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Friday, May 27, 2011

School Board Campaign News

Charlie brought us up-to-date in a previous thread on School Board candidates.  I'd like to add some new information.

First up, the King County Democrats had an endorsement meeting this past week.  None of the incumbents won an endorsement.  Apparently, Sherry's was the closest vote but she still lost. 

Initially, both Michelle Buetow (Harium's announced challenger) and Kate Martin (Sherry's announced challenger) both won endorsement from the endorsement panel.  But they held a hand-count vote and Kate lost endorsement by a handful of votes.  Michelle retained her endorsement and was the only candidate for School Board endorsed.

I have seen campaign letters from Steve Sundquist and Sherry Carr.  Both are somewhat disappointing.  Both are asking for early endorsements.  (FYI, Peter seems to have quite a large number of endorsements at this stage.) 

Steve's is much shorter.   He points out the NSAP passed and new teacher and principal contracts with new assessments were also passed.  This is true and this is progress.  However,  his next category is "School and District Accountability and Transparency" and talks about school scorecards and "related resource allocations to drive school improvement."  I don't know what the latter references.  I can say that there aren't a lot of parents who either don't understand or have faith in the school scorecards.  I'm not sure I'd count that one.

He also mentions "fiscal responsibility" which is "Continuing to make the difficult decisions required to remain financially solvent and live within our means in these difficult times."   If I were running against Steve, this is the one I would pound home.   Where was he when Potter was running around unfettered?  He and ALL the Board had opportunities to intervene and did not. 

Sherry's campaign letter is a doubled-sided piece.  Among the accomplishments she points out:
  • investments like new textbooks (true to some degree) and "We have continued to invest in professional development, tools and support for teachers to ensure quality instruction in every classroom.  These changes benefit all students and are fundamental to closing the achievement gap."  This is assuming that all that needs to get done is on the teacher end.  Is that valid?
  • teacher/principal contracts, more students in AP, IB and Advanced Learning.  
  • "We have ensured financial stability in spite of the worst recession since the Great Depression."  First, they have to have a balanced budget so it's not like the Board has a choice.  Second,  I'm not sure that even Robert Boesche would say the district is completely financially stable.  "We worked together to successful minimize cuts to our classrooms."  Is that true?  Did this Board do everything they could have to keep cuts from the classroom?  I think that's up for debate.
  • "We have demonstrated real leadership."  Here she points to the NSAP, new transportation system saving money (but where did the savings go? never answered), closing schools(!) and reopening others(!) and taking care of the financial scandal.   I'm not sure she thought this paragraph through because it looks like a lot of flip-flopping.
Still working on a candidate for Peter's spot and I hear there may be yet another challenger for Sherry Carr's spot. 

In West Seattle, I also hear rumblings of a candidate or two but nothing firm yet.  I do think if every incumbent had 2 challengers, the positives would outweigh the negatives.  I also think that if a miracle happened (and I suspect it would be in West Seattle because Steve doesn't seem to be making people happy despite the warm feelings people have for him personally) and one incumbent got knocked out in the primary - now THAT would be a game-changer.

22 comments:

Po3 said...

Their is no mistake that seated board members have been busy.

It's just that the results of their efforts have been dismal.

Anonymous said...

I have seen campaign letters from Steve Sundquist and Sherry Carr. Both are somewhat disappointing. Both are asking for early endorsements.

The fact that any incumbents are running is disappointing. Given the amount of Spin these two have produced over the last four years .. I would think the campaign letters would be fabulous.... hey, its a campaign no truth required.

(FYI, Peter seems to have quite a large number of endorsements at this stage.)

It would be fabulous if those endorsing Peter would give reasons for their endorsements ... I see four years of lack of accomplishment ... perhaps some of these endorsers could list a few reasons that led to their endorsements.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Who do we expect the incumbents to work for? Their communities, or the wealthy/corporate backers who buy their seats?

If we don't do something about limiting, or at least exposing the unfairness of, campaign contributions in these races, we won't see anything other than "corporations masquerading as human beings" using a school board seat as a stepping stone toward higher offices later on.

Don't expect more than rubber stamps at 150k plus per seat.

WSEADAWG

southmom said...

May I add AGAIN we in the southend do not view the NSAP as any sort of progress! Forcing our children to attend schools that lack both rigor and breadth of offerings without offering a comprehensive plan for improvement is morally and ethically inexcusable. I'd love to see the rigor rating RBHS gets from college admission offices.

Ed Doc said...

We can expect that the opportunistic educators at headquarters will be working overtime to retain the rubber stamp members of the Board of Directors; be certain that the Times will continue to function as the PR firm for the district and support these do-nothing/know nothing directors.

My hopes are that we have at least two challengers for each open position this year, as well as for the next election cycle. I stand ready to support any viable challenger to the incumbents; assisting with campaign materials and get out the vote efforts. Good people of Seattle must work to bring an end to business as usual at district headquarters.

SP said...

SouthMom,
The Seattle Times School Guide used to annually publish the rigor ratings that UW used for factoring GPA's, but unfortunately stopped several years ago. But- UW still produces these ratings and sends them out to each school (at least last I checked, which was a couple of years ago).

I was told at UW registrar's/admission office that I had to ask my principal (or BLT chair) for this information, which is public information, as UW would not release that info to SPS parents directly. I'd think it would be much more useful to ask for all the high school's ratings as a comparison (maybe a public records request from the district?).

If you find out anything it would be really interesting!

dj said...

Southmom, I'm kind of surprised that a lot of non-southend people think the NSAP is such great shakes, considering how many posts there have been complaining about the overcrowding it is causing in schools.

dan dempsey said...

The premise on which the student assignment plan was adopted was that the NSAP would make every school a quality school.... not surprisingly we hear rarely a word from either the Board or the Central Admin about making every school a quality school.

What are the transportation savings from NSAP?

How are these savings being applied to make every school a quality school?

Last I saw ... Cleveland STEM option was needed to make the NSAP viable and to fund Cleveland STEM carryover funds from 31 low-income schools were transferred to Cleveland. ... So how does that make every school a quality school?

I do think that NSAP could be a positive if schools were allowed to be autonomous and get out of the Gasp of Central Admin's counter-productive leadership. Unfortunately we still have Centralized Autocratic leadership, so NSAP is pointless. NSAP subjects many families to crappy school programs that they have "ZERO" control over. ... because this rubber-stamping board disregards both evidence and the public in making decisions.

dan dempsey said...

About Central Admin direction ... now that k-12 math is a total screw-up.... the leaders are moving on to really screwing up high school science.

Any director who campaigns on the NSAP as an asset needs to explain why the NSAP IS AN ASSET.

Then they can explain the benefits of curriculum alignment ... whatever that means in the SPS.

Put the PUBLIC back in public education said...

Ed Doc, are you serious about helping on campaigns? We have two races aginst Carr and Sundquist with viable candidates that could really use some help.

Unfortunately, fundraising will be a hugh effort for regular citizens. So put your money where your mouth is and support these candidates generously.

I'm the treasurer for both Kate Martin and Marty McLaren.

Put the PUBLIC back in public education said...

I should proofread before submitting my post. I meant against and huge. I hate that!

wsnorth said...

NSAP is a disaster for West Seattle, too. I think it is only good for people who already lived really close to a good school. How does that help?

Joy Anderson said...

To West Seattlites and Beyond

Anyone willing to volunteer time, money, expertise, opinions, advise, supplies, or sympathy ;) to my campaign for West Seattle School Board, please email me at

joyousanderson@gmail.com

We should be up and running by the end of next week.

Thank you in advance to all that are willing to take the next step in reclaiming our school system!

Joy Anderson

Anonymous said...

I don't consider the NASP, new teacher contract or evaluation system progress, unless you mean progress like a train rapidly approaching a cliff edge.

former teacher

Sahila said...

Martha McLaren has also put her hat into the ring in West Seattle....

email received from her today (with permission to forward it)...

"Hello friends,


I’m writing you today and asking for your support, since I have decided
to run for Seattle School Board Director for District #6 this year. As
you probably know, I've been working for years on curriculum issues.
Now, I feel like it's time to make a full-on effort.


I think we would all agree that things are not going well in the Seattle
School District. On the other hand, Seattle is an educated, prosperous,
and generous community, and, the tightening economy is bringing students
back to the public school system. Our existing school board has made
some poor choices, but there are some voices of reason bubbling to the
surface. The time is right to make a change on the board, and I believe
that I can bring a different perspective than Steve Sundquist – one
which is founded in community engagement and reasoned, evidence-based
strategies for addressing the existing deficits, rather than top-down,
arbitrary policies.


Having taught and subbed in the district from 1999-2009, I’ve seen the
inner workings of the district in the K-12 classrooms, and I’ve battled
the autocratic decision making process and accountability dodging
through my work on the math textbook lawsuit. I believe that I can
capitalize on the current unrest in the district and win a seat on the
school board, where I can work with other like-minded directors to
change our district’s course.


I don't pretend that this is not a daunting undertaking: simply to carry
out a campaign and make myself into a viable candidate is a huge
challenge for me. And, for successful challengers as well as current
Directors, the obstacles facing the district are indeed sobering. I'm
going ahead in the certainty that I have unique skills, perspective, and
experience to offer.


The primary is August 16th – not much time. Over the next few weeks, I’m
setting up a campaign team. If any of you has the time and interest to
help with that effort, it would be fantastic. So far, five activist and
other friends have offered to help. I'm hoping to assemble a group of
people to meet regularly to assist in strategy, communications,
fundraising, web assistance, etc. OTOH, different kinds of help could be
really useful too: Info or expertise about graphics, fliers, etc.,
internet literacy, wardrobe consults, accessories, hair ideas...hand
holding!! Any help you can offer would be deeply appreciated. And you're
welcome to forward this to others.


Also, please feel free to educate me on issues; I'm doing lots of
homework these days.


Together, we CAN reclaim our schools!


Warmly,


Marty"

David said...

Thanks for running, Joy! Great news!

Still no one announced running against Peter. I really hope he doesn't run unopposed.

Ed Doc said...

Put the PUBLIC back in public education:

My statement of support for any viable candidates to oppose members of the rubber stamp Board of Directors is serious and sincere.

I am curious as to the reasoning of your recommendation for me to put my money where my mouth is...It may just be me, but I would hope that your solicitation for financial backing for candidates becomes less abrasive and/or unjustly 'in your face'. In my experience, contributors to any candidate or cause are much more likely to provide support if approached in a positive and respectful as well as compelling manner.

Put the PUBLIC back in public education said...

Sorry for the tone Ed Doc. I didn't mean to offend anyone. It's the chicken and the egg dilemna. We can't get endorsements without contributions and vice versa.

Ed Doc said...

I understand the challenges regarding incumbent members of the board possessing sizable war chests for their campaign, but I believe that public sentiment and outrage as a result of the rubber stamp board is going to make it extremely difficult for them regardless of their money or endorsements. Key will be for opponents to have active supporters and to effectively get out the message about returning the board to functioning as a policy making entity that adequately supervises the superintendent.

Ms. Carr has one known opponent and next week at least one more person will file candidacy papers to remove her from office. Hopefully, each member up for re-election will have at least two opponents and that will eliminate them in the primary; ensuring that a new board will be in place to begin work for righting this listing ship.

mirmac1 said...

Personally, I agree that money talks. Look at Bill Gates. If we donated $1M/SPS student, we still couldn't touch Bill.

Yes, it may be unseemly for candidates to ask for money; that's what the rest of us are for. But, y'know, taking a yard sign, doorbelling, holding meet 'n greets, or signing as an endorser works too. I've done all of those things and they pay off. Plus I bet you'll get into alot of interesting discussions with your neighbors. There are alot who REALLY don't like what's going on.

Put the PUBLIC back in public education said...

We just talked to someone today who will hopefully file his declaration next week. He will also be running against Sherry Carr. I don't know if it is the same person you mentioned. It would be nice if Sherry loses the primary.

Ed Doc said...

It would be wise to consider the potential consequences of fielding too many candidates to oppose the incumbents that need to be removed from the board. I am reconsidering the wisdom of a strategy of two candidates to oppose each of the incumbents up for re-election. Such a strategy could actually benefit the incumbent by splitting the vote for the challengers; a strong enough grass roots effort could offset this risk, but it is important to be mindful of this potential problem.