Morning Fizz: Overwhelmingly by Voice Vote Last Night
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring defiant teachers, open letters, electoral maps, and a couple of donations.
1. The Seattle Education Association, the local teachers' union that represents about 5,000 teachers, secretaries, classroom aides, and "Education Staff Associates" (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, and psychologists), voted overwhelmingly by voice vote last night at a mass Benaroya Hall meeting (there were about 1,800 members on hand) to reject the Seattle School District's latest contract offer. The current contract expires on Saturday, August 31, and school for the district's 50,000 kids is set to start next Wednesday, September 4.
According to two teachers—an elementary school teacher in Southeast Seattle and a high school teacher in West Seattle—Fizz spoke with outside Benaroya last night, the union objects to three main aspects of the district's offer: they say the teacher evaluation plan goes beyond current state standards (which already includes once-controversial student progress assessments) by including a second evaluation for teachers in tested subjects (higher-grade subjects such as biology, calculus and history); the district will not agree to lower caseloads for the ESAs; and the district wants to elementary school teachers work an additional half hour after students have gone home.
The mood was defiant—"they showed disrespect" one teacher told Fizz yesterday, referring to the district. A statement from SEA spokesman Jonathan Knapp released late yesterday evening said: "SEA members plan to meet again the evening of Sept. 3 to either approve a contract or take further action."
The Our Schools Coalition, an umbrella group that includes education reform groups pushing tougher teacher evaluation measures, such as Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and Black Education Strategies Roundtable, along with six of the nine city council members (though not the mayor) issued a statement last night as well urging the two sides to get back to the table.
2. As guest columnist Benjamin Anderstone documented yesterday, Mayor Mike McGinn did better in the August primary election in the center and southeast parts of the city, while his opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray, did better in what Anderstone called the in-city "suburbs"—that is, more affluent neighborhoods at the city's edges. Fizz decided to take a look at another contested city race—the race between council member Richard Conlin and his Socialist challenger, Kshama Sawant. In the primary, incumbent Conlin got just 48 percent to Sawant's 35 percent.
The precinct-by-precinct map shows that Sawant's support largely parallels the mayors, with 40 percent or higher support in large parts of Capitol Hill, southeast Seattle, and the University District.
3. In response to Yelp reviews complaining about the fact that one of its sushi chefs is both white and (gasp!) a lady, West Seattle restaurant Mashiko posted an "open letter to bigot diners" calling their "ignorant comments to our staff offensive."
The letter, posted yesterday on the blog Angry Asian Man, continues:
Why yes, we do have a female sushi chef. She also happens to be Caucasian. Her name is Mariah Kmitta, and we are blessed to have her behind our sushi bar. Mariah has been wowing customers at Mashiko for over 12 years. She has an amazing following of devoted customers who only dine with us when Mariah is working. ... Should you refuse her fare based on her gender or race, you are an absolute fool.
4. Former mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck, who put out a Facebook entreaty last week asking supporters to help him retire his campaign debt of about $5,000, just reported contributions from two prominent elected officials: City council members Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, who gave the former council member $50 and $250, respectively.
Clark told Fizz last week that she's supporting Mike McGinn's general-election opponent, Ed Murray; Rasmussen has not made an endorsement in the mayor's race.