2012 Election

Contribution of the Day: Ed Reformer Backs Union Favorite in 36th

By Josh Feit July 13, 2012

Thirty-sixth Legislative District state house candidate Noel Frame, the teachers' union favorite in the race, added former Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist to her list of donors. (Frame won the sole endorsement of the Washington Education Association---the state teachers' union---and once told us she wouldn't accept the endorsement of Stand for Children, the education reform group that's at odds with the union over issues such as charter schools and teachers' evaluations).

Oddly, Sundquist is on the other side of the issue when it comes to the polarizing issue of ed reform; in his losing reelection bid last year, Sundquist had the support of several high profile ed reformers, including Steve Ballmer, Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess, and Lisa Macfarlane of the new reform group Democrats for Education Reform (which has contributed $50,000 to I-1240, the charter schools initiative).

Sundquist, who doesn't live in Frame's district, contributed $250 to Frame late last week. In concert with that, Sundquist wrote and signed a fundraising letter on behalf of Frame. (Recently ousted School board member Peter Maier, for whom Frame volunteered for last year, also signed the letter. Maier is also in the education reform camp.)

Both Frame and Sundquist acknowledge that his support may look odd. "I know what you mean," Frame says. "He's definitely more supportive of the ed reformer movement than I am."

Sundquist, who's on the board of Democrats for Education Reform, added: "She reached out to me, a known ed reformer, knowing that might cause some angst with some of the people in her base."

Sundquist said that type of bridge building is exactly why he likes Frame. "Her top priority is improving outcomes for kids, and to do that she's going to have to make important decisions and take risks to bring the union and the reformers together."

Frame says her positions on education are "nuanced" and she's not in lockstep with the union. She says last session's teacher evaluations bill, which the union resisted, "should have been passed much faster. And I told the union that." Frame boasts that she "cut and paste the same answers I gave the union onto the [ed reform group] League of Education Voters questionnaire. My positions don't change depending on who I'm talking to." (LEV has not endorsed yet in the 36th.)

However, pressed twice, Frame would not say whether she thinks the bill, which made improvements in student performance a factor in teacher evaluations, should now go further by making evaluations a "significant" factor in hiring and firing decisions, a change in position that Jay Inslee, the  Democratic candidate for governor, made after ed reformers began criticizing his softer position.
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