Today is election day in Seattle, with Seattle School District operations and capital levies on the ballot. Our friend Stefan over at (un)Sound Politics wants you to vote “no” on both:
I’m voting NO on both levies for a very simple reason. The school district is in crisis, and the only foreseeable spur for meaningful change is a cataclysmic event such as a levy defeat. And meanwhile, “for the children” rhetoric or not, the grown-ups running the School District haven’t convinced me they’ll do a particularly good job of spending my money.
Yeah, well, I’m guessing Stefan doesn’t have any children in the Seattle public schools, and thus the cataclysmic event he wishes for is purely theoretical as far as his own family’s experience. However, for the children who do attend the city’s public schools, the cataclysm of their school suddenly losing twenty-five percent of its funding would be very, very real.
In fact, voting against the operations levy would be downright immoral.
Stefan says that the district is “in crisis,” and while I agree that the district has significant financial, management and leadership problems that need to be turned around, it is far from the crisis experienced by many big city school districts elsewhere in the nation. And, um, even if you believe the district is in crisis… how does slashing funding by twenty-five percent solve the problem?
The fact is, a “cataclysmic event” is exactly what Stefan and other righties want, for they simply don’t believe in public education as the great equalizer in American society, and apparently, they’re willing to sacrifice a generation of students to make a political point.
But I’m not. So as angry as I still am at the district and school board over what I learned during the school closure process, I’ll be voting for both levies today. The operations levy is a no-brainer — you might as well just shut down the district without it.
The capital levy, well, there’s no question that the district’s capital spending needs to be reprioritized and better managed, but we’re so far into a multi-phase capital improvement plan that it just isn’t fair to the schools that have patiently waited for their turn to suddenly cut the money off. A few weeks back I met with former CAC member Melissa Westbrook — who is urging a “no” vote on the capital levy. We had a long conversation about the district’s capital plans, and I agree with many of her concerns. But there are many more deserving projects in the upcoming phase than there are those that should be eliminated or scaled back, so I don’t believe that this levy vote is the proper outlet for sending a message… especially since so few voters understand the details of the capital plan they would be sending a message about.
That’s why I urge you to vote “yes” on both the operations and capital levies… and then work harder over the next two years to help move our school district forward in the right direction. Don’t just get angry; get involved.