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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

On Elections and Candidates

Just a heads up on a candidate for King County Council - Girmay Zahilay - who is challenging incumbent Larry Gossett.  I have talked with Mr. Zahilay who is all the things you might want for the Council.  I have found Gossett to be equally compelling so I don't envy those who are voting for that race.

However, I did find out that Mr. Zahilay served on a charter school board in NYC, starting sometime in 2017.  It's unclear to me if he still serves (I would think not).

As well, in a photo at Crosscut, he is joined in a photo with former school board candidate Omar Vasquez as well as Dexter Tang, both local ed reformers.   This information certainly gives me pause and I wish I had learned it sooner because I would have asked Zahilay about it when I spoke with him.  I do have a message out to him.

The ratings for candidates, including for Seattle School Board, are out from SEAMEC.
Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee (SEAMEC) is a non-partisan civic organization that rates candidates running for political and judicial office in Seattle, King County, and the State of Washington. SEAMEC evaluates candidates on their knowledge of, record of proven activism for, and commitment to the concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) communities.
Way out front for LGBTQ folks for "fairness" is Eric Blumhagen in District 1 with "exceeds expectations." Liza Rankin received a "meets expectations."  For interview questions, Blumhagen received straight As across the board. Rankin received a grade of D.  Blumhagen received the best ratings of any candidate.

District 2 - Lisa Rivera Smith received a "meets expectations" for fairness and Cs for her interview answers.

District 3 - Chandra Hampson received the same grade as Blumhagen "meets expectations" as well as straight As Ds for her answers. Interestingly, Rebeca Muñiz, who is LGBTQ, received a "meets expectations" for fairness and a D for interview questions.

District 6 - Leslie Harris received a "meets expectations" for fairness while for Molly Mitchell they had "insufficient evidence" to give a rating. Both received Ds for their interview answers.

I do wonder about all these Ds but that may be because of candidates not answering fully or in a timely manner. I have a call out to SEAMEC. 

Endorsements

District 1 - Both Rankin and Blumhagen have strong levels of endorsement.  Rankin has more union ones while Blumhagen has more legislative districts.

What stands out to me is that Rankin puts up an endorsements from Sebrena Burr, Tracy Castro-Gill and Kate Eads who are noted flamethrowers in the district.  So you know what you will be getting with Rankin, that's clear.  (Of course, Blumhagen has my endorsement on his page and I might be considered a flamethrower as well except that I don't yell or name-call.  Tone can mean a lot when you are on the Board.)

Also, Castro-Gill says that Rankin has "volunteered time to help develop our ethnic studies program in SPS!"  I didn't know that Ethics Studies was taking volunteers for this important work but do ring her up if you would like to volunteer as well.

District 3 - Chandra Hampson's endorsement list is quite large.

She also has an interesting quote:
I do not believe the "cost" is in fact high.  I believe careful and transparent financial analysis will tell us that racial equity is, over time, cost neutral, if not less operationally expensive. This means budget cannot and should never be a hurdle or barrier to equity work." 
There is a LOT to unpack there. Maybe a bit of a throwdown to Superintendent Juneau.  It's one thing if the Superintendent and the Board are all for the equity work.  It's HOW you get there that could become sticky if there is not agreement AND the Board has the power of the purse.

As well, that "operationally expensive" could include scaling back many programs if the Board believes the money is needed for the equity work.

Muñiz does have a smaller, yet very powerful list.  She's got two City Council members, Lorena Gonzálezand Teresa Mosqueda AND the one of the two people you know for certain she will work with if elected - Director Eden Mack.  For someone not as well-known in SPS circles, she certainly has a lot of connections.

District 6 - Director Leslie Harris has a huge number of endorsements from across the spectrum including both of the directors who will be remaining on the Board - Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolfe.  I do find it interesting that DeWolfe endorses both Rankin and Hampson but not Mitchell.

Mitchell's endorsements are slight compared to all the other candidates.

District 2 - Lisa Rivera Smith.  If just Smith and her friends/colleagues/supporters vote for her, she will win as there is no other candidate in this race (unless there is a huge write-in vote for someone else which I greatly doubt).

Smith has a respectable number of endorsements for someone who didn't really have to go after them.

I want to note that Smith really didn't have to try during this race but she has.  At event after event, both election related or not, she has shown up to listen and meet people.  This is a very good sign for the kind of Board director she will be.

43 comments:

Pro-Sleep Mom said...

For the SEAMEC ratings, Di indicates 'Declined Evaluation'- it's spelled at at the end of their ratings explanation:

di DECLINED EVALUATION. Either
declined to submit a
questionnaire outright, or did
not respond to multiple
invitations to participate in the
SEAMEC evaluation process

I'm guessing they did their ratings based on published material on their websites, etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, I missed that.

Anonymous said...

The candidates I support are Hampson, Rankin and Mitchell. They have and will continue to work for all students in Seattle Public Schools. I have never seen school board elections get so nasty and I am looking forward to this being over. It is about ALL kids folks! Not only the ones we tuck in in bed every night.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

@Fed Up It's the opposite! Muniz, Blumhagen, Rivera-Smith and Harris will work for ALL students, the three you mentioned do not care equally about ALL students. They have demonstrated bias with a single agenda and will ignore the multitude of issues facing all kids and staff in the district.

Pay Closer Attention

Anonymous said...

Yep


Well said99

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hampson, Rankin and Mitchell are acting as a slate. Not a good thing.

Muniz, Blumhagen, and Harris are not acting as a slate.

You need people on the Board who are independent thinkers and yet know how to act as a team. And be willing to pushback on administration plans for meeting Strategic Plan goals if it's not in the best interests for all students.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly your opinion. I am not going to say anything negative about your candidates because that is not my style. But I have done a lot of research, listened to forums, watched candidates in action and have real life conversations with all candidates and this is who I believe in. I am paying as close attention as possible as I owe it to my students and children to make an informed decision.

Fed Up

College Countdown said...

I'm all about Blumhagen, Harris and Rivera-Smith. They get how high school works and that is CRUCIAL for so many families including my own. High school can't work if the district won't actually put teachers in the classrooms or pay for the IB program they started. Equity work begins with buildings that don't leak, potable water, enough teachers and classrooms for students, course offerings that tick off all the requirements, etc. I know that Blumhagen, Harris and Rivera-Smith get it, because they have made it abundantly clear to everyone that they get it.

Fingers crossed for Muniz. I'm impressed with what her campaign has accomplished.

Anonymous said...

College Countdown, I concur. I want someone who understands how the high schools work. I am tired of kids not getting the classes they need. I am tired of kids being forced into Running Start.

HP

Anonymous said...

What you talking about? Every election we hear the same line of BS and in the end nothing gets done. Oh no the big bad ed reformers are coming. Buzz ding nothing. Oh lets get back to learning. Buzz ding nothing. Over and over and over. I don't care who gets elected because nothing is going to change.

As for High school being the most important issue, I 100% disagree. K-5 are the make or break years as every single study on education has shown.

Anyway, back to the strategic plan, I'm going to love watching the carnage.

BM SPS

Anonymous said...

Kids are not being forced into Running Start. Students are choosing Running Start. Stop with your theatrics.

Pro RS

Melissa Westbrook said...

BM SPS, who talked about ed reform? Not me. The slate people are not true ed reformers so I would never ding them with that.

But I share your frustration with the pace of real change. Yes, some things do get done but the big-picture view seems like same old, same old. And it gets old, for sure.

I think the comments about high school are precisely because the focus is K-5 but honestly, with Core 24 and new graduation requirements and possible lessening of upper level offerings, high school should be a focus.

All this points to the fact that the Strategic Plan has more than one part and people want ALL of it to be worked on.

suep. said...

I recommend Eric Blumhagen and Rebeca Muniz for Seattle School Board

-- Sue Peters

Melissa Westbrook said...

And again I will note - I didn't have to print anything good at all about the slate candidates. In fact, I could have said nothing about the slate candidates and just put up info on the candidates I do support.

But unlike a couple of those slate candidates (see: Hampson and Rankin), I AM a fair person and so I stated good things about them.

Yeah.

Anonymous said...

Kids absolutely are being forced into Running Start. Yes, many kids choose it on their own which is great. I am not anti Running Start. I believe high schools should offer classes that kids need to graduate and apply for college. When that doesn't happen, kids have to go elsewhere for those classes.

HP

Anonymous said...

I'm going the opposite of Sue P. The largest amount of students receiving failing grades in SPS history was 2013 -2017 under her watch. Why would I trust her recommendations.

SPS Voter

Anonymous said...

I'm very active in RS and have not heard of a single student who was forced or had to choose running start for a class. RS doesn't work like that. RS is not pressure relief value for SPS. Perhaps you should visit one of the colleges and see for yourself before spreading gossip.

Pro RS

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
I might be wrong but I don't think candidates need to say "good things" about you. I don't know Liza but if I did I would have advised her not to engage with you via email but she is an independent thinker so my efforts would have been futile.
Again, I am concentrating on what I believe is good for our district. Hampson has done real work with Kids Not Cuts; Rankin had been a constant presence and agent of change in our community; Mitchell is the one that actually has done work to save lives. They get my vote.

Fed Up

kellie said...

@ Pro RS,

I am also very Pro-RS and one of my students will have completed two full years Running Start. it was a choice and a good fit.

I have spoken with dozens of families, the local community colleges and Olympia. There are many students who plan to attend Running Start. These students register in the Spring, when they get the best shot at a good schedule.

There are a substantial number of students who enroll in Running Start after the 4th day of school in SPS. There are also students who enrolled in Running Start this year after the first week of Running Start, just right before the cut-off.

This was NOT their original plan. it may be their choice, but it was a choice made AFTER receiving a schedule that will not work. This is NOT a common occurrence in other districts.

High School does matter. Core 24 is a graduation requirement for next year and there is still not a plan in place. We need board members who understand high school.

Anonymous said...

Here we go "substantial" that's so subjective. New RS students are not guaranteed classes at local colleges. They have to submit their selection and hope for the best.

If you are waiting to see your SPS schedule then choosing to apply for RS then you won't get the classes you want.

"Why is it important to list alternate classes on my RS enrollment verification form?

As a new student, it may be difficult to register for your first choice of classes, so you’ll need to have several alternates on hand in case the classes you want most are already filled. As a Running Start student, you will only be able to register for classes listed on your Running Start verification form.

What if there are specific classes I must take this quarter in order to graduate?

Because we can’t guarantee your registration in particular classes, you should make alternate plans in case the classes you need are full. Talk to your high school counselor about other ways to meet your graduation requirements if you can’t do so through Running Start."

Nice try

Anonymous said...

Thanks nice try, you beat me to it.

SPS is more likely to back fill for RS then RS back fill for SPS.

Many RS students take WA history and heath either at SPS or online.

RS enrollment is growing up 10% this year.

Pro RS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pro RS, I don't get why you think people are against RS. No one is. But yes, I have heard from several sources that more kids are using it as a pressure valve for classes they can't access (for whatever reason) at their schools.

"The largest amount of students receiving failing grades in SPS history was 2013 -2017 under her watch."

Oh, you'll have to give me the data on that one. I can't even start to know how you could even know that.

Fed Up, you misunderstand.

I don't need Rankin or Hampson to say anything publicly about me. You said this:

Hampson has done real work with Kids Not Cuts." And you know who she came to, right at the beginning, for help? Me. And you know who she asked to come and listen and give advice at a big meeting for Kids Not Cuts? Me. And you know who talked it up here sympathetically? Me.

Yes, Hampson likes to use people for her own purposes. And, of course, it's interesting that a person who isn't 100% of any one group believes she's in a position to judge others' backgrounds.

Rankin expressed her fear in a recent email over one person's negative comment here about her "needing to be stopped." I suspect that was hyperbole on the part of the commenter but she has the right to how she feels. I told her that.

But when I expressed to her how many times I have been threatened, she had no comment. She expected me to share her concern for herself but wasn't going to reciprocate to me. Also, she better buckle up because most directors get hostile people in person (and at, say, the grocery store), in mail, in email, and by phone. Angry, hostile people. When I was on the Closure and Consolidation Committee, I got followed to my car by two people after a forum.

So it would have been nice to see - privately - that either of them had remembered how I did step up to help them at one time and, that no matter how they feel now, they might show a little grace.

Lastly, you said this:
"Mitchell is the one that actually has done work to save lives."

Leslie Harris and her family have been foster parents. They saved lives. Leslie Harris almost single-handedly saved Middle College which is a school that saves lives. Sorry you missed that point in Harris'last election and now this one.

Anonymous said...

I wish we could vote for the superintendent too.

LS

Anonymous said...

Leslie Harris saved Middle College!? The High Point location closed. The Northgate site got taken over by the Simon foundation. The Ida B Wells at UW site lost its educators of color, the ones who created the social justice focus and curriculum. But you know who I remember speaking out about it? Rankin. Harris sat on the dais and watched it all happen.

Get Real

Melissa Westbrook said...

Get Real, you are absolutely wrong on this point. I invite you to go back and review the video.

Also, it shows how superintendents can just pull the rug out from under programs because they are not technically "schools."

kellie said...

@ Nice Try and Pro-RS

I truly do not understand your point. I am certainly not opposed to RS and I have never met anyone who is opposed to RS. It is a fantastic program.

That said, there is a problem with how downtown budgets for high school. A consequence of this budgeting cycle is that there is a huge mismatch in the how high school teachers are hired, the master schedule is built and students receive their classes.

I said substantial because I have not been able to get dis-aggregated data about WHEN RS students are registering for RS vs High School course. Again, it would be easy for SPS to examine this data and yet they just don't want to.

We need board members who understand the budget process.



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

SPS doesn't poll students on why they opt for RS. We are kind of left with anecdotes. Our child opted for RS when they were told in the spring of junior year that certain classes would not be available the following year (even though they were on the initial course selection form). Several one-off advanced classes have been eliminated over the past few years. There's been a consolidation of course offerings, with fewer options, but perhaps more sections of what classes remain.

It was kind of all or nothing for RS, as trying to schedule RS classes around an unknown HS schedule would be a challenge. Now in RS, it's been fine, but it was not the plan originally. Did our child feel forced into RS? Yes. Will it be okay, ultimately? Probably, and the later start in September helped with getting a jump start on some college applications. Our child is most excited about having a true Winter break - no HW, no projects, and no tests looming on return to school in January. There won't be a mid-winter break...but tradeoffs.

RS parent

Anonymous said...

Running start can be a great option for kids planning on attending in-state colleges. However I heard from a school counselor if they are planning on a competitive major, a selective, or an out-of state college, it can be more of an unknown than AP courses. Regardless kids should have the option.

Forced into running start means that you found out (for example) the high school won't be offering the classes that you will need for your pathway to graduation, or future major. College entry or major requirements might require certain courses. This is the case for some kids and this past year high school budget was greatly impacted at multiple schools, they lost many staff and classes.

Some kids might want to leave their high school and be fine with older and adult peers, but others might need a connection to their same age peers and high school. I know of one 11th grader right now in RS who is having a hard time keeping high school connections.

HS Parent

Meaningless Endorsements said...

More and more, I'm coming to believe that SEA endorsements are meaningless. It wasn't that long ago when they supported a very young individual that did not have children in the schools over the highly respected Eden Mack.

More and more, I am coming to believe that SEA wants nothing more than puppets that they can bully and manipulate.



LGBTQ Dad said...

As a father of a LGBTQ child, it saddens me to see Rankin supporters laughing at SEAMEC's candidate ratings on the SPS Community facebook page (formerly Soup for Teachers).

It is really disturbing to see Wayne Au laugh and mock SEAMEC's desire to support strong candidates. Isn't AU a UW professor that works with the district? Are these truly the people that support Rankin? Why does she not reign in her supporters?

LGBTQ students must feel safe. We need Eric Blumhagen to support our children.

LGBTQ Dad said...

LGBTQ are a vulnerable group of kids. I just can't get over the lack of sensitivity shown by Wayne Au and other Rankin supporters. I am truly upset..

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

I have been blocked from that Facebook page. If someone could send me a screenshot or copy the remarks and send them to me in an email, I would appreciate it. Because I think they will go away and it's important to document them.

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

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

Why don't you give it a rest?

Voted Gossett said...


Thanks for letting us know about Girmay. I voted Gossett.

Anonymous said...

Barry, we won't give it a rest because we don't support bullies.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, is that directed at me?

Anonymous said...

@Melissa I believe that the comment by HP was meant to address Barry, who it seems from the thread was criticizing you. Likely "Barry" is from the TCG bully crowd.

NT

Voted Blumhagen said...

Eric Blumhagen received major support in the Asian community. This guy is amazing! He has support throughout all of Seattle!

Go Eric!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Melissa, yes, I was referring to Barry's comment. I too am a member of the facebook page and regularly see a crowd of individuals bully people even other POC. Their support of the slate is a disincentive to me to vote for anyone they champion. If the bullies like them, then I'm not interested. I don't want to see bullying occur coming from the board. The board works for the tax payers and especially the parents/students/families.

It's sad because Rankin is a pretty good candidate, not as qualified as Eric but definitely a better choice than we have had in the past.

HP