Open Thread Friday

And here we are on the last Friday of July.  Times flies. 

Director Patu is having a Community Meeting tomorrow from 10 am to noon at the Tully's at Rainier Ave South/Genesee.

Our household received its ballots for the primary.  I know sometimes it can be hard to speak up on political issues so here's one suggestion.  Send out an e-mail to friends and family who will be voting and just let them know that you are keeping up on the School Board races and if they need any help, to ask.  Or, if you are brave just send them an e-mail with your picks and why you think it is important. 

You'd be surprised how in the dark many people are on the subject of School Board elections.  Help them out.


Anonymous said…

Are you sure Betty has a meeting tomorrow? The SPS website says it is not until August 10th.

Betty fan
Dorothy Neville said…
This is the Save our Schools Weekend march in Washington DC.

I have recently found very good teacher blog, James Boutin's Urban Teacher's Education. He is at the march and wrote about yesterday's events here.

Here's an excerpt:

the two TFA alums [2000-2002]told me that they'd lost faith in the mission of TFA. One said that when she went through the program, she was told that TFA intended to work itself out of existence, by making it fashionable for talented people to go into and stay in education. She seemed frustrated when she said she didn't hear that anymore. Both alums said they thought Wendy Kopp was arrogant and were generally disappointed in the direction education policy in the country has been headed.
Anonymous said…
I'm a regular contributor in the comments and read a lot about education, and am at a complete loss about who to vote for. I felt a a sigh of fatigue when the ballots came in the mail yesterday because I rally don't know what to do.

So, what should I do? What are you doing? And, don't worry, I won't blindly follow anyone. But, I would like to know who the people who I've been reading here are going to "endorse."

I've heard that one candidate is generally opposed to alternative education (can't remember who) and I am troubled by the lack of oversight & allegiance to outside interests of some members of the current board. But, I'm scared of challengers I don't know enough about. I'm in favor of continuity and think that school board members (like teachers and everyone else) learn a lot by trying to do the job.

Anonymous said…
Hey, can anyone fill in the details about another lawsuit that the SSD lost this week where the jury awarded $500,000 damages because of retaliation concerning a prevailing wages claim? Thanks

Yup, the website has July 30th for Betty's meeting.

ZB, I'm going to put my personal endorsements up either today or tomorrow. I hear your concerns and I'll try to address them. In the meantime, maybe others have something to offer?
Trying said…
I am a frequent reader but rarely post. I teach in Seattle and appreciate the timely information posted on this blog. Thanks. I thought your readers might be interested in the recent partnership of the Seventh Generation Co. and TFA.

I guess I'll have to be careful about the products I buy!

- Seattle teacher
Anonymous said…
My suggestion would be to reach out to each candidate and ask the questions that are most important to you. That's what I did. In my case, I found John Cummings, District 1 challenger, to be extremely open and honest, and generous with the time he gave to answer my questions. The challengers, in most cases, are working on shoestring budgets (at best) and have few, if any, campaign staff members.

I sent him an email to, and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he responded. Sharon also has email and is, I'm sure, equally accessible. If you are in another district, contact the challengers. I feel strongly that we need to get rid of the incumbents. Because they have more dollars available to make transparent attempts to defend their failures, the people who can really make a difference struggle to get out their important messages. Let's help them out!

Seattle Reader
Anonymous said…
Some random thoughts...

Math curriculum continues to be a concern for me and I would like to see a candidate that takes the issue seriously. I don't think it's being a one-issue candidate to highlight the problems with math - it's a glaring problem that some current Board members have only exacerbated or ignored.

I also hesitate to vote for candidates that post on the blog with misspellings, or have their own blog sprinkled with swear words and random rants, or just seem too polarizing. Being passionate about education isn't enough if you disenfranchise staff and can't be professional or negotiate with other Board members.

Ideally, those running for Board are focused on ensuring the District is being fiscally responsible, following state and federal laws, and making decisions that truly are in the best interest of students.

two cents
Anonymous said…
@ (C.O)

Say what???????? Give!

dan dempsey said…
ZB...Here are my thoughts on the elections.

#1 Under no circumstances vote for an incumbent.

#2 Sharon Peaslee, despite what the Times missed has extensive preparation in Education (degree and certification in NY State)

I do not know John Cummings.

#3 Kate Martin has been involved in school activism for quite some time. As Charlie has pointed out the role and actions of an activist are different than that of a Director. Kate will make that transition very well. Note Kate has been devoting about 20 hrs. a week to public activism for many years. Check out Kate's

#4 Michelle Buetow has adequate knowledge of the issues and would be a much better decision-maker than any of the current incumbents seeking reelection. Jack Whelan also would be a good decision maker.

#5 I know everyone running in WS. Marty McLaren has a great deal of experience in Seattle Education. She is a calm reasoned voice on a variety of issues. I think she would be an excellent director. Joy Anderson has been very involved on a variety of SPS issues and is hardly a "one issue" candidate. It should be noted that both Marty and Joy have actively resisted the "District" on a number of occasions. Candidate #4 Nick I only met recently.

It would be great if folks who have done in depth analysis on the candidates running in their district.... would write their analysis. .... I certainly look forward to what Melissa and Charlie are thinking.
Trying, I have a media request into Seventh Generation on this issue with TFA. They are trying to raise a modest $10K with their effort (like TFA is a poor and struggling non-profit) when they just got $50M from Walmart.

I'm thinking TFA is doing some sort of "push" to get money AND look as American as, well, Walmart.
Sahila said…
If you are interested in pushing back against the ed deform agenda and standing in solidarity with the SAVE OUR SCHOOLS MARCH happening in DC on Saturday, check this Seattle event out:

Found This said…
Sharon Peaslee has responded to Seattle Times Endorsement:

It's disturbing that Seattle Times diminished the qualifications of those of us who are running against the incumbents. They tagged me as a writer, leaving out the fact that I have an MA in Education, two teaching credentials, and that I've been an education activist for many years. I worked at the state level to help improve WA math standards that were adopted in 2008. I led communities in Lake Washington and Bellevue School Districts in demanding better math curricula, and we won. I successfully pushed for improved home schooling policies in Bellevue. I co-founded Fast Track Math, a non-profit after school program. And I wrote and managed the online petition to rehire Martin Floe, Principal of Ingraham High School. Please go to my website to find out more:

I'm running because we need to do a much better job protecting public assets. And we need to devote them exclusively to helping all students, including those who are struggling and failing. We need many more pathways to success. School Board directors should represent and advocate for their constituents. We need to genuinely engage school communities in developing programs and making major decisions that impact our schools and children. This is why I'm running. I think I'll do a much better job than the incumbent
Charlie Mas said…
I live in District VII, represented by Betty Patu and there is no primary in my district in this election.

I don't know the challengers as well as I would like to, but I don't want any of the incumbents to return.

In the primary we only vote for candidates within our district, so you only have two or three challengers to learn about. They all have web sites and email and they have all been responsive. Ask them about the issues of greatest concern to you. They will answer.
dan dempsey said…
Here are the candidates approved by Where's the Math?
Tracy @ WSB said…
Anyone interested in the District 6 race might be interested to watch our video from the West Seattle Candidates' Forum (organized by a coalition of community/neighborhood groups in WS) last night. All four candidates participated. As I noted in my accompanying text, Steve Sundquist said something I hadn't heard before - he thinks TWO schools will be reopened in West Seattle in the years ahead.
Inside as well said…
We think its a maintenance worker who MGJ's (Ron English, Fred Stephens, Brent Jones, Howard Pripas) crowd did what they did ("do" in English's case)to.

Part of the atmosphere of fear that Ron, have come to represent. The thought of him as General Counsel means its not over yet and many of us are scared to death to say boo about it.

If we are right, it's another loss for new "boy wonder" Kevin O'Neil in Legal.

Where do they keep finding these lawyers? He seems cut from the Ron English "school" of law as well.
Inside as well said…
My last post was to (C.O.).

That O'Neil guy is going to learn that you can't fool all the people all the time.
Anonymous said…
To: Inside as well said...

The "atmosphere of fear" that you refer to seems to permeate the entire institution (though I think you have listed some of the main players). From what I hear, the most recent court case included a "conspiracy to retaliate" by the district toward the employee. How can people work in such an atmosphere and why is district money being spent to defend this oppressive attitude by management? Isn't "school district" money better spent on actually educating our children?!?

Inside as well said…
Hey C.O.

You'd have to look to the (TGI Interim) General Counsel for the answer to that one.

I think its called "damage control" aka "CYA".

Mr. English is very sensative and has been known to be happy to defend (himself) at all costs.

What did the stooges used to say?: "I'll fight to the last drop of your blood". That's you, Mr. Taxpayer.
Jan said…
This is -- front and square -- a board issue. While it has gone on for years -- the board could claim plausible deniability until the Potter scandal -- and the investigative report they requested (and got). At this point, it is the Board's responsibility to demand that the interim Superintendent address this issue. If she cannot (because she is too "inside"), then they either need to replace her (not her fault if her association with the old bad guys renders her ineffective -- but if she can't, then she can't -- and this MUST be corrected) OR they need to find someone from OUTSIDE who can lead this charge -- and who reports to them, not Dr. E.

Board? Are you listening? We will NOT have reasonably run schools if the atmosphere inside is toxic with fear, retaliation, recrimination, and secrecy. Fix this!

WV says "Chastu"-it!
Inside said…
Mr. English should have gone with MGJ, Kennedy, Stephens and Potter.

No matter who he threatens to sue for saying so.

Only then can we truly turn the page and Enfield stand on her own merit.
Anonymous said…
"Only then can we truly turn the page and Enfield stand on her own merit."

What "merit" would that be?

-- Dan D
off topic said…
The West Seattle candidate forum alluded to advertising on school buses.

The first reading of Senate Bill 5220 was Jan 18, 2011. It seemed to have died in the Senate, then the bill was “reintroduced and retained in present status” on April 26, 2011. The full wording is as follows:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 46.61 RCW to read as follows:

(1) The rules of the state superintendent of public instruction under RCW 46.61.380 governing the marking of school buses shall allow school districts to place advertising and educational material on and in school buses if such advertising and education material is approved by the school district board of directors. The advertising and educational material shall not be placed on the front or rear of a school bus.
(2) Revenue received by the school district for the school bus advertising and educational material shall be deposited in the school district's general fund or transportation vehicle fund.

From what I can gather, it was originally introduced as Senate Bill 6466.
Anonymous said…
If anyone knows which candidate is "generally opposed to alt ed" (or if that is true) I would appreciate that info. I am also curious about people's opinions about candidates in district 6 and district 2. Thanks.

seattle mom
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?

Sahila said…
HUGE Save our Schools event in DC yesterday.... around 8,000 at the rally and march....

Smaller events around the country...

Save Our Schools March (Seafair) Seattle Saturday 30 July 2011:

eattle Save Our Schools
dan dempsey said…
Los Angeles Times

The Myth of the Extraordinary Teacher

----I've been thinking about the challenges of teaching a large and diverse class in a new context lately. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said that, in his view, the billions spent in the U.S. to reduce class size was a bad idea. Many countries with high academic achievement, he noted, have accepted larger class sizes to pay talented teachers more and concentrate larger numbers of kids with the best teachers. "The best thing you can do," he said recently in an interview with Andrea Mitchell, "is get children in front of an extraordinary teacher."

That's a common viewpoint at the moment. Every day I see data showing that in countries such as Japan and South Korea, students score higher in reading and math, often with larger classes, and that the U.S. has spent a tremendous amount of money reducing class size to little effect.

But a huge percentage of students in Japan and South Korea pay for after-school tutoring to make up for a lack of individualized attention at school. Finland, with the best scores in the world, has average class sizes in the 20s, and it caps science labs at 16. Still, it's become a popular fantasy that all you need is a superstar teacher, and that he or she will be just as effective even as budget cuts force us to pack more kids into each classroom.

..... Yup ... Arne Duncan is full of fairytales from the land of Crap.

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