This is how the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines restorative
Definition of RESTORATIVE
: of or relating to restoration; especially : having power to restore <restorative sleep>
See restorative defined for English-language learners »
Examples of RESTORATIVE
the restorative powers of rest
<took a restorative vitamin mix to improve his immune system>
First Known Use of RESTORATIVE
Related to RESTORATIVE
Synonyms: good, healthy, medicinal, healthful, salubrious, salutary, salutiferous, sanative, tonic, wholesome
Antonyms: insalubrious, noxious, unhealthful, unhealthy, unwholesome
Implicit in the definition is the the thought that the prior condition was healthy. That is not the case with the administration of the Seattle Public Schools which is still in the midst of several scandals and continuing questions about the financial management of the schools. That is why moi read the Seattle Times opinion piece by Seattle Times Editorial Board Member Lynn Varner with more than a little “shock and awe.” Ms. Varner is writing about the negotiations between the school district and city to allow the City Ethics Department to handle ethics and whistleblower complaints from Seattle Public Schools. See, Seattle Schools Negotiating With Seattle Ethics Department
In Seattle Public Schools: The Restorative Power of Outside Eyes Ms. Varner opines:
The executive director of Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission is taking on whistle-blower complaints and allegations of ethics violations in the Seattle Public Schools.
Wow, is city government so clean Barnett has time to police the educational equivalent of Libya? More likely is that, as an acquaintance yelled out to him on the street the other day, Barnett is about to become busy, busy.
An agreement is still being hammered out but essentially Barnett and his staff will take on all district complaints falling under the city’s whistle-blower and ethics codes.
“The district has identified their ethics policy as in need of some work,” Barnett says.
A school district outsourcing its ethics duties is a big damn deal. It says many things, chiefly that recent fiscal and leadership upheavals have forced district officials to get it: They cannot go it alone. Credit City Council members Tim Burgess and Sally Clark for helping school officials gain clarity.
This is the right thing to do. The only road forward is the path the district is taking. One too many audits have shown the restorative powers of outside eyes on district operations.
The public’s trust has been broken. The way to repair it is transparent and honest brokering.
Barnett is going to have to be aggressive and inquisitive, while avoiding all the Sturm und Drang associated with the district’s poor communications, dishonest statistics and frequent ineptitude.
Don’t expect to see employees led out in handcuffs as some of the district’s most hardened critics hope for. The school system’s biggest obstacles are familiar to bureaucracies: cronyism, political favoritism and the rank smell of indifference. Although a longtime district paralegal allegedly moonlighting as a crack dealer until his arrest last fall punches a hole in my theory. But I digress.
Providing a safe haven for serious complaints by school employees and parents is the first step to restoring public trust.
Allegations will require meat on their bones. The case of Silas Potter, accused of misappropriating funds from a district small-business program, offered an entire steak and an easy call. But it was a call would-be whistle-blowers in the district didn’t make, likely because they felt unprotected from retribution….
Maybe the public will find out the counterintuitive reasoning behind the district’s sale of the mothballed Martin Luther King Elementary to the lowest, rather than highest, bidder. The winner was First AME Church and among its parishioners is Fred Stephens, the district’s former facilities chief and the former boss of the aforementioned Potter….
And what about the seemingly impenetrable bureaucratic wall citizens and the School Board run into when trying to nail down information about district spending or academic data. Will Barnett be able to force district administrators to offer the public more than the standard reply: “That information is not available at this time”?
“If we find that employees not turning over records or providing incorrect information constitutes an abuse of authority or violation of law, then yeah we’re going to look into that,” Barnett says.
Those who believe the school system can and should do better ought to be cheering. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said.
Call moi jaded, but opening up another avenue to process complaints really doesn’t get to the root of the problem which is the dysfunctional and inept culture at John Stanford Center. It doesn’t address why this hand-off was needed in the first place. This article, like the school board and the city council really don’t ask tough questions like, why is the administrative expense for Seattle so much higher than surrounding districts? Why given the budget allocated, there is no assurance that money given to the district is wisely spent? Has anyone tried to navigate the new district web site? At a cost of what, about $700,000, it provides less information than the old site. Has anyone looked into the personal service contracting at the district? So, when one uses the term “restorative” does that mean back to business as usual?????
Moi understands how important this levy is to the adults and what the adults say will be going to the children. The only reason moi is even considering voting for the levy is because of the fact that children are the collateral damage in this one.
The education establishment is going to have to come up with a better gambit than “don’t worry be happy.” Those in power really can’t believe that just because the hot potato of the district ethics investigations has been tossed to the city, the floor in John Stanford Center is now clean.
Nope, just like when company is coming or a levy is on the horizon, you have simply swept the dirt under the carpet.
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at [email protected]
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