My SB Picks

So I've gone to forums, talked to candidates one-on-one, read the editorial pages and wrapped that around what I know about this district. Here are my picks for School Board along with a bit of the why. Keep in mind; I vote both for what the person has individually and what I think they will bring to the Board as a whole. A person can be bright and even qualified but that doesn't mean they work well with others OR have something to bring to a team effort.

District III: Harium Martin-Morris. I won't even mention the other guy because he's a lunatic. Luckily, Mr. Martin-Morris is NOT just a default winner. He is bright, knows a lot about the workings of the Board (you can't go to Board meetings for years and not pick up a lot of information, both directly and indirectly plus learning about the players) and, hurray! has a sense of humor (which I predict may get him into trouble sometimes from humorless folks). I think he brings an honesty and candor with that humor that is going to be more palatable to the public (than say, Darlene Flynn who is blunt to a point). Years of working on Site Council and PTA boards makes me believe he can work in a group.

District I: Sally Soriano. I know some of you just can't get past the affidavit she filed for the school closure lawsuit (which, by the way, didn't cost the district extra - they were already working on the lawsuit). I thought it wasn't a good idea but Sally is a principled person. Sally has integrity and is willing to stand up and say she doesn't agree. She doesn't do it in snide or unpleasant way, she asks for support and asks many questions. In short, she does her homework. Her work on the water and mold issues has been aggressive and ground-breaking.

Peter Maier is a bright, hard-working guy. That said, he doesn't bring a lot to the table. I fear that Peter is easily lead and willing to go with the flow of the majority. We had that problem with the previous board (before the current board) who just wanted to support the superintendent and didn't EVER want to look like they had a disagreement. It's dangerous and it lead this district to the brink of financial ruin. Peter also stated today in an article in the PI in answer to a question about school safety :

"The district must also continue to replace buildings that are not earthquake-safe or that have unhealthy air or water quality. The February 2007 bond measure that voters approved overwhelmingly, and whose campaign I led as president of Schools First, made great strides on these projects."

First, Sally is the one who championed the mold and water quality issues. Not Schools First or Facilities staff. She did her job a Board member and listened to constituents and stood her ground.

Second, the Feb. 2007 bond measure is not going to make great strides in either case. Why? Because many of the schools already had it in motion to clean up the air and water quality. Facilities wanted to do the bare minimum when the mold issue at Hale when it came up (ask the parent of the child who has cancer who feared for her child's health) and yet, when the bond measure came, it was either a $1M fix or a $64M fix. Interesting. Also, as I said before (and I'll say again), this bond list does NOT address all the schools with the most pressing earthquake problems. Mr. Maier, if elected, will be the Board member to be held most accountable because of the head of School First he rubber-stamped their recommendations.

District II: Sherry Carr. She's bright, has proven she knows how to work with diverse groups of people on complicated issues and knows the district. More than any other candidate, Sherry knows this district and that is a huge plus for a new board member. Darlene has alienated far too many people, knows it and has excuses for not being communicative rather than even saying she will try to do better.

District VI: Maria Ramirez. A very hard call but I give the nod to Maria Ramirez. She, like Sherry, has a depth of experience, will bring needed diversity to this district (see my post on Latina candidates and the stats in it) and knows how to work with groups. Steve Sundquist just has less experience on this front although he has good financial knowledge. I would be proud to have either candidate on the Board.


Anonymous said…
You say "Luckily, Mr. Martin-Morris is just a default winner."

I think you mean he's NOT just a default winner.
Anonymous said…
I hope that Melissa just made a typo regarding Mr. Morris being a default candidate. Mr. Martin-Morris is not just a default candidate, he is an excellent candidate, and we should be proud to have him run.
Anonymous said…
"which, by the way, didn't cost the district extra - they were already working on the lawsuit."

On this you are wrong. The school district clearly spent time and money drafting motions to strike the declarations (avialable on the court website) and on having the other directors write declarations to counter what Sally and Mary wrote (most of which was vague claims about what she "heard"). I suspect the district's attorney spent time (which means money) reminding the other attorney that school board directors, in a lawsuit against the school board, are represented by the school's attorney and that in turn the other attorney can't ethically talk to them about the case.

For me, regardless of if it cost money, it is a violation of the ethics policy that should not be ignored. Ethics are imporant, and Sally's willingness to flaunt a clear rule just because she did not get her way on one vote speaks to her inability to put what it best for the district above what she thinks is politically popular.
Anonymous said…
Anon at 8:04: Well said and thank you.
Anonymous said…
For what it is worth (probably not a great deal), as an attorney I can confirm that Anonymous 8:04 is correct: Ms. Soriano's filing of a declaration certainly did cost the District money. Ms. Westbrook, with all due respect, I have seen you and others state on more than one occasion (in defense of Ms. Soriano's actions) that the filing of her declaration (to paraphrase) "did not cost the District any money." Again, with all due respect, this is simply not correct. I can assure you (as Anonymous 8:04 pointed out) that the District's attorneys must, of necessity, have done something in response to the filing of her declaration. I have refrained from pointing this out previously, because I did not want to get too legalistic. However, with the election approaching, and with endorsements being offered up by both you and Mr. Mas, I want to make sure that this bit of inaccurate information (and I recognize that it is unintentionally inaccurate) is corrected. (For the record, I have never been involved in any legal activity involving the District, and thus have no axe to grind. My only concern is that people base their decision on correct facts.)
Anonymous said…
Sally voted no for our bond/levy.
How can anyone with an interest in SPS vote for her???????????

Peter Maier headed the Alliance for Education, the company that lead the campaign for the levy. He worked hard to get the levy passed.

Forget the lawsuit that Sally wrote the affidavit for, this is even more unconscionable in my opinion.

In the case of Steve Sundquist VS Maria Ramirez, Steve gets my vote.
I like Maria, but she seems to be hyper focused on the Latino community. I don't want someone on the board who has an interest in a particular group, rather, I want someone who sees the big picture, and works for the good of all, cohesively. I think Steve fits my ideal much better than Maria.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to know more about your Maria Ramirez pick.

It's hard for me to reconcile the Stranger and PI endorsements, and yours (though I know you said it was a hard choice), with my experience with her at the various forums I've attended.

Maybe public speaking just isn't her long suit, but she just doesn't seem to have the presence, the ideas, the experience with massive organizations, or the relationships around the city to hold that seat - and she pretty much pales in comparison to Steve Sundquist (and I'm not on his campaign).
Yes, that was a typo and I corrected it.

As far as Sally voting? Did you mean on the Board or on the ballot? Sally said she did NOT vote no for the levy. I don't even know how she voted for the bond on the ballot. She voted against the bond on the Board.

I don't believe Maria IS hyper-focused on Latino issues. Her work doesn't reflect that. It's odd but if you get a candidate of color somehow people believe that they will only concentrate on students of that race. I don't get it.

Okay Steve versus Maria. Steve was the IT Managing Director for Russell Investments for more than a decade. It is a large international firm. So, yes, that's a lot of responsibility at a large company for a long time. He is currently on the Board for Climate Solutions, a non-profit environmental organization which, unfortunately, doesn't list its Board so it is not clear how often they meet and what their role is in the organization. He has been a leader in his church and helped bring about the IB program at Sealth.

Maria has worked for King County social services for years and has written budgets, managed personnel, etc. What impresses me more is her work (and knowledge base she has developed doing it)in the district. She has headed PTAs (like Michael and Harium), she served on a taskforce about eliminating the achievement gap and participated in district hiring teams. What is very impressive are her honors from very different groups including her employer and higher ed (UW), :

Excellence in Advocacy, Seattle/King County Human Services Coalition, 2006
➢ Distinguished Organization Award, CampaƱa Quetzal
➢ Multicultural Alumni Partnership, University of Washington Alumni Association, for outstanding contributions in the areas of diversity and educational opportunity,2006.
➢ Martin Luther King Jr. County Department of Community and Human Services’Values Award, for living the Values of the Department.
➢ MLK Humanitarian Group Award, MLK County Department of Community and Human Services, 2000.

(Some of this I just found out from reading her website thoroughly and now I'm even more impressed.)

The point is I believe Maria, like Sherry, knows this District and it is no small thing coming into office that way. Steve, while active in his school (kudos for that and the great start to that IB program) doesn't look anywhere as knowledgeable. Maria hasn't been in as high a position in a large company but I think her work/volunteer work experience easily balances that out.

Again, I think they are both fine candidates but I prefer Maria.
Anonymous said…
I guess my problem with Maria is that all of her work has been focused on the under served, low income, populations and minority students. That is no doubt commendable and I'm glad she is doing it. My issue is that my children, like many others in this district, are not low income or under served student. Quite the opposite, they are high achievers. I find that high achievers have very very little available to them in this district. If they don't test into Spectrum or APP, they all to often become under served, though not in the sense that Maria advocates for. The board hyper focuses on minorities, institutionalized racism, the achievement gap. Nobody is looking to better the opportunities for all. Only for the under served.

I want someone on the board who will look at all students, and try to find out how to better serve every student in this district.

I hope that Maria continues her activism, I just think Steve would better serve the entire community.

I know this doesn't sound PC, but it is how I feel. I want my kids to have more opportunities and be challenged. I don't want to have to enroll my kids in Shoreline middle schools so they can get honors classes and rigorous instruction, but, sadly I do that currently.
Anonymous said…
Melissa wrote, "District III: Harium Martin-Morris. I won't even mention the other guy because he's a lunatic."

Lots of media wh*res, phony activists and other corporate activists call me a lunatic. Funny thing is, they seldom explain what qualifies me as a lunatic. A few years ago, The Stranger suggested that it was my hatred of Bill Gates that qualified me as a loon.

There are probably thousands, if not millions, of people around the world who hate Bill Gates. Are they lunatics, too?

So how about it, Melissa? Can you share with us the rationale you used in dismissing me as a lunatic?

I certainly don't think you're a lunatic. I do think you're an as*hole - and I can back it up with a little logic.

First, I identified SaveSeattleSchools as a corporate operative long ago. It's certainly too irrational and ineffective to qualify as an activist group.

I also think it's a bit too much to describe my opponent (Whorium) as a good candidate. The guy's obviously supported by the education ESTABLISHMENT, and he has no issues!

So Melissa Westbrook has thrown in her lot with the various media wh*res who think I'm insane, while I think Melissa Westbrook is an as*hole.

Who's right? Do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

Incidentally, I just granted my first media interview and will be attending my first forums. You can hear me debate my opponent live on KUOW Radio tomorrow (Wed. Oct. 24) at about 1:40. And I've organized my own forums, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 27 and November 3.

They're "private forums" in that the media and phone activist groups like SaveOurSchools won't be invited. Tentatively, we'll be meeting on the UW campus at the Hub.

Once you've heard a genuine discussion of real education issues, I think you'll see the discussions on this website for what they are - agenda-driven babbling.

David Blomstrom
Anonymous said…
Mr. Blomstrom, you just qualified yourself as a lunatic. Your foul mouth and anger over shadow any possible good intention that you may have for Seattle Schools.

You just gave Harium another huge hand in winning this race. Thank you.

And, don't worry about making your forums invitation only, there are not many people, mafia, a*sholes, or wh*ores that would want to attend anyway.

Thank god for democracy and elections!!!

Go Harium!!
Anonymous said…
Any ANONYMOUS twit bravely wrote, "Mr. Blomstrom, you just qualified yourself as a lunatic."

How did I do that?

"Your foul mouth and anger over shadow any possible good intention that you may have for Seattle Schools."

Stop changing subjects; let's deal with the lunacy charge first!

"You just gave Harium another huge hand in winning this race."


"And, don't worry about making your forums invitation only, there are not many people, mafia, a*sholes, or wh*ores that would want to attend anyway."

I know you wouldn't want to attend my forums.

"Thank god for democracy and elections!!!"

And thank God there's at least one candidate who's publicizing the fact that the education establishment that supports Whorium is trying to take away our right to vote for school board candidates.

"Go Harium!!"

I'll second that. Go, Whorium, go get me a beer!
Anonymous said…
He finally found this blog. Drats.
Charlie Mas said…
Maria Ramirez was co-president of the PTA at Madison for two years.

She has been on the site council for West Seattle High School since 2001 and was the chair of the site council for two years.

She was an officer and, for two years, co-president of the PTA at Lafayette, home to one of the strongest Spectrum programs in the district. She has DEFINITELY advocated for high achieving students.

The criticism doesn't stick.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, please give me some examples of how Maria advocated for average and high achieving students. Being the co-president of the PTA at Lafayette does not show how, specifically, she advocated for high achieving students. The strong Spectrum program at Lafayette was their long before Maria was, did she have anything to do with it??

Everything on her website focuses on the under-served and minority populations. All of the awards and commendations that Melissa pointed out in her previous post outline Maria's contributions to the Latino and under served communities.

I could be wrong about her, I have certainly been wrong before. If you can give me specific examples of how Maria has advocated for middle class families of average students and for high achieving students I would appreciate it.
Anonymous said…
Mr. Blomstrom, I do not think you are a lunatic and am grateful for your writing because I agree to everything you have said. I am personally sick of people who ignore the issues and think it is normal for people in this district to accept the status quo. The board members currently are extremely pompous and are disrespectful of parents and staff.

Also I am sick of senior leadership being disrespectful of junior staff. Both senior leadership and the board are not held accountable for their actions and their inability to make sound decisions.
Maria had kids in the Spectrum program so she was at the very least advocating for them in that program.

Two of her awards were for humanitarian work and upholding values of King County. How that is perceived as working for one community is beyond me.

If all you see when you look at Maria is a Mexican-American, you are being very short-sighted despite her work across the spectrum of communities. I have tried to explain my own thinking; I cannot change anyone else's.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, explaining that Maria had kids in Spectrum and pointing out her humanitarian work was exactly what I was asking for. I could have done without your sniping at me in the second half of your post. I truly asked for information. That is not short sighted, at least in my opinion.

For some reason you and Charlie have become very very defensive. It is difficult to communicate with either of you via this blog, because you are very quick to label and point fingers at people who don't see eye to eye with you. This blog is for sharing information. We will never all agree, but at least we can share information in a respectful, inclusive manner. I didn't point any fingers at you or call you short sighted for supporting Maria, when I have not decided to support her. Rather I stated my opinion, and when Charlie pointed out that Maria had advocated for the highly capable, I asked him how she did that. In other words I am open to learning and perhaps changing my opinion. I really didn't need or deserve you and Charlie's comments such as "your criticism doesn't stick", "If all you see is a Mexican American you are short sighted" and "your perceptions are beyond me"

You are going to loose posters and this blog will become a Charlie and Melissa correspondence page if the two of you don't back off a bit.
Anonymous said…
BTW, when you author a controversial post like this, you have to accept that there will be some debate. My opinion is certainly not an attack of your endorsement or on Maria Ramirez . It was simply my opinion. Hopefully, you feel the same way.
Anonymous said…
Take the following in a musing vs challenging vein, in the interest of continuing the conversation about candidates, finding out more about them, etc.

I wrote before about having a hard time reconciling Maria Ramirez with her endorsements based on what I’d seen, and another dimension like that came to mind.

It’s hard for me to understand the way (or why, I guess) she is parsing words in 2 situations: one, where she says and writes that she "supported" the operating levy but didn't vote in the election in which it was on the ballot (and continues to stress the “supported” word even when called on it, or for instance, in her Chalkboard blog; and two, the whole Municipal League "highest-rated” thing - where even when called on it she continues to say she's "the highest rated in her race" - when Steve Sundquist is rated equally and when in fact their identical "very good" rating is not the highest offered.

Simplistically, I think if anyone's going to be pure of heart, word, and deed, it’s the activists of the world – so the tack she is taking is especially surprising to me. I wonder if she’s following the advice of a campaign manager – or she just doesn’t see the distinction and the importance of calling a spade a spade and owning it. Either way, a little disconcerting.

Someone who talked with her at an event also told me she seemed fairly bitter about things – the district, other candidates – and that doesn’t make me too comfortable, either.

Am open to more information here -
S Sterne said…
Let's go back to District 2 -

I know that Darlene Flynn as earned a rep as a confrontational person, and I will admit that I prefer confrontational people to passive-aggressive nonconfrontational people - so I'll put the personality issues aside for a moment.

I attended a candidate's forum this week at an elementary school. For 45 minutes, Sherry and Darlene answered the same questions, across a host of issues important to the parents and teachers in the building - questions about equity, funding, curricular alignment, allocation of district resources. It was striking that at no time did either candidate disagree with the other on any point.

The difference was that Sherry seemed content to simply and superficially state her positions (which were, in my view, sound positions) while Darlene spoked to the issues in much greater depth.

I think that too many people have dismissed Darlene because she is not always the fastest responder to email - but in my experience, she has always shown up at my school when the parent community needed her. She is in line with the new Superintendent's plans, and she (unlike Carr) articulately convinced me that my skepticism regarding Curricular Alignment had to do with my ignorance, not a flaw in Dr Goodloe-Johnson's plan.

So, we're all entitled to endorse or vote for whom we choose, and I think that either candidate will be a sensible, ethical, focused rep for Position 2. But my evening with the two of them convinced me of what I already suspected - Darlene Flynn is a superior candidate with a deep grasp of issues.

Darlene has earned my support both through her performance over the past four years and her performance at the forum. I hope that the readers of this blog will consider her strengths and consider supporting her.
Anonymous said…
Melissa - Thanks for your comments. I attended the candidate forum at the Stanford Center and was confused by Maria saying she supported the school levy but the Seattle Times reported "She filled in the "no" bubbles on the district's two major school-funding initiatives on the February ballot."

She has since said she supported the levy, but she didn't vote and her campaign keeps bringing the issue up. I noticed a letter to the editor in the Times today from Irene Stewart's son, Tyler Smith who has been supporting Maria's campaign. He wrote: "It is beyond question that she (Maria) dedicated more time and energy to this year's levy campaign than her opponent even thought about it."

At the forum, Maria said as a citizen she chose not to vote but as a School Board Member she would vote. I didn't understand that. Did you?

At the same forum, she handed me a flyer that said she was "highest rated" by the Municipal League" and "highest rated" by SEAMEC. But I checked and both organizations give ratings higher than she received.

I'm just not feeling like she is being forthright. Any thoughts?
Anonymous said…
I think this is an interesting race, as I think all of the candidates, less Blomstrom, would all be great!

I think it is more a balance. For instance if Peter won over Sally, then I would prefer Maria over Steve.
If Steve won over Maria then I would prefer Sally to Peter. I think Sherry Carr is great, but I think Darlene Flynn has proven herself over the last four years. She is confrontational, but she gets the job done. I have also always been able to get in touch with her when I needed her. Sometimes it took persistence, but she always came through. She even met me for lunch at a cafe downtown to discuss an issue once.

But, again, I think this election is about balance. I think we are lucky to have all very qualified candidates running, and even if the people I vote for don't make it, I'm just not that worried as I think they would all do well. We are truly lucky.
Anonymous said…
I went to the school board candidates forum tonight at Bryant. I thought I knew exactly who I would be voting for, but was surprised by some answers and attitudes of the candidates.

Sherry Carr seemed vague, and did not answer questions directly. When she answered questions she answered with fluff like "I will make sure that XYZ gets done", but she didn't give any specifics of how she would accomplish it.

Peter Maier seemed very articulate, and seemed to have great ideas and gave much more specific and concrete answers.

Sally sounded good, but relied heavily on her activism background to carry her through the debate. She talked a lot about what she has done, but not much about what she wants to do now or in the future.

Steve Sundquist was very well spoken, likeable, and had great ideas. He spoke with precision and was convincing. I really liked him.

Maria seemed very friendly and personable. She was not very specific in her answers but I felt her passion. Her advocacy and outreach certainly shined through.

Harium was great! The only candidate with a sense of humor, he actually got a stuffy, tense room of parents and administrators to laugh a couple of times. He was real. Very real. I loved his direct answers. He wasn't scared to say we can't have it all. For instance when asked about diversity in Seattle Schools he said "we want choice, we want neighborhood schools and we want diversity but we can't have it all, something has to give". As much as I don't like hearing this, it is true.
Anonymous said…
Emily Heffter picked up on anon 9:27's comment:

The board hyper focuses on minorities, institutionalized racism, the achievement gap. Nobody is looking to better the opportunities for all. Only for the under served.

I want someone on the board who will look at all students, and try to find out how to better serve every student in this district.

Emily writes ",,,I wonder whether this parent is getting at something a lot of middle-class parents are feeling: that the School Board candidates aren't speaking to the issues they are facing."

Can't respond to her easily so I will here - most of the parents I know don't begrudge the focus placed by the board on children living in poverty and struggling in school (not saying anon does - her comment is written from a slightly different angle).

What gets to the parents I know? The contempt they feel from the board (Darlene Flynn in particular) and the rest of the city - for being "north end" and seemingly affluent; for having volunteers and PTAs who raise money (generally attributed to be much more than it is and far more easily raised - from these middle class families - than it is; for being "involved parents";for having "small schools"; for "taking resources" from children who struggle (in spite of the district's weighted staffing formula and the state and federal grants that go directly to high-poverty schools and students).

I put things in quotes because they're dubious generalizations.

It's an insidious kind of contempt because it's rarely stated in a venue where it could be faced, discussed, enriched with data, and resolved. Intead, it's fueled with innuendo - and if you call it out, you're whining and ungrateful.

The parents I know want high-poverty schools and students with special circumstances and needs(poverty, disabilities, English-language-deficits) to get what they need and succeed - they just don't want to be vilified because their children might not be among them at this time in their lives.
S Sterne said…
Anonymous, I have a child in a small, North End school in District 2, with a fairly heavily involved PTA that raises a decent amount of money for the programs no longer funded by the State - Art, Music, and so forth. I have never experienced Darlene Flynn's alleged "contempt;" on the contrary, she has been engaged, helpful and extremely supportive of parents in the face of the District Staff's obstinacy.

I respect her wilingness to get tough when there is a need to do so.

I think that the prevailing attitude about Darlene - that she is "unapproachable" or, in your words, "contemptuous" - spring more from her style than any lack of skill or substantive work on her part.

I think that your post is unintentionally full of the sort of generalizations that you seem to be criticizing.

I do appreciate the fact that you are publishing your comments in this forum so there can be a debate about them. I agree with you that sometimes, people develop a bias against a candidate or offieholder based solely on innuendo, and that dynamic is not good.

Anonymous said…
New anonymous here.....

Darlene has made many negative comments in context to rich, white, north end parents who just can't be satisfied. Whenever we bring up a concern she calls it "whining" She IS unapproachable. At a recent candidates forum I caught her rolling her eyes every time the issue of diversity or race came up. She rolled her eyes and soured her face when other candidates spoke and presented their ideas. As a board member she does this (and worse) to administration and staff in meetings, becoming very rude and outspoken at times. She NEVER advocates for advanced learning, or any issues that don' involve low income, minority students.
S Sterne said…
I feel like we're talking about 2 different people - the Darlene Flynn I saw at a candidate's forum this week listened respectfully when Sherry Carr spoke; they never confronted each other and never disagreed on specific points. Often, Flynn elaborated on a line of reasoning that Sherry began.

It's odd - I am very concerned about advanced learning opportunities in the District; I have a child in APP elementary as well as a younger one at our neighborhoods school, and I am totally at ease (based on several years of interaction and discussion) with Darlene's commitment to Seattle students of all backgrounds.

Mind you, I have no problem with Sherry Carr - I think she'd be fine. But I prefer to keep Flynn, both for the additional depth of understanding she brings to the issues facing the District, and for the willingness to get tough when necessary. I can certainly understand supporting either candidate.

Anonymous said…
I think you've hit it on the head, Steven. I have experience with 2 very different Darlene Flynns, though unfortunately mostly with the derisive, unresponsive Darlene who is generally scornful of whining white north-end parents.

I respect your experience and am glad you've been served well.

I would add that a candidate would be nuts not to be on his or her best behavior while campaigning, especially in public settings like candidate forums.
Anonymous said…
speaking of safety, i just heard yesterday, a couple entered Olympic View in Maple Leaf and stole 3 teachers purses, and 6 of the new projectors many of the schools received this year. Apparently these projectors were not secured properly so all the theives need to was pick them up and put them in a big Target bag. They did this while the teachers were out with their children taking them to their buses. I am wondering wether the District will mention this? This couple did something similar in Renton recently. This begs the question, why hasnt the district outfitted schools with CCTV.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the comments about Darlene and her attitude toward "north end parents." Does she advertise the fact that I believe her own child or children attend or attended Summit?

Did any of you ever attend a Student Learning Committee meeting when she was the chair? Rude doesn't describe how she treated district staff - micro-managing and harassing are better words. I for one can do without that kind of behavior and support giving Sherry the opportunity to add a new voice to the board.
Anonymous said…
Darlene's kids did go to Summit. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black. She also berates the middle class, when she herself is very comfortably middle class. She is arrogant, and acts like she knows it all. Not interested at all in hearing what the public has to say. She goes in with her view and fights for it, and doesn't give a hoot about what the community, staff or admin is saying. It's awful, really. And lastly, I am so tired of having every single thing the board discusses turn into a race issue.

I will be glad to (hopefully) be rid of Darlene Flynn. Sherry will definitely be getting my vote.
Dan Dempsey said…
One of my difficulties with Director Flynn is detachment from reality.

During the primary campaign in which she out-polled Lisa Steubing by about 5%, she stated at both the Pathfinder and CityClub forums that:

"WASL scores in Reading, Math, and Writing have risen over 50% during my tenure."Darlene clearly realizes

Anyone who has such little regard for the truth, coupled with all her other above out-lined deficiencies should not be a School Director.

Darlene, like Dr. Bergeson, clearly realizes that the media has few fact checkers; so make up and present whatever you like as the truth.
Anonymous said…
pVDCD9 Good article! Thanks!
Charlie Mas said…
I know what Sally Soriano will be like as a Board Director. I know that if the District staff drops the ball and refuses to pick it up, as they did with water quality issues, she will step forward and carry the ball. I know that when the District staff shuts out public input she will open the door. I also know that when the District staff is working properly she stays back and lets them work. When we had an ineffective and incompetent Superintendent, the Board had to step forward. Now that the Board has hired a strong Superintendent, they can step back.

All I know about Peter Maier is what he says he will do and what he has actually done around the capital levies.

Peter Maier says that when he is on the Board he will demand fiscal responsibility. So why didn't he demand fiscal responsibility when the District overspent the capital budget by $30 million? Why didn't he demand fiscal responsibility when the District blew the budget on project after project in the BEX II levy? He worked to get people to vote for that levy; did his responsibility to it end on Election Day?

Peter Maier says that when he is on the Board he will demand that District staff fulfill their commitments to communities. So why didn't he demand that the District fulfill their commitment to the Hamilton community when that project was pushed off BEX I by budget overruns? And why didn't he demand that the District fulfill their commitment to the Hamilton community when it happened again in BEX II? We never heard him say a word about it.

Peter Maier says that he believes in Board oversight. So why didn't he say something when the Waldman Board didn't appoint the BEX II Oversight Committee until years after the vote? Some of the projects were completed before the Oversight Committee met for the first time, but we never heard a peep from Peter Maier about the lack of oversight or the broken promise to appoint a committee.

Peter Maier says that when he is on the Board, he will demand that decisions be based on academic needs and data. But why didn't he demand that the District set the spending priorities for BEX III that way? The buildings chosen for renovation in BEX III have no relationship to any plan, no relationship to any logical assessment of academic need, no relationship to building condition, no relationship to closures, no relationship to demand, no relationship to demographics, and no relationship to any data. Why didn't he speak out about that?

Where was Peter Maier when the District and SchoolsFirst were touting the 2004 Capital Levy wiht patently false claims that BEX I and BEX II projects were all on time and on budget? A few months after that election the District revealed $30 million of overspending in the capital budget.

Peter Maier says that when he is on the Board he will demand public engagement. But why didn't he demand public engagement on BEX III? When people raised legitimate concerns about the spending priorities of BEX III, did he advocate for communication or community involvement in the decision? No. He told those people to shut up and vote "Yes".

I would have an easier time believing that Mr. Maier would do the things that he says he will do if I had ever seen him do those things in the past when he had plenty of opportunity to do them.
Anonymous said…
I agree with S Sterne. I find Flynn to be the more substantive candidate. Carr is full of fluff who has actually started using Darlene's rhetoric (except around school closures, which she has flipped on).

Whenever I read this blog, I am struck by how hypocritical the comments are. They talk about how rude Flynn is and how much she advocates for low-income and under-served children. Often in tones that barely contain their contempt.

I am also middle class with high achieving children, and I think that north-end white middle class parents should be afraid. If there is an effective school board member advocating for the needs of the under-served, the middle-class folks won't get ALL of the resources anymore to fund their private schools (APP, IB, alternative programs) with public money.

I would probably feel sympathetic if these "special ed" students (as I once heard a parent at a candidates forum refer to them as) didn't qualify for college because of the poor education provided them. However, they all graduate from high school and usually get admitted into very good colleges. What is the problem?

Also, has Flynn actually advocated against or voted against the high achievement programs? Or, has she failed speak out on their behalf?

It seems all of the rhetoric about Flynn is someone with a personal axe to grind. If Flynn's breadth and depth of experience wasn't enough to make me vote for her, this mean-spirited campaign by those who have had a real or imagined slight would.

Your combined outrage at Flynn just isn't enough to convince me that Carr is the better candidate. Any rational comparison of their credentials would show this to be true.
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Charlie Mas said…
I'm not sure what blog entries Anonymous at 11:01 refers to as hypocritical or what hypocrisy has been identified.

Director Flynn does speak passionately about supporting the academic achievement of low-income and minority students. I'm not aware of anyone who claims otherwise.

That said, there are many who think her actions have not reflected the passion in her words.

Director Flynn does not reliably respond to email or voice mail. I'm not aware of anyone who claims otherwise.

That said, s sterne says that she does show up and she is responsive.

Director Flynn is often dismissive, rude, and insulting to staff. I'm not aware of anyone who claims otherwise.

That said, it is hard to tell people that their work is inadequate (over and over again) without sounding rude, insulting, or dismissive. And the work is frequently inadequate.

Director Flynn has, from time to time, revealed a sort of impatience with families of high performing students. Something akin to the attitude expressed by anonymous - "Your kids are getting a good education. They are going to be just fine. So what are you bitching about?" Asking the question "What is the problem?" clearly indicates that person asking that question wasn't listening when the problem was described. It appears to be a rhetorical question that doesn't really reflect interest in learning about the problem, but rather denies the possibility of a problem.

That said, she hasn't voted or acted against advanced learners or advanced learning programs any more nor supported them any less than other Board members.

I'm not sure where the hypocrisy is supposed to lie. I do think it is funny that someone would suggest that statements about Director Flynn's demeanor are "mean-spirited", reflect "outrage", and that she is somehow a victim of a campaign against her character. I don't see it. I think the statements about Director Flynn's communication style have been flatly stated without outrage or vindictive intent.

If another candidate can offer similar positives with less negatives, then that would appear to be a better choice. If the other candidate lacks some of the positives, then maybe it isn't a net gain.

Finally, the anonymous commenter seems to think that some programs (APP, IB, alternative programs) somehow constitute private schools operated with public money. That's an interesting perspective. IB and the alternative schools are open to all students at no cost. In what way does that make them private schools? What would be the alternative to having these programs? Not having them? Whom would that serve? The cost of these programs is minimal. The bulk of the cost of APP is paid by a grant from the state - a grant the District can only get if they have such a program. The money from this grant can only be spent on the program. The District incurs some additional transportation costs for APP and for alternative schools, but the state chips in to pay a significant part of that cost as well. Having these programs serves these students in ways that general education programs cannot.

And thanks for the "special ed" label. In many states, gifted programs are considered special ed.
Anonymous said…
I know Darlene has been rude, and defensive in meetings. And, I know that she can be hard to get a hold of (she has kids, works full time, and is a member of the SB). I have also heard her comment on the whining of the white north end families (of which I am one) that have it so good they should just be satisfied.

I am still going to vote for her.


Her positives out weigh her negatives in my opinion. Despite the things that I don't like about her, there are many more that I admire and am proud of her for. She has a proven track record. She is not afraid to speak out and hold her ground. She is not afraid to challenge staff, admin or the Superintendant when necessary. She makes people think when she speaks out. She makes staff think before they present as they know she will ask the tough questions (sometimes not so politely). She steps up to the plate and tackles the issues that need tackling. Some Board Directors do not. Sherry Carr seems like a nice woman, and I think we would be fine with her on the board. I don't think she will be as tough as Flynn. Carr almost seems quiet and shy. And, at forums when Flynn is spouting her ideas in a cohesive and detailed manner, Sherry gives you the answer you want to hear, but lacks the details and ideas to get it done.

Flynn gets my vote. I know she's not perfect, but she is what I think this board needs.
S Sterne said…
How is Darlene sending her kids to Summit "the pot calling the kettle black?"

At the forum at my son's school this week, Darlene talked very comfortably about the role Summit played in "saving her son's life."

Her advocacy for people of color and work for equity in the public school system is not at odds with her own middle class life, nor is it evidence that she is hostile to APP, alternative schools or North Seattle - in fact, she talks with pride about her role as President of the Greenwood Neighborhood Council, and as Charlie pointed out, her voting record is as strong as anyone's with regard to support for APP. She is not a one-issue, one dimensional candidate, any more than she "never returns calls or emails." While Darlene is slower than most people I know to do these things, she does return calls and emails in time, and works hard at what her constituents need her to do.

Considering that the School Board is a mostly nonpaying, thankless job, and she has a real job too, Darlene does very well.

For me, this was the easiest vote among the school board races - I just don't know enough about the other candidates.

No, Darlene's work for under-served kids is not evidence of her hostility or lack of attention to high capable programs. It's her distain and tone when she speaks about them.

Also, as to the "never answers e-mails and phone calls", well, let's just say she's selective. I know from a reporter that she answers reporters phone calls. I know from serving on the Closure and Consolidation Committee, which the Board picked and we were working for them, she never answered any of my e-mails. It would have been nice to try to communicate with her during that process but I only talked to her once as she walked to her car and it was brief. Our Committee could have used her input and support.
SPS parent said…
Darlene's disdain and tone when she speaks about highly capable students has not impeded her support of them, as is obvious by her voting record. She may not like the whiny north end parents, but she supports their issues. As much as she advocates for the low income struggling schools she voted in favor of closing several south end and central area schools. She is able to be impartial and vote equitably. In other words she sees the big picture, and does not let her own prejudices get in the way. That's what I like about her. And, even I, a whiny, white north end parent was able to get hold of her when I needed her to assist me with a whiny issue, that was not even related to her director district.

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