Thursday, September 04, 2014

Out of Touch at the Seattle Times

Well, I just finished listening to the Mayor's press conference for the announcement of the new Education and Early Learning department.

Is Murray "thinking" about a governance takeover OR has he "considered" it in an abstract way? The press conference video indicates he is aware of what other cities do (he compared the East Coast to the West Coast ) and said that "power is diffused in the West."

I believe the Times - in their never-ending vendetta against the Seattle School Board (no matter who sits on it) - took the Mayor's statement about it might be easier to get things done if the City ran public education out of context. It was not any signal but an acknowledgement of how it could be different, but not necessarily better.

The Board was NEVER mentioned.   By anyone.

The issue seems to be that he was asked - three times for Murray, once for Nyland - about governance.  Every single time he said no.  He said he didn't want any issue to "devolve" into issues of governance.  He said that "rearranging the chairs" was not the answer.  In fact, he seemed a bit irritated at the end saying, "I don't have Mayor Ed Murray's plan for taking over the school district." 

 (Nyland just laughed at the question and said, "Hey, I'm delighted to be here for this year and we're moving forward on the Strategic Plan. "  He ended by laughing.)

Interestingly, it was not the Times asking the questions about governance; it was Essex Porter from KIRO tv.

The Mayor did say reference - a couple of times - "other governance models" and said it might be a discussion for later.   

The most important thing Murray said was that he was looking for "outcomes" in the collaboration with Seattle Schools and moving the needle forward.  He said that was the "secret Mayor Murray plan - to change outcomes and what turns the gap around."

As well, the Mayor expressed other ways to get to better outcomes, namely by programs that supported parents who are low-income or live in poverty. That getting at poverty? That is the single biggest thing any city could do to help public education.

Good for the Mayor.

But the Times may have done everyone a favor.  Because now we have had the man at the top of the City go on record.  It would seem that he would want to see the outcome of the preschool measures, how well the new education department works, meet whoever is the permanent superintendent for SPS and hey, Ed Murray hasn't even been in office for a year.

The Times thinks this should be a "top priority" for the City Council and Mayor.  More than McCleary?  Who can take them seriously?

So Times, do blather on.  We can all get a laugh from it as well as daylight some issues. 


Inside said...

A source had a private conversation with Murray. Governance change is on his mind.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, if that is true, then he is being disingenuous and that may hurt him later on.

I'm trying to be fair here but if it comes to pass that this "collaboration" stuff is just a placeholder while they get a plan organized down at City Hall and then claim their "collaboration" didn't work?

That will be tough to get past.

Also, I believe that whoever is behind this is not going to find any Seattle legislator (maybe Eric Pettigrew) to sponsor such legislation).

Inside said...

Let's talk: We have the Family and Education Oversight Committee, mayoral appointed pre-school oversight. SPS already aligns with local universities. Explain: What is a department of Early Education?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Inside, it's the Education and Early Childhood Learning Department.

The Mayor was asked if it was premature to create such a department (given the preschool prop hasn't even been voted on). His reply (paraphrasing from my notes):

No, we already have an Office of Education with $30M a year (F&E levy) and other programs that will be integrated. In addition, we need to build relationships with higher ed. Universal Pre-K doesn’t make the Office of Education.

He also mentioned other ties to the district(again paraphasing):

Details around permitting for SPS and shared space/use of space, creating department of education to bind together for one-stop shopping.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's remember that "cooperation" and "collaboration" don't mean the same to us as they mean to politicians. To us they imply sharing ideas and authority. To politicians, they mean that you do things their way.

Inside said...

I've listened to the tape. For now, I'm going to agree with Melissa. I don't think Murray is going to go for a governance change right now; his first goal is to pass the pre k initiative.

Let's remember: Murray's MO is "incrementalism" and he is proud of this skill.

Interesting that the press was very concerned about the city putting their nose under the educational tent/ city take-over.

Let's also remember that Murray, while in the legislature, drafted legislation related to educational governance changes.