Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Questions to Ask

If you get the opportunity to ask an incumbent School Board Director Questions, here is a list of good questions to ask:

Questions for all incumbents:
1. Four years ago you received the bulk your campaign's financial support from a few millionaires living outside Seattle. Will you be using their money again in this campaign?

2. The Strategic Plan had strong language about community engagement. How did you enforce the community engagement protocols of the Strategic Plan?

3. You claim to support community engagement, but you regularly approve motions brought before the board that have no community engagement at all. Not one motion brought before the Board since February 16th has had any community engagement at all. That's your record on community engagement. Why do you allow the staff to totally forego community engagement? Why do you approve motions that have no community engagement? Why do you recommend motions out of your committee when they have no community engagement?

4. Why doesn't the Board respond to testimony? That is your primary community engagement and you don't respond to it at all. How is that engagement? Community meetings aren't community engagement unless you expect people to go to seven of them.

5. Why did you remove the Community Engagement section from the Board Action Report template?

6. Why doesn't the Board respond to email?

7. Can you give three examples of how you have enforced policy?

8. What is the Board's process for enforcing policy?

9. You are the elected representative of the community. It is your job to represent the community to the District more than representing the District to the community. Can you give three examples of how you have taken effective action for the community when it opposed a staff recommendation?

10. You voted for a $750,000 contract for a consultant on curricular alignment immediately after admitting that you didn't really know what it was about. Is that how the Board should vote on things?

11. Why is the District moving forward on a $700,000 web site upgrade when we don't have enough money to keep services for students? Is the District moving forward on the plan to spend $1,000,000 on brand-new Dell laptops for every STEM student? Is the District going to pay NTN another $400,000 next year as well?

12. The District is spending tens of millions on Strategic Plan initiatives while cutting services to students. Why is that a good idea?

13. Do you believe that 90 positions were cut from the central administration as claimed? Did you know that this claim was completely de-bunked?

14. Why is STEM budgeted as a traditional school? It is an option school and an A.L.E. How is it a traditional school? What are the criteria for determining what is a traditional school and what is a non-traditional school?

15. Speaking of the STEM budget, why was spending on STEM allowed to blow right through the budget for it? Where is the private support that was promised?

16. Singapore math has been wildly successful at Schmitz Park. Why can't other schools use it?

17. Problems with the School Reports were acknowledged in December and quick fixes were promised. It has been five months. Why haven't the School Reports been fixed yet? Why have you accepted this delay?

18. The Board voted to direct the superintendent to review and suggest revisions to Policy D12.00 on January 29, 2009. She never did and you never followed up. Is it okay for the superintendent to ignore a specific direction from the Board like that? Why did you allow it? Why didn't you follow up? How is this representative of your governance and oversight?

19. Please explain why the estimated enrollment at schools used for the budget is so much lower than the estimated enrollment at schools used for capacity management.

20. The Program Placement Policy calls for programs to be located close to where students live. Please explain why elementary APP for north-end students is located south of the Ship Canal. Why should these students not have their program located near their homes?

21. Please explain how the new student assignment plan achieved its goal of more equitable access to programs? Which programs now offer more equitable access?

22. Why aren't language immersion and Montessori programs option programs?

Questions for specific Board members:

For Harium Martin-Morris:

1. Why don't you allow people to read your old blog? Wasn't it enough to close it from new comments?

2. What did you mean by your talk to your Board colleagues at the November 17, 2010 meeting when you appeared to scold them for trying to confirm a statement made by Dr. Enfield?

3. On your blog you said that you would work to have the District staff fulfill their commitments to students and families. Blog readers gave you a list of over 100 unfulfilled commitments. What work have you done to get those promises kept?

For Peter Maier:

1. Can you name three times that you voted against a staff recommended motion?

2. You read the Sutor Group report but took no action. Is that right?

Go To Meetings

Saturday, May 14, 37th District Democrats
The 37th District Democrats will host a community forum on the direction of the Seattle Public Schools. All community members are welcome to attend. Admission is free, although donations are welcome.
Location: Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska Street
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Thursday, May 19th, 46th District Democrats
2011 Candidate Forum and General Membership Meeting
Everyone is invited to watch the candidates for City Council and School Board answer questions and tell us about themselves. Please spread the word so we can have a great turnout to this annual event!
Location: Olympic View Elementary School, NE 95th St. & 8th Ave. NE
Time: meeting begins at 7:30 pm

Monday, May 9, 2011

Who Makes Endorsements

In each election we see endorsements coming from a variety of organizations. The Democratic Party in each legislative district makes their endorsements, newspapers make their endorsements, and advocacy groups either make endorsements or give scores to candidates.

Now is the time to start influencing those groups. Now is the time to prepare a short talk in support or opposition to a candidate.

There is absolutely no group who should endorse any of the incumbents for re-election to the School Board.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where's the Community Engagement?

Every one of the Board Directors running for re-election claim to value community engagement. Their actions tell a different story.

Look at the Board Actions. There has not been a Board Action that had any community engagement since February 16. It is the rare Board action that has any community engagement done prior to the vote. The four Board members who were elected in 2007 are the four chairs of the Board Committees.

Director Martin-Morris chairs the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee
Director Maier chairs the Operations Committee
Director Carr chairs the Audit and Finance Committee
Director Sundquist, as Board President, chairs the Executive Committee

Each of them, in their roles on the board committees, routinely forwards actions to the full board for a vote despite the absence of any community engagement whatsoever.

Each of them routinely votes on board actions despite the absence of any community engagement whatsoever.

Each of them, disingenuously claims to care deeply about community engagement. Their care for it, however, does not extend to taking any action in support of it.

Truth or Dare - Peter Maier

Director Maier is running for re-election and he has a campaign web site. Are the claims made on his campaign web site true?

Truth or Dare - Harium Martin-Morris

Director Martin-Morris is running for re-election and he has a campaign web site. Are the claims made on his campaign web site true?

Meeting clips

I think one of the more powerful tools we can use to convince people of the need to replace these Board members are clips from actual Board meetings in which the Board Directors speak for themselves. They often provide the case for their replacement.