Sunday, February 24, 2008

Meeting our legislative representatives.

On Saturday, February 23rd, we had an opportunity to voice our concerns to our legislative representatives. While a delegation from the blog had already met with Rosemary McAuliffe earlier this month, this meeting offered an opportunity to meet and present information on matters of importance to the Edmonds School District - at least the taxpayers that support it - to Mark Ericks and Al O'Brien.

One of the memorable statements of the meeting was made by Mark Ericks, "There is a difference between a school board making unwise decisions and making illegal ones." I provided him with a long list of the District's unwise decisions. Whether illegal or unwise, the taxpayers of the Edmonds School District deserve a lot more than they are currently getting.

We also heard that OSPI has been provided with the same list and has started their own investigation. Since the current audit team is wrapping up their evaluation, the extent and direction of the OSPI investigation will be determined, in part, upon the conclusions drawn by the state auditor.

There was also a discussion about the quality of education being offered in math and science. The termination of a highly-regarded math teacher at one of the District's flagship schools is but one of the many powerful examples where our district has drifted from their mission. The Edmonds School District, like many districts in our region, appears to be fumbling around in the dark while state and federal officials discuss math and science standards. Of course, while fumbling, our students move through their foundational academic careers without direction or guidance.

A member of the audience, during the first town hall meeting, asked about introducing an income tax targeted specifically for the benefit of public education. Representative Ericks then offered a very brief summary of our state's success in passing income tax legislation. It was very brief, because it has yet to happen.

Another interesting question from the Brier Terrace meeting had to do with sales tax revenue. Why do school districts and other public agencies pay sales tax? It does seem peculiar and when faced with budget shortfalls, like in Northshore and Edmonds, the shortfall seems to approximate the amount of sales tax paid annually by these entities. Of course, there would still be budget problems if board members fail to read their Capital Facilities Plans.

Clock hour requirements for board members was also discussed. While real estate agents, for example, have to complete 30 hours of training to renew their licenses with the state, board members are trusted to attend conferences and seek out their our form of enlightenment. They seldom do. Of course, real estate agents don't spend $170,000,000.00 in public funds every year.

There were a lot of other topics discussed and it was encouraging to see Northshore school board members at the Bothell town hall meeting, while disappointing that not a single administrator or board member from the Edmonds School District appeared at Brier Terrace. Perhaps they couldn't find the place.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article on the town meeting that I was unable to attend because of my work schedule.It does not surprise me that no one from Administration of the Edmonds School District attended the meeting. I am curious as to the number of attendees at both meetings. Was the situation discussed about the price paid for the Cedar Valley property? Who facilitated at the meetings? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Reality check for all:

The State audit will find no actionable wrongdoing on the part of District administration or its school board. This is your govenrment at work and never has such a form of agency policing proven substantially effective.

The District administration will capitalize on the above two facts, using this finding in a public way to both exonerate themselves and to demean any who criticize them.

I have little doubt that many politicians would not risk being labeled as "anti-education." And the few that would, would shy away in a contentious election year such as 2008.

The public at large is too apathetic to care about the welfare of its children, a simple fact demonstated in a variety of ways more impacting than the misdeeds alleged in this blog. Support from the masses is not forthcoming. bloggers have been dismissed as "disgruntled employees" and the "vocal minority," lables few sympathizers wish to share. And many people thoroughly enjoy having someone to look down upon.

And as to the ceaseless postings regarding pornography at the District Warehouse - they leave out one very important (and perhaps most telling) point: despite all the hullabaloo, only the non-management warehouse employees have been suffering since the issue arose.

Of course no one likes dispersions cast upon a great thing, such as this blog. I would be elated if proven incorrect but believe that I am in little danger of being wrong. My little deck of tarot cards has rarely lied.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Gandhi was marginalized by the British. MLKing, Jr. was marginalized by the white Southern establishment. But with persistence, they prevailed. The cards are always stacked in favor of those in power, those WITH power. After all, THEY have stacked the deck.

However, having power is not the same as being right. Yes, administration has the POWER to bully and harass, but should they? They have the POWER to make a stupid move to purchase land at 70% over what they should have paid, but should they have done so without outrage from their constituents? They have the POWER to excuse any inappropriate behavior from one of their own, but should they not expect that some will object to the prefered treatment?

Change will happen if the pressure to make BETTER choices, more worthy choices, more humane choices continues.