-location with a rent paying tenant. This rent goes into the Capital budget. Certain maintenance items can be paid for from capital funds. When those items are paid for from rental income it makes more general fund dollars available for school use.

11. The West Seattle community is very concerned about having two excellent high schools. Currently, both Sealth and WS High Schools are scoring well below district average. What will you do to change this?

I believe that by excellent high schools you mean high schools that effectively meet the needs of all learners. Since you mention test scores your concern is probably for excellent or at least above adequate preparation to be successful in college. At West Seattle recently the combination of poor district leadership and ineffective school leadership has greatly reduced the effectiveness of an excellent core faculty. West Seattle now has excellent administration in place for 2007-2008. If the district will support these effective building level administrators instead of interfering you will see marked improvement in the next few years.
The real high school problem is the k-8 failure. PFT looks at how to have an extremely effective k-3 program. The consequence of ignoring PFT is inadequate learning and lower skill levels exiting third grade. In short by ignoring PFT recommendations we fail many of our children. Until we use carefully selected curriculum and appropriate methods k-8 we will never have the high schools you desire. We need to be carefully watching Schmitz Park’s math implementation of 100% Singapore math. The middle schools should be supplementing with Singapore. Students need to enter high school with adequate academic skills, study skills and an interest in learning. Our current poor choices of k-8 materials coupled with failures to implement school board policies and state law will continue to make those excellent high schools nothing more than a dream. We need to begin a major transformation of what is happening k-8 to allow Chief Sealth and West Seattle to become the great schools our community, our kids and families deserve.
I will also work for a 5 period day on a trimester schedule, which will allow students easier access to community college courses both academic and vocational. The idea is to have each child receive an appropriate education based on that individual’s needs, desires, and efforts. Whether grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 all happen at the local high school or in combination with Community College or other outside program is not important. What is important is that each child has access to appropriate courses and opportunities at the high school level and that the child receives appropriate support to be successful if they are willing to make the effort to be successful.
Advanced Placement and the IB program beginning at Sealth can be excellent programs if our children have the underlying skills and desire to effectively under take these programs and be successful.

12. I’m really concerned with the truncated education at WSHS. These kids need core classes all year long, like all the other SPS high schools. What is your position on this issue?

I see your point. I am for year long classes but better than those at other SPS high schools. Fully read about my reasoning for the 5-period day on trimesters.
Often decisions are made that have underlying adult interests rather than the best interests of students in mind. I’ve spent the majority of my career in the six-period configuration. I taught a block schedule at Komachin Middle School where our house got excellent math results while the other two houses got very poor math results during the opening school year. I’ve taught block schedule at two other locations. I tend to agree with current West Seattle principal Bruce Bivins, there is a lot more to producing excellent results than the schedule. West Seattle High School now has in place an enormous improvement in administration for 2007-2008. Previous administration would have had difficulty with most any schedule. The US has among the shortest school year and shortest school day of developed nations. The planning time for teachers is miniscule by international standards. The four-period day was developed for a variety of good reasons. I think changing the schedule should bring about a better situation for the majority of the students. The schedule that I am currently in favor of is the one in place at Vashon High; the five-period day on trimesters. This allows classes like Algebra I (or integrated I), and English 9 (or LA 9), to be year long at 70+ minutes if that time period is needed. Classes like some electives that may require less time for example Introduction to Creative Writing or Introduction to Computer Programming could be taught in one trimester. The added advantage is student schedules would coordinate with Community College schedules. The start and end dates of trimesters would make taking a running start class much easier and less disruptive to students.
Many districts have avoided trimesters because of worry about loosing FTE dollars to the Community Colleges, when students can co-register more easily.
I believe our job is to create optimum learning situations for students. The k-12 vs. community college turf dollar wars should not prevent us from producing what is best for students.
I believe that such a change to a five-period day at West Seattle while at first appearing as some type of compromise is in reality the best program for students. It could easily be used school district wide enabling all students to have better program flexibility.
Should Thomas Ahearn win the NEWS law suit to require the state to fully fund the schools as stipulated in the Washington State constitution (No bake sales, No car washes, No property tax levies, the state will fully fund the education as stipulated in the constitution). A trimester system could be expanded from 60 day trimesters to 68 day trimesters which would produce an internationally competitive length school year with 24 more days. A sixth 70+ minute period could be added to lengthen the school day should the state provide funding for students needing additional academic interventions or desiring enrichment.

The BIG question is: Will the USA remain competitive in an increasingly technical world or not? As many companies now view themselves a global companies not US companies, I have no doubt they will do just fine but they may be doing so without US technical employees as US Math competence is in a continuing downward spiral.

Having taught a one hour Introduction to Programming the Graphing Calculator four times in the last month at UW’s GEARUP sponsored program for incoming 9th graders about 25% of which had completed an algebra class.
I can again say we are in deep trouble as none of these students know the quadratic formula. Yes 25% or approximately 25 of the 100 students had completed Algebra and yet not one of these students that I saw knew the quadratic formula.

13. What are YOU going to do to deal with inequity in recruiting in Seattle Schools? Chief Sealth HS has military recruiters every other week, while Ballard has military visits 2x/year, also with visits from Ivy League schools. What is YOUR solution? (From a HS student)

By attending 14 school board meetings this year, and getting on the YAWR mailing list, I have a fairly good idea of what has gone on. I’ve spent a fair amount of time speaking with the activists.
I really like the new policy. I think it is great. When the district successfully implements this policy – I would advise YAWR (Youth against war and racism) to move to a different topic other than try to drive all recruiters out of schools.

I watched the Students for a Democratic Society during the 1960s. They had a great beginning – then were hijacked by radicals and accomplished very little.

Does YAWR wish to invest time and energy in bringing about societal improvement? They did a nice job in getting the Board to actually take action and do something positive. I was not pleased at some of the disruption, but given this board’s repeated failure to communicate adequately. YAWR may well have assumed nothing was being done.

14. What is your position on the disproportionate access military recruiters have to students in under-resourced schools?

See above #13 for answer.

15. What is your take on the recent math adoption in Seattle ?
16. How will you address the disaster we have in mathematics education?


Go to my website www.dempsey4schools.org and click on letters and read my letter to Ms. Santorno. Read that letter and the one I wrote to Mr. Manhas the next day and you have my take on the Math Adoption. If you want more go to my original pre-campaign site www.schooltruth.org
I am on the State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel. The recent Math Adoption was intellectually fraudulent. There is a book out titled

School Reform: The Great American Brain Robbery

A book co-authored by David Berliner--- No Child Left Behind: How high stakes testing corrupts America’s Schools.

The State Board of Education hired a wonderful consultant Linda Platner of Strategic Teaching but again Terry Bergeson will have the final say. Dr. Bergeson will select the persons to re-write our extremely defective state math standards. I do not expect much positive change given her track record. Let Ms. Platner select the people to rewrite the standards and you would have a product worth paying for.
Seattle must ignore many of Dr. Bergeson’s recommendations as in math they are of negative value. The document “What is Important in School Mathematics?” from the Mathematics Standards Study Group in 2004 will tell you what should be happening if we wanted to be successful. It is nothing like what Dr. Bergeson advocates.
Consider the following story about reading and Dr. Bergeson.

I propose that we make collection of relevant data a priority.

It is virtually impossible to make intelligent decisions without it.

Here is what I do know.
As a State Board of Education Math Panelist, I had the opportunity
to talk with Dr. Terry Bergeson at the Math Panel meeting in July.
-----------------------
During our conversation I mentioned to her that:
1. During a six-year period from 2000-2005
WASL Reading scores at grade 7 showed an increase of 66%.

2. During the same six years
the IOWA Reading scores at grades 6 and 9 showed no improvement.


Dr. Bergeson then told me that I should check my data for the IOWA reading scores had improved during that time period just not as much as the WASL scores.
------------------------
Let us take a look:
WASL grade 7 reading went from 41.5% passing to 69% passing an increase of 66%.

Looking at the IOWA Test results for the same six year time period:
Grade 6 reading improved 1 percentile point from the 54th to 55th percentile.
Grade 9 reading stayed at the 54th percentile, no improvement over the 6 years.

The WASL Reading showed incredible improvement, while a nationally normed standardized test tells us this reading improvement did not occur.
Sorry about the formating below

Grade 6 1999-00
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05

Reading 54 53 54 55 55 55
Math 56 56 58 58 58 58
Language 56 54 56 56 55 54
Core 55 55 56 56 56 56
Grade 9 1999-00
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05

Reading 54 53 54 53 53 54
Quantitative Thinking 60 59 59 59 59 61
Expression 55 54 55 54 54 55
Core 58 57 58 57 57 58

I believe that statistics can be used to drive improvement.
We must make the decision to do so.

It is time to put an end to the marketing spin and produce real learning improvement for all and that is exactly what I intend to do. I will do this through effective management.

Seattle Schools need to begin using relevant data to guide intelligent decision making.

Unfortunately Seattle Board members often watch cherry-picked data presentations delivered in a way to disguise the real facts. Semi-slick sales presentations have replaced any quest for truth. Marketing wins and kids lose.

Education has morphed into the Education Industry. At this time Education as a service to children and families is beginning to look a bit like a fading memory of yesteryear.

This need not happen. We can leave the ineffective Top-Down decision making model where a select few individuals make all the decisions based on little if any relevant data. We must replace it with highly effective collaborative decision making founded on the intelligent application of relevant data. As I mentioned we have a highly educated community, we need to take advantage of the resources of the community. We must stop ignoring community input.

As a retiring teacher with 32 years of classroom experience, I know learning improvement happens at the classroom level. Decision makers are often isolated from the classroom level. I know how decisions impact teaching and learning at the classroom level.
Together we can bring about Better Learning for All.

17. Would you consider getting rid of the WASL, or lobbying to change it?

Go to my website at www.dempsey4schools.org look for the information about the MAP test that was piloted in Richland. The Richland superintendent, Dr. Semler, testified before the legislature about the MAP. Dr. Bergeson neglected to submit the MAP test for peer-review by the FEDS. It could have replaced the WASL. This would have saved dollars and given us a much more useful tool. It could have ended Dr. Bergeson’s domination of this system. The absurd mess in math was created by her and looks as though it may continue. Lobby to change it? I will try through collaboration with legislators to bring about enough pressure on Dr. Bergeson to request that the FEDS do a peer-review on the MAP so that it can be our No Child Left Behind tool in place of the WASL.
18. What is your position on the WASL?

I am all for accountability and appropriate testing for accountability. I think course ending tests with some degree of standardization would be wonderful. We need not wait for the state on this we could do it now and amass some relevant data on which we could base intelligent decisions. The WASL is an enormous waste of time and money. I would like to know what children actually know so we can begin making those intelligent decisions based on relevant data. Thanks to Dr. Bergeson’s waste of money on WASL and the UW math department lobbying to end the ITBS testing, we have very little relevant data. Our school district’s expenditure on Edu-Soft testing fits right in on this – expensive and in some respects useless so far.

19. What do you think is the optimal class size?

Look to Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Andover Academy, and Albuquerque Academy; ten to fifteen. They have a lot more money than we do. In addition to small classes their teachers have a lot more planning time. I visited Albuquerque Academy in the late 1980s and at the middle school they had eight 32 minute periods. Each teacher hand corrected all homework and handed it back the next day. Teachers taught only four of the eight periods. In the high performing Asian countries even though class sizes are larger than at these academies, the teachers have much greater planning time than is common in US public schools.
Newsweek had an article some years ago about brain research and school practices. The question posed was why do our schools do what they do? Then current brain research indicated there were better ways to bring about effective learning. With many teachers in a six-period day seeing five groups of students and having approximately 50 minutes of dedicated planning and preparation time in the service of 150+ children – I think you can formulate the answer to Newsweek’s question. At the elementary level teachers teach fewer students but have an enormous number of lessons to present with very little planning time.

20. What are your suggestions for creating more vocational sites for school district students? On June 22 the district closed the cooking class at North Seattle Community College.

Stop the bizarre emphasis on WASL. We are expending huge amounts of time and resources to accomplish little. We should be using the MAP not the WASL and our gauge can then be each student’s individual improvement. Use Dan’s ABCs.
Going from WASL to MAP will allow us both time, and resources to improve learning for all. A vocational component is absolutely essential. It is a question of priorities and long range planning for continuing system improvement.

21. Why is it that the public speaking times at school board meetings are always filled with the same people? What will you do to regain control of the meetings?

I’ve now been at 14 school board meetings in 2007. Listen to who is speaking and why. People receive no answers when they testify. They are not contacted in regard to their testimony. As long as we have a system which is not even close to transparent and open, meeting testimony slots will be filled with repeat customers.
I testified on January 17, 2007 about how far off-base this district was in Math. At the next Board meeting Ms. Santorno said there would be no math adoptions without further guidance from the state. I am on the SBE math panel- she got no further guidance from the state. We got a math adoption on May 30th 2007 that looks like Ms. Santorno is trying to drive more families out of our district and into private schools.
We have a school board that chooses not to manage. The Superintendent is to be the Board’s only employee. Most on the school board see themselves as part-time volunteers who are there to rubber-stamp approval of whatever their hired professionals put before them. The tail is wagging the dog.
Unfortunately their hired professionals
1) Ignore Project Follow Through – thus the Achievement Gap is constant
2) Ignore the Mathematics Standards Study Group document and adopt a math program almost guaranteed not to work without tremendous expensive interventions. Any improvement that results from this will be from expensive interventions not from that extremely poor curriculum choice of Everyday Mathematics. Schmitz Park has it right- forget Everyday and just go full time Singapore.
3) The board and administration choose to socially promote almost everyone by ignoring the policies D43, D44, D45, D46
4) We have a community that desires more students to be technically proficient for a rapidly changing world and we get the Failed Denver Adoption choice of Everyday Math followed by Connected Math. We are clearly preparing a lot of students to work at Wal-Mart or in the Fast Food industry as life time career choices.
I think you now have an idea of why the meetings are filled.
I plan to call people who testify – because unlike the Seattle Times I think this is a full-time job given the mess created by Dr. Bergeson, Mr. Manhas and his senior staff. Yes if everyone was doing the job they should be doing, then the job of Seattle School Director would not be full-time. It is a full-time job for next year.
To improve our schools will involve making intelligent decisions based on relevant statistical data.
We are so far away from that at the moment; this job for me will be at least full time for the first year.

22. Regarding the student assignment plan, please choose one of these issues and give specifics for that area of assignment: { I will choose them all}

a. Alternative Schools: not equal distribution in all areas of the city vs. transportation costs
First what do we need and why? Second how many of each? Third where should they be located?
Again I would like us to stick with the current assignment plan (perhaps with very slight modifications). When we have improved the schools more students will choose not to travel. Since this Administration and School Board is nowhere near Dan’s ABCs and currently uses a Top-Down management model I am not very optimistic about significant positive academic progress occurring. By looking at the last 40 years then looking ahead without any really significant changes – I believe we can get a reasonable idea of the next few years. That would be pretty much like the last 40 and our ability to effectively serve the students currently traveling by restricting movement and serving them locally looks remote.
b. Middle Schools: more K8s or improve the quality of what exists? How to do that?
Dan’s A,B,Cs for improving quality. I am a fan of k-8 schools having taught in a few and reading research especially in regard to girls’ performance comparisons between k-8 and middle schools.
c. High Schools: inequitable quality so should the assignment plan be in phases with high school being last? Would you support set-aside seats or auditions for programs that cannot be replicated?
Read what I’ve said above about the student assignment plan. I will need to investigate further some of the issues you raise in “c”. That is why I am going to work at this job full-time for at least the first year. Even though I taught for 32 years and know a significant amount about schools, I need to learn about a tremendous amount of different issues and situations to be an effective leader. In addition to openly communicating with the public on a regular basis this must be at least a forty hour a week job.
I wish to make it clear this is not about Micro-Management this is about Management and effective leadership. Seattle is one of America’s 50 largest school districts, we are in the 40s. Seattle is unlike most of the other 49. We have much higher education levels of current city residents. We have a number of other very positive factors that differentiate us from most of the other 49. We should be able to magnify our assets.
If administration and directors are not concerned about Dan’s ABCs don’t expect much in the way of significant academic improvement. This is management and educational leadership. Focus on where results occur and how to bring about positive change. Dan’s big plan is system improvement through intelligent decision-making using relevant data. To improve schools focus on Dan’s ABCs.

A last thought. - If you wished to remodel your house with the hope of getting a wonderfully improved dwelling would you:
A. Hire the experienced builder and craftsman who knows architects and reads profusely on remodeling and is planning to devote all his energies to your project.

OR

B. Hire an attorney who comes highly recommended for his legal skills and past performance record and who plans to work on your house part-time and has few carpentry skills or the understanding that comes with years of experience being involved with this type of project.

If you hire B and are dissatisfied, how many times will you hire a different B and remain dissatisfied before you hire A?

Sincerely,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. ….. Dan “the Teacher” has plans to remodel the Seattle school house into a wonderful richly deserved dwelling. ……The children and the community deserve A.

Vote DEMPSEY for a positive change that will improve learning for all.


Sincerely,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. “Dan”

Please forgive any typographical errors or other short comings.