Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crucial Voting for Seattle School Board

It happens every single time there are school board races - that it is VITAL to vote and get the right people on the Board.

I will admit that last time, in trying to find good candidates for a couple of races, I certainly got fooled.  I really thought that Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren were change agents.  They did present themselves that way even as I realized they really didn't know the district well. My vetting of them found two fired-up women ready to come in and ask hard questions.  Well, that really didn't happen (or it was piecemeal and uneven).

I read everything I could find online and attended five candidates forums.  

Here are my picks for School Board, some with comments and some I just decided that I will let the candidates' words speak for themselves.

District 6 - Leslie Harris.  (Public disclosure, we are friends.)  Harris is the only candidate running against an incumbent.

Harris has gotten nearly all the endorsements that McLaren garnered in her first run.  Indeed, Harris points out that she herself (as did I) voted for McLaren the first time around.  But McLaren has shown herself to be more interested - it would seem - in working in a committee-style, "collaborating" than actually getting things done or showing real leadership.

That Harris has cultivated friendships that have led to her massive build-up of endorsements, both social and political, is a good thing.  I'll go old-school and say she has a very big Roledex that she says she won't hesitate to use for the good of the district. 

She will be the change agent that McLaren promised to be.  It is deeply troubling to hear McLaren, at forum after forum, wistfully wishing for change, seemingly unaware that she IS in a position, right now, to make change.  She is in the position to hold staff accountable and doesn't. 

One telling example is at the Hale Forum where a student leader asked when the district is going to follow its promise of giving the ASBs the revenue from the district calendar advertising to backfill the loss of ASB funds from vending machines.  This was a real promise made - out loud at a Board meeting to ASB leaders - a couple of years back.

McLaren sighed and said that that the Board "had been wrestling with this issue" and "made progress" but "change comes slowly."  I can ask but I'm willing to bet the money from the advertising is probably no higher than $100K and more likely more towards $50K.  That's pretty much chump change for the district and yet it would be a huge support to these students.  And for schools like Rainier Beach and Cleveland and Sealth, it would truly be a lifeline.

Harris will hold staff accountable for the dollars and how they are spent.  And make this district be transparent will all the money.  Vote Harris.

District 4 - Rick Burke.  There really isn't a whole lot to say here.  Rick stands head and shoulders above Laura Gramer. 

With each forum, it became apparent how his engineering and business background are valuable assets he would bring to the Board.  His steady-state kind of being and expansive answers to questions shows that he has truly thought about the issues (but has the good grace to admit he has more to learn).

Gramar is a smart, passionate advocate for people with disabilities.  But she is not ready for this position and does not know the district well.  She may be a better candidate for a future Board election.

Vote Burke.

District 3 - Jill Geary.  This is the most competitive race of the four.  When you attend the forums, you see two smart, savvy women up on the stage.  So why Geary over Lauren McGuire?

Simply put, Geary's skill set is the one we need for the time and place this district is in.  With McGuire, you'll get a smart person who will not challenge staff at all. We have some smart people on the Board currently who don't challenge staff for oversight and accountability and look where we are. We do not need more of the same.

 For example, Leslie Harris brought up FACMAC at one forum.  Harris said it was a great group of people doing good work (I agree) and yet it just disappeared a year ago with no explanation.  So then, McGuire says yes, that she was ON that committee and it did do good work.  And then she stops.  She doesn't say she knows why the committee stopped its work nor if she wishes the committee was still working.  Why not?

Geary's legal background - plus her knowledge of education law especially around Special Education - make her the best choice.  Like Burke, she's a calm, steady-state kind of person (and again, that may be her legal training). 

District 1 - Scott Pinkham. Not good choices here but yes, there is a better choice between the two and that is Pinkham.  He's a Native American, has children in SPS and is a UW lecturer in American Indian Studies. 

Pinkham, like his challenger, does not know this district well.   Both candidates admit knowing little about McCleary and seem to want to pass that off to some other Board member.  Pinkham has not showed up at all the forums.  It's a bit stunning.

But when he has been present, he speaks clearly and firmly about two things.  One is listening to parents and community and including them in decision-making.  Two, he talks about building up community relationships and the strength it will give the district in doing so.

His challenger, Michael Christophersen, is a bit of like a box of chocolates - you never know what you will get.  He is a software tech with three students in SPS. 

(I note that both men seem either shy, withdrawn or both.  Being elected to public office, especially an office that involves a lot of public interaction, seems a tough gig for two men that have a difficult time making eye contact.)

I believe that Mr. Christophersen does not have the temperament or maturity to be an effective Board Director.  Here's some of the things he has said (and there are witnesses to all of them):

- got verbally abusive and loud at a Sped PTSA meeting to the point where it made others afraid and the president had to shout him down to get him to stop. (And I believe this is what The Stranger has been alluding to in its rejection of him and their endorsement of Pinkham.)

- Hale High Forum - He was teh first person to give an opening statement and he went on a tirade about The Stranger endorsement which was odd and confusing.

- Eckstein Forum - The question was round the "root causes of inequality in education for children of color."  He said he was "uncomfortable with the question as you can imagine." He went on to say it was like that "dream where you are in your underwear in front of other people."  H talked about his own childhood with a single mother and that the issue was "more socio-economic than a racial problem."  

- Eckstein Forum - The question was about if, like in California, a bill is brought forth in the Legislature about reducing the personal belief part of the vaccination law.  He said it's a "financial issue" and that the state would have to pay to educate the students.  I can find no RCW that says that.  There are services the state has to provide but not for full education of the student.

- League of Women Voters - When asked about views on facilities and capacity management, he said not to "throw stones at current staff" about being off on the current enrollment count.  He said more buildings should be vertical (I believe there is a height limit for free-standing schools) or that the district should bring on "second shifts."

- League of Women Voters - Mr. Christophersen's special interest - which he says at every single forum - is Special Education.  He said here that there is "injustice" for Sped kids and that it would be better to help "low-hanging fruit" like kids with dyslexia which would free up other "resources for economic injustice."  

- Horizon House - There was a question from the audience about guns and school violence (this right after the Oregon community college shootings).  Christophersen said he "didn't think it was a problem" and that, as a teen in Bellevue, he used to ride his bike around with a loaded .22 on his back. 

Mr. Christophersen seems to be sincere but his actions - toward Sped PTSA as well as towards this blog - as well as his words out in public forums are ones I find troubling.  (I note that he has scrubbed every comment he ever signed his name to on this blog.) 

I'm going to end my endorsements with first impressions of the candidates from some Hale students whom I sat in front of during the forum.  Some are funny, some are telling:

Christophersen - out there, opening statement - what was that?
Pinkham - like him, seems to care
Laura - a nice person
Rick - vanilla
Jill - overdressed but smart
Lauren - liked her but why did she keep going on about being student body president in her high school (shades of Suzanne Dale Estey)?
Marty - felt bad for her being attacked by all of them but she is elected
Leslie - aggressive but liked her/she has the experience.


dan dempsey said...

Oh Yeah four years ago ... I was a big McLaren booster.

Melissa is absolutely correct with "McLaren is in the position to hold staff accountable and doesn't".

She pretends to me a supporter of better math. Is she fooling herself or us?

She is on the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee.

On Oct 12 was she baffled by central staff nonsense in regard to the still undisclosed changed in Elementary Math "Scope and Sequence"?

Check out the last page of the Agenda of Oct 12 meeting.

Elementary Math Status Report
Goal: Ensure Educational Excellence & Equity for Every Student
Strategy: Commit to early learning education as the foundation for future academic success.
Objective: Implement an early learning mathematics plan aligned to CCSS

This is apparently code for abandon Math in Focus "scope and sequence" and replace it with Central Staff's preferred still under construction jumbled mishmash elementary math "scope and sequence".

Note: Parents had not been informed of the new scope and sequence. The Board, superintendent, and central staff have still not informed parents of this huge change.

more here including links =>
Objective: Implement an early learning mathematics plan aligned to CCSS

Surprize Surprize - The Scope and Sequence from Seattle's one year old adopted text has been secretly trashed

Anonymous said...

Melissa points out that Peaslee and McLaren ran as agents of change and morphed into supporters of continued stability.
How did that happen?

I would find it impossible for the following to change like that:

1: Burke
2: Geary
3: Harris

(ranked in order of most unlikely to morph into "Koolaid sipping supporters of all things Central Staff")

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have an insurgent write-in campaign for District 1? (I am not going to be the one to lead this, just curious if it is even do-able.)

Teach Everyone

Anonymous said...

Teach Everyone asked about write-in for the general election.

The only prohibition against a write-in is that the write-in candidate cannot have run in the primary.

If the "write-in" is for District 1 the write-in would need to reside in district 1.

-- Dan Dempsey

GarfieldMom said...

From her candidate statement, here's the first of Marty McLaren's claims of her successful record:

"In the past four years I have played a leading role on these important initiatives:
- adoption of a leading-edge K-5 math curriculum"

So, she's taking credit for the adoption of the curriculum, one that she is calling leading-edge, but where is she a year later when admin is busy dismantling and ruining the implementation of that curriculum? Do I hear...crickets?

Also she states in no uncertain terms that she knows what we need to do to close the opportunity gap. Don't keep us in suspense, Marty! If you have the solution that has stymied educators and administrators for years, please share it!

She spearheaded the School Board Code of Conduct, y'all. Now you officially know who thinks her colleagues are out of control and need to be reigned in so everyone has to do the ineffective "Seattle Nice" song and dance.

She seems to really believe she's going to win. That's how out-of-touch she is with parents/voters. Bye bye, Marty -- we gave you a chance (yup, voted for her too) and you've been a big disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Not making eye contact is a common practice among Native Americans as a sign of respect. Downward cast eyes are considered a sign of good manners. This habit is often misinterpreted by those who do not understand this cultural difference. -Was There

Eric B said...

I generally agree with Melissa's analysis, but I would vote for McGuire over Geary. I think McGuire brings a couple of things to the table that we don't get with Geary, and that the downsides are relatively small.

McGuire's upside:
Knowledge and understanding of the capacity issues. I don't think any of the other directors, sitting or candidate, understand capacity as well as McGuire. For all intents and purposes, FACMAC was dissolved for asking too many hard questions and going public when we didn't get answers.

Ability to lobby in Olympia. While I appreciate Harris' depth of experience, I don't think that the fire breathing types are very effective lobbyists, especially for people who aren't inclined to agree with you.

McGuire's downside:
I agree that McGuire probably won't be as forceful holding staff feet to the fire. However, I don't see that as a huge issue because of the future makeup of the Board. Right now, we have three directors who will basically go along with staff on most issues, and two who tend to swing toward the staff position. Peters and Patu are standing alone much of the time, and even Patu's vote can be peeled off at times. With the new Board under my vote, we would have one director going along with staff (Blanford), one who may tend to favor the staff position depending on the issue (McGuire), three revolutionaries (Peters, Burke, and Harris), and two who tend toward the revolutionary side but may be convinced one way or the other. I think we would see a much different dynamic in Board voting with a 3-vote plurality favoring change with 2-3 swing votes than we do now with the opposite situation.

I admit this is tactical voting, but I think the upside of voting for McGuire is pretty decent even if you think she may align more with staff.

I don't think McLaren is sure she's going to win. At the Hale forum, she looked beaten down and did not challenge Harris' description of McLaren's record on several issues. At the closing statement, she went first even though it was clear that Harris was going to tear her record up. Finally, I beat it out of the room pretty quickly, but she was right behind me. She may have had someplace she needed to be, but she didn't have the demeanor of a person who thinks the night went well. Maybe other forums were different, but she just seemed beaten down at Hale.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Was There, I have tried to engage Mr. Pinkham and he seems shy to me.

Yes, you can put in a write-in. If you have a good candidate, let us know. I think at this point, anything is possible.

Eric, if McGuire cares/knows about capacity so much, why not a peep about the obvious FACMAC dissolution?

I think you mistake passion for firebreathing with Harris; she would not have suceeded at her job for as long as she has if she didn't know how to hold her tongue.

And why the word "revolutionary?" How about freedom fighters?

I think you may be right about McLaren but she is stubbornly sticking to her talking points that are not serving her well.

Anonymous said...

Having taught on the Rez at various locations .... Was There is absolutely correct with: "Not making eye contact is a common practice among Native Americans as a sign of respect. Downward cast eyes are considered a sign of good manners."

In regard to past (2011) voting for McLaren and Peaslee remember this:
McLaren ran against Steve Sundquist and Peaslee ran against Peter Maier.

No need to vote against Sundquist this time as he is not running for School Board.

Reminder of what happens to "Big Money" backed losers =>
Peter Maier is on the Washington State Board of Education (elected 2013 , five of 16 members are elected. Voting is done by eligible electorates)

Steve Sundquist chairs the Charter School Commission (no election required)

-- Dan Dempsey

Watching said...

Voting Geary, Harris, Burke and Pinkam.

Geary has been a high level education advocate for the past 17 years. She is the only candidate with experience in education law, and has served as an administrative judge for OSPI- and one of the few candidates in the state with the skill set to do so. She has worked on issues regarding discipline, teacher certification and supported early learning. The district has been out of compliance on a variety of issues and Geary is the only candidate to assure the district stays in compliance. We need this candidate on the board.

McGuire is supported by Democrats for Education Reform; an organization that promotes charter schools, Teach for America and other highly controversial corporate backed reforms. McGuire, while serving on the PTSA, is on record as stating that she didn't think parents cared much about Teach for America. Really? McGuire doesn't have the ability to take a tough stance. Families about lunch and recess were upset, organized and asked the district to provide adequate recess. The district did not respond and it took a teacher's strike to get recess for these children. McGuire, via her Seattle Times interview, claimed there needed to be "collaboration" to avoid the teachers strike. Really?

Regarding Harris and Eric's comment: Clearly, he does not know Harris. Harris has deep connections within the Democratic Party and was recently endorsed by the Senate Minority Leader. Additionally, she has been endorsed by Dow Constantine and a host of others.

I appreciate Martha McLaren's service. She saved us from Steve Sundquist, voted against Teach for America and saved us from the district going down the rabbit hole of becoming a charter school authorizer before the Supreme Court decision. McLaren ran on the concept of Truth, Trust and Transparency, but failed to understand voters quest for transparency when she attempted to ram through the hiring of the superintendent over the holiday weekend- and without consulting with PASS. She sees herself as powerless and allowed the closure of Middle College...despite a REAL lack of transparency from the district. This program saved lives and the present board did not have the appetite to write a policy, to mandate the district to bring program closures before the board. McLaren was also quoted in the W. Seattle blog as being helpless...when it comes to reassigning students in 25 schools. McLaren's previous endorsements have been passed to Harris.

Burke has been involved with the district for years and he has the capacity to hit the ground running. His opponent brings a lot to the table, but I don't feel she is prepared for the job.

Pinkham has experiences that will be beneficial.

Watching said...

Lastly, McLaren voted to allow the superintendent to file an injunction against the teachers union. The strike was the only tool the teachers had to assure testing, recess, and other issues were addressed.

Anonymous said...

District 1

I am writing in Eric B for District 1!!

He would be like Director Sue Peters: intelligence, clarity, hard work and dedication. Those two together on the Board would be amazing.

In terms of the other candidate who was on FACMAC, don't be so quick to draw conclusions. Some meetings, there would have to be time spent bringing up to speed because of lack of knowledge, for example, how Greenlake area was getting flipped about, even though that was her backyard. NOT a good sign. Too much conservatism. The board candidate training? Bleh. SPS need does not a group of passive followers, but it desperately needs brilliant leaders on the board who are "on it" and won't let the staff members say 'the dog ate my homework'. Respecting process is good, but when it is corrupt, we need savvy board directors who have the moxy to call out disconnects between the policy, implementation, and the mission of this organization. Geary is detail oriented, she KNOWS SpEd, and that is what will make the difference in being an effective board director. The choice for Geary is obvious.

Eric B. for District 1!

Geary/Harrison/Burke Voter

Anonymous said...

Geary is a strong candidate, and I honestly wish I could vote for both her and Lauren McGuire to be on the School Board, but I support Lauren McGuire for the reasons noted by Eric B. We need someone on the Board who understands the capacity issues, and Lauren has been working on these issues well before FACMAC was formed. She was one of the group of parents who FINALLY got the District to admit that they had enrollment growth, and that schools needed to be opened, rather than closed.

Given the extent of the upcoming boundary changes, and how they evidently don't align very well with the 5-year enrollment projections, we need someone who understands capacity and facility management on the Board.

-North-end Mom

Linh-Co said...

Who doesn't love vanilla? Heehee.

Anonymous said...

Rick Burke writes:

" I've learned that we are at a turning point and the board you elect in November will have a profound impact on Seattle Public Schools for years to come."

Well maybe ... but it depends on who is elected.

My take is that Burke has it correct that the size, budget and influence of the JSCEE need to be dramatically reduced but will the composition of the new board make that happen?

This district needs to transition to bottom up operation from its extremely costly top heavy structure. Moving far away from Top-Down directives as the standard mode of operation is what is needed.

There needs to be a rapid transition to site based decision-making with accountability. In the current age of technological tools that "accountability" can be achieved.

Few are looking for more, no one ever held accountable, JSCEE double-speak. A large improvement in the efficiency of daily classroom instruction is needed and JSCEE stands in the way. Teachers need to be returned to a professional status.

Please vote accordingly.

The leadership gap is currently larger than the size of the Opportunity Gaps and that leadership gap is a prime reason for the large size of Opportunity Gaps, which are apparently unmeasured by JSCEE.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I think Lauren has a better understanding of the district's issues than Jill does. I am voting for Lauren. Jill seems all "fired up" but not much more.


Anonymous said...

Lauren is like some I know who are perennial district appointees or partners, who staff know will not make waves and will go along to get along. McGuire make waves?! HaHaHaHahaha. She will be the guaranteed staff vote on the council (like McLaren is now). There's something about being SCPTSA President that seems to turn someone into that rubberstamp. We don't need that on the school board.

Geary Vote

Tresanos said...

Melissa, I love everything about you but here's where I differ. I am solidly in favor of McGuire. My school has been affected by a number of things over the years and at every big public meeting there's McGuire. I never even heard of Geary until this board race. My worry is that Geary may have other aspirations than best serving all kids. Her at PDC fisclosure list is kind of skewed to big money Laurelhurst /lawyer. I don't know what her real goals are and at the forum I was at her answers seemed slick. This was confirmed to me at the N end growth boundary meeting. There were a bunch of people there with issues. McGuire stayed late to talk with people. It was similar to the other SPS meetings in last 10 years I've been attending, McGuire there and engaged (but no Geary).

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have both McGuire & Geary on the board. Especially considering some match ups in the last couple of elections where it seemed there was no good choice. They each have areas of expertise, capacity vs sped. Both areas are crying out for knowledgeable board members who can see through the staff obfuscation. I do think there are a lot more activist eyes watching capacity issues than are watching sped issues among the public. For that reason I am leaning toward Geary.

- want both

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'm strongly supporting Geary. She is committed to providing better leadership on the school board that represents the people, not the staff. In every interaction I've had with her, I've been impressed at how smart she is, how committed she is - and how utterly unable to be cowed, rolled, or manipulated she is. She's exactly the right kind of person we need on the board to stand up to the staff and press for the changes we need.

Plus, she was a strong supporter of the teachers during the strike, and gets that standardized testing is hurting our kids. The best summation of why I'm voting for her is her own words as given here - I think it's strong stuff: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1889910291234775&id=1790220781203727

McGuire may believe she understands the capacity issue. But what she doesn't seem to understand is how to act on it. We will never have good capacity planning and management until we have a board majority that holds staff accountable and is willing to press strongly and firmly to get the staff to shape up, especially on capacity management. McGuire won't do that. She's told the Seattle Times and the Muni League she doesn't want to "micromanage" - which to the ed reformers is code for "board members not just going along with the staff." McGuire's links to education reformers are also troubling. So while she may have been more visible at various, I don't get the sense that she will actually be effective. Geary will.

Geary has plenty of knowledge of the district, gained from her work advocating for parents of kids in special education and her own experience on her school PTA. Unlike McGuire, Geary drew the right lessons from that experience: that the district needs an assertive school board that will hold staff accountable. She is tenacious and will fight hard for our kids and their needs - and she'll listen to parents. I have no reason to believe McGuire will do anything but give parents lip service while ultimately doing whatever the staff and the Mayor's DEEL and the Gates Foundation want her to do.

As to Geary's donors, she lives in Laurelhurst and was a lawyer and administrative law judge, so those are her personal network and any good candidate will go to that network to raise as much money as they can. I've also donated to her campaign.

I'm also voting for Pinkham, Burke, and Harris. We need a new board majority that will fix the problems with this district and those four will do it.

Meg said...

I agree with many who wish we could have both Geary and McGuire. I think the board would be better with both.

As things stand, I am a strong supporter of McGuire. After serving with her on FACMAC and speaking with her extensively, I don't agree that she promotes the status quo. I do think she will listen to all voices in her constituency before making a reasoned decision. I have immense respect for her deep, broad knowledge of the district, and I think she has immense respect for the diverse students that SPS should be serving.

Anonymous said...

McGuire is endorsed by DeBell. No way I will vote for anyone endorsed by him. Geary was on the line with the teachers. Voting for Geary.


Anonymous said...

Having been a several-times-daily reader of this blog for as long as it has been in existence, I am appalled that any reader of it would be supporting Lauren McGuire, who has the support of all the reformies we have come to know and oppose. Unless, that is, that is who you are.

Why reward Peter Maier? Why reward Lisa Macfarlane? Why reward Chris Larson? Why reward Michael DeBell? Why reward Sherry Carr? Why reward Nancy Waldman? Why reward Harium Martin-Morris? Why reward Mona Bailey? Why reward Suzanne Dale Estey? Why reward Heidi Bennett?

This is not a personal attack. It's not just about the candidate. It's not just about whether you think the candidate is a good person, or whether you think the candidate will do a good job in office. Dig deeper. Drill another few layers down. Look beyond the candidate. It's about who benefits from the candidate's election. It's about who thinks their particular agenda will be best served by electing one candidate over another, and therefore who contributes accordingly.

The donors to McGuire who I have named (all from the Public Disclosure Commission website) are not the people who I think should be rewarded by the outcome of this election. Vote Geary.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

I like Rick Burke and knew him from Where’s the Math? meetings. If anybody can get math back on track in SPS, it is him.

I am very disappointed that the current board is letting a few administrators derail Math in Focus to put in more test prep for Common Core. Hoping Rick and the new Board reverse that and also promote better curricula for higher grades. The only way to bring down remedial math rates is to teach fundamentally sound math.

So tired of this central administration. They waste money and take us backwards.

S parent

Fiona said...

Lauren McGuire all the way. As Meg, Eric, and many of us commenting here have worked with Lauren, we know that Lauren works tirelessly at learning the issues and developing strategies that will solve the problems. As Tresanos says, Lauren is always there at every meeting to get data, information, and to learn what is important to individuals, not groups.

I'm not interested in 'rewarding' anyone by voting for a candidate, I'm only interested in voting in someone that has put in the kind of time and attention that we need to get work done at the district. The hours and hours and hours that Lauren has spent working with parents, advocates, teachers, and staff make her ready to work NOW.

Wouldn't it be wise to vote for a candidate that is a great person for the job, rather than worrying that others, some you disagree with, can see those qualities too?

Vote Geary said...

"Seattle PTSA Council President Lauren McGuire tells The Times that TFA is not a major issue for most parents."


Where was McGuire's advocacy against Teach for America?

Joseph Rockne said...

Ivan Weiss did a fine job of naming Lauren McGuire's supporters. It is certainly fine to judge a person by the company they keep or, in the case of those seeking elected office, by those that endorse them.

Jill Geary is the only attorney running. For the past several years Ron English has hoodwinked the school board and provided poor (to negligent?) advice to the district. It is imperative that the board have an attorney on the board to oversee the district legal issues.

Don't harken back and holler that Peter Meier was an attorney. He was. But his "expertise" is in lemon law, not education law.

Voting for Jill Geary is not a vote against Lauren McGuire, it is vote for probably the best school board candidate this district as seen in a very long time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Fiona,

Why are you robocalling me? Oh yeah, the Schmitz Park and NE Seattle FACMACer's are sisters in solidarity. Your call supporting McGuire sure was topical and without substance.

Busy signal

Lori said...

So Ivan pulls out 10 specific donors out of the 250+ who have given to Lauren and that's supposed to be some sort of indictment of her candidacy?

He didn't mention that Gerry Pollet donated to her campaign. Is he a reformer whom we shouldn't reward?

When I look at the PDC report, I see a lot of my neighbors. I see people who have known Lauren for years, all the way back when she was helping our neighborhood school manage the nuances of the change to the new assignment plan (circa 2008-09?). I see passionate parents who are worried about the capacity crisis. I see people with kids in schools all over the north end of the city. And that makes sense because Lauren has been involved for a long time now with schools all over this part of town. I think she's had kids in 5 different schools now, and she's worked to help others, like McDonald and Sandpoint, start up from scratch.

Others have written more eloquently up thread (Eric, Meg), but I hope people look at the broader picture. Someone with deep, long-term knowledge of the district who has navigated the changing enrollment system, stepped up to work on capacity issues, and has first-hand experience starting new schools is exactly what we need right now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

McGuire and Geary is the tough race to figure out.

I will say that candidates leave forums for a variety of reasons so I wouldn't count that against them. (I've been to plenty of meetings where Lauren didn't show up. For example, she came to the last Executive Ctm meeting and I hadn't seen her at one for a very long time. But I don't hold it against her.)

As well about "other aspirations" - there is zero proof that running for School Board leads to a higher office. Even Sundquist is in yet another unpaid gig.

I will gently say that while I know Lauren to be a sincere, smart person, I personally believe she is better -like Marty - as a voice on a committee and not as a leader. Getting things done on a checklist is not the same as leadership.

We can all agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Fiona responds to the points I raised:
"Wouldn't it be wise to vote for a candidate that is a great person for the job, rather than worrying that others, some you disagree with, can see those qualities too?"
People vote for their own reasons, so I'm not telling anyone that they have to vote for my reasons. I'm providing additional information, and encouraging people to put it in their mix. Obviously, not everyone will.

But it's naive to think that candidates can be separated from their supporters. People can, and will, disregard donor information. That's up to them. But most would agree that the value of that information is considerably greater than zero.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

Lori asks, in response to my comments:
"He didn't mention that Gerry Pollet donated to her campaign. Is he a reformer whom we shouldn't reward?"
I knew that would come up eventually. So I'll give it to you straight. I have known and worked in politics with Gerry and his family for years. We have a close bond, made even closer because my daughter is Gerry's Legislative Assistant. Gerry's wife Janet Miller worked in school affairs with Lauren McGuire for years. Their relationship is personal and long-standing, and it's not my place, or any of my business, to question it.

In terms of policy, I feel safe in saying that Gerry's record demonstrates that he is 100 percent opposed to the "reform" agenda that many of McGuire's other supporters have promoted. So his endorsement is a different case, made for different reasons. I have never said that McGuire is unqualified, or incompetent. I stand behind my reasons for opposing her candidacy. This will be my only statement on that particular subject. I hope it is helpful.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

Ivan. I'll go there. Pollett's record on education policy is clear. Nevertheless, his wife is McGuire all the way because of their longstanding friendship. So Lauren don't pretend that your politics align with Gerry's, rather your friendship aligns with his wife.

Busy signal

Brian Duncan said...

Again mostly agree with Melissa's picks for school board. One caveat is that I'm troubled by Burke's position against allowing simple majority approval of school bond issues. He'd rather charge developers impact fees, so that property taxes don't have to do all the heavy lifting. Not a bad idea, but is it realistic/sufficient? Seems like in general simple majority votes for school bonds would be helpful for a lot of areas of the state in improving schools, if and until we get some kind of progressive income tax, capital gains tax, carbon tax, coupled with decreases in regressive sales and property tax, and B&O taxes, likely through an Initiative in 2016, since legislature unlikely to pass it. Agree Laura Gramer has been sparse on details of her plans, but her actual positions seem solid. Two other dings(in my view) on Burke: he doesn't have a personal opinion on school start times, even though he recognizes the science, and majority parent support for a flip, and he's not a strong supporter of recess/PE in balance with STEM academic focus. Not clear if he supports SBAC and Map optouts. I gather he worked on MSP to replace WASL, and is strong proponent of traditional Singapore math approach versus inquiry based math (Similar to Peters). Not sure if Gramer is in alignment with Burke on math, but she does say PE/recess AS important as STEM, so her balance point might be a little less academic focused than Burke's.
Brian in Ballard

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the plethora of background information on ALL the candidates - we each take our own pieces of those puzzles as "good/bad/indifferent" but they are all useful to know. Its hard to say who will end up being the "right" person for this difficult job, because a lot of what happens with SPS Boards, it seems, depends so much on the whether the Board's "mix" comes together or not.

I do agree that sadly, Director McLaren somehow became co-opted into drinking the Admin koolaid - I too voted for her, and had high hopes. Whether any of the new members will go down that road remains to be seen, but I personally think someone more willing to "challenge" rather than "accept"(for want of better word) is what's needed right now.

One can challenge cordially, as Director Peters has so ably demonstrated. I have hopes for this new crop and fail to see the profit in dissing equally qualified candidates - we can all take our own inferences from the info provided - that's what grownups do ;o)


Patrick said...

Lori wrote "So Ivan pulls out 10 specific donors out of the 250+ who have given to Lauren and that's supposed to be some sort of indictment of her candidacy?"

It's not Ivan that pulled those endorsements out of the list, it's McGuire. She chose to feature some of the most spineless school board members near the top of her list of endorsements. To my mind, the Times endorsement is a kiss of death, and that's on her campaign home page not even her list of endorsements. I don't dislike McGuire. I admire her service, and the fact that the District felt they had to disband FACMAC probably means it was doing too good a job. But I don't see McGuire with the stubborn independent streak needed to hold staff to the fire.

I wish one of them could be running from District 1 where either candidate seems like they'll be a deer in headlights.

SF said...

Can anyone here tell me - was Lauren McGuire involved with VNESS?


Anonymous said...

I'm going to be anonymous today, but I'd like to share my impressions. I have interacted with McGuire before and while she is nice enough, I definitely find her to tend to side with the establishment (whatever that is in the situation) / be unwilling to rock the boat and to be a bit condescending (e.g. I know more than you/ we need to look at the big picture rather than your concern, etc.) Which was, incidentally, very similar to my first impression of Peaslee (who in turn reminded me of Carr, back when I thought she was worth even talking to.)

I have never met Geary, and had never even heard her talk until the Hale forum, where she reminded me of Peters in her ability to be unfailingly polite and cheerful while calling BS. It seems like a small thing but I believe it's so crucial...And heck I love Harris who calls the BS like Charlie, so you know who I'm voting for.


Anonymous said...

To her credit, I think McGuire was the opposite of VNESS, threw here energy right into the new school at JAMS...

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping others at the Eckstein forum can help me with this... One audience member question was for an up or down vote re: mayoral control of the district/board. (Pinkham wasn't there unfortunately) but every other member there EXCEPT Christophersen was very clear and united in opposition to mayoral control and/or appointment of school board directors by the mayor. Christophersen wandered on the topic a bit but at the end, I think he said "I wouldn't rule it out.."

Am I remembering that correctly?

If so, that's a huge red flag.


Lori said...

Patrick, not sure what you are talking about. Ivan said he pulled those names from the PDC, which is a list of financial donors. I simply pointed out that it was a biased sample.

Lauren's website for endorsements leads with the SEA endorsement, then 46th district Dems, Jamie Pedersen, David Frockt and others. Her home page currently shows a written statement from Tracy Libros.

Sorry, it still looks to me like Lauren has a broad range of support, whether it's financial or an official endorsement, from a wide variety of people who care about public education. Some hold positions I agree with, some don't. But this guilt-by-association approach to sway voters isn't very compelling when you look at the big picture.

Anonymous said...

@Busy signal

"Pollett's record on education policy is clear. Nevertheless, his wife is McGuire all the way because of their longstanding friendship. So Lauren don't pretend that your politics align with Gerry's, rather your friendship aligns with his wife."

Wow. I guess all those capacity-related meetings I attended with both Gerry Pollet and Lauren McGuire in attendance were my mind playing tricks on me!

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Brian, I can say on SBAC that Burke's kids did opt out. Does he support that for everyone? I don't know. I do know that he recently updated his website so you should check there.

SF, yes, McGuire was involved with VNESS. She was also involved in opening McDonald and JAMS.

Katydid, I will go back in my notes (and update this post - I had so much from all the forums, it was impossible to put it all up) but I believe you are correct on Christophersen's response.

Patrick said...

Lori, on Ms. McGuire's home page I see the Seattle Times in a prominent box to the left of, and higher than, Tracy Libros's endorsement, with a Times logo calling attention to it. On the endorsements page I see the SEA endorsement, then another group of endorsements prominently listed, and then all the other endorsements alphabetically. I assume it was McGuire's choice to put the rubberstamp board members in the prominently listed group instead of the "everybody else" group.
A small thing maybe, but it is her choice and shows whose opinions she thinks are important.

kellie said...

I think it is rotten luck, that two strong candidates, Geary and McGuire, need to run against each other, while in District 1, there are no substantial candidates. Like Meg, I think the board would be better with both Geary and McGuire.

McGuire's great strength is that she is able to work a wide variety of people. Her list of endorsements, really reflects the years and years of committee work and PTA work. This guilt-by-association with ed reformers just does not hold water. Those "ed reformers" were the also the decision-makers and Lauren has demonstrated that she can work with people.

We have all seen how steep the learning curve to be a board member can be. Sue Peters is doing an excellent job, in part because of the many many years of work she did before serving on the board.

Unknown said...

I am also a solid vote for Lauren McGuire. Lauren has depth to her understanding of district issues, is expert on how capacity impacts schools and programs, and listens to people before coming to a conclusion. Much of what riles people about Seattle Public Schools goes directly to capacity and funding issues, and Lauren knows more about these issues than any of the other candidates. Lauren is a big reason I became involved in my school's PTSA. I think she is really clear about the problems in our district administration, and is not a rubber stamp for anyone. The education reform smear by association also rings false to me. People who have worked with her know she is solid, ethical and expert. I'll sign my name,
Laura Larkin

Legislative Supporters said...

I certainly wouldn't tout McGuire's endorsement from Frocket and Pederson. They were amongst the Seattle delegation that voted to link test scores to teacher evaluations, and they went against WEA. Some would say that there are attempts for the legislature to insert themselves into collective bargaining agreements.

You can add Jon Bridge to McGuire's corporate backed supporters.

I don't vote for candidates supported by Democrats for Education Reform.

Anonymous said...

Hadn't chosen support for the McGuire/Geary race, but the DFER endorsement for McGuire just clarified it: Voting Geary.

DFER, run by hedge fund millionaires out of the East Coast is corporate America's sneak attack attempt to nose profit-making policies into school districts under the guise of "Democrat" support. It lives to shove charters into every nook and cranny of our system. Because charters are "better" (and profit centers!)

There is no "middle ground" with DFER. Either you are a true Corporate Reform believer or you're dirt.

Vote Geary.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Geary all the way. No contest!

Geary's opponent talks about NOT micromanaging. In contrast, Geary is going to shine bright flashlights into the dark corners and she will work to tirelessly out the facts, the all of the facts, and the complete story. That is not micromanaging, that is called performing one's job. She alone knows the SpEd system and can work collaboratively to start making some headway.

There is a fundamental divide about HOW a board should govern.

If things are going great, results are strong, decisions all align with values and our strategic plan, all students are thriving, then having a bunch of caretaker directors/lap dogs is fine.

But, when teachers are getting laid off without any data justifying the necessity of those lay-offs, when high school enrollment is teetering on the brink of disaster, when SpEd Fed funding is under threat because it has failed students consistently, when principals are sometimes chosen by their communities but at other unlucky schools simply 'placed' with no input from the families, when GC/CM guys move in and skim $6 million out of capital budgets while a site for 2,000 kids gets no auditorium, when ELL is so bungled a massive emergency fix has to be pushed through, when the district uses resources on activities and pet projects (preschool, that downtown building), when regardless of who is on the board, we get a new super every 2.5 years anyway, when cabinet employees don't get fired but instead are given 'retirement', when the super can beef up his org chart with bodies ad infinitum and one of those bodies who has NEVER stepped foot in any of our schools dictates who has to collapse classrooms and overload remaining ones and create splits... when all of that is going on, I think the model that eschews 'micromanaging' as some kind of dirty word is so very, very broken.

I would counter the slur of 'micromanager' with the real slur of 'yes men', also known as 'asleep at the wheel'. So, if McGuire wants to boast about not being a micromanager, that is a HUGE red flag. I FEAR 'yes men'. It hasn't worked for this district yet.

With the former 'yes men' board we had, high school crisis die was cast.

This district needs bright, bright flashlights shining in all those dark, dark places. That is not 'micromanaging', that is fiduciary responsibility. You can be relentless and polite at the same time. Those 2 qualities are not mutually exclusive. Geary is going to get the job done, and while she may disagree with what staff are going to try to get away with, do brand her with a label of 'rebel' or 'not collegial' or 'micromanager'. The district desperately needs a Geary, not another 'Harium'.

WP Bound

Anonymous said...

Kellie wrote:

"McGuire's great strength is that she is able to work a wide variety of people. .......... This guilt-by-association with ed reformers just does not hold water. Those "ed reformers" were the also the decision-makers and Lauren has demonstrated that she can work with people.

We have all seen how steep the learning curve to be a board member can be. Sue Peters is doing an excellent job, in part because of the many many years of work she did before serving on the board."

The other part of Sue Peters that I find spectacular is she has the gumption and courage to call it like it is. She skillfully investigates and then calls it as it is. .... The many years of work she did before serving on the board has little to do with either her courage or gumption.

It not easy to determine, which candidates if any will have the skills and gumption to become effective agents for the positive changes so needed at this time.

Vote accordingly.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

What courage or outcome has McGuire shown for her work on the staff-appointed Special Education Task Force in 2010? Beyond putting it on her resume?

Valid question

Anonymous said...

McGuire on the Task Force? I don't think so. She hasn't come out to the disabilities communities at all = never. What would she be representing?

Though I appreciate Lauren's community spirit, for the board


Old Timer said...

Did McGuire's group- Northeast Cluster Coalition- advocate for the repurposing of Summit K-12? Summit K-12 was an alternative school that served at-risk students. The school was turned into Jane Adams K-8. It was a very painful period of time.


Old Timer said...

"One parent group, the Northeast Cluster Coalition, was formed to lobby district and public officials to lower enrollments at overcrowded schools, instead of finding ways to add more students."

"Another idea is to create and locate the cluster's first traditional K-8 school in the building that also houses the alternative Summit K-12 in Northeast Seattle, he said."


kellie said...

I have testified on capacity issues for 13 years now, long before the madness of the closures was really underway, Once the madness of the closures was underway, it had a momentum of its own. The board and district staff had already decided which schools needed to be closed and consequences or evidence be damned.

For the record the Northeast Cluster Coalition advocated strongly for the OPENING of buildings. We wanted SPS to open Sandpoint and John Marshall. The district reply was that opening those buildings was just not possible and they used our advocacy as the political cover to close schools that they had already pre-determined to close.

But yet, just months after the closures were finalized and long before the ink was dry ... the district announced the opening of Sandpoint Elementary, along with opening of FIVE BUILDINGS.

Anonymous said...

I am the person who asked the question about mayoral control. I did not take notes, but I feel that any candidate waffled on that. BTW, I asked the question because Geary talked about wanting to break down the barriers between the school district and the city. I first directly asked her what she meant by that before I asked the mayoral control question. I found Geary's answer rather trivial (she said she wanted the city to share demographic data with the schools), which makes me wonder if this was a disengenuous answer. I understand that Jill has mentioned that her husband is well connected in the business community - another red flag for an ed-reform orientation.

As for McGuire, I was alarmed to hear McGuire talk at one point about how much she looks forward to opening schools. Will she be excited to open charter schools?

In the McGuire/Geary race, I think regardless of who wins, we will have a champion for Ed Reform.

For District 1, I am supporting Christophersen.

Joan NE

Anonymous said...

Typo in last post: should read "I did not feel than any candidate waffled on that."

Joan NE said...

About that Northeast Cluster...

My activism started when I was worried about an assault on Alternative Schools. My children attended Thornton Creek. I felt that an assault on any Alt. Sch. was an attack on all such schools. I saw that Summit was a target. I tried to organize support for keeping that program open. Kelly LaRue told me I need not worry. She claimed that she had talked to all of the directors, and none of them would allow the closing of Summit. I was relieved and discontinued my efforts.

Later the board closed Summit. Some months later I learned that Kelly LaRue had been part of the Northeast Cluster Coalition, and that this group actively lobbied to close Summit. I realized then how Kelly had tricked me.

I was disgusted later when I saw how the District finally put funds into upgrading this building, but only after the black kids had been kicked out.

As I was exploring Kelly's involvement, one of my anti-Ed Reform activist colleagues urged me to stop. "No good will come of this research." I followed her advice. Later I found out that she too had been part of this coalition. She didn't want me to find this out. She posts frequently on this blog.

I saw the same phrase on the Times website recently (it appeared in a comment upon the Times endorsement of Michael Chrisophersen). I pretty much am certain that people are hiding something when they pull out a phrase like this.

Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said...

I submitted three comments, one as "Anonymous," one as "Name/URL" and one with the google ID "JOAN NE". Of these three comments the only one that gives me the option to delete is google ID. The google ID submission as Joan NE was done merely as a test case (I was able to delete it).

If one signs in with OpenId do they reserve the option to delete? Furthermore, does the comment show as anonymous or with the ID, as happens when google ID is used?


Robert Cruickshank said...

I don't see any reason to believe Jill Geary is or would be connected to ed reform - especially since local ed reformers are all backing her opponent. Jill's own website makes it clear she understands what's gone wrong with standardized testing: http://www.jillforschoolboard.com/issues.html And as to coordination with the city, she comes right out on that same webpage and says she opposes mayoral control but that we do need to work with the city to address capacity - and she is right. That coordination doesn't necessarily mean anything sinister, but to solve capacity it will require city assistance with planning, permitting, probably with site location and maybe even site acquisition.

Also worth noting that Jill Geary does not support charter schools, as indicated by her KC Dems questionnaire: http://www.34dems.org/sites/34dems/files/KCDems-Quest-Geary-Jill.pdf

In short, I've seen nothing to suggest Geary would back an ed reform agenda, and plenty to suggest she would not.

Joan NE said...

Old Timer: As I waited to talk to Lauren McGuire after the Eckstein Candidate Forum, I heard her tell another voter that she had been part of the Northeast Cluster Coalition.

Joan NE said...

Robert I hope you are right about Jill. If so, she is the better choice.

Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Interesting Facebook Post by VNESS:

Time to VOTE! Please join us in supporting Seattle School Board candidates:
District 1: write-in Elizabeth Wong
District 2: Rick Burke
District 3: Lauren McGuire
District 4: Marty McLaren


mirmac1 said...

With the exception of their choice for D2, it seems clear that VNESS is on its own planet.

Anonymous said...

Which group was it that actively worked against passing the last levy? Was it VNESS? If so that's a problem.

-bad memory

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I found Geary's answer rather trivial (she said she wanted the city to share demographic data with the schools), which makes me wonder if this was a disengenuous answer."

Uh,that's what they did during the years the district didn't have a demographer.

Kellie LaRue does not lie. She may have - sadly - believed the district and then found out that they changed their minds.

VNESS seems to operate in its own world,for sure. Some of their rhetoric at Crosscut when they first started out was not good. I like that write-in, though. Wish Wong had run.

Anonymous said...

A clear difference between Harris and McLaren remains.

Dear Friends,

Here's my message now that ballots are in voters’ hands:

Our Board has hired SPS’s best Superintendent in almost 20 years. I agree with him on many of his initiatives, and our students, teachers and parents are seeing the gains that come from stable, forward-focused leadership. It is imperative to elect Board members who support Larry Nyland and the vital work he is leading. It is of great concern that some candidates for School Board promise to “shake things up,” implying that they do not support the important strides in motion. Please spread the word. You can help by committing to send this email on to friends. Please help to ensure vital continuity and collaboration in Seattle Public Schools by voting for Marty McLaren.

As the board member with actual teaching experience in Seattle schools, I know we are making significant headway against the enormous challenges in Seattle Public Schools: We’re seeing outstanding test results with the new Common Core standards, increased engagement of school principals in district decision-making, more equitable resource allocation to all schools to help close the opportunity gap, improved Special Education services resulting in SPS’s removal from the Federal Watch List, earlier hiring of teachers, and a continued high bond rating.

I remain committed to positive change, continuity, and constructive dialogue on the School Board.

Warm regards,


Inquiring Mind

John said...

Yeah, VNESS was the group organized by the levy opponents (after it passed, if memory serves). I was actually at the VNESS organizing meeting, and it was unclear if they thought that NE Seattle extends past 85th. It was sort of strange.

mw said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

VNESS started around Eckstein overcrowding and facility issues and truly the leaders had their own agenda, put out endorsements without checking with members, wrote letters stating positions that were not vetted with the membership. The original membership was solicited by sending a call to NE Seattle Schools' PTSA's, but anyone who didn't agree with their agenda was marginalized. And, yes, they came out against the levy when they didn't feel like they were fleeting their way. I was also at the organizing meeting. I can't find Lauren's name attached to any of the emails I saved or their Facebook page, but the fact they support her gives me pause.

~ wondering

Melissa Westbrook said...

mw, please do not use anything approximating my name if you are commenting. I think why should be obvious.

As to McLaren, she has decided on her talking points and will not veer off them,no matter how wrong.

1) Candidates say they want to "shake things up" and could mean any number of things. It does not mean they will significantly veer off what the Superintendent's plan is.

2) Nearly everyone running has shown evidence of being able to work in a collaborative fashion. Director McLaren also seems to mistake being able to collaborate with leadership. It is not the same thing.

3) That "outstanding results" for Common Core is her way of messaging "not so bad." That ACTUAL, documented results have not been released in a press release should tell you something.

4) I have no idea what "increased decision making by principals means" - it would be great to hear that from actual principals.

5) "more equitable resources to all schools" while the administration grows and some profit. If McLaren votes for a raise or bonus for Nyland, that should tell you what you need to know.

6) improve Sped by getting off the Federal Watch list?! Where was her outrage that the district even GOT on it? When President Carr tsk tsk'ed over school staffing cuts and said that well, they had to spend $500K on fulfilling the OSPI requirements for Sped, where was the outrage that this district got there with current senior staff?

Anonymous said...

@Joan NE

Your experience with Kellie is much different than mine. When I was experiencing a large scale public dispute with the district she came to my aid unbidden and gave great advice and guidance.

Granted, I don't agree with her on the endorsement of Lauren - but I'm not going to hold it against her and I don't believe she'll hold it against me.

I think that your allegations are misplaced as holding Kellie accountable for district actions is unjust. Who among us can accurately predict what district rabbit will pop-up next?


Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said...

Sorry for all the deleted posts. I decided to take down all my off-topic comments but was unable to delete my comment @ 10/20/15, 12:19 PM about Northeast Custer Coalition and a remembered conversation. I strayed off of my plan to stick to advocating for candidates, plus I was wrong to make an allegation based on subjective interpretation of fallible memory of a non-documented conversation.

My apology to Kellie.

kellie said...

@ Joan, Apology accepted.

kellie said...

I think one of the best parts of Seattle is how passionate people are about public education. I grew up in Philadelphia, where public education was mostly abandoned by the public and later became a huge charter district.

I think Geary and McGuire are both very strong candidates and it is a loss for Seattle that we can't have them both on the board.

That said, it is also very hopeful that we do have a strong race. So many years, the board job is a walk-on elected position with no real race. Michael DeBell was completely unopposed in his election and Stephen Blanford only had a nominal candidate.

I think everyone wins when we have this much interest and attention to getting very good board members.

kellie said...

At some point, we probably need to do a thread on the legacy of the closures. The reminder of Summit's closure, is a great reminder of what a tragedy, three rounds of school closures was in general and how much damage occurred in particular.

Simple facts get lost in the PR messaging, the tremendous pain inflicted on families and the hideous irony that schools were closed while enrollment was growing, not shrinking.

If we don't learn from this history, we just repeat it.

kellie said...

I went back and checked a few of my notes.

In 2002, the DISTRICT, identified the need for additional elementary and middle school capacity in NE Seattle and began the conversation about potentially opening Sandpoint Elementary and returning Summit back to the central area as was long promised (the Jane Addams building was intended as a temporary home when they were temporarily relocated there from the Beacon Hill area).

To the best of my knowledge, this was the first, last and only time that SPS was proactive about the idea of adding seats in a geographic region that needed them. As I live in NE Seattle and I am a capacity management expert, I was greatly interested in this and hence my public school advocacy started.

However, shortly after this, the Olschefski financial crisis set in and the conversation about closing schools started. Then the drastic state level budget cuts happened.

By that point, it was damn-the-torpedoes when it came to closing schools and the district approached the closing of schools with the fervor of a religious zealot and there was no amount of data, reason or common sense that could stop it.

The closures did a huge amount of damage to this district. Both because an entire decade that should have been spent on building new capacity was wasted AND because so many families were directly hurt but closures that never needed to happen.

dan dempsey said...

OK so I am now going to try to find out what I can about the Scott S. Pinkham - Michael Christophersen race.

I began with the video voters guide HERE

Yes I found out that neither participated. I shall now look elsewhere for information about these two.

Video Voters guide does list the following as participants (links provided)

District 2 - Burke v. Gramer

District 3 - McGuire v. Geary

District 6 - Harris v. McLaren

Anonymous said...

In Crosscut

Tuesday 20, October 2015
Election raises questions about Seattle schools’ direction

In Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia Christophersen

Ballotpedia Pinkham

Christophersen under Campaign Themes shows "rankings on the issues" and "positions on the issues", but Pinkham does not.

SPS has a huge need in serving students with Specific Learning Disabilities, I believe that Christophersen will do something about that.

I sure wish that Pinkham would have "ranked the issues" and had "position on the issues"

It is pretty hard finding out about what either of these two might do as Board Directors.

The Times may have this one correct in recommending Michael Christophersen.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

The Progressive Voters Guide says:

The School Board has struggled with high turnover, including several resignations this year, and McLaren would provide some continuity. If you prefer an experienced candidate who would provide some stability on the School Board, McLaren is a good choice.

Does the PVG have any knowledge of facts?

No one resigned from the school board this year, so it must have been the school board struggling with central staff turnover.... are you kidding me?

Can someone tell me of these resignations and why they were problematic?

I guess the PVG has a lot more faith in bloated top-down management than I do.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I commented awhile back that I was going to dig into some facts.

I tried to validate Jill Geary's claims regarding her work for families in Seattle. I pulled records from OSPI and SPS back to 2007 and I can not find any evidence of Geary's claims of making settlements for SPS special education students.

The PRR log shows only 2 candidates have a history of actively pressing the district for information, Harris and Christopherson.

I see PRR entries from numerous lawyers, but their are none from Geary. Jill, can you explain the lack of documentation?

I'm going to submit a PRR today for all settlements involving Geary. Stay tuned.

2 Cents

Anonymous said...

Jill never said she made settlements for SPS families. She said she made settlements involving special ed students in Washington state and she knows the law and can help the district work the laws.

Geez, get your facts straight!

Go Jill

Anonymous said...

When we had trouble getting our child services, the district used their very nasty lawyer against us, her name was Shannon McMinimee.

Why would our candidates accept contributions from from her.

Please go to the following site and see who these guys are being funded by.


MCMINIMEE SHANNON 8/24/2015 $50.00 G SEATTLE WA 98136


Joan NE said...

I think Dan Dempsey is the first person on this blog to take a reasoned look at Michael based on positions.

Michael has Q and A and is taking questions at his url.


Melissa has promised to do a critique of Michael's ideas. I am pretty certain she is referring to the Q and A content on his campaign blog.

I hope readers of this blog will visit and discuss Michael's campaign blog (and submit questions to him) before they read Melissa"s evaluation, since she is not an unbiased judge.

Writers on this blog are saying they want directors who.."won't let the staff members say 'the dog ate my homework'...have the moxy to call out disconnects between the policy, implementation, and the mission of this organization.....represent the people, not the staff....[display ]intelligence, clarity, hard work and dedication. "

This sounds like a description of the Michael Christopherson I have come to know through working as an education advocate to the family in IEP negotiations and through talking with him extensively about his knowledge and ideas for Seattle schools.

Here is are the most outstanding comments about Scott that I find on this thread.

"Pinkham has experiences that will be beneficial....Pinkham [would] tend toward the revolutionary side but may be convinced one way or the other. "

I think Michael would be a far more energetic Board member than Pinkham and will be far more helpful than Pinkham would be to Peters, Burke, Geary, and Harris if he ends up on the Board with these four

Anonymous said...

I think it's exciting to think that our board might have two members with students at Ingraham.

Pinkham has a student attending there. 12 grade
Burke has a student attending there. 12 grade
Christopherson has two students there. 9 and 11 grade

Christopherson is an Ingraham grad and that's a plus.

We know we will at least have one! When is the last time one of our students had a parent on the school board?

Go Rams

Linh-Co said...

Burke actually has 2 children at Ingraham. One in 12th and the other in 10th grade.