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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

School Board Election Round-Up

To start this Round-Up, here's a link to the Times' Emily Heffter and her education beat blog. There's some interesting stuff there including:

-Peter Maier's election warchest, now at 6 figures (the latest is $10,000 from a venture captialist with an interest in education). It's sad in a way because School Board elections used to be more populist but that may go the way of what we see in other races. The interesting thing that doesn't change is if a candidate has high visibility in their community (i.e. Cheryl Chow and Mary Bass), that candidate is hard to run against no matter how much money you have. If Peter were running against one of those two, he wouldn't stand a chance. A strong, supportive community base, from my past reading of SB elections, trumps money every time.

-two more forums

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nathan Hale High School Performing Arts Center (10750 30th Ave. N.E.)

Hosted by students of Nathan Hale High School's American Government classes and Nathan Hale PTSA. Come at 6:30 p.m. for "Community and Connections," followed by moderated candidate session at 7 p.m.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Bryant Elementary School (3311 N.E. 60th St.)

-Harium Martin-Morris has made some interesting statements like the achievement gap is more about income than race (he'd get an argument there from a lot of people including former SB director Michael Preston who said it was about race in a discussion about the assignment plan years ago). Also,

"He also took a stand against one of the superintendent's favorite causes — a uniform curriculum — and declared the WASL a failed plan that shouldn't be a graduation requirement.

During the "lightning round," when candidates held up "yes" or "no" cards to answer a sequence of questions, Martin-Morris held up a "no" card when asked whether all students should take a college-preparatory curriculum."

That's something to ponder; should we be graduating students with a college-prep curriculum? It makes sense to do so whether or not a student is going on to college but is that too high a bar?

I wish someone would come out against the senior project. There's a true waste of time and something that students across the board don't like (the high achievers think it useless and the kids at the bottom see it as one more huge hurtle to trying to graduate).

Also there was this article in the PI today by Jessica Blanchard about the Carr versus Flynn race. Highlights:

-Sherry pointing out the low approval ratings and lack of public trust in the board versus Darlene saying they got a lot done (school closures, budget overhaul, new super) for a dysfunctional board. I almost think they are talking about two different things. Whether or not things got done (and they did), the public perception is bad. I think there are many reasons for that perception but it's out there and can't be waved off.

-I'm not going to print their entire answers but the differences in how they both answered the questions about safety/security and the achievement gap speak for themselves in terms of the ability to have a clear idea about their focus.

-how do we get kids back from private schools? Sherry said, " In particular, we must address uneven school quality and make programs and student assignment more predictable, and focus on ensuring a high quality program in every middle school (so that fewer families move to private schools for middle school and stay private for high school)." Darlene said, "Consistently excellent performance as a system is the best and perhaps the only strategy for meaningful increases in enrollment. Our reputation as a system is profoundly shaped by outcomes for historically underserved students. It will, therefore, take a turnaround that produces success for all students to increase the district's attractiveness to families that have other choices."

-Don't miss the first 2 comments at the end of the article. A study in contrasts.

Last, the PI had an editorial for the passage of the Simple Majority and the Times had an article (by Linda Shaw) about it. I don't know who wrote the editorial but it is one of the worst written ones I have ever read. This is an endorsement? It is so vague I'm not sure someone coming into this late would even know what they are talking about.

The article in the Times is a great one with one of the best opening and closing paragraphs ever. To wit:

"If candidates needed as many votes as school districts to win elections, Christine Gregoire wouldn't be governor. George Bush wouldn't be president. Measures such as Tim Eyman's 1993 anti-tax Initiative 601 would have failed, too, because it received just over 50 percent of the vote."
"To pass, the measure needs 50 percent of the vote, plus one. A majority, in other words, to do away with the supermajority."

Time to get busy with those absentee ballots (in the mail this week) or get ready to vote on Nov. 8th.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Harium in that the achievement gap is based on socio economics, not race. I am from a middle to upper class black family. My father, living in the south, in the 1960's received a fine college education. Became a PHD, and was the president of a large community college system in Nevada. My mother has a masters degree, and taught school for 20 years. She is now a succesful business owner. All of our friends were middle class black families. They were as succesful as the middle class white families. No achievement gap for them. No achievement gap for me or my brother.

Seattle is an odd city, in that we have very few low income, white neighborhoods (if any?). If we had some very low income white neighborhoods you would see that there would be an achievement gap between low income white students and middle class or affluent white students. You see this in many cities across the country. There are many more low income blacks in the US than whites, per capita. This makes it look like all blacks perform lower and suffer with the achievement gap. This is simply not true. There are more low income blacks, so there are more blacks that are in the achievement gap.

Now you could look at why there are so many more low income blacks, that would be an entire different topic.

So, I agree with Harium 100%. He should know, as a well educated, middle class black man.

Anonymous said...

"if a candidate has high visibility in their community (i.e. Cheryl Chow and Mary Bass), that candidate is hard to run against no matter how much money you have. If Peter were running against one of those two, he wouldn't stand a chance."

I disagree.

I would vote for Peter over Mary Bass or Cheryl Chow. And, I think Peter would hold his own in a race against them, and do a profoundly better job than both of them combined. I'm tired of dissenters and race politics (Bass), and duds (Chow).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maybe I should clarify. From looking at school board races and vote totals from the past, there are some clear observations.

1) fewer voters vote in School Board elections than in other races. There is a considerable drop-off rate. (You see this also in port commissioner races probably because people don't know the candidates and/or the issues.) So every vote becomes crucial.

2) To get to the general you need a solid base in your district. Sometimes if you are well-known across the city (as in Sherry Carr's case because she was so front and center on PTA issues)it works but for the primary, it's usually the base in your district that moves you forward. Mary Bass, for example, has a family background in education that stretches back decades. Her base is solid.

3)This is not to say that just having a solid base will win an election. However, when you couple people who are willing to work (and work hard, not just put a sign in their yard) AND being well-known in your own community, money isn't as important.

I think in 2 years when Mary and Cheryl are up for re-election (should they run again and I believe that is likely), you'll see the difficulty in unseating them. All politics is local and that's very clear in school board races.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to share that candidates will also be guest-blogging on my Chalkboard blog starting Sat Oct 20th through Fri Oct 26th. You can find the schedule here

Charlie Mas said...

The Stranger has issued their endorsements.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for the Stranger alert. If you hadn't told me, I wouldn't know those would be the Stranger's endorsements. I'd love to know why they asked Sherry Carr (or any candidate) a question about intelligent design (she probably didn't stumble so much as go into shock). I love their "loopy" term but what does it mean? I get the feeling they have seen on board meeting (on tv) and made pat decisions.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for the Stranger alert. If you hadn't told me, I wouldn't know those would be the Stranger's endorsements. I'd love to know why they asked Sherry Carr (or any candidate) a question about intelligent design (she probably didn't stumble so much as go into shock). I love their "loopy" term but what does it mean? I get the feeling they have seen on board meeting (on tv) and made pat decisions.

Anonymous said...

Why is an achievement gap somehow "ok" if it is based on socio economics, not race?


>>Now you could look at why there >>are so many more low income >>blacks, that would be an entire >>different topic.

Why is it an "entire different topic"? It would seem to be the same topic. And yes, we should look at that.

Charlie Mas said...

anonymous at 12:30,

Clearly you are interested in discussing these topics.

So discuss them. What do you have to say about this? What perspective would you to voice?

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous at 10:38 and would like to respond to the above post.

Where did you see that I wrote that a socio economic achievement gap is OK. I never did. I never would. Achievement gaps are not OK. What I said was that I believe the achievement gap is related to socio economics and not the color of ones skin. If you care to talk about that please do so, but please don't accuse me of saying something that I did not say.

This is one of the main reasons that I post anonymously. I would hate to have my name associated with things that I NEVER said.