Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Upcoming primary for State Superintendent

Here's an interesting wrinkle in the State Superintendent primary: if any of the candidates get a majority of the votes in the primary, that's it, it's over. In that case there would not be another vote in the general election.

There are six candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction, but most of the attention is focused on two: the incumbent Terry Bergeson and one of the challengers, Randy Dorn.

I'm under no obligation to be unbiased here, so I'll be very clear: I don't believe that the incumbent has been leading state education in the right direction. Of all of the challengers, Randy Dorn strikes me as the one most likely to bring the right kind of change. Honestly I would love it if Mr. Dorn won a majority of the votes in the primary and sewed up the whole thing on August 19.

What do you think?


anonymous said...

Yes, Dorn is definately the man for the job. He's getting my vote, no question about it!

Here is just another of Terry Bergesons outrageous moves. Her campaign has filed a ridiculous complaint alleging that Randy Dorn has violated state campaign finance laws.

Here is Robert Harkins (Randy Dorn's campaign manager) reply to the complaint

"OK. Unlike the "unregistered" poster below, I'll tell you up front that I am Robert Harkins,the source of the disputed quote questioning the timing of the complaint, and Randy's campaign manager. Let's start with his or her question about how could the complaint have occurred earlier. The Seattle Times reported on August 1 through David Postman's blog that the independent campaign was on the air and reported on the funding source. Um. That was 10 days ago (and coincided--BTW--with the first call to Dorn's campaign that the ads were on the air--our first notice of the ads.) It doesn't take 10 days to file a valid "complaint" in a hotly contested campaign. Then, the post asserts that SEIU is spending $200,000 to influence the primary election now. After being called by a reporter, tipping us off to this "complaint," I checked the PDC filing of Citizens for WA for the first time and found that, as of today, the committee is spending less than half its funds on the SPI radio ads referenced in the "complaint" and apparently this week for internet ads on the Seattle Times and PI websites. (I also got a surprise call today from a supporter who wanted me to know that there were internet ads on the PI website. Didn't know till then.)
Beyond that, I would invite anyone to to look at this "complaint" when and even if the PDC accepts it as credible enough to post and do a preliminary investigation. Every assertion in the complaint is based on speculation and is not supported by any facts. It infers interpretations of PDC law that are false and inaccurate, and makes many assertions that are completely undocumented and speculative. In fact, if and when the PDC accepts the complaints, Dorn's campaign can refute every one of its assertions.
For example, her "complaint" asserts that our campaign has only paid three month rent to PSE of WA for our office space but that his campiagn has been active longer than that. In fact, Randy only declared his candidacy on May 1 and I didn't come on board until mid-May and I didn't find the office space until later in May. In fact, we signed a rental lease postdated to May 1 and have paid monthly market value rent for our office every month since. Why have we only reported three months of payment as her "complaint" claims? Because under the PDC reporting calendar, our August rent will not be reported until tomorrow. You do the math. This is only one of the specious claims of her "complaint."
She also questions the terms of the rent and Randy's work on his "regular" job. Before leasing from PSE, I looked for over two weeks several other rental options for office rentals in Auburn. I can easily verify "fair market" value.
We wanted to be in Auburn, because Randy is working his full-time in his salaried position with his organization based there. She also "complains" that he is not doing his job while campaigning. But, at the same time, Bergeson continues presumably to do her job that taxpayers pay her to do rather than campaigning, just like Randy--but minus the taxpayer subsidy. We wanted to minimize time lost to commuting between jobs and therefore wanted an office in close proximity to his regular employment. Go figure. Got more questions about this desperate smear campaign? Feel free to give me a call at our office in Auburn at 253-833-9253. There are no secrets here. Robert Harkins
PS This is one of the most blatantly "political" PDC complaints I have seen filed in over 20 years of working on campaigns in this state. Terry Bergeson should be ashamed of how her campaign is responded to the overwhelming support, for example, "on pace" fundraising and legislative endorsements, for Randy's campaign. Voters, beware of a long-term politician resorting to last minute, desperation tactics to discount the real alternative to her failed policies and the mess she has made of the WASL."

Ahhh - politics at it's best

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's interesting because Lynne Varner over at the Times has, on the blog area, a piece about this issue of the PDC. She terms some endorsements this way:

"Washington's education unions are backing candidate Randy Dorn, a former state lawmaker and current union leader. And they are out to get the incumbent, Terry Bergeson, as payback for her support of the WASL exam."

Out to get? Payback? Now, if it were any other group, I'm not sure that would the language. It might read something like:

"Group X is supporting Bergeson's opponent, believing that Bergeson has not been a good leader for Washington state education."

There isn't WASL payback; this is about someone who doggedly stuck to one way of thinking and only brought needed changes to it after the Legislature had to force the issue.

I'm with Charlie; we need change. It doesn't mean the end of the WASL; no state superintendent has that power anyway.

David Blomstrom said...

You really ought to do your homework. If you had a clue about Randy Dorn, you'd know he's on the same team as Terry Bergeson. Dorn helped punish students with the WASL, which he now claims to oppose.

And what issues does Dorn even discuss besides the WASL?

In addition, Dorn tried to persuade lawmakers to pass legislation that would have greatly boosted pensions - for just two people, Randy Dorn and a fellow union lobbyist.

Finally, Dorn has been endorsed by a Who's Who of sleaze - the Washington Education Association, legislators, Judith Billings, Booth Gardner and on and on.

Smart voters know that when the media focus only on two candidates (Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn), the best choice lies among the candidates they're ignoring.

David Blomstrom
Candidate for SPI

teacher99 said...

Thanks David for confirming that I did not miss any good candidates for SPI. While I definitely have issues with the WEA I do not refer to the union leadership or the former governor as "sleaze".

At times 'ineffective" and "off-task" for sure, but any candidate for SPI who starts throwing "sleaze" descriptions around at the union that represents most of the states teachers clearly will not be an effective state leader.

Even though I've slipped and been harsher than I should at times I think a good public candidate would know better than to put such personal attacks in writing.

David Blomstrom said...

teacher99 wrote, "Thanks David for confirming that I did not miss any good candidates for SPI. While I definitely have issues with the WEA I do not refer to the union leadership or the former governor as 'sleaze.'"

You sound like a pretty typical teacher to me - too obsessed with your hypicritcial civility to give a rat's ass about your own students or your profession. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

"Any candidate for SPI who starts throwing "sleaze" descriptions around at the union that represents most of the states teachers clearly will not be an effective state leader."

Have you considered consulting a therapist? Seriously, SLEAZE is not an obscenity. It certainly isn't a compliment - but then there are people in this world who don't merit compliments (e.g. George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Terry Bergeson...). Mature adults can handle words much harsher than s-l-e-a-z-e. What grade did you say you're in?

Stupid teachers like you are precisely the reason an organization as corrupt as the WEA gets away with its crimes. I'd tell you to wake up and open your eyes, but I learned long ago that's a lost cause.

Thanks so much for selling our your own children, you apathetic, self-centered dolt.

David Blomstrom
Candidate for SPI
who values children and democracy more than Seattle's sham civility

anonymous said...

Way to go David! These hateful, raging comebacks of yours, just knock you further and further out of the race. Keep it up the good work!

David Blomstrom said...

Hateful, raging comments...

For the last 7 1/2 years, we've endured George W. Bush, the biggest SOB on the planet. Intelligent, caring people have moaned endlessly about the gutless liberals who could scarcely find the words to call him names.

Well, I'm not a gutless liberal. I call a spade a spade, and if that spade's name rhymes with Bergeson or Dorn, then stand back.

So keep on hiding behind your sham civility, Dumbo. What have you got to lose? No one's ever accused you of caring about kids.

David Blomstrom
Candidate for SPI

Charlie Mas said...

I'm delighted to have your participation, Mr. Blomstrom. Please continue to post here regularly. It is always best to have a candidate's own words and in direct response to concerned voters.

Whether people agree with you or not, there will be no doubts as to your positions.

MathTeacher42 said...

The Seattle Times consistently takes positions that prop up and perpetuate the aristocracy. It should be NO surprise that one of their writers lies about the WEA position with regards to WASL, given that most WEA members are working hard so ALL our kids have opportunity, not just the kids of the aristocrats.

A lot of teachers I work with are anti- WASL / SAT / AP. Unfortuneately, I've never seen any of the opponents figure out a different system AND PAY FOR THE DIFFERENT SYSTEM.

I know a lot of teachers, like me, who feel that the WASL / SAT / AP are very imperfect solutions to real problems, and hopefully someday we'll figure out better solutions AND PAY FOR THEM. Until that nirvana is developed or pops up, I want my kids ready to compete against any kids, because I know that they can.

Ms. Bergeson's Math WASL has been a staggering failure.

Check out Dan Dempsey's Math Underground


or Where's The Math website for solutions and for analysis and for history.


As of today, 3 weeks before I'll have kids in front of me for the next 10 months, math teachers in Washington state do NOT:

- know which of our kids passed or failed a test taken in April, 4 MONTHS AGO.

- have a clear idea of what areas our kids need work on, due to disasterous standards and NO coherent curriculum !! Teaching to the test is educated guesswork!

- have our kids properly placed so that they can be successful!

From school to school to district to district, curriculum is inconsistent and assessment is inconsistent, but, Terry Bergeson and her minions have spent millions and millions of dollars to completely fail at fixing problems in math education.

Not only have they have spent this money during the last 12 years of failure, their failed system has DIRECTLY contributed to the completely inadequete skills of our future adult citizens.

The Bergeson math-u-crat solutions have been to blame the teachers. We've been handed paper matchsticks, we've been tasked with making fine furniture

and we've been blamed that the fine furniture is not fine but flimsy.

They have excelled at 2 things in 12 years. They've stayed employed while failing miserably with their teaching philosophies turned ideology. They've done fabulously well using their ideology to steamroll those with philosphical differences.

Bob Murphy
Speaking as a Citizen and taxpayer with working knowledge of this problem, NOT as a representative of ANY organization.

Flann O'Brien said...

I favor retaining Terry Bergeson as state Sup.

This Fall I will begin my 26th year serving students in public schools in Washington, and I have to say the single, most positive change to our work in my time was the development of the Essential Learnings, followed by the development of the WASL, as our way to assess to what degree our efforts were leading to students meeting an established, meaningful standard.

As a high English teacher the playing field changed overnight with the introduction of Essential Learnings. For many of us, this brought welcome, needed focus to our work (remember, we actually created the standards - us, teachers!), while for others, the end to the "anything goes" days of high school courses and credits was almost thought to be un-American. At the same time, I think we all can remember (and still hear) the anxious gnashing of teeth when passing WASL became a part of graduation requirements. Again, many of us felt eager and able to shepherd kids toward this standard, while others decried the passing of the traditional ("anything goes") American diploma.

At that time I was a member of the WEA, and have since left that organization. Over the years I have heard WEAs repeated call for a repeal (all or in part) of the WASL, citing how unfair it is for graduation to hinge so fully on one test. Of course, those of us who work in schools and on behalf of kids know only too well that the vast majority of our youth who fail to graduate do not fail to do so because of the test, but because of credit deficiency. Still, WEA has continued to call for the end of WASL testing, and have chosen to target OSPI and Terry Bergeson in order to meet this demand.

Because I have been a member of WEA, and still work closely with that organization, I have come to believe that they are not really interested in the repeal of WASL testing because of how unfair it is to kids. Instead, I see this plank in their platform as their way to ease pressure off their members who feel pinched by the accountability that we face in schools from clear standards and high stakes testing - but to say that wouldn't really be very astute, would it?

I don't know Randy Dorn, but given my 26 years of experience with WEA and its affiliates, if that organization is rallying to his campaign (having already rallied to the other guy's campaign), then my response is to run the other way.

And Terry Bergeson is someone I feel know. I know that she has been the primary overseer of the implementation of the ELRs and the WASL - the biggest, most positive change to my work in my quarter of a century as a teacher. I know that she has stood strong in support of kids in her tenure. I know that she has withstood the temptations of cozying up to her former friends in the WEA. I know her track record, and while there are plenty of examples of where I have disagreed with her (notably in Math), I admire and respect her knowledge, her intellect, and her independence.

I think there's a lot of work to be done at OSPI, and I think Terry Bergeson is the one to continue the work. Not the WEA, and not Randy Dorn.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Flann O'Brien,

I like not being deceived. I have difficulty supporting anyone with ads as deceptive as Dr. Bergeson's.

1) SAT participation rate is 53%, which is not among the states with high participation rates.

2) SAT scores have been virtually unchanged during Bergeson's 12 years in office.

3) Since 2005 we have no way of comparing the performance of our students with a national group.
Since you are an English teacher, I certainly hope you are seeing students with greatly increased skills. From 2000 to Spring 2005 Iowa reading tests at grades 6 and 9 were flat with no change but 7th grade WASL showed huge increases.
I see the WASL as a public relations tool not a test instrument.

4) Dr. Bergeson's radio ad talks about proficiency in Reading, Writing, and Math and claims 92% of seniors met the WASL proficiency requirements in those areas.
There was NO math proficiency required. If there was certainly 92% could not meet it.

My vote will go to Randy Dorn.

2008 ACT results...
Participation 17% of seniors
of these 61% are judge ready for at least College Algebra
of Blacks seniors tested 19% ready
of Hispanics seniors tested 27% ready for college math.

Now contrast those ACT math numbers, from a select group of 17% of seniors, with Dr. Bergeson's radio ads about 92% of seniors and their math competence. Dr. Bergeson's ads supporting her candidacy are simply NOT true.

More ACT 2008 results HERE

RMP said...

Good to hear from Robert Hawkins (Dorn's campaign manager). The PDC complaint filed by Bergeson against Dorn appears quite specious, especially concidering the fact that she followed it up with a press release. She doesn't care how the PDC rules on the complaint. She merely wanted to use the media to do her bidding (fallacious, negative campaigning) for her. Lynne Varner, with the Seattle Times, should have taken the time to get both sides of the story before posting the piece on her blog.

dan dempsey said...

1. Don’t trust Polls
2. Bergeson got the lowest percentage of any incumbent running for statewide office
3. Only about 700,000 votes were cast with Bergeson getting 287,000 votes for 41%
4. In the 2004 primary 1.1 million votes were cast. Bergeson received 36% and Billings received 35%. Almost 30% of the vote went to others…. Billings was the previous SPI and was very well known….. She did not mount a strong campaign and only raised $69,000 for the entire campaign. Bergeson raised $487,000. Dorn started late but has already raised $128,000 to Bergeson’s $176,000. Rich Semler had raised $70,000 when he dropped out.
5. 1.65 million votes were cast for the office of SPI in the 2004 General Election. Bergeson received 56% and Billings received 44%. One of the main issues was the WASL….. In general the public still strongly supported the WASL. Billings did very little campaigning….
6. We can expect that there will be more than twice as many voting for SPI in Nov 2008 as voted in yesterday’s primary…..
7. A lot of people weren’t paying attention…..and forgot that the there was a primary and some didn’t know who was running against Bergeson……
8. In general Dorn did better on the East side of the state however he needs to do a lot better in Spokane County .

Some of the Larger Counties

Total votes

34% Dorn
34% Bergeson

35% Dorn
36% Bergeson

28% Dorn
37% Bergeson

35% Dorn
42% Bergeson

30% Dorn
42% Bergeson

28% Dorn
35% Bergeson

33% Dorn
41% Bergeson

30% Dorn
41% Bergeson

33% Dorn
38% Bergeson

25% Dorn
46% Bergeson

34% Dorn
41% Bergeson

27% Dorn
42% Bergeson

27% Dorn
42% Bergeson
Four more years of Bergeson a horrifying thought.

------------ ---
31% Dorn 41% Bergeson 28% other

if Dorn wins 70% of the others then
30.9+(.7*28) = 30.9 + 19.6 = 50.5

41.4+(.3*28) = 41.4 + 8.4 = 49.8
------------ --

The key to this November election will be efforts by those who are throughly disgusted with Bergeson to convert the uninformed.

reader said...

And who is getting the other votes? It's seems like there is a significant number of votes that aren't going to Dorn or Bergeson. Is there a third candidate?