Sunday, April 28, 2013

In Advance of the Mayoral Forums

The King County Democrats had their endorsement interviews this weekend and have put up the questionaires that each candidate filled out.  Very illuminating.

To note:
  • Murray, Martin, Harrell, Steinbrueck all say no to charters (and vouchers)
  • Burgess and McGinn gave "qualified" answers to charters.  Here they are:
I did not support the charter school campaign last year as I viewed that effort as a distraction from some of the larger issues we need to address related to public education. I’m a strong advocate for innovation and reform in public education, but these initiatives should be pursued in cooperation with our teachers, principals and parents. We have seen significant reforms in Seattle Public Schools through the collective bargaining process; for example, teacher evaluation protocols and creative approach schools.

I believe we should monitor the 40 charter schools authorized statewide by the statewide initiative to determine whether they generate better outcomes for students, and deserve to be replicated.  They also need (sic) to be public oversight to hold them to high standards, and to protect collective bargaining rights.  The reality is that, although improving, the achievement gap is deep and lingering and our district is failing to educate many students, particularly those from communities of color.  We need to be open to different options.

Now I had to take a deep breath when I first read these statements.  Because, despite repeated outreach (face-to-face) with both these candidates when the charter campaign was on, neither of them made a single public statement.  I asked and I read and nope, nothing.

In fact, Burgess told me he would not talk about this subject.   His statement makes him sound so willing to talk to all and yet he certainly didn't during the campaign.  (You'll recall that Burgess also thinks mayoral control of the district and the school board might be good ideas.)

You are welcome to take these statements however you want and weigh them against whatever else matters to you in a mayor.  However I feel that both of them showed a decided lack of political courage to take a stand during the campaign (one way or the other).  Maybe this was the safest route for their campaigns but I want a mayor who has the courage of his/her convictions.

I am especially disturbed that McGinn weakly says "we" should monitor the charter schools created.  And how will he, as Mayor, do that?

All the candidates save Steinbrueck said education was one of their top priorities (although Steinbrueck did have plenty to say on the subject anyway).  His ideas include early childhood education and green buildings.

Harrell brought up the idea of Community Service Officers which would be SPD assigned to neighborhoods (and that would include schools) who would be key communicators between neighborhoods and police.

Murray said he would make permitting easier for the district to get school construction done more quickly.  Good call.

All the candidates support more early childhood education.

One other fascinating item is the first non-incumbent candidate for School Board.  That would be Suzanne Dale Etsey.  She is running for Michael DeBell's (apparently) open seat.  She has one child in SPS at Blaine.  She has a very high-powered campaign manager (and this is NOT typical for School Board elections).

About funding:
While I have not officially started fundraising, I have discussed a potential candidacy with a number of community leaders and believe I will have a strong level of support.
I plan to raise at least $100,000, and perhaps as much as $150,000, depending on the field of candidates.

$100k?  Well, there's a throwdown number sure to scare off competition.  Except that School Board elections are NOT won by money.  We know that in our own city and we just saw it in LA.  

Ms. Etsey, until last November, worked for the City of Renton as the Economic Development Director.  She now has a consulting firm.  At one time, she worked for Washington Mutual as a lobbyist and famously sent out an e-mail telling WaMu employees to vote down the monorail (The Stranger raked her over the coals for that one).

 Looking further into her background, she counts Lisa Macfarlane, Steve Litzow, Tim Burgess and Rodney Tom as her friends.  She supports both the Alliance for Education, LEV and the Gates Foundation. You can't get too much more ed reform.  (She does say that she is not for charters but I have to wonder if that's a Steve Sundquist-type stance.)

In a charming moment, she lists her service when she was a student at Laurelhurst, Eckstein and Roosevelt.  I didn't know that K-12 work was important for candidates but I'll keep that in mind for the future.

I will leave it to you to read her priorities for SPS.  I will just say that she does seem to deal in a great number of platitudes and, sadly, uses the term "world-class" three times.  (I was hoping in this election that we would see that term retired.)

I do not see from her background that she knows SPS and it will interesting to see how she does during any debates.  Platitudes are not what we need in this district.  And, because while every director comes in with a learning curve, it would be good not to have someone who appears to have a steep one.


Watching said...

Burgess is a master with words. Burgess has stated that he didn't "support" I 1240, but he didn't oppose I 1240, either. Burgess had a chance to influence voters, but he chose to stay silent. He is trying to come out of this smelling like a rose.

Burgess has received full campaign funding from Nick Hanauer and his wife, and has received funding from DFER. Does anyone else think Burgess would obtain support from Hanauer and McFarland to push through mayoral control?

I thought about supporting McGinn, but I"ll have to write him off of the list too.

Charlie Mas said...

I would never vote for Tim Burgess for a variety of reasons, so keep that bias in mind when you read my comments.

Mr. Burgess wrote: "I’m a strong advocate for innovation and reform in public education"

I hear statements like this all the time from political types. Someone needs to follow up those sorts of claims with a call for examples.

If Mr. Burgess says that he's a strong advocate for innovation in public education then he should be able to give a list of examples of that advocacy and someone should definitely ask for it.

I'm sure he would point to the Family and Education Levy, but I don't know how of much of that money supported innovative strategies and how much supported more of what the schools have always done.

After twelve years of hearing every single school board candidate claim to be an advocate of advanced learning and watching every single Board Director consistently fail to advocate for advanced learning once elected, I no longer accept these claims at face value.

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Estey wrote something telling in her questionnaire for the King County Democrats:

"We must continue to strengthen our schools, especially where student outcomes remain unacceptably low, and drive for higher academic outcomes."

Ms Estey seems to buy into the idea of "good" schools and "failing" schools. Why else would she say that we have to strengthen our schools? How, exactly, does she propose to strengthen schools? What does that even mean?

She is equally opaque about how the district should work with student families and how avenues could be "fostered to grow these critical partnerships." In addition, we get the bonus of seeing "grow" used as a transitive verb.

Here's a good question for Ms Estey if your home is one of the 10,000 she intends to doorbell:

"What action would she take if the district leadership didn't keep a promise to a community?"

Hmmm said...

Should an individual that lacks a college degree be able to take mayoral control of Seattle Public Schools?

Maureen said...

I just went back to check the date on the CPPS mayoral forum you posted on April 9th.:

The forum will take place April 30th in the Garfield High School Commons. CPPS will hold its annual meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The 90-minute forum will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The funny thing is that I don't see it posted on the CPPS web page or calendar.

Can we assume it's still going on tomorrow night as scheduled?

Stephanie Jones said...

It's on! We have recently lost our webmaster (bad timing) but the Mayoral Forum is occurring Garfield tomorrow night - 4/30 6:30-8:30pm

Maureen said...

Thanks Stephanie! I knew someone here would know!