Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Last Night of the World

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Seattle School Board picks

My picks for Seattle School Board-August Primary
Posted by: "School Advocates" schooladvocates at yahoo.com schooladvocates
Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:33 am (PST)

(thanks for asking Gary)

Maria Ramirez has been a strong and populist leader in her latino community. She has worked with Campana Quetzal for years, as an education advocate for years, and from my perspective is fair and realistic about the issues. Her main concern is with disproportionality in education and discipline but she works for all the kids. She has been a supporter of Mary Bass and Sally Soriano. Her main opposition is Steve Sundquist, establishment supported investor who seems to know little about Seattle public education-especially disproportionality issues around the last round of closures.

I have been especially impressed over the years with Maria's ability to work in the face of powerful opposition of the people around her. She works constructively with people she does not necessarily agree with and manages to move an agenda forward that benefits the students and families. She is not a member of CEASE (Citizens for Effective Administration of Seattle Education) directly, but we have worked together on issues and both were on the Multi Racial Task Force on Education. She opposes the privatization of public education-beyond saying she is against charter schools.

She also has Dan Dempsey as an opponent. Dan is a career teacher and populist. Dan says he is absolutely against closing schools, and has ideas about how to make them financially sustainable-by using shared leadership over two or three small schools for example, or using retire-rehire principals on a 1/2 time basis for small schools. Dan fought hard against the TERC or Everyday math curriculum adoption, and educated many folks, got involved in district politics and policy and is now running for the board. He can be seen on many board public testimony videos.

In district 2, I am supporting Lisa Stuebing. She is the only candidate with any concern for Marshall high school, and wants community schools that receive investment from local social service organizations instead of parsing our schools out to private education projects like TAF(Technology Access Foundation-a heavily business supported private program that nearly took over the entire campus of Rainier Beach High School, and would have dispersed existing community last year). She is diminutive in stature but I think large on integrity, a sense of democracy and a desire to defend public education from privatization. Lisa worked for a year to change the University Women's Association pro-WASL lobby into an anti-WASl lobby, a significant feat.

Darlene has proven herself to be less than her rhetoric, sounding wonderful on equity issues but voting to close our most disadvantaged and voiceless schools while voting to continue the contract for our only charter-the New School. Then voting again to provide them with a $64 million dollar building when others were available, and other schools had waited so much longer. She sounds great, but in my opinion can't be trusted to prevent closures and privatization, and certainly does not work positively and collaboratively with others most of the time.

Sherry Carr is the CPPS(Communities and Parents for Public Education) pick for Darlene's district, saved Bagley as Area Council PTSA president but is ok with closing other schools. I don't trust her to make decisions that won't lead us to privatization, and I don't trust her to collaborate with anyone who is not wealthy or connected. At the City Club Forum, she said we should close more schools, that "public/private partnerships" (the new school is one, and arguably is a contracted, charter school) are the way of the future, and that we have too much choice in this district.

Harium Martin-Morris is the CPPS/establishment pick for Brita's district and unfortunately, the only viable candidate. His opponent is way over-the-top, saying that "no decent human being ever sat on the Seattle School Board". My hope is that Harium ( I don't know him) is his own man and will do his own analysis of the issues. I have heard now that he has some support from the alternative school community.

Sally Soriano is the only one of four who were elected in "03 who stood by her promises and ethics and insisted on voting no when it was important to do so. She has gotten a lot of criticism for voting no on the facilities bond (yes on the levy) and for submitting a statement for the anti-closure law suit. I think her reasoning on those issues is sound, and her own description of them will be on her web site within a week or so.

Her opponent Peter reportedly transfered $70,000 left over from the levy campaign into a newly formed PAC that is supporting a slate that includes him. Barbara Schaad Lampere (pre '03 board member) is a lead organizer of the PAC-it was reported in "Eat The State" by Geoff Parish shortly after the levy campaign ended. Not illegal, just not right. (I'm repeating what I read published by Geoff Parish, others have told me the plan was considered but not carried through).

Peter not only ran the levy campaigns but sat in on the district planning for a year before each campaign (by his own public admission) but failed to increase the level of accountability or transparency of the funding and the building that followed (when I questioned him about this, he said he tried to tell them people were unhappy). Many promised projects over the years were shortchanged in favor of others after the public voted-usually southend and alternative schools lost funds for improvements and big north end schools went into cost over-runs. I think Peter is likely to approve every proposal the administration brings him. The campaign organization-Schools First-did a survey that has some have questioned the validity of which concluded that Seattle citizens don't trust the school board, the results are repeated by Peter and by Sherry Carr.

Sally has huge support in SE Seattle , and with unions (though didn't get an endorsement from the leadership of the SEA, she has many teachers), especially the Teamsters, and the Green Party. She lost some endorsements from the Democrats, they complained about her endorsing Nader then Dixon and therefore she is not a democrat in their eyes.

She says look around you, its time to start voting for issues and individuals(anti war and anti voucher/charter/privatization), I've been a democrat for a long time but issues and ethics are more important than partisanship.

CPPS is supporting their slate, they also supported a legislative effort to allow appointed school boards, to have Norm Rice appointed as superintendent, and they profess to be a democratic institution but fail to have public meetings to make decisions. They came together to fight for the survival of their own schools-Pathfinder, Bagely, Summit, Montlake, and were successful but fail to fight for the other schools, which are mostly poor schools for kids of color or high-needs special ed.

I'm populist, an advocate for equity and democratic process as well as for quality education, I expect a lot of money to pour into the establishment/business slate after the primaries, but the people we are meeting in person seem to know the issues and want the populist candidates.

Maggie Metcalfe
Parent/Foster Parent
CEASE President
(Citizens for Effective Administration of Seattle Education)

Monday, August 13, 2007