And yes, it is an indictment of our school superintendent’s leadership and the lack of leadership on the part of our school board.
Below is a post from our guest columnist this week, Dorothy Neville, who is one of the leaders of the effort to vote No on the school levy. She is a Seattle Public Schools parent and cofounder of the Committee for Responsible Education Spending.
Dora & Sue
Supplemental Levy: Is it for the kids?
When the Seattle School District moved forward with plans to put a supplemental levy on the November 2010 ballot, a group of parents and teachers decided that we had had enough. Right after horrible audits showed the district leadership and board out of compliance on federal and state laws and their own policies
, with unreliable financial statements, public assets at risk, right after a tearful Spring when the district modified the WSS to cut school budgets again, the district decided the time was right to ask for additional levy support. The supplemental levy is only a 2% increase in the district’s budget (contrast with the regular operating levy that provides 25% of the budget) and it could have been used to offset the cuts to classrooms. How about bringing back career counselors? How about bringing back average class sizes to the 2009-2010 level? How about increasing the number of bilingual instructional aides to support the new ELL model of full inclusion?
No. No, and No. Instead, the district saw this as an opportunity to extend its Strategic Plan and to move forward with education reform including measuring teacher effectiveness using students’ scores on MAP, MSP and HSPE. Yes, there will be some money left over to offset cuts. Do we trust the district to prioritize how it offsets cuts? No. Do we trust the district to become more efficient, transparent and effective? Not without significant pressure from parents, teachers and citizens. That is why I helped found the Committee for Responsible Education Spending
. We organized to fight the levy and we are all committed in our own ways to continuing to fight the status quo, to fight the ed-reform agenda that will hurt education instead of identifying effective teachers.
We are not asking for money, we are not spending more than a few dollars in photocopying and transportation around town. I started a website
to share all our research and arguments. It’s in a blogspot blog format, forgive the craftiness of that format; it was free. Compare our many pages and many links to the SchoolsFirst!
single page of information asking for support. We are doing our best to spread the word that this levy is the place parents and teachers can vote no-confidence.
Vote NO to funding the strategic plan.
Vote NO to budgeting schools last.
Vote NO to expanding MAP testing to score teachers.
It will not hurt kids to say no because the district doesn’t intend to spend this on kids. The district promises to do better, to listen and insulate kids from budget cuts as much as possible. Haven’t we heard that sort of thing before? Haven’t we caved in and complied but then promises were broken? Here is our chance.
The district promises true budget reform, true transparency and citizen involvement. The district promises to prioritize schools first when allocating funds. So, let’s hold them to that. Let’s vote down the levy and tell the district sure, reform your budget process, show us a line item budget, bring clarity to every aspect of spending. Then come back to voters and ask for money. Won’t it be nice to vote YES on a levy with confidence that the money will be well spent?
And I will leave you with this: