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Monday, June 28, 2021

Seattle Times Endorses Rivera and Sarju

 In what feels like somewhat toned-down endorsements, the Seattle Times has endorsed Laura Marie Rivera for the District 4 seat and Michelle Sarju for the District 5 seat.

In supporting Sarju they said:

As she put it in an endorsement interview: “A school board director’s role is nose in, fingers out.”

That is not an original quote; it comes from business side thinking about their boards.

The phrase “Noses In, Fingers Out” has been used to describe how an effective board of directors works with management. This simple phrase is meant to clarify the board’s responsibility to ask insightful questions, follow-up demonstrating good judgment, but stay out of the management of the business. How to do this in practice varies widely, based on the culture of the board, and the circumstances of the company in question.

As far as experience, I think her professional background would be helpful for the Board.

Sarju is a trained social worker who manages a Public Health — Seattle & King County program offering pregnancy and parenting services for families with young children. She knows what children and families need to thrive.

My only concern is that Sarju, in some interviews, makes it sound like the Board has a magic wand they can wave and presto! Instant change. That’s not how it works. 

In supporting Rivera, they had this to say:

Seattle School Board District 4 candidate Laura Marie Rivera is a practical, student-focused candidate who would bring needed perspective to a board that too often loses sight of its essential responsibilities. In an endorsement interview, she consistently focused on the real-world impacts of board decisions on students and their families — a refreshing change. 

It will be interesting how Rivera might interact with other Board members who seem less interested in the day-to-day life of students especially around Operations.

Regarding the homeless encampment near Broadview-Thomson elementary school, for example, Rivera said the district has a “big heart,” but needed better plans and policies to ensure that school days aren’t disrupted.

I think Rivera hit the right tone here. (I note that King County received a letter signed by 33 judges at the King County Courthouse for the county to take over the city park next to the courthouse and sweep the homeless encampment there. Wonder if the City has thought about trying this with the district.)

The Times also included statements from their interview with Interim Director Erin Dury:

In contrast, Erin Dury, who was appointed to the seat in March to serve the final months of former Director Eden Mack’s term, shared no thoughts about Broadview-Thomson parents’ concerns about drugs, weapons and disruptions to the school day, even when given a second opportunity. Regarding public comment, she said, “Being heard at a board meeting is important, but by the time it’s at a board meeting, it’s baked.”

One, she had NOTHING to say about Broadview-Thomson parents’ concerns? Weird. Two, I certainly hope that items on the agenda at Board meetings - particularly at the Intro state - are not “baked.” I guess Dury just said the quiet part out loud. I would agree that much of the creation of items happens at the committee level but why have electeds if the decisions are made before Board meetings?

The last paragraph says this:

Also running for the seat are Herb Camet Jr. and Vivian Song Maritz. Maritz is a Harvard-educated mother of four who established residency in the district just last month so she could run for the position. Camet, a retired educator, wants the board to be even more involved in day-to-day operations rather than focus on high-level policy direction.

The vibe I get from that sentence on Vivian Song Maritz is that she’s clearly bright but the Times didn’t like her action so she could run this time around. (Just to note, Maritz established residency in another region of the district; her family has been in district for quite awhile.)

I still believe that Song Maritz has the chops to do the job far better than Rivera but either would be better than Dury who has complained about the number/length of meetings. That’s the work and if it’s too much, then she should not be a director. 

5 comments:

Welcome Home said...

Where do these candidates fall on Board Policy 1250?

Seattle Public Schools had a long history of allowing a student representative sit on the dias during school board meetings. Zachary DeWolf and Brandon Hersey decided promoted Board Policy 1250. Board policy 1250 will allow for up to 7 (!!) students to sit on the school board and weigh-in on issues. Naturally, students will not be able to vote, but they will have a disproportionate say regarding matters of importance.

Board policy 1250 will require each school board member serve as a mentor to students which is hilarious because we have several school board members that don't have the capacity to keep-up with oversight work- as is. And why should we listen to up to SEVEN students when the board is trying to keep board meetings short, passing 11 items via Agenda and increasing threshold for expendiutres that won't be available for public viewing via board meetings.

The board was either naive or willfully trying to undermine our system electeds representing citizens.

There is NO reason to allow 7 students to sit on the school board and undermine our democracy. Students can influence outcomes by working on electicons, forming advocacy groups etc.

Calling BS on Board Policy 1250.


Anonymous said...

The Seattle Times recently celebrated student leaders. One student wanted to embrace a "call out" during an assembly. We don't need these type of unelected zealots sitting on the school board.

Charter Supporters said...

Why are Democratic organizations willing to give Sarju an endorsemtn? She is a charter school supporter.

uber said...

Meanwhile: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/why-seattle-public-schools-may-have-to-find-shelter-for-these-homeless-adults/

SPS can barely manage budgeting for its core audience-students. And now, we as taxpayers and parents will be footing the bill for finding housing for homeless adults? Honestly, this is utterly ridiculous. Where else will our School Board put their collective feet in their mouths?

They all (School Board) need to go at this point.

Accountability Needed said...

For some reason, Erin Dury wasn't present to vote on the budget! The budget is greater than $1B per year. Voting on the budget is one of the baord's most important responsibilities.

Dury informed a community that meetings have to be shortened to accomodate her work and home life.

The public deserves a director that has the time and energy to oversee district operations.