Friday, January 20, 2012

The Times Stirs the Pot

As Scarlett O'Hara said, "What I wouldn't say if I wasn't a lady?"

Their latest editorial - full of tiresome terms, innuendo and flat-out hectoring - was printed today.   And boy, are their knickers in a twist.

First, the ever-popular cry of "don't micromanage."  No one is but they keep saying it whenever people they don't like get elected.

Then they treat McLaren and Peaslee like little children.

Then they call out Smith-Blum and Patu that they should read the policy 1620 as a reminder.

Do they call out Martin-Morris or Carr?  Of course not.

They also say this:

One board member reportedly ordered Enfield to fire some employees.

To which I said:
You know, for a fact, that a Board member ordered Enfield to fire employees? Where is your evidence or proof? Because if you truth-challenged people HAD any, there would be a story by Brian Rosenthal and not an editorial. 

Then they said:

At a recent retreat, another raised the idea of the board approving principal hires.  The board should not be able to hire and fire anyone other than the superintendent. 

Alas and alack -whether the people at the Times think they should not be able to, state law says they CAN.  (These people NEVER do their homework.)

Here's what I said in the comments section:

Yes, at the Board retreat, newbie Sharon Peaslee, DID ask about the Board and principal hires. And guess what? It was explained to her that YES, Washington State RCW DOES give that power to school boards and ALL over the state, school boards hire principals.

In the larger school districts, most have given that power over to their superintendents. Michael DeBell, School Board President, said all of this at a recent Executive Committee meeting.

And then there's this undercurrent of "we will never attract anyone good to be superintendent with all this"?

But that's really the end game, no?  For the Times and the powers that be in this town to smugly say, "See we were right" while THEY were stirring the pot the whole time.  That's what Crosscut is doing as well.

It's a sad, sad thing but I still believe the Board will get a lot of great candidates.  Even if others don't want them to materialize.

The Times gets more pathetic and desperate by the day, hoping that someone is listening to them when really, they exist in their own little echo chamber.

If Michael DeBell really cares about this district, he would be tamping this kind of nonsense down right now.  


Anonymous said...

If only we could get King5's Jim Foreman and the Seattle Times' Lynne Varner to swap jobs.

"Throw me into a hurricane" Foreman wouldn't cringe at the monsooning disaster that is the Times' "reprint corporate ed reform positions and print them ad nauseum" commitment to "helping" Seattle Public Schools.

And Varner could experience the big wide world outside her tiny little mindset er cubicle. Perchance during an ice storm.


"Media Savvy"

Anonymous said...

That's one thing I don't get ... why aren't any of the news stations interested in education stories?


Anonymous said...


They don't make for good visuals unless you have
1) people picketing or
2) cute kids in the classroom...and how many cute kids in the classroom can the average audience handle in a week?


The issues are too complex for 30 second soundbites.

"Media Savvy"

Joy A. said...

My brother works as a producer for NBC In New York on "Education Nation." He lived in Seattle for ten years before that. I am always complaining about the goings on at Seattle Public Schools, and I often would ask him, "Why can't you come out here and do an expose on SPS?" He replied, "It's too bad no one has killed anyone out there, then we would show up." Basically, SPS's misdeeds are just not quite salacious enough for prime time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I"m hoping to get some national coverage on the charter issue but I need to get to some people first.

Jack Whelan said...

Remember at the swearing in ceremony in December Sherry Carr warned against "micromanaging"--and how weird that sounded at the time? Some of us here were wondered what she could possibly have meant. Well now we know, don't we?

It's clear that this was a strategy developed even before the new board members took office to hamstring what they feared would be an activist new majority. It's like a Republican talking point--like the way "flip-flopper" was pinned on John Kerry back in '04.

So the downtown folks--the Varners, Brewsters, Bridges, and Alliance types--have lost their control of the board majority, and this is their lame attempt to fight back, and they've made the "reasonable" Mr. Nice guy, Michael DeBell, their point man.

As I wrote in a comment to the Crosscut piece by Brewster, the narrative these downtown folks want everyone to believe is that there are only two choices--between, on the one hand, cool, competent professionals who understand the big picture, or, on the other, amateurish, single-issue, activist ideologues who will obstruct real progress as it has been planned out by the "professionals".

But as many have pointed out here and elsewhere, it's the professionals that have lost all credibility because on their watch some of the most egregious dysfunction happened precisely because the board was so passive. And yet continued passivity is what the professionals now call for from the board.

So let's give this "new majority" a chance to find a third way. All of us who know Marty and Sharon also know they bear little resemblance to the stereotype the "professionals" are projecting. Maybe this new board will deliver the good sense and probity that has been so lacking from those "professionals" who are so convinced they know better.

Jack Whelan said...

My point about the use of the word "micromanage" is that it is pre-emptive rather than descriptive or empirical. This micromanaging narrative sets things up so that any time the board does somethng the "professionals" don't like, they'll scream that they're "micromanaging". Such labeling doesn't need to bear much resemblance to reality to work.

mirmac1 said...

I think it is time to boycott the businesses that support these tabloids. Just send them a copy of these crap articles, with the sleazier parts highlighted, a copy of the Elway survey showing how we much prefer teachers to the clowns trying to play politics with our childrens' education, and tell them that you will post on all your social media sites a call to boycott their businesses until they pull their ads from these cretin sites.

Here's a partial list to get started...

Chinatown/International District Business Improvement Area
The Seattle Foundation (that’s a given)
Seattle Weekly:
UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinics
The Love Zone (kinky!)
Crystal Mountain
Seattle Times:
Take your pick…

Anonymous said...

At times, director DeBell does ask probing questions. Of course do these "probing" questions get answers? Umm, no. But that's OK. Those tough, "probing" questions got asked. We can just go home now. Anything else, well, that would be "micromanaging".

Congress have their hearings all the time for this sole purpose. They can thunder away, shake their fists, hurrump, moan, cry, pffffsttt, show charts, rap, wax poetry and quote dead men. Make good TV, set the blogosphere abuzz, and sell papers.

More useless drama and pot stirring just highlight that it was never about kids and learning.

-politics and bad theater
WV: cocavent

Anonymous said...

Recent history has shown that the job of the board is oversight. Michael DeBell is aggressively holding to the notion that in his world the act of oversight is meddling and micromanaging. Evidence to the contrary is piled up all around him like cord wood and he wants to burn it as his final act of CYA. I say final because I can't imagine he'd have the nuts to run again. He's done enough damage but these people are arrogance personified. DeBell, Enfield, Jon Bridge and the rest of this self interested clique aren't doing anything for my grandkids but rather TO them. I welcome new board members who come without a canned agenda. Look at the complainers. They have nothing to complain about so why then are they complaining?

Mr. White

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

mirmac1: Can you draft a boycott letter outlining the salient points and post it somewhere.

We can start by posting FBing it for wide distribution, while sending signed copies to the advertisers.

What's the old rule of thumb...every angry letter = 100 people with the same sentiments?

Eric M said...

Snore. The Seattle Times is the publishing wing of the Gates Foundation.

Mr. DeBell's track record hardly qualifies him as a competent authority in school board management.

a) Teach for America? Check.
b) Silas Potter Scandal? Check.
c) Sale of MLK property to lowest bidder, $7 large walks out the door? Check.
d) Backing Goodloe-Johnson to the hilt while no-confidence motion by staff in progress? Check.
e) Repeated, ridiculously bad state audits? Check.
f) Purchase of stupid MAP test in no-bid contract from Superintendent's business? Check.

etc, etc, etc.

That he would provide this kind of reception to new School Board members duly elected by voters speaks volumes about who butters his toast.

mirmac1 said...

Here you go, with handy links. Just download, then cut, paste and embellish. Please post on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Dear Advertiser

dan dempsey said...

About Eric M's check list.

DeBell gave a great analysis of the lousy New Tech Network contract and then voted against it (Hooray) but it was still purchased in a 4-3 vote.

DeBell has been increasingly skeptical of the Centralization under the Strategic Plan and its big spending with few results.

DeBell has been critical of Discovery/Inquiry math.

His recent actions seem like moving in the opposite direction..... Have we been conned or are we being conned now?

He looks too much like Harium and HMM's giant flip flop ..... which was needed when Cheryl Chow was no longer a director. Someone needed to be the "4" in the 4-3 majority votes and Harium took that role.

So NOW there are clearly three directors who are big on evidence and will NOT be on the flip-flop crew.

As DeBell, KSB, Carr, and HMM voted for TFA and did so on multiple occasions.... that could be the new "Four" vote majority.... Note to form this new "Majority Four" would require DeBell and KSB to jump to the other side of the fence from their usual positions.

SO FAR .... it looks like DeBell... is planning on supporting many things he spoke out against .. (I hope this is not so but) ... his wish for Enfield to stay is a desire to have a whole lot of the direction he spoke against continuing.

I do believe that Michael DeBell has made the major jump across the fence in the HMM style.

Now it is time to watch KSB as she is likely the only one that can not be assigned a spot in a group....

Group 1... Those that believe to improve a school system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

Group 2... Those that believe that following the guidance of the oligarchs is the best plan.

Note DeBell publicly agonized about extending MGJ's contract an additional year after the SAO report came out ..... but he voted to extend MGJ's contract an additional year. ...... Now it appears he is all for continuing with Enfield for several more years.

Michael DeBell is apparently a group 2 guy. He should get marvelous campaign contributions for his 2013 reelection campaign..... Oh and were is Rueven Carlyle on a bill in regard to limiting campaign contributions for school directors?

Jack Whelan said...


I think you're right--the downtown types saw the board going south on them, with Sherry the only sure thing, HMM a wild card, and DeBell and KSB the swing votes. It appears that they have claimed DeBell, but have not (so far) claimed KSB.

As Brewster's Crosscut article earlier in the week pointed out, there's good reason to believe that KSB will remain independent or side more often than not with Marty, Sharon, and Betty. KSB felt marginalized by the Sundquist/Maier board and is now feeling a breath of new life, and does not see Sharon or Marty the same way DeBell does.

And she's right not to. DeBell is really being unfair to them. Rather than keep an open mind and give the new board a chance to gel, he's trying preemptively to impose the downtown agenda. I wanted to think better of him, but apparently he's happy to have become the archetypal "tool".

But I'm sure there will be a lot of pressure put on KSB to get in line since she's now truly the only swing vote, but I think now because she is no longer isolated, she will resist and keep an open mind for good ideas no matter where they come from, even neighborhood activists.

Anonymous said...

I'd love it if the board ever hired principals. At least parents would have some input. As it is now, the board just says "yes" all the time. You could call it governance I suppose, but why would we want that? Or, more of that?


Anonymous said...

If Michael Debell can't stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. He's there by his own accord.


uxolo said...

Who will run against DeBell?

Melissa Westbrook said...

He may or may not serve another term; he has done two and it certainly is tiring work.

But Uxolo, I'm sure there are people already planning who might replace him. David Brewster at Crosscut threw that down in his last editorial.

Again, these people do NOT get the true nature of school board campaigns so they can get all the consultants and money they want. It rarely makes an election.

Anonymous said...

The ST has removed the editorial from its on-line opinion page. Anyone ever see this happen? I haven't.


Anonymous said...

I need to add that you can still find it through Melissa's link, but as of a few minutes ago it was not visible by typing in the Times url and clicking on opinions and editorials.


mirmac1 said...

Perhaps the few emails to advertisers works...

mirmac1 said...

I have updated the Word Doc to include four more advertisers (on pg 2)

Dear yellow journalist

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

Banner Advertisers for online sites (IF you want to send letters):

The Weekly: Crystal Mtn.

The Times: Fry’s Electronics (below the fold)

Crosscut: No commercial Banner Ads except for a large Rob McKenna for Governor advertisement (telling huh?)

mirmac1 said...

The Word doc has web links and/or email addresses on pg 2.

Let's nip this slimeball lunacy in the bud.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice how DeBell, et al.'s anti-micromanagement position completely tracks the platform and narrative for Charter School and Mayoral Control proponents? Greasing the skids?