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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Michael DeBell will be running for re-election

Michael DeBell, president of the Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools, will be running for re-election in the fall.

8 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank goodness; he's a gem.

dan dempsey said...

Damn ...
I'd so hoped Michael would abandon his seat.
Move and run against Cheryl Chow.
If Charlie does not run, who will?

hschinske said...

Isn't Charlie running? I thought he said he was.

Charlie Mas said...

And Director DeBell has a BLOG!

For myself, I am seriously considering a campaign for School Board in District VII and will make an announcement soon.

SolvayGirl said...

Michael DeBell was one of the few Directors who worked favorably with Graham Hill when it was on the closure list a number of years ago. He impressed me then and continues to.

As for opposing Cheryl Chow...Go Charlie Go!

Stu said...

Charlie Mas said: And Director DeBell has a BLOG!


OF COURSE he has a blog . . . now. Now that's he's officially running for re-election, he has to show that he's in touch with the populace and cares about what we think. Harium Martin-Morris has had a blog for quite a while, as you well know, and has consistently responded to posts and, on occasion, even taken some of our ideas to heart. Director DeBell has kept himself isolated enough that he could always say, with a straight face, that complaints were down. I actually wish that, instead of his blog, he'd sit down and read every posting on this and Director Morris' site.

As "reasonable" has Director DeBell has come off at meetings, he has generally turned a deaf ear to the concerns and complaints about closures, busing . . . basically everything but Math. (To stay in "jaded" mode; it's really convenient to vote no on something that you know has enough votes to pass.)

He plays the political game really well. He visits schools, looks concerned, says the right thing; look at the votes, though.

We need school board members who will stand up to the staff and the superintendent. I don't mean that a Director has to disagree with the proposals, or agree with me; I mean that a good Director will ask hard questions and REFUSE TO APPROVED SOMETHING WITHOUT SPECIFICS, DECISIVE ANSWERS, AND CONCRETE FACTS. Hold the district accountable for information AND action. If the Superintendent says it's an emergency and something has to be done right away, then it's her responsibility to have ALL the facts ready in time. It's not the rubber-stamping to which I object; it's the blind faith, fill in the facts later, rubber-stamping.

Please run, Charlie.

stu

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

I have my check book ready to support team Mas. Put up a post office box or whatever when you announce.

Charlie Mas said...

What I have seen is how long it takes Board members to figure out how much (or how little) they should rely on what they hear from staff.

I remember Steve Sundquist's vote on Denny/Sealth when he said that after just eight months he was not yet cynical enough to vote against it. Harium Martin-Morris, however, was cynical enough by then. I can see some signs, and I think in another six to eighteen months Steve Sundquist will be there. Cheryl Chow and Peter Maier will never get there. I have no idea how long it will take Sherry Carr.

The good news is that after three or four years, Michael DeBell is getting there. I don't begrudge him how long it has taken. I'm just glad he's starting to see things clearly.

We all start out trusting people - particularly respected professionals in positions of authority. It is only after they have abused our trust that we distrust them. We might even shake off one or two incidents or allow them to explain those away. After a while, though, after multiple episodes, we start to clue in.

A lot of people think that it is a very big deal for a Board member to vote against a staff recommendation. They presume the "yes" vote as the default and require a high degree of cause before voting "no". Others don't presume and have no predisposition to vote "yes" and no barrier to voting "no". The usual school board member is a comfortable member of the dominant culture and the establishment. They are more likely to be the type to presume approval without much questioning. It is some kind of achievement to move a person like that to a "no" vote. It is an even greater achievement to strip them of the presumption of approval.

Let's not quit on Director DeBell just as he is arriving at a balanced view. Which is, of course, is the perspective we would want him to adopt.

Some - perhaps even most - of the staff recommendations are good and deserve approval. We just want the Board to consider them all without prejudice.