Open Thread Friday

Looks like Sharon Peaslee has made a little headway on Peter Maier's lead but if not by Monday, then it's probably a lost cause. 

On the other hand, Marty McLaren has retained her lead and, by reading the Times this morning, not a minute too late.  The Times' has this great story about how the district never intended for principals to have broad oversight over student newspapers.  (Say what?  Did they read their own policy?  Yes - they - did.)  And the reasoning?  More laugh ensues.

Seattle Public Schools officials now say they never intended to give principals broad oversight of students' newspapers, saying a controversial proposal resulted from the "crazy" time frame they are working under as they revamp hundreds of district policies this year.

The board is pushing district staff to work at an accelerated pace because the current policies are out of date and not universally followed, School Board President Steve Sundquist said.

"It's in everyone's interest that we move quickly," he said. "Time is of the essence."

Oh come on, Steve.   That's BS.  And you know why?  If this was so important, then why wasn't this started earlier? (Well, it was by the previous Board but Steve doesn't like to give that group any credit.)

But like Sherry Carr (who, at a Board Committee meeting around this issue said to Holly Ferguson, "What's the rush?"), Kay Smith-Blum stated:

"This is our core work," board member Kay Smith-Blum said at an executive-committee meeting on Wednesday. "And I just feel like we're rushing through our core work."

Also, here's part of the explanation for this error (as well as a previous one around the issue of military recruiters in the schools which somehow got overlooked in these revisions):

The interim superintendent signed off on the policy proposals last month. Then School Board members met with district administrators to review them. But the meeting ended before the officials made it to the freedom-of-expression policy, and they decided to push ahead anyway because of time constraints.

The proposal also passed through the board's curriculum-and-instruction committee, whose members did not spend much time on it, chairman Harium Martin-Morris said.

Charlie has often pointed out what a lacking job Director Martin-Morris does as C&I chair and this just adds to the pile.  The committee members didn't "spend much time on it?"  Isn't that what the committee work is for?  And, since this shouldn't be a rush job, then take it slowly if you have other work to do on the committee.  

Smith-Blum gave a perfectly great suggestion:
She said she would ask district staff for clearer analysis of the impact of policy proposals and would request the board slow down the entire process and schedule more work sessions to review proposals.

What's on your mind?


Juana said…
The acting superintendent's backpedaling when an issue escalates troubles me somewhat. Just saying...
cpvmac said…
Throw Holly Ferguson under the bus!
TechyMom said…
I <3 Kay Smith-Blum. That's what actual business experience, as in making a payroll every month, looks like.
ArchStanton said…
The board is pushing district staff to work at an accelerated pace because the current policies are out of date and not universally followed, School Board President Steve Sundquist said.

"It's in everyone's interest that we move quickly," he said. "Time is of the essence."

Better to have poorly thought out policies that will not be universally followed - just so long as they're "up to date".

Who's interest is it really in? 'Cuz it sure isn't in everyone's interest.
A word of caution said…
I would be careful of assuming Marty is going to ride in with her red cape and save the district, staff and super from making mistakes. That's a pretty heavy load to bear and it makes it more likely that the first time she isn't able to single-handedly solve a mistake in the making that you'll all be calling for her head on a platter.

It's not a cross I'd want to bear. It's unfair to Marty and anyone who thinks she's a knight in shining armor. She is only one person. Too many expectations usually lead to disappointment.

--WV says I'm hedin home
seattle citizen said…
Now I HAVE to take a look at the proposed policy changes in this round and the next (anyone have a quick link to those two batches of policy changes?)

Why the hurry, indeed. Since a few years ago, we have been hearing about how woefully outdated - no, un-data-driven - those old, moldering policies were.

WHY the rush to sweep them all out? Is the district under a liability if hundreds of policies aren't changed tomorrow? Does the whole infrastructure of policy created over the last twenty, even thirty years have to be demolished, torn down and rebuilt...right away?

These are OUR policies, the policies our elected boards crafted (one hopes) over the decades.

Is the rush necessary in order to install an entirely new system: modern, technologically sophisticated, systems-oriented, fully wired set of parameters that meet, perhaps, only those needs as defined by the current administration working under the current board?

I want to see the rest of those proposed policy changes. I want to look through and see what other significant changes are coming. I'm glad they caught the freedom of the press thing and that still unclear (to me) policy change regarding military recruitment...but what other big changes are proposed among the hundreds coming?

Word Verifier had that new, fake liposuction procedure today: Pholype!
Sahila said…
KUOW has sent out a message to people asking them to look at proposed policy changes and give feedback.... sorry, no time to make the links live...

Hi all,

You’re on blind-copy again. As some of you may have surmised, reporter Phyllis Fletcher’s first story based on the new schools policy documents has resulted in a change in the journalism policy. Here’s the story that started it:

This morning her work was saluted by the respected Poynter Institute:

All this to say: we’d like your help in taking a close look at the new policies. Phyllis’s background knowledge helped her see the journalism story. We’d like to borrow your background knowledge too. If you could click on this link - - and plow through the verbiage we would really, really appreciate it.

However, we were wrong about the deadline being soon. We’d really like to hear from you before December 7.

Carolyn Adolph | Journalist - Public Insight Network | KUOW | see my stories | 206-221-0746

47.661855, -122.312791

Be a source for KUOW. Sign up at


Thanks for being a source. And not just any source. You’re a source reporter Phyllis Fletcher and I have come to several times for help. The last time more than a few of you responded to our question about school buses. That yielded this great story: .

This time Phyllis and I have a large request which we hope you will receive with good humor. The Seattle School Board is scheduled to consider some big policy overhauls this month. Phyllis has already gone looking and found one significant change. Now she doesn’t want to miss any other important ones, and she’d like your help.

We’d like you to read the documents outlining the policies and the proposed changes and then tell us what changes stand out. You can zoom in on a pet issue you know a lot about, or read the whole thing if you know about a lot of subjects. We’ve prepared links to documents outlining the changes and we have questions. If you have time, please cast an eye and tell us what jumps up at you.

Here’s our question form with all the links: . Please take a look and see what you can do. On the form there is also a link to the story Phyllis already broke based on these documents.

I’ll say it again: thanks for being a source for KUOW.

Carolyn Adolph | Journalist - Public Insight Network | KUOW | see my stories | 206-221-0746

47.661855, -122.312791

Be a source for KUOW. Sign up at
dan dempsey said…
While Marty McLaren will not be flying in with a red cape to save Metropolis...... consider how many votes went 4-3 with Carr, Sundquist, Martin-Morris, and Maier as the irrational four.
Not Isolated said…
SPS needs to take this disgusting Penn State story and move ahead with a plan to create awareness of child molestation issues. What to look for in predators and those they have preyed upon. Both groups need to be id'd and dealt with.
Occupy? said…
While on the subject of doing something, I don't think the UW students have the guts, but maybe some SPS high school kids will start an occupation. I live in Ballard and would love to see an Occupy at Ballard HS.
Sahila said…
Breaking news.... Police said to be preparing to mace and arrest protestors at the Horace Mann school building...

Protest is against gentrification. People chanting "Banks got bailed out, blacks got sold out" and "They colonized the CD"

Horace Mann protest
seattle citizen said…
The Seattle Times lamentful bemoaning of Steve Sundquist's loss can be found here:
Seattle School Board presses on, minus a solid contributor
The Times finds it ironic, because McLaren was supported financially by the union, yet "McLaren pointed to Sundquist's campaign contributions from organizations associated with education-reform issues as proof the board member was in the pocket of special interests."

The Times evidently makes no distinction between the individual teachers who are the union and the huge foundations, "coalitions," etc who are the non-educator, business-driven, out-of-town carpetbaggers who are making a profitable industry out of education.

Let's see: Ms. Smith in Room 204 is somehow the equivalent of Eli Broad. Fat chance.
Jan said…
seattle citizen: I agree that the SEA/WEA is not the equivalent of the Big Ed money interests. But despite the fact that teachers elect union reps, I do not believe that the "union" per se is the functional equivalent of the "individual teachers" in a group. I have seen too little from the unions this year in support of what I think the teachers need in the long term (schools that work to truly maximize student learning) to believe at this point that the union is truly the voice of the individual teachers.

While I, as a single citizen interested in the education of America's kids, am currently far more aligned with much of what the unions are pushing than the Big Ed platform, neither of these groups has goals that synch completely, in my opinion, with my goals and what I think are the goals of voters as a group.

If the paper's point is to try to insinuate any sort of parity -- they are way off base. If they are just pointing out that both candidates had "special interest groups" backing them, at some level, then I think they are right.
seattle citizen said…
You wrote in the other thread, Jan, that one one side of the "ed issue" are "reformers," on the other, unions. I'm not so sure it is so.
As you point out, it is the job of the union to maximize benefit (and protections) for its members. That's what it is there for. It is NOT, in my opinion, in the business of setting policy. It merely represents the labor interests of its rank and file.
It's my belief that the divide in education is between the many, many citizens, et al, and the reformers: The divide is over access to education policy.

So in that view, boards would be inlfuenced towards setting policy by whatever influences (Broad, Gates, Montessori, Alt Ed Coalition, APP, various other groups, and individuals) and THEN the union steps in to make sure its membership is getting a square deal (or more or less than a square deal, depending on who's talking!)

So in an ideal world, policy is created by the board, listening to a variety of voices, and then the union negotiates on how to implement that policy.

But of course the union has more power than that, and speaks to the board about hours, benefits, evaluation, etc. THAT bargaining impacts the other, non-employment-related bargaining such as school day length, scheduling etc.

But the two sides aren't the union and Big Ed; they are Big Ed and all the actual organic voices that SHOULD be listened to during policy debates, but often aren't.

The basic union benefits are, in my view, almost a given: Salary, health, hours, school safety and ergonomics etc, evaluation...These are some basic foundational pieces that have little, really, to do with policies such as text book (or iPad) adoption, test adoption, CCSS adoption, etc. THOSE are the policies that are played out in the name of helping students, as they should be.

I mean, the constant lament that the union is somehow not helping students strikes a raw chord: What should they do, give up pay, hours, benefits to help students?! How would that help students? The union's power is in day-to-day basics for its rank and file; it really shouldn't be the go-to for "helping the students"; that's the purview of the board and the citizens who elected it.

WV argues that 'PUTISM is actually now in charge: The philosophy of a computer in every students' hands, wired to The Mainframe, a Superbrain powered by the blizzard of little hanging chads of data that flutter into its combustion chamber...
seattle citizen said…
Of course, the basic union benefits I described (a comfortable standard of living) are the exact targets of the Big Ed people, which makes change oh so difficult: Big Ed isn't interested in the myraid details of pedagogic and curricular policy; it ONLY wants to get rid of the union so education can be a free market business. In THAT sense they are on opposite sides of the divide, yes.
In THAT sense, the two sides are the age-old opponents, Capital and Labor. And so it goes.
Jack Whelan said…
The Seattle Times, in my opinion, is making much too big a deal of the SEA's role in getting Marty elected because it fits into their current demonolgy: Unions are impeding needed reform; anything they do is against the best interests of students and Seattle Schools.

Marty won because Sundquist (along with Maier) were the two guys the public identified as most responsible for the scandals and dysfunction of the SPS in the last four years. If that were not true, the union help for Marty would not have made a difference, as it didn't for John Dunne in another race against a more popular candidate. And maybe Marty's winning has something to do with how spunky a candidate she was, despite her not fitting the Muni League/Seattle Times definition of "professional".

There's still a remote chance that Maier will lose, but if he doesn't, it's because he was a better-connected, more aggressive, savvy campaigner than Sundquist. But even so, to describe him at this juncture as winning handily, as the Times does, is typical of the bubble thinking we have come to expect from the Times editorialists.
Maggie Hooks said…
follow up from last week's transportation post: I emailed KSB and Nancy Coogan. Nancy Coogan responded very quickly, saying that she was forwarding my concerns on to Tom Bishop, who would contact me. Nothing from KSB, even though she has time to post inane status updates on FB. Nothing from Tom Bishop. My kid only took the bus Monday and Thursday. On Monday morning, it was only 8 minutes late. On Thursday morning, it was more than half an hour late after the bell. I eventually gave up and drove him, so I was at the school when the bus showed up. I talked to the secretary and she said they are not supposed to record the bus as the reason for tardiness. I emailed Nancy Coogan again and she responded almost immediately. She asked me to let her know when/if anyone from transportation contacts me. Still nothing from them or KSB...
Sharon Peaslee said…
Will someone please explain why there is no citizen advisory committee involved in revising our policies? I'm thrilled KUOW is calling for public input. Why isn't SPS?

As for election outcomes, there are still 28,000+ ballots to be counted. I'm behind Maier by just over 3,300. The next posting of numbers is Monday at 4:30. It could still go either way.
Anonymous said…
Back of the envelope calculation from posted numbers is that Peaslee would have to get 56% of the 28,000 uncounted votes in order to break even with Maier.
seattle citizen said…
Not only do I want a citizen advisory (if it's so dang pressing, wouldn't they want as many eyes as possible on the hundreds of policies, so as to avoid snafus similar to the Gagstudentpapersgate?) but I still want to know why they're in such a dang hurry.
What if we had a national election, and the new Congress said, hey! Our laws are outdated, we're going to go through them all this year and replace them!
What would people say to THAT? It's the same thing.
cpvmac said…
Go Sharon! A mom for Moms.
Elizabeth said…
anyone have an extra ticket to sell to diane ravitch this week? thanks.
Jack Whelan said…
Elizabeth--Give me your email, and I can put someone in touch with you who has tickets she can't use. You can contact me at
Michael H said…
Goodloe-Johnson was just hired in Michigan to "save failing public schools."
Brita Butler-Wall said…
Many board policies have not been revised (or necessarily reviewed and reconfirmed) since the early 1980s. Our board created a Community Advisory Committee policy which we used to appoint several terrific committees to research policy and best practices and make policy recommendations, which we then voted on (fitness, child nutrition, pest management, maybe another), the alternative ed committee which drafted a great report which did not get reviewed b the board and turned into policy (as I recall), and some policies which we assigned to staff to review with input from relevant community (special ed policies, bilingual ESL policies). It makes sense to get the best and the brightest working on these issues to make sound revisions/new policies. With CACs, we can work in parallel, without waiting for consecutive work done by a few staff members. We're lucky to have a ton of talent in the Seattle community that we can tap into for such work.
seattle citizen said…
Thanks for the history, Brita. Perhaps the current board will take note and set up some CACs.
Paul said…
Hey Seattle Citizen

I knew who to vote for last week so did not need the "concise statement" about why to vote for which was provided.

However, your posts about labor/capital from ( like at 5:27)Friday were the most concise framing of the two sides of the reform issue that I have seen.

Heck, last summer some arm-chair quarterback here was advising a different union to simply refuse to do their jobs (and I presume, simply go on strike)in order to "force" the school board to buy better food for lunches! Many posters are "experts" on complex issues they really know nothing about and merely waste time.

It is always comforting to know that some posters (like you Citizen) have their feet planted in reality and on the ground.

Thanks. You keep me coming back.
Kate Martin said…
The policy revisions are boiler plate provided by WSSDA, Washington State School Directors Association, a policy puppy mill. That group is charged by the legislature to create policy that aligns with laws. I like to call this kind of policy CYA, as its sole purpose is to be consistent with legislation. It's all very lawyerly. Maybe there's some job security in there somewhere. That HS newspaper policy idea was rubbish, but surely would provide enough litigation fodder to keep more than a few lawyers busy. There is nobody at bat for policy which is not CYA or policy which is driven by anything other than legislation and litigation.
Jet City mom said…
We will surely miss him.
Carol Simmons said…
Dear Maggie Hooks,

I don't know which school your child attends, but for the secretary to say that they "are not suppose to record the bus as the reasons for tardiness" is ridiculous. A tardy is counted as an unexcused absence and will factor into a student's attendance record. A certain number of unexcused absences can lead to a student's suspension from school. Please see the Principal about this statement which the Secretary made. If this is the school or district policy, it must be changed.

Jet City mom said…
A tardy is counted as an unexcused absence and will factor into a student's attendance record.

We had also been told at both of the schools my D attended that yellow bus lateness would not go on her record, but that lateness because of traffic/private car or Metro would.

We couldn't control the lateness of the yellow bus, but because of special needs it was exceedingly disruptive to her to be late in elementary school so I rearranged my schedule to drive her everyday.
Carol Simmons said…
Roscoe Bass called me the day before he left on his trip to say "goodbye" His voice was very frail. He never gave up advocating for all students. In his October 5th testimony at the school board meeting he stated that while he did not hold the board and superintendent accountable for the past, he "certainly would hold them accountable for the future." And Roscoe would have done just that............ So in his name we must do the same.

We will grieve for Roscoe, for the Bass family, for the loss to the Seattle Schools, and we will grieve for all of us.

dan dempsey said…
THE UNION made ...
......the voters DO IT.

It seems that The Times completely missed any element of the MATH pissed populace that might have preferred McLaren over Sundquist:

Notice how ST completely ignored the Math issue....
Marty appealed over the adoption of the "Discovering" series in high school.

Do you suppose any of the populace might have been pissed at SPS math k-12?

Someone really should testify on this mess, unnoticed by the Seattle Times, at a Board meeting.

9th graders that took algebra in 2010-2011

In Seattle the "BEST" academic high schools would be

Cleveland taught Algebra 85 minutes per day all year.

Then Sealth Principal John Boyd and Sealth's math department head testified as strongly in favor of the "Discovering" texts. Amber stated that her kids cannot learn the other way.

RBHS had special assistance from the UW's Math Education Project for at least two years

To my knowledge Roosevelt has never bought into the SPS Central's Math Baloney.

Here are scores for ninth graders at each school that took an Algebra Class in 2010-2011 by subgroup

All -9th - pass rate - percent at far below basic
58.6% Ballard 23%
60.8% Hale 21.7%
33.3% Garfield 43.3%
76.0% Roosevelt 11.3%
53.4% Cleveland 28.4%

48.8% DISTRICT 29.8%

33.5% Sealth 39.0%
6.6% RBHS 59.0%
56.3% Franklin 23.4%

Low Income -9th -- pass rate - percent at far below basic
48.3% Ballard 25.9%
35.4% Hale 37.5%
34.7% Garfield 43.8%
66.0% Roosevelt 22.1%
50.7% Cleveland 30.9%

38.5% DISTRICT 36.7%

26.2% Sealth 45.8%
7.7% RBHS 57.7%
56.4% Franklin 21.5%

Black - 9th
20.0% Ballard 50.0%
36.8% Hale 28.9%
21.8% Garfield 54.5%
54.5% Roosevelt 22.7%
39.0% Cleveland 35.4%

26.5% DISTRICT 45.2%

11.4% Sealth 53.2%
00.0% RBHS 72.7%
40% Franklin 31%

Perhaps Bob Murphy or someone at Franklin could tell us what is happening at Franklin.

Low income kids
56.4% Franklin 21.5%

Gee with 21.5% of low income kids at far below standard.....
when the district average is 36.7 ....
Does the District pay any attention or does the District just count on free passes from the Seattle Times for everything academic.
Patrick said…
It's a start that the child isn't penalized for the bus being late. Now how about a statistical report to the board and the public, by route, showing how many students are how late how often due to the bus routes?
Anonymous said…
Dear Maggie --
I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to hear from Tom Bishop or anyone in the Transportation department. My experience has been zero response, regardless of message. Completely anti-customer-oriented.
Perhaps you'll have better luck with KSB.
mirmac1 said…

I'm just glad I was able to shake his hand and thank him for the exemplary example he gives to the rest of us "activists" the Times derides on a regular basis.
Sahila said…
something to think about:

Stalinizing American Education

by Lawrence Baines — September 16, 2011

The similarities between contemporary American educational reform and Soviet educational reform of the 1930s are as striking as they are discomfiting. ....
cpvmac said…
Does anyone know when the new board member(s) get seated? : )
Christina said…
Sharon Peaslee has narrowed her vote deficit against Peter Maier in the Seattle School District 1 race, from Thursday night's 3300-something to 1947 votes.

I do not know yet if there are more ballots left to count.
hschinske said…
Mine hasn't been counted yet, according to the vote tracker:

Your returned ballot packet was received by King County Elections.

We received your returned ballot packet and will prepare it for processing.

Check back to confirm that your signature has been verified.

Helen Schinske
dw said…
Sharon Peaslee has narrowed her vote deficit against Peter Maier

Yes she certainly has. I was not very optimistic over the weekend, but held out a glimmer of hope. After today's results I'm thinking there's actually a chance, depending on how many more votes are left to be counted.

The thing to look at is the raw # of votes, rather than just the percentages. Sharon has been gaining a little each day in the percentages, but Peter was still gaining each time in raw # of votes. With today's votes, Sharon erased 1,372 votes from the differential, from 3,319 to 1,947.

Also, the gains are not linear, but accelerating. In other words, the rate of change (in percentage of votes counted) as been increasing in Sharon's favor with each new set of votes counted, with this last batch making a very significant change.

The percentage differential:
Nov08: 4.24%
Nov09: 3.88%
Nov10: 3.30%
Nov14: 1.66%

The rate of change: 0.36% -> 0.58% -> 1.7% !

There's a saying in the financial industry that says: "past performance is no guarantee of future results", but IF there are still at least another 15k votes, I'd say this will be a very, very close race. :-)
dw said…
Another stat from today's results:

Todays vote count was 54% Peaslee vs. 46% Maier.

It doesn't take too many more votes coming in at that rate to change a 50.66% to 49.0% race!
dw said…
Also, mandatory recount happens if:

* Less than 2,000 votes difference AND
* Less than ½ of one percent

This could easily happen.
ArchStanton said…
Thanks for the update and armchair analysis Christina and dw.

Christmas (or the holiday of your choice) may come early this year!
ArchStanton said…
Nov 15, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 16, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 17, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 18, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 21, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 22, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 23, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 24, 2011 12:00 AM - Holiday
Nov 25, 2011 12:00 AM - Holiday
Nov 28, 2011 04:30 PM - Results posted
Nov 29, 2011 08:30 PM - Canvassing Board convenes to certify final election results
Nov 30, 2011 12:00 PM - Final results posted

/it could be a while before we really know...

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