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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Is This Almost Rock Bottom for the Times?

Update:  Too hot in the kitchen?  This story has all but disappeared from the Times' website.  The other stories it appeared with are either still at the top of the webpage or have moved to the Local section.  This one?  You have to do a search to find it.  Hmm.

The Times has an "article" about the upcoming Board elections oddly titled "Shadow of Fired Chief Looms Over Schools Vote." 

I put article in quotes because it is an incredibly skewed accounting of the candidates for School Board (except for the incumbents who mostly seem to get a pass except for Peter Maier who I believe may be the fall guy for this election).  It's hard to believe this is supposed to pass for objective reporting.

The title seems odd to me because I don't think this election is about Maria Goodloe-Johnson.  At least not her firing.  It IS about ed reform and its role in Seattle Public Schools.

From the article:


Nearly all of the 11 challengers indict the four incumbents up for re-election for being too sober, for missing signs of a looming financial scandal and for an upswell of frustration among some parents with key policy and curriculum decisions.

No, I don't think anyone is unhappy with the incumbents being "too sober."  It's more like needing to be "more attentive" or "more engaged" or even "paying attention."

What is also interesting is the article calls out the near-firing of Martin Floe and the closure of Cooper Elementary at the forefront of neighborhood issues.  I'd say the bigger issues are capacity management and what academic materials being used in our classrooms. 

The incumbents stress the need for "stability" and "continuity."  What has this district been but churn, churn, churn for the last four years?  C'mon, where's the stability in senior leadership?  All we have seen is a revolving door of people, coming and going, and who's on first?  And stability of the Board is going to change all that?  

Honestly, I don't get what is going on at the Times but I think we are ruffling some feathers because this article sure wouldn't win any Pulitzer.

38 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Yeah, that Josh Martin should stick with his crime reports. I'm sure Lynne Varner ghost wrote it for him.

It was amusing watching Lynne dodge all the cream pies thrown her direction : )

The incumbents' quotes were full of coulda, woulda, shoulda...

Mark T. Weber said...

I'd like to clarify what was said about me. Yes, I was under the supersision of the Department of Correction but only while the charges were being investigated. I was cleared of ALL CHARGES.

Phil said...

I suspect this was more likely the work of Liv Finn rather than Varner.

And btw; "rock bottom for the Times" is when Blethen shoots your dog.

Lest we forget.

mirmac1 said...

I would demand a clarification, Mark.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And there you go, Mr. Weber.

It almost seems that the Times took pains to say the most negative thing they could about most of the challengers. A few people got to have a quote but most of you just got zinged.

I wrote in my comment that Kate ended up being right and the thing that the Times likes to rail about (getting rid of poor quality teachers) got done.

Mark T. Weber said...

I would demand a clarification but what he said is true. Only half true, true none-the-less. I was under the supervision of the Dept of Corrections while it was being investigated. The fact it took almost 6 months and I was never charged,well... I don't think there is much I can do about that. I can't unring that bell.

Melissa is right. They took pains to say negative things about most of the challengers. Mine just happens to make me look like a crook. Such is life.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I also asked the Times to print a correction on their endorsement of Peter because they said he "never" read a crucial report. He was the ONLY one to the read the Sutor Report (so far as I can figure out) before August 2010. It's a basic fact that they got wrong and yet, no correction.

Anonymous said...

What do we think? Would the school board function better if they were all drunk? We could try serving jello shots at board meetings and check it out. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we could get a productive meeting out of the experiment, if people said what they really think.

(snark alert: I am not actually advocating electing alcoholics to the school board.)

zb

Mark T. Weber said...

I just picked up a hard copy of the Times. I am not a school bus driver. I worked with First Student on my Master's Action Research Project that you can find at http://www.mtweber.com/Academics/Academics1.htm but was never a driver. There is a Mark Webber (with 2 b) working at their north lot.

They also put my professional portfolio website as my election website.

If I wasn't screwed before, I am now.

someone said...

What's interesting to me, is that on both this article and the earlier editorial - rarely does a commenter chime in to defend the incumbents. Why is that? You'd think they'd have an army of supporters at the ready - posting on the glories of the incumbents - "X is the bestiest board member we've ever hand and should be re-elected" - but that doesn't seem to happen. Weird.

mirmac1 said...

yes, I'm sure the Times is wondering why their boosterism rings with an ECHO...Echo...echo...

I also think Lynne was surprised at the vociferous rejection of, what was in her mind I'm sure, an "innovative, reasoned" piece.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someone, the boosters don't respond for two reasons.

They believe the commenters are all malcontents and so it's not worth their time. They want to marginalize those who do comment.

Second, they are biding their time for the general. I'm sure they believe every incumbent will make it to the general (and they probably will but there could be a surprise). That's when they will come. (Stand will probably be the heavy hitter there.)

I wouldn't be surprised if there were tv ads.

I do think it funny if they think they are going to win on the "stability/continuity" front but the district has been in churn for the last four years.

One of the incumbents said they had "inherited a mess." Well, it's not like whoever comes onto the Board is going to find a well-managed, well-functioning district.

someone said...

Melissa - those points make sense - there's a certain arrogance to thinking that you are above the "hoi polloi" who comment on ST articles - though, any reasonably intelligent person would see that the tone of these comments is very different from the usual - very pointed, very intelligent, and very anti-incumbent.

And Mr. Weber - I would still demand corrections - you deserve to be treated better!
I hope there is a surprise or two in store for the incumbents and their supporters - there needs to be a shakeup of beliefs in the worse way.
Oh to be a wealthy anonymous benefactor so I could make that happen ;o)

Charlie Mas said...

This was a really astonishing example of biased reporting. It denigrates the entire idea of journalism and completely trashes the myth of the media role in informing the voting public.

I couldn't believe it. It was so jaw-dropping in its audacity.

Mark T. Weber said...

@someone,
I appreciate your kind words. I can jump up and down and howl at the moon but they will either stonewall me or wait until after the primary to print a correction.

While I haven't been the most popular candidate on this blog, I've been able to get myself and my ideas heard by some of the good people of District II. And if it ends up with Kate or Jack squaring off against Sherry in the general, Kate or Jack will get my full endorsement.

This is similiar, but on a much, much smaller scale, to what happened to Brock Adams. An accuser made accusations, was load and vocal about it and, even though he was cleared by The DC police and the Senate of any wrong-doing, it ruined his political career.

I felt I had some momentum building in some areas of district II and gave myself about 30 to 40% chance of pulling it off. I'll keeping swing away all the way till the 16th. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Jack Whelan said...

@Mark--

It was a cheap and most unnecessary shot. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it's hard to be involved in a process in which we know the latter will be exposed, but this was gratuitous and just plain mean. Keep your chin up.

Anonymous said...

The King County elections website has direct links to candidates' websites - with the correct Weber4SeattleSchools link. This is the first place I would look for information - wouldn't a reporter do the same? The mistake in the Seattle Times almost looks intentional.

Notice how they also used some different, less flattering photos of certain candidates than posted on the King County Elections site.

Then to insinuate many candidates are only one-issue activists because of their desire to improve the math curriculum...hey Times, maybe the issues around curriculum are a big deal and the math books really are deficient.

Who would you choose - a parent whose daughter received a personalized lesson with the new math books and declared they are just a-okay, or a parent that was aware of poor instruction and stood up to administration to exit an ineffective teacher?

-annoyed with the Times

Mark T. Weber said...

Thanks, Jack.
I'm trying to be philosphical about it. It may have an impact on those casting their votes today, tomorrow and even Friday but after that, ??

Now, if this were Chicago, that probably would have put me over the top ;)

Anonymous said...

I would never vote for a math whiner, especially one who sued the district. Such a ridiculous debate. The debating gets Seattle-old.

-math is aok with me too

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not satisfied with our students' performance in math, so it is not aok with me.

I have seen how the math curriculum has driven my daughters away from the subject. They may never in their lifetimes overcome the damage done to them by the current math curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Sure Math aok, burger flippers don't need math.

Mr. Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the fact that some schools get waivers to use a math hybrid they believe works better for their communities and others don't IS worth discussion. I don't think it's whining; it's asking for the opportunity to find what works best for a school.

Anonymous said...

I could repeat Charlie's comment word for word.

-mom of 2 and not aok with the math

Charlie Mas said...

The difference between whining and complaining is that a complaint includes a workable solution.

Linh-Co said...

Both Schmitz Park and North Beach are getting their math books paid for by the district next year. The reason these schools have waivers is because the PTA and parents were willing to buck the system by writing letters, lobbying, and testifying at school board meetings.

Michael Debell tried to put through a policy for curriculum waivers based on "earned autonomy" last year but it was met with resistance from central office.

The key to successful waivers is to be persistent, consistent, and insistent. Parents should unite at every school and push for sound curriculum.

Po3 said...

And all the comments are gone from earlier today.

Anonymous said...

the almost missing article almost disappeared into what Mr. Orwell would call the 'memory hole'.

some other cool phrases from Mr. Orwell were 'doublespeak' and 'doublethink' - for great examples, check out CAO / Interim Sup Enfield's chatter about her executive office shuffles.

19_84

someone said...

Actually the comments are still there - its a glitch in their "redesign" that the comment counter up @ the top says zero. You have to go over to the blue box that says "top comments" or something like that and there's a link to all 58 current comments.

Dorothy Neville said...

Should we simply blame it on the redesign? I found it again as well, but through politics. It didn't appear with the key word education or local.

mirmac1 said...

Here's yet another twist, I swear that, for a brief time yesterday afternoon the headline was changed to Maria Goodloe Johnson (something) looms over school vote. Now its back to the old wording. Guess they figured calling out MGJ just made it worse for their allies.

Anonymous said...

Mar T,

I very much admire your character and your compassion (or, should I say your passion to express your compassion.).

We may be on different sides on some issues, however, I get the sense that you listen and care about what people have to say. That puts you ahead of 3 out of the 4 incumbents.

Ken Berry
SpEd IA Van Asselt Elem

Sahila said...

If people want to sling mud at school board seat challengers, why are they not slinging mud at Peter Meier, for example, who (at school closures time) in public stated that Summit teachers were sleeping with their students?

Mark T. Weber said...

Ken,
Is that like saying, "you like me better than 3 out of 4 of your ex-wives?"

Just kidding. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mark T (sorry the k was forgotten in the previous comment):

I won't be tricked into giving away how many past lives, er past wives, I've lived/endured...But, let's say there was personal engagement and mutual appreciation, something very lacking from all 4 encumbents.

ken berry
SpEd IA Van Asselt Elem

Mark T. Weber said...

Ken,
This past twenty months has been an eye opening experience for me. Returning to school after a 35 year hiatus to earn my Masters degree and then jumping straight into this election was probably not the wisest thing to do but I wouldn't have traded for anything.

You, and the others I've talked with during this campaign have brought so many things to my attention, opened my eyes to the failings of our district and the areas where victories are hard-won by dedicated people.

You and I are perfect examples of how two individuals can have differing ideas yet still have a civil dialogue, maybe not come to complete agreement, yet walk away valuing the other's point of view and knowing that in the greater scheme of things, we share the same goal.

No matter what happens on the evening of the 16th, I will walk away with my head held high knowing I am a wiser man because of my discussions with you and the others I've met along this journey.

Good luck and never give up the good fight.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Sahila,

Is your assertion about Peter Maier documented anywhere?

Thanks,

DWE

John said...

John Cummings here-I know I am a little late to the comments section here but i found Mr. Martin's one sentence characterization of me to be as unfortunate as it was dismissive. I am not naive enough to assume that people are always what they seem, but, Jonathan came across as a much more thoughtful man than the person who wrote the article that bears his name. It's disappointing, considering how important this election is for our kids.

Sahila said...

DWE... sorry for lateness in response, was away for the weekend...

I dont know if it is documented... SEA will know if it was or not...

I know Maier made the comments to a group of people (including teachers) at a public event at Summit during the school closure period...

I know this happened because I was asked for my opinion on what should be done about it....