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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Gloves are Coming Off

Today Sherry Carr's campaign sent out a press release about Kate Martin.  What was noted about Kate is truthful to a point.   Kate did do and say what it says BUT she has explained all of it and it's fairly old news at this point.
What I find odd is this from the press release:


After a string of campaign trail tirades by challenger Kate Martin, including insensitive remarks about special education, non-English speaking and other student populations burdening the overall student body in Seattle Schools, School Board Director Sherry Carr says her opponent has gone too far.  Carr today noted a pattern of divisive and angry behavior by Martin that she believes will be detrimental to a district in need of collaborative, civil leadership in challenging economic times.


“Enough is enough,” said Carr, a former Seattle PTSA President and longtime neighborhood schools leader who works at Boeing.  “These actions from Kate Martin during the past four years show an insensitivity to the needs of Seattle students and are completely out of line for someone running for our district’s school board.”

What "enough is enough?"  Kate isn't allowed to run because Sherry says so?  Is "out of line" code for "not one of us", the proud, the professional?

I'm surprised that Sherry's campaign felt it necessary to say Kate has "gone too far."  Most of what the press release calls out has already been out in the press but apparently not far enough for Sherry's campaign.

Kate's reply:


What you see is what you get from me. I'm not hiding anything, protecting anybody or corroborating cover ups behind the scenes. I'm honest. 

To be clear to voters and to my incumbent opponent, the things she criticized me for today are things directly in my crosshairs at the district. Those things include: principals that suck, the untenable conditions in the “general education” classrooms and the curriculum and contracting incompetence down at central. I’m super proud of what I've learned and accomplished while navigating the education landscape with my sons. I'm going to take all of that with me to the John Stanford Center. I'm not going to be more of the same. We need a reset. 

The judge at the hearing where I tried to recall several directors said she could identify with the frustrations I communicated about Seattle Public Schools and suggested I focus my discontent into a run for school board. I’m doing just that.


I can see how Kate's words could be used against her in a campaign.  But Kate's actions, standing up against a bad teacher at Roosevelt and following a judge's advice in a legal case against the district, are not those of an angry person.  The first action was a parent standing up for her child.  The second is the right of every single citizen who seeks redress against an elected official.  Whether it cost the district money or not is immaterial; it the right of anyone to try to recall an elected official.  The judge told Kate she should run for School Board if she was unhappy.  It looks like she took his advice.

I smell a little desperation here.  I would have expected this from any other incumbent but not Sherry. 

This got coverage in a Green Lake blog and over at Publicola, it was quite the fight. 

The Times also put out their endorsements - one guess!  Yes, they endorsed all the incumbents (and took back their shared endorsement for Michelle Buetow and Harium Martin-Morris).    Here's their reasoning:

In the four seats on the Nov. 8 ballot, The Seattle Times recommends Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Steve Sundquist. Four incumbents with experience, professionalism and track records worth defending.

Experience? Their experience comes from having been School Directors; none of have held elected office before.

Professionalism?  Ah, that veneer of Seattle nice that so affects the Times' judgment (professional or otherwise). The Times was just so aghast at a few loud Board meetings in previous years.

But wait, did that loud Board have a financial scandal? No, that would be both the two Boards that bookended it with their "professional" members.  So if you like it serene and professional at Board meetings (because that's the hallmark of a well-managed district), then vote for the incumbents.

They called Peter Maier's not alerting a single Board member to the existence of the Sutor Report an "error."  No matter that even as time went by and things got worse, he STILL never mentioned it to any of them.  If you had a Board member that cost your organization money, you might not call that an "error."

Sundquist led on many of the board's most recent changes, including hiring two internal auditors and two outside experts on the board audit committee and partnering with the city of Seattle's ethics office.

What?  Sundquist isn't even ON the Audit and Finance Committee.  Sherry Carr (and Michael DeBell and Betty Patu) got the two outside experts for the committee.  The Times can't even get their facts right (or was it a scramble to say something good about all of them?).

They claim that the challengers only dwell on the past.  Really?  I didn't hear that a lot last night.  I heard some people who were looking foward, not backward. 

They end with:

No need to go backward.

And no need to stay mired in the same idea of accountability and transparency the four incumbents represent.

30 comments:

dan dempsey said...

A link I provided earlier... explains exactly why the recall filed by Kate Martin against Sherry Carr was dismissed. The Judge got it wrong. The right of recall in a sufficiency hearing can not to be found insufficient because of a failure to show intent. Read WA Constitution Article I where in sections 33 & 34 ... the right to recall is defined.

Anyway here is the LINK.

Guess the Times thinks the performance noticed by the Auditor's office is an acceptable performance by these incumbent professionals. My voters' guide says NO.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for significantly better coverage of this tempest in the teapot. Look at what we're getting from legacy ... repeaters of Stand On Children Alliance For Education League of Gate-stro - Turf .....conventional wisdom at the Times and from Josh at Publicola!

Great pick up on the "out of line" dog whistle!

In Sherry's defense, I honestly don't think she has a clue how far out of touch the reality of her big shot friends is with the reality of us little people. I don't think she really knows how much the Lakeside set are purposely out of touch because they know they're better than all us know-bodies.

OrMaybeImWrong

Anonymous said...

Melisa, I don't understand your problem with the carr press release. Haven't you been rreading your own blog and the concerns brought up by floor pie and others? Frankly I am surprised to hear that martin still wants anybody to take her seriously.

that candidate had been off the rails unhelpful informed insensitive and pandering. the Carr campaign is, if anything, late in calling enough.

reader

Floor Pie said...

I'm finding this whole thing so discouraging. Kate's statement was insensitive, for sure. That and her "be careful what you wish for" remark at the Special Ed PTSA Meet the Candidates forum give me some serious doubts. But, while Sherry hasn't said anything inflammatory like that, she wasn’t particularly helpful or empathetic when I contacted her about a very serious special ed issue last year. (Kay Smith-Blum, on the other hand, went out of her way to help.)

Like I said before, Kate’s not the only one who believes special ed children are “mainstreamed on the backs of average students.” In the other post on this topic, some of you said you would now support Kate because she said that. It’s very mainstream, actually, to take this attitude that the presence of someone less fortunate than me is so unfair to ME. There’s a homeless person in my library. There’s a crying baby on my airplane. There’s a special ed kid in my kid’s class. How unfortunate.

The reason why I wrote a vent-y blog post about it is less about the upcoming election and more about how it feels to be struggling with one hand tied behind my back to raise this boy and do right by him, and then read about how the general public is kind of pissed that we showed up. That will continue to be true no matter who wins.

Clearly I need to get a thicker skin about all this, because I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

RosieReader said...

I would say this is only "old news" to folks who are both deeply involved in school issues and who have already decided that the good outweighs the bad in her candidacy. My guess is that that category of voters is small. Most are only just beginning to get interested in this campaign, and I suspect they find this information interesting.

mom of 4 in sps said...

I agree with Rosie Reader.

Another point is that a series of statements with a fairly consistent theme of "impulsive, insensitive, quite often offensive" aren't just explained away with "she explained all of it" People should see a pattern here, and a lot of people who've worked with Kate know that you can't change the spots on a leopard - "when she's good, she's very very good, but when she's bad, she's horrid"

Everyone has the right to redefine or recreate himself throughout his life, but 1)not as a candidate, and 2) not without owning his past and understanding that people get to decide how much you've really changed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader,

What does this mean?

"..unhelpful informed insensitive and pandering."

She's informed about what? Pandering about what?

I do read what is here but there has been a lot of back and forth. I am satisfied with her explanations and she owns her words. Some of this was in the Times way back so it's been out there.

The words in this press release are NOT Sherry Carr's for sure. She doesn't talk like this and it seems off to me. That's my opinion on the press release.

Jack Whelan said...

My two cents on Kate. The question is not whether you like Kate's style or not; it's whether you think her no b.s. mo is what's needed at a time when there's been way too much of it from every precinct of the John Stanford Center, including the school board rooms. Every board needs at least one person like Kate. Sherry's innocuous, vanilla vagueness would be fine if we had a more or less functional district. We don't.

Kate is not a loose cannon. She's someone who listens to people she respects, and she's willing to change her mind when she's persuaded by good arguments. But here's the thing: She thinks for herself. That her thinking doesn't follow the approved template is exactly what makes her the candidate truly serious people should vote for in Position 2.

mom of 4 in sps said...

Jack - I know both Sherry and Kate; Sherry for years, and Kate by observation for years as well.

Style absolutely does matter in getting things done - people get things done, with other people, day in, day out - and if you can't get along with other people or work constructively with them when you don't agree, you get nothing done. Stand-ins and tirades are pretty much one and done - bridge burned.

Oh - and as a board member, you don't get to just listen to those you respect.

I agree with you about the value of having a dissident type on the board and used to say the same about Sally Soriano - but Kate's temperament is what makes her different from Sally, and is what makes her not right for the board.

RosieReader said...

Mom of 4 -- well said.

Anonymous said...

Sherry is nice enough. But my question is: What staff or ed reform driven initiative has she not flubber stamped?

I can't think of any, but she lost my confidence with her pathetic melodramatic defense of torn books to adopt a mathematically unsound curriculum, to the wasteful tune of a cool 25 mil. She and Peter's "we have to do something" rationales made me wretch. Neither excuse bad leadership decisions.

Indefensible, in-the-tank representation. We can do better. WSDWG

Eric B said...

What gets to me about Kate is the hyperbole. I don't think it's helpful for a Board director to say (in written statements, no less) that there are schools with principals that suck, or that the general ed classroom is in an untenable situation. There are problems, sure. There are principals who aren't doing the job that we want them to do, absolutely. But do they suck?

A gloves-off combative style is important in an activist, but people on the Board have to work with each other. If they don't, the combative person will be completely ignored, even when they have some good points that everyone else should listen to. Taking this to another realm entirely, this is exactly why I'm dissatisfied with Jim McDermott in Congress. He says a lot of good things, but he's so alienated so many people that he's not effective in getting things done.

Salander said...

So the problem with Kate is that she is down-home honest?
She doesn't do "Seattle nice"?
Good for her. She has my vote.
Frankly, many SDS principals do suck.They could never make it as teachers so now they are "instructional leaders" who willingly follow Charlotte Danielson who is herself incomprehensible and would not survive three days in the real classroom.
THe situation in mainstream classrooms is untenable. Not because of one group or another but because of all the accumulated failed "reforms" SSD has undertaken that have robbed classrooms of needed resources.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, we have Ms. Carr who has managerial demeanor, knows how to talk without offending, and works well with district staff. However, her votes support the district in all their endeavors, rightly or wrongly, and at great cost. Then there's Ms. Martin whose strength is vocal activism. She doesn't mind ruffling a few feathers to do what she thinks is the right thing. So my vote is between genteel inertia and upsetting the apple cart.

Since I weathered through inertia for 10 years now and have resorted to P/T homeschooling this year (along with tutoring for my dyslexic kid), I have very little to lose because the next step is to leave the public school entirely, I will vote to overturn Ms. Carr. If the incumbents win, you can bet I will look at charter much more closely.

-a vote for Ms. Martin

dj said...

I am voting for Sherry Carr. Melissa, you may think that Kate has "explained herself," but (1) the fact that a person backpedals after making inflammatory and baseless statements doesn't persuade me that they have really changed their positions, and (2) my interactions with Kate Martin on the APP blog suggested to me that she is not someone who will either interact well with constituents or take responsibility for her errors.

I am not defending Sherry Carr as an excellent board member. But my interactions with her have been professional; she incorporated a suggestion that I made on an issue of importance to me; and I am voting for the other three challengers.

Anonymous said...

dj, i agree with you. And I know for a fact that Kate has not reached out to any of the communities where she has made divisive and irresponsible statements to make things right. People in these communities have spent time trying to educate her and have given up.

SPS parent

Maureen said...

I will admit that this race was the most difficult for me. I had been at a few meetings with Kate and her style is not mine. I am much more comfortable with nicey nice like Sherry. I also place some value on institutional memory on the Board (and I want the other guys gone). However, after talking with Kate and then seeing her at the Town Hall debate (especially when she went into professional mode when she discussed her experience in planning) I put her yard sign in my front yard.

Part of my motivation, to be honest, was just to make the vote closer so Sherry is aware that not everyone is happy with her occasional quiet and ineffectual outrage. Now that I have seen that press release though, I see that she only plays nice with the superintendent and staff and can actually be nasty when she finds it useful. Real nice I can understand. I saw enough fake nice girl in middle school. I'd rather have candor, passion and backbone in a School Board Director than fake nice and rubber stamping.

Missing Link said...

Maybe we don't need 7 Kates on the Board, but one would be a breath of fresh air.

My interactions with Kate has never been anthing but respectful. She's honest about her intentions and has integrity. I don't trust Sherry or any of the other incumbents.

dan dempsey said...

WOW!!! Check the results from the last four years.

Check the voting records of the four incumbents.

How about looking at the facts?

As long as too many voters choose to:
cast their votes founded in opinions formed by myths and half-truths, rather than the facts,
we will continue to have legislative bodies filled with purveyors of half-truths.

As long as all that is desired is Seattle nice ... go out and Vote for Ms. Carr. In spite of her not so nice press release that was inaccurate and misleading.

Seattle nice => opinions trump facts when it comes to voting.

or is it just that Seattle-ites drives me nuts - and sometimes I think they deserve what they get...

But do Seattle's school children deserve it as well?

Do educationally disadvantaged learners deserve Seattle (43% low-income) spending $2,500 a year more than Auburn (52% low-income) and getting these results?

Take a look at the results above... Spring 2007 before those seeking reelection took office and Spring 2011 MSP after four years of incumbents "Leadership?".

But Peter Maier claims the achievement gaps are a Top Priority..... He, Sundquist and Carr voted for the high school "Discovering" math adoption. EoC results for Students taking algebra at grade 9 are unbelievably poor. Hey no problem things are nice in Seattle.

===========

After all who would actually care to conduct a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps prior to requesting conditional certificates for TfA corp members (required by WAC 181-79A-231)?

Would that be nice?

Anonymous said...

Well I've seen a principal that "sucked" with my own eyes, and tried to work with said principal on a number of PTA issues. 33 of 36 staff members gave said P a vote of no confidence. I know this principal was not representative of all SPS leaders, but know he/she was NOT the only one that could be considered incompetent (a nicer way of saying "sucked").

Truly Anon. (don't want my backside sued)

mom of 4 in sps said...

Missing Link - no one will argue that Kate isn't awesome when she's agreeing with you or wants something from you - the issue is now she acts and reacts when she DISagrees with you and DOESN'T need your vote. A sublte point, but absolutely one to consider when voting.

This way be dragons, I assure you

mom of 4 in sps said...

this is rich:


katemartin 1 year ago

"Mike has neither the temperament, personal habits, nor the aptitude of mayoral material. I know because I worked with him for 10 years in the Greenwood Community. "

mom of 4 in sps said...

what's good for the goose...

mom of 16 in sps said...

OK, Mom of 4, so you're not going to vote for Kate. We get it.

Jet City mom said...

Mike has neither the temperament, personal habits, nor the aptitude of mayoral material.

so mom of 4 , you are saying you disagree?

Melissa Westbrook said...

If you read the comments at the Times, I think a lot of people would agree with Kate's assessment of McGinn. I'm not sure I see the point.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of all the complaints of Kate's "loose cannon" style. What about Betty Patu? Kate wouldn't be the only one. I find Betty Patu to be the best of the current lot. And, I like loose cannons. That is, I like the style. As to where that Kate cannon is pointed - I'm not so sure. She seems a little flakey on stance. What exactly does she stand for?

-seattle parent

mom of 4 in sps said...

sorry to be both annoying and opaque - my point was (and is):

1) Temperament does matter and Kate knows it

2) People who've worked with you in sickness and in health,on real projects, and when tough choices have to made, generally know your temperament better than acquaintances, as Kate knew Mike McGuinn and as people like me have known Kate

3) As some here have noted, Kate seems to have called it right on Mike. I wouldn't venture an opinion on Mike's temperament and its impact on his effectiveness as Mayor because i've only talked to him at our kids' Ultimate games where all was bonhomie - but she has probably seen qhite a different side of him.

Probably still opaque, but I enjoyed the enoyed the juxtaposition.

mirmac1 said...

Betty Patu for President!

anonymous said...

Susan Enfield is a soldier for the failed ed reform agenda that robs high achievers down to lowest alike with the bubble test prep script.

For goodness sakes, many classrooms don't even have books and teachers and parent volunteers have to break copyright to xerox pages by chapter which cost about 4x what actual books would cost. Meanwhile we're spending millions on bubble test prep and testing.

We are adding 1000 students a year. We can't staff with 3 year formulas.

She has surrounded herself with mediocre to inadequate talent in the way of regional executive directors, refuses to do a fact check of resumes of those folks she has hired and only holds principals "accountable" to bubble test bumping.

She fails to correct the curriculum inadequacies in any perceivable way and will never close the achievement gap, but will actually make it worse, because she buys the drill 'em for bubble test agenda.

We don't need bubble test bumpers.

We have money for real teaching, real learning and real conversations with families about how to supplement and navigate public education.

APP and Spectrum are not even the beginning of challenging students.

We must stop punishing families who prepare their students for school and who cultivate them each and every day of each and every year.

Remedial is one type of classroom. We don't need to dumb down every classroom with remedial. We can't shove all of our "average students" into that milieu.

Susan Enfield does not have a vision for the best schools in the nation - which is what Seattle should be shooting for - but instead she has another tired story about the achievement gap. Yuk.

I'm tired of students being held back by such programs that only deal with one segment of the student population. All students need attention and challenges. All student deserve inspiration. Many are bored out of their minds in these classrooms.

I would like a superintendent who is willing to recognize the individual needs of students and who understand the difference between standards and standardization."

DM