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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Endorsement for School Board Elections 2011, Position 6

I am endorsing Marty McLaren for Position 6.   The other candidates are Steve Sundquist, Nick Esparza and Joy Anderson.

Marty would bring many good things to our Board.  She's been a teacher and yet came to teaching after having other careers.  She put her own children through SPS, was a PTA President, and has worked with  pre-school and homeless children and at-risk teens.   That's a wealth of experience to bring to the Board.  Marty has a quiet strength that reminds me of Michael DeBell.   Marty also listens AND asks good questions (a trait we need on the Board).

Joy Anderson is a passionate advocate and smart cookie.  However, I worry some about her focus on the issues around the closure of Cooper Elementary.

Nick Esparza is also someone who seems to know what the problems are but maybe not the solutions.  I'm thinking he and Joy might be better candidates in a few years.

And Steve.  Every time I talk to Steve I am struck by what a nice guy he is.  He did have answers about what he would do differently going forward if he is re-elected.  He said that he would insist on a more thoughtful dialog with community and senior staff.  He said that beyond data that the district has, that what the community brings to the process needs to be considered. 

Like Sherry, he wants to see good implementation of projects/initiatives.  He had a good point when I asked him about the superintendent search.   You might recall that he came into office, the superintendent had just been selected.   This time, the current Board felt it better to wait until after the Board elections to allow the new Board (whatever that looks like), to choose the new superintendent even if if is a big job coming out the gate.  I think this fair.

He did say that he wanted to see the waiver process strengthened.  He said if schools want to try something new, with the oversight and guidance of central administration, there should be a process for all schools to access. 

This is all good stuff.  But, in talking with Steve, I always feel like he listens but doesn't hear.  His constant support and rubber-stamp of senior staff is not something I believe will change because he fundamentally believes in a hands-off Board.  I'm not in agreement with that especially when staff has repeatedly burned/embarrassed the Board. 

He did have one good line that I might steal - he called being on the Board "the retail rung of government."  I do agree; they seem to have more of a customer service role than almost any other elected official. 

29 comments:

dan dempsey said...

WOWZERS

He said that beyond data that the district has, that what the community brings to the process needs to be considered.

Seems about 4 years late. Why was he ignoring solid data on so many occasions in the past in order to make really bad decisions?

So what positions and decisions would he change if he could?

Well we know not math.
Likely NOT $800,000 NTN contract
Likely NOT TfA approval
Giving Cooper to Pathfinder????

This is just more talk about more listening ... Blah, Blah, Blah from Steve.

Anonymous said...

Steve: Right guy, wrong job. Very likable, but counterproductive.

Steve is a Don McAdams "hands off" disciple who will not risk offending the human paperweights at JSCEE. In so doing, he has not represented the best interests of his constituents, and must be replaced. It's a shame, because I voted for him in '07 and really thought he'd be great. I was wrong. WSEADAWG

mirmac1 said...

I've never found Steve likable. I've only seen him have a condescending attitude towards us mere parents/citizens. He's has blown smoke and regurgitated the prescribed talking points. He is untrustworthy, in my view.

Gouda said...

I met Marty and asked her a few questions about current policies in SPS. She knew *nothing* about them. In fact, I felt like she was asking me for advice about those policies. While she has a good heart, she is in WAY over her head for this position. She doesn't understand what it means to do policy, nor does she have a broader understanding of policies outside of math curriculum.

She is a sweet lady and extremely likable, but that is not enough to endorse someone for school board.

Anonymous said...

Gouda, I think Marty's principles and experience will guide her to make good policy, even if she isn't nearly as familiar with the district's policy manual now as are the incumbents.

What good is that familiarity doing her opponent, Sundquist? Even when he and the current board are making good policy (how often is that?), they're not following up on it.

Yes, she'll have a steep learning curve. But Marty is smart and hard working. I'd trust her to get up to speed faster than the average bear, and to be tenacious about the policies that matter.

My impression is that Marty will be in way over her head for a few months. And then watch out for her rate of acceleration from 0-60.

-Steveroo

ericb said...

I agree with Gouda. After a quick conversation with Marty, I was amazed as to how little she knew. She talked about community engagement, but could not explain how she would make sure there was community engagement. (A simple answer such as "I will not vote for proposals that have not had an opportunity for community input" would have been enough. Instead she said she would make it part of the evaluation of the Superintendent. Too bad that it already is.

dan dempsey said...

Hummm so ...
"I met Marty and asked her a few questions about current policies in SPS. She knew *nothing* about them."

Steve on the other hand ignores policies and in the case of the Promotion / non-Promotion policies (after ignoring them for three years ,,,) approves a replacement that says as little as possible.

Gouda ... what is your point?

Do you really want another four years of Steve Sundquist?
.... and if yes ... then why?

Melissa Westbrook said...

If you feel like the other candidates are better choices, by all means vote for them. But don't just vote for Steve because he knows the job.

Charlie Mas said...

Director Sundquist says all of the right things, and I honestly think he believes them too. But he is easily sidetracked.

You can tell him that your child is drowning and he will seem to understand and empathize. He will even seem to want to take immediate action. He will kick off his shoes to dive in and save your child. But if a member of the District staff tells him that he needs to put his shoes in the shoe rack, fold his socks and tuck them into the shoes, and fill out a three-page form before entering the water, he will let your child drown while he completes the requisite process.

He will never question the value of the process. He will never question the need for the process. He will never question the wisdom of the process. And at no point will he ever realize that he has the authority to change the process.

He simply has no sense of urgency or bias for action. Instead, he has a bias for inaction.

Finally, and this is just a pet peeve of mine, Director Sundquist is very fond of the expression "at this point in time" which, to me, is an unnecessarily long way to say "now". Why would anyone say "at this point in time" instead of just saying "now"? It irritates me because I find it pretentious and a waste of my time.

Anonymous said...

I have had many conversations with Steve Sundquist about District policy. Steve will always engage. He will always listen. He will always discuss. He will always thank you for your input. And he will always go to any length to explain to you that it is not his job to provide oversight of the Superintendent or the staff.

Time's up for that. What bloody use is all his experience if he won't do his job? Besides that, he voted for TFA, he voted for Discovery Math, and he is endorsed by (ptui) Stand For Children. He needs to go. Vote for Marty.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seasame Street's Count said...

One vote for Marty ha ha ha (thunder in the background)
In response to the endorsement of Marty Mclaren by Save Seattle Schools Blog it's not a big surprize that Melissa Wesbrook would support Marty. It has become apparent that Melissa's endorsemnts have become a disaster. I think the case and point is that she doorbelled for Shery Carr and it has been bad financial problems for the last 4 years. Thanks Melissa Westbrook for all your hmm hmm cough cough wondererful work. Now Marty is getting a free pass because she is a wonderful teacher, mother, and grandmother. But Marty is clueless when it comes to issues that are not math. The Seattle Schools face bigger problems then just math. How can we teach better math when we have no money or teachers or even school to teach in. We have big dropout rates and kids with emotional and family issues. We need more councelors and better teacher, not just better math. Last time I checked when kids applied to college there was more than just math required. How are you going to change the mess that the school board is in now by appointing the same type of no think for yourself people? A vote for Marty equals Steve Sunquist's votes squared. Two votes for Marty ha ha ha (more thunder sounds)

Charlie Mas said...

Count, who do you support in District VI?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Marty is having trouble posting so I'm posting her comments.

Re GOUDA and Eric B’s comments:

As they’ve noticed, I’m willing to admit that I don’t know things.
There is a tremendous amount to learn, and I’m very busy reading and
talking to people and digesting information. I appreciate Steveroo’s
faith in my experience and in my energy for mastering the work. The
reality is that although I’m not full of detail on issues, I really get
what goes on -- that’s what has motivated me to challenge Steve
Sundquist, and to embark on getting up to speed on the details. I’ve
seen from many angles how the district is run – as a parent,
grandparent, classroom teacher, substitute, confidant to people in many
buildings in many positions, job applicant, recipient of SPS
professional development, and repeated advocate on behalf of sound
education. What goes on, as all school board challengers would likely
agree, is that district leadership in way too many instances runs on a
parasitic management model, in which the attention, money, and resources
that should be devoted to schools is diverted to wasteful, misguided
initiatives that are driven by individuals’ career goals. The culture of
intimidation spotlighted in the Moss Adams report has allowed this for
many years. As I’ve said often, the community needs to regain control
of schools.



Unseating the incumbents will advance that goal, but even then it won’t
be easy. Envisioning how to provide excellent education for every
student will take enormous discernment, collaborative visioning, and
endless work. I think that Kate Martin is spot on with her call for 100
excellent principals. Simultaneously dispelling the culture of
intimidation and making sure that we have principals who are on board
with creating and sustaining programs in which the schools are truly the
centers of their communities, and where parents’ views are taken into
consideration, is a tall order. No, I don’t have a clear, detailed plan
for that; there are a lot of good ideas and models out there,
fortunately, and people who have been studying them and sharing the
information. I bring healthy skepticism gleaned from numerous personal
experiences of the failure of beautiful ideas imposed top down; ideas
that were not supported by statistically valid data or with adequate
resources and planning. I’ve seen up close successes and missteps in
excellent programs, like APP, TOPs, and AS1. I’ve also seen the same
fiascos that everyone has been talking about during the campaign. Ove
the years, I’ve facilitated and participated in a wide range of
successful collaborative projects – as a School Board Director, I
would continue my practice of connecting with smart, imaginative,
concerned people and working with them to synthesize vision, goals and
plans which really work for the constituency.



For several of us challengers, the months ahead will be a time of
intense study, while the incumbents, already steeped in the details, are
busy constructing arguments to distract voters from the truth of what
has gone on. I know that my wide experience, my willingness to be
informed by others as well as by experience, my habits as a thinker and
synthesizer, a problem solver and a visionary, would make me an
effective change agent on the board. While I have great admiration and
respect for both Joy Anderson and Nick Esparza, I’m confident that I’m
the strongest challenger in the field.

Marty McLaren

mirmac1 said...

At least I know Marty won't learn "governance" from the Eli Broad "How to make friends and kiss my ass" school of Education Reform.

Gouda said...

Y'all are funny. On the one hand you bitch because the people in the positions don't know how to do their jobs. But on the other, you wholly endorse someone who admits that she too doesn't know how to do the job.

If we have learned anything, isn't it that a good heart alone isn't enough to do this position?

Betting woman said...

Gouda, I think I want to have your baby! You said exactly what I've been thinking of all day and came here to post, but you beat me to it!

People, you cannot have it both ways! I predict that 3 months after the newly elected board members (anyone but the incumbents seems to be the cry) this blog will be full of angry posts and comments about how good-hearted but clueless the new board members are. I've got my bet money right here.

uxolo said...

Experience in the field of education, in the world of many Seattle Public Schools, having good observation skills, good analytical skills - all of these contribute to the makings a good School Board candidate. Merely sitting in the chair does not provide knowledge.

To Gouda, Betting Woman, and Seasame: A new Board member will open a policy book and start reading. She will meet with fellow directors and discuss. She will ask pointed questions to the employees and require answers. She will not nod her head to everything put before her as if the employees need no Direction. That's why she'll have the title of DIrector.

Jan said...

Gouda: Ok, now I am curious. Your warning is well-taken (at least by me). But what do we do when those who (arguably) DO know how to do their jobs (of the incumbents, I would put Carr and Meier in this category -- but definitely not Harium, and maybe not Sundquist) have ideological or other philosophical bents that make them do the jobs badly (too pro top-down standardized reform; too anti community engagement, too willing to be "led by the nose" by staff)? On the other side, we have inexperience and the need to ramp up knowledge bases very quickly -- and we don't know how it will play out?

My example, I think, would be both Kay and Betty. Kay is a businesswoman, but I am not sure she knew school board policy before she got there. I am unhappy with her TfA vote -- though not unhappy with how she got there -- but I am very happy with a lot that I know she has done to try to resolve the science dilemma, fix Garfield overcrowding, bail out the Lowell disaster, etc. Betty Patu is also not strong in all areas, but at this point, I think her good votes outweigh her bad ones.
So, at this point, I KNOW I don't like what is behind Door No. 1. Will we be back here, gnashing our teeth about inexperienced, activist board members who are ineffectual at managing stubbornly intransigent District staffers? Maybe.

But really, when you start stacking up the millions of dollars wasted, the little to nothing to show for those dollars, and the damage done, what would you do now? Who would you support and what do you think they will do that the current Board has not?

Seasame Street's Count said...

My first choice is Nick Esparza. He has the widesst range of issues covered. I beleive in many of the things he mentioned are truely happening in the school district. I find it very puzzeling that the save the schools blog is very misleading since they never interview the opposition. Save the seattle schools blog just supports whomever. It is quite evident that the folks that write on the Save the schools blog only want to support the rich. They don't listen to the general public.

Nick Esparza said...

I am writing in response to Melissa and the people at the Save Seattles Schools Blog. I am somewhat taken back by the fact that melissa westbrook talks about the math issues but never interviews me or finds out what the real issues are. She does not look at my website, but she missquotes and cherry picks though my speaches to make me out to be someone whom has no skills, or ability to accomplish all that I believe in. Secondly, I don't understand why this blog does not really address what the canidates are about and what they beleive in. This blog has the fox fixed news view. One sided. It's odd that nobody knows who or what Nick and Joy Anderson are all about. We have been in countless interviews and been to countless campaign meetings. I have not seen anyone from the Save Seattle School Blogs there to interview. It is sad to see that nobody wants to think for themselves and help our schools and our children learn. Save Seattle Schools has sucked in too many people and we need to look at the real issues. Visit my site and make your own mind up. There is more to school than a good math education. No matter whom is elected Joy Anderson, Nick Esparza or Marty Mclaren we all can see that Steve needs to be out. 4 more years of the same inability to help our students and teachers is unacceptable. Please help us to defeat the incombant and make our Schools more about the students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I can't speak for others but I didn't give my endorsement based on anyone's heart. I wrote what I thought were real and concrete factors in my endorsements. (And by the way, these are MY endorsements - Charlie may have differing ones.)

There is a learning curve to the job, no matter WHO you are. You as a voter have to decide the readiness (or lack thereof) of each candidate for yourself.

But again, don't vote for someone just because they've been in the job for one term. If so, how do you ever vote in new people?

I'm more interested in people who understand the need for accountability and oversight.

I offered to interview every single candidate. Most responded. I did a few by phone and most in person. I went to where the candidates were if possible. I read every candidate's website that was available.

We are not allowed in other people's interview sessions (like the Times, The Stranger, etc.).

Anonymous said...

I think the election for position 6 is less to elect a great candidate and more to replace a poor one.

SS's closure votes were a huge, money-wasting, community-defying mistake, and his pro-JSCEE/team player arrogance and defiance throughout were offensive and annoying.

As bad a decision as his closure vote was, his discovery math adoption vote was even worse. It was both an abdication of his duty (in favor of district staff) and a demonstration of a complete lack of requisite courage a board member must possess to effectively represent their constituents. SS's rationale supporting his vote to adopt discovery math ("a process was followed") was as tone-deaf as it was anemic. It is no surprise that he is now frantically scurrying away from that horrible decision he chatters about "more waivers" for schools. Do not be fooled by this election eve CYA maneuver.

SS is in fact very likable and undoubtedly means well. But he has shown incredibly poor judgment during his tenure on the Board, requiring his removal. WSEADAWG

mirmac1 said...

SS Count Chocula, this is a first. I've never been accused of supporting the rich to the detriment of the general public (I'm one of those BTW). I'm not going to change my vote based on Melissa's remarks, but they're always interesting and thoughtful (less bombastic than my own). I am supporting Marty because she has shown me she will take someone down to the mat for something she firmly believes will benefit our kids.

Nick, I wish you the best of luck. You are a braver person than I to tackle a heated campaign particularly during this difficult time in our district. Thanks.

Phil said...

Nick

You didn't do a lot of interviews for endorsement.

Throwing "gut shots" at people now is kind of short sighted.

I expect you to immediately throw your support to the winning challenger(s) after the primary.

Based on your comments, thats the right thing to do.

Phil said...

Nick and all the other "mud-slingers"

The oldest trick in politics is to run a "wedge" who will hurt the challenger and allow an incumbent (however unpopular) to win (think Nader and Perot).

The LAST thing those of us who desire regime change at SSD need right now is to fight among ourselves.

Melissa put her thoughts on the blog, OK? That does NOT mean SHE is the new enemy. I have used pseudonyms on this site to avoid also being similarly labeled and vilified.

We need to tone it down a bit and concentrate our efforts to defeating incumbents, ONLY!

I (for one) really appreciate your involvement and hope you "keep coming back".

Appreciate your voices but the tone and "get the messanger" rhetoric is really divisive.

Oh yeah, and I have endorsed Marty too. Please don't start shooting at me.

Common Sense Prevails said...

Jan is correct.

Kay Smith-Blum and Betty Patu run circles around the incumbents.

There is such a thing as common sense. We didn't see it when the incumbents voted to extend Maria Goodloe-Johnson's contact despite an audit that pointed towards increased incompetence.

Gouda, have you spoken to ANY of the candidates?

There will be a learning curve- for sure. Don't know if you can make up for continued poor judgement.

Charita Dumas said...

Charita Dumas: I am endorsing Joy Anderson.

She is the candidate that understands what our educational community, families and children need. She is a strong candidate not only because she has a child in the Seattle Public Schools, but because she is not focused on one issue, but the issues of 1) how the school closures have overpopulated our elementary schools; and 2)how the costs of portables, food services, the costs of bussing has actually increased costs to the district.

It is funny how people think that her platform is all about school closures. What folks tend forget is that the closure of ONE
elementary school in West Seattle has resulted in overpopulated classrooms, portables on the playground, increased costs to buss our kids all over West Seattle and a huge assortment of unhappy parents and children. The value of education has diminished and we have more schools failing the AYP (annual yearly progress report) due to overpopulation.

Does anyone realize that it will cost up to 10-12 millions dollars to rehab buildings for us to have an additional elemenatay school for our children to attend? Schools that will not end up in our neighborhood!

If we had allocated $500,000 to rehab one school in the area that was already open instead of closing that building, we may be dealing with issues that have literally screwed up an entire community? Makes financial sense to do that if were in financial crisis right?

Joy's advocating for our district. She is assertive and knowledgeable about this issues, including better education for our kids. She does not advocate for TFAs in our schools as we have qualified teachers that need employment in our area. She is an advocate for textbooks for our children so they can review the materials taught in class at home. She is a huge advocate of revamping nutritional services so we can cut the $600,000 budget which includes transporting the processed food from a 'centralized processing plant'(disgusting!)to putting the menus back into the schools where the kitchens are fully functional and the food menu can be properly planned within the school to meet the nutritional needs of the students.

She also has fantastic ideas on how to get the community involved in supporting our teachers and administration without increasing financial costs of district. She also has qualification ideas on what the New Superindendant should be accountable and responsible for.

Our other candidates (aside from Sundquist) are nice and have great ideas. But....West Seattle needs someone to go to bat for the families in the community. We need all of those issues mentioned and then some addressed by a candidate who knows and understands them.

While teachers are fantastic, there are more issues than curriculum that need to be addressed. We need a strong candidate who will be the voice of ALL West Seattle families. We are a community segregated simply by boundary lines drawn by the district. But more importantly, we a community who cares about the overall educational and childhood experiences that shape the minds and futures our kids.

Joy Anderson understands that, will advocate for it, making the changes needed for our community.

If you vote for Joy, you have voted for yourself, West Seattle and more importantly our children...our future leaders.

Nick Esparza said...

Re Endorsement for School Board Elections 2011, Position 6