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Seattle Solution: Mayor Advised to Take Charge of Schools November 20, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Seattle Politics.
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“It’s an idea only a few cities have dared to try.

But advisers to Mayor Greg Nickels are urging him to take at least partial control over Seattle schools.

The conditions, they say, are dire.”

Bob Young

Seattle is consistently rated one of the most literate cities in the United States, and recently its population was listed as one of the most educated. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at the situation in the public schools. A school closure plan has divided the city, and at a recent board meeting the air filled with ethnic slurs and an arrest was made. The school superintendent has resigned, and the voters are probably not inclined to approve some $900,000,000 dollars in education funding measures.

The solution , according to some community activists, is to imitate Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, where mayors were given power to appoint some or all new board members. Reports have been positive and while Washington State law does not permit appointments, state Representative Ed Murray , D-Seattle, will sponsor a bill in the upcoming legislative session to give both the mayor and the governor such powers.

The problem is that the mayor has excluded both Seattle School District and teacher’s union leaders from meetings on the subject. They oppose any measure to replace elected boards. They claim that elected leaders represent the concerns of students and parents better than appointees.

Nickels is reportedly moving very cautiously on this topic, and declined to be interviewed by the Seattle Times for the story. Before he does takes steps toward this more authoritarian solution to a divisive issue, he would be well advised to open his meetings to all of the relevant stakeholders.

Tags: urged | mayor | Education | Community | advisers | Activist | superintendent | Seattle | NICKELS

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