Okay, One Last Item about the Levy
I want to thank the members of our committee for their hard work; Dorothy Neville and Meg Diaz (two crack spreadsheet and data analysts), Eric Muhs (Ballard high science teacher), Ken Berry (IA at Van Asselt Elementary) and Charlie Mas. It was very helpful to have staff on the committee who could lend their voices as those with feet on the ground and in our schools.
I ask going forward that each of you consider each future levy carefully. Each levy IS a tax and we are dependent upon our friends and neighbors who don't have children in SPS to help us pass levies. There are those people for whom $48 a year (plus all the other levies and initiatives currently funded) can add up; those are people on fixed incomes. We owe it to all our fellow citizens to think about what we ask them to help us pay for our children educations.
Last, I have to point out one last thing from this election.
It's interesting because levies are usually mild-minded affairs but I guess having a somewhat organized opposition (and getting traction from some media) made Schools First nervous. I had hopped over to their site just to get a final count of schools that had endorsed the levy. (I was interested because we had sent every PTA a letter before school started asking for equal time if they were considering endorsing the levy at their first or second PTA meeting. If you are debating an issue at a PTA meeting, you should always allow both sides of an issue to be presented. Several PTAs refused even though they allowed Schools First to come. As a former PTSA co-president, I find this in very bad form.)
I glanced at their In the News page and saw the Seattle Times masthead with this:
Opinion: Vote for Seattle school levy to make improvements, cover cuts
“Supporting and strengthening public education is a value that we, and the vast majority of Seattle voters, hold dear. Vote ‘yes’ on the school levy that is on the bottom of your ballot. Its failure would further stress our shortchanged schools and undermine work to get and keep students on track.”
The Seattle Times – October 21, 2010
Now glancing at that, with the Times' masthead, you might assume someone from the Times wrote this. I was a little startled given that I knew the Times had told voters to reject the levy. Well, this is the opinion piece that the Seattle Council PTSA president and the SEA president had written. But if you were just scrolling through the page, you might think it was the Times' opinion.
But again, this has been a tough campaign so maybe Schools First just wanted any advantage they might be able to create.
(Update: the Times was not happy to have their Seattle Times logo used in this manner. Here's what they had to say.
One thing that sticks in the craw of voters is a campaign playing fast and loose in their ads. In this case, it is Schools First, the campaign pushing a $48 million supplemental schools levy for the Seattle Public Schools.
In an effort to show support for the levy across Seattle's establishment, the campaign placed the Seattle Times logo atop a favorable opinion piece that ran in the Times. Click here and it appears one is about to view the Seattle Times editorial about the levy. But what appears is a guest opinion piece written by Olga Addae and Ramona Hattendorf, leaders of the Seattle Education Association and the Seattle PTSA respectively.
Adding to voter confusion: the Times editorial board 's actual editorial on the topic recommends voters reject the levy.
Obviously, Schools First doesn't want to highlight this fact, but the campaign's attempt to cojoin the Times logo with its words is a contrivance that makes it difficult for supporters to make a case for the levy.
This goes to the heart of the public trust. Voters concerned about a lack of transparency and honesty in the Seattle School District's finances aren't reassured by campaign messaging that blurs the line between truth and fiction.
(They updated this saying that Schools First has agreed to remove the Seattle Times logo from the campaign ad.)
Further update; I'm thinking Schools First doesn't understand what is decent campaigning. I checked their website and they removed the Times' masthead and attributed authorship of the opinion piece.
However, a little further down they did it again. There's the Times' masthead with quotes below it labeled "NW Voices." What is that? Those are letters to the editor. Again, you can't just slap up the Times' logo and quotes and not say who said them. The average person will believe that is what the Times' is saying. And, just below that from the Rainier Valley Post ARE quotes attributed to "letter to the editor." So why didn't they say that for the Times' letters to the editor? They didn't because they wanted people to believe, just as with the opinion piece, that the Times is endorsing the levy and the Times supported REJECTING the levy.