Friday, June 10, 2011

What do you want to see on a candidate's platform?

There are now a lot of folks filed as candidates for the upcoming school board elections, including the four incumbents.

They will all say something about what they want to do if elected.

What do YOU want them to do if elected?


Charlie Mas said...

I want to see a candidate commit to earning the public's trust by telling the truth and fulfilling commitments. Enough rhetoric about earning the public's trust, let's see some action. I want a candidate who will work through the backlog of broken promises.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will commit to community engagement. Enough rhetoric about community engagement, let's see some action. I want a candidate who will commit to rejecting any Board motion that doesn't include adequate and appropriate stakeholder input.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will commit to doing the Board job of governance. Enough rhetoric about governance, let's see some action. I want a candidate who will commit to establishing a process for enforcing policy.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who owns a calendar and will commit to getting a specific due date for every staff promise and writing that due date in their calendar. Then, when that due date comes, the candidate should ask for the promise to be fulfilled.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will commit to doing the Board job of oversight. I want a candidate who will review the decisions to confirm that the rationale is sound.

This Dog Still Hunts said...

I want to see a candidate in West Seattle who will commit to reducing my class size from 31 students back to 26-28. Not a candidate who will facilitate stuffing 32 into a portable next year.

Anonymous said...

I want to see a candidate who just won't take everything that staff says about special education services at face value.

Proof in the pudding parent

Salander said...

I want to see a candidate who will commit to outlaw the exponential inbreeding of tribbles that is the central administratiion.

dj said...

I would like some commitment to consistency. That sounds like such a small virtue, but it is the constant churn in this district that makes it so unpalatable.

Greg said...

I'd second Charlie's governance and enforcement. It should be obvious, but the board needs to do its core oversight function of enforcing policy, tracking commitments by staff, and imposing real consequences when commitments are not kept.

I'd add that the budget is a mess and I want to see candidates commit to fixing the budget. In particular, I would like to see any budget allocation for anything that is not a teacher in front of a classroom questioned and cuts to come there first. Money spent in headquarters takes away from money spent in the classroom and needs to be treated that way.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Until our district is stable, I want Board members who will commit to "trust but verify" on staff input.

No candidate should just take data/info at face value especially if it is a high priority issue or academic stats or community/school staff input is at odds with what adm staff says.

I want accountability and trasnparency to be more than words.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will talk plain and face facts about capacity.

We need to re-open Fairmount Park as an elementary school.

We need to re-open Wilson-Pacific as a middle school.

We need to re-open John Marshall as the location for north-end elementary APP.

We need to take action to make Pinehurst, Jane Addams, Madrona and Rainier Beach into more attractive choices for families.

We have to start work on these things now - without further delay

We will soon need to re-open Van Asselt as an elementary school.

We will soon need to open another elementary school on the current Denny property.

We will soon need to re-open Lincoln as a high school.

Let's just face up to these facts and start taking some action on them.

Anonymous said...

Solve APP overcrowding. How I think we should have a north APP perhaps at WP 1-8 and a south APP at Lowell... Problems solved!

Get rid of Discovery and Everyday math.

Terminate anyone involved with MLK sale.

Lowell Parents

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will commit to closing the academic achievement gap. Enough rhetoric about it, let's see some action. I want a candidate who will demand that the superintendent present a plan for closing the gap within four months.

Charlie Mas said...

Every candidate for the past ten years has promised to improve communication with the community. Enough empty talk! I want a candidate to commit to responding to every speaker at Board Testimony.

Charlie Mas said...

I want a candidate who will commit to directing the superintendent to fulfill the community engagement and transparency commitments written into the Strategic Plan and will direct the superintendent to fulfill the Community Engagement Protocols for each and every project in the Plan.

none1111 said...

I worry that we won't know in advance which candidates are in the back pockets of ed reform until it's too late.

The current block of 4 (weak) incumbents didn't look bad in the beginning, when they were running for their seats! In fact, they looked and sounded pretty good overall.

I think big money speaks, but what is the timing on public disclosure of campaign contributions? Will we be able to know far enough in advance who the shills are?

I want candidates who are independently minded.

Anonymous said...

I want a common-sense candidate that will:

* push for appropriate education for all students (interventions for struggling students, advanced learning opportunities, special ed services, etc.)

* take the fudiciary responsibilities of the district seriously (properly managing properties and assets)

* not abdicate their oversight responsibilities to the whims of outside donors

* approve quality materials and curriculum that best meet state standards and provide for a solid, well-rounded education

* not take the District's cherry-picked data at face-value

* listen and act on parent/teacher concerns


Bird said...

It basically boils down to getting someone on the board who will vote no.

They don't have to vote no all the time, but they need to be able to vote no when necessary. They need to vote no when they have unanswered questions, they need to vote no when they haven't been presented with adequate information to perform their oversight duties, and they need to vote no when the proposals make little sense.

Right now it takes it extraordinary circumstances for a board member to vote no.

Even if they don't vote no, the fact that the board member is a credible threat will raise the performance of the staff to make sure they've gathered all the data, and only bring up solid requests.

dj said...

Lowell parents, why do you want the south-end APP site to be at Lowell if the north-end APP site is moved north? Is there any reason to move the south APP kids yet again? I think a lot of south APP parents would have preferred that we hadn't been moved in the first place, and I could see the argument for moving the APP program in order to make one giant APP K-8 (not that this is really a probability), but why are you advocating moving the kids who are at TM to Lowell? I haven't heard TM parents clamoring for that.

Dorothy Neville said...

Bird, it isn't just the ability to vote No. Lots of votes these days are 6-1, or 5-2. We have even had a few 4-3. What we need is for staff to realize that there is a majority of board members willing to derail their half-assed proposals for being half-assed.

Anonymous said...

I think we all want the moon. As we look over the above (very reasonable) requests, who'swith me that next legislative cycle we need to get our legis. to pay school board directors so we can have full-time workers on our boards. Our kids deserve it!

Pay Them

New To SPS said...

I agree with everything said to date. In addition, I want to see a Board that ensures solid, long term planning is taking place within the District, especially concerning capacity, Special Ed, and gifted programs (which should have less, and not more, gatekeeping). There is way too much churn and sudden 180 degree turns in these areas. This is both impacting the education of the kids who are in the public schools, and driving families away who might otherwise consider them a viable option.

KG said...

Getting central administration line item into the 6% expenditure
column and into the realm of reality.

KG said...

Ask the candidate if they think Central administrators are more important than the school based employees. This should be one of the top questions.

none1111 said...

Lowell parents, why do you want the south-end APP site to be at Lowell if the north-end APP site is moved north?

I don't think this is any kind of general consensus. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was a "mental typo".

Jan said...

Pay Them: I look at these lists (I especially like parents list) and see nothing on there that seems like the result of not paying board members. While it might be a good idea, it is sort of like deciding to balance your checkbook when the stove has caught fire. MAYBE we need to look at some paid staff (but they will only be as good as their ideology -- anyone want a Sara Morris as the "paid staff researcher" for the Board?). At this point, my opinion is pay for board members is not a critical issue. Therefore, it is a diversion and a distraction.

KG: it is not enough to ask the question of "which is more important" - central administration or school employees. The current board all paid lip service to sending scarce dollars to schools, instead of downtown. They then proceeded to permit a delayed, opaque budget process that continued to permit the Superintendent and her lieutenants to funnel dollars downtown; they have permitted, without comment, the hiring of more administrators (extra executive directors, extra principals and assistant principals); they have not called the staff on "hiding" coaches and other staff who do not interact with students -- by billing them to schools, even though they work downtown and/or do nothing to actually contribute to student learning (as opposed to teacher micromanagement -- which is what they excel in).

In this budget climate, why are we still spending all this money for coaches, for MAP -- when all these directors "say" they are committed to keeping maximum dollars in classrooms. These are NOT CLASSROOM EXPENSES! (Sorry, don't mean to be shouting at you -- it is hard not to rant in the face of such nonsense).

We need directors who can demonstrate to us that they understand how the board is manipulated and ill served by allowing staff to set timing, agenda, etc. -- and are committed to a change in the process -- NOT just in the priorities.

Jan said...

And I don't want a commitment to 6% -- I want one that commits to 5%. We are in a crisis here. We pay our downtown staff too much, require (and get) way too little from them, and fail to prioritize (which, in a budget crisis means "postponing non critical stuff") to ensure that maximum dollars go to students, not to administration, monkeying around with new ideas, chasing grant dollars for untested and silly things, etc.

Mark T. Weber said...

You might want to take a look at the bottom of the first page on my website


ArchStanton said...

@ Pay Them & @ Jan:

I pondered paying full time board positions in a 02MAR2011 thread: I know we aren't rolling in piles of money right now, but could it be time that we finally admit that we need real, paid, full-time board members? Is it time to acknowledge that this district is too much to manage for a handful of well-meaning (possibly unqualified), volunteers that have other jobs and distractions in their lives. Could we get a better pool of candidates if we paid them a salary such that they could afford to work full time cleaning up this mess? Just asking...

I understand a reluctance to throw what may be good money after bad at this problem, but I have to ask if we are simply getting what we pay for? My assumption is that board members get barely enough compensation to make it worthwhile unless they have a passion for some aspect of the job and that they can run for the board if they can fill out the paperwork. One of the old salts can educate us on what compensation board members receive and what the position requirements are (if any).

I think that some board members are there because they have a pet cause that drives them and that other aspects receive less attention. I think that some board members want to follow up/through on things, but really do have a day job that leaves them with little time or energy to deal with SPS. I think it's too easy for board members to be in a position to say to themselves that it's only a part-time commitment or that they don't get paid enough to do all of the research and leg work to keep administration honest. And it's too easy for us to sigh and acknowledge that one member's heart is in the right place, but they don't have the ability to achieve consensus on an issue, or that another member recognizes a problem, but doesn't have the skills or means to identify and fix it.

I'd be very willing to try full-time paid board positions (it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the waste, fraud, and abuse that's been going on), but I'd like to be able to come up with a set of minimum qualifications for applicants, too.


dj said...

None1111, I was using the poster's handle, not assuming that the poster spoke for Lowell parents, but this is about the third time I've seen this posted here (
maybe always the same poster).

Patrick said...

I'd like to see ethical standards with teeth. If you hire your spouse, in-law, or buddy, you should both be fired. There should be NO no-bid contracts for more than a few hundred dollars, and it shouldn't matter whether it's for services or not. No personal connections between District officials and contractors (NWEA I'm looking at you). Attempting to determine the identity of a whistleblower should itself be a firing offense.

Patrick said...

The biggest job the new board will face right away is the selection of a new superintendent. I'd like to see someone who isn't from a venture philanthropist. Seattle schools are pretty generously supported by our community, and a couple of million more or less from a couple of famous businesspeople shouldn't be determining policy.

Charlie Mas said...

The District's Ethics Policy only prohibits one thing: self-dealing.

People who control or influence district contracts cannot direct that contract to a business in which they have a direct financial interest.

That is the one and only unethical conduct that the Ethics Policy recognizes. That's a pretty narrow definition of ethics. We need a broader one. We need an Ethics Policy that prohibits cronyism - directing contracts to relatives, friends, and associates.

The NWEA contract was not found in violation of the Ethics Policy because although Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was a Director of NWEA and sat on their Board, she was not an officer of NWEA nor did she have a direct financial interest in it.

Maybe not, but it was still dirty.

John said...

Hi. I'm John Cummings, candidate from District 1. I started my blog over at cummingsforschoolboard.blogspot.com

I have one post and will have my second up soon. If you are interested in my take on the race and what I hope to accomplish if elected then check out my blog. Also, feel free to comment and/or email me directly at cummingsforschoolboard@gmail.com. I'll gladly answer any questions you might have. By the way, you folks are one of the reasons there is hope for Seattle Public Schools. Thanks for keeping the District's feet to the fire.
BTW, I am going to be at the Roy St. Cafe today @ 4:00 for the PAA meeting.

Stu said...

First, I would like to echo Charlie on wanting engagement by the board at meetings. The fact that question after question can go by without any response from the board drives me crazy. If I sign up to speak and have a question, I want an answer. And, if you don't know the answer, I want you to find out the answer. And, if you don't get the answer DON'T VOTE ON SOMETHING EXPECTING ANSWERS LATER!

Next - Every time a staff member misses a deadline, I want the district to "miss" a pay check! Third time, fired! That's it . . .you've got a job . . do it! This starts at the board level; DEMAND that the staff do their jobs!

The sentence "I'll have to get back to you on that" should be illegal when applied to an action item. If you don't have the facts, you don't get the vote! Board members: NO VOTE WITHOUT FACTS AND COMMUNITY INPUT!

New Board Members, and I hope there are a lot of you: community engagement isn't just listening, it's responding, and taking action! If a school is projecting 200 students over enrollment, there can not be a "wait and see" attitude!


Terrence Menage, Ed.D. said...


My name is Terrence Menage and I am one of the candidates to replace Ms. Carr in District II; I would appreciate good people on this blog visiting my website at www.menage4seattlekids.com. I have written a couple of entries on my blog and would welcome comments or questions that can be left on the website.

Much appreciation and gratitude.