Friday Open Thread

A few updates:

One - with less than 8,000 votes to count statewide, I-1240 appears to have passed.  (I'm sure it's true but I'm not the Secretary of State and in a position to officially call it.)  The margin appears to be 1.36% of the vote which is just under 41,000 votes.  A win for sure but certainly no mandate. 

Two - Thanks to SPS Leaks for some very illuminating reading.  To whit:

Lynne Varner gets it wrong in an Times editorial and SPS gently points this out to her.  I note that Varner says "sources" told her certain things about the departure of Superintendent Enfield.  So, as you see, journalists have sources and they don't reveal them (and sometimes not even by the order of a court) and that's how it goes.  (I, of course, still contend that I am not a journalist but I have sources.  I do get my hand slapped occasionally by readers demanding to know my source.  Not revealing them is how you keep your sources.)

Three, I think most of you know that the Board cannot meet privately, with each other or others, with more than two of them in attendance.  There are people up the food chain who know this and frequently invite one or two in to talk.  This is fine except when you see of pattern of who gets invited.  It would appear that Michael DeBell is quite chummy with those people. 

I often wonder how much each Board member knows of the other Board members communications and meetings.  Like this one.  This is what Councilman Tim Burgess - who may be announcing for Mayor any day now according to Publicola - said to Enfield and DeBell.  (Italics mine.)

Susan and Michael, I want to provide a little update on our idea to convene a small group of 
individuals for a discussion about the downtown elementary school, Memorial Stadium and district headquarters.  

Thank you for agreeing to engage in some creative brainstorming to see if we can identify some reasonable solutions.

Again, it fine to meet and talk but if DeBell then goes back to his colleagues and presents the ideas from these "brainstorming" sessions as his own, then that would be wrong.   (Also, why were they wanting to talk about the headquarters?) 

One thing to point out from these e-mails is how incredibly hard Kay Smith-Blum works to be friendly, positive and yet firm.  The nuance she puts into her replies is amazing.  Very impressive.  Case in point is where she puts on a good face after Chris Larson sends her this:

I have given over $10M to SPS via my funding of the South Shore School via the New School Foundation.  We are reaching the end of our 10-year operating agreement.  I have some big decisions to make going forward regarding what my continued level of support will be.  

I would like to meet with you to get a better understand(sic) of where you and the school board stand on certain educational reform issues.  

A review of the 2009 PDC database shows that my wife and I were the two largest contributors to your last campaign.

So there.  (He's this guy.  He ts on the Board of Directors at New School which is now part of LEV.  Look for Mr. Larson to be on the board of directors for any new charter school located at South Shore.)

Another fairly aggressive e-mail from Sara Morris of the Alliance for Education asks a lot of questions of HR's Paul Apostle about some new CBA language.  This is fine but when Michael DeBell complains about community making too many public disclosure requests, I hope he considers this kind as well.  The information she was requesting was not make via public disclosure (as it likely would have been for anyone else). 

Another e-mail says that the Alliance spent money having the entire Seattle CBA analyzed.   Interesting.

She then writes to Bob Boesche, complaining about the slowness of Apostle's answers.  (Maybe it's really not his top priority.)  She says,

"Candidly, the radio silence presents some reputational risk for the district that is not in anyone's best interest."  "There are a large number of people expecting a clear set of data this Friday (after having expected it since April). 

Give me timely answers or I'll go telling the rest of the playground that you don't play our way.  

Again, NO entity should have more sway, influence or power over the Board or district staff.  NO entity or any person.  The Superintendent and the Board should move to protect district staff and themselves against this kind of muscling. 

What's on your mind?


SPSLeaks said…
For those of you wanting to spend your holiday reading the latest (thousand of pages of) revealing disclosures, remember to add to your favorites...
Thankful for FOIA said…

Charter supporters want a downtown charter schools. Where does Tim Burgess stand on this issue? Or, is Tim Burgess the one proposing a downtown charter schools?
Thankful for FOIA said…
SPS Leaks, The link isn't working.
Anonymous said…
re: Chris Larson, what I found interesting is where Mary Jean Ryan wants to bend KSB's ear. When Kay demurs, MJR goes crying to Daddy Warbucks who blasts his serf KSB. A coffee chat is promptly set up, and Kay says "after hearing from Chris my ears are burning..."

S'funny. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's lobbied KSB, only to get the "hand" treatment. In her case I don't believe it's as simple as face-palm versus palm-out, but there does seem to be more restraint if one comes across as "I own you."

Anonymous said…
Hmmm. I thought Chris Larsen was all but broke, according to the Times which has covered all his divorce dealings. Maybe that's why the 10 mil has got to be reconsidered.

Anonymous said…
I also find it interesting that A4E pulled its grant for "HR Transformation" because it was peeved. The remaining unspent $30K was offered to Banda upon his start along with another $170K for any proposal he wanted to whip together for one of the things on his wish list.

Of course this is all on the up and up because he'd have to "apply" and then they would "grant" the funds. Then, when he displeased them, they could just pull the plug on that too. Sort of like payola and coercion at once.

joanna said…
I guess we could sense that some of this is happening, but to see it in print is fascinating.
Anonymous said…
I find Councilman Burgess perhaps not REALLY committed to open government.

Anyone who writes an email titled "confidential brainstorming" to a public official ..... leads me to believe they are not a 100% booster of "Open Government".

-- Dan Dempsey
yes on1240 said…
A win is a win Westbrook so deal you lost
suep. said…
Ah, how sweet and diplomatic of you, "yeson1240."

But the truth is, a "win" by less than 41,000 votes statewide, by a small group of extremely wealthy individuals who paid $11 million (17 times more than the No side had to spend) to push a discredited agenda items of theirs (privatizing public ed via charters) with a misleading and alarmingly undemocratic and unconstitutional initiative is not really much of a "win" at all. It's more like a heist or a swindle.
Charlie Mas said…
Let us all bear in mind that the law of the land is not static. It is constantly changing.

Initiatives pass only to find themselves reversed by the Courts, de-funded by the legislature, or simply reversed after two years.

So, yes, a win is a win, but it is not a permanent win.
I did report that 1240 won; what did you miss?

But I do agree with Yogi Berra; it ain't over until it's over.
Anonymous said…
In this political climate, it won't ever be over. Until we have more than a sliver of margin for a win for either side (and I'm talking all initiatives and office holders), there will be a constant push and pull. I feel our city, and the entires country, is caught in one of those Chinese finger traps.

WV: gunsca – militant alt. musicians

Solvay Girl
Watching said…
Yes on 1240 shouldn't be so smug. Stay tuned. The show isn't over.
Watching said…
"I find Councilman Burgess perhaps not REALLY committed to open government.". You bet.

Burgess is also a coward. He never took a public position on 1240. I'll be sure to remind the public of this when he seeks office of Mayor.
Anonymous said…
I will vote for the "outsider" for mayor, cuz this insider crowd is scum.

grossed out
Anonymous said…
The arrogance displayed in some email threads is sickening. It's not like they don't know such communications are public record. DeBell and his ilk just don't care about anybody (much less the kids) but themselves and their own agendas. 

SPSLeaks said…
Like Lynne Varner, I refuse to reveal my sources (but you can just look at the email addresses to find out yourself!)
Someone said…
Hmmm... finally got a chance to read over some of these myself - there's such a sense of "echo chamber" here - the same people all talking to each other and no one else.

I know that happens at every big organization - but to have so much of the...well..."direction" for lack of a better word coming from outside SPS leadership is a decidely uncomfortable thing.
Not sure what one can do to counteract that, because us lowly citizens clearly just muddy the waters....hmmmm...
Anonymous said…
At least we know Sara Morris can be scheduling jogs and "coffees" with Enfield and DeBell so readily now that they are (or soon will be) gone.

But let's look at who's left:

Carr, clearly discredited with her commiserating about the "troubles" once BFF Enfield left

HMM, meh

DeBell, what's he going to do without his soapbox for patronizing put downs?

KSB, I think she's shown she can negotiate the shoals

Patu, Peaslee, McLaren, my peeps.

post-menopausal mom
dan dempsey said…
Education Hypocrisy is on my mind.

Consider the SPS school report cards and Aki Kurose 8th grade math.

Consider the SPS report cards on 8th graders ready for high school math.

SPS school report card:
Reports Aki Kurose that 90% of 8th graders are leaving Aki ready for high school math.
(WOW what official authored that STAT?)

The SPS report on Aki Kurose is here

Now here is what is happening in Math at SPS middle Schools

Note: at Aki 29.5% of 8th graders passed the 8th grade MSP math test in 2012
and 51.2% of students tested at level 1 (well below standard)

SO HOW can 90% be ready for High School Math when over 50% are well below standard on the MSP 8th grade math test?

Hey it does not need to make sense ... it is an SPS Math school report card announcement. ((Is anyone accountable for these reports?))
Anonymous said…
On a completely different note, can anyone tell me how I can find out about gymnastics equipment at other schools? I have been told that Roosevelt is the only school to have a spring floor. I thought Ballard and Garfield had them too.

In this day and age, spring floors are a safety matter for the floor routine. I find it pretty shocking that there are no spring floors for gymnasts in most schools and now understand why most club gymnasts don't compete for their high schools. Wrestling mats are a pretty scary substitute.

With the switch over to the official SPS webpages, some of the webpages have really degraded while others have improved because they couldn't get any worse. I used to be able to find this info on the webpages.

Anonymous said…
How about some clear, unadulterated nastiness toward teachers...from Pacific Northwest - The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine, September 18, 2011, page 2 (inside front cover):

"NEXT WEEK: The image of teachers has morphed over the last century - from saintly standard-bearers to foot-dragging slackers. As our expectations grow, so does our ambivalence."

That's right.


I gotta wonder what genius at the Times let this one out for publication.


HP, hard to say about the spring floors. I would think Garfield, being newer, would have one but honestly, when they were spending money on new schools, I doubt this was at the top of the list. I had to fight, for years after Roosevelt was built, to even get security cameras in.

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