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This is a fact: The City of Seattle has no jurisdiction over any other constitutionally instituted political or social entity within or without the boundaries of the City. For example, the City of Seattle has no jurisdiction over the Seattle School District in matters of policy, procedure and curriculum. However, the paramount functions of government are to guarantee the people's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and to provide public safety, which transcend the powers of all other jurisdictions. Accordingly, I am addressing four School District issues I consider within the province of the City -- excess property tax levies, personnel "background check" process, quid pro quo between the City and School District, and the WASL.
- The first issue cries out for City Hall to ensure that taxpayers know what theyre voting for when the School District submits excess property tax levies or bond measures. I intend to adopt four strategies to "level the playing field" for such taxing measures: 1) information, 2) representation, 3) independent performance audits, and 4) limiting or eliminating all informal relations between the City and the School District.
The School District has become an expert at extracting excess property taxes for "education programs," although such levies can be submitted only to supplement activities "not related to the state's basic education program" (RCW84.52.0531). It's deceitful for the District to insinuate that such revenues are being used to educate the child. Yet, the City condones and encourages the District's actions, without question.
As Mayor, I propose to give levy opponents a voice in the process. I will also help ensure the School District delivers what it promises by requesting the School Board subject its tax measures to independent performance audits. As a candidate, I have already pledged the City will do the same.
- Second, and no less urgent is the Districts apparent disdain for ethics and common sense in hiring, supervising and evaluating its personnel. The residents of Seattle have always accepted the School District's assertion that it performs "background checks" on all of its personnel. However, recent assaults on children, felonies committed by school district employees, and retaliation and harassment heaped on teachers by some District administrators has put the quality of the screening process under public scrutiny. As Mayor, therefore, I will offer the services of the City in assisting the School District with the process, since the City has the duty to protect all of its citizens -- especially children.
- The third issue is the quid pro quo that exists between the City and the School District. Its the familiar "I scratch your back, you scratch my back" syndrome. The District subtly lobbies for "anointed" political candidates who, once elected to office, then endorse or approve projects for the School District.
Essentially, such subtle District endorsements initiate the type of relationship that subsequently corrupts government. In this case, each "payback" by the City to the District insidiously erodes the way of life of average Seattleites by depriving them of disposable income, the right to fair and impartial representation, and the integrity of our political system. As Mayor, I will do my part to eliminate this quid pro quo relationship.
- Fourth, some educators have found the WASL test (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) to be academically unsound, designed beyond the ability of the children in the groups being tested, and discriminatory along racial and linguistic lines. I understand the majority of Seattle teachers have also rejected the test, which I personally consider a form of institutionalized child abuse, since the unwarranted stress and frustration visited on children may result in psychological damage. The City has a duty to see that this situation does not continue, and parents should be assured the City will not allow it to continue. As Mayor, I will seek strategies to protect all children from this ill-conceived test.