Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles……Seattle?

Buried in an article from the Seattle Times about the school board killing the most recent round of school closures was this:

State Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said Wednesday’s board meeting only bolstered his argument that Seattle’s board should have two appointed members to temper its political volatility. Murray, who hopes to win a state Senate seat next month, is drafting a bill for the Legislature to consider in its next session.

“I think that the meeting and the inconsistency of decisions continues to undermine the public’s confidene in our Seattle School District, and it’s hardly a way to attract families who have chosen to put their kids in private schools or chosen to move their kids to another district,” he said.

Murray’s bill will propose that the mayor or City Council appoint “key civic leaders” to the School Board who would be directly accountable to city elected leaders.

Oh dear.

I haven’t heard all that much about mayoral control in Chicago, but reading this blog here might be a good place to start looking. I do know that there aren’t many (any?) teachers who have much nice to say about Michael Bloomberg’s work as the nominal head of the NYC schools, especially as it relates to his school chancellor Joel Klein. Some of their policies are indefensible, like spending so much time and effort on their ridiculous cell phone ban, or the stifling over-reliance on scripted reading programs in the elementary grades, or the nonsensical, child-harming retention policy. NYC Educator is one of the best reads you'd ever hope to find on the subject; if mayoral control interests you, check him out too.

The most recent example is down in Los Angeles, which was long a foil for Seattle civic pride (i.e., “At least our traffic isn’t as bad as theirs!”) until recent years (when indeed, our traffic was worse than theirs). The proposal as outlined by Representative Murray above sounds more like Los Angeles than New York. In NYC the mayor appoints a board to oversee the schools and hires the chancellor to oversee the day-to-day operations, while the model being proposed in L.A. is that the mayor is a strong part of a board of mayors who make decisions about the schools. The Seattle proposal is even weaker than that, with the two members that the mayor would appoint to the board being only half the votes you would need to get anything passed.

Really, Murray’s idea sounds a little too much like he’s trying to adapt something that worked somewhere else and shoehorn it into Seattle in a way that’s easier for them to digest. Personally, I think he should either push for more (mayoral control) or nothing; doing it the weak way has Seattle Democrat written all over it, and that usually doesn’t go well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

State Board of Education is working on an accountability policy, so informed thoughts on this might be worth thinking.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

That's interesting news! Are they just targetting Seattle, or is this something that would impact districts statewide?

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



8:33 AM  
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5:09 AM  

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