Wednesday, June 08, 2011

34th Dems Give the Nod to Marty McLaren

In their endorsement meeting tonight, the 34th Dems (West Seattle) gave their endorsement to challenger Marty McClaren by a whopping 62% over incumbent Steve Sundquist.   The attendance at the meeting was about 150 participants.

Apparently Steve's supporters tried to bolster his case using...TFA.   Trying to be objective here, I gotta say that I don't think anyone should lead with TFA to get re-elected.

First, most people won't know what it is.  Second, it would probably cause more confusion trying to explain it and explain how there isn't a shortage of teachers but the district is doing it anyway.  Third, it costs the district money (but I forgot, none of the incumbents want to acknowledge that).

I am honestly hoping the challengers do their homework and give the incumbents a real challenge for this election.


dan dempsey said...

HOORAY for Sanity!!! Go McLaren.

"Apparently Steve's supporters tried to bolster his case using...TFA. "

With that kind of supportive argument (TfA) ... Steve is in deep deep doo-doo.

dan dempsey said...

Since none of the Directors have chosen to Blog at this time... but several of their opponents have set up blogs.... I am setting up Blogs for those directors seeking reelection.

Here is the Steve Sundquist Blog.

cascade said...

TFA used as the big accomplishment? Astonishing. Hope the TFA argument goes over as well for Harium, the biggest board backer of TFA, as it did for Steve.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow! Talk about a bad move. I would not mention Teach for America among the 34th District Democrats. The 34th are strong union supporters and Teach for America is seen as an anti-union tool. Yes, I know that TfA corps members join the union, but TfA contributes to the de-professionalization of teaching and is, therefore, detrimental to the teaching profession.

West Seattlite Parent said...

Would one of you please give us information on Marty McLaren, including the blog address? I am unwilling to vote on a candidate just because they're the anti-candidate, and could use more info. Perhaps McLaren feels portables are a perfectly fine way of housing students....

Melissa Westbrook said...

West Seattle parent, we did a thread on School Board candidates and their information. Scroll down. Some don't have websites or blogs.

Linh-Co said...

Marty McLaren's website:


Anonymous said...

Stranger-SLOG called McLaren's endorsement 'the only shocker of the evening".


Anonymous said...

Marty will need a lot of financial help to unseat Steve. He got about 150k from all the big corporate donors & their friends last time around. He'll probably get even more this time. Marty's supporters need to make that a seminal issue in the campaign. Who do you really work for?

I'll go on record saying I like Steve very much and find him to be a great person I'd love to have as a next door neighbor. His advantage is that most people feel the same way about him personally. He is a good guy, an upstanding family man and community member.

He is just so terribly wrong on so many issues, that he needs a re-assignment or demotion until he learns how to "represent" his community. On that scale, I have to give him a D+ or C- at best, and West Seattle cannot afford anything less than a B+ right now.

I do not agree with Steve's philosophy of what his actual role is as a board member. I believe he deeply misunderstands what his role should be, and what his actual community of parents and families expect of him, versus what the local business lobby and Ed Reformers want or like. Like TFA, etc.

I hate to vote against a good person of great character, but sometimes a guy is just not right for the job. Steve took a very wrong turn and chose the wrong path too many years and too many bad decisions ago. Rather than listen to his constituents and represent them, he consistently doubled-down on poor math, school closures, and supporting indefensible staff positions and desires at the expense of his community. Team players make bad representatives.

He is absolutely undeserving of reelection.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. The above post was mine. WSEADAWG

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Hmmmm, Marty's website says she is a member of the save our south end schools coalition/SOS an activist group chaired by none other than the ranting Don Alexander. Not my cup of tea. She also filed a lawsuit against the district. And her website is full of fluff and stuff but doesn't have much of any real substance to consider.

Anonymous said...


If being a math teacher for X years, and fighting for decent research-proven curriculum, is fluff, then by all means vote for "the Tool"

I supported the Rainbow Coalition in the late 80's but that didn't mean I embraced Al Sharpton.

Mr. Ed

Chris S. said...

I believe Marty's lawsuit was regarding the math adoption - you know the one that won once & got appealed by you-know-who and the seven dwarfs. IMHO that's definitely a lawsuit that needed to happen.

Hoping to Teach said...

I understand that there are valid reasons to have concerns with TFA. However, I'd like readers to consider one plus (which is perhaps a selfish one for me and people in my position), but which is a plus nonetheless:

Teaching school, which I'm looking into for a start date maybe 2-3 yrs down the road, is extremely expensive ($15-25,000 depending on program). At the same time, talk to any teacher and many will tell you that it was field learning and not what was taught in the graduate classes that provided the real core of training. In fact, some go so far as to say that their teacher training was pretty much a joke, except for practicum, where an experienced teacher showed them how to really handle situations: because humans learn well through observing and doing, and less well through being told. In fact there is good evidence that graduate teacher training programs vs. alternative training do not demonstrate added value. Alt certified teachers do pretty much just as well as their traditional counterparts, and often better. If we think that alternative k-12 environments have value for kids, don't we also want to consider and support that alternative learning for adults can have equal value?

Do I think TFA is THE way to go? No. What I'd like to see in an ideal world is the bureaucrats at PESB really expand alternative certification in WA to be a more meaningful and mentored route, not linked to any particular politicized path. But in the short term I have the passion and the skills to teach, and I want to do so in a high-need school, and I don't want to cash out my retirement plan to fund it. I am strong enough personally that I don't need to "buy" any ideology hook, line, and sinker, like TFA; to take the pluses and learn from them rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I'll prepare to be flamed, but I hope the readers of this blog might also take a practical, nuanced approach, and support the TFA individual teachers as well as all dedicated, hard-working individuals seeking to enter teaching, while advocating that a variety of alt routes be expanded.

Thank you for reading and considering,
Hoping to Teach

StopTFA said...

Hoping to Teach,

No Flame. We want career teachers. I am opposed to TFA, not alternative route certification. TFA is not a teaching organization, it is a leadership organization, according to Wendy Kopp.

PESB is enforcing the RCW and WAC that (in some form) still preserves some professionalism and standards before placing a person in front of a classroom.

I sincerely wish you good luck with your journey.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I'll prepare to be flamed, but I hope the readers of this blog might also take a practical, nuanced approach, and support the TFA individual teachers as well as all dedicated, hard-working individuals seeking to enter teaching, while advocating that a variety of alt routes be expanded."

I'm with StopTFA. I want real teachers, not interns learning on the job. I support alt routes but not special ones for just one pretty privileged group.

And how are we supposed to "support" the TFA teachers?

Lori said...

Hoping to Teach, thanks for your thoughtful post. I'm guessing since you mentioned having a retirement account that this is a career change for you. I wish you well.

But, most folks entering TFA don't seem to be doing it to teach for life. It seems like a 2-year commitment before moving on to bigger and better things. In that time, however, the TFA teacher practices on our kids, perhaps learning how to teach well by the time their 2-year stint is up. May be a great benefit for the teacher, but does it help those kids, who were used to teach the teacher?

I just happened to have the TV on this morning and caught Wendy Kopp being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell. She was lamenting that TFA might lost its federal funding because it it technically an earmark and may be cut. It amounts to $21 million per year and represents 10% of their budget. It's kind of hard to feel sorry for her and TFA when our schools are being cut to the bone. I suggest she have a bake sale or an auction or something, like we have to do to fund our schools.

Also, she had an interesting quip. She said they hired 5,000 people this year who are beginning their summer training. In the fall, there will be 9,000 TFA teachers in classrooms. That right there shows you it's a high-turnover deal. If you put 5K new folks into classes each year, but only have 9K teaching at any given time, you're replacing more than 50% of your teachers annually. How is that good for kids? How is that developing career teachers?

WV is terse; maybe that's a hint that my posts should be shorter!

Chris S. said...

So I went to the UW Q & A Tuesday, and I came away with a -slightly- more nuanced understanding.

I have no problem with teachers who received their certification thru TFA and continue to teach after certification.

I don't have MUCH problem with TFA recruits on "conditional certification" per se, as long as they are getting their training in a classroom that would otherwise have a long-term sub, a teacher not endorsed in the right subject, or another non-certified individual.

This is because the district (read students) are ostensibly getting some benefit from the partnership with TFA.

Contrast this to the partnership with Seattle, where this is NO SHORTAGE OF CERTIFIED TEACHERS. I have a problem with this because there is NO BENEFIT to the district (read students) of the partnership. TFA gets all the benefits. UW gets some benefits, some headaches. SPS gets NADA. That's why TFA had to parade all those lovely alums at the board meeting - to convince us there is some benefit. Unfortunately, those individuals were not the ones we will be getting, and if we are very lucky, 1 in 3 of the ones we will be getting will turn out to be anything like those people.

So if one is hoping to teach, for a tuition break (and a salary!), I am hoping you will learn on children that really do not have better options. Of course, if they hired TFA-ers at Wedgwood or somethin', it would be a whole 'nother story...

Anonymous said...

RE TFA/UW - Goddard College has a new program in Seattle for education master's. I had a great conversation with them. They are very informed about the ed reform wars raging across the country, TFA/UW, etc.

If you need a good alternate school for your masters, I suggest talking to Goddard.


Jan said...

I am mostly with Hoping to Teach and Lori here, and a little with Melissa and Stop TFA:

I agree with HtT that there are barriers to teaching that currently are too expensive, and that waste time. I have enough years of education and graduate education, and I have reviewed enough course curricula of masters in teaching and other teaching certificate programs to be pretty comfortable saying that a big chunk of a lot of teacher training programs looks not terribly useful, and that many more hours in classrooms would be vastly preferable (though it would result in any number of ed professors having to find other careers -- and that suits me just fine, too, if they are like the current UofW Dean and the faculty trying to help him prop up TfA.)

That said -- the current TfA program is horrible. It is a leadership training program that has taxpayers, school districts, and public universities "paying" to train "leaders" of a specific ideological bent (pro-ed-reform). It refuses to have its students pay their own way (like everybody else in ed has to). It refuses to have its graduates work IN classrooms, as aids, helping current teachers (which would, in fact be a GREAT way for them to get really good training -- and would be hugely helpful in large classes needing lots of differentiated instruction) -- because that would further expose the outrageous costs of the program being demanded from the Districts and the taxpayers. It refuses to be accountable for (or even honest about) its attrition problems.

Given these things, Hoping to Teach, I cannot bring myself to support this organization. I agree that we need to push for alternate teacher certification programs that do not use wasted time and money as the "barrier to entry" that now exists. But in my opinion, TfA -- at least in its current guise -- is not a legitimate alternative.

Jan said...

Think about something else -- MOST "aid" at U of W is given either in the form of instate tuition (paid for by taxes), or by need based grants. TfA teachers look as though they will get a reduced tuition deal -- regardless of whether they are WA residents or not -- while our taxes continue to support the UW; they will also get a bunch of "free" training and mentoring from current teachers (free to them -- not free to the teachers who have to add that to their loads; and not free to WA and Seattle taxpayers, who pay for those teachers through taxes) AND free training and mentoring from TfA folks -- except that isn't really "free" either, as they charge Districts several thousand dollars per teacher per year, and are getting federal earmark grants to support themselves.

Now, lets say your name is -- Rita Rockefeller (yes, THOSE Rokefellers), that you are getting trust fund income of several hundred thousand dollars per year, that you have just finished up at Brown and deciced -- oh, why not, lets do TfA for 2 years and "buff" that resume before applying to Business school or joining Goldman Sachs.

Look at the thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars at all levels -- federal, state, and local, going to train little Lisa. In the meantime, Lester LivinginSeattle, who is a regular, old middle class kid finishing up a poly sci or biology degree at UW, who wants to teach, shells out all that money himself (or borrows it).

If corporate America wants to have a "leadership training" program fine! But they need to play by the same rules (for certification, etc.) that Lester has to play by -- and they need to bear the costs of their OWN training -- or at least follow the same "need based" aid rules that apply to the rest of us.

Jan said...

Oh - and I forgot. ANOTHER reason they need to have TfA kids actually teaching is to support the fiction that these "super people," with just five weeks of training, are superior to the current teaching force -- and all those expensive, unionized, career folks should be fired in favor of the newbies. The research doesn't support this, but they are working hard on getting around the research issue through the "if we say it often enough, it will become accepted as true" ploy.

Lori said...

I always find myself nodding in agreement when I read Jan's posts!

She hits on something I've been thinking about. TFA would be an amazing organization if it provided teacher-extenders rather than teacher substitutes.

A few weeks ago, there was some discussion on this board about if TFA was or was not like having PAs fill in for doctors. The analogy didn't work because PAs don't compete with doctors. They don't set up independent practices. Instead, they work under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician. They are physician-extenders, doing a lot of the routine work, freeing up the doctor for non-routine, more challenging tasks.

Imagine if we had some visionary philanthropist out there who wanted to bring this model to education. Hire and train people to help in classrooms, freeing up the teacher to work on individual education plans for each kid or to provide small group lessons within a heterogeneous class. The novice gets a small stipend (just like a medical intern gets a small salary while training), and if that novice, after two years of classroom work, wants to then become a teacher herself, she gets subsidized tuition as part of the package. She gets a taste of what teaching is like, learns on the job without the risk of having inexperience adversely affect the kids, and the program ultimately identifies teachers who truly want to teach as a career. Families get essentially smaller class sizes and more individual attention to each student.

And, heck, I'll go there: you can collect reams of data to evaluate how well the program works to support getting more money from more donors and continually build your ranks and prestige.

I would love to see THIS program instead of TFA.

StopTFA said...

There ARE approved alternative route 4 (which is what TFA would use) programs that are required, by law, to be lower cost and shorter timeframe than conventional route certification: SPU and City U.

Charlie Mas said...

The Stranger was surprised that Steve Sundquist didn't get the endorsement from the 34th District Democrats? There's your proof positive that The Stranger isn't paying attention.

hoping to Teach said...


Thank you for talking about alt routes, some might not know of them and might find useful. However, the current alternative routes 1-4 are so narrow many 2nd career persons like myself cannot take advantage of them. See this from PESB:

Route 1: Are you a classified instructional employee
(paraprofessional) in a Washington State Public School with a transferable Associate of Arts or Science degree?
Route 2
Are you a classified instructional employee (paraprofessional) in a Washington State Public School with a Baccalaureate degree?
Route 3
Are you a working professional with a baccalaureate and subject matter expertise in a shortage area?
Route 4
Are you an individual with a current Washington State conditional or emergency substitute certificate?

So Route 3 is the route many career changers take, but you have to be in a shortage area, typically math/science or SPED. If you are not than it's not an option.

Thanks also to the person who mentioned Goddard, it does not appear that they currently offer an accredited teaching program, but if they plan to, I'm interested.

Hoping to Teach

Anonymous said...

Jan: A finer post I'm not sure I've read! (Or written!)

OMG! I'm so in love with your words!

Hoping to Teach: I hope you can see that we parents are in fact, caring, nuanced, serious, and well-studied in these issues. While my hyperbolic venting from time to time may seem hysterical, it's because I so passionately believe in public education, while watching perhaps well-intended and certainly well-financed PACs and Special Interest groups trying to remake public ed into their own image or images of how they believe the world should be, instead of how it is, while scapegoating teachers, and especially unions, all along their gilded, merry way.

In sum, it's about respect. Do we respect teachers as a profession for what they do, or don't we? Are we going to listen to career teachers who've slogged through the classroom for 25 years? Or a bunch of Ivy League hot-shots right out of college, ready to revamp the world, drunk with over-flowing self-esteem and can-do spirits!
(Reminds me a little of the lessons from All Quiet on the Western Front, to be honest: War isn't so glorious after all..)

The issue isn't Alt Cert. The issue is how TFA gets special treatment because of a 20 year campaign to infiltrate positions of influence in government and public education institutions, ensuring it gets whatever it wants when it applies, coast-to-coast.

I don't like their methods, nor many of their philosophies, which includes the main one: TFA people are superior human beings, period. I thought WWII cured humanity of such illusions, yet they seem to persist in so many forms.


Anonymous said...

Let's give all the challengers to dethrone Steve a fair chance. Don't be so quick to back one specific candidate until we have heard their plan. We want to make sure we select the person who not only serves ALL of West Seattle, but the rest of the SPS District as well. Remember the decisions that the Board Members make impact all Seattle Public School Students.

Steve has voted on things that are not in the best interest of all SPS students and for that he must go! But I do not want to see a carbon copy of him thrown into the position either.

Candidates must listen to the people and afterall we are the ones who put them in the position.

dan dempsey said...

I believe the Seattle Education Association has endorsed Marty McLaren.

About the Porter, Mass, McLaren appeal in School Board's approval of "Discovering" series math for High School. .... Appellants among other problems claimed "Key Press Discovering" would harm Limited English Speaking students and Black students ... Seattle grade 10 Scores from 2010 Math HSPE show that is exactly what happened.

Steve Sundquist voted for "Discovering" ... he ignores substantial evidence in many of his decisions.

Steve voted for
A. Discovering Math
(Chow, Carr, Maier, Sundquist)

B. NTN $800,000 contract at Cleveland
(Carr, Martin-Morris, Maier, Sundquist)

C. TfA

Steve put the "without cause" firings of MGJ & Kennedy on the Agenda with only 22 hours advance notice to the public.

"to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data"

Tossing out Steve will be a big improvement step.

Any West Seattle position VI Director Candidate will be an improvement over Steve.