Discussion for District II Election

The candidates for school board in District II, representing North Seattle around Green Lake, are:

Sherry Carr
Kate Martin
Jack Whelan
Mark Weber

Please use this space to discuss these candidates' relative qualities, their positions on the issues, and your confidence in their ability and willingness to perform the duties of the office and perform them well.


Anonymous said…
District 2 has two candidates endorsed by the King County Democratics - Jack Whelan and Kate Martin. Jack Whelan is endorsed by Where's the Math, while Kate Martin is "approved" by Where's the Math.

King County Democrats has links to candidate websites here:


Have there been or will there be a candidate forum for District 2?

repost by (voter)
Amy Duncan said…
Hello from Green Lake!

We asked for statements from the four candidates currently running in the Primary race for School District No. 2. We heard back from three: Sherry Carr, Jack Whelan and Mark T. Webber.

You can read their statements here: http://www.mygreenlake.com/2011/07/seattle-school-board-district-2-primary-greenlake/

Looking forward to reading more discussion about this race. Thanks for providing this forum.

Amy Duncan
My Green Lake - mygreenlake.com
Anonymous said…
I do pay attention to Municipal League ratings as a starting point for evaluating candidate qualifications. (They're posted at http://www.munileague.org/candidate-evaluations/previous-ratings/2011/committee-rating-pages/2011-school-board-candidate-ratings.)

In this race:

Sherry Carr - Very Good
Kate Martin - Good
Jack Whelan - Adequate
Mark Weber - Not Qualified

Another Voter
Anonymous said…
Sherry Carr is called "the strongest candidate in this race" by the Progressive Voters Guide.

Anonymous said…
Another Voter:

Did you, also, click on the "questionaire" link for each of the candidates? One might come to a different rating for each candidate after taking the time to read each candidate's responses to all the questions. I know it takes time and effort, but I, for one, do not take any media nor organization's endorsement without doing some research.

Furthermore, I would encourage you and anybody else to take a look who is on Muni League's Board. One of several that stood out for me is Greg Wong, a lawyer and TfA alum. He was coaching all the TfA alums in the JSCEE lobby to prepare them to persuade the Board how great it would be to have TfA'ers in Seattle Schools. For me, Greg Wong is not quite the unbiased observer for judging School Board Candidates that I would trust.

ken berry
SpEd IA Van Asselt Elem
Anonymous said…
A poll done by Sherry Carr's people last evening showed these results.
Sherry Carr 55%
Mark Weber 20%
Kate Martin 17%
Jack Whelan 6%
Terrence Menage 2%

helped with poll
I find it hard to believe Mark Weber came in second in that poll. I would expect Sherry to be in first by a wide margin but Mr. Weber has been running a very quiet campaign.

Who took the poll?
Anonymous said…
re: Sherry Carr is called "the strongest candidate in this race" by the Progressive Voters Guide.

The Progressive Voters Guide also said, "We believe that Peter Maier is the best choice in this race."

That tells me that the Progessive Voters Guide hasn't really done its homework, certainly hasn't paid close attention to Seattle School actions over the past 4 years.

Hence, their endorsement of Sherry Carr should be questioned by responsible voters on School Board Candidates.

ken berry
SpEd IA Van Asselt Elem
seattlebeachgirl said…
Kate Martin, the same parent that was sent a "no trespass" letter because she went crazy at the school. Can't have someone like that on the Board. There are enough problems.
That Passionate Teacher said…
@ Seattlebeachgirl:

"Kate Martin, the same parent that was sent a "no trespass" letter because she went crazy at the school."

Can you back up that accusation? Are you SURE it's the same person? Kate is hardly an uncommon first name, and Martin is hardly an uncommon surname. I've personally made the acquaintance half a dozen people with the name Kate Martin in my lifetime.

It makes one wonder what about the current abyssmal failure of a board are you so enamored with that you are spending this much effort tearing down their opponents? Is it their refusal to oversee the district, their refusal to govern the district, their refusal to represent their constituents and conduct any community engagement whatsoever, or their refusal to be sound fiscal stewards of the district?

Please enlighten...
Seattlebeachgirl, you have been throwing around a lot of accusations against the challengers. At this blog, we are data and fact driven. You need to tell us how you know what you are stating is true especially when you are getting personal.

If you believe everyone who runs for office has an agenda, what is the incumbents?
lassen said…
That Green Lake link from Amy Duncan is great. I really like the sound of Jack Whelan. His comments about the Martin Floe situation and the dangers of standardized testing/MAP seem spot on. Does anyone know more about him?

I am really concerned when I hear elsewhere on this blog that people support Kate Martin using the logic that her campaign is better-known. If Jack Whelan might be a better choice, let's vote for him and then get behind his campaign to make him better-known. I want solid, thoughtful grown-ups on the Board, and Jack Whelan seems to present himself that way, but I just don't know enough about him. Can anyone add some info?
Wheres the truth said…
You're on the right track Melissa (although Charlie has often said that he makes up facts to go along with his theories). But whether beachgirl is a troll or not, if there is any basis to her accusation about Kate Martin I would like to know before placing my vote.

I would say that about any cadidate in any race. If this particular statement is true of Kate, perhaps there's a good reason for what she did. Or it's baseless-either way I'd like the truth.
Name said…
Of the 4 incumbents, I am most likely to support Sherry. I think that she has the finance experience necessary to see the audit response plan followed through. Also we need some institutional memory and I think that she will become more assertive and questioning in her second term - ala Michael DeBell. I think that replacing Peter, Steve, and Harium will go a long way toward changing the direction of the board.
Anonymous said…
fwiw, I attended a fundraiser to listen to what Kate had to say, and I was impressed with her passion for addressing the problems faced by Seattle Schools, as well as her understanding of where those problems lie. Kate brought up the "no trespass" story of her own volition at this event, to illustrate a point, and rather than making her seem like a whacko it instead underscored her passion for advocacy, as well as her persistence and effectiveness. Kate's outspokenness on neighborhood issues over the years may have earned her some detractors, and informed the negative spin in the comments here - or it may just be that commenters don't know the whole story. I don't think I can do it justice, but I hope Kate or someone more familiar than I am with the "no trespass" story will expand on it in comments here. I think the Stranger endorsement called it (not that I always agree with them): "This year, we met someone who promises to continue the grand legacy of Smith-Blum’s intimidating crazy, and go it one better. Her name: Kate Martin."

All for Activists
Dorothy Neville said…
There are things I like about both Jack and Kate. Both would have a learning curve, but I trust both could succeed. And of the four incumbents, Sherry is the only one I could support, for the same reasons as the commenter above. She (NOT Harium, even though he is campaigning as if he were) has been involved in the tedious slog through governance reform. I know it is too slow for Charlie's liking, but I do think it is happening.

The poll data is interesting, in that Kate and Jack seem to be splitting the vote of ed-reform skeptics such as ourselves, leaving Sherry and Weber on top. Weber has been quiet to this crowd, but perhaps not quiet overall. When I first read his website, it screamed corporate ed-reform. Now that he's been blogging, I am not so sure. Seems to like vouchers, but other than that seems thoughtful.
Anonymous said…
I might be paranoid, I might be a conspiracy theorist, I might be the only person on this blog to make these connections, but here goes anyway. If you think this is nuts, or that I am nuts, tell me so to my face and I will accept the criticism cheerfully.

I asked Sherry Carr how she could vote for, and vocally support TFA, when there was no shortage of qualified teachers in this District. she gave me the usual bla-bla-bla about how these were bright people, and how it helped the District to expand the pool, and the usual pro-TFA party line.

I asked Sherry if she had gone to schools and asked the parents in these schools what they thought of TFA, and if she wasn't concerned that there might be backlash against TFA, and against her, from those parents.

Sherry said no one should worry about that, because all decisions of who to hire would be site-based, and that principals were free to hire or not hire TFA people, without pressure either way from the District.

Without pressure from the District! Really? Seriously? What then, I asked Sherry, was a principal to draw from the Martin Floe incident? Sherry asked me what I meant. I said, my God, they tried to fire this guy, and make it stick, for reasons that were never made clear. Do you mean to tell me that if they had gotten away with firing this guy over nothing really, that this wouldn't put the fear of God into all principals that if we can get Rid of Floe for nothing, we can get rid of YOU? For whatever reason we can think of?

Sherry told me oh, no, that's not the case at all. That has nothing to do with whether principals hire TFA or not.

At that point I told her, look, it's OK to disagree, but now you're insulting my intelligence. Nobody in that position could fail to connect those dots, much less pretend that the dots don't even exist.

Sherry Carr must go. Kate Martin has my full support. I wouldn't want a whole School Board full of Kate Martins, but clearly Sherry is in "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" mode, and time is so up for that.

We need at least one School Board director to be the "bad cop" and call bullshit on the Superintendent and the Central Staff, to have true separation of powers, and checks and balances. Kate Martin, unlike Sherry Carr, has no fear.

-- Ivan Weiss
mirmac1 said…
Amen to that, Ivan Weiss. Kate has the chutzpah to get it done.
dan dempsey said…
Well... here is what I remember about Kate's issue at Roosevelt and the situation that SeattleBeachGirl mentioned.

Kate had one of her sons in an absolutely terrible math class. The teacher was very substandard in terms of not presenting material in a way that could be learned (by anyone). Kate found it nearly impossible to get the administration to act on this situation despite her repeated attempts to get this situation corrected.

As I recall she was being given the Office Brush off for the ump-teenth time and said "no I am not leaving until this situation gets corrected" She waited for the principal to return .... I do not remember if she was removed as a trespasser or what.

Eventually the District did something about rescheduling her son. The teacher in question eventually resigned in the Spring of that school year.

--- This is my recollection on this subject and it is not certified to be correct.

---- To me this was a case where Kate Martin who had been repeatedly blown off by the District produced a situation where the District had to do something to correct the situation.... This lady does not tolerate fools ... it is about time a director appeared that will get something done.

Sherry Carr hasn't done much ... She has cast votes far too often that ignored evidence in favor of the Rubber Stamp.
Mark T. Weber said…
I’d like to throw my two-cents worth in, if you all don’t mind. First @ Dorothy. Thanks. Those are the nicest words anyone has said about me on this blog.

As for the poll from two days ago, the first thing I noticed is there are no “undecided”. So, either the data is bogus or it is just a poll of voters who have either already sent in their ballots or have at least, already made up their minds. That could leave a large pool of voters out there who still have not made up their minds.

I’ve noticed Kate has gotten a lot more yard signs up and it appears Jack started sticking some up over the weekend. I have couple of problems with yard signs and this is why I didn’t use them. I think it is fine if someone wants to put one in their front yard but when every major intersection starts becoming a forest of yard signs, two things happen. First, it looks like “heck”. Second, to the drivers on the road they begin to blend into the background and after the first or second day lose their effectiveness. Sherry got her signs up early but now with the city council members signs plus Sherry’s, Kate’s and Jack’s, they just become part of the background.

I’ve chosen a different approach which may, or may not prove effective. Only time will tell. I did find it interesting that I was “put down” for using social media on a social media forum though. Did anyone else see the irony in that?

As for my opponents, I like Kate’s passion and she has a reasonably good knowledge of the system. My only concern was her inability to effectively advocate for her son. My wife had a similar problem at Roosevelt with our son over his IEP but was able to advocate for him successfully in a way that didn’t get her thrown off the campus. Passion is great. It fuels the “fire-in-the-belly” but needs to be tempered.

Jack is smart. Of that there is no question, but I often wonder how much of what we read is him or his wife?

I don’t think any of us are capable of beating Sherry in the general. She has fought this battle before and had her materials and team in place long before any of us did. However, one of us will have to give their best effort to do so and David, after all, did beat Goliath many, many years ago.
Fritz said…
Dorothy-"poll data"?

You can't be refering to "helped with poll"'s post.

That a few Carr supporters talked to some of their friends, does not constitute a "poll" in any real political sense.

Really? What was the question? When was it asked (like after a spiel about Sherry)? How were results catagorized? Did "pollers" identify why they were calling? Were they phoning voters? Sherry's old lists of volunteers?

The only statistical analysis that is going to be valid here will take place in the days following August 16th.

PLEASE lets not give any credence to any more "All my friends at Carr headquarters" survey's as anything but BS intended to weaken our will to throw out all 4 incumbents!!!!
Whitney said…
To Mark Weber,

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you might answer yes or no to these questions: (I am an educator in SPS and these are extremely important issues to me):

1. Do you support TFA in Seattle? I must admit this is a litmus test question for me. I'm looking for an unqualified "no." I cannot support any candidate who supports TFA as it is contrary to the basic fact that teachers are professionals.

2. Would you push to eliminate MAP testing, especially at kindergarten and ninth grade? I'm looking for an unqualified "yes."
Kate Martin said…
Sorry to be out of the loop. I was in Montana fulfilling a commitment I had long before I knew I'd have a campaign going on. Apologies to My Green Lake as well.

To clarify the incident about the math teacher at Roosevelt...

My son had been telling me his teacher couldn't teach math and I wasn't listening fully. One day my husband and I got a postcard from this teacher and all it said on it was that my son's smile lit up the classroom every day. (This is the communication I got with my son having an F in the class.) Three times I called Roosevelt to tell them that this teachers phone extension rang to an entirely other school. I did a little digging and found out that this teacher had been on two PIPs and been moved around to several schools. It turns out my son was right. He never could teach math. (He put movies on everyday.) That didn't stop 2 principals from overlooking that and allowing the assignment of over a thousand kids to his classrooms over many years. I requested a new teacher and an explanation of why students would be assigned to a teacher who could not teach math. They didn't have a new teacher for me and so I went to the office and had a stand in.

Mr Vance went on and on about how hard it is to get rid of a teacher. I think that is BS. (Ask John Cummings how long it takes to get rid of a teacher.)

During my stand-in, the student filing the mail for the teachers thanked me and told me he was the worst teacher in the building. As I was being escorted out, another group of students said the same. A legend they called him. Well, I think that's the kind of legend kids should not suffer.

I told the cops who were called that I was armed with my lipstick, my chapstik, and my brain. We had a good chuckle. They found it amusing that at Roosevelt they call 911 when you want a math teacher for your kid who can teach math.

Anyway, I got a new math teacher (Mr Vance told my son at the meeting the next day where I was present that he was doing this in spite of his mother.) Meanwhile I asked the teacher to resign which he did the next day.

That will never make up for the damage that these principals caused to so many students by protecting an egregiously poor teacher.

Additionally, I now know that the teachers were trying to change this situation as well to get rid of this guy. They'd go to Vance and ask him to go stand outside this guy's classroom and listen to the ridiculousness. Still, Vance couldn't get it done. I have zero tolerance for that kind of mismanagement and never will.
"Of that there is no question, but I often wonder how much of what we read is him or his wife?"

Mr. Weber, what is that supposed to mean? Why are you bringing Mr. Whelan's wife into the election? Not good.

I will concur with Kate on this teacher. He was my son's (at the same time but not same class) and it was a fiasco. We tried to get him transferred but so many kids had already done so we were told no. It was pressure from both teachers and parents that finally got the formal process going and this teacher was, indeed, exited from RHS. I applaud Kate for her civil disobedience in standing up for her child.
Anonymous said…
Mark T Weber,

I just read your comment (as of this Monday evening, Aug 1st). It is very thoughtful, and compassionate. I wish there was more from you and where you stand on issues that resonate for me, the TfA contract, MAP, criteria for Teacher and School evaluations, etc.

I went through your web page, Weber4.... Some of It made me feel good, yet empty handed, still feeling little skeptical of what you're about. Then I happened upon this,

"But choice is essential to driving reform because it erodes the union-dominated monopoly that assigns children to schools based on where they live."

Are you saying that the New Student Assignment Plan was pushed through by the "union-dominated monopoly..." the SEA? (You're kidding?...No, you're serious?..!!!!) I thought Steve Sundquist was taking credit for that.

"Unions defend the monopoly to protect jobs for their members, but education should above all serve students and the larger goal of a society in which everyone has an opportunity to prosper."

Teacher organizations, as with any Union, come together as a group to ensure their members are treated fairly and given due process without reprisal. Wouldn't you want that for any employee? Businesses, like the Chamber of Commerce, organize for the common good of their members. And, more importantly, why do you think that Teacher Unions and serving the best interests of students are mutually exclusive? This is the deformed mantra of EdReform.

ken berry
SpEd IA Van Asselt Elem
Mark T. Weber said…
First, @ Whitney.
No, I do not support TFA. In fact, I support the Finnish and Australian model where K-12 teachers must possess an undergraduate degree in their subject area and a Masters of Arts in Education with significant coursework in pedagogy. And then, spend their first year teaching working with a mentor. In the end, this allows the teacher more flexibility in their classroom and, as Marc Tucker wrote in his National Center for Education and the Economy report, “It is essential for high-performing countries to trust its teachers, but it had better have teachers it can trust.”

Yes, I would push to eliminate MAP testing. Again, going to other systems that are successful such as Finland and Australia, they do very, very little standardized testing but instead, rely on the teacher for proper assessment.

Second, @ Ken Berry.
I have no problem with the SEA except when it defends a sub-standard teacher or blocks higher requirements of teachers. Going back to Finland and Australia. Teachers are paid about double what they are paid in the US. And that’s how it should be. Teaching is an honorable profession and teachers should be paid accordingly. But on the other side of the coin, more should be expected.
Mark T. Weber said…
@ Ken Berry,

"But choice is essential to driving reform because it erodes the union-dominated monopoly that assigns children to schools based on where they live."

I was not able to quickly find in my notes where I got that information. If my information is incorrect, I apololize.

From my point of view, the District is beinbg managed by bandaid and we need someone on the Board who will take the long-view approach.

I think we need to get the stakeholders together and determine where we want our district to be in ten years. Do we want to be back up in the top five countries(or at least Seattle)? If so, what does that look like?

Once that has been determined, we can set in place the strategies, planning, timelines, and milestones that must be met to get there. Part of that planning needs to be securing a secure funding stream either through the legisature, the business community, but probably both.

But how that looks needs to be determined by the stakeholders. That information can be obtained through townhall meetings, surveies, and simply sitting down with people and listening.

I may be arrogant but not so much I believe I am always right and that I know it all. I have my ideas but try to keep my mind open to new ideas, processes, and ways of doing things.

We need true leadership. We need to change the culture of the district. There certainly are problems that need immediate attention, but we also need to look to the future, set SMART goals, and then strive to obtain them.
Anonymous said…
Kate -- thank you for your complete explanation of the incident with the math teacher. I wouldn't have had the courage to fight that battle, and I'm glad there are people like you who do.

Jan said…
Teacher organizations, as with any Union, come together as a group to ensure their members are treated fairly and given due process without reprisal. Wouldn't you want that for any employee? Businesses, like the Chamber of Commerce, organize for the common good of their members. And, more importantly, why do you think that Teacher Unions and serving the best interests of students are mutually exclusive? This is the deformed mantra of EdReform.

All true, Ken. I agree that teachers legitimately want/need some way to protect themselves from capricious and spiteful principals. In private schools, the way this is often done is that the parents know very well who teaches well and who doesn't, and if the school director is a jerk, the Board sides with the parents (who pay tuition) and the teacher, and the School Director either backs down, or leaves. But public school parents do not have that luxury -- especially in large districts, where the problems at any given school are not ever going to be enough to emperil the Supe -- who hires the principals. And the boards of private schools know very well that a bad head of school can destroy the place, as parents withdraw their kids, close their checkbooks, etc. (And I do not claim that teachers are never unfairly fired from private schools. They are -- but there IS a mechanism that can help that public schools don't have).

None of these mechanisms exist at public schools. THAT is why Kate Martin had her showdown at Roosevelt. My problem with teachers unions is that the parties NOT at the table are the kids and the parents. So, when teachers advocate for more job security than is reasonable, or weak, cumbersome displine/review systems, all in the name of job security (not an inherently evil thing -- but one that can have unintended consequences) they often get them. Just reread Kate's story of the Roosevelt math teacher. Why was this person being passed from school to school? Why did Roosevelt agree to take him?

One of the things that frustrates me is that I thought the union and the District were making real progress on evaluation/retention schemes that were more flexible (without leaving teachers unprotected) when MGJ jumped in last summer with her top-down ed reform plan, and knocked the process off the rails. But that was classic MGJ.

I do think, though, that just like TfA turned into an organization that mostly wants to perpetuate itself, so do unions -- and just like TfA, they use spin and slogans and half truth. In many cases, unions don't want the 'dots connected' between what they say and what they do (and the results of their policies) any more than TfA does. Now -- I confess that I don't really know much about the SEA, other than a few anecdotes that would suggest that they are not terribly effective when teachers need them most, and that they have not been particularly nimble or insightful in dealing with the Ed Reform push -- but I really don't know. I am speaking much more generically about what I think is one of the most difficult issues in public service -- whether to have unions, how to protect employees from supervisory misconduct without them, and how to deal with the corrosive effects of having unions in systems where the customers have no other choices.
Amy Duncan said…
The My Green Lake post now includes a statement from Kate Martin:

Whitney said…
To Mark Weber,
Thank you so much for your direct, unequivocal answers to my two questions. Your straight answers are refreshing and much appreciated! I am a fan of the Finland model myself.
Thank you again

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