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Sunday, October 14, 2007

PI School Board Endorsements (there's a surprise, at least to me)

This morning's Sunday PI had endorsements for SB races. I wasn't expecting any surprises but they endorsed Darlene Flynn over Sherry Carr. Very odd given their reasoning. Here's their early reasoning:

"Flynn's impressive ability to think about the big picture is now augmented by four years of experience and realism about the challenges of making systematic changes."

I have never seen evidence of Darlene's "big picture" and I wish they would have elaborated. But yes, she now has seen what the job is like after four years. And, we have seen her after 4 years. She said at the candidate forum this week that she is busy and can't answer e-mails but she does the work. Great but what about listening to input/concerns from the people who elected her? Where does she get that big picture thinking?

Then they talk about how the Board cleanly selected a new superintendent, cleaned up the budget mess, etc. (all things that Sally Soriano can point to as well so that's puzzling).

Then they say:

"Voters have an impressive option in challenger Sherry Carr, a Boeing finance officer and former president of the Seattle Council PTSA." If she's so impressive, why not vote for her?

Here's what they said about Maier versus Soriano (which, if you didn't live here, would likely leave you scratching your head):

"For Director District 1, Peter Maier is a clear choice over the other incumbent on the ballot, Sally Soriano, who is sometimes unhelpfully at odds with board majorities. Maier has a broad understanding of the district and its challenges after helping lead successful levy and bond measure campaigns."

Many might say that "unhelpfully" was kind given how people feel about Sally. But, on the other hand, to say that Peter knows the district well because of his work on Schools First is not quite true. He likely knows where a lot of buildings are but that doesn't equate knowing the district. He also followed the staff line through every levy, not asking hard questions (I know this from an early discussion I had with him before he was running).

For District VI:

"For Director District 6, voters have excellent choices in Ramirez or Steve Sundquist, a former Russell Investment Co. leader. We like Ramirez, a public sector manager, for her understanding of such real-life challenges for high school students as holding part-time jobs and early school start times. She also has served on district advisory groups."

It sounded here, like the Flynn versus Carr race, that they barely give the edge to Ramirez over Sundquist. Interesting.

I just wish in this editorial they had been clearer on why they made their choices. It almost feels like you are supposed to read between the lines somehow.

11 comments:

StrongLeft said...

Regarding District VI, it's not uncommon for newspapers to give a favorable mention to the person they passed over. They probably wanted to make it clear that Sundquist is not a horrible choice.

Nevertheless, it's not like Ramirez just barely got the nod. They pointed out a number of her qualities that Steve, simply from what I've seen of him at forums and in print, does not have. The PI may enthusiastically back Maria, but they wanted to note that Steve isn't a bad choice either.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa that Sherry deserved the endorsement. I think Steve Sundquist also should have been endorsed. Both have the financial and management backgrounds this district needs!

Dan Dempsey said...

Anonymous said...

---- Both have the financial and management backgrounds this district needs!

Anyone have a clue about effective instructional practices or curriculum?

Oh I forgot its the hired experts that know all about this. The board does not even need to manage them, as they are doing such a great job.

Angeline the Baker said...

Well, one good management skill would be the ability to figure out whether the hired consultants (not to mention District staffers) are doing a good job, and whether their recomendations make any sense.

BullDogger said...

The Seattle P-I missed it on this one. I want a director who's accessible. Sally has been the gold standard when it comes to listening, and acting, on constituent issues. Out of pure loyalty, she gets my vote.

While weathering through the WSHS 4PD issue, nothing was as frustrating as directors who cannot or will not make time to understand an important issue. Darlene seems to only be available through her closest friends or during breaks at board meetings. Sherri Carr is sharp and qualified. I can't imagine she could be any less available to understand the public's concerns. Sherri gets my vote.

In district VI (my district) I too like both the candidates but I lean towards Sundquist, not Ramirez. Especially this district needs an involved director who, again, is accessible. Watching the board operate for the last year I've come to appreciate how time intensive the responsibility of director is. Sundquist brings many good qualities to the task, including the fact he's retired and can devote the time. With all respect to Maria, that's hard to do when you hold a full time job (like Flynn or Stewart).

Anonymous said...

agreed on all counts, bulldogger - I think you are right on.

Dan Dempsey said...

I agree that Director is a very time consuming job, if properly done.

Director Flynn at the Pathfinder forum and at the City Club forum stated that during her tenure WASL scores had risen over 50% in reading writing and math. You can check grade 4, 7, and 10 and find out this is untrue.

The board seems to rarely look at academic data or request the central administrators to do so. Where does Ms. Flynn find these statistics that she tosses about?

Charlie Mas said...

The P-I is ready to give Director Flynn credit for the work done over the past four years and overlook her dearth of public engagement. They are not, however, willing to overlook Director Soriano's dissent DESPITE her strong community engagement. I think their beef with her is how the dissent has been used as a traction point for those who would tear down public education.

The obvious conclusion is that the P-I doesn't particularly value public engagement, but they do value public reputation.

Roy Smith said...

dan dempsey said ... Oh I forgot its the hired experts that know all about this. The board does not even need to manage them, as they are doing such a great job.

As Charlie has explained at length, the board has one employee to manage: the superintendent. If the board is trying to manage the rest of the district staff, it is out of line. That is the job of the superintendent, not the board.

Charlie Mas said...

The Stranger has come out with their endorsements as well.

They endorse Darlene Flynn, Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier, and Harium Martin-Morris.

They refer to Director Flynn as a "bitch" and Director Soriano as a "kooky hippie".

They say that the School Board has been "an unaccountable, unchecked, unruly mess for too long now." They come up for election every four years, so I don't know how unaccountable they are and I'm not sure what unchecked power The Stranger thinks they have been exercising, but there you go.

The Stranger says that we need Peter Maier's "by-the-book lawyering [to] balance out some of the loopy-di-doops on the board." Who would those loopy-di-doops be? They could only be Cheryl Chow, Michael DeBell, Mary Bass, Harium Martin-Morris, Darlene Flynn, Sherry Carr, Steve Sundquist or Maria Ramirez.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the P-I -- Flynn should be re-elected. I don't care that she has been hard on staff. If any of you have worked with the school district staff, you would know that they would try the patience of a saint.The way I see it, that is what I elected her for.

More importantly, you ALWAYS know where she stands. I don't always agree, but I never have to wonder.

I have seen Carr on the campaign trail and have not been impressed. Just because you are a "finance manager" (which as far as I know can be someone who just tracks spending), doesn't mean you can match policy to budget allocations. Also, wasn't she on the CACIEE that recommended programs that would add millions more to the budget without providing a plan for paying for them? How is that fiscally responsible?

Carr is nice but a little lightweight. Not because she isn't smart but because she doesn't have enough experience to see when the wool is being pulled over her eyes.... and, even if she does, I am concerned that she will be too worried about not being seen as nice.

I vote for Ramirez and Soriano. Again, I don't always agree with what Soriano does but I agree with her values. As far as the jokers in position #3...I'll just leave that box blank.

Besides, does anyone else wonder why an Eastside Republican is pumping cash into the business backed candidates races ($13k in Maiers campaign and $9k in Carr's campaign). I don't care what anyone says, that kind of money can buy a candidate (which is why we have campaign contribution limits in other races).