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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Open Thread for School Board Candidates

Dear Candidates,

Readers are interested in getting to know you so please either give us a short stump speech or answer questions that readers may put forth in this thread.

Thanks!

FYI, director district maps are located at the bottom of the School Board page.  

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this opportunity Melissa. Hope your blog readers had a great 4th. I'm off to a day of campaigning and will post later today. Meantime, folks can "like" my campaign on Facebook or find me via my campaign website

Michelle Buetow
Candidate District III

Mark T. Weber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark T. Weber said...

The culture within our schools should be one of true excellence and high expectations of our teachers, staff, parents and students. The most important thing we need to change is the culture of the school district and without that change, all the plans, goals and ideas put forth by the School Board and my opponents won't do a bit of good if the culture of the district remains toxic.

School culture has been shown to create solidarity and meaning and inspire commitment and productivity. Where a positive school culture is clearly established and there is congruence about maintaining its positive features, schools can move forward and flourish more easily. It is the foundation on which changes to classrooms can occur so that students can better develop productive behaviors and resilience. This is my main goal and one I will work hard at changing.

I believe the Seattle Public Schools central office should become the Stanford School Support Center. The primary mission of the Support Center should be to ensure that every school is striving to be a Twenty-first Century school. This means that students must attain high standards of knowledge through a balanced curriculum which encompasses the eight key learning areas:

The arts (including drama and music)
English
health and physical education
languages other than English
mathematics
science
studies of society and environment
technology.
Schools must fully develop the talents and capacities of all students including:

analytical, communication and organizational skills
self-confidence and high self-esteem
responsibility and decision-making skills
employment-related skills
the skills to confidently use new technologies.
In addition, students should have the skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They should have an understanding of the natural environment, and the knowledge to contribute to ecologically sustainable development.

Schools must also develop students socially with an acknowledgement of the value of cultural and linguistic diversity and the benefit of multiculturalism in America.

I will be out of town this afternoon through Sunday and again the 12th through the 19th. If you ask a question and I don’t respond right away, that is why.

dan dempsey said...

Here is who is running

Note: the above also has a link to the voter's pamphlet.

As of now, I believe these folks are still running for Director:

John Cummings

*Peter Maier** +

Sharon Peaslee

---------------

Jack Whelan

Mark T. Weber

*Sherry Carr** +

Kate Martin

-----------------

John Dunn

David Blomstrom

*Harium Martin-Morris**

Michelle Buetow

-------------------

Nick Esparza

Marty McLaren

*Steve Sundquist** +

Joy Anderson
---------------

* = incumbent director elected in 2007
** = incompetent incumbent

+ = spent more than $100,000 during 2007 campaign

----------------------
The four Directors elected in 2007 spent slightly more than $500,000 during their 2007 campaigns.

Jack Whelan said...

Jack Whelan, Pos. 2, here. For fuller development of my ideas and the issues facing SPS, go to my campaign website: http://afterthefuture.typepad.com/jack_whelan_for_school_bo/ But here are the main themes:

First, I am ardently anti-education reform. I'm against TFA, charter schools, union busting, high-stakes testing, NCLB, race to the top, etc, and so forth. Read my posts for more details.

Second, I don't trust the judgment of many of the current incumbents, Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier, and Sherry Carr in particular. They have shown repeatedly that their votes align with the ed reform agenda, and they have shown that they cannot manage their their technical oversight responsibilities effectively. I know it's a tough job, but I know I can do better and will do better.

Third, I think that the most important thing the new board is going to do is hire a superintendent. The current board is ok with Susan Enfield; I am not. I'm sure we can do better, and I want to make sure we open the process up, and find someone who is not tainted by the ed-reform agenda and its corporate, top-down management style. If we can find someone local, great. If not, then open it up for a nation-wide search.

Fourth, I don't believe in quick fixes. I believe in getting people with their heads screwed on right into the right positions downtown. I'm for doing everything possible to improve the competency and quality of the work done by district managers, but it starts with having the right values and vision. And improvement cannot be measured by some narrow reading/math metric. It's absurd. It's all about building local vibrant learning communities not communities of test takers.

But I'll be developing these ideas in greater detail on the campaign blog over the next several weeks.

sharpeas said...

Thank you for this opportunity. I'm posting a 2 minute speech with a link to my website at the bottom. Please feel free to post questions here.
Sharon Peaslee
Candidate, District 1

I have a Masters degree in Education, 2 teaching credentials and 2 children in Seattle Public Schools. I’m running for School Board because I feel changes are urgently necessary to be sure all children have what they need to succeed. I’m deeply disturbed that so many students in our district are failing.

We need to devote our resources exclusively to helping students learn and be sure no more money is squandered on hidden agendas and programs that don’t work. If elected I will take on these critical issues:

• Change the district’s one-size-fits-all approach to success-for-all. This means supporting many pathways to success and meeting the learning needs of all students. We need effective remediation for students who have fallen behind, and equally effective acceleration for students who want to move ahead faster.

• Stop blaming teachers for the achievement gap and give them the tools and latitude they need to effectively teach all students. I will be sure teachers have clear, explicit texts and proven computer learning programs they can use to teach all students. I will be sure they have the freedom to do whatever works for their students.

• Transform the top-down culture into one that works in genuine partnership with school communities. I will be sure you are involved in making capacity, curriculum, funding and other decisions that impact your schools and children.

I’ve been an education activist for many years, working at the state level to improve math standards that were adopted in 2008
I led the communities of Lake Washington and Bellevue School Districts in demanding better math curricula, and we won. I worked to improve home schooling policies in Bellevue, giving parents more options for their children. I co-founded Fast Track Math, a non-profit after school program.

I’m a proactive, creative problem solver and I know how to work with communities to develop good ideas and then make them happen. Together we can make Seattle School District one of the best.

To find out more please go to my website: SharonPeasleeforSchoolBoard.com.

Jack Whelan said...

Jack Whelan, Pos. 2, here. For fuller development of my ideas and the issues facing SPS, go to my campaign website: http://afterthefuture.typepad.com/jack_whelan_for_school_bo/ But here are the main themes:

First, I am ardently anti-education reform. I'm against TFA, charter schools, union busting, high-stakes testing, NCLB, race to the top, etc. Read my posts for more details.

Second, I don't trust the judgment of many of the current incumbents, Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier, and Sherry Carr in particular. They have shown repeatedly that their votes align with the ed reform agenda, and they have shown that they cannot manage their technical oversight responsibilities effectively. I know it's a tough job, but I know I can do better and will do better.

Third, I think that the most important thing the new board is going to do is hire a superintendent. The current board is ok with Susan Enfield; I am not. I'm sure we can do better, and I want to make sure we open the process up, and find someone who is not tainted by the ed-reform agenda and its corporate, top-down management style. If we can find someone local, great. If not, then open it up for a nation-wide search.

Fourth, I don't believe in quick fixes for complex human, cultural, and historical problems. I believe in getting people with their heads screwed on right into the right positions downtown. I'm for doing everything possible to improve the competency and quality of the work done by district managers, but it starts with having the right values and vision. And improvement cannot be measured by some narrow reading/math metric. It's absurd. It's all about building local vibrant learning communities not communities of test takers.

But I'll be developing these ideas in greater detail on the campaign blog over the next several weeks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm Marty McLaren; I'm running for School Board position 6 in West Seattle. I'm the parent of three adult children who all attended Seattle Public Schools; my grandson is currently enrolled.


In the fall of 2002, I was very excited to be teaching 7th grade math at Denny Middle School. I was excited because I had my own classroom in my own neighborhood, with the new style of textbooks. That year, and the next year, my students worked really, really hard to master the content of those texts, and I worked hard too. But when it was all over, less than half of them passed the math WASL, not just at Denny, but at Madison, Aki Kurose, and McClure – throughout the district.


Something was terribly wrong – and it wasn't the students; it was the textbooks chosen by district leaders, approved by the School Board. Trying to learn with those texts was like being set down in the middle of Cairo, without a map.


I began to testify before the school board in favor of adopting sane, coherent math curriculum. Other people – scientists, parents, teachers, professors, were saying the same thing – adopt math texts that give clear examples and build understanding step by step. so that students gain confidence in their mastery.


And what did the School Board do? They blew us all off, in meeting after meeting. They went on to put the same inadequate styles of texts and teaching methods into our elementary, middle, and, on the current board's watch, into our high schools. And, I saw something else: While we were testifying about math, other informed citizens were challenging the school district's school closure process; the New Student Assignment Plan, bringing in novice recruits in a contract with Teach For America – and many other important policies. And what did the School Board do? They blew them all off, over and over again.


As a School Board member, I will examine the effects of district policies and structures, in order to support what's working and eliminate what's not. I will provide rigorous oversight to insure we're putting our money into well managed programs and textbooks with proven value. I will push for full information to flow freely, and early, from the district to the public. Top down management by district leadership has not worked; I intend to find authentic ways to bring the guidance and wisdom of the community back into our schools, so that every school can offer a world-class education to all our students.


We can reclaim our schools, so that every student can have a world-class education. I am Marty McLaren. I ask for your vote and I ask for your support.


(Marty had a hard time posting and asked me to post this for her.MW)

Anonymous said...

Just wondering - why would a sitting director want to post on a site that allows someone like Dan Dempsey to insult and name-call without checks?

I wouldn't.

What happened to the civility/no name-calling policy that used to be in place here?

mom of 4 in sps

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Mom of 4,

That would be a director who could
articulately demonstrate Dan to be
wrong. A director who could lay out
a set of facts that show they are
steering their district in the
right direction with the help of
the parents they represent. You
know, a director who can take the
moral high ground based a proven
tack record of caring for each and every child's education, understanding
the complex dynamics involved with
a very diverse demographic.

The simple fact of the matter is
the gang of four will not post since
they know they cannot spin their
failures into success to an
educated forum. They cannot prove
Dan wrong on the facts he presents.
Instead they will be relying on the
hope most people don't care about
school board elections and assume
the incumbent is doing just fine.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll go back and check but I haven't seen Dan call them names. I have read his blunt language calling them out for what he believes is poor judgment.

Civility in public discussion can be in the eye of the beholder. Seattle Nice would dictate that you NEVER disagree with any elected official without saying, "excuse me" or "thank you for letting me speak." Most elected officials know that blunt talk comes with the territory.

Again, I'll recheck Dan's posts.

Ok then said...

Calling someone incompetent sounds like name calling, but that's really tame compared to some of Dan's posts, so I don't expect his post to be pulled.

To steal a quote about a famous baseball player: That's just Dan being Dan. He's excused from being civil.

Anonymous said...

I am just an occasional reader, but I have not seen any name calling, and I find the strong opinions expressed to be interesting and enlightening. I think if we worry too much about being overly "nice," we all lose out -

- just a reader

Anonymous said...

I'm with "concernedSPSParent." Dan's posts and passionate, but he clearly cares and thinks things through. I think debate is good -

- just a thought

Charlie Mas said...

I don't regard "incompetent" as name-calling. It reflects on the quality of their work and it can be proven or disproven. It can be discussed in a way that "poo-breath" cannot be.

There are hallmarks of compentence which the current board Directors have not met.

Questioning said...

Here's a question for any who care to answer, but I'd really like to hear from Marty, Joy Anderson and Sharon Peaslee, because their "claim to fame" involves direct opposition to district decisions in the form of lawsuits or in Sharon's case, working with a group in favor of lawuits against the district.

QUESTION: If elected, you will find yourself working with people who not only support positions opposing your own, but who possibly helped put into place the very things you've advocated (or sued) against. How will you reconcile yourself to this?

My fear as a parent is that people who have been passionate activists and are still engaged in lawsuits against the district may not be able to work with those they have long worked against once they are directors, resulting in paralysis. I'm not sure but I think that would be worse than what we have right now.

mirmac1 said...

Is calling someone an empty suit an insult? Just askin'

Meg said...

Questioning: knee jerk opposition would be a shame, and unproductive. But automatic rubber-stamping, which is what a majority of board members currently do, isn't helping district students, and I think has, on a number of fronts, hurt public education in Seattle.

What I wonder is this: can any board, no matter how thoughtful, unified and motivated, change the culture of SPS's entrenched bureaucracy? Probably not, unless district management is as motivated to change the culture (and reduce the personnel) as the board is.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Dan Dempsey when he ran for School Board. I'm sure he would have done a better job than any of these [insulting remark] current board members.

I read Dan's posts and appreciate his opinions.

-Math mom

Anonymous said...

Blog readers: Here is a bit about my priorities as well as some background on why I’m running for school board. Thank you….Michelle Buetow Candidate District III...

(Part I)
I have watched Seattle Public Schools since the days of Superintendent Kendrick (predating John Stanford) -- first as a community journalist, then as a homeowner/taxpayer, then as a parent w/ 2 young children in SPS. During these years we have had many, many examples of both outstanding academic leadership and student success stories within our system. Yet overall, the reputation and the reality of the District remains mired in mediocrity.

In contrast to major urban areas throughout the U.S. dealing with struggling public school systems 20 times our size, Seattle has the tools for a top-notch District. Seattle as a city is relatively young in both its history and demographic makeup. Taken as a whole demographically, it is well-educated and economically successful. Our political establishment generally values the diversity of its citizens’ backgrounds, beliefs and lifestyles. We are blessed with a voting taxpayer base that strongly supports public education, and throughout the city, individual families feel strong affinities for their school communities. And still, local news and editorial pages as well as parent playground conversations feature a looping story of a school system in disarray. One that has not managed its programs and monies with professionalism. One that has not placed a priority in engaging all communities in its governance. One that has not provided an excellent education to all of our students.

Local education activists rightly worry about the Opportunity (Achievement) Gap, as do I. But the need for Seattle to insist on a better public school system even transcends kids in the classroom. The future of Seattle -- its livability and viability -- rests on the necessity of offering a strong public school system.

The ability to drive these changes should not rest with any single superintendent. Throughout the U.S. the tenure of urban superintendents is notoriously short -- 3-4 years is typical. It is the SPS Board that should be modeling strong governance, oversight and community engagement. As a knowledgeable community advocate, who was working with SPS for a better system long before my own children entered school, I have a front-row-view understanding that the place to affect dramatic change sits at the Board level. Our current Board is certainly well-intentioned, but there is room for improvement. This is why I am running for District III on the SPS Board of Directors.

Anonymous said...

(Part II of Michelle's backgrounder...)


I care about the issues affecting this District. Our kids. Our city. I will be a strong, independent board member who will be resolute in working for more accountability to parents and communities. I will work to eliminate what The Seattle Times has described as the District’s “grim reputation for sloppy stewardship of tax dollars.” I will work to establish a more collaborative relationship between District leadership and teachers and paraprofessionals.

Academically, I want to see coherent programs, with prioritization in funding, that ensure students read at grade level by Grade 3. Our District also desperately needs strong intervention programs to help individual struggling students. Our special education services need much work, as does our commitment to some stability in our APP programming. We have a unique system of alternative schools in our District, and we should bolster the programs that are receiving high marks from our families… the arts, language immersion, project-based learning and STEM need thoughtful stewardship in bringing the programs to more families throughout Seattle.

Our District needs to be much more collaborative. State and federal funding is not enough to sustain District operations. By respecting parents as core stakeholders in governance decisions, and through Board-driven community relations programs, we can involve more Seattleites in improving our schools. We must partner with government and neighborhoods to resolve school capacity challenges. Addressing the Opportunity Gap will take more, and stronger, relationships with not-for-profits and local government to provide academic and human service support.


To summarize this long post, we can do better. With Board vision and community backing supporting our school professionals, it can happen. But we have a long way to go. I have energy, persistence, leadership and communications skills. I would appreciate your support for my campaign, and I encourage you to become knowledgeable and active around one or two public education issues that interest you, on behalf of creating an exceptional Seattle Public School District.

Charlie Mas said...

I just endorsed Michelle Buetow on her web site.

LaCrese Green said...

Thanks a million, Melissa and Charlie and whoever for this opportunity to challenge the candidates. Oh, Glory!

(No name calling so I promise to keep it civil if possible!)

As far as Dan Dempsey, I voted for him and proud to do so, but as the bible says, "Father's provoke not your children to anger."

Since the board is in authority over our heads, they have for the last 8 years continually provoked thoughts that I was ashamed of, as well as, an unChristian attitude toward all of them.

David prayed, "Let not the rod of the wicked reign over the righteous lest he put forth his hands to do evil."

It seems some have bent over backwards to justify the action of the Board and administration. But will it hold up?

For example, I say, it was a very wicked, mean-spirited thing to do for the Board to close schools with the end result overcrowding at every school and now the board tells us nothing can be done or it will take an eternity before relief will come? If that's not wicked, what is? And what greater crime can there be against education than overcrowding?

This is just one example of the poor judgment of the board where they couldn't even see beyond the end of their noses.

Most alarming, the BIble says; "If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do? And the foundation is the law. Furthermore, the law is the end of all discussion.

Well, as long as we had a law or policy and as long as there was one on the board willing to uphold the law, which all swore to do; we had some leverage, but with the last two boards they've even changed the policies and now an incumbent wants to be reelected for the feeble excuse that he wants to finish changing all policies. Heaven forbids!

LaCrese Green said...

What's wrong with this District is this: WE THE PEOPLE HAVE NO SAY.

And look at the results.

If the board had gone by the Majority -- And I mean when they knew what the overwhelming majority was as in the case of school closures, co-location of Denny and Sealth, math adoption, etc.,

Going back for the last 8 years, if the board had gone by the majority, what difference would it have made in this District? As I see it:

IF THE BOARD HAD GONE BY THE MAJORITY, ALL OF THE CRISES NOW FACING THE DISTRICT WOULD'VE BEEN PREVENTED.

How did we get so far off? The attitude that being elected freed them to do as they pleased for the next four years is what did it. But no! The elected receive their just powers from the consent of the governed. And consent is determined by the majority on any issue where consensus is taken.

Shall we continue to elect those who are not on the same page as the majority? I say not.

Who shall we elect then? I say it's crucial to elect only those who represent We the People. Those who will represent the majority view in how they vote and conduct the District's business. Those who will not impose their views if it conflicts with the majority.

If implemented, would this insure greater tranquility and improve educational opportunities for our students?

LaCrese Green said...

Per their websites, etc., the attitude of most candidates appears to be similar to Mr. Mark Weber, who said... “Actually, I care very much about the people I would really serve and that’s the students of the district. Not the parents, not the teachers, and certainly not the staff at the Stanford Center.”

My concerns:

Children are not wards of the Board nor the District, as some suppose. Children are “wards,” if you please, of their biological parents. Therefore, DO NOTHING FOR MY KID WITHOUT FIRST COMING THROUGH ME.

Telling a kid you don’t care about his parents? A grave concern is this: “Destroy a man in the eyes of his biological kid and you’ve destroyed the kid.”

Also, until a child reaches the age of majority, I the parent handle his business, eh? I vote, not the child. I pay taxes, not the child. Why then disregard me and play like you care about a minor? To do so is biting the hands that feed you.

Another thing and as I see it, the teacher is the backbone of the school, so why is the head saying I have no need of thee?

To sum it up: If not for the parents, teachers and staff, then there’d be no kids, no teacher to hold classes, and no staff to write checks, etc..

Therefore, let all candidates beware: Either work with us three – parents, teachers and staff -- or no vote from LaCrese Green.

Mark T. Weber said...

La Crese,
I’ve gone a couple of Meet & Greets now and have stopped going because all I hear is “what are you going to do for my kid”.

Management by consensus does not work. Yes, you need to get input from parents, teachers and staff but the overriding determining factor in any decision should be “what is best for the students”.

Another question asked is how are you going to address the achievement gap? My response is, “do you mean within the district or Seattle compared to the rest of the world?” The reality of the situation, whether you want to admit it or not is, we’ are being left in the dust by the rest of the civilized world.

So, you tell me. Do you know how we compare to the rest of the world? Do you care? And who is the “majority”? The majority on the board or the majority of your friends?

True leadership seeks counsel and input, looks at what the end goal is, but sometimes has to make unpopular decisions to achieve that goal.

LaCrese Green said...

Mr. Weber says: At Meet and Greet I get, "What are you going to do for my kid?"

After advertising that your only concern is: "What is best for the students?" What other question could they ask?

(Let me know where the next Meet and Greet is and I promise I don't ask any questions, I will tell you what you can and can't do with my child.)

Seriously, their question makes my heart bleed because the current boards are so far out of touch they've made beggars out of society. (The elected is the public servant, not viz versa, so why should I gravel to you?)


You need to get a notepad and attend every Meet and Greet that you can. Write name of parent, school and grade of child and ask three questions:

1. What does your child need? Write the answer.

2. Why isn't the need being met currently? Write the answer and check it out to be sure they're correct.

3. How can you as a board member supply that need? It'd be best to get their suggestion since you don't seem to have a clue.

Paragraph one down, four more to go.

Mark T. Weber said...

La Crese,
Okay, here is your opportunity and please be as specific as you can.

1. What does your child need?

2. Why isn't the need being met currently?

3. How can I as a board member supply that need?

LaCrese Green said...

I am a teacher and have no children. But give me time to prepare my list for my students.

Thanks for asking.

LaCrese Green said...

Mr. Weber says, “Management by consensus does not work.”

Would you care to elaborate? And I’m sincere for I can’t imagine consensus not working. Thomas Jefferson implied it worked beautifully and the Washington state Constitution says that the elected govern by the consent of the people and the law is the end of all discussion. But since you say it doesn’t work, please, justify your proposition.

Mr. Weber says, “Yes, you need to get input, but --- “

Why pick my brain if you’re not going to use my advice? And what’s the need when you will decide, “What’s best for the students?”

In essence, you’ve said that you know better and have the interest of kids more at heart than parents or teachers. Would you care to confirm that?

What you’re doing Mr. Weber is usurping authority over parents and teachers, just as a silly woman “thinks” she can run the household better than her husband when God qualified him to do the job, not her. (I agree there are exceptions to all rules, but you're not one of them.)

Achievement gap coming up.

Mark T. Weber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark T. Weber said...

La Crese,
First of all, enough with the Biblical references.

You stated, "In essence, you’ve said that you know better and have the interest of kids more at heart than parents or teachers. Would you care to confirm that?"

I don't claim to know better but if the decision comes down what's best for the teacher as opposed to what's best for the student. Guess what? You lose.

I'm leaving for Chicago in an hour. We can continuethis next week.

LaCrese Green said...

Mr. Weber, I do not wish to communicate with a person who does not want to hear what the Bible says.

I will not be back.

Mark T. Weber said...

La Crese,
I would hardly call what we were doing communicating.

It was more you making accusations and me responding. I gave you plenty of opportunities to tell me what YOU think but instead you continued to attack. I started thinking I was having a conversation with a teapartyer.

But just so you know, I am a strong believer, very active in my Church but since this is a public school system, I prefer to leave theology out of it.