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Race to the Top
With the weak commitment to accountability for school results around here, Washington has done poorly on winning Race to the Top support for educational reform from the Obama administration. But there was quite a bit of well-deserved good news today with a U.S. Department of Education award of $40 million to a project for seven southend local school districts.
The money goes to seven south King County districts for the Road Map Project, an intensive effort to improve achievement among Seattle's middle and lower-income neighborhoods: Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Tukwila and Seattle.
The project, which will be managed by the Puget Sound Educational Service District, focuses on community involvement, using data to spot problems and drive changes, building strong relationships among various groups, and building stronger systems. (We wrote about the effort last year here and here.)
Leadership for the project largely originated in the south King districts, but it's encouraging to see Mayor Mike McGinn tweeting and blogging about the federal support. And, in a press release, Seattle Schools Superintendent Jose Banda even managed to sound like a team player rather than the usual Seattle big-footer: “We are so pleased to be a part of this joint effort between the school districts and communities in our region. And I want to especially thank the Road Map Project for leading this effort.”
Third Avenue cooperation
As convenient as it can be to have downtown Seattle's Third Avenue as a bus corridor, the atmosphere is sometimes a bit less welcoming than it could be — if not downright uncomfortable and unsafe.
This afternoon, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor McGinn and the Downtown Seattle Association's Kate Joncas signed a memorandum of agreement on improvements to the corridor. Frank Abe, a spokesman for Constantine, said there will be better coordination between the Seattle Police Department and Metro Transit's police, provided by the county.
Among the specifics, in the words of a joint press release:
- installation of real-time transit arrival information at all major stops,
- installation of new, well designed street furniture (i.e. litter cans, newspaper boxes),
- afternoon and evening cleaning of sidewalks,
- a more visible Seattle Police presence during periods of the day with greatest pedestrian volumes, in conjunction with Metro Transit Police,
- directed foot-beat patrols at hotspots,
- continued work between Seattle Police and human service providers and community leaders on non-traditional strategies to address low-level drug offenses, and
- DSA, through its MID Ambassadors, will work with the City and other stakeholders to conduct targeted outreach to individuals in need of housing and services who frequent Third Avenue.
Efforts at cleaning up parts of downtown have sometimes proven difficult, but at least on the surface, this approach appears to include human services as a part of the solution. Side note: Do McGinn and Constantine really think "litter cans and newspaper boxes" count as furniture?
How marriage was won
There's a new article from The Atlantic out today, headlined "The marriage plot: Inside this year's epic campaign for gay equality." The subhead is even more explanatory: "How activists rewrote the political playbook, reversed decades of defeat, and finally won over voters."
It leads off with a photo of Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen receiving a Washington state marriage license last Thursday (Dec. 6). And there's a good account, about a third of the way into the lengthy article, of our state legislative handling of marriage equality. But it's set in a wide-ranging national perspective.
Tully's stripping down to compete?
Linda Thomas at MyNorthwest.com and KIRO Radio had an early version of the business story that local media can't resist today: A bid to take over Tully's coffee chain, which is in bankruptcy, and focus on skimpily clad baristas.
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